You Can Take My Advice. (Or You Can Bang Your Head Against The Wall)

You Can Take My Advice. (Or You Can Bang Your Head Against The Wall)

Stop Listening to What The Main Stream Is Telling You.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, since I’m about drop some “knowledge” on you, but hear me out.

Most people will have you believe you have to work yourself to death to get any results from fitness training. In fact, I just saw a commercial for one of the fitness trackers out there(you know, the one who’s companies phones melt through airplanes and such) who made it look like all you need to do is MORE and you will look like the mannequin in the display(who quite obviously was standing next to a barbell, not a treadmill).

While their advertisement may be true on some level, it sends the wrong message…

See, unless you are a professional athlete or maybe special forces(you know, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Marines…) you don’t need this level of what I call insanity in your training. More isn’t better, it’s just more.

Since most of us don’t live in this area of “fitness” most pro athletes do (and have to get up the next day to go to work tomorrow) and probably want to keep ourselves from having unnecessary injuries, this is an area we probably want to be a little more reasonable…

Take The Simple Route.

Yes, I said Simple, but as I found out when I did Dan John’s “Mass Made Simple” program, the word easy was not included in the title, and for a good reason…

This type of training is not sexy. It’s not something you’re going to see selling millions of copies of DVDs, plastered all over YouTube, or endorsed by the so-called “fitness gurus” who you see on all those infomercials or TV shows.

But when it comes down to it, the people that get the best results(the results that stick) adhere to simple, repeatable, reasonable training… quite simply, reasonable amounts of work and only pushing yourself every so often.

Again, notice the word easy isn’t in the description at all. Just because something is reasonable doesn’t make it easy. If I told you to eat a reasonable diet and yours consists of McDonalds and microwave dinners at the moment, it’s going to be difficult to switch to a reasonable whole food based diet that involves cooking, planning, and preparing meals ahead of time. Reasonable and Simple are not equal to easy…

Don’t Tell Me What You Can’t Do – Tell Me What You Can

I get it, you think you don’t have time to get in shape because fitting a 2-3 hour workout 5-6 days a week seems impossible… The good news is unless you’re trying to become Mr. Olympia or the World’s Strongest Man(or whatever) this type of training isn’t for you anyway.

Start with the absolute least amount you can do.
(And stop killing yourself, and your results)

Make 10 minutes for yourself maybe 2x a week, but DON’T MISS A SESSION! It doesn’t need to be insane… Results come from consistency and progress, but mostly consistency. You can’t expect progress(or results) from a training protocol that takes 3, 4, or 7 days to recover from. It’s too intense, and you won’t catch any (smart) athlete doing trainings like this.

I’m not saying you won’t get some muscle soreness when you first start…

However, your training shouldn’t stop you from performing certain functions – like sitting on a toilet. This is no joke, I know a lady who took 2 weeks to recover from her first ever session she did (not by me), she could barely sit(or walk) for that entire 2 week period… for some reason she went back, probably because she was trying to get the trainer to go home with her…

That level of intensity is reserved for those of us who are in special military operations, in professional sports, or maybe are 20 years old.

The main thing I want you to take away is this.

Find something you can do consistently.

Consistency is the key to success, with anything. Make sure it’s something that you can progress with. I mean really progress with, “I learned this new routine” type thing like they do in Zumba or Jazzercise or something doesn’t count.

I’m talking about things like; adding more weight to a movement, doing a harder version of a bodyweight movement, doing more repetitions, anything that pushes you a little bit past where you were the last training session. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy…

And if you want to do the cool stuff? Well, this is where you have to start, and the people(the smart ones) you see actually doing the stuff started here too. And if you don’t? Let’s just say I’m not going to be the one to say I told you so when you wind up in the ER…

We’re not built to go from zero to 100. Think about it, would you honestly be willing to get up off your couch and go play a game of even college level football or enter an amateur boxing/MMA match much less a professional one? The answer, I hope, is no, because my good reader, you are smarter than that I’m sure of it.

But this is how most people expect to train.

Military personnel doing “Murph” Crossfit WOD, one of the most intense bodyweight trainings dedicated to Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy. 200 push-ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run.

If you wouldn’t play the game at their level, then you shouldn’t train at it. I know, for a fact, that those athletes work harder in training than they play. This makes the play easier so they have a little extra left in the tank in case they need it in competition.

Don’t kid yourself, just because you have the “plan” (the sets/reps & movements) they use and think “it looks easy” that it is. In fact, I’ll give you one of the absolute worst trainings you could ever do, and if you can make it through it without puking or fainting, then you must be either (a) a pro, or (b) not doing it right. Her it is:

Barbell Front Squats x8
Sprint 400m

Do this 3 times resting 3-5 minutes between sets.

