Quote of The Week- Mind and Body

How the mind can limit or propel us in our fitness journeys.

“ Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince “- unknown

Your body is capable of more than you think, you just need to let your mind get out of the way. How can you explain a mom who can lift a car to save her child’s life? In a lot of those stories, it’s just a regular person who isn’t following some crazy strength training program. Even if she was, there’s no strength training program than can prepare you for such an incredible feat of strength. This is prime example of how the body is capable of incredible things.

To get great results in fitness, we often have to overcome a mental barrier. That mental barrier can be many things including, you doubting your ability to achieve a physical transformation or it could be that you think a physical task is impossible.

A great example of the mind allowing the body to do great things is endurance athletes. Running ultra marathons are obviously strenuous in the body but I believe the mental battle is even more difficult. Imagine starting a marathon and constantly thinking about how long you have to run and how uncomfortable you are. Imagine having to battle your thoughts as well as the obvious fatigue in your body. Think of how difficult it’d be to complete the task.

For all you lifters, imagine getting ready for a lift and picturing yourself failing or thinking about how heavy and overwhelming the weight will be. Maybe you’ll perform great due to the fear of failing. You might also be too crushed by your doubts and fears to have a successful lift.

Your Mind is Your Ally

On the flip side to this, your mind can be your biggest ally. One example is just from my personal experience. I still remember the days that the thought of me being able to squat 300 plus pounds sounded insane. All of that changed when I changed my environment. I went to a gym where many people were squatting in the 300s and 400s, and they weren’t all massive beasts. Seeing this opened my mind to believe that squatting more than 300 pounds was normal. I never looked back since.

Your mind can either be an ally or enemy in your fitness journey. If you choose to make it an ally, there are many things you can do to make it possible. As mentioned earlier, one way to make your mind work for you is to surround yourself with people who have what you want to achieve. Be around people stronger, faster, or healthier than you. The list goes on depending on your goals.

Another tool you can use is positive affirmations affirmations . By repeating positive affirmations, you’re sending a message to your subconscious mind to help you achieve your goals. This works because when you say these affirmations, you’re constantly getting a mental picture of your success. How can you have fear and doubt when you keep seeing yourself achieve something.

In addition to the tools above, I also recommend meditation . Meditating teaches you how to observe your thoughts but not be attached to them. This comes in handy anytime a possible detrimental thought comes when you’re trying to achieve something. In addition to thought detachment, meditation teaches you how to be present. Being present is the key to achieving peak performance. When you’re present, you’re only concerned about what you’re doing. You don’t care about every little detail. The example I gave earlier about the mom is a good example of someone who’s fully present. That mom who’s trying to save her child isn’t concerned about how heavy the car is or whether her bones might break. She’s focused only on the task of saving her child.

I hope this post will help you move past your mental barriers so you can achieve great fitness results. When we’re in control of our minds, we can do amazing things.

Fitness Quote of The Week- Patience

The importance of patience in your fitness journey.

“ All great achievements require time” – Maya Angelou

This quote applies to fitness results and anything meaningful that you want to achieve. We live in the age of instant gratification. If we don’t achieve fast results we give up. Having this approach to your goals will lead to mediocre results. If it’s something is so easy to get, then what’s the point?

Everyone you see that’s doing incredible things in fitness took time to get to that point. The people you see with incredible physiques took months or years of hard training and discipline diets to get where they are. Some of the people who that you see lifting large weights struggled to get to that point. Some of them dealt with all kinds of adversity to get there.

If it’s so easy to get then where is the excitement ? Where’s the satisfaction that you get knowing you put in the work to get it ? That you truly earned it. Sometimes you’ll have the fortune to get to your goals quickly. Other times, it’ll take time and dedication. It took me years to get where I’m at in my fitness journey. It’ll also take me years to achieve some of my current goals.

Remember that every step of the journey is an experience itself. In each step you have the opportunity to learn and grow. The things you learn in your journey will be what you use to accomplish the goals you’re currently pursuing.

Fitness Quote of the week- Quality over Quantity

(Short post) quote on choosing quality over quantity

“ Don’t count the days, make the days count “- Muhammad Ali.

This quote can be applied to your workouts. Focus on the quality of your workouts rather than the quantity. You’ll get further with a few a high quality workouts each week than several sloppy workouts.

