How to prevent over-training in runners

Introduction

The goal of any training program should be to provide incremental steps that progressively overload the body so that physiological adaptations can occur and provide an improvement to performance.

The distance that we are running can change the type of stress we are placing on the body, but essentially we will always be overloading when the mileage or intensity is increasing. The successful program should aim to try and avoid the negative combination of excessive overload and inadequate recovery.

When our training frequency, volume, or intensity  becomes excessive without adequate rest, recovery, and nutrient intake, conditions of extreme fatigue, illness, or injury  can often occur.

The accumulation of training stress on top of training/life stress can result in a deterioration in performance with or without the associated physiological and psychological signs and symptoms of poor adaptation, this is termed – overtraining.

Depending on the extent that an athlete remains in this overtrained state, restoration of performance can often take considerable time and aftercare.

Usually by the time we are experiencing the negative effects of overtraining we will have already gone too far into the process and performance will have started to suffer. This can often over spill into other areas of the our life and a general feeling of being unwell or below par without an easily identifiable cause can start to play havoc with day to day functioning.Over training in runners

It is better then to avoid getting too far into this state in the first place than having to claw our way out of it with an enforced lay off period.

Over reaching

When a runner increases training loads that lead to short-term decreases in performance, we term this temporary response as overreaching or functional overreaching (FOR).

Recovery from this process can normally be achieved within a few days or weeks of rest; and we can consequently, use this process of overreaching as a planned phase in our training programs. Essentially we are aiming to overwork and then reduce training volume to allow for a “supercompensation” in performance to occur.

This is often where the problems can start to appear. In the short term this process can be a desirable state to illicit but it is often extended too far and begins to almost trip the athlete into the negative states that can then result.

Its A short step from From Over Reaching to Over Training

As the intensification of our training volume/intensity continues (excessive junk miles, more hard interval sessions) without sufficient recovery and regeneration, we can begin to slide into a state of extreme overreaching, or nonfunctional overreaching (NFOR).

Over training in runnersNFOR can lead to possible decreases in performance that may continue for an extended period of time way beyond that of standard over reaching.

When we  abuse the balance between training and recovery, we invite the process of overtraining into our lives. Often some of the first signs and symptoms of excessive training stress are:-

a decrease performance

an increased level of fatigue

decreased vigor

hormonal disturbances

Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Over Training

Two differing types of OTS have been suggested: sympathetic and parasympathetic and they can reveal themselves at any point where increases in training are not matched with appropriate recovery strategies.

The sympathetic overtraining syndrome includes increased sympathetic activity at rest, whereas the parasympathetic overtraining syndrome often involves increased parasympathetic activity at rest and with exercise.Image result for cns

Essentially with Sympathetic Overtraining, the SNS is overactive, and in Parasympathetic Overtraining the SNS is underactive or “fatigued” and unable to produce the necessary hormones.

Sympathetic dominance

The sympathetic syndrome is thought to develop before the parasympathetic syndrome and is often seen in runners  whose training involves more speed/power/anaerobic components. Essentially all states of overtraining will descend into the parasympathetic syndrome and the eventual suppression and disruption of most physiological systems throughout the body. Some Symptoms include

• Fatigue

• Trouble Sleeping

• Weight loss

• Decreased performance

• Frequent illness and colds

• Overuse injuries become present

• Elevated morning heart rate

• Elevated cortisol levels

Parasympathetic Overtraining symptoms are as follows.

• Fatigue

• Depression

• Decreased Performance

• Achy legs at night

• INABILITY TO REACH NORMAL HEART DURING EXERCISE

• Possible craving of carbohydrates and caffeine

• Overuse injuries

• Normal heart rate while at rest or LOWER HR than usual

• Low Blood Pressure

Essentially though there exists a grey area where symptoms can wax and wane either way so there may be an overlap between which type you are experiencing, but fatigue and decreases in performance will be a dominant feature.

Volume, Intensity, Duration and recovery are key

Runners in either state will often be unable to sustain high-intensity exercise or in some cases be unable to sustain/achieve previous levels of performance when training load is maintained or increased.

