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Anderson vs. Ohlsen 17.4

By Xwerks Nutrition

Alex and Jacob Anderson go head to head against Noah Ohlsen in CrossFit Open workout 17.4

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Noah Ohlsen

By Xwerks Nutrition

Welcome to the team, Noah.

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Hack Your Sleep

By Xwerks Nutrition

Sleep is really the only way to truly recover and often the most neglected. Deep, quality sleep is one of the most important factors to your overall health and well being.

Sleep Benefits:

On going sleep deficiency is linked to a number of health problems as well; heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and more.

We have compiled a few sleep hacks to help you improve your sleep:

1. Blue Light

Blue light is artificial light we are exposed to from things like computer screens, tablets, smart phones, TVs and more. 

Blue wavelengths of light are beneficial during daylight hours since they boost attention, reaction times and mood.

Unfortunately this can be disruptive at night before bed and throws your bodies circadian rhythm (your bodies clock) out of whack. To learn more about why this is, you can read this Harvard Health article. 

Now, here are a few ways to minimize blue light exposure at night:

  • The first and most obvious is to avoid it all together. Stop using your computer, phone or anything with a bright screen a couple hours before bed.
  • If you use an iPhone, use the 'Night Shift' feature on your phone. This makes your phones screen turn from blue to red light, which is less disruptive on sleep. To do this go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift. On Android there are a few apps available that do this as well.
  • On your computer, download f.lux, this does the same thing as Night Shift and lowers the amount of blue light coming from your screen.

2. Your Environment and Habits

  • Don't exercise within 2 hours before bed.
  • No caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Make your bedroom as black as possible or wear a sleep mask. Any light exposure can disturb your sleep.
  • Go to bed the same time every night, keeping you in a sleep rhythm.
  • Don't drink alcohol, it reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. The more you drink the less REM sleep you get. 

3. Supplement

  • Take Vitamin D in the morning. Some studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels are almost always found in poor sleepers. See our article - 5 Facts About Vitamin D
  • Most people are deficient in Zinc and Magnesium, 35-45% of adults do not get proper Zinc intake and over 70%, according to the World Health Organization, do not ingest enough Magnesium. The easiest way to supplement with Zinc and Magnesium is by taking ZMA before bed, which can act as a natural sedative. Read more about ZMA here.
  • Tryptophan helps to increase serotonin which is a neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed. Tryptophan is also used in the body to synthesize melatonin.

Start implementing some or all of these hacks and let us know how they work!

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A Day With Alex & Jacob Anderson

By Xwerks Nutrition

Spend a day with Alex and Jacob Anderson as they train for the 2016 CrossFit Games. 

Jacob will be making his rookie debut and the 4th member of his family to compete at The Games. Alex will be making his second appearance after placing 13th last year.

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5 Reasons To Use Creatine

By Xwerks Nutrition

Creatine is a fuel source that helps to rapidly produce ATP - a high energy molecule used for energy in the body.

It made its debut in the supplement world in the early 90's after Olympic Athletes were reported to be using it in the 1992 Olympics.

Creatine may be the most effective and well studied sports supplement known to man. It has not been without controversy though.

Here are a few of the many benefits of using creatine:

1. Power and Strength

Creatine is most know for increasing power and strength. Dozens of studies have shown supplementing with creatine along with a training regiment can increased strength 12-20% and power 12-26%.

2. Its helps You Recover

In multiple ways, creatine helps you recover. During a workout, creatine enables you to rest less in between sets, allowing you to perform more work in less time.

Creatine also allows you to recover quicker between training sessions. Creatine supplementation helps reduce damage caused to muscle fibers caused by hard workouts.

3. Increases Anaerobic Capacity

Creatine has been shown to increase anaerobic (high intensity) exercise performance allowing you to go harder for longer.

In short explosive exercise, ATP is the main fuel source for your muscles. Supplementing with creatine accelerates the regeneration of ATP stores faster.

4. Brain Gainz

Not only is it good for your muscles, but creatine is good for your brain as well. 

Creatine has been shown to aid in decreasing things like depression, dizziness and headaches in brain injury patients and increase cognition in vegetarians. 

5. Its Very Safe

Years ago creatine gained an undeserving reputation of being unsafe which couldn't be farther from the truth. 

Multiple studies have shown having almost no side effects. One showed over a 21 month period, 98 college football players showed no negative health concerns.

In fact, they found the athletes using creatine experienced fewer incidences of cramping and injury!

What Kind Is Best?

There are many kinds of creatine sold - Monohydrate, phosphate, citrate, ethyl ester, kre-alkalyn, serum and effervescent. 

There is really no substitute for micronized creatine monohydrate (found in Xwerks Lift).

Micronized, meaning the creatine is broken down into smaller particles, allowing for easier digestion and absorption. 

Despite the claims that makers of newer forms of creatine make, majority of research and verifiable results have been done with monohydrate. 

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Jacob Anderson - Qualifying For The 2016 CrossFit Games

By Xwerks Nutrition

After finish 4th in the Atlantic Regional a few weeks ago, Jacob Anderson became the 4th member of his family to qualify for the CrossFit Games.

His Father, Steve, won the masters title in 2011. In 2013 his brother, Zach, finished 10th and in 2015 his brother, Alex (who qualified again this year), finished 13th. 

We asked Jacob a few questions about his Regional experience and more:

How does it feel to qualify for the games and be the 4th member of your family to go?

