(Short read) Why Technique is crucial for high performance in any movement.
Technique is everything. If you want to maximize the power output of any movement, you’ll need to have excellent technique. This applies to anything from a punch to a deadlift. Technique equaling power also applies to things like dancing, and skateboarding. In those cases power is quality of movement.
Mastering technique is one of the fundamental principles of martial arts. This can be applied to any form of fitness. As I mentioned in an old post, the most effective way to master technique is through quality repetition. Olympic weightlifters understand this which is why they train their movements so frequently, sometimes multiple times a day. There’s no way they could generate the type of force they do if they didn’t spend so much time working on technique.
Another example is sprinters. One of the reasons sprinters are able to move so fast is because they spent time working on their running technique. You can be strong, fast, and genetically blessed but if you have lousy running technique you will limit your potential.
In addition to unleashing power, great technique will reduce your risk of injury. This explains why most injuries happen when a person is fatigued. If you’ve ever seen a fatigued athlete perform, you’ll see that their technique isn’t as good as when they were fresh.
If you want to maximize the power output of your movements and reduce your risk of injury make the effort to hone your technique.
Keeping Yourself Healthy When You’re Hustling on the Side
Unfortunately, many of us simply can’t get by on a single income. But, there is good news, and that is that it’s pretty easy to start a side hustle given our almost unrestricted access to the internet. Further, as individuals and businesses alike become more acclimated to outsourcing talent-specific tasks, such as graphic design and accounting, freelancing is no longer taboo. The biggest caveat here is that we often sacrifice our health for our wealth.
Don’t Put Yourself On The Backburner
Read that headline again: don’t put yourself on the back burner. No matter how much money you need, you’ll be most effective at earning it if you simply take care of yourself. This starts with prioritizing self-improvement and self-care. A few tips include:
Read often. Reading is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp. And, even more importantly, the right book can even inspire you to do more and be more.
Get help when you need it. As a budding entrepreneur, you may find that you also have to outsource some heavy lifting in areas where you don’t have expertise. One area to consider here is when forming your LLC. Registering your business means understanding state regulations, and using a formation service such as ZenBusiness can help you establish your business legally in your state.
Get enough sleep. You need sleep just as much as you need experience on the job. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, sleep deprivation can affect productivity. When you’re trying to start a side hustle, this means that you will make less money comparatively than if you sleep at least seven hours every night.
Exercise And Nutrition Are Essential
Eating well and getting enough physical activity are important forms of self-care that deserve a special mention. While reading, getting help, and sleeping are also paramount to success, the way you fuel and flex your body matters the most.
Make a point to eat right each day. Depending on your size and activity level, this might mean you need anywhere from about 1,500 to 2,200 calories. You also want to get enough exercise, which, again, is dependent on you.
Steer Clear of Stress
When you’re already stressed out about money, the last thing you want is to take on a side job that exacerbates your anxiety. After all, stress is terrible for your well-being. For this reason, choosing your part-time gig is something that requires lots of consideration. If you’re looking for something low stress, consider photography, massage, or marketing. Each of these may require additional training or education, but they might be worthwhile if you don’t want to wind up causing more harm to your mental health than you are adding money to your bank account.
Avoiding stress goes far beyond which type of side hustle you choose. If your home is cluttered, disorganized, and messy, it could lead to negative thoughts which will lead to tension. By removing clutter and deep cleaning your home (and keeping it clean), you’ll improve your focus.
A final piece of advice: Whether you choose to embark on a new side hustle or stick with what you know, start slowly. You don’t want to overwork yourself to the point where you are unable to effectively complete projects at your 40-hour-per-week job or your side hustle.
When money, or lack thereof, is causing you stress, and you’ve already taken measures to reduce your monthly expenses, you may have to take on a side job. But, don’t neglect yourself in the process. While you have to work to take care of your family and pay the bills, you also have an obligation to yourself to stay healthy, happy, and whole throughout the process.
How to prepare yourself if you’ve never done barbell squats.
