Tag Archives: teamexos

3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy

Want to be more productive every day? Want to create some momentum early in the morning and keep the ball rolling throughout the day? Tired of feeling slow and lethargic? Here are a few easy ways to stay charged up and in control during the day.

1. Balance Your Blood Sugar

If you want to keep your energy stable throughout the day then you need to first look at what you’re eating and when you’re eating. If your breakfasts consists of a bagel with cream cheese, a coffee and some fruit, then you’re looking at a perfect recipe to crash in 4 hours or less. Loading up on carbs might feel great at first because it spikes your blood sugar and consequently, your insulin, but once your insulin goes to work, your blood sugar may crash leaving you feeling sluggish. Balance your blood sugar by eating 1 small portion of complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.) multiple times throughout the day to keep your blood sugar balanced.

2. Control your Caffeine Intake

Even I have this problem. I physically can’t wake up in the morning without a cup of coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, but 5 hours later I’m back to feeling mentally cloudy. An easy solution to this problem is to start off with a cup of coffee and then switch to a couple cups of green or earl grey tea throughout the day. Reason being that tea has less caffeine than coffee, and it’s a much more mild sense of stimulation (for me anyway). Waking up with 1 cup of coffee, having a cup of tea 3-4 hours later, and then another cup 3-4 hours later provides little rushes of caffeine throughout the day, almost like a continuous drip. I’m not very sensitive to caffeine so this works great for me and I can still sleep at night as long as I stop by 4 or 5 pm. Tailor it to your needs.

3. Get At Least 15-20 Minutes of Exercise During the Day

Some people get their best results exercising first thing in the morning and some people need more time to wake up. What’s always worked best for me is working out anywhere from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in regards to increasing my energy throughout the day. I do 15-20 minutes on my “rest days” of either stretching/barrel rolling or light-moderate cardio. That’s all it takes to stimulate some blood flow, increase your mobility and feel more alert for the next few hours. Try it out, you may even find that it works better than a cup of coffee for you.

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20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

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20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

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What Should You Eat Post-Workout?

Whether you’re Team Whole Foods or Team Supplements you know you have to eat something after you’re workout. The question I always hear is, “what should I eat after my workout?”. I’m all about getting nutrients from a whole food source, but if you’re in a crunch for time then you may want to consider some different whey shakes and bars because, honestly, peanut butter and celery is not an effective post workout meal even if it makes you feel better that it’s more natural. Here’s what you need for an effective post workout meal: simple carbohydrates, fast digesting protein, and very little fat (and if you have to have it, make it a plant based fat). These are some really easy meals you can have within 30-45 minutes of working out. Some are going to be whole food examples, some are going to have supplements.

1. Grilled Chicken & White Rice
6 oz. grilled white meat chicken
1 cup of white rice

Simple right? Add 1 to 2 tbsp. of a very low fat (3-5 g fat/tbsp.) sauce to jazz it up or just eat it plain…like a serial killer.

2. Whey Protein Shake & Gummy Bears
1-2 scoops of whey protein in 8-12 oz. of cold water
1 serving of gummy bears, gummy worms, Swedish fish or dried fruit

Team Whole Foods is going to boycott my page for this. Remember, 4 out of your 5 meals for the day should be from whole food sources and healthy. I even added the option of dried fruit to this meal out of respect! There’s science behind this, I swear. After your workout your body’s insulin levels jump. At this time your body wants to deliver nutrients as quickly as possible to the affected muscles to begin repairing them immediately. Your muscles need amino acids (protein) and glucose (sugar) as quickly as possible to recover. This is why we’re focusing on having a quickly digestible source of protein and a simple sugar.

3. Eggs & Pancakes
1 whole egg, 3 egg whites
1 serving of pancakes (usually 1/3 cup mix)
1/4 cup lite syrup

Hang in there Team Whole Foods. Again, we have a terrific source of protein to rebuild those muscles and we have a source of simple carbohydrates. If you’re not in a crunch for time after your workout, try this out.

eggs & pancakes

4. Lean Sirloin Steak & Potatoes
6 oz. grilled lean sirloin steak
1 whole baked potato

Steak isn’t my first choice for a post workout meal because it isn’t a necessarily fast digesting protein but it’s still a high quality protein source, so it makes the cut. Our whole baked potato still coincides with our goal of simple carbohydrates.

