How To Kickstart Your Day(And Metabolism)

How To Kickstart Your Day(And Metabolism)

Breakfast. The Cornerstone Of a Healthy Metabolism.

I know, you don’t have time… there’s a million and one things to do before you leave for your busy day. That doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice your health & well being because of one meal.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~Sun Tzu

No matter what your goals are, if you don’t fuel up properly you won’t make it to the end.

“I know I should eat healthy, but I don’t have time” or the more famous “I grab a banana/bagel/apple/(insert food) on the way out the door and eat it on my way to the office” type of thinking is the noise before the defeat. Getting a nutrient balanced breakfast(sorry, coffee doesn’t count) is not easy… trust me, I understand, I’m up and out the door before 4:45 every morning!

Like I said before, breakfast is the cornerstone of a healthy metabolism. There’s a rule I like to stick with, 30 Grams of Protein within 30 Minutes of waking. This is a surefire way to get your metabolism going for the day and prevent a number of metabolic disorders, it also keeps your energy topped off for the day, so you don’t have to reach for that 4th cup of coffee at 10am!

So, now that you have a basic understanding of the importance of properly fueling up for your day, here’s a simple way to make sure you get your protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake quick and easy( did someone say minimal effort and time?) during your busy morning routine. Although, making a less busy morning routine would be ideal, let’s start small and we’ll work up to the harder stuff… After all, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Now, this doesn’t seem difficult on the surface, but the discipline to keep at it every day long enough to create a habit is what will really make all the difference.

Now, on to the simplest breakfast you’ll ever have to (not) cook.

Overnight Oats

There’s some key building blocks to this that shouldn’t be changed. If dairy is a problem for you, it will be difficult to meet the same amount of calories, although most people are okay with the Greek Yogurt, make sure you know your body and what it can handle before you do more damage to your digestive system!

While almond milk or full fat coconut milk are substitutes, they don’t offer the same amount of protein or probiotics found in Greek Yogurt. So if you can, make sure to include it in the ingredient list. Sticking with a high quality brand helps, so no Great Value or knock offs here, after all, your health is worth more than the few extra pennies you save by going with a “store brand”. Also, avoid using soy milk on a regular basis, every once in a while is okay, but you’d be shocked how much soy is in foods you eat daily and like anything else, it can have adverse health effects if too much is consumed. Plus, soy is right up there with corn in terms of being GMO and laden with pesticides…

Foundational Ingredients:

Steel Cut Oatmeal.

Why Steel Cut? According to men’s health: “Steel-cut oats, like those found in McCann’s Irish Oatmeal’s metal tins, are almost fully intact, including the bran. As such, they’re high in fiber, burn off slowly, and will keep you feeling full for hours. “The more whole the grain, the longer it takes for the body to break it down,” explains Kleinert. But few people will spend the 30 minutes to make a pot of hot cereal in the morning. Skip the time suck by cooking a pot, freezing it in individual portions, then simply thawing and heating it.”

Now, letting these sit and soak will take care of the cook time, so the whole spending 30 minutes to cook it thing is kind of out the window, plus, the longer soak will make the oats easier to digest. It’s a good idea to soak/sprout all of your grains before cooking them.

Plain Greek Yogurt

Why plain? Mainly, there’s no added sugar(which we’ll be adding in form of fruit, honey or maple syrup). You really don’t want to be spiking your blood insulin first thing and having that crash later on in the morning anyway… kinda defeats the purpose of doing this whole breakfast thing.

Organic Whole Milk(Or Almond Milk/Full Fat Coconut Milk)

I try and stick with the milk if possible. Make sure you can handle it though, last thing you want is to be huddled up in a corner(or on the toilet) just to get a few extra grams of protein and fat… Almond milk or preferably Full Fat Coconut Milk are other options if dairy is out. I know most people hate the flavor of coconut, however, I’ve found once your a few bites in it really isn’t that bad.(I’m not a coconut fan myself…) The issue with almond milk is kind of twofold 1.) the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions that people absorb the nutrients in milk and milk products better than they do those in plant-based milks(from Livestrong.com and 2.) without getting into too much sciencey stuff, there are ingredients in almond, soy, and rice milks used to thicken them(texture is an issue with some people) that is thought to cause health issues related to digestion(i.e. inflammation of the “gut”). So, if you can stomach it, go with the Organic Whole Milk or just skip the milk and stick with the yogurt, using water instead.