The back squat is one of the most intimidating exercises in the gym.You put yourself in a vulnerable position where weight is on your back and you’re also fighting against gravity. It’s not like the deadlift where you can simply drop the weight if it’s too heavy or the bench press where you can find ways to maneuver through.
If you’ve never squatted with weights you might be nervous. Luckily, there are ways to get yourself mentally and physically ready to squat with weight on your back.
Before you add load to a movement make sure you can do that movement with your bodyweight. One of the prerequisites to back or front squats should be bodyweight squats. Bodyweight squats will help you develop proper movement pattern. When you skip this step, you put yourself at risk of having some compensations when you start using a barbell. These compensations usually come from muscle imbalances or previous injuries. Once you get comfortable with your bodyweight, I recommend doing some Goblet Squats with a kettlebell or dumbbell. Goblet squats will teach you how to brace when squatting as well as improve your squat depth.
Imagine a knight going into battle without his armor. That’s what it’s like doing barbell squats without developing the necessary muscles. Your armor is your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and other muscles that you use for squatting. I talk about the best squat accessory exercises in a recent post. The only one that I wouldn’t recommend for new squatters is the Goodmorning because it involves putting a barbell on your back just like the squat.
Build Power Base
It’s one thing to have the muscles need to squat and it’s another thing to be able to use them powerfully. One thing that really helped have a smooth start with my barbell squatting was having a solid power base. Having power helps you move the weight faster and easier so you won’t have to grind and struggle as much. That’s why I love doing speed work. Before I ever stepped under a barbell my speed work came in the way of plyometric jumps and sprints. These exercises will develop your fast twitch muscles, which are the ones primarily responsible for moving heavy weight.
Squatting with weight on your back can be intimidating but if you prepare your body for it you’ll be setting yourself up for success. By focusing on technique, muscle development, and power development you’ll be setting the stage for successful barbell squatting.
Fitness and exercise are an integral part of our health, but they aren’t the only ways we should look after ourselves. We need to find balance and ensure that we address every aspect of healthy self-care. From My Fitness Reflections, here are some ways you can incorporate looking after yourself in your daily routine.
Focus on Nutrition
What we eat plays a significant role in healthy living. Nutritious meals not only keep our metabolism up, but they also supply the fuel necessary to thrive. However, many of us take shortcuts when our time is limited or when we’re too tired to cook. That’s why it’s important to think ahead and plan your meals weekly to prevent a Wednesday pizza delivery or fast-food hamburger binge. Plot out a meal plan, gather all of your ingredients, and then spend a day prepping for the upcoming week so you have everything at hand and ready to go.
Meditate or Practice Mindfulness
We can feel our blood pressure rising when we experience prolonged stress, yet the effects can last muchlonger, even after our pulse settles. You might feel tired constantly, and not only from lack of sleep but from the stress itself. Your memory and your body can be affected, and you may see your weight begin to climb. All in all, stress is not a sustainable condition to endure, which is why it’s something we need to overcome. Two excellent tools for doing so are meditation and mindfulness, and while they are functionally different, they have the same goal: letting go of stress. Mindfulness is learning to be aware of your thoughts, choosing how to respond and retraining your brain to think positively, while meditation is the act of clearing out the mind to center oneself and be at peace. If one doesn’t work, then try the other.
Invest in a Wearable Gadget
Thanks to smart technology, you can stay on top of your health and fitness goals by wearing a fitness band or smartwatch. A fitness band isn’t just for exercise; it gathers all kinds of health-related data like how much sleep you get and what your heart rate is. Meanwhile, a smartwatch has the same features but also lets you send text messages and view notifications. Think about the features you’ll likely use on a regular basis, then choose a wearable device and a sturdy band that fit those needs. And of course, your phone can be a great fitness companion, too, so if you don’t want to invest in an additional device, you can always use an armband to comfortably incorporate your phone into your workouts.