The important take home message is that it is often an avoidable scenario. In many cases OTS can result from mistakes in the prescription of training load and a poor management of the many training variables (e.g., intensity, duration, volume, and rest and recovery).

A common mistake that has been highlighted over and over again involves the rate of progressive overload being too high, and repeatedly increasing either the volume or intensity (or both) too rapidly without adequate recovery for extended and unnecessary periods of time.

The dose of exercise is more than is required and the recovery processes are being out stripped. By not allowing for adequate compensation to occur the body either breaks down or grinds to a halt.

Nutrient intake and adequate calories during training

Image result for nutritionNutrition is an important factor in the overtraining syndrome and some important principles have been put forward. They are as useful in the prevention as they are in the cure, so adhering to them may actually help to avoid this in the first place.

Nutrition general principles

  • Eliminate all high-glycemic foods, especially sugar and other refined flour. Moderating your simple carbohydrate intake overall can also be helpful as high carbohydrate diets may further elevate cortisol levels.
  • possible removal of gluten and known reactive foods.
  • Consume smaller, more frequent meals to help control blood sugar and cortisol, especially for those with symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, hunger and poor sleep.
  • Adequate caloric intake is paramount and avoid the development of hypoglycemia. Include moderate amounts of protein and healthful fats like coconut oil.
  • Adequate daily hydration.
  • Overtraining may disrupt the normal balance of fats in the body, which help control inflammation. Eliminate the intake of omega-6 vegetable oils (soy, peanut, safflower, canola, corn), which may promote inflammation. EPA/DHA supplements can help reduce inflammation.
  • Caffeine consumption is should really be avoided where possible in over trained athletes. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea  and chocolate.
  • Zinc may help control the abnormally high levels of cortisol and estrogen,
  • 24-hour cortisol should be measured to determine abnormal peak levels; then the zinc supplementation should be taken two to three hours prior to cortisol peaks.
  • Biofeedback Training to retrain the autonomic nervous system.
  • Hormone optimization to hasten recovery and reduce symptomology.

Nutrition during training

Aim to consume 30-60 g carbs per hour this will help to avoid blood sugar crashes during training.

Some drinks to consume during training include, Torq nutrition energy, High5 Energy Source Powder, or Vega Clean Energy this list is not exclusive and there are many others on the market that will fit the bill.

Post exercise nutrition

Consume Moderate/high GI foods.
• Consume 1g carb / kg immediately after exercise. ( eg 90 kg = 90g of carbs)
• Consume 50g carbohydrate every 2hrs for 2/3 hours if main meal is not available
• Carbohydrates can be consumed as solids and/or fluids.

Ingest of 10g -40g protein shortly after exercise, some recommend that using a recovery blend containing carbs and protein in the correct rations is the easiest way of achieving this process quickly and easily, making sure that the nutritional system in place is consistently adhered to.

Again some suggestions include Torq recovery, Vega Clean Protein Vegan Plant Based Protein Powderhigh 5 recovery protein drink. Again there are many others but the important thing is to get the recovery process started as quickly as possible and sometimes a liquid based formula is the most convenient way of consistently getting the calories in.

Using a Periodized training plan

Use a Periodization training plan this will ensure that you follow the correct method of  sequencing training loads and recovery periods within the overall training year.

An annual plan should be designed to ensure fitness goals are focused on at an appropriate time of the year.

You can follow a training plan that involves breaking the year up into smaller phases that are easier to manage and recover from-stressing the correct systems at different sequences in the training year predominately alternating hard and easy sessions to reduce training monotony and promote recovery.

4 excellent books on the subject of periodization and training planning are :-

Adaptogen supplements/herbs

Adaptogens, raise resistance to various negative factors: physical, chemical, biological and psychological. The preparations stimulate physical and mental ability, raise the organisms resistance to various kinds of sicknesses, poisoning, and training stress. They stimulate the central nervous system sex glands activities, decrease sugar and cholesterol level in blood, improve appetite, sharpen sight and hearing.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian Ginseng produces a comprehensive strengthening and toning impact; it has been recommended in treating various neural diseases, impotence, lung ailments, medium forms of diabetes mellitus, and malignant tumours. Improving the body’s natural defences against stress.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola boosts physical and mental performance, along with enhancing recovery from intense-resistance exercise. Broadly speaking, these beneficial effects result from the interplay of several physiological mechanisms.

