The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing

Throughout my fitness journey I’ve tried many exercises and exercise variations but there’s one move that really stands out. I’d go as far as saying that learning this exercise was one of the biggest turning points in my fitness journey. The move is called the Leopard Crawl and I learned about it through Tim Anderson’s original strength website.

I say this is the best exercise you’re not doing because I’ve never seen someone in person do this exercise. Maybe it’s because many people haven’t heard of it, it won’t be a social media hit, or crawling like an animal feels weird. Regardless of how you feel about the exercise, it provides many benefits.

Benefits

Core Strength: The Leopard crawl is great for core strength. It teaches you how to use all your core muscles simultaneously. Your core muscles have to stabilize in order to control your movement.

Nervous System Health: The interesting thing about Leopard Crawls is that they’re physically demanding but they’re great for revitalizing your nervous system. The reason why it’s so beneficial to the nervous system is the contralateral aspect of the movement. When you Leopard Crawl, you’re using opposite limbs simultaneously. You use your right hand at the same time as your left leg and vice versa. This forces both hemispheres of your brain to work at the same time.

Back Health: One thing I noticed is that my lower back feels better after doing rounds of leopard crawls. I think this is because of the way the movement is set up, particularly when crawling backwards. Another reason for better back health is the development of core strength cause by Leopard Crawls. A strong, stable core is your back’s best friend.

Fat Loss: Leopard Crawls are great for fat loss due to the metabolic demands it places on your body. It forces you to engage many muscles. The longer you do the crawls, the more cardiovascular energy you have to use. Every time Ive finished a round of Leopard Crawls, my heart rate skyrockets.

Muscle Building: As I mentioned before, Leopard Crawls require you to use multiple muscles at once. You already know about the core muscle engagement but did you know that Leopard Crawls will help you build bulletproof shoulders? They’ll also fire up your chests and triceps. If you don’t have access to a gym and you want to build an impressive upper body, Leopard Crawls will help you tremendously.

How To Do Leopard Crawls

Starting Position: Get down on your hands and knees.

Step 2: Raise your slightly above the ground. Raise your shoulders to a height that it’s above your hips. Tilt your head slightly so you’re looking up at an angle.

Step 3: The Leopard Crawl is a Contralateral movement so you’ll be using opposite limbs simultaneously. As you start crawling, you’ll move your left arm while moving your right leg and vice versa. You can do this forward and backwards. To make this even more difficult, maintain proper tongue posture the way I mentioned in this article.

Regardless of your fitness goal, you can benefit from the leopard crawl. It’s one of the rare exercises that will require a lot of energy but revitalize you after. If you’re not physically ready for the leopard crawl, you prepare yourself with the baby crawl. Give these movements a try!

Original Strength Website: https://originalstrength.net

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.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Find Peace By Getting Violent

This post offers a way to improve your mental and physical health. It has the potential to make the world a better place.

Fitness has always been an outlet for me to express myself. Different movements are forms of human expression. One of the most basic ways people express themselves is through anger. I believe connecting with your violent side will lead to greater joy in life. Fitness is the way to do that. One of the best ways to express yourself is to hit a punching bag. From my experience, I’ve felt so much at peace with myself after a few rounds hitting the bag. It’s a great feeling. You get to let your frustrations out on the bag.

A lot of problems nowadays come from people keeping in their emotions. Eventually those emotions can turn into something ugly. It can lead to you losing your cool over the smallest thing. It can lead to unnecessary road rage. By hitting the bag, you can let out those emotions in a productive way and you’ll be at peace with yourself. Staying angry about something that happened won’t change anything. All it’ll do is make you miserable. Hitting the bag is a productive way to face those feelings

Your girlfriend left you? Hit the bag

Family problems? Hit the bag

Your boss is a jerk? Hit the bag

Your neighbors dog bit you? Hit the bag

I usually do this at the end of my workout. I set a timer for five minutes and start hitting the bag. I punch at different levels of speed and  from different angles. I work on different combinations. This is a great workout finisher. You can also do this as a separate workout by doing multiple sets of five minute rounds. At the end of it, you’ll feel a sense of relaxation. You’ll feel like the shit that made you upset was meaningless. This is how I usually feel after my bag sessions.