When you focus on quality over quantity, you’re present to your workout. When you’re in your workout, you have the opportunity to learn something new. You’ll also enjoy it more because you’re feeling the whole experience.

By focusing on the quality of your workouts, you’re less likely to get injured. You’ll respect your workout recovery so you have quality workouts.

Having this approach will also bring a shift in mindset that will help you in the long run. When you’re focused on the current workout, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll achieve your fitness goals. You won’t be thinking about what could go wrong in the future. By not focusing on those thoughts, you’ll be more resilient and confident in what you can do. Our minds are our biggest obstacle if we let it.

Fitness Quote of The Week- Consistency

(Short read) the importance of consistency

“ I train to be the best in the world on my worst day “- Ronda Rousey

This quote from a former UFC champion is about consistency. You may not be training to be a world class athlete but you’re probably training to reach a fitness goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, it’ll be one that challenges you.

On your mission to achieve the goal, you’ll have some days that you don’t feel like training. You’ll feel tired, stressed, or something else. Unless you’re sick or severely exhausted, you should do something. Something as little as mobility work or extra stretching will help in the long run. One of my personal workout principles is to always show up.

When you show up, you may not be going 100 miles per hour but you’ll be doing something. Even if you lower the intensity of an exercise significantly, you’ll still be working on those same movement patterns. This can make you more efficient the next time you do the exercise.

If you’re trying to lose fat and you normally run 2 miles a day, running half a mile will help you more than sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Personally, I prefer sprints over jogging.

Just show up. That small amount of progress gets you closer to your goal than the day before. The added benefit of always showing up is it always gives you an opportunity to learn.

Quote of The Week- Lifting is Safe

Why lifting weights is one of the best tools to protect yourself.

“ If you think lifting is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous”. – Brent Contreras

What is danger? Danger is something that can cause you harm. For the purpose of this post, I’m talking about physical harm. When you’re strong, you’re less likely to experience physical harm from outside forces. Any harm you do experience will be minimized due to your physical strength.

I can speak from experience from having injuries in the past that those injuries would have been worse if I hadn’t develop a strength base. This is why Brent. Contreras says being weak is dangerous.

Weak is a relative term but the idea behind his quote is to take your strength seriously because it’ll minimize your risk of physical harm. One of the best ways to develop your strength is through lifting weights.

Being strong will also reduce your risk of danger in regular life. If you ever get in a physical confrontation, being strong will make it easier for you to defend yourself even if you don’t know how to fight. If you’re strong and you look strong as well, people are less likely to want to get in a physical confrontation with you in the first place.

Being strong will reduce your risk of hurting yourself when moving furniture. Being strong will reduce the impact of a fall. It can help you in many areas of your life. In addition to lifting weights, I recommend learning how to move. Doing this will help you maximize the full use of your strength.

Ps. I meant to post earlier in the week. Sorry for the delay!

Quote of The Week- Importance of Challenges

The importance of challenging yourself in fitness.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”- Fred Devito

This is straight to the point. If you want to achieve any meaningful fitness transformations, you’ll have to challenge yourself. You’ll have to do workouts that scare you a little and make you uncomfortable.

Many fitness gurus will try to sell you on a miracle diet or workout to get quick results. This isn’t reality. Anyone you see with a great body or lifting big weights had to put in the work to get there.

Doing heavy compound lifts is challenging. Saying no to delicious junk food is challenging. Sprinting up hills is challenging. These are the types of things that will transform your body.

Fitness is as much mental, as it is physical. Your body won’t be the only thing that transforms when you challenge yourself physically. Your mind will too and you’ll develop that fitness mindset.

Quote of The Week- Keep Trying

(Short post) This quote is for anyone who’s struggling to get the fitness results they’re seeking.

“ No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of anyone who isn’t trying.” – Tony Robbins

This quote is for all of you that feel struck in your fitness journey. We all hit that wall where it seems like we’re not getting anywhere. The key is to not be hard on yourself. Just keep working.

To any of you that feel guilty about cheating on your diet , don’t sweat it. Try to learn from the experience and start fresh. Learning to forgive yourself when you slip up is the key to longevity.

I hope this quote helps you break out of your funk and move closer to your goals. I’ll make it a habit to share a quote each week.

Applying Martial Arts To Strength Training

What you can take from martial arts to help you achieve your strength goals.