  • Enhances mitochondrial function, and therefore influences substrate oxidation and turnover.
  • Reduces exercise-induced lipid and protein oxidation.
  • Facilitates the biosynthesis, activation, and transport of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the opioids (i.e., beta-endorphins).
  • Influences the levels of biogenic monoamines, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, brain stem, and hypothalamus.
  • Modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

OVERTRAINING PREVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS

 Recommendations with the aim to prevent overtraining in athletes are presented below:

 Consider that the athletes have different levels of ability and tolerance to the training load;

 Monitor the performance by registering training and competitions. Athletes and coaches should register training frequency, duration and intensity, factoring in periods of adequate rest between the sessions ;

 Progressively increase the training load through proper periodization methods. Do not increase the weekly training load in more than 10%

 Provide training load modifications, with volume reductions, intensity alterations, avoiding monotony in the training as well, giving priority to recovery periods;

 Integrate mental and relaxation sessions in daily training routines with the purpose to recover energy and reinforce concentration

 Establish realistic and effective goals to training and competitions, 

 Avoid excessive competitions through an annual adequate planning(56);

 Encourage the development of psychological as well as physiological  abilities, controlling stress factors, diet and a balanced approach to training;

 Keep a balanced diet, with large variety of nutrients which mainly contains carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes. The use of vitamins and electrolytes may be necessary in case the diet is deficient 

 Use the active and passive recovery processes, including periods of absolute rest where required.

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Protein Supplements For Runners The Benefits and how they can improve training, racing, recovey and performance

runner

This article explores the best supplements for marathon runners, endurance athletes and recreational runners looking to enhance recovery and increase energy. It gives a detailed account of what to take before, during and after a run.

Protein + Supplements For Runners | Benefits + Q&A

By Christopher Tack 

Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist

Supplements can mean a fraction of a second difference to a runner’s performance. The difference between 1st and 3rd place in a world championship 5K race is 0.53 seconds (1). Meaning a half a second faster run would get you a gold medal, rather than a bronze!

It is no surprise then that elite runners are more likely to use dietary supplements than the average runner (2). Where though, as a runner, do you start?

What is worth taking? How do you know what is going to make you run better?

This article is to answer these questions not simply for an elite athlete, but also those of us who just like to hit the pavement for a run to let off steam.

Let’s find out what runners should keep in your supplement cupboard.


1 Carbohydrates

2 Protein

3 caffeine

4 Beta-Alanine

5  D-ribose

#1 click to view Carbohydrates

Like every journey, let us start with fuel we need to get us where we want to go.

Since the 1900’s athletes have plied themselves with sugary sweets and treats before competing in endurance events to try to give themselves an edge (3).

This progressed ultimately to a point where scientists more rigorously examined the benefits of high carbohydrate feedings before and during endurance exercise (4). It has been found that ensuring a sufficient supply of carbohydrates pre- and during exercise has influences on a number of physiological variables which can assist with boosting performance.

For example, utilising carbohydrates as a supplement or through diet can assist with blood glucose level balance, provision of glycogen for working muscles and the maintenance of electrolyte levels to assist and sustain muscle contraction efficiency (5-6). It is the combination of such effects that makes carbohydrate supplements one of the most effective ergogenic aids for running (7).

The process of running any sort of long distance (>8km) has a significant dependence onoxidation of carbohydrates and fats to fuel aerobic respiration. During long distance runs fatigue of the working muscles varies but obviously is greater with increasing distance. It is worth noting that during half and full marathons carbohydrate depletion is a significant component of the fatigue seen in athletes (1).

Experimental studies show the definite advantage carbohydrate ingestion (with or without electrolytes) on running performance. For example, endurance running between 15km and 40km can be boosted between 2% and 10% but carbohydrate ingestion (8-11).

Additionally, alongside these studies which examine running outside, studies also show that running performance on a treadmill was similarly improved by carbohydrate ingestion(12-14).

