As I write this now, I am sitting in JFK in New York City. This airport Is a microcosm of a greater craziness that is the world we live in right now. The constant hustle, the environmental pollution, and our daily training grind all has an effect on our overall longevity. The analogy of burning both ends of the candle is absolutely the truth for many of us. A byproduct of all this is adrenal fatigue and cognitive decline we could be slowly getting sick because of it. Well I have a ancient strategy to keep you living longer, training harder and thinking clearer.
Adaptogens are herbs, roots, and mushrooms that have been used for millennia, usually in Eastern Medicine, to help balance hormones, restore your DNA, and even boost your sex life. The photo chemicals in the plants work on the 2 adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys like hats. These adrenal glands are responsible for the vital hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is integral to the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) as it works on the brain and organs to react when a stress acts upon your system. As I said before, stresses can be anything from training in the gym to your kids fighting which makes you lose your mind!
A really exciting point of contention for me is the way over stress acts upon your brain. Me being an observer and student of brain science and the new studies on Dementia and Alzheimers (which I believe will be more of a scourge that obesity in the near future); there is a real possibility that over stimulation in the form of adrenal fatigue is assisting in the decline of your cognitive function. Our brains are complex and beautiful creations but there are limits to the amount of cortisol and stimulus that it is able to take. Stress and and tension headaches are a real thing right?
Check this out!! I came across THIS study in my research for this article that clearly outlines the relationship between chronic fatigue and its effect on your mental health. Its not just about a quality of life issue, we are talking serious and long term brain inflammation that will lead to issues later on in life. Food for thought at least.. Be kind to your Brian people.
Now for Adaptogens. As brought up before, these ancient forms of therapy have shown to be the most effective forms of treatment against adrenal fatigue, chronic inflammation and Hypercortisolemia. Let me dive in on a few for you that are readily available if you search them out.
1. Cordyceps. I have written extensively about this mushroom in the past for its ability to help boost performance in training. Cordyceps are coming into fashion with teas and even in supplements like BCAA blends. They have been shown to protect DNA from breakdown, clean the liver, Improve stamina and of course regulate the cortisol levels produced in the adrenals.
2. Licorice Root. Licorice Root is found in every health market around. Its classic use is to treat and repair issues of the Digestive tract. Its phytochemical compounds work on the lining of the GUT to repair it from the damage of processed foods, poisoning, and balancing the pH levels in the stomach. Because it is a natural anti-inflammatory it has been shown to effect the adrenal system. From your thyroid to your brain, mitigating stress related wear and tear is what this adaptogen does well.
3. Astragalus Root. Chinese medicine has used this herb for CENTURIES as a way to boost immune health . In doing research, I found that this Root has been prescribed for stress dating back to 3000B.C. This root's make up is one of 'polysaccharides' which are a string of good fats that protect from inflammation. Protecting the Kidneys, adrenals, the brain is what this root does best. Another real benefit is its effect on the heart and blood vessels. Stress causes high blood pressure and this root dilates and relaxes the vessels which intern lowers the blood pressure of stressed individuals.
4.Panax Ginseng. Grown in Korea, this Adaptogen is a powerful neuro-stimulator that can boost cognitive power, concentration, memory and fight Alzheimers. Additionally it has been sought out for treatment of anxiety, depression, cystic fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, and ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. Yes boys, it helps y'all stand up when you need it to. (Stress, if you didn't know, has a huge effect on your sex life). This form of Ginseng is not be confused with other forms of Ginseng so search out this one if you are online or in store.
"Phytotherapy" (using the power of plants in the treatment of ailments) is something that we in the West are slowly coming around to. In the East, there has always been a movement towards NATURE to solve our ails not white pills and poor advise by doctors.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this article it would be acknowledgment that Illness is cumulative. The daily actions, thoughts and missteps that you make add up to greater ills later on in the form of degenerative disease and cancer. Taking control of your health means making small conscious choices throughout the day, week and year to make sure you stay at the top of your game. Training your face off is a great start, you become conscious of what you eat and how you live organically. But take it one step further.
