The Ultimate Christmas List For The Fitness Lover

It’s almost time for Black Friday! Which means Christmas is already around the corner. When shopping for someone that’s into fitness, there’s a couple things to pay attention to. 

Some people can be very picky. Not because they are a picky person but because of different factors that are involved in their training. Some things to keep an eye on and maybe ask if you aren’t sure is:

1. What kind of fitness are they into? 

Bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, yoga, etc. This can really help so you look in the right direction.

2. Supplement favorites?

Are they sensitive to caffeine, does whey protein mess with their stomach, do they have a flavor they can’t stand?

*DO NOT JUST TAKE A STAB IN THE DARK AND GRAB THE FIRST THING AT WALMART.

This can be an area where you might just want to avoid unless you have a really good idea what they use and like.

3. Do they have access to a gym?

This can decide whether to get some items or accessories for the gym or home.

4. Do they have this item already?

If it’s a supplement or subscription box then thats okay because it’s an investment that is made consistently. However if it’s a set of bands, do they have this set already? Do they need another set or should we grab something else?

So what makes the list?

Whether you have a family member, gym friend or you’re doing a random acts of kindness for someone into fitness, I plan of having you walk away knowing exactly what to pick for them! I have created a list of 10 items that you can’t go wrong with! Lets get started!

1) Fitness subscription box

Iron Crate

Every fitness lover finds monthly fitness subscription boxes super exciting! Think about it.. it’s basically a fitness Christmas each month! I love my monthly box I get from Iron Crate. We keep it exciting and fresh each month. We include the most trustworthy and highest quality products on the market. We also include workout programs to keep you busy in the gym and even throw in items that you can use such as shakers, gym accessories and fresh gear to wear!

Why try shopping for stuff and end up getting something they may not like when you can take out the middle man. We hand select the items each month and create a unique monthly Crate for our customers. We even take care of shipping too! 

The best thing about Iron Crate is that the retail value adds up to anywhere from $80-$130 each month but the monthly subscription customers only pay $39.99 a month for a box full of fitness goodies! So you can get up to $130 worth of fitness for only $39.99!

Go grab an Iron Crate for you, a family member or a gym buddy to make their Christmas! You can save 15% off your first Iron Crate with using the code “CRATE15” at checkout! 


Iron Crate

2) Healthy snacks

Healthy snacks are such a great choice! The best part is that it fits all categories of fitness! Iron Crate has you covered again. We also carry amazing snacks packed with protein that make great treats for any fitness enthusiast. One huge favorite is the protein candies we carry from MusclePharm. They taste just like M&Ms but without all the sugar that will affect your blood sugar levels. They are also a great source of protein and the taste is out of this world 🤤 I snack on these all the time when I’m craving chocolate.. which is almost everyday. Grab some items and fill up a stocking for your fitness lover this Christmas!


3) Vitamin D

Out of all vitamins, this one is going to be a huge seller this year. Most of us are deficient in vitamin D. They say that this specific vitamin may help protect against becoming infected with, and developing serious symptoms of COVID-19. 

Healthline.com saysA new study that looked at 216 people with COVID-19 found that 80 percent didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood

That is going to be one thing right off the bat that increases sales on this vitamin. Let me explain why this is a great gift idea other than that. Vitamin D is known for helping to have healthy muscles, bones and teeth. It can also help keep your immune system healthy, regulate energy levels and aid in brain health. The benefits of this vitamin are a tool most of us need, making it the perfect item to throw on the Christmas list this year.


At home gym equipment

It’s 2020.. the gyms have been closed down once. Let’s be honest, it won’t hurt to have a couple things at the house just to be safe.

Here’s a list of home gym items I would go with.

4) Yoga mat

This is a good option because for most fitness categories, you will typically want some kind of mat or padding on the floor. This can protect the weights, floor and the lifter.

5) Glute resistance band

Glute resistance band from Ironcrate.co

Let me explain why I LOVE these and think everyone needs one. Our glutes are naturally weak. Especially if we sit at school or at a desk all day. This can cause low back pain and issues with the hamstrings. This glute band can help increase strength in the glutes and hips.