Declutter to De-stress
A huge source of stress can occur in your home: clutter. Although it’s easier to accumulate unwanted items than it is to get rid of them, a cluttered space can only do harm to your health—you lose focus when there are too many distractions, it’s more difficult to find what you’re looking for, and you spend more time and energy trying to keep up with chores. Your home should be a sanctuary, and that can be achieved by keeping it tidy and organized. Need help with the tidying part? Search online for a local reputable cleaning service that charges a rate within your budget.
Find a Hobby
Another approach to combat thestress of everyday life and support well-being is by developing or engaging in a hobby. They give us something to do that isn’t work-related, provide us with occasions to look forward to, and give us an opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. Don’t think that because you tried one and didn’t enjoy it that there isn’t a hobby for you. From kayaking to geocaching and wine tasting or cheese making, you can find an activity that appeals to you and fits your lifestyle — it might just take some trial and error.
Get More Sleep
There’s no avoiding the consequences of sleepless nights, but the causes are varied. It could be due to certain foods, stress, or not maintaining a schedule — whatever the reason, self-care involves getting plenty of rest. To do so, start by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, including weekends. Unwind before bed without an alcoholic beverage, a heavy meal, or technology that can stimulate the brain. Lastly, to really improve your slumber, keep your room cool and use an eye mask or noise machine to help stay asleep longer.
Spend Time with Loved Ones
It’s not only fun to see friends and family regularly, but it’sgood for you, too. When you have a strong support network, you may laugh more, live longer, get sick less, and have a positive outlook on life. It doesn’t need to be daily, but try to set aside some time each weekend to catch up with someone who brings you joy, whether that’s a parent or your best friend from college.
Self-care is a choice we make each day. Yes, hours are frequently limited, but that doesn’t mean making time for ourselves shouldn’t be a priority. Sit down and plan if you need to, but figure out how to take care of yourself the way you deserve.
If you’ve been following this page for a while you’ll know that my favorite lift is the barbell back squat. It’s more than a leg exercise. Your whole body has to be engaged in order to stay stable throughout the movement.
It’s probably the most empowering lift known to man. What’s more empowering than to overcome gravity and a force that’s trying to keep you down? I’ve tried different training approaches to help my squat and have enjoyed the results. Just like any lift, the squat has accessory exercises that can boost your performance tremendously. I’ll share my top three squat accessory exercises that have helped me boost my squat. Since there are different forms of squat, I’ll be specific by mentioning that this applies to the high bar back squat.
The Farmer walk is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your squat performance. It engages many muscles in your body including your obliques. The obliques are one of the most underrated muscles when it comes to squatting. Strong obliques will protect your lower back. In terms of core muscles, the farmer walk also teaches you have to brace. Bracing is one of the biggest keys to moving heavy weight. The farmer walk will also strengthen your nervous system due to the stress it imposes on your spine. That stress will cause your body to adapt so you’ll be better equipped to handle the farmer walk the next time you do it.
The bulgarian split squat is probably the best leg accessory movement to the squat. It hits every muscle in the leg, including the smaller muscles. From my experience, the stronger my bulgarian split squat the stronger my back squat. I also notice that I feel my legs more with bulgarian split squats than with back squats. This might be because the legs are the only part of your body working in the split squat. With back squats, your core muscles are highly involved. If you want to maximize your leg strength, do Bulgarian split squats.
The Good Morning is one of the best squat accessory exercises in my opinion. I started doing them a few months ago and have noticed that it’s a lot easier to hit depth and get out of the whole in my squats. As someone who’s been squatting for a while, my squat has never felt more natural than it does now. I believe adding the good morning to my routine has been a major factor with that.
If you’re serious about boosting your squat, you need to have some or all of these movements in your routine. The best way to improve your squat is to squat but adding the right accessories will speed up the process. What are your favorite squat accessory exercises?
How To Maximize the health of your Central Nervous System so you can move towards your fitness goals in a faster and safer way.