Benefits

Aside from the therapeutic effects of this workout, you’ll also be getting in some great cardio. You can use as steady rate cardio by keeping the same pace throughout the round(s) or do a high intensity approach by switching speeds. This beats running on the treadmill any day.

You’ll also become a better athlete as a result of doing bag work. Bag work will help improve your punching abilities if you ever have to throw a punch in real life. It won’t make you a world class fighter but it’ll definitely help. At the very least, you’ll have more confidence in your ability to throw a punch. Bag work if done properly will teach you how to generate power from your lower body to your upper body. Most of the power from punches come from your glutes.

Warning

Before engaging in bag work, make sure you have proper technique. Wrecklessly punching a heavy bag can lead to wrist, elbow, or shoulder injuries. I’ve learned the hard way in the past. If you’re able to wrap your hands up before putting them in the glove, that’ll reduce the risk of wrist injuries.

Hit The Bag!

If you want towards inner peace while getting a good cardio workout, hit the bag ! A lot of unnecessary violence can be prevented if people have an outlet to express their emotions. Aggressive forms of fitness like hitting a punching bag can provide that outlet. I hope this article reaches the right person.

 

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Explosive Fat Burning Workouts

This article is about the fat burning workouts that have worked for me.

I love strength training. Nothing beats the thrill of challenging your body through heavy compound lifts. As much as I focus on strength and performance, I also value my appearance. It feels good to look in the mirror and be happy with what you see. That’s why emphasize fat loss in my fitness routine.

Burning fat will also reveal your hard earned muscle from lifting weights. Doing finishers at the end of your workout will help you burn a ton of fat. Sometimes the best way to train for fat loss is doing a separate fat burning workout.Here’s a list of my favorite fat burning workouts:

400 to 100 M sprints:

I mentioned this workout in a previous article of mine but it’s so effective I have to mention it again. I learned about this from an article written by legendary strength coach Charles Poliquin. In addition to burning a ton of fat, this workout has been found to support your muscle building hormones like HGH and testosterone. There are 4 sets of sprints in this workout. Each sprint goes varying distances

400 meter sprint

Rest for 4 minutes

300 meter sprint

Rest for 3 minutes

200 meter sprint

Rest for 2 minutes

100 meter sprint

Done

Kettlebell Swing Workout: The workout is as simple as the name says. It’s a workout in which you only do kettlebell swings. To make it even simpler, you do 30 seconds of swings followed by 30 seconds of rest. Sometimes you can rest longer if necessary. The goal is to get at least 10 minutes of swings at the end of the workout. It seems like a short amount of time but it makes a difference.

Hill Repeats: I mentioned this workout in a previous article. This is another simple workout I do. The hill I run on is about 20 yards long. In this workout, you’ll sprint up the hill as fast as possible and walk down the hill. I normally do 3 sets of 7 sprints with a minute rest in between.

Funnest Fat Burning Workout : The funnest fat burning workout is playing a sport. When you’re playing a sport, you’re constantly moving at different speeds and in different directions. Your body is working hard and you’re often pushed further based on what your opponent or teammate is doing. Playing sports also helps you make friends and build relationships. My go to sport is pickup basketball.

Closing Thoughts: The reason I do these specific workouts for fat loss is because they compliment my strength training. Kettlebell swings and sprints work a lot of the same muscles used in lifts like squats and deadlifts. They also help me with my ability to generate power, which makes a big difference in weight lifting and sports performance.

Why The Gym You Go To Matters

This post is about how your environment affects your workout goals

You are the people you surround yourself with.If you want to maximize your fitness results, focus on your environment.

I used to go to a gym near my house. It was a solid gym and I liked the people that went there. That gym had all the equipment I needed to build a stronger and more attractive body but there was something missing.

That gym had a lot of older members and I respect them but I couldn’t maximize my abilities in that environment. My chances of achieving my fitness goals improved dramatically when that gym closed down.The gym I eventually joined afterwards was what I needed. I was surrounded by people that were a lot stronger and more fit than me. It was the best thing that ever happened for my fitness goals.

I feel like I was subconsciously drawn to getting significantly stronger when I joined that gym. Seeing great displays of strength became the everyday norm for me.Humans are built to mentally and physically adapt. I adapted to my surroundings by getting stronger. Stronger than I ever thought I could be. In addition to getting stronger, my love for working out increased.