If you are an athlete, this tool can aid you like no other. It can help pre-activate the glutes which essentially turns them on to increase strength during your workout. This can increase overall strength and lead to more muscle activation for bigger muscles and better performance.

I hear the girls in my gym talk about this all the time.. They want better and bigger glutes. This band WILL help if used properly.

I use this band for me and my clients before all of our lower body days in the gym. It is one of my favorite investments and I believe you will be just as happy as I was when you get one.

We sell these for an amazing price on Ironcrate.co , just click the button below and it will take you to the item on my website so you can pick one up before we sell out.

6) Adjustable dumbbells

Going with the adjustable ones compared to the ones that are coming already set at weights will save moolah. It also saves space which is a plus. You can get a good pair from places like Amazon or even Walmart. I would get a set with some kind of iron weights compared to the plastic weights. That is just my personal preference though. If you are on a surface where you need to take care of it, then plastic might be a better idea.

7) Resistance bands

This is a great gift idea. It is highly utilized by many fitness categories and has many functions making it a good tool to have at home.

There are 2 main bands that will pop up when you type this into the search bar. The ones on the left are great for exercise variety. If you don’t have dumbbells or any weights then this may be a better decision because it will give you more options. The bands on the right are very popular for other things. They do not have handles like the other set and are a closed band as to where the other set is open. These are great for athletes that do explosive workouts. It is also a great tool to have added in if you have a squat rack or bench set that can add band resistance. They will typically have pegs for bands on the bottom.

8) A good pair of wireless headphones

Notice I didn’t say Air Pods or Beats? This is one I would ask about if you think that person is picky because just like supplements or flavors, this can be one of those gifts that the person may want a specific pair. If you have the budget, I think Air Pods or Beats are the higher quality ones on the market. However, one of my brothers and sisters has a set of headphones that look just like Air Pods and operate at just about the same level, so if that person isn’t picky, those are a better option if you have a lower budget in mind.

This is personally one of the items on my list this year. I like my normal headphones but I find myself always in a hassle messing with the cord. I do a lot of work involving my headphones and don’t always want to carry my phone on me so I like the thought of not worrying about the wire getting in the way or getting stuck on everything.

9) Shaker bottle custom to their favorite interest

The shaker bottle companies have been changing the game lately with their special series they are always dropping. They have bottles with teams, super heroes, food items and yes even some with avocados working out on them.

As someone that loves a lot of different fitness categories, there is something about having a flashy shaker bottle or one that is custom to what your interest are that makes you feel some type of way. Remember that feeling when you got that fresh new Scooby lunch box back in 1st grade, and you couldn’t wait to show it off? Yea that feeling. So take note of what their interested in and search it up.

10) Smart Watch

Apple, Fitbit and Fossil have amazing smart watch products. No matter what category your fitness lover is into, the watch makes working out so much fun!

This is also a great gift to get a beginner because it can really keeps them motivated by little things like “filling the rings” on the watches. Basically it sets goals for you such as walking distance, calories burned, time standing, etc. As you accomplish the goals, it fills up rings on your watch. This is like checking off something on a to do list. It gives a great sense of accomplishment!

Lets WRAP this up, get it.. Christmas.. gifts..HA, not funny, I know

There are a lot of amazing products out there that are going to be brought to your attention due to high marketing around the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to get the 1st thing you see on the commercials. Next thing you know, you’re getting a shake weight for your grandson that is into powerlifting. So trust me, this is a good list that can really meet expectations for all fitness categories.

Wanna see another list for a specific category such as athletes, cross fit, runners, etc? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you want to see! Also let me know if you have any items that you think should be added to the list!

Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving this week!

-Alex Costa-

10 Ways To Increase Muscle Recovery

Your alarm clock goes off in the morning.. You get up to hit it and almost fall off of your bed due to how sore your legs are. The legs start to tense up and every step you take, you feel the bittersweet leg day soreness.