If you want to tap into new levels of physical performance, you’ll need to pay attention to your nervous system. The nervous system is often the most overlooked aspect of fitness. We all have various goals but rarely do we pay attention to the health of our nervous system. To maximize your performance in any fitness activity, your nervous system will have to be functioning well. In terms of physical performance, every elite athlete has a highly efficient nervous system. In general, your nervous system is responsible for things like your digestion, quality of sleep, and ability to process information as a few examples.
If you want a strong and healthy nervous system, your spinal health will have to be a priority. Your body functions based on the information your brain sends to your spinal column. If you’re spine is out of whack, you won’t be able to function or perform at your best in any activity. One of the biggest culprits of spinal deterioration is sitting. When you sit, you’re decompressing the spine.
The solution to this is doing spinal hygeine exercises. I recently learned about them through listening to a podcast by Chiropractor Dr. Tommy John. I’ve been using these exercises for months now and have reaped the benefits. Two things I notice from doing these exercises is that my spine feels a lot better and I can think more clearly as a result. I usually do each of the spinal hygiene movements repeatedly for 3-5 minutes. You can spread them out how you want or do each of them consecutively as part of a spinal hygiene workout. Below are some of the spinal hygiene exercises I do. I also shared a video at the bottom of the page of a spinal hygiene routine.
Head Nods- move your head up and down as far as possible.
Head Shakes- Turn your head side to side the way you’d do when shaking your head. Turn your head far enough that you’re looking over your shoulder.
Cross-Crawl movements can help your nervous system tremendously. This is due to the fact that they cause both of your brain hemispheres to work together simultaneously. My favorite cross-crawl movement is the leopard crawl. However, there’s many other movements to choose from. Below are the top 3 cross-crawl movements for nervous system health.
Cross-Crawl Superman: Anything that fits in multiple categories is a must do!
Hands and Feet
If you want to maximize your nervous system health, you’ll have to address hand and foot health. There are so many nerves in your hands and feet that any disfunction in those areas of your body will have an impact on the rest of your body. Why do you think people often lift weights barefoot or use flat shoes? Or why squeezing a bar tightly boosts your lifting performance?
Dead Hang Stretch for time
Standing Straight Leg Raise- 5 minutes each leg
High Stress Exercises
The hardest way to optimize the health of your nervous system is through high stress exercises. High stress exercises force your nervous system to upgrade in order to be able to do them again. The key to doing high stress exercises is to give your nervous system time to recover from them. The other keys to a healthy nervous system will help speed up that recovery. Below are the top high stress exercises to boost your nervous system health.
Heavy Farmer Walks
Heavy compound lifts
Extreme Isometric Lunges- 5 minutes on each leg
Breathing exercises are your nervous system’s best friend. Too much stress can inhibit your nervous system’s capabilities. One way to balance out the stress you face in training and in life is through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest and digest function of your body.
Alternative Nostril breathing
Wim Hof Breathing
Your beliefs will dictate your actions and your outcome. If your beliefs are not in line with your goals, you’re going to have a difficult time. The key to getting your beliefs to align with your goals is to work with your subconscious mind through repetitive positive thought. This can be done in a number of ways.
Anytime you perform a complex movement, you’re developing new neuropathways in your brain. This means you’re using your brain in a way it’s never been used before and further develops it. When I talk about complex movements, I’m talking about the circus tricks you see people perform in the gym to get social media likes. I’m talking about movements that require high levels of coordination and brain usage. Below are some examples.
Using opposite limb, something as simple as brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.
Cross-Crawl movements as previously mentioned
Any movement you’ve never tried before
Building a powerful nervous system will not only help you set new weight lifting records and excel at your sport, it’ll also make you better at every area of your life. It’ll also improve your overall health tremendously, since every function of your body is a result of the nervous system.
The main exercises I’d choose for specific fitness goals.
Throughout my fitness journey, my goals have shifted. As I focused on different goals, I was introduced to some amazing exercises. Each of these exercises were tailor made for the specific goals. I even learned the benefits of some exercises by accident. Below are the top exercises I’d choose for specific fitness goals.