Doesn’t seem like much, but one of my high school football athletes could barely walk back to the weight after the 2nd set. Oh yeah, he didn’t feel that way after the first one, it kicked in after his metabolism caught up to what he just did…

So, you can keep going after the “High Intensity” cool looking trainings you see people do on the interwebs OR like Dan John says – “Be reasonable, do it my way”

~Justin

P.S. There’s people a lot smarter than me that have written books on this topic, and I’d recommend you check out anything by Pavel Tsatsuouline, Dan John, or Pat Flynn for starters.

Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

Why HOW You Move Is More Important (Part 1)

“More isn’t better, it’s just more”

Movement is one of those things that, I feel, is one of the biggest reasons for people giving up on an exercise program. Not the fact that they’re moving, but that they’re moving poorly leading to frustration and eventually abandonment of the noble endeavor they set out on…

Let Me Set The Scene.

I’m at a friends house for a gathering, talking to someone at a function or whatever… and the conversation of fitness comes up. Naturally, someone decides to speak their clearly well thought out opinion of what “working out” should be… clearly they’ve done all the research that Facebook meme’s and YouTube “experts” make available to us…

Here’s what usually goes down.

“What do you have against Zumba”(or pick an arbitrary thing…)

“Honestly, I don’t want to be here all night debating the why’s and why nots of doing certain exercise programs, let’s just say I have my reasons”

“Well, as long as people are moving and doing something that should be enough.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s like saying something like “I know my car needs work, so I’m just going to drive it more and the problem will just take care of itself”

The reason I hate having these conversations, and typically avoid them at all costs, is people haven’t done their homework. I’m far from an expert, but I know who the experts are, and for some strange reason I care about the well being of people I don’t even know or barely know beyond just a few days a week for 45 min of interaction.

When people won’t listen to reason and refuse to look at the results of both sides of thinking criticize you for not seeing things from their point of view, you see the hypocrisy, they clearly don’t know that the research has been done, time was put into a decision of what direction to go, and more research is constantly taking place(in my case to the tune of about 10-20 hours a week at least)

Movement is one of those things that we do as human beings

Some of us do it much better than the rest(athletes), some who can’t move well at all, and then there’s some of us who are…. let’s say in between. And how you move determines the quality of what you do and your ability to continue to do said activities for (hopefully) years to come.

Before we go on…

A part of what inspired me to post this little rant (which will be a 2 parter, this is part 1, part 2 will show specific movements and the why’s and why nots of the how to’s and so on…) is that I recently saw a video posted by a few trainers at a local 24 hour establishment doing some demos of “exercises” to do so you can get in a “good workout” before the holiday gorge fest that is Christmas coming up.

This is a fantastic idea…. except for the fact that they showed, what I think, was bad  technique.(and I’m sure several people would cringe at the sight of this with me if they’d seen it)

Before you consider me “That Guy”

I UNDERSTAND that not every coach can do what some of their clients do, hell, I have a guy who can out-lift me any day of the week, but what he needs isn’t heavier weights, it’s better movement(we literally spent 30 min on stretching & mobility the other day).

Here’s the caviot… these are not “out of shape” or otherwise restricted individuals, in fact, looking at them you’d think they’re quite fit… and you’d be right. The definition of fitness after all is the ability to perform a task. That being said, the more efficiently you perform it, the better your body will adapt, the better (and longer lived) the results.

As someone who has some restricted movement patterns myself, I’m well aware of the fact that nobody is perfect, however, you will never see me put up a video saying “do this” with bad form on the movement.

Here’s why

We’re visual creatures.

Part of how we learn is by watching what others “do”. Personally, I picture how those people look in my head as I’m performing said activity to try and give my brain something to focus on(besides the fatigue 😉 ).

So if you see someone doing something that is a “qualified professional” you would assume that how they’re doing it is the correct way.

Alas, this is not always the case.

In fact, I know there’s things I personally cannot do (yet) but I have students(clients) who can. and I can coach them to do the movement the proper way because of the hands on training I’ve had in the past. But you won’t see me putting up any pictures or videos of me doing a sub-par performance on said movement.

I think I’ve made my point.

We’ll wrap up Part 1 with this little tidbit from Gray Cook on movement:

“…think about it… getting into a good position is probably more important than increasing your strength 10 more precent. Most elite level golfers work on their precision and execution of their posture and movement patterns knowing if they will just get the right biomechanical lines of attack as they swing they will be more efficient. That’s why they spend more time with a golf club working on their mechanics and technical precision than doing bicep curls or kettlebell presses. They appreciate that strengthening their body will help, but no amount of strength in the world is going to make you efficient if part of your strength is used to overcome your own stiffness or work against your own malalignment. The object of efficiency is to be able to reproduce an activity with some degree of technical precision so as not to wast e energy.