Chea Seeds

Yup, you got it right, just like the commercial we all remember – Chia Pets! These little seeds are loaded with fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids in addition to them being a great digestive aid. A big bang for your buck here.

Honey/Maple Syrup

I personally like to stick with the maple syrup here. It seems that a bit more honey is required to get the taste right, and that means more simple sugars. Now, honey has several health benefits and shouldn’t be avoided at all costs, but you should play around with the ratios here and maybe even do a hybrid. I typically get honey in other times throughout the day, like my favorite post workout desert – peanut butter & honey toast. Either way, your better off than throwing a lump of sugar in the mix!

The Portions

  1. ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt.
  2. ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats.
  3. ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice.
  4. 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal.
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  6. Pinch of salt.
  7. 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup.
  8. Slivered Almonds(optional)
My Own PB&J Concoction 🙂

These are just the basic ingredients, and you can go crazy from here, anything from a PB&J to chocolate Peanut Butter Banana, or whatever other concoction you choose to cook up.

Personally, I like doing the above ingredient list with some raisins and a 1/2 serving of Muscle Gain protein powder and my girlfriend prefers to mix it up and put no protein in hers, but it takes no extra time to mix em all up at once.

Once you have the ingredients combined in a mason jar, mix them up with a spoon or by shaking then put the whole thing in the fridge to enjoy in the morning. I find that if you want a nice toasty warm breakfast microwaving for 1 minute, stirring, then about 30 or so seconds gets it to a nice “just right” temperature, but you’ll have to experiment with your microwave’s cook times.

Remember, this is something you want to do within a 30 minute window of waking up, it’s an easy way to get breakfast nailed down and takes barely any time to either cook or consume in the morning. We typically like to do at least 3 or 4 days worth of these little guys to keep us on track, otherwise someone forgets breakfast(it’s not me…).

A little hint that will help you make this a habit is to do this consistently for at least a month, after that, 90 days, once you’ve done something for 3 months basically it is a habit and will be extremely hard to break. So, come hell or high water stick with it and make it happen and watch the difference it will make in your energy level, strength(if you’re into that sorta thing), and body composition(if it’s a goal of yours).

Some More Recipes 🙂

  • ½ c old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed
  • 1 tbsp. all-natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter powder
  • ½ banana, diced
  • ¼ c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ scoop protein powder**
  • 2 packets of Truvia (or sweetener of choice) Dash of cinnamon Honey
    Source: www.bornfitness.com

(Sample Recipes from Wholefully.com 8 classic overnight oats recipes below)

Chocolate Peanut Butter

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxmeal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Banana Chocolate Chip

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ½ ripe banana, chopped or mashed
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips

Tropical Fruit

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk (in the can)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple
  • ⅓ cup chopped ripe mango
  • ½ ripe banana, chopped or mashed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut

I’ve Been Slacking, And You Should Be Too

It’s been a bit since I’ve written a blog post…(Feb. 21st according to the “recently published” section to the left of where I’m writing this)

And I have several planned for the near future, and I’m not posting the first one I have drafted up(somewhere on my phone) because I thought you, kind reader, should know why it is I’ve been so, well, absent(minded) as to not post something for your (slight) entertainment and possibly(I hope) education on fitness/martial arts related things.

I can’t multitask.

In fact, none of us can.

I can’t seem to focus on more than 2 or 3 things at a time, and this(unfortunately) is my downfall as a human being that seems to be shared by so many others… even more unfortunately, I seem to be somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to things that are important to me, so I like to focus more than most do on a task which sometimes means other stuff(blog posts) fall by the wayside.

I’m not saying I completely stop focusing on them, when an idea hits me, I pull out my phone, tell the Google device thing to take some notes, and save it for a later post. Some ideas make it, some don’t, but that’s not what I wanted to tell you about this fine day.

See, I have been busy with some other goals that have taken up much focus and time, some personal, some professional, but goals are goals nonetheless…

So when I start in on something I work on it, almost to a fault sometimes, with everything I have. This is something I need to work on as well as sometimes I don’t leave any in the reserve tank as my girlfriend constantly points out to me.

