Supplementation – BCAAs

Hey! Some nerd stuff today! (Here we go again)

gallon-jug-guyAnyone who’s been to a Globogym can picture the guy I’m about to describe. The guy who walks around the gym in a cutoff shirt that’s way too small, headphones that are way too big to be comfortable, 70’s style short shorts (sometimes a fanny pack) and a gallon jug full of some colorful liquid in tow.

A bit ridiculous. But this dude was usually pretty jacked too. When I first started going to the gym, I totally thought they were just drinking Kool-Aid. (Lately I’ve actually seen people use Koolaid as their intraworkout supplements)

In reality, I was a noobie when I first saw it happening. So I mustered all the courage I could and asked Mr. Gallon Jug what was up with the sugary goodness in the gym. What I actually found out is that they were drinking something called a Branched Chain Amino Acid. (But Mike, What the hell is that?)

I did some research. And here is my best attempt at divulging that information to you.

What are they and why do you see people chugging gallon jugs full of them in the gym?
primary-structure.pngIt all starts with protein. Protein is the building block of your body structure. Your hair, nails, bones, muscle, tendon, ligaments, skin and even blood is comprised of protein.

What makes up a protein?
Protein is comprised of 20 different amino acids which make up a ‘complete protein’. Of the 20 amino acids, there are three amino acids in particular that have been found to aid in muscle growth, reduce muscle wasting and help in recovery (Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine). These amino acids are referred to as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Since BCAAs are considered to be ‘free-form’ proteins, they don’t take nearly as much time to get into your body’s blood stream…which is why you will see people drinking them during their workout. A complete protein will need to go through your body’s digestion process in order to break the peptide bonds, whereas your body will almost immediately see a rise in blood amino acid concentration after ingestion.

Who should use BCAAs?
Individuals who are looking to build muscle, individuals looking to lose fat (in order to maintain muscle mass) and athletes. It is for folks looking to lose weight as well, as high protein diets have shown to be one of the best ways to burn fat when compared to similar diets containing high carbohydrate consumption..

Recommended dosage for BCAAs?
Optimal – 5g w/ breakfast, 5g preworkout, 10g post workout, 5 g before bed
Realistic – 5 g pre workout, 10 g post workout. With protein supplements and sound nutrition throughout the rest of the day.

For more information on nutrition, supplementation or exercise programs message us or leave a comment!

Health Tracking

168 hours in a week.
A problem I am deeply passionate about – and it will take a minute to explain. Folks are not afraid to work hard with me. I’m great at training people physically. I understand biomechanics, am confident in my ability to keep you healthy when we work and feel that if we decide to work together, I am the best person in the world to help guide you. Period.
With that said, the problem I most commonly see is figuring out and investing time in improving those 168 hours.
I see people every day of the week – they’ll work hard, burn some Cals, burn some fat, have some fun and feel AMAZING after they workout…only to head home, eat crap food, sleep like crap and not think about exercise until the next day we workout. Having worked as a fitness professional for a while has opened my eyes to this problem – and one I am actively trying to solve!
In general, it is hard to always be mindful. Even the most dedicated clients – the ones who work out for an hour each day, have 161 extra hours per week where things could really turn a great week, into a less than stellar week.
Here is where I am trying to inject something new to my programs – daily health tracking. Tracking health. Tracking food. And mindful reflection of how you felt you treated your body. For a week so far, my clients have been keeping a log of their daily routines and habits. Even if it is just a minute of reflection into our connected health journal, I can be confident that for at least a small amount of time, the people who hire me, are taking their health seriously.
Reflection is good, awareness is great and action is best!
I got to reading through some of your health tracking logs and it brought a smile to my face. The whole point of our programs are to make this exercise thing more fun and get you investing time into your body on a regular basis. The health tracking has been GREAT thus far and I am happy each time I log into the programs and see that people are keeping account of your health!
With that said, I wanted to share a few highlights from this week and last because some of these are just too funny to keep to myself:
‘Feel good about going to the gym. Did a kick ass zumba class which got my heart pumping and singing both at the same time. Made me happy. Have had a few good days at the gym, so I feel good about that.’
‘Let’s be honest about “hearty dinner.” I got home and was ravenous. I had leftover chicken that had a delicious, carmelized skin followed by a sweet potato. I washed it down with a glass of red wine. Those weren’t transgressions. The real transgression was the sharp cheddar cheese and slices of rye I ate, after dinner didn’t feel quite complete. But I found justification: “Cheese may help you stay slim thanks to a substance called butyrate, found in many cheeses like Gruyère, blue, and Gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar. Research suggests that it may help boost metabolism. These cheeses also encourage the bacteria in our gut to make even more butyrate, so it’s a double win. Yay for sharp cheddar!’
‘Its crunch time. next two weeks are about studying and lifting and that is it. Can’t wait to be done. LIFT CITY!!!!! P.S. feeling good.’
Star date 70396.1: Typical work day. Woke up, worked all day. I had to start right at 8 and unfortunately had very little for breakfast. Didn’t get a workout in though because Sarah had a concert to go to, giving me zero opportunity between work and kids to do much. My cough was better, but I also started taking mucinex to see if that would help.’