If your complete training paradigm is just complete caloric expenditure, with no regard for accomplishment, then, it doesn’t really matter what you do. You can take someone who’s morbidly obese and moving poorly and just make them move in any number of ways and they will have caloric expenditure. But if you do that often enough, guess what? Their lack of integrity and precision in movement is going ot bring them up against early fatigue, where they won’t really achieve most of their metabolic efficiency and therefore thye really won’t lose weight and they won’t get in shape quick, they’ll just hit fatigue, create lactic acid, go into a poor breathing state, get tired, and go eat. Or, they’ll have an orthopedic issue.

So either way your quest for caloric expenditure should be sidelined and what you should do is create a situation where, even if weight loss is your goal, go for technical precision, movement correction, movement efficiency whenever possible. Make your people as efficient as possible and believe it or not, work levels will become more pleasurable and they’ll be able to do more and at the same time reduce musculakeletal risk of a setback injury as they’re getting in shape.” -excerpt from The Gray Cook Lecture Compendium

Don’t take my word for it, Gray is the head athletic trainer for Reebok as well as the “go to” guy when someone is broken beyond what most people can fix.

In part 2 I will cover a few things on the movement side of it in more “visual” detail. (my favorite, picture story!!)

Until next time… Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

5 (ish) Ways to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

5 (ish) Ways to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

This is something most of us don’t typically think about…

But as “self-defense” minded as I am, I always remind everyone who comes to train with me PostFit, or any other place I’m training people at wether in Hartford or not, is that good self-defense isn’t just “learning moves” or “learning to fight”… it’s about staying safe.

Think of it as Personal Protection.

So, in short, here’s a quick list of 5 (or so) things you can do to stay safe during your holiday escapades. (I’ll have a few resources listed below the list too)

1. Vehicle Maintenance – i.e. good tires, windshield washer fluid full, lights in working order (and being used…), extra blankets, shovel, and other safety measures in place.

2. Dress Appropriately – Wear Extra Layers(it’s cold out there and you don’t ever know what’s going to happen). Appropriate shoes are a great way to prevent a slip and fall injury(they’re more common than you think)

3. Carry a Flashlight – Seems silly, but it’s dark almost all of the “non-working” hours, and people get creative with ways they can use the extra cover of night to take your things, or worse, YOU.

4. Keep Your Cell Phone Charged! – This is good advice for all the time, but in winter, car batteries can fail very easily, so you can’t rely on the ol car charger if you become stranded somewhere.

5. Practice Driving in Adverse Weather(somewhere safe!) – There are winter driving courses available(locally) that will help you learn to deal with a bit more than they taught you in drivers ed. Heck, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to practice moving yourself around on bad surfaces as well, you might need to run on the ice.

Most of this seems to be common sense, but we seem to overlook the simplest things in search of more complicated answers, I mean nothing can be that easy, can it?

Use the ol noggin to figure out a few other ways to be safe this holiday season. Just a few random thoughts here to follow and some bonus “things” for you are:

-Don’t be a jerk. If someone runs into you, apologize(even if it’s their fault!) I saw what could have wound up being a hospital visit for someone just the other day, all over some guy who just walked out into the street without looking first(he blamed the driver, colorful words were exchanged, thankfully everyone walked away)

-Keep your kids close. As fun as this time of year can be, don’t let your little ones escape to the various forms of merriment without you present. People are out looking for the perfect opportunity to grab unsuspecting kids from their parents, don’t be one of them.

I shouldn’t have to say this but….

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. There is literally nowhere you need to get so bad that it’s worth putting someone’s life and safety(and yours) at risk. It’s no different than walking around with a loaded gun and your finger on the trigger. Call an Uber, a friend, a family member, someone, but for Pete’s sake, don’t drive!

-Be Aware. This is the time of year where people try and take advantage of your “holiday spirit” by luring you into “helping them out” with something real quick. If they really need help, phone the appropriate person to help them. Don’t try and pull someone out of the ditch, give them a ride, lift something into their car, heck, you name it and I’m sure it’s happened or been a CSI episode at the least… Don’t be a victim!

I could seriously fill PAGES with all of this stuff, but I’m sure you have a life, and I have people to train… I hope you picked up what I’ve been throwing down, that is, the principles and mindset behind all of these scenarios that will keep you and your loved ones safe so you can enjoy your holidays for years to come!

~Justin

P.S. I said I’d have some resources for some above mentioned things… and, I do.

-Car Maintenance-
My friend Craig over at D&D and Kasten Automotive can help with vehicle maintenance and winter ready your vehicle. http://www.ddmufflertire.com/

-Clothing-
My personal favorite place is Cabella’s. They have clothes they have for cold weather that don’t have to look like hunting gear, so I’d check them out.