I’ve always been a fan of martial arts since I was a kid. I went from watching Jackie Chan movies to watching UFC fights. The more I understand martial arts, the more I see how it’s principles can be applied to other sports and activities for maximum results. One activity that can benefit from being approached from a martial art standpoint is strength training. This post I’ll share some martial art principles that can be applied to strength training.

Technique

The key to moving heavy weight is generating enough power. In order to do that you need to have good technique in your lifts. Martial artists are able to generate a ton of power in their punches and kicks because they spend time working on their technique. It often looks effortless in how they do it. That’s how you want your lifts to be.

Having good technique makes your nervous system efficient at the move you’re working on. The nervous system is the source of power for any movement.

Repetition

I mentioned this in my Bruce Lee article but you need to get your reps in for any movement you want to get good at. This goes hand in hand with technique. The only way to master your technique is to get a ton of high quality reps.

One of the easiest ways to get more reps in is applying Pavel Tsatsouline’s grease the groove technique. The method of this technique is to do an exercise as often as possible without fatiguing yourself.

White Belt For Life

The idea behind this phrase to always see yourself as a beginner. When you’re a beginner, you’re not satisfied. You always have that hunger to get better.

It’s ok to acknowledge your experience but don’t be attached to that image. When you approach your workouts as a beginner, there’s a different level of excitement. You see endless possibilities for improvement.

Another benefit of seeing yourself as a beginner is humility. The humbleness of a beginner will stop you from being hard on yourself if you miss a lift or have a bad workout. It’ll also stop you from ego lifting because you’ll be so focused on getting better, you won’t have time to try to show off to others. The humbleness of a beginner will remind you that you have time to achieve your goals. You don’t need to have it all now.

Photo by Gleb Krasnoborov from Pexels

Do This Instead of Foam Rolling!

Movement training will unlock new levels of your fitness.

Movement seems like a forgotten art. When it comes to training our bodies, we’re often focused on sets and reps or body fat percentage. Sitting most of the day has also made us forget what it’s like to be a good mover. Ever since we were babies we’ve been moving. Over the last couple of years I’ve gained interest in movement training through seeing famous people like Ido Portal and Conor McGregor utilizing it. I’ve even heard about movement training from fitness coaches like Tim Anderson and Steve Maxwell.

Movement goes beyond mobility drills. Mobility drills are usually done to prepare for a specific workout. Movement training is done so you can move well all the time. I still do mobility drills but doing movement training reduces the need for mobility drills.

Movement might be the most important aspect of fitness. As a student of strength, I hold strength training in high regard. Strength is a critical part of any fitness program but if you can’t move, that strength will be limited. Imagine trying to squat with tight hips and tight ankles. Imagine trying to overhead press with a stiff upper back. Movement quality is what will help you reach your full strength potential. Even if you’re training for looks, being a good mover will help you in that area as well. People who move well typically have good posture. Good posture is very attractive.

This pandemic has allowed me the extra time to focus on areas of fitness I normally ignored, specifically mobility/movement. Being able to move even goes beyond fitness. When you move well in your daily life, you feel good. I’ll share some of the movements that have helped me the most.

Movements

Cross- Crawls: Cross Crawl movements are a key part of my current training routine. The main benefits I’ve seen from them are improved coordination, core strength, and nervous system efficiency. Below is a short list of the different cross=crawl movements you can add to your workout routine and life overall.

  1. Cross Crawl Superman: In this move, you’ll start off lying on your stomach. You’ll raise your hands over the shoulder so that your thumb is pointing to the roof. Your toes will be pointed to the the floor.
  2. Leopard Crawl
  3. Bird Dog
  4. Deadbug
  5. Baby Crawl: The name of this move is appropriate because you start off on your hands and knees like a baby. You’ll also tilt your hand up and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. As you start crawling forward, you’ll move one arm forward while moving the opposite leg simultaneously. You’re basically crawling on your hands and knees. Choose a soft surface so the movement is knee friendly.

Rolls: Doing any type of roll will help you with your ability to move. There are many variations of rolls like forward rolls, lateral rolls, frog rolls. If you can move well on the ground, you can move well while standing.

