Get Stronger and Better at Home

This article is about simple ways to get in better shape at home.

I’m a big believer in going to the gym, especially the right gym Why The Gym You Go To Matters. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the things you can do at home to get in better shape.The most obvious you can do is eat right and do home workouts. Rather than doing full workouts, I have habits that help me get better results in my fitness pursuits.

Pushup Routine: This routine is especially useful when watching tv. Every time there’s a commercial break, drop down and do 10 push-ups. Doing 10 pushups at a time isn’t hard. By using this approach, you’ll easily fit in more exercise to your schedule without straining yourself. The muscles worked in the pushups will help your performance in other exercises like the bench and shoulder press.

Squat in The Bathroom: Every time you go to the bathroom, do 10 body weight squats. This has the same level of simplicity as the pushup routine. Not only will you burn more calories by getting more exercise but this squat routine will help you improve your squat technique.

Walk Barefoot:

Walking barefoot is something simple you can do at home. The most obvious benefits of walking barefoot are strengthening your feet and ankles. This will help you perform better in any athletic activity. Walking barefoot has also been shown to improve spinal health.

Cardio: One of the simplest ways to get a cardio workout at home is treating a pillow like a punching bag. The idea is to get a pillow that you don’t really use and have someone hold it up in the air for you. Set a timer for one minute and do different punching combinations on the pillow. This is easier on your joints than a punching bag. Doing this with the right intensity will give you a killer cardio workout.

Simple 8 Minute Workout:

I had to sneak in a workout. I learned about this workout from an article written by fitness coach Max Shank. It only takes 8 minutes but it’s very challenging. Do this before you’re going to take a shower. There are many variations to this workout but the way I do it is listed below.

Do as many pushups as you can for 3 minutes.

Do as many squats as you can for 5 minutes.

The benefits of this 8 minute workout includes improved joint health, muscle endurance, and better conditioning.

Health and fitness are a lifestyle. You can get better no matter where you are. Once you make the decision to commit to fitness, you’ll always find ways to improve.

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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Assault on The Squat pt.2

This article is about what I did to boost my squat performance

(Long Read)

In a previous post I mentioned my plan to boost my squat performance.My 1 rep max was 355 pounds before I implemented my plan. It’s time to share how it went.

The two main methods I used to make an improvement were paused squats and CAT squats.

Workouts:

During this training phase, I kept my normal routine but made some adjustments help my goal of getting a stronger squat.One change was squatting twice a week every other week. The week in between I’d do a heavy deadlift day and a light squat day. My light squat days were focused on explosiveness.

Paused Squat Workout:

In my main squat workout, I focused primarily on paused squats. Below is the workout I’d did.

1. Paused Squats- 315 pounds, 6 sets of 2 with 4 second paused. I chose this weight because it’s a weight I’m mentally and physically comfortable moving. Also, it’s heavy enough to make my muscles work harder after a 4 second pause. I’d rest 2 minutes in between sets.

2. Bulgarian Split-Squats: 3 sets of 3 with 90 pound dumbbells.I followed the paused back squats with Bulgarian split squats to target my legs more directly.

3. Cardio: I usually finished the workouts off with 5-7 minutes of jump roping.

CAT Squat Workout:

On my speed focused squat days, I used Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) squats. I read that CAT squats should be done with 55-65% of your 1 rep max so I chose 215 pounds as my working set. I aimed for 6 sets of 3 so each of my reps were as explosive as possible. Sometimes I’d get carried away and do more sets. Moving explosively is fun. I did this workout the same days I bench-pressed. I did this workout every week.

Core Work: I also did some direct core work. I used to do these but for some reason I stopped doing it for months. I chose alternating leg raises as my core work. The key to making the most of this is bracing your core as if you’re about to get punched really hard in the stomach. This move builds core coordination, allowing all your core muscles to fire as one unit when performing a heavy lift.

