Italian Pasta Salad with Asparagus

A pasta dish does not always have to be drowning in a fatty sauce to taste good and satisfy your comfort food cravings… Today’s pasta salad is filled with fresh ingredients and is drizzled with an olive oil dressing.

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Ingredients:

1 small onion
1 garlic clove
50 grams of parmesan
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt, pepper, sugar to taste
6 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
450 grams of whole wheat or rice penne
a bundle of asparagus
100 grams sundried tomatoes
100 grams of olives (choose your favourite kind)
300 grams uncooked prawns

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1. Make dressing: chop onion and garlic, the smaller the better. Grate parmesan cheese, in a bowl combine vinegar, salt, pepper, pinch of sugar with 4 tbsp of olive oil. Now add garlic, onion and parmesan cheese.

 

 

 

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2. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Wash asparagus, cut into smaller chunks and half them. Let asparagus sit in a pot with boiling water with a pinch of salt and sugar for about 8 minutes.

 

 

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3. Add prawns to a big pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, cook for about 5-8 minutes, until prawns turn pink.

 

 

 

 

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4. In a large salad bowl combine pasta, cut up sundried tomatoes, olives, asparagus, prawns and dressing.

 

 

 

 

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5. You can serve this salad hot or cold, tastes even better the next day, once the flavours have developed.

ENJOY!

Lifting shoes. Yes or no?

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Lifting shoes are becoming more common in non-weightlifting gyms, especially with the popularity of crossfit. A lifting shoe is a stiff shoe with a heel lift that was designed by the Soviets specifically for the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Lifting shoes have an elevated heel that tip you forward onto the ball of your foot. During the snatch and clean and jerk in Olympic weightlifting the shoe helps you efficiently transfer force from the ground into the bar.

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The benefit of the lifting shoe is that it alters your mechanics by giving you greater range of motion at your ankle, which allows you to drop deeper into a squat. The stiff sole and heel lift gives you lots of stability in other big lifts such as a the squat and deadlift. Since you are better able to drive your feet into floor, technique tends to improve which allows more weight to be lifted. If getting stronger in these lifts is a priority then note that more weight can often be lifted in weightlifting shoes because of this foot planting effect.

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Above, we can easily compare the squat depth with a weightlifting shoe versus a flat soled Chuck Taylor shoe.

The most important question to ask yourself when it comes to lifting shoes is, what are your training needs? The answer is obvious if you are an Olympic weightlifter or even a Crossfit competitor. For everyone else, the answer is less clear. If you perform cleans and snatches as part of your program then lifting shoes are still a good idea. If your program is mostly squats and deadlifts then lifting shoes are not needed, but could be added based on preference. Also, if you do cross training where you are required to move a lot, then lifting shoes are too clunky and stiff to be a good choice. Before investing in a pair, look at what your program and your sport demands of you.

As a final point, consider the way your feet distribute weight. Do you have a high arch that balances the weight over your midfoot or a low arch that pull your weight inwards? Lifting shoes can help if you have flat feet and find your ankles tend to roll inwards as you squat or deadlifts. That said, these shoes are not a magic fix and should not take away from efforts to strengthen your ankles. I have still seen lifters who have invested in a pair of AdiPowers and still roll in from their ankles on each squat.

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The lifter above demonstrates ankle collapse on both side, but it is especially obvious on the right.
This ankle collapse tends to be exaggerated as the person gets lower into the squat position.

The biggest downside of lifting shoes is their cost. Quality lifting shoes don’t come cheap, but should be seens as an investment. My coach still wears his original ones from the early 70’s. I recommend trying your squats with a 2.5lb plate under each heel to see how it feels. If you notice that your squats feel more stable and you are able to lift more weight, then they may be worth it for you. So that’s it! I hope this article has helped you understand the impact of your footwear when it comes to training! Next week at New Edge Fitness, we look at belts for lifting.

 

Classic Lasagna

This week is a healthier but very delicious spin on your classic lasagna, you can make it vegetarian or add ground beef.

Ingredients for the lemon basil cashew cream:
1 cup of raw chashews (soaked in water overnight)
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
¼ cup of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of fresh basil leaves
½ tsp of onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

All other ingredients:
1 lbs lean ground beef
Lasagna pasta
a jar of plain tomato sauce
1 bell pepper
1 large onion
1 zucchini
a handful of mushrooms
1 carrot
3 garlic cloves
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

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1. Drain cashews and start with adding garlic to a food processor. One by one add the other cashew cream ingredients. Blend until smooth (you might have to scrape the blender a few times, you may also want to add a little bit of water if needed).