-Flashlight-
A personal favorite of mine, as well as my Hapkido Instructor, is the NEBO flashlights. They’re bright as hell, compact, and they look pretty sweet to top it all off! https://www.nebotools.com/prod_details.php?id=194

-Winter Driving-
I’ve done Ice Racing for the past several years to help myself out, but I understand if you don’t want to subject your car to that abuse… so you should search Facebook for the Audi Driver’s Club’s winter driving course. One of the instructors teaches people how to drive race cars full time, so you’ll be in good hands!

How To Survive The Holidays(Without Gaining 1,000 Pounds)

How To Survive The Holidays(Without Gaining 1,000 Pounds)

In-laws and crazy family members aside, the next worst thing for you this holiday season has to be the amount of food that we end up consuming as a result of “emotional eating”.

Some of us have it better than others, while in a lot of cases(at least from what I hear) some people’s families actually drive them to drink copious amounts of “adult beverages”. I’m talking the amount normally reserved for college students on spring break…

Apart from the obvious advice of not bringing as much of the substances in question along to aid in the ritualistic overconsumption we call holidays, I have a really simple piece of advice you can use for these and other such occasions, to alleviate some of the guilt and stress associated with the consumption meant to, ironically, cope with stress…

Go To The Gym and Work A Little Harder The Next Day.

I’m not talking about the treadmill here… those extra 500 steps on your FitBit aren’t going to cut it…

You have to really work hard.

Here’s some of my prescribed “routines” to burn a few of those extra holiday calories your family helped you jam down your throat so you could avoid saying what you really wanted to in reaction to their inappropriate comments:

Metabolic Training: This is a bit harder to describe, but for simplicity, Kettlebell complexes seem to work amazing for this. One of my favorite(and I’m sure is your’s too) is Armor Building (2 double cleans, 1 double press, 3 double front squats) plus 300 swings. Just this little guy will burn upwards of 1,000 calories, if you pick the right weight that is…(don’t go light!)

Heavy A$$ Lifts: Back Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Overhead Press, anything that requires every single fiber in your being to move the weight would be appropriate for this one.

Olympic Lifts (barbell): Not an area of my “expertise” but I’m told this is a very good way to work up a sweat. Do some On The Minute training or a complex (similar to a kettlebell complex). Push yourself a little harder than normal.

Sprinting: Sprints are a great “no equipment required” workout, pick a distance that will take you about 20 or so seconds to run, or grab a timer and sprint for 20 seconds. Sprint 5-7 times resting only 10 seconds between sprints then rest a few minutes(at least 3…) between series. I’d recommend only doing this about 3 times. Want a challenge? Take the sprints “vertical” and go up a hill with them. Need more you say? Add a set of 8 kettlebell or barbell front squats beforehand, rest about 3-5 minutes between sprints, repeat 3 times. (don’t forget the rest…) Kettlebell swings and a hill work well too I’ve been told(about 30-50 swings before you sprint)

I could go on, but my girlfriend might get mad at me for working too much on a Sunday morning when I’m supposed to be drinking coffee and playing this new game I’ve introduced her to called “grab ass”, apparently she likes it, and I’m a fan myself.

So to sum it up, take the moral highroad and don’t eat the junk(especially the booze, sorry). When that’s too much mental and emotional stress, don’t stress, work a little harder tomorrow. Probably not the best nutritional advice in the world, but I’m told it works wonders for you soul.

Have a great holiday season, and Stay Strong My friends.

~Justin

 

Your Fitness Tracker’s Dirty Little Secret.

Your Fitness Tracker’s Dirty Little Secret.

In the last few years these fitness trackers have been all the rage.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

They’re popping up just about everywhere, from your local friendly Walmart & Walgreens to Amazon and everywhere in between, and are made by everyone from Apple(a computer company…) to the big names like FitBit & Jawbone and all the little cheapy guys trying to imitate their big brothers in the industry.

But why then, with so many people owning these little gadgets, are there still so many people not achieving their fitness goals?

Let’s start with a fun story…

A client of mine was telling me last year or so she had a friend in California who owned a FitBit and was obsessed with getting her step goal for the day… even if she cheated.

What her friend did was quite ingenious, while stuck in the godawful traffic I’m told plagues Cali, she would shake her hand back and forth to get her step count for the day!

Genius, right?

Well, no.

Here’s the dirty little secret about that ol fancy piece of jewelry around your wrist.

We, as human beings, LOVE to feel like we’ve accomplished something. Even silly little things that, in the grand scheme of things don’t make a significant impact on the end result. Honestly, who brags about getting their step count in for the day…

We like this so much in fact, we’d be willing to cheat ourselves out of results to get the perceived amount of “activity” for the day.

