We are huge fans of The Ocho System (OS), their holistic approach to living is very much in line with our own at HBFit. Founder Joe Holder formulated the OS philosophy during his time at the University of Pennsylvania, where he balanced responsibilities both as a student and as a football player. His approach to health and wellness is simply balancing eating for fuel with positive thinking and effective workouts to promote an elevated healthy life. In addition to private clients through OS, Joe runs Community Development for Health Warrior, trains at S10 and recently spoke as a guest of Harvard Law Student Animal Legal Defense Fund about the benefits of plant-based eating for fitness, nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
We asked Joe to give us some tips on pre/post workout fuel and a leg workout that we can do at home:
Pre-workout (less than 60 minutes before a workout): For me, this time is often not one for food. I’m a fan of leaving the stomach undisturbed and exercising on a relatively empty stomach because this can often help promote fat burning. This strategy means you have to be diligent with eating throughout the day, which many people struggle with, or design a workout that won’t eat away at your lean mass. So, if you need something before a workout, think low glycemic foods that will not spike your blood sugar. Here are some of my other picks
- Caffeine: If you’re really in a rush, grab a double espresso. For those that can handle caffeine well and it causes no discomfort, it is a quality pre-workout. Caffeine is often the active ingredient in many pre-workout supplements. Skip the artificial colors and preservatives and keep it old school with a doppio instead.
- Chia Seeds, water, and a tiny bit of sugar: Chia seeds have always been my go-to. The seeds are so nutrient dense and help control blood sugar which is essential, especially before aerobic exercise. I then use a bit of Endura, a favorite electrolyte mix of mine. Don’t be weary of the fructose, in limited amounts it is actually beneficial for athletes. Need something quicker? Try a Health Warrior Chia Bar. Chia Seeds are the first ingredient and the bar is only 100 calories which means limited stress on the digestive system.
- Steel Cut Gluten Free Oats: Keep the portion size small, ½ cup max, and top with a small bit of raw honey, some power seeds, and low sugar fruit (think berries).
We are going to throw in a workout series for the legs that focuses on power a bit with jumping. Jumping, especially for women, is vital. Not only will it get your heart rate up, it will also help improve bone density. I love explosive moves that often follow a controlled exercise. Think squats followed by squat jumps. Here’s a circuit below for you to try out that requires no equipment and you can do right at home!
- Side Lunge to Knee Drive: Begin standing with feet shoulder width apart. Take your right foot and lunge to right side, keeping chest up and knee in line with toes. Keep opposite leg straight and push back strong off right foot, driving knee as you come up. Engage core and hold knee up for one second. Repeat for 10 reps and switch sides.
- Alternating Jump Lunges: Begin standing in a split squat position, right leg forward. Keep chest up and lower left leg toward the ground, keeping angle in front knee. Explode up and push off the ground, switching legs in mid-air. Land with opposite leg forward and repeat for 10 reps on each side.
- Bodyweight Tempo Squats: Stand with feet shoulder width and lower your body down, sitting back with the hips. Keep chest up as you sit down. Take at least three seconds to lower the return to start position.
- “Frog” Squat Jumps: Begin in a “frog” position with your legs wide and feet pointed out. Sit low and place hands in between legs, fingers touching the ground. Explode up from the squat position, feet leaving the ground. Soft landing back into squat. Repeat for 30 seconds.
- Single Leg Deadlift: Stand with feet together. Lower hands towards floor while kicking right leg behind you. Keep right leg as straight as possible and back flat as you lower. You can have a slight bend in left leg. Tap the ground in front of you with finger tips and return to start position. Perform 10 reps each leg.
- Single Leg Lateral Bounds w/Hold: Begin standing on right foot with left leg of the ground. Push off the right foot and jump laterally, switching feet in air as you do. Land on left foot and hold for one second. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Notes: “1” and “2” describe a “superset” exercises that should be done back to back with no rest. Complete prescribed 3 sets of each and then move on to next superset of exercises.
Post Workout: What you absolutely want to do is have some carbohydrates. Yes, carbohydrates. While I am an overall fan of a low to moderate carbohydrate diet for weight and body fat management, we shouldn’t totally demonize the food group. Carbohydrates are still very, very useful. Post workout is a crucial time because you want to replenish your muscle glycogen stores, prohibit muscle breakdown, and your body is much more responsive to process since you just worked out. Having a mix of fast absorbing carbohydrates and protein is best. Below is my top pick for best recovery:
The Shake: I love this “Green Pina Colada” #HBFit Smoothie. It’s a “real” food instead of shake that has been sitting on a shelf for days. You get some dark leafy greens to help promote recovery, replenish iron which is crucial, and added antioxidants. Pineapple and bananas for the carbohydrates needed to replenish glycogen stores and vitamin C to accelerate iron absorption. All you need to do is add a scoop of rice protein powder or a few tablespoons of hemp seeds to get the protein you need + 5-6g BCAAs (if available). Cut back slightly on the coconut milk to ½ cup and add ½ cup water or replace it with your favorite nut milk.
I substitute a high quality rice protein instead of whey to keep it plant-based. Rice protein can work just as well and many people often have an allergy or sensitivity to whey. Always buy high quality, minimally processed protein powders if you decide to purchase as many subpar brands may contain heavy metals and other unneeded fillers.
Just keep it simple! Real food over highly processed bars and packaged shakes. Also, don’t fear the carbs if used correctly. Your muscles, and not fat, will thank you!