 

 

 

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2. Chop all of your vegetables and add them to a large pan with a little bit of olive oil and garlic. Saute vegetables for three minutes. Then add ground beef to pan and heat for another 3-5 minutes.

 

 

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3. A Lasagna tip, most pasta packages say you should not have to boil your pasta before hand, but you might end up with very al dente pasta. I slightly undercook the pasta for 8 minutes, then rinse with cold water before adding them into the dish.

 

 

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4. Layering time: Start with a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of pasta, followed by the cashew cream – gently spread it all over pasta (leaving enough cream for another layer). Next add the vegetables and beef, cover with more tomato sauce, then repeat pasta, cashew cream and so on.

 

 

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5. Once your done sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top, the oven should be preheated to 400F and bake lasagna covered with tinfoil for 40-45 minutes.

Building Your Fab 5 Program

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Now that the five movements have been covered we look at how to create a progressive program based on this. Patterning, grinds and strength work can be implemented as 3 separate training phases. Each phase should be a minimum of 3 weeks.

Patterning is the first phase and can be thought of as a corrective preparation phase. For this phase of training, the basic patterning progressions can be put together as a circuit of 5 movements. Repeat the circuit for 3-5 rounds with 15-20 repetitions of each exercise. Take less rest to increase the intensity and improve conditioning.

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Grind movements lend themselves to a hypertrophy training effect. For best results pair these movements together as supersets for 3 sets of 8-12 reps. Pair one of the push grinds with a pull grind, or pair hinge grinds with a squat grind. As with the patterning drills, continue to focus on quality movement.

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                                       Above is an example of a push/pull superset.

To train the five movements for strength, pick one major lift per training day. Assistance work in the form of grind supersets and patterning circuits can be added to recover between sets or to bring up weak points after the main lift. Aim for a total training volume of 10-12 working reps. Perform at least 3 warmup sets that build up to your working load. This could be any of the traditional strength prescriptions below:

2 sets of 5
3 sets of 4
4 sets of 3
5 sets of 2
10 sets of 1

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A buildup technique can be used where each prescription is used each week for 5 weeks. Let us know what you think of this system for progressing your training. Next week at New Edge we discuss the pros and cons of lifting shoes. Whether you have wondered if you need to wear them or if you have already invested in a pair come see our take on the lifting shoe.

References:

Baechle, Thomas R., Earle, Roger W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics.

John, D. (2013) Intervention: Course corrections for the athlete and trainer. On Target Publications.

Schuler, L., Cosgrove, A. (2012). The new rules of lifting supercharged: Ten all new muscle building programs for men and women. Penguin.

Mini Broccoli & Salmon Pies

Another hearty recipe for fall, that you can feel good about, healthy ingredients and easy to pair with a big colourful salad.

Ingredients:
2 cups of broccoli (cooked)
4 oz of cooked salmon filet
15 oz of rolled pie crust dough
flour, for dusting
1 egg beaten
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 tbsp of butter
¼ cup of wholewheat flour
1 ¼ cups of almond milk

1. Steam broccoli for about 4 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and chop into small pieces. Fry salmon in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and one garlic clove (whole).

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2. To make the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring continuously for two minutes. Gradually stir in milk, bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring it until thickened. Remove from heat.

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3. Preheat the oven to 400F, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Using bigger wine glasses, stamp out circles to fit into your muffin pan. Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, then place one half of dough circles in it.DSC03348

 

4. Flake the cooked fish in a big bowl. Add chopped broccoli bits, and sauce. Combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.DSC03351

 

5. Fill broccoli salmon mixture into cups. Using the other half of stamped out dough circles to close the pies. Lightly brush pies with beaten egg.DSC03353

 

6. Bake pies for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let cool down a few minutes before serving.

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ENJOY!

Push Your Limits

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The push is the final movement of our basics. The push is featured last due to it already being a big priority in most programs. As with the other movements, the push requires linkage in strength and stability between the lower and upper body. This lower to upper body force transfer demands proper load sequencing.