This can breed some bad habits.cigarettes-723126

For example – If you’re cheating on your steps, you’re probably going to be less likely to track those couple handfuls of candy you had at the office today, after all, there was only 14 pieces (each time), so they don’t really count, right?

Or maybe…

You actually did your steps for the day, so you decide to skip the gym and go out to celebrate with a healthy(ish) dinner and an adult beverage…(okay, maybe 2 or 3, it’s been a hard week at work… so far – wooo! made it to Wednesday!!)

You can see how this spirals out of control.dizzy-148161

I’m not saying to throw out your fitness tracker. What I’m warning against is the inappropriate use of a tool that can help you get better results, but can also destroy them just as easily.

In fact, most fitness trackers will say you’re average  strength training routine only burns about 100 cal or so, I don’t think that’s totally accurate, especially if you’ve been to one of my classes…(I can assure you, you burn much more than that)

Take the info with a grain of salt.

The information is only as good as what you use it for, and sifting through and finding the right data is key.

I could honestly go on for quite a while on the do’s and don’t(s) of what info you should look for, but where’s the fun in that, this would easily turn into a 4,000 word post, and it still wouldn’t help you get the best results. Remember, everyone is unique, so it’s impossible to discuss every variable…

Here’s what I’ll give you(to wet your appetite)

Start with what you want to achieve.

Determine what “data” will best help you get to that goal – and throw out the rest.

journal-1577764Be ReligiousTrack everything consistently and monitor the changes(results) you see on a somewhat regular basis. I’d say no more than once a week, and even that is pushing it…(scale weight one week, measurements the next, body fat % the following week, you know, that ol chestnut)

Pick 3-5 “variables” to track(the input) more than that is too much and will cause more harm than it will help. **HINT: Food Journaling is THE THING that will help most out of anything(Nutrition is King), after that would be sleep(shoot for 8 hours a day), then workouts, then daily habits(what you do at work and whatnot)

I’m sure I can think of more things to track, but honestly even the last one is kind of pushing what you really NEED to have, but hey, do what works for you. Just keep in mind, the more focused your efforts on the things that will make the biggest change the results will come faster, and stay longer.

As far as tracking output, like I said above, don’t jump on the scale every day, or even 2 or 3 times a week. The best thing you can do, honestly, is notice how you’re clothes fit compared to how they used to. And a $1 tailor’s tape measure is going to be your absolute best bet for tracking what’s actually going on(I don’t know the name exactly, it’s one of those flexible cloth-like things they use for measuring tuxes and such, you know the one)

If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, feel free to drop me a line (justin @ post35.net) and I’ll be happy to help you out as I do have some experience with these things.

Stay Strong My Friends

~Justin

Simple, Minimalist-Style, Fat Loss

Simple, Minimalist-Style, Fat Loss

This will be probably the shortest post I’ve ever written.Michelle Garcia Before After

Here’s the real “tricks” to loosing fat and keeping it off.

  1. Eat More Vegetables. (**Game Changer**) If you eat veggies already, add a serving of leafy greens to each meal(you’re welcome)
  2. Cut Out Simple Carbs. If you are like most people and feel you have to eat carbs, cut out the starchy and simple carbs, stick with whole grain breads, brown rice pasta, and so on. Get your carbs from the leafy greens and fruit, don’t drink them.
  3. Strength Train 3-5 Days/Week. No, not your mom’s Jazzercise or Zumba strength training, not even those silly H.I.I.T. classes, lift heavy things, carry them around, and keep lifting heavier or find new variations on the movements.
  4. Eat Real Food. Dan John said it quite simply – Eat Like An Adult. Stop eating like a TV commercial, cut out fast food, stop snacking when you’re not really hungry(You’re probably just thirsty…)
  5. Drink 1/2 Your Bodyweight(in oz) Of Water EVERY DAY. Skip the gallon jug deal, it’s too much for most of us. Cut out the sugary drinks and drink tea(without sweetener) instead. Herbal tea is delicious if you find the right flavor for you

Lastly, just be reasonable. Don’t try and kill yourself doing this all at once. Pick an area of your biggest failing and work on that first, then go on to the next. For most of us cutting out Soda and Fast Food will dramatically improve the way you look.

You don’t have to be a nutritional genius to figure this out, we all know what to do, it’s constantly shoved in our faces every day, so take a hint from Nike and Just Do It.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or anything, so take this for what it’s worth from me, but I’ve seen how most of the people who have achieved amazing results “do their thang” and it’s all about subtraction, not addition, and structure. Make a plan, follow the plan, get results.(If you need an example, see Fat Loss Happens on Monday – Dan John & Josh Hillis, and refer to the underpants gnomes “game plan” for making money, there usually isn’t a “step 2” in the 3 step process, which is why it feels like something’s missing all the time…)

So, there you have it. Under 400 words, and worth more than 1,000.