3 Stretches to help with the Front Rack Position

Found a nice video detailing the front rack position and most common faults. Most individual’s issue in attaining a good position is thoracic spine extension as well as that shoulder mobility.
Three stretches to aid in getting into the front rack position start about halfway through the video…but this guy does give some good insight as to the ‘why’ you can have problems.
1) Overhead shoulder stretch (the one we used with your broomhandle works very similarly). In the video, he uses a band hung from a low anchor, which gives you a little more of an isolated stretch vs. our ‘poor man’s’ method.
2)Wrist stretches. You can do this one from your chair…place your palm between your legs with your fingers rotated toward your torso. He also uses a band in a way I haven’t seen it done before…using a bit of distraction and creating more space between the carpal bones. Give it a shot!
3)Thoracic mobility with a pair of lacrosse/tennis balls or even your foam roller. Tape a couple of balls together (lacrosse balls are great for this, tennis balls work very well but are less intense. Place the balls or the foam roller along the midback, perpendicular to the spine and go through a cycle of flexion/extension for each segment along the mid and upper back.

A Guide to Conscious Habit

Ahoy and good day!

Your daily routine. You wake up, brush your teeth and get rid of that nasty tasting morning breath. Put on some clothes after throwing the PJs in the hamper and make your way into the living room. After turning on the TV, breakfast gets prepped. You open the door to the fridge and see that you’re out of eggs, milk and bacon. So you settle for that banana that is probably getting a little soft – but not so soft that you can’t munch your way through it only to have that sad feeling of ‘I’m still hungry’ crop up when you finish. After grabbing a cup of jo’ you pop a squat on the couch, open the iPad to get your daily dose of Facebook, only to realize you’re 20 minutes late for work because you hit that snooze button 3 times too many and you jet out the front door hoping to get to work on time.

Habits are created in neural pathways as a sense of ritual that help you live your life. Habit and routine comes from your body’s subconscious thought…what habits have been formed in the past that help make today a little bit easier? The consequence of habit can  be traced to both positive and/or negative outcomes in the short and long term. In the above example, an extra 20 minutes of sleep feels nice in the short term (positive outcome) but can result in having to rush out the door, potentially missing breakfast and having less time in the day to accomplish what you are setting out to accomplish (negative outcomes). Your brain would rather be on autopilot than analyze some decisions you make. Each and every action, emotion and movement that you have or make each day is a result of some decision you made – no matter how big or small the habit is. It helps keep your brain from over stressing. And it makes sense – without ritual, your mind would overheat the same way a car would without radiator fluid.

Take a minute and think about one area of your health you would like to improve…Are you looking to lose 15 pounds? Are you looking to improve your strength? Improve your nutrition? The beautiful thing about habit formation is that a simple ‘aha’ moment can lead to positive change in your life. You have the power right now to change and adapt your thinking. Your mind has the ability to critically analyze your habits. Habits are not good or bad – they result in perceived positive or negative outcomes in the long term and short term. And those little habits have added up to the person you are.