A really interesting study examined how carbohydrate effects recovery following intense exercise by evaluating cellular muscle tissue damage (15).

This study took 24 male runners and gave them either a carbohydrate (maltodextrin) drink or a zero calorie placebo drink every day for 8 days alongside a high intensity running protocol.

After the 8-day intense regime their results were startling.

They measured plasma levels of free DNA and lactate dehydrogenase, which is an enzyme associated with muscle tissue breakdown for energy generation (16-17). They found that in the placebo group levels of this enzyme increased in response to the excessive overload of the running programme. However, when given a carbohydrate drink the runners displayed minimal change in this marker of damage.

Additionally, they found that the increase in free plasma DNA after the running programme was reduced, alongside the concentration of leukocytes; which again indicate muscle tissue damage. This shows that cellular tissue damage can be limited with the inclusion of supplementary carbohydrates.

What form of carbohydrate is best?

Whether you take your carb supplement as a liquid beverage, a gel or as a powder or solid, it makes minimal difference to the usage of that carbohydrate for oxidation (18-19).

This is an important statement as runners tend to be more prone to gastrointestinal stress and related symptoms such as nausea, sickness, stomach pain and other complaints, compared to similarly trained athletes in cycling (20-21). Therefore, the option of varying and modifying your form of carbohydrate supplement ensures all athletes have the same opportunity to gain these benefits.

Should I take carbohydrates when full or fasted?

The benefits of intra performance carbohydrates are reserved for when athletes start their run in a fasted state (e.g. without having eaten in the preceding three hours) (22-23).

Interestingly, when a runner starts their run (having had eaten a high carbohydrate meal in the 3 hours before exercise) this supplement will have minimal effect on the subsequent running performance (23).

However, if the runner is fasted (has NOT eaten a high carbohydrate meal in the last three hours) then taking a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink both before and during the run will provide a 2.5% boost to the total distance ran, and an almost 3% boost to their running speed (22). Thus emphasising the benefit for carb supplements taken in a fasted state pre-run!

How much carbohydrates shall I consume?

In order to answer this question it is worth considering the rate of oxidation of carbohydrates stored in our body. This will of course help us identify how long they may last and when they will need to be replaced, in order to stave off fatigue.

A moderate intensity run can be characterised as working at 65-75% VO2 Max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption).

At this intensity we oxidise (burn) 1g of our carbohydrate stores per minute (60g per hour) (24-25).

This subsequently would leave us scraping the barrel for stored carbohydrates after 60-90 minutes of our run. It would be essential then to replace these carbohydrates however we could (as long as this suits how our gastrointestinal system will react). This could be via food, a drink or a carb gel. However, you can and however much you can- this is the time to get carbs inside you.

Usual guidelines for performance suggest a 30-60g dose of carbohydrates every hour during exercise to optimise their impact on time to exhaustion and speed of run (26-35).

#2 click to view Protein

As a runner, do I need protein?

If you train or exercise you will require protein to sustain an equal or positive net protein balance. In order to run you need muscles which have efficient endurance to keep you moving, and every time you run you push the button on protein degradation.

In order to stop muscle atrophy and overuse injury, you need both rest and protein for recovery. This is particularly true if you perform concurrent or periodised strength training to improve your running performance (as is generally suggested) (57-58).

A male endurance athlete requires approximately 1.6g of protein per kg of bodyweight, with females needing 1.3-1.45g (59). This elevated protein need is to provide enough amino acids for oxidation and sufficient protein to balance muscle protein degradation. This is particularly true when running in a carbohydrate deficient state (fasted) in order to preserve lean muscle mass (59-60).
It is evident then that the ingestion of protein (particularly with carbohydrates) following a period of running can assist muscle protein re-synthesis and promote a positive net protein balance (61). This in turn should then result in improved running performance endurance (62).

#3 Caffeine

Caffeine (typically found in coffee, tea and soft drinks) actually has a long history of use as an ergogenic stimulant.

It’s use as a dietary supplement is due to its ability to improve endurance exercise performance which makes it a very suitable choice for consideration to aid running.

How can caffeine help me as a runner?