If you want to get stronger, train with or near people that are stronger than you. If you want to get in better shape, surround yourself with people who are in better shape than you. Another benefit of being around people that are achieving your goals is you can get great advice. I’ve learned so much from people that are stronger than me.

What environment would you want to be a part of ? One with people who just go through the motions or one with people who aim to be extraordinary. The choice is yours.

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Why You Should Lift Heavy When Trying To Lose Fat

This post is about the best way to lift weights when trying to lose fat

When it comes to fat loss, the most important thing is your diet. If you have a terrible diet you’re not going to lose much fat unless you have amazing genetics. Another thing that comes to people’s minds when trying to lose fat is cardio. Cardio definitely has its place in a fat loss program but people often neglect weightlifting.

Weightlifting can be your best friend when you’re trying to burn fat. The key is doing it correctly. I believe doing heavy ( 80-95% of 1 rep max) compound lifts helps a lot with fat loss. Personally, I’ve looked my best when I focused on lifting heavy. I think it’s because lifting heavy activates a ton of muscle fibers.

Logically it makes sense to lift in a way that makes your muscles work harder when trying to burn fat. I never understood why some think doing high repetitions is the way to go. My opinion that heavy lifting is the best approach comes from the same train of thought that sprints are better than jogging for fat loss. Intensity wins when it comes to transforming your body.

Alternative To Heavy Lifting: Outside of lifting heavy, the best way to lift when trying to lose fat is explosively. Explosive movements force your muscles to work hard. Your body is also forced to activate many muscle fibers in order to move explosively.

Training like this is the reason I’ve been able to stay lean for the longest time. In addition to boosting fat loss, who doesn’t want to be strong and explosive? Lifting like this solves the problem for those who want to lose fat while keeping or gaining muscle.

My Love For Hill Sprints

Hill Sprints are great for your body.

I have a deep love for hill sprints. They have a reputation for being brutal but everyone should do them. Hill sprints are tough but worth it. I’m very grateful to hills because they allowed me to get great workouts when I had limited gym access. Two years ago the gym I  was going to closed down and moved to a new location. The new location made it difficult for me to go as often as I used to. Weeks before that, I began doing hill sprints to spice up my workouts.

With limited access to weights, I had to be creative with my workouts. I completely replaced my squat and deadlift days with hill sprints. You’d think I’d get significantly weaker but I felt great. Squats and deadlifts are two of the top ways to build strength but hill sprints helped me cope without them. The early part of my hill training was rough but like any training method, your body adapts. Once my body adapted, the magic happened. Two times a week, I would go back to those hills. I incorporated them in my training from July to January. With hill sprints, I had as much leg muscle as when I was using weights to train my legs. I enjoyed all the benefits hill sprints provide for me.

Hill Sprints Burn A lot of Fat!

Hill sprints are an excellent way to burn fat. Famous fitness consultant, Jason Ferrugia once said ” aside from proper nutrition, there’s nothing more efficient than hill sprints for fat loss”. From my personal experience, this is 100% true. I’m always at my leanest when I do hill sprints on a weekly basis. Sprints have a reputation for being a fat burning exercise. When you add the resistance provided by the hill, amazing things happen. The hill makes your body work harder. The harder your body works, the more calories it’ll burn. Hill sprints also target several muscles like the quads, hamstrings, calves, and core. Your arms will get a workout too since they’re used to propel your body forward.

Hill Sprints are The Perfect Compliment to Weight Lifting:

Hill sprints will help you in the weight room for a number of reasons. The leg muscles developed through hill sprints will help your performance in leg exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Hill sprints also improves work capacity which will allow you to get more work done in less time. Increased work capacity means you require less time to rest in between sets. Another benefit of hill sprints is they bring a lower injury risk in comparison to regular sprints. Your body isn’t moving fast enough to be at risk of pulling a hamstring.

Mental Benefits of Hill Sprints:

Hill sprints offer countless mental benefits. The most prominent benefit is the development of mental toughness. It takes mental toughness to repeatedly push your body even when you’re fatigued. Believe me, your body will be fatigued when running hills. Another mental benefit is the dopamine rush you experience. It’s good for your mind to see yourself repeatedly achieving your goal ( the top of the hill) despite the challenging trail. This also reinforces the notion that you can achieve your goal regardless of the challenge in front of you.