If you want to maximize the strength you gain, then you need to deadlift. If you’re physically able and aren’t dealing with any health restrictions, I highly reccomend adding deadlifts to your program.The two reasons it’s so great for strength development are it engages so many muscles and it’s an exercise you can really load.
In my experience, the exercise that has helped me the most at gaining size or hypertrophy is the farmer walk. One of the biggest keys to gaining size is maximizing time under tension with maximal load. When you’re carrying a decent amount of weight for a certain distance, you’ll definitely put your body in a place to gain size. The great thing about the farmer walk is that your size gains will occur throughout your body. The Farmer walk engages so many muscles in your body like your traps, lats, obliques, and legs.
Fat Loss and Athleticism
Any exercise that can maximize fat loss and overall atleticism must be very valuable. If you’ve been following this page, you’d probably guess that the exercise I’m talking about is sprints. Sprints are great for athleticism because they help you develop speed through the activation on your fast-twitch muscles.
In terms of fat loss, I chose sprints over kettlebell swings because the amount of work you can output with the kettlebell swing can be limited by grip strength. There’s a higher injury risk with sprints but you can do different variations like sprinting up a hill.
Sprinting is tremendous for fat loss because it activates so many muscles while you’re moving at a high velocity. Your body will adapt in a way to make you more efficient at the movement you’re doing.. In regards to sprints, it’ll get rid of excess fat so you can move faster. The added benefit is that it’ll try to keep muscle because the muscle is what applies the necessary force to move fast. Another reason sprints are great for fat loss is due to the increase in heart rate that it causes. This heart rate increase leads to a higher metabolic rate during and after the workout. It’ll take your body a lot of energy/calories to get back to it’s resting heart rate.
Nervous system efficiency
This is an interesting one because when you ask most people about their fitness goals, strengthening their nervous system is rarely if ever the answer you’ll get back. It’s a shame because the nervous system is the key to every activity you do, whether it’s fitness related or not. One of the biggest parts of my current fitness routine is nervous system training. By doing this, I’ve noticed my workout performances keep improving despite the fact that I’m not focusing too hard on any particular exercise.
The exercise that I’ve felt has helped me the most with my nervous system efficiency is the Leopard Crawl. The leopard crawl is a simple looking move but it’s effects on the brain and body are phenomenal. The reason it’s so great for nervous system health is because of the contralateral nature of the movement. Any time you do a contralateral movement, you’re using both the left and right brain hemispheres simultaneously.
This category could get an asterisk because I’ve recently started doing more cross crawl supermans. I definitely feel mentally rejuvenated when I do them but it’s too soon to say if I’d put them ahead of leopard crawls.
These are the top exercises I’d choose for their respective goals. If you’d replace anyone of these with something else, please share in the comment section!
(Short Read) The best two exercises to do when you’re short on time.
If you’re like me and most people, sometimes life happens and you can’t train the way you want to. Luckily, there are exercises that you can do that won’t take up too much of your time. The first one is what I consider the most valuable exercise. It’s sprints!
If you’re busy and don’t have time to do a full workout, I recommend going out to a field and getting in some sprints. If you haven’t sprinted in a while and you’re concerned about your injury risk, start with hill sprints. Hill sprints are so challenging that you won’t be able to move fast enough to get injured.
It doesn’t take long in a sprint workout for you to feel your hurt rate going up and the muscles in your body tense up.
Gym Exercise For Busy People
If the weather sucks or you’re not able to do sprints, you can try it’s close cousin, the kettlebell Swings. The kettlebell swing provides almost the same exact benefits as the sprint. The only differences are the sprint has a higher neurological impact and they strengthen the ankles. One advantage of the kettlebell swing is grip strength development. A great Kettlebell Swing workout can take as little as 5 minutes. Another great thing about Kettlebell swings is that the kettlebell can be used anywhere, even in the comfort of your home. Below is a Kettlebell swing workout I’ve used in the past as a workout finisher but it can also be used by itself.