I am very excited to qualify for the games, and be the fourth Anderson to go. I don’t believe any family has qualified 4 different family members, so it is pretty cool to be apart of that.

What was it like competing along with your older brother Zach?

He is the reason Alex and I both do CrossFit, so it was very exciting to see him competing again. It was a little nerve wrecking watching him, but it was a lot of fun to be able to compete together.

What was your training like through the open, up to regionals and now going into the games?

I had an internship at an accounting firm from January through mid April, so I only could train about 4-5 times a week. Once the internship ended I was able to increase my training to about 12 sessions a week to get ready for regionals. To get ready for the games I am going to keep things fairly similar to my normal training, but with an increase in volume and more outdoor training.

What is your diet like?

My diet isn’t great. For breakfast I have a smoothie with Grow in it and a bowl of oatmeal. Then I eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink protein (Grow) shakes throughout the day. Then for dinner I usually make a frozen pizza or go out to eat.

What was going through your head while you were pacing back and forth before the final event?

I knew I had to do very well on the workout to make it to the games, so I was just trying to get my mind right.

Do you have any goals going into the CrossFit Games?

My goal is to get top 10.

What are your PR squat, deadlift, clean and snatch numbers?

  • 450lb Squat 
  • 545lb Deadlift
  • 410lb Clean
  • 385lb Clean & Jerk
  • 315lb Snatch

What advice do you have for someone that wants to be #andersonstrong?

My advice would be to constantly improve their technique on all the lifts, squat heavy, and to make sure they put an emphasis on all their strength training.

Follow Jacob on Instagram @cobyanderson

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The Ultimate Whey Protein Guide

By Xwerks Nutrition

The Ultimate Whey Protein Guide

Not all protein is created equal, here is a handy guide to make it easier when you are shopping for your next protein powder.

The Types of Whey

Concentrate

The most basic and cheapest form of whey protein. It typically contains 70-90% protein per serving with the rest being lactose and fat. 

Isolate

Whey protein isolate is created when whey concentrate is microfiltered removing basically everything that isn't protein. This means you are left with more pure protein without fats and even lactose.

Hydrolyzed

Hydrolyzed whey goes through an addition process where the protein is exposed to heat, acid or enzymes that break down the bonds hold amino acids together. Protein makers typically claim this process 'pre-digests' the protein which enhances bioavailability.

See our article Whey Protein Isolate vs Hydrolyzed

Reading a Label

Proprietary Blends

Supplement makers use proprietary blends when they don't want you to know exactly what is in their product. 

The FDA requires ingredients to be listed by their predominance (weight) in the product. So, our label for example (below) we show exactly what you get in each 30g scoop.

In this example below, you can see this maker uses a "Proprietary Blend Matrix" - a proprietary blend. 

This means you do not know how much of each type of protein you are getting, it contains the most of whey isolate and the least of skim milk, but how much? 

By using a blend, they are able to show they use whey isolate, a high quality whey, but in reality 'blend' it with a lot of other lower quality proteins as well. 

This practice is done in all supplements, not just protein. So next time you are shopping for a nutrition product, check the label. 

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The Key Factors to Warming Up: Part Two

By Xwerks Nutrition

Activation Sequencing

The second key factor to warming up (see part one) for an effective lifting session is activation sequencing. What I am referring to here is making sure all the small stabilizing muscles of the body and ready to go for your lifts. This concept is known as "Proximal Stability for Distal Mobility". Let me explain that long term to you briefly.

  • Proximal: closest to the center of the body
  • Stability: the ability to maintain equilibrium in response to changing forces
  • Distal: farthest from the center of the body
  • Mobility: the ability to be elastic in response to changing forces

If I want to perform a good squat, let's think about this...I need all the muscles closest to my trunk to be fired up and ready to go so they keep my body weight centered over my feet and then my hips, knees and ankles can bend properly and be mobile. When I am asked what's more important to do to perform a good squat, I would rather see activation exercises performed than spending time smashing out your hamstring or calf. I can almost guarantee that the exercises below will make your training most effective and efficient than any other warm up methods.

So why don't I see more athletes approaching warming up this way? Most of the time, they just don't know the theory and have never been told to activate. If you don't know the theory, it's difficult to reap the benefits you should.

The final piece of the activation sequencing and warm up puzzle is to understand what your true core is. I learned this concept when I worked in sports performance and its revolutionary to changing how you perceive movement.

STOP saying "core" and START saying "pillar".

There are way more stabilizing muscles to your trunk than just your abs. Here is the list from bottom up:

  • Hip rotator cuff (gluteus medius/minimus, piriformis, obturator internus/externus, gemelli)
  • Pelvic Floor
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Multifidii
  • Diaphragm
  • Obliques
  • Shoulder blade stabilizers
  • Front neck muscles

Yep, thats a lot of muscles and big terms. The goal isn't to remember all of that, it is just to open your eyes that there's a large world out there that needs to be active and fired up to support your training and prevent injury.

I worked with Xwerks athlete, ZA Anderson to put together our 5 favorite activation exercises for warming up in the video below. Hope you get on the activation train and see improvements in your training!

This was a guest post courtesy of Dr. Lauren Polivka. You can learn more about movement, repair and recovery by visiting her website here - lpdpt.com or follow her on Instagram - @lapolivka11

View her previous post - The Keys Factors to Warming Up: Part One

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