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The most easily missed part of the push is the sequencing of the core, which is comprised of the hip, back, abdominal and shoulders muscles. Training the push movement correctly will allow you to use your core to channel force from the legs pressing into the ground into the upper limb. As the larger muscles of the lower body fire, they link through the large back and core muscles to the smaller shoulder arm and wrist muscles. The power produced at the extremities is directly supported by the activation of the proximal muscles.

To train the push, we again progress through movement patterning, grinds and finish with strength work. To pattern your push movement, begin with a plank performed in the pushup position. Make it a full body plank by tucking in your tailbone and pulling up your knee caps.

 

limit3Once the push is well patterned, move on to grind movements such as the pushup and the dumbbell press. These exercises train the push movement and build movement efficiency and a foundation for the next stage of heavy strength work. For best results, aim for 3 sets of 8-12 quality reps.

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After you have master the push grinds, it’s time to build the strength with the bench press and the overhead press. Use 3-5 sets and stay within 3-6 reps.

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Without force sequencing from the core muscles it will become near impossible to perform advanced single arm or explosive push movements or to transfer your push strength to your sport. Correct core muscle activation during the push will allow you to use bigger weights overtime and get better results. Next week we look at how to create a solid program for yourself based on the five basic movements.

 

References:

Baechle, Thomas R., Earle, Roger W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics.

John, D. (2013) Intervention: Course corrections for the athlete and trainer. On Target Publications.

Schuler, L., Cosgrove, A. (2012). The new rules of lifting supercharged: Ten all new muscle building programs for men and women. Penguin.

Gluten-free Brownies

We’re making make gluten-free brownies, using avocado to keep them soft. Baking should be enjoyable, this recipe is super easy and fool-proof.

DSC03337Ingredients:
1/2 cup of coconut oil
300 grams of dark organic chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
1 cup of sugar (can be brown or coconut sugar)
1 cap of vanilla extract
1 cup chopped or ground almonds
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs

 

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break chocolate into bigger chunks and melt in a pot over medium heat, along with the coconut oil. Mash avocado.

 

 

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2. Once chocolate is completely molten, take off heat. Stir in eggs, almonds, vanilla, baking soda, sugar and avocado – until well combined.

 

 

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3. Line a square baking form with parchment paper. Fill brownie mixture into form and bake for 26 minutes. Keep an eye on your brownies for the last couple of minutes so they won’t turn black.

 

 

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4. Take brownies out of the oven, let cool for ten minutes before serving them with fresh berries.

ENJOY!

Pull Up Your PR’s

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Pulling is a movement most lifters could use more of. The popularity of bodybuilding style training has many focusing in their mirror muscles they can see in the front of their body. The most common measure of pulling strength is the pull-up from a dead hang position. We will also include inverted rows here, as the pull option for those unable to perform quality dead hang pull-ups.

The strength and stability in the shoulders,  hips and midsection is very important in making your pulling efficient. Ensure your body is stabilized in the pull position with all muscles firing to prevent compensatory movements. The progressions outlined here will teach you how to effectively transfer force through the lower to the upper body.

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Before considering how many reps you can get, first pattern the pull correctly by mastering  the top and bottom positions of the pull-up or inverted row. Train the bottom position by hanging from the bar between other exercises. Work up to hanging for one full minute and use neutral, overhand and underhand grips.

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To train the top of the pull hold the top position of the pull-up or inverted row for 1-3 seconds. Squeeze the glutes and quads throughout to prevent the midsection from moving. Doing this helps activate the correct muscles and limit the use of momentum.

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Once the top and bottom portions are simple, perform full reps if your chosen pull in the 5-10 rep range. With good core stability, movement should be transferred from the back muscles into the arms and wrists. As inverted rows with good technique become easier, work more on hanging and pull-up holds. The goal is to work up to 5 dead hang pull-upspullup7

Once five dead hang pull-ups can be completed easily, begin adding weight with a dip belt and weight in order to train the pull-up as a strength movement. Perform the pull-up with increasing weight in the 3-5 rep range. Keep body position straight!

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Next week we will look at how to best train the push movement. Until next week, lets keep those PRs coming!

References:

Baechle, Thomas R., Earle, Roger W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics.

John, D. (2013) Intervention: Course corrections for the athlete and trainer. On Target Publications.

Schuler, L., Cosgrove, A. (2012). The new rules of lifting supercharged: Ten all new muscle building programs for men and women. Penguin.