The Best Time To Plant a Tree

(Short read) Why you shouldn’t wait to start your fitness journey.

“ The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now “ – Chinese proverb

If you plan on starting your fitness journey, start now. Don’t weight till the new year to do it. Don’t wait till tomorrow either. Do it today. The more you put off the less likely you’ll do it. When you say I’ll start something tomorrow, you’re programming tomorrow into your brain. When tomorrow comes, your brain still has the word tomorrow in mind.

That means if something unexpected happens or if something is taking up your time, the default part of your brain will kick in and push you to start your journey tomorrow again. If you can do something today, just do it. You can do something as simple as pushups to get in the mode. Start now!

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How To Stay Fit During The Holidays

The things you can do to stay fit and healthy during the holidays.

The holidays can be a very busy time for people. With the holiday shopping and events, it can be difficult to keep your normal workout regimen. This shouldn’t be an excuse to slack off. If you’ve been working your ass off all year, you don’t want to have most of it go to waste in a month. There are simple things you can do to at least maintain your fitness during holidays if you’re unable to stick to your regular schedule.

Short Workouts

If you have a lot going on during the holidays, your best bet to stay active is doing short workouts. One way to approach it is minimalist workouts. This means limiting the number of exercises you do in a workout. You can do as little as two exercises per workout. This will save you time and you won’t have to hop around using a bunch of equipment . My go to minimalist workout at the gym would be squats and deadlifts. Choosing this pair allows you to stay in one place throughout your workout

Sprints are another way to get in a short workout. This might be the easiest approach since it doesn’t require any equipment. All you need is an open field, a healthy body, and a fire in your belly. It’s one of the top exercises I recommend for busy people.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

This one takes discipline. With the different holiday events and meetings going on, you’ll often be tempted with lots of food. As someone who likes to pig out from time to time, I try to minimize the damage by not drinking my calories. Sticking to water will limit your overall caloric intake and help you get full faster, which will reduce how much you eat.

Stress Management

Stress management is crucial when trying to stay fit. The holidays can be a stressful time for a number of reasons. Too much stress can have a negative effect on your fitness and overall health. One way to keep stress in check is something I’ve already mentioned. Doing short workouts will significantly reduce the accumulation of workout related stress. This can come in handy if you have a lot going on this season. You can even replace one of your intense workouts for a yoga session.

Aside from shortened workouts, you can also do things like watching comedy, doing an artistic activity, or various breathing exercises. Keeping your stress in check will help you tremendously with maintaining the progress you’ve made.

If you have a busy holiday season there are still things you can do to stay fit and healthy. What are some ways you’re maintaining your fitness?

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Keeping Yourself Healthy When You’re Hustling on the Side

How to stay healthy while doing a side hustle.

Guest post from Ed Carter of ablefutures.org.

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.

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The Top Exercise For Each Fitness Goal

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.

Strength

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.

Hypertrophy

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!

How To Keep Your Fitness Resolutions

The best ways to keep your fitness resolutions

It seems like every year people make a New Years Resolution to exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, people often fail in keeping those resolutions. Personally, I’m not a big fan of New Years Resolution.

The way I see it is if you have a goal that’s important to you, why wait till January 1st. You can start working on that goal right away. If setting a goal for the New Years is what works for you, I’m here to support you. This post will be geared towards fitness but the principles can apply to any other area of your life.

Fitness Resolution Guide

Start Small: If you haven’t been active, don’t expect to be able to do 1 hour workouts 5 times a week. It’s not sustainable unless someone forces you to. Once you set a big goal for the year, focus on small things you can do to move towards that goal. Once you build the habit of supporting that goal, you can move on to bigger things.

An example is if you want to simply make exercising a habit. Try to set aside 10 minutes each day to do a workout. In your mind, 10 minutes won’t seem like too much of a commitment. You might finding yourself in the zone and decide to work out longer. After you do this everyday, exercising will become part of your identity. You won’t be overwhelmed by the idea of doing long workouts.

Write it Down: I’m a big believer in writing down goals. When you write a goal, you’re bringing it to life. Just keeping a goal in your head is less impactful. You have thousands of thoughts each day. By writing down your goal, you’re giving it precedence over the many thoughts that float around in your head.

Create Reminders: One thing that helps me build new habits is giving myself reminders. You can leave notes in places you’re likely to see them. The notes can be an instruction you give yourself to do something. The more you see that note, the more likely you’ll be to follow it. You’ll be brainwashing yourself in a good way.