* These meals are just examples. Your independent macronutrient needs may differ.

I could think of a million other post workout meals that fit this description but I’ll stop here. Follow my Instagram page for more post workout meals and a ton of other healthy meals you can try out. BCAA supplements are another great source of fast digesting protein. I use Scivation Xtend BCAAs during and after my workouts.

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Easy Egg Scramble

This egg scramble packs 3 servings of vegetables, 4.4 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein in one easy breakfast! Pair it with two organic turkey sausage links or patties and your looking at closer to 40+ grams of protein. This is a staple muscle building meal in my meal plan because of its high protein, high vegetable, low fat and low carb profile. Not to mention this meal is very satisfying and keeps me full for 3 or more hours. This recipe is super easy and only takes a few minutes to cook.

Ingredients
1 whole egg, 3 egg whites (scrambled)
1 cup of raw spinach
1/2 cup of diced onions
1/2 cup of diced bell peppers
1 cup of steamed red potatoes (chopped)
1/4 cup of reduced fat cheese
1 tbsp. hot sauce

Instructions
1) Coat a skillet with olive oil cooking spray
2) Add 1 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of diced onions, 1 cup of chopped steamed red potatoes and 1/2 cup of bell peppers to the skillet on medium heat
3) Cook until the onions are golden and the spinach is wilted
4) Add your 1 whole egg, 3 egg white mix and scramble until thoroughly cooked
5) Add 1/4 cup reduced fat cheese and scramble until the cheese is melted
6) Plate and add 1 tbsp. of hot sauce

Egg Scramble

Nutrition Info
Protein: 31 g
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Fat: 9 g
Calories = 297

Nutrition Info with the Organic Turkey Sausage Patties
Protein: 43 g
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fat: 15 g
Calories = 407

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High Protein Parfait in 30 Seconds

If you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast that you can bring to work look no further. This recipe takes 30 seconds to make and is packed with slow digesting protein and fiber to keep you fuller, longer.

Ingredients
8 oz. Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup High Protein Granola
1 banana (6″)
1 tbsp. flaxseed or chia seed
1 packet of truvia

Directions
Scoop 8 oz. of plain Greek yogurt into a bowl or container
Add 1 packet of truvia and stir
Mix 1/2 cup of High Protein Granola with 1 tbsp. flaxseed or chia seed
Layer the granola/flaxseed or chia seed over the yogurt
Slice 1 6″ banana on top of the granola
Serve

Greek Yogurt Recipe

Nutrition Info
Protein: 37 g
Carbohydrates: 55 g
Fat: 8 g

This is a super easy and effective recipe. Try it out and let me know how you like it!

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3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

If you’re actively trying to live up to your New Year’s Resolution by doing hundreds of crunches or buying products that “target belly fat” you might want to read on. I personally hate crunches because of how ineffective they are compared to other core workouts. My opinion has always been that if I’m spending 1 hour at the gym every day, I want that hour to be as effective as possible. One person’s 45 minute workout can be more effective than another person’s 2 hour workout depending on how they treat their time. Not only are crunches far from the best core workout (in my opinion) but by the time you’ve made them an effective workout you’ve spent a good deal of time (figure 5 sets of at least 20-25 reps). So you might be asking yourself why I’m anti-crunch and you might even be arguing with me in your head that I’m wrong. I encourage you to consider how our core is designed. Our core is meant for stability and rotational movement. In daily activity our core is used when we rotate our torso or hips, when we’re thrown off balance (or to keep us in balance), and to keep our body stable. Nowhere in our day to day activities are we confronted with the task of having to do 100 crunches, so why would that be the best way to train our core? These methods below are exponentially more effective at providing a more effective core workout to really sculpt your midsection.