The last thing you can think about is trying to stretch out your legs when you feel like you can barley walk after training. Well let me discuss with you in todays article 10 ways to increase your muscle recovery so you can get through the soreness and back to the gym for the best performance possible.

#1 – Mobility work

Deep lunge stretch


When I have a set plan, mobility takes up a good portion of it for a couple reasons. One being that it helps my mobility in exercises and for my performance. Two, it helps with my recovery. I warm up for 10-20 minutes which includes the bike, foam rolling, dynamic stretches and pre activation work. My night time mobility consist of foam rolling, a few dynamic stretches and static stretches. This has been a game changer I have noticed when I stay consistent with it.

#2 – Supplementation
Do you need supplements? Not really but do they help with muscle recovery? Yes, yes they do. Some of my go-to supplements I take for my muscle recovery include BCAAs, protein and creatine monohydrate.

These will reduce muscle soreness and aid with the construction of the muscles when they are broken down and in need to recover.

#3 – Contrast showers
You know when you take a shower and it’s warm for like 2 minutes then gets super cold? Yeah, welcome to a contrast shower. Some people need their plumbing fixed and some people are just crazy like that.

This is a unique method that not a lot of people have the will power to do. It sucks and there is nothing exciting about it. However it does aid in recovery of the muscles. A contrast shower is when you utilize the cold and hot temperature of the water to exert different blood flow through the body. This essentially allows the blood to rush through the body for increased recovery and the heat acts as a method to loosen up some tightness as well. You go from as cold as you can stand it for 30-60 seconds and then to as hot as you can stand it for the same time. I only do this for 4-6 minutes at the most.

I wouldn’t necessarily do this everyday but include it 1 or 2 times a week here and there if your muscles are a little sore.

Here is my article on Contrast showers.

#4 – Sleep!
So I have mixed opinions on this but at the end of the day, it is extremely hard to fight the science on this topic. Research says for best results, you should really try to aim for about 8 hours of sleep a night. Now does everyone get 8 hours every night? Probably not. Do I get 8 hours a night? probably not. Will this make or break you? Ehh maybe but probably not.

Look, for 2-3 years I went almost everyday on 4-5 hours of sleep because I would stay up to work really late and be up by 4:30am everyday to go to the gym. I am not saying this is the right way by any means but I will say I was able to withstand that and felt okay. My anxiety was getting super bad and I would sometimes have a hard time sleeping but I dealt with it.

Recently I have really tried to get 6-8 hours a night and holy cow, I feel way better. Literally a night and day difference. An article I read said that “sleep deprivation can have a significant negative effect on performance and recovery.” It also touches on how when you sleep, your body can undergo protein synthesis and help the recovery process.

#5 – Deep tissue massage
This is very similar to foam rolling, basically the same concept. Now before you go and set up an appointment for a deep tissue massage, I just want to be clear that this isn’t the type of stuff you see in movies where you are relaxed and completely loving every second. This is painful, but a good pain. They are getting deep into the muscle to release tension and allow a better blood flow to happen so for that to work, they will typically use their hands and some massage tools. It is great if you can afford them or just even doing a couple a month is something you could try. Not necessary for recovery though, so feel free to foam roll instead if you’d like.

#6 – Keep hydrated
Keeping hydrated is crucial for too many reasons to write about. However when you are dehydrated, you are putting your body at risk for many things, recovery being one of them. I read in an article that “exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself” So carry a jug and a bunch of water bottles and sip on it through the day, especially before, during and after a workout.

#7 – Limit alcohol
I read this in an article and it was different and stood out to me so I wanted to include it into this post. It goes over how studies say that more than 1-2 drinks after working out could impair the bodies chance to recover. I honestly never knew that until I read that, so it is something I wanted to incorporate into todays article.

#8 – Ice bath
This brings me back to the good ol high school days where we would jump in an ice bath after football and track practices. I have done some research on this topic and I found an article that actually goes over how ice baths may not be as good as we think for recovery. However it shouldn’t hurt if you use it here and there after intense workouts. It is said that the cold water constricts blood vessels and flush waste products from the muscles.