If you want to transform your body you should add hill sprints to your routine. I’m a big believer that incorporating sprints and weights in your routine will yield fantastic results. You should check out my hill sprint routine as well as other sprint workouts I’m experienced with Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints.

I always feel triumphant after several hill repeats. There’s something satisfying about overcoming fatigue and a difficult path to reach my goal. At the end of my hill sprint workout, I raise my hands up in triumph as I stand on top of the hill.It gives me an extra sense of confidence in myself. I feel like a champion when doing it and that confidence transfers to other areas of my life. Running hills transforms my mind and body.

 

Photo credit: <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/author/3e9858″>Michael 1952</a> on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”&gt; CC BY</a>

 

Use Your Mind For Amazing Results

When it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, your mindset can be your biggest asset. When you have belief in your abilities, you’d be surprised about what your body can do.

My First Experience With How The Mind Can Influence Performance

I remember one time I was doing squats. One of my friends who was an experienced lifter saw me. He noticed that I kept looking down when I was squatting and recommended I look up. I followed his advice and noticed that the squat felt a lot easier. I told him this and he insisted I add more weight to the bar. I was hesitant because in my mind I couldn’t see myself lifting significantly more than I was doing. With my friend spotting me, I added 20 pounds to what I was doing. After some successful reps, my friend convinced me to add another 10 pounds. Despite my hesitation, I added a total of 50 pounds to what I was originally doing. In my next squat session, I increased the weight of my working set by 20 pounds.

Mind Hacks I’ve used To Boost My Workouts

Over time I used various techniques to make sure I have the right mindset during my workouts. The most obvious one is listening to aggressive music to pump me up for my workouts. I’ve also had success by repeatedly saying ” I’m strong ” in between my sets when lifting heavy. Constantly telling myself how strong I am gives me the expectation of doing well in my next working set. It’s like having a cheerleader with you as you’re lifting. I recently stumbled upon a new way to mentally prep for my workouts.

Another mind hack I use sometimes is the power of my imagination. When I’m about to lift a challenging weight, I picture my self as a gorilla that’s about to lift the weight. By doing this I’m seeing myself as the one in charge of the situation. I’m the one imposing my will on the weight rather than the other way around. I use the gorilla but you can use any animal that represents strength for you.

The Mirror Technique And It’s Origin.

I recently learned about a different mind hack that helps with workout performance. It’ called The Mirror Technique and I became aware of it after reading Claude Bristol’s book The Magic of Believing. I’d recommend reading this book if you’re open minded to things. The background behind the mirror technique is one day the author was invited to a party in which the host got very intoxicated. The host was expected to give a speech that day but he was so drunk. The author witnessed the host stumble into one of the house bathroom. The host looked into the mirror and told himself that he was stone cold sober. The author was in shock when the host suddenly stood firm and behaved like a man that was completely sober. Clatude Bristol reccomends using this technique to get your mind to believe anything.

Applying The Mirror Technique To Health and Fitness

I recently used the mirror technique one night when I was about to bench press. I had to use the bathroom before I began my working set. Luckily it was a private bathroom so I decided to try the technique out. I stood in front of the mirror and looked at myself right in the eyes. As I stood in front of the mirror, I repeatedly told myself how great I was at bench pressing. I told myself things like  ” I have an amazing bench press ” and ” I’m so strong”. I added some expletives too so I could add emotion to it. After my little pep talk, I was so pumped. I had a new level of confidence as I approached the bench. It’s not a coincidence that the weight I was using felt lighter than normal. I also had the confidence to attempt a new PR. I used a spotter just to be on the safe side. I successfully completed the lift with a little assistance. I promise my spotter didn’t have to curl the weight for me. I used the momentum I had from my pressing session into the rest of my workout. I now use the mirror technique on most days. My go to line is ” My body is Strong, healthy, athletic, and attractive”. Saying this gives me a sense of confidence in my body. You can use the mirror technique for any fitness or life goal you have.

Going forward I plan on using the mirror technique and other techniques to make sure I’m mentally ready for my workouts. When you approach your workouts with the right mindset, you’ll be amazed at your results.

 

” As you think, so shall you become “- Bruce Lee

 

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The Magic of Supersets

This article is about how supersets can help you build muscle and burn fat. Article also includes a sample workout routine.

Is it possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time? From my experience, it can be done. There are many factor involved with building muscle and burning fat simultaneously such as diet, training, and sleep. One method that has worked for me is using superset.