Balance Work: Being able to stay balanced is a key part of moving well. There’s a simple exercise that I learned from Dr. Tommy John. You’ll stand up on one leg and lift the other leg forward. Keep the non balancing leg straight while it’s raised in the air. Hold this for 5 minutes and switch legs.

Yoga: Doing yoga will greatly help your ability to move. A full yoga practice will integrate some cross-crawl movement and balance work. Yoga also loosens up your muscles which makes it easier to move. If you’re looking for more info on yoga, check out this post I wrote last year.

Resource for different crawling and rolling exercises: https://www.youtube.com/user/OriginalStrengthSys

Demo of cross-crawl Superman : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llT817YDrII

Photo Courtesy of : https://www.pexels.com/@pixabay

Attack Your Weaknesses!

One of the simplest yet overlooked ways of getting stronger is finding your weaknesses and making them strengths. I love using different training methods but sometimes it pays off to do the simple thing. This is why I place a lot of importance on self-awareness. With self-awareness, you can know what areas you need to work on. This applies to fitness and life in general. The first and simple step is identifying your weakness(es). Once you identify them, you attack them.

How To Identify Your Weaknesses

There are two ways I identify my weaknesses, soreness and sticking points. This why I like to focus on compound lifts. With soreness, I like to see what parts of my body have extra soreness. These extra sore body parts are the ones I need to work on more. For example, if your triceps are extra sore after bench pressing, you can do close grip bench press or skull crushers to address your weak triceps. I always prefer compound lifts but isolation exercises can help you target weak points.

The other way is by looking at my sticking points. The best way to know your sticking points is by lifting heavy. When you’re lifting heavy, you’ll notice what parts of the lift you have the most difficulty, thus you’ll find what’s holding you back from getting stronger.

How To Attack Your Weaknesses

The two ways to attack your weaknesses is strengthening the weak muscles or doing sticking point specific exercises. The first one is a no brainer, if you have a weak muscle group just train it. There are various ways to really target weak points. You can use single limp exercises like the Bulgarian split squat and bent over rows. You can do isolation exercises like the skull crushers, glute bridges, and hamstring curls. Bodyweight exercises are also great for targeting specific weaknesses, especially joint weaknesses. If you’re a lifter without access to weights, you can use this time to do bodyweight exercises that target weak points.

For sticking point issues, paused work and overcoming isometrics will help tremendously. Doing paused squats has helped me improve my ability to get out of the bottom position. You can do pauses at any position that you feel you’re weak at. Overcoming isometrics are specifically done to break through sticking points and can lead you to incredible strength gains. There’s so many ways to use Overcoming Isometrics but the most common way I’ve seen is with a barbell, power rack, and safety pins.

The idea is to push the barbell against the safety pins at various joint angles. You’ll select the joint angles you struggle in the most.Since you won’t be able to move the pins, you’ll be exerting maximum force. Doing this teaches your body to exert a lot of force at that particular position. The more force you apply, the easier it is to move the weight.

How I’m Attacking My current Weaknesses

My two current weak spots are my triceps and my hip flexors. I noticed my tricep weakness from struggling at the lockout point on my bench press. I saw my hip flexor weakness from doing squats. My hip flexors are often sore after I finish doing squats.

For my triceps, I’ve been doing a lot of isolation exercises as well as cross crawl movements that engage the triceps. I’ve definitely noticed improvements in my lockout strength since placing a stronger emphasis on tricep training..

For my hip flexors, I’ve been doing band work. The exercise involves me lying on my back and placing my feet on the bands. Once I’m set up, I bring each knee to my chests , with the band acting as resistance.

I’ve also been doing hurdle jumps at a local track. These automatically engage the hip flexors based on how I have to tuck in my legs to get over the hurdles.I’ve noticed a difference in my power when squatting. I’ve also been able to engage my glutes more when I lift.

Another way I’m targeting my hip flexors is to look at the cause for hip flexor weakness. I’ve made it a point to stand up more each day. Sitting for too long weakens and tightens hip flexors. I’ve also been stretching my hip flexors so they can be strong and mobile.

Below is a link to a Stack article with great information on Overcoming Isometrics:

https://www.stack.com/a/overcoming-isometrics-the-weird-exercises-that-can-instantly-make-you-stronger#:~:text=%20For%20example%2C%20contrast%20training%20for%20the%20upper-body,minutes%20and%20repeat%20for%203-5%20sets%20More%20

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