Forgive Yourself: Creating new habits is hard. You might stumble at times when trying to create that habit. Maybe you’ll miss a workout or eat eat some junk food. The place where people go wrong is by giving up when they stumble. You should never give up.

When you stumble pick yourself back up. Forgive yourself for the mistake and start fresh with your habit. If you do this every time you stumble, you’ll eventually make the new habit part of who you are . It also helps to have positive reinforcements. Bet on yourself and keep moving forward!

 

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Squat or Deadlift Every Workout

As someone who emphasizes total body workouts, I believe in squatting or deadlifting every workout. You can even do both. In my current routine, I’m in the gym three times a week and I’m doing at least one of these two compound lifts. I’ve been following this approach the last two months and I’m pleased with the results.

Reasons To Squat or Deadlift every Workout

Total body benefits– If you want to follow a total body training split, doing squats or deadlifts each workout will make that goal easier. Squats and deadlifts work several muscles from head to toe. There’s a reason they’re both in the discussion for king of all lifts. I often feel satisfied with my workout, knowing that I’ve hit as much muscles as possible.

Increase Strength and Muscle: If you want to get stronger in a lift, then do the lift often. A big reason powerlifters and weightlifters are so strong in their specific lifts is because they do those lifts almost every day. Some of the top performers do them twice a day. I may not be doing as much training frequency as those strength athletes but I believe my routine will allow me to gain strength. I can speak from experience  when I say doing a lift more often will make you better at that lift. I’m currently doing 40 squat reps and 60 deadlift reps every two weeks. My confidence in performing these lifts and my technique have also improved as a result of doing these lifts frequently.

You’ll not only gain strength with this training approach but you’ll also build muscle. In order to maximize muscle growth, you need to hit as much muscle fibers as possible. This is only possible through compound movements like the squat and deadlift. Doing at least one of these lifts three times a week will make it easier for you to gain muscle.

How To Make This Work

The squat and deadlift have great muscle and strength gaining benefits but they have their drawbacks as well. They put a lot of stress on your body and nervous system. The way I handle this challenge is by varying the way I train these lifts each workout.

I don’t go heavy more than once a week. Heavy is 80 % or more of my one rep max. On the days that I’m not going heavy, I’m either doing speed work or just regular light reps. The light reps are usually 20 pounds greater than my body weight.

Another thing that helps is to be aggressive with your recovery. When you train hard, you need to recover hard as well. The obvious methods are diet and sleep. Doing low-intensity yoga workouts, deep tissue work, and deep breathing. You should also rest one or two days in between workouts. Did I mention that cardio helps with muscle recovery?!Once you find an efficient way to do squats or deadlifts each workout, you’ll be pleased with the results.

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This is Why I lift

( Short Read). This post is about my reasons for lifting weights and why it’s important for you to have a why when it comes to fitness.

As someone who’s very active, I do different types of activities. Weight lifting, yoga, and sprints are some of the forms of exercise I’m familiar with. Out of all of them I’d say weight lifting is my favorite. I enjoy the feeling of moving heavy weights and having my muscles work hard.

Why do you lift? Some people lift for health purposes. Some people lift because they think it’ll help them get girls. I lift for several reasons that go beyond getting stronger. Some of those reasons include:

  • I lift because it gives me a way to channel my aggression
  • I lift because it gives me more confidence in my physical abilities
  • I lift because it brings me peace even when life is chaotic
  • I lift because I enjoy feeling healthy and full of energy
  • I lift because it keeps me young
  • I lift because I like being happy with what I see in the mirror
  • I lift because it makes my joints feel stronger
  • I lift because it makes me better in other physical activities

The main reason I lift is because I love lifting. It’s that simple. When you love doing something, you always find a way to do it. I’ve lifted when I’ve been under the weather. I’ve lifted after hectic days. I’ve lifted after getting little sleep. I obviously modified my workouts based on conditions so I can keep my body healthy.

The idea of this post is the importance of having a why. Having a why adds passion to what you’re doing. If you can’t think of a reason to work out, do it simply because you love your body . As you continue making exercise a habit, you’ll find additional whys. You’ll find the exercises that ignite your passion. Passion is so important. The people who achieve the best results are the ones who not only have talent and knowledge but also have passion for what they’re doing. Having passion for something you’re doing is like pouring gasoline on a lit match. Amazing things happen when you put passion into what you’re doing.