Progression:

During the period of using this approach, I was getting more comfortable with my squat. My speed on the cat squats improves drastically so I moved up to 225 pounds. I also got in a groove with my paused squats. I went from being relieved to be done with 6 sets to wanting to stay at the squat rack all day. I knew this was a good time to test my one rep max.

Outcome:

After 5 weeks of using this approach, it was time to test my squatting strength. Below is the workout I used to test my squat. I rested 4 minutes in between each set.

3 reps at 330 pounds

2 reps at 340 pounds

1 rep at 355 pounds

3 reps at 335 pounds

2 reps at 345 pounds

Now it’s time to test my max. I went for 360 pounds. 360 went up smoothly and I felt good enough to go for more. After a 4 minute break, I went for 365. 365 felt so easy. I didn’t strain at all. After another 4 minute break, I was ready for 370. I went for 370 but I got stuck halfway through the lift and my spotter helped me finish.

After 5 weeks, I gained 10 pounds on my squat. I think I could’ve gotten 370 if I didn’t run out of gas.The previous sets felt easy but the nervous system can be tricky. I’m also happy that I at least got past the bottom position on the missed reps. I think the paused squats are a big reason for that.

Learning Points:

Paused squats are great for getting past sticking points.

The key to improving lifting performance is applying more force to a lift. You need to apply more than 400 pounds of force to move a 400 pound weight.

CAT squats will teach you how to apply more force when squatting.

Paused squats help your deadlift performance because it teaches you to unleash great force from a dead stop position. Paused squats also causes major glute activation

What’s Next?

I plan on continuing this approach to boost my squat. I’m a big believer in these two strength building methods. Pausing at the bottom of your squat takes away the momentum factor that plays into regular squats. It also gives you better awareness of your squat depth so you don’t cheat any reps.

CAT squats obviously boosts squatting speed but it’s known as a great way to boost strength as well. The purpose of CAT squats is to apply the type of force you’d do for a heavy weight into a light weight. The more force you put into a weight, the more likely you’ll be able to move it. This training method was created by a man named Fred Hatfield aka Dr. Squat. I’ll take squatting advice from a man named Dr. Squat any day. The journey continues!

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.

Act Like A Beginner in the Gym

This post is about taking some tools from beginners to get the best results in the gym

Remember when you first started working out? The excitement you’d feel for each workout because it meant you were closer to your goal. I remember them like it was yesterday. Now I find myself sometimes falling into the trap of the end result.

I believe the key to continue making progress in the gym and even speeding up the process is acting like a beginner and still applying the knowledge gained from years of working out and studying fitness. Having that hunger of a beginner allows you to be present for your workout. You’re not worried about the successes or failures of previous workouts. Your only concern is dominating your current workout and moving one step closer to your goals. By focusing on your current workout, you’re likely to use more intensity rather than going through the motions.

The attitude of a beginner allows you to focus more on how the current workout will move you closer to your goal rather than if you struggle. Part of the reason people reach plateaus is not because of a lack of passion but because they don’t have the same level of passion as they did earlier in their fitness lives.

Many factors play into why this happens. Daily stresses of life and doing the same workout are some of the main culprits. Switching up your routine and managing stress will help with these issues. One way to battle stress is meditation.

I also find that there’s less ego when you have the beginners mindset. You’re more concerned about improving yourself than competing with others. There’s a greater focus on how you can improve.

Another thing I like about beginners is they don’t know any better. Plateau is not in their vocabulary. They only saw room for improvement. Our minds are what holds us back. I like the saying ” the body follows where the mind goes “. By having the beginners mindset of constant improvement, you can take your body to new heights regardless of your fitness goals.

Experience based knowledge combined with the enthusiasm of a beginner will lead to amazing results.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must stay there, you must go beyond them. – Bruce Lee

The Power is in Your Hands

This post is about using your hands to boost your workout performance

Lifting heavy weights is awesome. There’s all kinds of changes you can make to improve your lifts like stretching a certain muscle or changing your body position. I recently learned about a hack I can use that will help me with any lift.The key is in how you grip the weight. Grip strength is obviously important in a lift like the deadlift but it can also help your other lifts.