1. Stability Exercises

These are probably my personal favorite exercises because they’re the most engaging and entertaining to me. I love anything that involves balancing on a  bosu ball, stability ball, medicine balls or TRX. If you don’t have access to any of that equipment you can train for stability by performing an exercise with one leg off the ground. You may not get a shredded 6 pack from these exercises alone but they provide a great foundation for you to advance from AND they serve a purpose in your daily activity. I also love stability exercises because you can progress easily by decreasing your stability, adding weight, increasing the time of each set, or adding in new challenges. You can regress easily by increasing your stability, decreasing your time of each set, and keeping the exercise basic. Here are some great stability exercises you can use:

Plank
Stability Ball Plank (Plank with your feet on a stability ball)
Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on a stability ball)
Double Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on one bosu ball and your feet on another)
Stability Ball & Bosu Plank (Plank with your hands on a bosu ball and your feet on a stability ball)
Medicine Ball Push-ups (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands on medicine balls)
Medicine Ball Push-ups on All Fours (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands and feet on medicine balls)

Perform 5 sets of any of these exercises for 30-60 seconds each. When one exercise becomes easy over time, progress to the next exercise or make your current exercise more difficult by adding weight or a challenge.

jen core

2. Rotational Movements

Because our core is engaged when we rotate our torso or hips it’s important to train for those motions in our routine. Try adding a few of these rotational exercises to your ab routine and see how they stack up compared to crunches.

Windmills
Half Kneeling Medicine Ball Lateral Toss
Bicycle Crunches
Russian Twist
Stability Cable Chop
Rotational Overhead Medicine Ball Slam

This is how athletes are trained to build their core strength because Performance Coaches know that crunches don’t add up to better performance on the field or court. EXOS calls this Pillar Training but you can call it working smarter.

3. Slow Down and Breathe

This is a common mistake I see a lot of people do when they’re working their core. 100 poor quality sit-ups will not get your further than 50 slow and controlled sit-ups. Slow down your movements, focus on really engaging your core, and most importantly breathe. In fact, for many core exercises, the slower you go the better. Powerlifters, mixed martial artists, and other athletes use breathing techniques for specific movements like deadlifting, swinging a tennis racquet, or throwing a punch. It’s important that you focus on how you’re breathing (or not breathing) during your exercises to make the exercise more effective. Inhaling is going to tighten up your core making it more stable in exercises like squatting or medicine ball pushups. Exhaling is going to loosen your core by decreasing pressure. Try it now in your chair. Inhale and tighten your core and record how that feels, then exhale while keeping your core tight and record the difference. It’s important that you catch yourself holding your breath during exercises or breathing wrong entirely (exhaling when you should be inhaling and vise versa).

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or comments feel free to start a dialogue!

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Whole Wheat Protein Pancake Recipe

Pancakes are hands down one of the most beloved breakfasts in America. It’s hard to say many bad things about pancakes but when you’re trying to find a way to have an incredible breakfast you shouldn’t have to choose between healthy and delicious. That’s why I reached out to my friends at Kodiak Cakes after I saw them earn two offers on Shark Tank. They make a variety of healthful pancake mixes and when I saw they have a high protein whole wheat pancake mix I had to try it. Eventually we worked out a deal where I would get to GIVE AWAY a whole case (6 boxes) of this awesome mix for free to one of my followers on my Instagram and I got a case myself to try. I still make these pancakes at least once a week now and I want to share the recipe and nutrition info with you.

My Power Cakes Recipe

1/2 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water
2 egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:
Pour 1/2 cup pancake mix into a measuring cup
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water depending on desired consistency and stir
Add 2 liquid egg whites and stir
Add 1 tbsp. vanilla extract to the batter and stir
Add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon to the batter and stir
Heat on an oil coated skillet on medium-high until both sides are golden brown

Nutrition Info
Protein: 24 g
Carbohydrates: 30 g
Fat: 2 g
Total Calories = 234

With 2 whole scrambled eggs and 1/4 cup lite syrup
Protein: 36 g
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fat: 12 g
Total Calories = 428 calories

This pales in comparison to traditional pancake mixes which offer higher carbohydrates with little protein that leave you unsatisfied and generally consuming much more than the serving size. Assuming you only have 1 serving of regular pancake mix, here’s what your nutrition breakdown looks like before you drown them in syrup.

Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 40 g
Fat: 1 g

With my Power Cakes mix I not only get a more satisfying, balanced meal that I can portion perfectly, but my carbohydrates are also coming from a more wholesome source (whole grain vs. refined flour). In addition to my large protein serving, I’m also getting 5 grams of fiber to keep me fuller longer.

Check them out at kodiakcakes.com and see if you can find them at a store near you.

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5 Ways to Ease Lower Back Pain

Several years ago I hurt my lower back so badly that I had to have my friends pick me up off of the couch and walk me to the bathroom so I could shower. I was about 19 years old, before I was a Certified Personal Trainer, and I was working out at my school’s gym. In the middle of my warm up I felt a sharp pinch in the left side of my lower back. For a few seconds I couldn’t move. My legs felt heavy, I couldn’t straighten my back, and I was short of breath. I hobbled over to my workout partner and asked him to drive me home. When we got back I laid on the couch and seriously contemplated going to the hospital. My roommates walked me to the shower and then I laid down in bed and could hardly move for the rest of the day. I went to the doctor the next day and it turned out to be bad muscle spasms which took a few days to go away and a few weeks to feel close to 100% again. I learned a lot from that experience, even though it wasn’t nearly as severe as some of the people I’ve trained in the past. I learned a few ways that you can prevent lower back injuries and actually make your lower back feel better every day.

1. Sleep On Your Back

If you don’t have sleep apnea and don’t snore, your best bet is to sleep on your back. I’m telling you from my personal experience that I’ve noticed a huge difference doing this. I used to be a stomach-sleeper for years and always had lower back discomfort. After I injured my back I physically couldn’t sleep on my stomach so I was forced to sleep on my back. When you sleep on your back you’re essentially maintaining a neutral spinal position and you’re head remains elevated. Sleeping on your stomach puts more pressure on your lower back throughout the night because it doesn’t support the natural curvature of your spine.

2. Sleep On Your Side

If you’re a snorer, have sleep apnea, or just hate sleeping on your back then this is your next best bet. Sleeping on your side still supports the natural curvature of your spine and can help open your airways if you have problems breathing at night. Tuck a pillow or bunched up blanket in between your legs to keep your hips aligned and don’t tuck your knees in too close to your chest. A problem I’ve noticed from sleeping on the same side every night is tightness of the shoulder. I’ve noticed this myself and I’ve noticed it training my clients and asking if they sleep on their side and what side they sleep on. Try to actively remember to alternate the side that you sleep on. If you start feeling tight on one side, stretch during the day and sleep on the opposite side the following night and see if that helps.

3. Stretch Your Hips Every Day

I’ve noticed by doing a few hip stretches every day my lower back is no longer uncomfortable when I have to sit for extended periods of time. I generally hold each stretch for 20 seconds and perform each stretch 2-3 times. These are the stretches I do every day (if I can) and have experienced great relief by doing:

Cross Over Glute Stretch
Lying Cross Over Glute Stretch
Downward Facing Frog Pose
Ankle to Knee Pose
Piriformis Stretch

Google any of these exercises, or “hip stretch” & “glute stretches” and you’ll get complete instructions on how to perform these exercises. These have been more helpful to me than most lower back stretches.

4. Get Up and Move

Sitting in a chair or laying down all day may seem like a good way to avoid lower back pain but it’s actually counter-intuitive. To my surprise, when I hurt my back I was told to rest for 1-2 days and then start doing some light cardio and exercise. I obviously wasn’t squatting 300 lbs again but I was doing some light-moderate cardio on an elliptical, stretching, and doing some bodyweight exercises. This helped me increase my blood flow to the muscle and loosen it up. When you sit all day you’re putting a lot of pressure on your lower back for hours on end. Take a 5-15 minute break every 2 hours to get up and move around, stretch, or just walk somewhere to keep your lower back from tightening up in that chair. You’ll notice the improved blood flow to those muscles when you sit back down. You should feel a  lot more comfortable afterward.