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

What I’ve Been Reading, Why You Should Start(why you should even care)

What I’ve Been Reading, Why You Should Start(why you should even care)

blue-eyes-1684954

I know, this may not seem like a big deal to you… but…

I was hit by a stroke of “inspiration” to write this post the other day after perusing through some emails between a friend of mine and myself, and noticed he’s sent out an email entitled “What I’m Reading” to his nutrition clients.

At first I was like, “why the heck would he share that, nobody really cares, do they?”

I know some of you might not care about WHAT I’m reading, and I’m going to share with you anyway, and that’s fine, but you should read on to see WHY I’m reading them. (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not my first time through these books!)

So, while I’m sitting here enjoying my cup of coffee and burning some hard earned coin to help warm my old bones, I can shift my focus away from such silly things as my toes being cold or contemplating what I’m going to eat for lunch toward more productive things.

So, why all about these books then, eh?books-1002123

First off, this post has nothing to do with the actual books!

Jim Rohn always talked about growing your library and gaining new skills…. sales skills, job specific skills, personal development skills, physical skills, cooking skills, you know, skills. His reasoning is that(at the time) we were approaching a new millennia where new frontiers that had never been made available to us before are available at our finger tips(and fast). And that so succeed, at anything really, you need to grow your skillets and knowledge to get ahead and become successful.

So really what it does have to do with is making you(and me) better.

“They” say knowledge is power, and the more you know…. I’m calling bull on that, because you can know and not do and the knowledge does nothing, it’s the application and understanding of the knowlege that makes the great people great. It has nothing to do with regurgitating “facts” or “statistics” or whatever, you need to internalize what you read to get a good understanding of what is written down in black and whit right in front of you, otherwise they’re just words on a page.

And that is the reason I read(and the reason for this rambling session)

Over the past year I’ve filled up my Audible library with countless personal development, fitness, and nutrition books, again, not in the hopes of being able to spit out facts at people(you know how much everyone loves those people) but so I can apply what I learned into practice, make adjustments, learn from mistakes(the right way), and move forward better than I was yesterday, last week, last month, or last year…

So if you want to get good at something, I mean really good, this is where your focus needs to be, in exercising the most important tool you have – Your Brain.

Here’s my current selection of literature, to give you an idea of the randomness I’ve been using to develop my person.

  1. Fat Loss Happens On Monday – Dan John & Josh Hillis
  2. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg

Now, obviously the first book is very industry specific, and is usually what most people focus on when they’re in a specific job type thing, but the second… that’s for yours truly.

You see, I’m probably one of the most disorganized people there is… I mean, I know where my stuff is(mostly) and I try to get a lot of things done, but sometimes I just end up becoming my own worst enemy because of several things, and that’s where this book has started helping me out. It’s a work in progress, trust me, but it helps me analyze myself(not easy) and start implementing steps to improve(slow and steady) in a way that the principles stick.

This is the ultimate goal.

Not just to know the stuff, but to apply it, otherwise why did you read it in the first place? Really…

This brings me back to my original point.knowledge-1052010

How many times do you think I’ve read these books?

Once…

Twice….

I’ve read each one of these at least 3 times, and plan on reading them more as time goes on…

The first time through you may not pick up little nuances, you know those things that will help you have a break through? Those little nuances…

It might be the state you’re in or you’re focused on a specific idea or thought so much you missed something right after, or even the fact that it may apply now where as before you weren’t ready for the bit of wisdom imparted to you by the author.

Whatever the case is, it’s important you don’t just read a book once and put it down forever.

I’m reminded of an old martial arts saying that’s been quoted by Bruce Lee and some other sorta famous people…

Fear not the man who had done 10,000 different techniques one time, fear the man who has done one technique 10,000 times.

The point being, the more practiced the skill, the more effective(deadly in the above example). This is how you should treat anything you do, as practice, and the game is life. There’s no timeouts, no do-overs, very few breaks, but a huge reward for succeeding. Wether you’re trying to lose some weight(practice cooking), get stronger(practice movements), learning to defend yourself(practice techniques), or get a new job(practice necessary skills), the key is to be disciplined, doing what’s needed when it’s needed and sticking to the plan. Even bad plans if stuck to produce better results than a good plan not followed.

The next step for you my good reader is to go out, buy a book in an area you want to improve and read it, read it again, and read it again until you have the material down so well you can’t get it wrong and watch yourself grow into a new, better person.

Stay Strong My Friend.