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Strength is The Solution

This post is about the importance of strength training in any fitness program

If you have a fitness problem, strength is the solution.  Throughout my fitness journey, I realized that for every challenge I’ve faced, getting stronger has helped me get through it . If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll see that I’m a big supporter of  strength training. Why wouldn’t I be? Strength is one of the key foundations of fitness.

Build Muscle

The stronger you are, the easier it is to build muscle. I agree that high volume work is great for building muscle mass but you shouldn’t forget about strength building. Someone who can bench press 255 pounds for seven reps will have a greater capacity to build muscle than someone who can only bench press 180 pounds for seven reps.

The more weight you use, the more muscle fibers are being activated. Greater muscle fiber activation means a greater potential of building muscle. It’s that simple. Diet and recovery are the other factors that will play into muscle growth.

Burn Fat

Getting stronger also helps with fat-loss. Strength training activates more muscle fibers than any other type of training. Speed work is also in that discussion. Even though strength is a function of the nervous system, you will build muscle as a result of strength training.

You won’t look as large as someone who trains with greater volume but you will notice a difference. This muscle gained will raise your resting metabolism, causing you to burn more calories in every activity you do. A side effect of this is you’ll be hungry all the time!

Another reason strength training is great for fat-loss is it causes a lot of metabolic stress. Any type of training that involves using a lot of muscle fibers will have this effect on your body. The stress caused by strength training takes a lot to recover from. Your body will be burning a ton of calories as it’s trying to recover from training. Strength training should be included in any fat-loss program .

Improve Athleticism

Strength is critical for any athlete. I speak from experience when I say strength training will make you better at any athletic activity and sport. Strength training has helped me improve my vertical jump and sprint speed dramatically. If you look at any high level athlete, they have some strength training in their routine.

Even someone on the opposite end of the spectrum like a marathon runner needs some type of strength training. Their strength training won’t be as intense as a power athlete’s program. Their training volume will also be significantly lower.

Yogis can benefit from strength training as well. I’ve talked about how yoga helps strength strength athletes but the reverse can be true. Having a good strength base will make it easier for you to handle yoga poses like the high lunge and chaturanga.

Feel Better

Strength training will make you feel better overall. You’ll have a natural sense of confidence knowing that you’re capable of doing things physically. You’ll also be happy in your body. When you’re strong, you feel powerful. You naturally feel like you can do great things.

Strength training will also help you with your health. When I’ve had some aching joints in the past, strengthening the muscles around that joint helped me find instant relief. That’s why I’m so adamant about building armor.

Strength training has also made me more resilient to stress. When you’re putting yourself self in a high stress situation like being under a heavy barbell, a lot of challenges you face in life seem less significant.

If you want to increase your chances of achieving any health or fitness goal, strength training will help. You don’t have to be a powerlifter or an olympic athlete to benefit from strength training.

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Do A Random Workout

Breaking out of your routine and doing a random workout can provide immense benefit to your training program.

Consistency and discipline are important in any training program but sometimes you can benefit from doing a random workout. It doesn’t have to be something scary. You’ll find great benefit in just going to the gym on a random day and doing something simple.

Last Thursday , I felt the itch to go to the gym even though I had an intense workout the day before. I felt good and just wanted to get something done. I felt great at the end of the workout and it made me think about the benefits of doing random workouts.

Benefits of Random Workouts

Greater Appreciation: You develop a greater appreciation for your workout routine. Sometimes I take my workouts for granted since I’m so used to the same routine. It becomes automatic. By doing a random workout, you actually have time to think about your workout routine.

Recovery: Doing a random workout will help you with muscle recovery. The fact that you’re moving your body means you’ll be promoting blood flow throughout your body.

Learning New Things: Random workouts can teach you a lot about your body and what it needs to progress. By doing a random workout, you’re getting out of your comfort zone and that’s when you’ll learn a lot about yourself. You can take what you learn use it to help you achieve your goals faster.

Happiness: If you’re someone who loves fitness, getting in any workout will bring you joy. Personally, I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I step in the gym. The endorphin boost you’ll get from the workout also helps with the happiness.

How To Select a Random Workout

When doing a random workout, I recommend choosing something that will contribute to your fitness goal. Even if the impact of the random workout isn’t as large as your normal workouts, at least you’ll move a step closer to your goals.

You can do an intense workout or a workout with moderate intensity. The best way to decide workout intensity depends on what day you’re doing the workout. If the random workout is at the start of your training week, go for higher intensity. If it’s in the middle or end of your training week, it’s best to go for moderate intensity workouts.

