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.

Bruce Lee Philosophies in Fitness

How Bruce Lee’s philosophies can apply to fitness.

Bruce Lee is an icon.  He was more than an actor. He was one of the most influential martial artists in history. He was an incredible athlete and had quotes that will inspire anyone. I’m a big fan of his teaching and have applied some of them to my approach to fitness and life. Today, I’ll be talking about how his philosophies apply specifically to fitness.

” Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do “

You can have all the fitness knowledge in the world but you won’t be able to transform your body if you don’t act on it. Do your research and then put it use at the gym, playground, home, or wherever you workout. The only way to learn if something works is to do it. In a way, fitness is an experiment. You try different things and see how your body responds. That’s how I’ve approached the different training methods I’ve studied.

” I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times “

If you want to be great at anything you have to do it repeatedly. Someone who focuses on 10 different lifts will be good at those lifts. Someone who focuses on 5 will be great or even elite at those lifts. This philosophy also applies to other areas of fitness and sports. By focusing on so many things at once, it’ll be hard to get great at any of them. I personally like to work on different aspects of fitness but when I really want to improve in a specific area, I put other things in the back-burner. The idea of this quote explains why Easy Strength is such a great strength building program. This quote can also apply to the fitness affirmations that I love to use. If I have 1000 affirmations, it’ll be hard for my mind to know which ones to focus on. Some might even contradict the others. That’s why it’s best to focus on a few affirmations.

” Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own. “

In fitness there’s so much information available regarding different training methods and workout types. This quote is saying you need to filter through the information and use what will help you achieve your specific goals.

” If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them “

Aim high when setting your fitness goals. There’s no excitement in setting small goals and being satisfied by achieving them. By having big goals, you’re more likely to achieve memorable results and develop the fitness mindset. This is what this quote is about. The fitness mindset will help you in all areas of your life.

” In The Middle of Chaos Lies Opportunity “

This quote applies to today. With gyms and other places closing down as a result of the pandemic, we may feel limited. One positive is that we have more time to work on areas of our lives that we never took the time for. In regards to fitness, I’ve been working on my mobility as well as weak areas in my body. This is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses or develop new abilities, so a better version of yourself will be ready when the world opens up again.

This quote also applies to challenging workouts since they cause so much stress. When you throw yourself into the fire of a challenging workout, you get the opportunity to learn about yourself and your body. You get to find out your strengths and your weaknesses. When you know your weaknesses, you know what you need to improve on. That’s why self-awareness is so important.

Photo credit: bryanwright5@gmail.com on Best Running / CC BY-ND

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.

 

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

The Power of The Mind is No Joke!

This post is about how powerful the mind is when it comes to achieving your fitness goals

Story Time

The other day I was reminded just how powerful the mind is. It was a deadlift day and I was getting ready to do my work sets. I usually do ten sets of one for these. As I try to lift the weight up, I struggle more than I normally do. I get so close to locking out but couldn’t make it all the way.

I figured maybe my setup was off. So I wait a minute and get ready to lift again. I usually rest a minute in between sets for this workout. The second set was worse than the first. I start thinking something is wrong with me. Maybe my body was fatigued and I wasn’t aware of it. I get frustrated and start taking weight off.

I took off two 45 plates and got ready for a new workout. As I got ready to do my set, something didn’t seem right when I looked at the weight. I then realized I was using the wrong weight all along. During my working set, I was trying to lift 50 more pounds then I intended. No wonder it felt heavy! I felt like a fool but was happy at the same time. I got a chance to see how that heavy weight felt. Aside from the importance of paying attention to what I’m doing, I learned some valuable lessons

Lesson 1

The first lesson I learned is you’re stronger than you think. I know I was unsuccessful when attempting those first two reps but the weight felt easier than I thought it would. Sometimes we get intimidated by large numbers. It’s not a surprise that confidence makes a huge difference when lifting heavy weights.

I’m not saying to blindly put weights and just lift. This is a reminder that you might be stronger than you think. Remember to enter the weight room with total confidence in your abilities. All great achievers in life have high levels of confidence in their abilities. Whether you’re creating a business or trying out a new weight in the gym, you have to see yourself succeeding.

Lesson 2

The second I learned is that writing down your goals is very powerful. I’ve heard many times that you’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down.

During my workout, I realized the weight I was trying to deadlift was the same weight I wrote down on my list of goals. It’s crazy because I’ve been reading this goal to myself everyday as if I already achieved it. It’s like when you set your mind to a specific goal , you automatically start moving in that direction.

Another benefit of writing down your goals and reading them every day is a boost in confidence. When you see yourself as already achieving a goal, you feel like it’s inevitable to achieve it. That’s what I’ve been doing every day when it comes to deadlifting this specific way. The saying the body follows where the mind goes applies to this situation.