~Justin

P.S. Here’s a list of books you should check out:
(I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten/haven’t read, if you have some favorites, comment below)

Fitness
Fat Loss Happens On Monday(from above)
Intervention – Dan John
Simple and Sinister – Pavel Tsatsouline
Boxing WOD Bible – P. Selter
Paleo Workouts for Dummies – Pat Flynn
Training for Warriors (series) – Martin Rooney
Enter the Kettlebell – Pavel Tsatsouline(pdf is available FREE online)
Power to the People – Pavel Tsatsouline(pdf is available FREE online)
Relax Into Stretch – Pavel Tsatsouline(pdf is available FREE online)
Athletic Body in Balance – Gray Cook
Can You Go? – Dan John
The Gray Cook Lecture Compendium -Gray Cook(Audible)

Business/Personal Development
The Entrepreneur Rollercoaster – Darren Hardy
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Jack Trout, Al Ries
Zero To One – Peter Theil, Blake Masters
Trust Me I’m Lying – Ryan Holliday
Anything written by Tim Ferriss
Growth Hacker Marketing – Ryan Holliday
The Content Code: Six Essential Strategies to Ignite Your Content Your Marketing and Your Business – Mark W. Shaefer
Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger
The Like Switch – Jack Shafer, Ph. D. Marvin Karlins
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business – Gino Wickman
Traction – Justin Mares, Gabriel Weinberg
48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
Free – Chris Anderson
The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason

Other Books(for thoughts and things)
The Black Swan – Nassin Nicholas Taleb
Antifragile – Nassin Nicholas Taleb
Facing Violence – Rory Miller
The Book Of 5 Rings – Miyamoto Musashi(pdf is available FREE online)
Relentless – Tim S.  Grover(Michael Jordan’s Personal Trainer)
The Professor in the Cage – Jonathan Gottchall

Don’t Settle

Don’t Settle

Don’t Accept Good Enough.3484457206_f75b936449_b

I was checking out this little podcast the other day hosted by Tim Ferriss, maybe you’ve heard of him? If not you should check him out, he typically has several interesting guests from Arnold to Tony Robbins, Kevin Costner, and many more…

Anyway, this particular podcast was on gymnastics strength training, mainly because it peaked my interest for the rings aspect, but I got so much more.

Right off the bat, several good quotes and thoughts for pondering, this alone made it worth a listen!

One of the many great quotes was “You find it acceptable you can’t lift your arms over your head anymore?” I kind of sat back, chuckled along with the podcast guest(who’s laugh was more out of disbelief than anything) and then thought to myself “Holy crap! People actually think like this!!”

And by people, I mean all of us…

My mind immediately jumped back to a time when I had another fitness instructor come to me for help on getting fit(funny right, no, this actually happens a lot!). The first warning sign should’ve been the words that came out of their mouth “nobody knows I’m doing this, and I don’t want anyone to find out.”

Hold The Phone.

Why is this a warning sign you may wonder… well, this could be for a few different reasons…

1.) They were embarrassed they had to go to someone to get back to somewhere she once got on her own. And I get that, but I’m open about the fact that I personally go and “get trained” by someone else on a somewhat regular basis, after all, if you’re not learning you’re not growing.

2.) They didn’t want anyone to remind them of their failure in case it actually happened.(and sadly, in this case, it did)

Now, this person set an ambitious goal, lose 60 pounds in about 5 months. The biggest problem here was not the goal, it’s never the goal that’s the problem… This came down to commitment, to taking personal responsibility to do what was required to lose that weight.

The initial attitude leading up to everything that caused the condition this person was remedying all stemmed from one thing, they let “good enough” be, well, good enough.

It’s like being up sh*t creek without a paddle, sitting back and hoping the current(which brought you here) would somehow magically reverse and take you back to a happy time and place where everything was perfect(probably never happened) and you get everything you want with no extra work, period.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

Back to this example and why the podcast reminded me of something I’d almost entirely forgotten about(after all, my memory sucks, this is why I have notebooks!)

When we were going through the initial screen I do with all my new clients we had to stop before the first movement(an overhead squat with a wooden dowel. They couldn’t get their right arm over their head… in fact, they couldn’t even get their elbow past their shoulder!

What happened next floored me..

(I’ve paraphrased the actual conversation)

Them: That happened about 6 months ago.
Me: Anything specific that caused it?
Them: No, it just stopped working one day, and it hasn’t worked since…
Me: Did you to to the doctor to get it checked out?
Them: No

And basically overnight this became reality for them…

Don’t think I’m trying to demean anyone or say they’re a terrible human being or anything like that.

What my point is is this – we get to busy, too busy, and things that should take precedence fall by the wayside and get forgotten about without a hint of trying to do anything whatsoever to make a change.

Now, for this individuals full time job, they didn’t “need” that mobility, nor for their chosen fitness classes they ran due to the seated, pedaling nature of it.