This goes hand in hand with my personal training philosophy. I always like doing my hardest workouts at the start of the week. This gives me momentum that I can carry into my following workouts. I’m also fresher at the start of my training weeks.

My Workout

The random workout I did followed the moderate intensity approach since it was near the end of my training week . During my random workout, I did a lot of movements I was familiar with but the format was completely different.

Deadlifts: I did  five sets of three at 225 pounds. These were regular deadlifts at a steady speed.  My rest periods were four minutes, which is pretty long for this level of training intensity. The purpose of this was to get in some extra reps. I learned from Strength Coach Pavel Tsatsouline that you can get stronger by increasing the amount of times you do an exercise. By getting in more quality reps of a movement, I’m making my nervous system more efficient at that movement that movement. A more efficient nervous system means greater strength potential.

Weighted Dead-Bugs: I did dead-bugs while holding two 12 pound dumbbells. The added weight forced my core muscles to work harder. I want my core to be as strong as possible so I can generate more power and be safe during my heavy lifts. I did 10 reps of these in between my deadlift sets.

Iso-Lunge: I did one minute isometric lunges on each leg. The purpose of this was to improve muscle endurance, strengthen my joints, and to work my glutes.

Bag Work: I finished the workout with bag work. I did three rounds of hitting the bag. Each round was two minutes long. It was a good way to get in some cardio.

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Build Your Armor

This article is about the movements that get your stronger and help fight off injuries.

Like many lifters, I’m a big fan of the Big 3 lifts; Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Press. These lifts will help your performance in other physical activities. I paused to be strong but we often forget about building our base.

I’ve had injuries in the past that really limited what I could do. Those injuries helped me grow a lot as a lifter and I learned lessons from them. One of the most important ones was the importance of building your armor.

What Is Your Armor?

Your Armor is your body. One of the biggest keys to performing your best and staying healthy is to have your body as solid and fluid as possible. Solid as in your body is strong and can take on external forces. Fluid as in your body can move effortlessly.

I’m not saying you’ll never get injured because life can be unpredictable. When you build your armor the odds are in your favor of staying healthy. Things will hurt less. I still have some tweaks from time to time since I’m constantly pushing myself but I’ve been able to bounce back easily due to building my armor.

How Do You Build Your Armor?

You build your armor by strengthening your stabilizers. You build your armor by making your mobility is on point. You build your armor by fixing muscular imbalances and making your core powerful In order to accomplish this is by choosing the right exercises.

I first heard the concept of building your armor from Strength Coach Dan John. He listed some exercises that he believed would best build your armor. Below is a list of armor building exercises that I use to stay strong and healthy. These are the exercises that have worked for me.

Farmers Walk

The farmer walk is one of the best armor building exercises. It works every muscle on your body and builds overall strength. For armor building purposes, the farmer walk strengthens your core muscles. It teaches you to brace when dealing with external resistance. A stronger core and the ability to brace is necessary when doing heavy compound lifts. Your back will have a lower risk of injury as a result.

Bulgarian Split-Squat: Another great armor building exercise is the Bulgarian split squat. This move will help fix muscular imbalances in your lower body because it targets one leg at a time. One side of your body will always be stronger but the closer they are in strength, the better your movement will be when performing bilateral movements like squats and deadlifts. Better movement and better strength means a lower chance of getting hurt. You can’t go wrong with this move.

Contra lateral Movements: Contralateral movements like the deadbug and bird-dog are great ways to solidify your armor. These movements teach your core muscles how to work together at the same time. When performing an intense movements, you’ll want your core as solid as possible. Contralateral movements will help you do that. I do the bird-dog before every workout I do. It sends a message to my brain that I need my core to be as strong as possible.

Yoga: Yoga will build your armor two different ways. The isometric poses will strengthen your body’s stabilizers. You’ll also improve your flexibility so your movements will feel natural rather than forced. I honestly think yoga is a big reason I’ve been able to bounce back quickly from injuries.

Closing Thoughts: This isn’t your typical rehab article. I’m a big supporter of doing prehab and rehab exercises. Why not do movements that provide the same benefits and provide a good workout? These armor building exercises have been a major part of my training throughout the years. I’ve even had training weeks dedicated only to these movements. The results were normally better physical performance and appearance. Don’t be surprised if your posture improves by doing these exercises. What exercises do you do to build your armor ? !

 

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