I would use ice baths once in a blue moon to help with muscle recovery.

#9 – Static stretch after working out
I have always followed this protocol as a cool down method and to help relax the muscle from being tense. I found a very interesting article that mentioned “Static stretching initially reduces blood flow, capillary region oxygenation, and the velocity of red blood cells to the muscle, but this is significantly increased after the stretch.” This personally makes sense to me because of the mechanical strain being placed on the muscle when stretching and lengthening. This is just like what was mentioned in that article above, it will compress the vascular system. They said there is still research still needing to be conducted for further evidence. In my opinion, I would throw some static stretching in after training for its ability to relax the muscle and cool down the body after exercise.

#10 – Stress management
I got a lot of positive feedback on the article I wrote last week, it was called 10 Ways To Manage Stress. I highly recommend you read that and learn a few techniques.

Another article I read said “When intense workouts are thrown into the volatile combination of high chronic stress and an already overworked body, you are asking your body to eventually break down in the form of lackluster results or, worse, severe injury. Any form of stress in your life is going to take a toll on your overall well-being and your body’s capacity to take on anything further.”

Take some time and manage stress, it will help with recovery and living a happier, healthier life.

Now that we have talked about what we can do to help increase our recovery, it is time to utilize this information and share it with a friend. Pick some of these out to try or do them all! Don’t forget to tell your gym buddy or a friend to help them with their recovery!

Have a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! I had a little bit of a busier weekend with it being more of a birthday weekend, woot woot. I finished an ab workout on Sunday and wanted something with a little carbs but not too many, I opened up Instagram and saw a recipe on my guy Dustin Myers page (go follow him @coachmyers_gutcheck). Great guy and amazing strength and conditioning coach. Anyway, it was a little different than this but not by much so I threw my own thing together and it turned out amazing! Full of nutrients and nothing that was going to leave me “too full” whatever that means.

Here’s a quick throw together recipe you can do within 5 minutes! All you need is:

These are the ingredients I used here above in the picture
  • Oats (half cup)
  • Almond milk (about a half cup or full cup depending on preference)
  • Almond butter (1 tablespoon)
  • Chia seeds (1 teaspoon)
  • Blueberries (I did a mini handful)

First you can take care of the oats and milk by mixing them and throwing them in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. After you take them out, let it cool for just a moment then place a tablespoon of almond butter on top. Afterwards, I threw the blueberries in on one side, then came the chia seeds to top it off.

This snack is full of vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients to kickstart your day and give you some energy! This was delicious and only took a few minutes to put together. Try it out and let me know how you like it!! Also feel free to throw in different fruits and toppings to match what you are craving!

Have a great Monday!

-Alex Costa-

I’m Trying Contrast Showers For Recovery

Click here to watch the video!

In this video, I am trying out a recovery method called contrast showering. It is using hot water and cold water to manipulate recovery time. It is also full of other health benefits but check out this video from tigerfitness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4rmr90mvzc and juggernaut training systems – https://www.youtube.com/user/CWSmith52 for more info on this topic. I don’t know as much on them yet because I just started to try them out but I will cover another video in the future and cover all of the benefits the contrast shower offeres!

Meet day is less than 48 hours away!!

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

3 Ways to Crack Your Back

IF YOU HAVE DISK PROBLEMS, DO NOT TRY THESE UNLESS YOU CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN. If these cause any pain at all, then stop use of these stretches. Other than that, give it a try. They are great for stretching and increasing mobility in the spine.

Lower Body Stretching Routine

Today I am going to show you some of my go-to stretches for my lower body. I used to do these during football and track season. These will increase flexability in the hip flexors, glutes,hamstrings, lower back and more! Hope everyone is having a great Monday. I will see you guys tomorrow with another video!

