Carbs - A Balancing Act

Carbs - A balancing act
I

reached behind my back to scratch an itch and then it happened…an excruciating twinge, followed by a cramp that seized my whole right side. As I tried to relax my lat and get my arm back into its normal position I realized something was wrong.

Was I just tired? Was I dehydrated? I decided that it was a random fluke and I continued on as if nothing had happened.

But then it happened again. Only this time it was my tricep and all I did to cause the cramp was straighten my arm while stretching at my desk. Hmm…something was definitely wrong.

I went through all the possible scenarios of what could be causing these awkward and often painful cramps,and then I remembered one key factor – my new training program.

As a fitness and bikini competitor I had been following the Shockwave Protocol™ for my competition training regimen for over five years. It was a tried and true approach to training that allowed me to shape a pro level physique. I had mastered manipulating my diet and training to achieve the aesthetic goals I wanted and needed to compete. Neither was something I had to think much about or adjust in any way. I knew what worked and what didn’t.

That was until I reconnected with my first love – gymnastics.

Back when I first trained in gymnastics, at the young age of five, I literally ate anything and everything I could just to keep up with my activity level. Funny how I didn’t consider any of this when I started my new gymnastics strength training (GST) program through Gymnastic Bodies. I simply looked at my typical week and came up with what I thought was a reasonable training schedule based on what I had been doing while using Shockwave. I figured it wouldn’t be that different and I could back off when I needed to. I knew there would be an adjustment period and I was fine with that – even excited.

What soon followed was not what I expected, nor was it exciting. At least not at first. Not only was this style of training completely different from Shockwave, it was far more taxing on my body and not at all appropriate for my current Carb Nite® lifestyle.

See the thing is…I really like Carb Nite. It’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of thought or planning beyond my one night of indulgence. I like to keep things simple and the thought of switching up my diet was always daunting enough to steer me away from trying a new training regimen. But I really wanted to give the GST a try and see what I was physically capable of, beyond creating a “shape” that I was happy with. I can do pretty cool tricks already and I was eager to see what else I could do and also intrigued by how my body might change shape.

The challenge was one I welcomed. Once I made the decision that it was worth the time to experiment with, the process started. I committed to two-week increments of different diet strategies, only changing one factor at a time. If I changed too many things at once I wouldn’t know what worked or didn’t.

Bottom line was, I needed more carbs more often, or at least I needed a quality insulin spike more frequently. While the idea of eating more carbs was exciting, I was also a little nervous about how more refeeds might change the physique I had worked so hard to shape.

For the first time in years I tracked everything. I kept a food and training log, as well as a log of how I felt day to day and within each training session. Consistency in my training schedule was critical, as performance was the ultimate goal. And while this type of goal was rather new to me, it took a lot of planning to ensure I made the most of each training session and fueled myself appropriately.

Luckily, right around the time I started these experiments Carb Shock™ was released, which made my experiments that much easier and really informative as to what I needed in order to perform the way I wanted.

The first experiment was simple. I continued with my normal every-seventh-day CNS schedule and included a half scoop of CS in my post-workout shake and changed nothing else. This worked well for my performance and I didn’t experience any awkward cramping in those two weeks. Score!

While I could’ve stopped there, since I had basically achieved what I wanted, I was now inspired to experiment more. Could I achieve even more if I added actual carbs?

The second experiment was still utilizing my normal CNS schedule, only this time I added half an overly ripe banana with half a scoop of CS to my post-workout shake. This worked even better. And at this point, not only was my performance on point with what I wanted, but I was dropping body fat. A pleasant surprise that I welcomed!

Round three of experiments involved moving my Carb Nite up to every fifth day, while continuing with the banana and CS post-workout. Score again! I felt strong in my training and was making performance gains that I was excited about. My recovery was on point and I was so excited that I was intrigued enough to up my training volume.

While this seemed like a good idea at the time, I quickly realized that had I jumped the gun too soon. I had already created a reasonable training schedule that fit my lifestyle and business workload. As much as I wanted to push myself further with my training, I had to remind myself that this was still for fun. My goal was and still is to be consistent and realistic with the lifestyle I had outside the gym. I wasn’t training for a competition or preparing to perform my new skills for anyone, I was doing it for me. Reminding myself of this bottom line goal was a relief and quickly took the pressure off me. I learned a lot through my experiments and was thrilled with the results I achieved. They give me confidence in being able to adjust my diet and training in any way I need to, at any time, for any goal.

Alex Navarro

ALEX NAVARRO

I’m a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and WBFF Bikini Pro. My athletic interests include Gymnastics and weight lifting. I hope to teach clients how to pay attention to what their bodies need, when they need it and how to manipulate the foods they eat in order to reach any goal.

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Carbs - A Balancing Act

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