What Are Supersets?

Supersets are when you do two different movements consecutively. The key is two do two movements that work opposite  muscle groups. An example would be push ups followed immediately by rows. A bad example would be bench press followed by push ups. Supersets don’t always have to be done with opposite movements as long as the 2 movements don’t work the same muscles.

There’s a number of reasons why supersets are great for building muscle and burning fat at the same time. The muscle building benefits are obvious as you’re lifting a weight that’s challenging enough to build muscles for a good amount of reps, preferably 6-10 reps. This is the typical rep range used when building muscle. Since you’r working different muscle groups for each movement, you’ll still be in the muscle building range for each movement. Supersets work for fat loss because by being in constant motion, you keep your heart rate high for a longer duration. This is similar to when you’re doing an intense form of cardio.

Another benefit of supersets is that it saves you time. By doing two consecutive movements, you get more done in less time. The more you can incorporate supersets in your routine, the less days you’ll have to go to the gym since many muscle groups will be hit in each workout. I like to do this for my accessory lifts because the main lifts like squats bench press, and deadlifts require more energy and concentration.

 

Sample Workout

Below is a workout I added to my routine when I was focused on building muscle and burning fat. I believe this workout set a good foundation for me as I’m currently focused on building strength.

1. Back Squats–  With the back squat, I like to make the eccentric or lowering of the weight slow. The eccentric portion of a lift is when the most muscle tear occurs. Muscle tear leads to muscle growth once you recover. Once I reach the bottom position, I pause at the bottom for 3 seconds. You can also replace the back squat with the deadlift for this workout.

3 sets of 7 with a 1.5 minute rest in between each rep.

Set 1:

2. Legs and Back Superset: Bulgarian Split Squat and Bent Over Row

Bulgarian Split Squat– 6 reps

Bent Over Row– 7 reps

Rest for 1 minute

Repeat til you complete 3 sets

3. Physioball Hamstring Curl.

3 sets of 30 with a 1 minute rest in between.

4. Finisher: To end this workout, I usually do the jump rope or punching bag finisher that I mentioned in my previous post Finish Strong and Burn Fat! . You can use the kettlebell finisher too if your hips aren’t too tired from the squats and split squats.

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Finish Strong and Burn Fat!

In order to burn body fat, you have to be able to finish strong. The fat in your body is most vulnerable towards the end of your workout. Whether I was focused on building muscle, gaining strength, or recovering from injury, I always made a conscious effort to keep my body fat at a low percentage. Obviously diet is the most important component but you need the right exercises to maximize your fat loss results.

All my gym workouts include a fat loss finisher. I don’t use machines because I feel like I’m limiting my body. I like to do finishers that provide functional benefits. Here’s a list of the finishers that have worked for me.

Jump Rope Finisher: My jump rope finisher is simple but effective. I usually do 200 repetitions at a casual pace followed by an all out burst. I repeat this sequence til I get up to 1000 moderate pace repetitions followed by an all out burst. This can take 5-10 minutes depending on if you want to continue past the 1000. There’s no rest.

Kettlebell Swing: In my previous post, I mentioned the awesome benefits of the kettlebell swing Get an Awesome Body With Kettlebell Swings . My kettlebell finisher involves me doing 20 rep swings, followed by a plank in which I do ten deep belly breaths. I repeat this sequence til I get at least 100 swings. You can add more repetitions if your aerobic capacity allow it.

Jump rope/ Kettlebell Swing Combo: This finisher is a form of Supramaximal Interval Training (S.M.I.T). This form of interval training is different than High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). S.M.I.T involves you repeatedly moving at an intense rate and then resting completely. I usually do 20 intense kettlebell swings followed immediately by jump roping at maximal speed. I keep jump roping til I miss a rep. I like to place myself far from the gym water fountain. After I do a set, I walk to the water fountain to get a sip of water and when I walk back I do another set. You can also rest for a minute. I continue til I do 4 sets. One word to describe this finisher is ferocious.

Bag Work: You’ll need boxing gloves to do this finisher safely. I basically throw random punches on a heavy punching bag for 1 minute. I like to switch between slow jabs and fast power punches. I also switch my boxing stances from traditional to south paw. Switching your movement prevents your body from getting comfortable. Constantly challenging your body means more calories burned.

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