    -Alex Costa-

 

Increase Lower back Mobility with These 3 Movements

Talking a little mobility today. I will give you 3 movements to try at home or before your workout to get the spin ready to work. This has helped minor back pain for me in the past, I am not saying it will cure yours if you have pain but there is a chance it could! If it still bugs you then see a chiropractor. Hope everyone is doing well, if you know someone with minor back issues then share this vieo with them to help.

Have a great Thursday!
  -Alex Costa-

Stretches to Relieve Neck Pain

Ever have an ache in your neck and it brings on a headache?

Ever have a stiff neck cause you sleep on it wrong??

Do you have poor posture in your neck and need something to fix it?

I HAVE GOT YOU COVERED!

In todays video, I am giving you a couple stretches you can do at home to lengthen up those muscles and help relieve pain in that area! I hope you all like this video. If you like it then subscribe and tell a friend about the website.

I hope everyone has a great Saturday, enjoy some good football games!
-Alex Costa-

How To Use A Foam Roller

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you all had a great week! I am giving you video #5 which is going over how to use a foam roller. Foam rolling has been around for ages but I don’t see very many people using one. They are a legit tool for mobility and a complete game changer if you are using them correctly. That is why I wanted to post this video today and show you how to use it properly to get the most out of this tool.

 

If you liked this video then you may like this article I wrote a month or 2 ago on why you should be using a foam roller. Come back tomorrow for a NEW video!

Have a great day and great weekend!
-Alex Costa-

3 Protein Shake Recipes For ATHLETES!

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

I like to share recipes on the website and think it benefits a lot of the viewers. Today I want to focus on giving my athletes out there a few choices of protein shakes that will give them the right nutrients for muscle repair, increased energy and they are cost friendly!

Lets say you don’t have any protein available at home or just don’t have a whole lot of money for that at the moment. I get that, some protein can be very pricey for the container so these recipes will NOT require a protein powder.

A common thing that a lot of young student athletes miss out on is the vitamins and minerals their body need for growth. They need to eat veggies, need to get fruits, a source of proteins, good carbohydrates and healthy fats to ensure they get the full potential of all of the nutrients. Don’t get me wrong, a little bit of pizza, ice cream and candy won’t hurt from time to time, they’re kids! Well a good amount of them. However I am here to help with health and wellness as well as everything else because when it comes down to it, everything starts with what we fuel our bodies with.

 

Now let us get to the recipes! It is very simple and we do not need a whole lot for them. I will place the ingredient and recipe list below .

Recipe #1

This one in my mind is a classic favorite! It is full of protein to help your muscles repair themselves after workouts. The peanut butter and ice will help give it a “milk shake” texture which is delicious.

  • 1 cup of chocolate milk or normal milk, your choice. Chocolate will give it a little more flavor. Almond, soy & cashew milk is also another good choice of milk
  • 1-2 TBSP of peanut butter. Organic peanut butter is a solid choice!
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup of whole oats
  • 1 Banana

 

Recipe #2

This recipe will leave your taste buds clueless on what just hit them! If you like fruits and juices then you will love this. The greek yogurt will provide some protein and thicken up the shake a little. There are tons of antioxidants in this one to help the immune system as well which is critical for athletes.

  • 4 oz. cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • 2-4 TBSP – Plain yogurt – greek yogurt will have more protein

 

RECIPE #3

This recipe is a vitamin packed shake! It also uses water instead of milk for those who are lactose intolerant! The cashews will provide a little extra protein and healthy fats.

  • 8 oz of water
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup of cashews or another nut (MAKE SURE YOU DON’T HAVE ALLERGIES)

 

The directions are simple just throw everything in a blender and hit blend. One thing I do want to mention is make sure you pay attention to ingredients and if there is something you are allergic to then substitute  it with something else. If you need help trying to find a substitute then just hit me up and I can help you! Obviously if you have protein powder then feel free to mix it in with these! The reason I made these without protein powders is because it is more cost friendly and some athletes may not like the powders.

I hope everyone is having a great week, thank you for coming and checking out this article. If you have any questions, concerns or comments just hit me up in the comment section below.

Alex Costa-