Adaptogens provide us with more health benefits that can assist us in taking steps to mitigate the daily damage of our lives. The craziness of this world, expressed in the analogy of JFK airport, is all around us as modern humans. Returning to a focus on nature for remedies and being conscious of our stress levels is so important if you want to create change around you in the world.
With that, I leave you to it. Much love and happy living this week.
Programming Notes 4/16-4/22
Banded Lateral Hip Distraction 1:00
Banded Samson Stretch 1:00
Banded Hamstring Pulses 1:00
-Elbow To instep Lunges
-Alternating Knee To Elbow +Reach
-Touch Down Jacks
Unilateral Skill Development:
Bulgarian Split Squat
3X 5 on Each Leg
(Heavy KB or DB in each hand)
18 Min EMOM
A- 8 Toes To bar/ 4 lateral Line Touches
B- 8 Dumbbell Snatch/ 4 Box Jump Overs 30/24”
*Hip Flexion power and agility + Hip Extension Power + Agility
*Scale reps or weight accordingly
*Lateral Line Touches, cones should be 25’ apart. Keep hips squared !!
12 Banded Good Mornings
20 Push Up + Shoulder Taps
12 Deadbug Ipsalateral Reaches
-Elbow To Instep + Reach
-Lunging Good Mornings
-Supine Ring Rows (feet on box, at full extension shoulders should be below height of box)
-Romanian Deadlift @ 50-60% of your 1RM Deadlift
Power Clean 135/95
:30 Kettlebell Overhead Hold
:30 Kettlebell Front Rack Hold
15 Squat Therapy (toes forward!!, open the hips and challenge your damn squat position, these are meant to be SLOW!!)
Squat Flow: Kang Squat, Internal Rotation, Hip Bridge, Ankle Roll Outs, Boot Straps, PNF, Squat W/ T Spine Rotation
8 @ 225/ 135
6 @ 245/155
4 @ 275/175
2 @ 315/195
*All Sets are meant to be unbroken, and without a belt or lifting shoes!!
12 Min AMRAP
50’ Double KB Overhead Walking Lunges
*go light on the KB’s, focus on posture and position of lunge. Dorsiflexion of lunging foot, no stutter steps
100m Med Ball Run
20 Med Ball Overhead Lunges
20 Med Ball Side Lunges (held in Front Rack)
20 Single Arm Ring Rows
20 Med Ball Russian Twist
20 Med Ball Single Leg Deadlift
100m Med Ball Run
Pull Up Prep:
-15X Jumping Pull Ups
-3X :10 Chin over the bar Holds
-8X Pull Up Negatives
-15 X Strict Chin Up (use bands if necessary)
4 Rounds For time
15 Cal Bike
15 Pull Up
15 Cal Row
20 Wall Ball Shots
*this is a long, aerobic workout. Enjoy the suck. Try and match your round times. Start at the pace you want to finish at. Wear Running Shoes.
Down Dog+ Calf March
W/ 5# Plates X 7 Reps each
-bent over scarecrow + External Rotation
-bent over Reverse Flys
-bent over scarecrow + Press
- Standing, arms extended out, Corkscrew rotations
- Standing Wide Shoulder Presses
-Standing Narrow Crossover shoulder presses
W/ 1 Moderately Heavy Dumbbell 35/20
Perform the following:
-12 Single Arm Deadlift
-12 Single Arm Power Clean
-12 Single Arm Kneeling Press
-12 Single Arm Windmills
-12 Single Arm Bent Over Row
*same weight across all sets
200m Single Arm Farmer Carry 70/50
50 Hand Release Push Ups
100m Farmer Carry
30 Box Handstand Push Ups
50m Farmer Carry
10 Snatch 135/95
*ensure that the box handstand push up form is correct, forehead drops in FRONT of fingers at the bottom and head extends back through the shoulders towards the belly button at the top . The purpose here is strict vertical pressing, scale down or up for this but DO IT STRICT!!