In case you’re wondering, I got this goal setting idea from a book called It Works: The Famous Little Red Book that makes your dreams come true by RHJ. I recommend reading this book if you have an open mind and are trying to achieve a fitness or life goal. I’ll share my deadlift goal once it’s achieved.

Closing Thoughts

I can sum this all up with the human mind is very powerful. When you see yourself achieving a certain goal, your mind will think it’s true and will guide you to do what’s necessary to achieve it. If you have a fitness or life goal, write it down and read it every day. You’re more likely to achieve that goal when you a daily reminder of it.

 

The Best Day To Do Your Hardest Workout

This post is about why your hardest workout should be at the start of your week.

Most people dread Mondays because it’s the start of the work week. I love Monday because that’s when I get to do my hardest workout and set a tone for the rest of my week. The opportunity to take a significant step closer to my goals give me a reason to look forward to Mondays.

There are so many reasons to have your hardest workout on Monday. Unless you workout on weekends, you’ll have the most energy available on Mondays. Energy levels will depend on what you do on the weekend.

Momentum

I love doing my hardest workouts on Monday because it sets the tone for my week inside and outside of the gym. It gives me a sense of confidence going into my following workouts.The momentum I get from a tough Monday workout spreads through the rest of my week. Working out is as much mental as it is physical. Nothing feels better than starting your week off with a sense of accomplishment. When you accomplish something great in one area of your life, you naturally feel like doing that in other areas as well. This must be what they meant by an object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an unbalanced force. In your case the motion is the momentum you get from completing a challenging workout.

After a tough workout, I feel like I can handle any challenge life throws at me. When you’re in the middle of a tough workout, the easy thing is to quit. By doing it anyways, you can build the mental toughness needed to handle life. I don’t dread going to work because I know I have the mental toughness to deal with the stressors that might come my way.

Sense of Relief

Working out hard on Mondays also gives me a sense of relief. I have one less thing to worry about as the week goes on. During the week, you can face stressors such as work, personal, and relationship issues. By getting one challenge out the way, it’s like a weight has been lifted off your shoulder ( no pun intended ) . With one less thing to worry about, you can fully focus on other things that need to get done. Yes, there will be other workouts to do but they’re not a concern since you just did the hardest workout of your week.

Increased Energy

I also like the energy boost I feel after working out. I can use that energy to be productive in other aspects of my life such as getting things done at work. It may sound crazy that your energy will increase after completing a challenging workout but that’s how it works. The key is doing a workout that challenges you but doesn’t leave you drained. The idea that you have to destroy yourself to have a great workout is a complete myth. You can challenge yourself to the point of discomfort without feeling like a zombie when you leave the gym. Working out with reckless abandon is a recipe for injury.

Closing Thoughts

You can do this on Sunday too if it’s not the day you use to rest. The idea is to set the right tone for your week. Start your week off with a challenging workout and see how you handle the rest of your week.

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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

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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Meditate For Faster Results!!

This article is about how meditation has a positive impact on fitness results.

The mind and the body are connected. When the mind is healthy, the body can function at it’s best. Meditating has improved many areas of my life including my fitness. Once I got into the habit of meditating, my sleep improved tremendously. Meditating puts in me in a relaxed state, making it easier to fall asleep. I noticed I go into deeper sleep when I meditate at night.

Meditation and Hormones:

Meditation also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has an inverse relationship with testosterone. This means the less cortisol you have the more testosterone you can produce in your body. Testosterone is one of the key hormones needed when trying to build strength and muscle.

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880087/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724462

Reducing Cortisol will also help you with fat loss. Cortisol and belly fat have a positive correlation. This means that the more cortisol you have, the increased chance of you gaining belly fat. This is especially prevalent for women.Maybe that’s why it’s called stress eating.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020091

Meditation and Workout Performance:

Meditation will also benefit you while you’re working out. Meditating teaches you to be present in the moment. When you’re present in you’re work out, you’re more engaged rather than going through the motions. Being present allow for higher quality workouts.

Meditation is also a tool when it comes to build strength. Meditating is a way to refresh your nervous system due to the benefits it provides your brain. Your brain is the center of your nervous system so a healthy brain means a healthy central nervous system. Strength is a function of the nervous system.

How To Meditate:

I usually meditate twice a day, first thing in the morning and right before going to sleep. Meditating is as simple as sitting in complete silence in doing deep belly breaths.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. The deeper your breaths are the better. I like to breath so deeply that oxygen goes down to my pelvic area.It’s recommended to sit in a similar pose as shown in the image. You can also meditate while sitting on a chair. It’s important to keep an upright posture the entire time.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist or associated with any group to meditate. Anyone can do it. Try meditating for five minutes a day and once you get comfortable you can increase the duration and frequency of your meditation sessions. Simply focus on each breath.