Try this – take a pen and paper (or open up a new window in your computer) and jot down a few things.

Step 1: Write down the current truth in a specific area you would like to improve. Write down how it is. (My example: I spend too much time sitting on my kiester in the morning, thus wasting valuable time for learning and personal growth)

Step 2: What are the rituals that have gotten you to where you are at? (My example: Watching too much Sportscenter. Taking too long to ‘get moving’ if I don’t have something scheduled. Too much time in front of screens.)

Step 3: Write down exactly what you want to achieve. (Receive my certification through the NSCA as a ‘distinguished’ Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist)

Step 4: What are the habits that will get you there? Make a list. A ritual – something automatic and unending that you know can get you to your goal.(Spend 15 mintues each morning meditating. Eat without screen time. Receive journal articles from the NSCA in the mail each month and commit to reading one scientific journal article while I am doing my morning business and continue my work in becoming a distinguished CSCS.)

Motivation comes and goes but discipline lasts a life time.

Figure out what you want to achieve and figure out the habits that lead to negative outcomes. Replace negative outcomes with something that you know will align with your goal.

Get yourself to focus on one or two of the habits that you can improve. And start with something easy. You will gain momentum. You will feel yourself improve. As you build the good habits, you’ll feel some pain involved in keeping up with the habit…but you’ll realize there is no pain of regret. And that payoff is well worth the investment.

Discipline > Motivation


Bloodflow Restriction Training

Just got into looking into one of the components of training we used a lot at the old therapy place in Hawaii, called bloodflow restriction training.  This article places a more ‘meathead approach’ to the use of bloodflow occlusion training. The article is more specific to building muscle and hints on a different method of muscle growth that nobody understands (seems to be the general concensus for all muscle building) – swelling within the muscle cells themselves causing hypertrophy. The idea behind restricting bloodflow is that your body doesn’t allow the backflow of blood, causing more swelling in the localized muscle, thus more growth in the localized muscle.

Here is another article by Dr. John Rusin, more in depth and with some great research

The basics of bloodflow restriction training:
-Using a blood pressure cuff or a device to ‘choke off’ blood flow along a part of the body you are trying to work in isolation. For instance, if you are working biceps, tighten a band at the armpit and around the shoulder. The trick in intensity is getting the band to the point of slight discomfort – the research articles I have read recommend a pressure of 160-200 mmhg…or on a personalized intensity scale at about 7 out of 10…you want it to be very tight – but not so tight you become numb without doing anything.
-Using a weight that is 20-30% of your one rep max for the exercise, aim for a first set of 20-25 reps.
-After the set, rest ~30 seconds while keeping the occulsive device secure on your arm.
-Perform a total of 3-4 sets.
-Work to COMPLETE FAILURE. When you muscle gets tired, you’re not done, work through the burn and only complete the series when your muscle is shot.
-Increased growth hormone response 24 hours after occulsion training

-Ability to push the muscle to a further degree of ‘failure’ due to a lighter weight
-DOMS is minimal
-ability to use a lighter weight to achieve hypertrophy (which actually holds huuge potential for the elderly)
-Take blood pressure in distal limb prior to performing BFR training – if the individual has some kind of arterial/venous blockage already, it could cause complications.
My thought is that it’s fun to try and it actually has shown some great results in populations others may deem ‘at risk’. It doesn’t fix laziness but it does introduce a new method of training to experience for folks looking to have fun when training. In the same way I don’t believe a specific diet is going to help everyone, I don’t believe this type of exercise is for everyone. But who’s to say it isn’t going to be fun to TRY? As long as you understand the risks and are willing to put your body through it, give it a shot!

You ain’t Cheating, you ain’t tryin’

Had a heck of a weekend with peeps after working out together on Sunday. ‘Winners’ of the workout were Todd and Holly – who affectionately named the workout ‘ohh this cold cement feels good’ immediately afterwards.