5. Build Your Core Strength

Developing some core strength is probably the best preventative measure you can take to avoid lower back pain. To prevent hurting your lower back you should to develop good posture and make your lower back resilient to the everyday demands you put it through. I’ll list a few exercises you can do every day to develop some strength in your core that are easy and effective:

Plank: 3 sets x 30 second reps
Birddog: 3 sets x 5, 10 second reps on each side
Leg Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
Back Extensions: 3 sets x 15 reps (don’t hyperextend, stop the movement once your back is straight).
Deadlift: 3 sets x 10 reps  (make sure you’re with someone who can check your form and make sure you’re doing this exercise right).

Keep in mind that I’m not an expert on this subject, I’m just sharing from my own experiences. If you’re suffering from severe back problems you should consult a physician. If you suffer from a chronically achy, uncomfortable lower back then hopefully this helps you!

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Budgeting Your Supplement Plan

You just enrolled in a gym membership, bought some new workout gear, invested in a Personal Trainer or started a workout program, and you’re mentally committed to eating clean. What next? It’s time to look for some supplements to help you hit your goals faster. One small problem though, there are billions of brands and products, which ones should you buy? For this beginner’s guide, we’re only going to use the very basic supplements that you’ll want to consider and we’re going to do it on a budget.

1) Whey Protein
– Take 1 serving after your workout or consume it as a meal replacement.

Whey protein is a fundamental muscle building supplement that you should have in your plan. I only buy my whey protein from reputable sports nutrition brands like Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, BPI and Scivation. You can find these brands on amazon, bodybuilding.com and some are even in CostCo. Generally, the brands that I mentioned offer a variety of flavors anywhere from your basic chocolate and vanilla, to more exciting flavors like cinnamon roll, red velvet cake and s’mores! I typically stick to the basics, but you can use the more exciting flavors for baking high protein foods as well as making shakes. My goal is to spend less than $50 on about 60-70 servings. That means I’ll be able to make my $50 investment last me 2 months instead of buying the most expensive whey protein at GNC that honestly isn’t going to make much of difference for you results-wise. In short, stick with a good quality whey protein from a reputable brand and get it on sale.

2) Pre-Workout
– Take 1 serving 30 minutes prior to your workout

If you’re very caffeine sensitive you may want to avoid these products. If, however, you can handle a few cups of coffee without having a complete anxiety ridden meltdown, you’ll do just fine. I use the same rule when shopping my pre-workout mixes: reputable brand + good quality+ on sale = Happy Alex. I try to spend $15-20 max on my pre-workout supplements and I want them to also last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). I’ve been successful doing this with Cellucor’s C4, Neon Sport’s Volt, and Muscle Pharm’s Assault. These are generally mild as far as stimulants go, which some people may dislike, but if you’re just starting out or aren’t really looking to invest $50 into a month supply of pre-workouts than these are some really good options. Of course, you can always stick to coffee but pre-workout is kind of like a friend that pulls you off of your couch and forces you to go to the gym in beverage form. The pre-workouts I listed contain roughly 150 mg of caffeine, have a few vasodilating amino acids, and beta alanine, which is a fatigue defeating amino acid. It’s like if your coffee drank an even stronger cup of coffee.

3) BCAAs
– Take one serving during your workout (mix with water and sip throughout workout).

Branch-chain amino acids are an absolute game changer when it comes to decreasing fatigue, building muscle, improving hydration, and burning fat. You won’t feel the effects of BCAAs like the stimulating effects of a pre-workout but overtime you may notice that you’re able to workout longer, with more intensity, without feeling fatigued early on. Before I became sponsored by Scivation I used my same rule as  my pre-workout rule. I would spend roughly $15-$20 and have it last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). Scivation makes 11 flavors of BCAAs including one option that you’ll love if you’re trying to avoid flavors/sweeteners/dyes/etc.; Scivation Raw BCAAs. Try filling up a shaker bottle with ice, then pour 8-12 oz. of coconut water, fill the rest with regular water and add your scoop of BCAAs for a tasty, potassium packed sports drink.

I’m stopping here because I think this is enough to really cover your basics and it’s very manageable to budget. You have a pre-workout ($15-20/month), an intra workout ($15-20/month) and a post workout ($25/month) that should only run you about $55-$65/month. You could potentially get those costs down further but I don’t like compromising the taste or quality of these products for the sake of a few dollars.

Hope this helps! If you need any advice feel free to comment.

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