The sad truth of all this is that we have a willingness to accept bad things as they happen to us and not do anything to get us out of the situation. You can look up all kinds of “reasons” this, go to any motivational speaker’s YouTube or talk to a psychologist and you’ll get a boat load of information, but it can be broken down quite simply into a single statement.

6745856509_ab796acc4f_bYou Have To Have Standards

“If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” – Tony Robbins

Everyone has standards, and when it comes to our body, most everyone sets them low.

Something I heard a while ago is that if you really want something to change, you need to make it a must. After all, everyone has wants and needs, but not everyone has musts for themselves in the areas that count or could make a difference.

I’m far from the person to get all preachy about this whole thing, mainly because I am too hard on myself and don’t set my standards high enough most of the time. I realize this, and typically get someone else involved to start pushing me to change.

However you look at it, whatever words you want to use to describe it, you have to raise your standards or nothing will change.

If you’ve got nothing else from this post, take away the above statement. You’ll improve in your business, personal, spiritual, hell, any area of your life you want to improve will happen because of a change of mindset. An unwillingness to accept the fact that when things happen you have the power to change them and the excuses(“reasons”) you’ve been telling yourself are truly the only thing stopping you from improving… but you have to have standards or none of it matters.

 

Motivation means nothing without the right mindset, you can be motivated but telling yourself the wrong story about why you are where you are and nothing will change… you can be motivated and have a terrible strategy that doesn’t match your standards, and if you’re state(physical/emotional) is down & drab motivation won’t save you…

So, how do you get out of the killer mindset and find your way?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What am I going to focus on?
    -Focus = Feeling
    -Past/Present/Future
    -Self or others
  2. What does it mean?
    -Is it the end or the beginning? Are you being punished or rewarded?
  3. What are you going to do?
    -Are you going to give up or move forward?

Once you can truthfully answer these questions it will be much easier to get in the right frame of mind and stop just accepting things as they happen to you. You will start thinking of new, creative, ways to have a breakthrough and continue to push yourself to new levels. If you chose not to, and are happy being content with an attitude of mediocrity, more power to you… but at least you have the tools you need to push through and explore your potential if you so choose.

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

Embrace The Tension

Some of you may have seen the Instagram post from last week of just water bottles with the question of “what the heck do these have to do with kettlebells?”img_20161013_124720

And if I had to guess at your guess you probably thought the water bottles were a representation of the amount of hydration you need throughout the day if you’re training hard(I mean there was a lot of them…).

However, if you guessed that, I’m afraid you’d be wrong.(Nice try though)

The water bottle is a handy little tool we use to create some more tension while doing a military press. The Spark in the background doesn’t hurt either, but for the purpose of this little post, we’ll focus on our ol friend the water bottle!

When you do the one arm press it’s a lot of stress on just one side of your body, this causes a slight “imbalance” in muscular tension on the non pressing side, so we fix that. How? By grabbing the water bottle and squeezing it, you know, like Mindy from the Animaniacs when she found a new “pet” to torture(remember that show? Thought not, oh well…4608217553_7d54179ba2_b)

906545-9f12e492-3db3-11e4-a57a-52576a558724This builds massive amounts of tension on the opposite side of the pressing arm and gives a nice audible “crunch” sound so you know the timing of said tension, and your breath, is spot on with the start of your press. Honestly, you could probably use this principle for almost any one arm exercise…

By creating more tension throughout your body you actually get a little more “power” than if you would just try to “lift” the weight without bracing the rest of your body for the load.(you know, squeeze the thighs, brace the abs, cramp the glutes) On top of the extra horsepower you’ll gain, you reduce the risk of injury due to lack of stability in the shoulder.

I picked up the water bottle trick from my friend Ryan Toshner some time back and have used it with great success. It has helped not only in my own training, but many of my students push past what they could do previously. Hardstyle Planking is another way to work this same type of tension principle, a little trick I picked up that from my team leader Ric Garcia at my StrongFirst cert, and has also worked wonders for the press as well as the squat, swing, pull-up, heck, everything!

These are just a few of the several tricks I have in my arsenal, and I have so many in fact, I may actually chose to hand out tricks instead of treats this year for halloween… we’ll see how generous I am.

Since we’re on a “strength” cycle currently(trying to improve our personal bests) I figured this was appropriate…

Like I said, there are so many tricks to creating tension I couldn’t possibly fit them all in one post.

john_gill_-_one_arm_lever
1 handed front lever, probably the best demonstration of how to hold tension out there(most extreme version of a plank!)

So I won’t even try.

I’m going to sprinkle them throughout several posts over the next few months, so keep an eye out if you want some more tips on how to push past a barrier and crush your old “best performance.” Until the next one, keep working that press and see if you can’t push beyond your current limits and smash your old record!(I’m going for 5 reps with the 32kg myself)

Have a Strong Day!

~Justin