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

Better Gains and Less Stress Lies in The Power of The Tongue

How the position of your tongue can reduce stress and boost your overall fitness

When it comes to getting great results in fitness the things we normally focus on are exercise, food, and sleep. These are all very important in order to achieve any fitness goal. One thing that’s often overlooked is stress management. Nowadays, a lot of people are dealing with daily stress, not aware of how it is holding their bodies back.

Stress can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on how it’s experienced. The good stress comes from doing a tough workout or just doing anything that challenges you. This type of stress can lead to growth whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, or financial. Even the good stress can be damaging if you get too much of it.

The Effects of Too Much Stress

The bad stress is the one that drains you of energy. It’s the type that has you fearing the future or stuck in the past. You may wonder how this stress stops you from achieving your fitness goals. Where do I start?

Stress leads to increased cortisol in your body. Excess cortisol has a negative effect on sleep. The more cortisol you have the less melatonin you produce at night. Melatonin is crucial to sleep.If you’re someone who’s trying to make progress in their fitness, you’ll know that sleep is the biggest key to recovery.

Cortisol also has an inverse relationship with testosterone. The more cortisol you have the less testosterone you produce at that moment. Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when trying to build muscle and/or burn fat. To add to the fat loss aspect, high levels of cortisol is associated with weight gain in the form of fat.

For anyone that’s trying to gain strength, think about how stressful lifting heavy is on your body. Your body can only handle so much stress. How well do you think you’d be able to handle the stress of your workouts if you’re constantly dealing with stress throughout your day?

On the flip side, breathing deeply reduces stress. It’s also great for workout recovery because deep breathing means better digestion of food. Better digestion of food means more nutrients absorbed from the food you eat. For the people who are trying to lose fat, your body has to burn calories in order to digest your food.

Solution

One of the simplest things you can do to reduce stress is to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth. When doing this, make sure your tongue isn’t touching your upper teeth. It sounds weird but by holding this tongue position, you’ll automatically breathe through your nose and into your diaphragm. This allows you to breathe deeply without any conscious effort. Deep breathing puts you in the rest and digest mode compared to the fight or flight mode when you’re stressed.

It’s been six months since I’ve relearned how to properly breathe.I’ve definitely noticed the benefits. I feel more relaxed in general, my digestion is better, and I sleep more deeply. At first it’ll feel weird breathing like this if it’s new to you. After a month, it’ll feel so normal that breathing any other way feels strange. One of the things that helped me the most is doing this while going for walks.

I could go on about the benefits of nose breathing with proper tongue posture but I recommend you test it out for yourself. See how you feel once you make nose breathing a natural part of your life. See how you perform in your workouts, how you deal with daily stressors, and how your body looks as a result. You’ll be amazed!

How Cortisol affects sleep: https://thrivenfunctionalmedicine.com/melatonin-and-cortisol/

Cortisol and testosterone: https://news.utexas.edu/2010/09/27/stress-hormone-blocks-testosterones-effects-study-shows/

Cortisol and weight management: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing: https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/mouth-breathing-physical-mental-emotional-consequences/

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

Fitness Quote of The Week- Actions Over Words

Let your results speak for themselves.

” Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise. “- Frank Ocean

This quote can be applied to fitness and any area of your life. I’ve always enjoyed stay quiet about my goals and letting the results speak for themselves. Sometimes it does pay off to tell others your goals because they can help you get on track if you start to slip off. There are other times that sharing your goals can cause more harm than good.

Sometimes even well meaning people can say things that might cause you to doubt yourself. You can still be confident in the achievement of your goals but now that voice of self-doubt will be louder than normal. Those people might not believe you can achieve the goal or they might be pushing their own self-doubts onto you. In case this does happen, you can try using affirmations to boost your self-confidence.

Another reason I like to let the results speak for themselves is because talking about takes energy away from what you’re trying to achieve. The time you spend talking about the goal, you can be using to take action. When you find yourself doing more taking than action taking, ask yourself if you genuinely desire the goal or you want to achieve it to impress others. You can say or post anything you want but nothing will be louder than your results.

Photo by Tembela Bohle from Pexels

How To Gain Confidence in any Lift

How to gain confidence in any gym exercise.

One of the biggest keys to performing well in the weight room is confidence. When you’re confident you’re less likely to be affected by limiting beliefs.When it comes to gaining confidence when performing a lift, the best solution is to do that lift more frequently. If you don’t want to do the lift multiple times per week, you can try a high set, low rep workout. This is the closest thing to training frequently.

The key to making the high set, low rep approach work is by choosing a weight you’re comfortable doing. I’ve had good experience with this approach when using it for speed squats. You can use a normal tempo when doing this. The concept is simple. The more you do something, the more confident you are in doing it. The more confident you are in doing it, the more competent you’ll be. This is why many have gotten good results using Pavel Tsatsouline’s grease the groove technique.

I wanted to work these principles in a recent squat workout I had. I have decent competency with the squat but I wanted to take it to another level. Below is a simple squat workout I did which follows the high rep, low set training approach. The reps were at a regular tempo.

Squat Workout

  • Back Squat: 20 sets of 2 at 225 pounds. 1 minute of rest in between sets.

I chose 225 pounds because that’s a weight I can do easily. In context, my squat max is currently 385 pounds, beltless. You can adjust the weight to fit your strength levels.

  • Suitcase Carry: 4 sets of 30 second carries. 2 sets for each arm. Rest 1 minute in between each carry

I added the suitcase carry because it’s a great exercise to build core strength. It also teaches you how to brace your abs, which is crucial when squatting.

  • Extreme Supported Squat: In order to do this find something to hold onto. Once you do, you’ll sit yourself in a bodyweight squat slightly below parallel. Set a timer for 5 minutes and hold yourself up as much as possible. During the 5 minutes you will slowly lower yourself in the squat. You can drop once time runs out.

I learned about this through Sports Chiropractor Dr. Tommy John. The benefit of this is that it builds strength endurance, which will lower your risk of injuries. I notice that my knees feel great every time I finish the slow eccentric squats.

*Warning: The extreme supported squats feel miserable while doing them.

Closing Thoughts

The workout above is something I did for my squats but you can apply the same principle to any lift. Beyond lifting, you can apply it to any movement or life skill you want to gain confidence in.

Video link to Extreme Supported Squat demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67hA3uLnYIM

Photo by Leon Ardho from Pexels

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.