Try doing a lift while passively holding a weight. Now try the same lift while gripping the weight tightly and see if there’s a difference. I briefly mentioned this in a previous article Get Stronger With Light Weights  . I learned about this technique from legendary strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline. This technique has been very useful for me when I do any of my heavy lifts.

The more I thought about it, the more it makes sense. Lifting heavy triggers the Flight or Flight response in your body. Flight or Flight is when you’re in a very stressful situation and your body’s natural response is to run away or fight. This is your body’s way to protect you whether you’re being chased by a wild animal or have heavy weight on your back.By holding onto a weight as if your life is depending on it, the flight or fight response multiplies. By eliciting a greater fight or flight response, your body is forced to “fight” or generate greater force in your lift. How else can you explain those stories about a mom lifting a car to save her baby that was stuck under?

This is probably why my lifts usually improve the better I get at Farmers walks Get Strong With Farmers Walks!. The farmers walk strengthens your grip and your core. The stronger your grip is, the easier it is to hold onto a weight tightly. A stronger grip also allows you to squeeze the bar harder and elicit that flight or fight response in your body to generate greater force.

Get your hands stronger!

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Leave The Gym and Come Back Stronger!

This article is about the things I did for a week to help my body recover from lifting.

When it comes to fitness and achieving your goals, you have to focus on longevity. If you’ve been pushing your body through intense workouts, you’ll need to take time off sooner or later. It’s better to have a planned week off than be sidelined due to injury. The week off gives your muscles and joints time to recover. Knowing when to back off is critical for the longevity of your body. After weeks of challenging my body through heavy weights and intense cardio, I decided to take a week away from my workout routine. To make the most of my recovery week, I did things that would benefit my nervous system while still remaining active.

Monday: On Monday I did 3 minutes of leopard crawls to start my day. I enjoy crawls because they stimulate my nervous system. Doing leopard crawls will make you feel like you can fight a lion. They suck while doing them but you’ll feel refreshed afterwards. Try it out if you don’t believe me. In the evening I played pick up basketball with my friends.

Tuesday: I woke up and did 3 minutes of leopard crawls just like the day before. In the evening I did 40 minutes of yoga and meditation to relax my body and mind.

Wednesday: By this point, I was itching to get back to the gym. It took me every ounce of disclipline not to go. In the morning, I did 5 minutes of meditation to get my mind right. A healthy mind is important for a healthy body. In the evening, I did 10 minutes of crawling and walked for 15 minutes.

Thursday: I didn’t do anything in the morning. I had to run some errands before going to work. That evening, I did a lot of deep tissue work. I used a pvc pipe and lacrosse ball to loosen up some tight muscles. I prefer these over foam rollers because they go deeper into the muscles. Afterwards, I did 30 minutes of meditation.

Friday: Friday morning, I did a few minutes of meditation to get my mind right for the day. In the evening, I challenged myself by doing a one hour yoga workout. I’m a big advocate of yoga as a compliment to any fitness routine.

Saturday: I did 30 minutes of yoga followed by 30 minutes of meditation. 30 minutes seems long but I’ve been meditating for the best 2 years so I’ve gained  high level of comfort with it. I’m a believer in the benefits meditation can have for your health and fitness because I’ve experienced it. If you want to see why I think every active person should meditate, check out this article Meditate For Faster Results!!   

Sunday: I did some deep tissue work and 20 minutes of light yoga. I followed that up with 30 minutes of meditation. That’s just 1.5 hours of my entire day to greatly improve my health. I’d rather do that than watch a tv show that I’ll barely be paying attention to. I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym with renewed energy.

In addition to these activities, I did contrast showers ( alternating between hot and cold water) and got at least seven hours of sleep every night. It’s important to take time to let your body recover. Even though you may feel fine physically, your nervous system could be fried and you wouldn’t be aware of it. Take a look at an old article on my recovery weeks What Happened When I Took 2 Weeks off of Lifting?.

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