The benefits of caffeine to aid running performance centre around prevention of fatigue, sparing of muscle glycogen stores, promotion of greater amounts of fat oxidation and in the reduction of perceived effort during exhaustive exercise (37-47).

The mechanism by which caffeine works is through altering nerve function. It has two main effects to reduce fatigue; which are by inhibiting the effects of adenosine (a neurotransmitter involved with suppression of arousal and sleep) (48); and through enhancing muscle motor unit recruitment (49-50).

Studies demonstrate that a caffeine dose of 3-6mg per kg of bodyweight increases the amount of time it takes to run to exhaustion (51). Additionally, in a different experiment these same researchers found that the same dose given 1 hour before running provided a21% increase in speed of run time (52). This meant an increased running time to exhaustion of almost 11 minutes!


#4 click to view Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is an amino acid and works as a precursor for the dipeptide carnosine. It is also rate limiting, meaning that when there is not enough beta-alanine, then the amount of carnosine in our bodies reduces.

Similar to sodium bicarbonate, carnosine is a buffer for our blood. In this case of carnosine, it reacts to reduce the concentration of lactic acid which accumulates through muscle contraction and effectively normalises the PH of our blood (76).

Why should I take beta-alanine?

The muscle contractions which occur when you run will ultimately elevate the levels of hydrogen and lactate ions in your blood reducing the PH to acidic levels. Supplementing with beta-alanine will raise the levels of carnosine to work as a blood buffer, and lead to reduction in muscle fatigue when running.

In fact taking 4.8g of beta-alanine daily for a period of 12 weeks can increase carnosine concentration by 80% (77-78).

But will this actually help my running?

A couple of studies have directly examined the effect of beta-alanine on running performance.

STUDIES

How much beta-alanine should I take?

The usual supplement regime advised is a 4-10 week course of approximately 400mg-800mg per day. The time to reach increase carnosine levels in the muscle can be as little as 2 weeks, but longer courses should consolidate the muscle carnosine concentration and demonstrate more ergogenic effect.

Aim for 179g over the course of supplementation to optimise carnosine levels.

# 5 click to view D-ribose

D Ribose occurs naturally in all living cells. It is a simple sugar that begins the metabolic process for ATP production. D Ribose works synergistically with creatine and may improve the benefits of this.

D Ribose has been proven to help increase muscular energy, boost stamina, and help recovery. D Ribose is also a very efficient way to improve your energy when working out. It is involved in the synthesis of ATP in the muscle cell giving you greater energy production for longer.

A Take Home Message

There are vast arrays of supplements available, some of which are suitable for those of us who enjoy or compete at running. The most commonly discussed are carbohydrates and caffeine which have good evidence supporting their use as long as both dosage and timing are carefully considered and planned.

However, other supplements are likely just as worth of attention, particularly in the attenuation of fatigue, if that is an issue which is limiting your running.

As always, test and try these supplements and measure the effect specifically on YOUR running performance.

Middle distance runner Hannah England’s diet, training & recovery routine

image

As one of the nation’s top middle distance runners, Hannah is no stranger to strict training programmes.

Having a varied training regime is vital for a middle distance runner…clink below to continue reading

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Myprotein has just released a new range of Endurance products from Recovery and Protein Gels, Electrolyte drinks, Recoverfuel, Whey Protein

The zone diet plan and Four fat burners to warm you up

The zone is probably one of the most effective eating plans I have used with clients. The products below work as a complement to what you are doing with both diet and training. They will not work as a stand alone or short cut.

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/cfjissue21_May04.pdf

Use routines like this to help push your metabolism through the roof

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Myprotein vegan superfood blend

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Ready to mix protein powder blend made with pea protein isolate, with added plant extract powder, flaxseed, brown rice protein and green tea extract with flavouring.

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We have also packed into the shake an impressive 20 superfood extracts, including spirulina, chlorella, pomegranate and beetroot extracts. Naturally high in vitamin C, these superfoods will contribute to normal function of the immune system, to help ensure you are at the top of your game all year round. Also high in vitamin K and vitamin B12, Vegan Superfood Blend will contribute to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.

Flax seed has also been integrated into this blend, to provide a source of Alpha Linolenic Acid, an essential fat which cannot be synthesised in the human body. To top this exciting blend off, you will also receive a shot of goodness from green tea extract, and a probiotic.