Do as many Kettlebell swings as possible for 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds
Repeat for as long as you want or need
I think what makes these workouts so time efficient is the speed of the movements involved. Good things happen to your body when you do fast movements.
(Short read) Yogic breathing exercises to help you get better results
What if I told you there’s something you can use to give you energy before a workout and calm you down after? This tool doesn’t cost a dime. It also won’t put a bunch of caffeine and strange chemicals in your body. This may sound crazy but the tool I’m talking about is your nose. I’ve previously talked about the importance of nose breathing for stress management. I’ve recently starting using some Yogic nose breathing exercises to help me prepare for my workouts and recover after. The exercises are so simple, I’ll share them below.
Save your money and ditch the pre-workout supplements. You’re your own source of energy. All you need to do is breathe in and out of your right nose. Doing this puts you in a more alert state of mind. In yogic traditions, the right nostril is related to the masculine energy, the type of energy that makes you want to take action. This is the place you need to be when getting ready to crush some weights or do any intense workout. I do 3 rounds of 6 breaths before my lifting sessions and I always feel energized as a result. This is very useful if you didn’t sleep well the night before.
For post workout recovery you’ll do the breathing exercise through your left nose. In yogic traditions, the left nostril is related to feminine energy. This is the type of energy you should tap into post-workout to help you cool down. I speak from experience when I say this works. Just like with the right nostril, I usually do 3 rounds of 6 breaths but you can do more or less as you see necessary.
Nervous System Health
Everything you do is possible because of the nervous system. If you want to be more efficient in any activity you do, you’ll need to strengthen your nervous system. This next breathing exercise does that by getting the two hemispheres of your brain working together. It’s called alternative nostril breathing.
The way to do this breathing exercise is to breathe in through one nose and out the other and vice versa. Do three rounds of six and you’ll feel your head feel a lot more clear. In terms of timing, I like to do this at night or after a yoga session.
There you have it. You can tap into different levels of energy as you see necessary just by using your nose. These are useful for fitness purposes but can be used in other areas of your life. If you’ve been on your fitness journey long enough, you’ll know that fitness is an analogy to life.
(Short read) The importance of building your posterior chain
The posterior chain (back side) is arguably the most important part of your body is often the most neglected. If you’re not training your posterior chain then you’re missing out on some serious gains. Last week, I tried good mornings for the first time in my life and it was a wake up call for me. I only did 85 pounds using a barbell but after that first set my hamstrings were on fire!
Benefits of Building Your Posterior Chain
Athletic Performance: If you want to be a successful athlete, you’ll need strong posterior chain muscles. To jump or sprint, your glutes and hamstrings are doing a lot of work. To throw a ball or a punch with power, your hips and glutes will be highly engaged.
Weight Room Performance: Your glutes and hamstrings play an integral part in various weight room exercises. The most obvious one is the deadlift. If you don’t feel your glutes and hamstrings while deadlifting a decent amount of weight then something is wrong. In my experience, when my glutes and hamstrings were strong, deadlifts felt easier. The posterior chain is also important for the squat, especially the low bar back squat.
Injury Prevention: Strong glutes and hamstrings will reduce your risk of injury in a number of ways. One way is that the stronger your glutes are, the less work your lower back has to do when lifting an object/weight. Your hamstrings are one of the biggest stabilizer muscles for your ACL. A lot of times people who suffer torn ACLs, have a weakness or deficiency in their hamstrings.
Look Better: Who doesn’t like a nice pair of glutes? If you want to maximize your aesthetic gains, you need to train your posterior chain especially the glutes. In addition to looking nice, I find having strong glutes helps me stay upright and maintain good posture. A strong posture is also visually appealing.
Best Posterior Chain Exercises
Below are the best Posterior chain building exercises that I’ve used. If you want strong glutes and hamstrings, do these exercises.
Barbell Hip Thrust
Bulgarian Split Squat
Extreme Isometric Lunge
In the comments below, tell me your favorite posterior chain exercises!