The number 1 strategy you can implement into your training immediately to increase your capacity to recover, and thus train harder, more frequently.
The nuts and bolts of what you need to know…
Training is the catalyst to which results stem from – without training, there are no results
Your progress is limited by your ability to recover from your training – if you can’t recover from the workload you’ve subjected your body to, progress will be suboptimal at best
Recovery starts BEFORE you train – not during, or after, so it’s in your best interest to get a head start on things before you bust your ass in the gym
If training is the catalyst to which are results stem from, then recovery is essentially the key to unlocking our potential for maximal results. Unfortunately, many people fail to make this connection, and when results begin to stagnate (AKA plateau), these same people, paradoxically, will increase their workload in an attempt to break new ground in terms of results. What they fail to realize is that, if the body is not able to recover from the work that you’re doing, which is what caused the plateau in the first place, how does it make sense to subject the body to perform more work? Doing more of what caused the problem does not fix the problem! It only digs the hole you’ve gotten yourself into, even deeper.
Since our progress is dependent on our ability to recover from our training, it only makes sense that our focus should be on taking the appropriate measures to ensure our body has everything it needs to recover from the work that we do, and this should take place far before the workout begins. While there are a seemingly endless supply of recovery strategies out there, I’d like to shine light on one that has worked tremendously for me over the past few months, and it has to do with what are called “highly branched cyclic dextrins.”
Highly Branched Cyclic What?
John Meadows, who I deeply admire and respect, has talked a lot about the usage of a certain type of carb, taken intra-workout, which he claims has solely increased his capacity to train hard, and heavy, at a high frequency. This type of carb is labelled – “highly branched cyclic dextrins.”
John Meadows talking about the use of intra workout carbs to facilitate recover.
The next 6 paragraphs (including this one) is my current understanding, based on the work of Bill Willis (PhD), explaining the reason why anyone would want to include carbs before, and during their workout – which is because they deliver a (rapid in some cases) steady state of blood sugar to your hard working muscles, along with harnessing the power of the most anabolic hormone, insulin. This optimizes your capacity to perform at your best, while maximizing protein synthesis and at the same time minimize protein degradation – a double whammy muscle building effect. Generally quick digesting proteins, and carbs like dextrose are used to promote this effect, as complex carbs need to be broken down into glucose first before they are absorbed, whereas glucose is absorbed rapidly.
There is just one defect with using simple carbs to accomplish this however, and it has to do with what are called “osmoreceptors,” which are located in the small intestine and sense the density of nutrients, or rather the concentration of stomach contents (AKA “osmolarity”), as they exit the stomach. The information gathered by the osmoreceptors then relays the information to the brain which then triggers a cascade of hormonal events the control the rate of gastric emptying. The higher the osmolarity, the more delayed the emptying process is.
Osmolarity is the measure of the concentration of a solution, and in this case the solute would be the carbs themselves, while the solvent would be the water you’re using to dissolve them in a shake. Upon consumption, the stomach senses the concentration of the contents and regulates how quickly they are allowed to pass (gastric emptying) into the small intestine.
The problem with dextrose and simple sugars is that even though they’re absorbed rapidly in the small intestine, they have a very high osmolarity (unless they are very dilute), which delays gastric emptying into the small intestine where they are absorbed. Therefore, these types of carbs are ill-suited before, and during the workout, as carb and protein (if included in a shake at the same time) delivery is delayed – which is not optimal for getting amino acids delivered to the muscles in a timely manner.
A lot of people think, and with good reason, that carbs like dextrose, which have a high GI (glycemic index) rating are exempt to this delayed gastric emptying, but that’s not the case. What happens is glucose gets stuck in the stomach, which delays its rate of absorption in the small intestine, but once it gains entry it is rapidly released into the blood. Glucose in this case is akin to the rabbit in the old fable about the tortoise and the hare, in that glucose behaves like the hare – taking his sweet time getting started, before sprinting across the finish line. So even though absorption is delayed, once glucose enters the small intestine it is rapidly released into the blood, and blood sugar levels are not sustainable with massive surges of sugar entering the bloodstream. This results in a large insulin response which only decreases the blood sugar, usually to the point of hypoglycemia due to the overwhelming insulin response. Not only is gastric emptying delayed, protein absorption is as well, and even stomach cramps are a side-effect if ample quantities are consumed.
Ideally, large amount of carbs would be released into the small intestine for rapid absorption into the bloodstream, but not so fast that a huge surge of insulin is released to counter this, so that blood sugar levels can be sustained, and not reach such high peaks and valleys. Fortunately, there is a kind of carb that provides these very specific benefits, and it comes by way of high molecular weight glucose polymers – which are glucose molecules linked together. This lowers their osmolarity, which allows them to be emptied from the stomach at a much faster rate. However, because high molecular starches are relatively large, digestive enzymes in the small intestine are needed to hydrolyze them into free glucose before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Basically the increased branching controls the access of the intermolecular glucose linkages to digestive enzymes, extending the absorption time in the small intestine. The end result is an ideal carb source which passes through the stomach rapidly, providing a quick and sustained release of glucose into the blood. This desired effect has lead to the development of highly branched cyclic dextrins, which are ideal during the workout for maximizing performance by way of increasing your fatigue threshold.
Long Story, Short
To recap, you are what you can recover from, and recovery starts before you train. In fact, recovery is 24/7, as your results don’t take days off – the body is always preparing for what’s next based on current/recent demands.
In terms of dosage, this should also be based on what you’re doing as squats, and deadlifts, are more demanding than wrist curls, and calf raises. Therefore, on lower body days I include 80 grams in my pre-/intra-/post-workout shakes (note: this is one shake, not 3 separate shakes with 80 grams each time), 50 grams when performing upper body compound lifts (chest or back days), and 30 grams when performing upper body isolation lifts (arm and shoulder days). If I take too much, I get bloated, so it’s important to adjust the quantity based on the demand of the work being performed so that the body actually requires the fuel.
This stuff is fairly cheap, as it is just over 12 bucks where I get it from, which can be found here (link below)
This stuff has enabled me to recover faster between sets, perform more sets per workout, and recover faster between workouts, and based on many of the reviews out there, I’d expect it to do the same for you!
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