It was a great experience getting out of the 1 on 1 mode and diving into the whole ‘let’s work out as a team’ thing. I sometimes get nervous trying to motivate groups because my whole career has been primarily based around 1 on 1 training…but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

There is something I defintiely learned/reinforced this weekend from all the people who showed up – none of us is as smart as all of us. I can’t be the only person who motivates others to get in gear….there was something great about having a workout partner to feed off of and receive that extra push. And not just that, there were a couple moments where I realized others’ personal experiences would help relate all of our collective efforts into developing richer, more fulfilling lives for everyone. To all who came out – Thank you! And I look forward to doing it again very soon!

Quick one but here is the quote of the week from the wifey…

The Ketogenic Diet


I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with diet. If you are anything like me when it come to diet, you enjoy trying new things. I enjoy having the challenge of pushing away crappy food. And if there is an option to eat crap food, I’ll eat it. Unless I am dedicated to something new and different. And this is my most recent experiment…

The Ketogenic diet:

Quick and dirty –

  • Diet consisting of ~70% fat, 20-25% protein, <5% carbohydrate
  • Your body produces ketones when carbohydrate (glucose) is limited
  • Ketones (byproduct of fat) become your body’s response to spare glucose
  • Ketones are produced in liver and become your body’s alternative fuel source everywhere except red blood cells and central nervous system
  • CAN NOT replace glucose in anaerobic metabolism
  • CAN replace glucose in aerobic metabolism
  • High protein diets are not ketogenic
  • Benefits :
    • Satiety (blood glucose curbed and insulin sensitivity)
    • Fat as fuel source
    • Ketones are muscle sparing
    • Easy way to diet
  • Criticism
    • Ketogenic diets promises a ‘higher metabolic advantage'(has been equated to a higher than average protein diet)
    • Restriction of entire groups of food – Calorie restricitive but can also add in weight loss.
    • Science doesn’t yet back up the weight loss/fat loss promises.

Diseases that greatly benefit from ketogenic diet:

The ketogenic diet and Cancer

The ketogenic diet and Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet and Alzheimer’s

Interested in trying out the diet? Here is a keto calculator!

Check it out. Let me know what you think. I have been rocking the diet for about a month (with a slip-up around Halloween, thanks Obama). Anecdotally, it’s pretty intense at first in terms of restricting certain foods – but it also does a lot to keep me on track. After the first week, the carb cravings stopped, the workouts normalized and my body felt pretty good. There were moments of fatigue and overexertion – moreso than normal during a workout, but overall, it feels great to have that sense of control over my food again. And really, how can you be upset when you lather butter all over your bacon, steak and beef? Really, it’s kind of insane. But fun.

Peace like Geese

Gaggle Spotlight: The Maag Man


Hey There!

Here is another one of those folks on team Gaggle. He is a father of two, husband to an awesome wife (and fellow Gaggler) while embodying the type of person who sees success in the long term. This guy has been nothing short of a pleasure to work with. I take a lot of cues from this guy, his family and I have never met someone so in tune with long-term success. He has been with me for 9 weeks now-he has been both a great motivator and friend! A Professional rollerblader and Professional badass,