Vegan Superfood Blend is a product that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, whether it be at breakfast, post-workout, or even as a snack. Providing a mixture of vitamins, alongside a daily contribution of protein and fibre, this delicious shake will provide support for a wide variety of training goals.

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Protein 16 g

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Squash performance nutrition and recovery

 

The game of squash by definition, regardless of level, is a high intensity intermittent activity. Heart rates of competitive elite players can reach levels exceeding 90 % of their maximal values and VO2 scores in excess 0f 85 %. Matches at any level can last from 40-90 minutes with recovery between points (10-20 secs) and games (90secs) relatively short.

Fuel substrates utilised during matches tend to lean toward carbohydrate metabolsm see image below for fuels used at different exercise intensities:

Fat-and-CHO-use-with-ex-intensity1

Intensity % HRmax % Carbohydrate % Fat
65 to 70 40 60
70 to 75 50 50
75 to 80 65 35
80 to 85 80 20
85 to 90 90 10
90 to 95 95 5
100 100 0

Carbohydrate stores, muscle and liver glycogen ect, will directly effect performance during matches so there are definite strategies we can employ to maximise our performance on court.

There are also so some extra little nutritional tricks we can take advantage of to delay the onset of fatigue or speed up our recovery from matches and training.

I will outline 3 key areas and what to consume during each

1. pre match

2. during match

3. post match

Pre match

Leading up to a competition, you should be tapering your training (doing less training) and continuing to eat foods rich in carbohydrate with moderate protein intake. On the day of competition, if you’ve followed the above instructions, all the work will be done and your food intake won’t need to be particularly tailored. The most important rule is to keep fat intake low on the day of competition and only to use high GI carbohydrates during exercise.

Breakfast should be wide-ranging in carbohydrate, so breakfast cereal is a good choice, or something like beans on toast without butter on the bread. If you have to eat something in the hour approaching competition, make sure that it’s an energy bar and not a gel or energy drink, because the latter products will lift blood sugar levels and drop them low just before you compete. High GI products are for use during competition/training only.

During match

 60-90grams of carbohydrate per hour using any combination of  gel, bar or energy drink.

Frequent consumption of Exceed energy will provide some fuel, but just as importantly it will provide hydration, because every 1% of bodyweight lost through dehydration will result in a 5% decrease in performance.

Exceed is pretty good choice for an energy drink during see it here

These gels have been well used and reviewed highly see them here

Post match 

Ingest an appropriate measure of Hurricane recovery within 15 minutes of finishing exercise read more about it here  at Myprotein

This will ensure that you are fully restocked with carbohydrate and provide enough protein for muscle damage repair.

But also adding these

Additional 2 products to really drive home your recovery

D-ribose      see it here

D Ribose occurs naturally in all living cells. It is a simple sugar that begins the metabolic process for ATP production. D Ribose works synergistically with creatine and may improve the benefits of this.

D Ribose has been proven to help increase muscular energy, boost stamina, and help recovery. D Ribose is also a very efficient way to improve your energy when working out. It is involved in the synthesis of ATP in the muscle cell giving you greater energy production for longer.

Beta Alanine      see it here

Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta-amino acid. Beta Alanine works with L-Histidine to increase Carnosine concentration in the skeletal muscle and reduce lactic acid formation.Ideal for anyone participating in sports that require explosive actions such as sprinting, weight training or boxing and those involved in prolonged endurance exercise

If you fuel yourself properly during training, you’ll be able to train harder and stimulate greater physical adaptation.

Additional products can enable you to fuel yourself whilst you’re exercising, thus preserving your valuable carbohydrate stores and a well-timed recovery drink after exercise will re-stock those stores and re-build damaged muscle tissue significantly more effectively than ‘normal’ food. This will mean that you can finish a hard session still feeling fresh and then go out the following day and do it again.

Poor nutrition would result in a degradation of the quality of your training sessions and accumulating tiredness.

All product links are listed below

Exceed drink

Energy bar

Hurricane recovery

Beta Alanine

D Ribose

Energy gel
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