  1. Who are you? Don’t be afraid to be weird.   My name is Joshua Maag. I am a software engineer by trade, have an MBA and am an extreme busy bee. I spend a lot of time on computers and help big firms scale their database systems. I used to be a professional rollerblader, both in speed and vertical. I mean, who would admit to wearing rollerblades anymore. 😉 I love what I do and love helping people. I also have a fantastic wife and 2 great kids and love spending time with my boy and would love to do more active things with him. In my spare time, I love to hike, camp and go outdoors. Last year, I bought a camping trailer so we can glamp with the best of them and get my wife out in the wilderness. As she always says, nothing says serious camping like a kitchen with a island.
  2. What obstacles did you have before starting an exercise program? What obstacles do you currently have in achieving your goals? I work a lot and have not been able to break through with diet or exercise. In the past I tried HCG and lost a decent amount of weight but eventually regained it. Food and portions have always been an issue. I have spent time tracking on occasion, but eventually lose motivation. What I have noticed in the past year is that I am continuing to gain weight and feeling worse, despite my efforts. It’s also honestly hard to commit to yourself when others depend on you so much. I love my kids and want to be there for them, even when it means personal/professional sacrifice.
  3. How have you been able to overcome those obstacles? What’s your plan to achieve these obstacles? I decided I needed a changed, I needed some mechanism to force me into a commitment. I was successful once losing the weight on just a diet and what I realized that helped keep it off for a while was the rigorous exercise that followed. My plan to achieve these goals was to not focus on weight but instead focus on what bothers me and what I’d like to see different. I wanted to inject fitness and diet into a plan. Initially my plan was as follows: Step 1: Buy fitness stuff and come up with a diet Step 2: ? Step 3: Be healthy But who knows what step 2 was. I decided that I needed help and opted to hire a personal trainer. Honestly, I had no idea where to look. I’m not a member of any gym. I tried googling but found that search results for personal training was horrible. And the ones that would pop up, ended up looking like a really bad infomercial. I was serious and wanted to be serious and not follow some bull shit lose weight quick scheme. Now my step 2 has now become a personal trainer. I found Mike on Thumbtack and reviewed each personal trainer’s response and background to decide he was the right one for me. I have chosen to have an external voice to kick my butt along the way and make sure I am progressing toward a goal.
  4. What is your goal? I have a few goals actually. I really needed some visual goal to go after. In my closet was this pretty new shirt for the band, Social Distortion. Not that I have some extreme affinity for the band. I just want to be able to wear the shirt comfortably. As it is now, the shirt is so tight, I can’t wear it without feeling fat. Today it stands on a hanger on my closet door as a reminder of where I want to be. My long term goal is to get closer to 200 lbs. This is really an arbitrary number, but a number I feel is a healthy weight for someone fit and strong. I don’t want to be rail thin, but I want to reduce my overall fat percentage here. Building muscle will get me there. I want to increase my metabolism. In order to keep the weight off, one thing I need to do is have my body be more efficient. People say as you age, it get’s harder, your metabolism slows and losing weight is no longer a simple thing. Once I get where I want to be and build a strong core, my metabolism can assist in keeping me there. This also means, I need to be fit for life. I need to continue to have a strong core and maintain that new healthy lifestyle. My kids are a goal. I want to be the great grandpa that lives to be 100 and talks about “back in my day, I went uphill both ways in the snow to get to school…” My great grandfather, Great Grandpa Stratton, lived over 100 and he was active most of his life. I’d like to be like him. I have also set goals for certain exercises like, my body weight in a squat, 40 push ups a minute, and 140 seconds on a plank. I’d also like a 34-36″ waist, even more so than weight loss.
  5. What/who motivates you? In work? In life? In exercise? My family motivates me the most. I want to be there for them as long as possible. They are my passion and inspiration. This is so important to me that I have signed my wife up with Mike to join in the journey together. My old, now gone beagle, Talyn. The last 4 years of his life was rough. I saw him balloon up to 55 lbs and succumb to diabetes and cataracts. The last 4 years of his life, I had to manage his insulin every day. It’s an eye opener when you have to inject insulin with a needle every day. It’s also an expensive and dangerous disease. He had to change his diet and learn to live blind. In the end, he experienced ketoacidosis, which was basically his bodies way of dealing with his diabetes. My plug. Mike has been an awesome motivator for me. He’s kicking my butt and keeping me honest. It has been a pleasure and great reward to have someone there to continue to motivate me.
  6. Why now? Are there any specific events coming up or that have recently occurred to spark your interest? Honestly, the realization that my dad is now diabetic and my grandfather has been for years. I have also had a lot of indigestion from being unhealthy. It has also been a bit challenging to tie my own shoes. Many things have culminated to this decision. Ultimately it boils down to a few rules from Zombieland: 1. Cardio 10. Don’t swing low 18. Limber Up 20. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint 26. A little sunscreen never hurt anybody 29. The buddy system 32. Enjoy the little thingsWe recently sold our house and are currently building a new house. It would be nice with all the changes to make that leap forward. I’d also would like to get back into things like rollerblading and to be able to take a whole day skiing with my son in the winter months without becoming exhausted. Mike also found a 10k rollerblading event in the Spring. That would be a fun litmus test to my success.
  7. What achievements have you made? I have lost 3 inches from my waistline from 47″ to 44″. I can now do more than 10 push ups. Just today, during our workout, we were doing exercises based on 52 cards in a deck. I know that I could do the pushups from a full suit of cards from Ace to King, i.e. reps of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, (J)10, (Q)10, (K)10, (A)11. I have had very little to almost no heartburn since I have started this journey. Since starting my workout, I just haven’t had much need for Tums. It’s more than just food I would eat. My body just plain feels better, if not sore from working out. But hey, it hurts so good. I have also been tracking my food intake like a hawk. I force myself to eat breakfast every day and have only had one doughnut for breakfast since undertaking my journey. I actually find it harder to hit calories than to go over these days, though I definitely need to still increase my protein intake.
  8. Favorite activities? I really enjoy going on bike rides with my son, running with my daughter in her stroller around the park. I also really love long hikes. I need to get in a 14 mile hike up Mill D North Fork to Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood before winter hits. Oh and who can forget Winter skiing is a must.
  9. Some things you have learned while working with me? Mike has primarily shown me that: 1. You can work your butt off with very little weight or no weight 2. Having obtainable goals and stretch goals are good 3. Good attitude leads to great success 4. Constant tracking is going to help (watch what you eat, especially on holidays) 5. Goals are obtainable in a reasonable amount of time 6. Adjust when things aren’t working right 7. Ultimately, I am solely responsible for what I do. If I can’t own up to it, the rest is just an excuse 8. I really, really can’t do a full pull up…yet 9. Squats are fun
  10. Anything you would like to add about your experience? Mike is fantastic. He’s super happy and motivating. He will care about you and your health and enjoys seeing your success. I only wish I had gone with a personal trainer years ago, but then I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of working with Mike if I had. You need to be open and honest with your trainer and yourself. Also be willing to follow the %80/%20 rule. It’s ok to enjoy yourself once in a while, just keep the eyes on the prize.

My Friend and Yours: Chris Hopkins


I am going to be posting some highlights of people who work with me – individuals looking to improve health, build interpersonal relationships with like-minded folks and highlight ways people motivate themselves and each other. After seeing some of these answers, I can promise you this…we’ve all got at least one thing in common – we’re all weird.

‘None of us is as smart as all of us’ – Japanese Proverb (I think)

A huge component in all of this is building relationships. To me, there are a lot of amazing people I receive motivation from in being my best – and in extension – helping you! My hope is that you will take something from each person I post about, give suggestions and encourage them to keep bettering themselves. I feel very lucky to be in the position that I am in – and my goal is to get you to feel that same way.

Without further ado, my friend and yours,

Chris ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

  • Who are you? Don’t be afraid to be weird.

    Im a (soon to be) 42 yr old male that is from West Virginia…  I just so happen to be overweight, gay, and a baptized Christian (I walk a fine line).  I let my faith influence me, but not control me.

  • What obstacles did you have before starting an exercise program? What obstacles do you currently have? 

    Willpower… pure and simple.  I don’t mind working out I just have a hard time staying focused.  I don’t like the feeling of being judged.  Oddly enough I’m the one usually judging myself.  As for current issues- I just have a real hard time saying “no” to certain foods and I sometimes don’t quit when I’m “full”.

  • How have you been able to overcome those obstacles? What’s your plan to achieve these obstacles?

    It’s a constant struggle and will leave it at that… it probably always will be.

  • What is your goal? 

    To get below %25 BCA and maintain it or get better.

  • What/who motivates you? In work? In life? In exercise?

    I don’t want to be obnoxious but I motivate me…  I want better for me and I strive for it however Im also my biggest obstacle.  I also draw strength from people that I know that succeed and have strong willpower and drive.

  • Why now?Are there any specific events coming up or that have recently occurred to spark your interest?

    I don’t want to jeopardize the last 4 1/2 to 5 yrs of my career  because of BCA issues and I want to maintain my health and fitness as I live through the rest of my 40s and beyond

  • Favorite activities?

    Obstacle course running, Frisbee, and paintball (I have other non-physical activities I enjoy as well

  • Anything you would like to add?

      Listen to the “Goose” and im sure we shall all succeed together!!