However, I’ve figured out in my short time as an adult that if I’m going to do something I need to do it all the way and not let anything derail me, if I get sidetracked I know the project won’t get finished.

I have not been doing much competing these days since I broke my face(literally) at the last TaeKwonDo tournament I attended before my knee gave out and had to stop the match(I literally couldn’t stand up… stupid arthritis). But one thing has been in my sights – the Tactical Strength Challenge put on by none other than StrongFirst(the finest group of professional kettlebell peeps I know) and I’m determined to get over 100 snatches this time in addition to not pulling any abdominal muscles on my deadlift. I could care less about the pull-ups, I just want to break 100 snatches.

Why?

I know if I focus on my deadlift for a while, I can do over 400 no problem(maybe October) and too many pull-ups hurt my poor achy elbows, and I way exceeded what I thought I could do last time around anyway… but the snatches are the bane of my existence.

I want to get to the point where I can do 100 snatches with a 24kg bell any day of the week without having to train for months on end to do so.

As you might remember, I didn’t pass my snatch test at my Level 1 certification, and had to re-test(I chose the TSC to do this) not too long after, and this too barely happened. I literally did my last snatch with 1 second left, probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.

If I can make that seem easy, I KNOW I’ve gotten stronger as a whole person.

This takes lots of recovery, time to train, and, oh yeah… more time to recover.

In addition to this, part of my training has had to be skipped because about 2(ish) weeks ago whilst squatting, I got into the bottom position and couldn’t get up, my knee was starting to give out. So, I’ve had to modify my squat day to an accessory deadlift day, meaning, more time for recovery…. yay…

Anyway, this in addition to some other personal things that I don’t want to mention here, and the fact that my girlfriend and I have been working like fiends to get a house down the street from us, I’ve not had a lot of time.

The point to all of this is that sometimes life gets crazy, some of it is self-inflicted(TSC training/house/etc…) and sometimes “stuff” just happens that makes the day seem overwhelming.

Priorities come into play here, and I’ve decided to choose just a few things that I really need to focus on and get them done right so I have my ducks in a row for other things that are coming down the pipeline.

When trying to find balance in your life, this is no easy task, you really have to take a step back and look at what you really need to get done, put your time into that, and let the other “important” stuff wait for another day, after all, if it was really that important you would have made it your top 3 anyway.

A little quick piece of advice before I finish this very rambley post, check out Dan John’s ideas on this idea of qualifying your situation by using the traffic light as a gauge for where you are in life. He uses the areas of Work, Rest Play, Pray and I think it seems like a good structure for gauging where you are in life… I decided to do more rest recently since I don’t like teaching classes feeling like a zombie, and my students don’t enjoy this either(yay for naps!).

At minimum, try not to feel like you need to get everything done yesterday… if you feel like you’re running a marathon at a full out sprint pace… well… you might just be overdoing it.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

Do It Anyway, Feel Like It or Not

Do It Anyway, Feel Like It or Not

This goes against what most of us naturally do…

Showing up and doing work even if we are; Tired, Emotional, Have a Headache, Sick(a sneeze or cough kind of sick, not death stuck on the couch sick…)

Let me be clear about this, I am not talking about going into an “all out” battle against you and the clock or one upping your old Personal Best, don’t even push yourself, just do the work you had planned and go home. I’m also not talking about training with a serious injury… still train smart, the idea is get the work done.

Punch The Clock.

The benefits of this are (at least) twofold.

1. You Improve Your Discipline & Resilience
2. You Don’t Fall Behind On Your Goals

THere’s probably more reasons, but hey, I think these two are good enough for 99.999% of us out there.

I’m not asking you to do something I’m not willing to do myself, I’ve had plenty of days in the past few years and even recently where I can barely drag myself out of bed, but somehow I mustered up the strength to get through the session.

From experience I can say this made me a stronger person, and I’m not talking about just physically…

So next time you find an “excuse” not to go in to the gym remember, there are people out there who:

Have less time
Have less money
Have less health
Have less limbs (no joke…)
Have less _________(fill in the blank)

That show up, put in the work(in spite of their circumstances) and they Just. Keep. Moving.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

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

You Don’t (Really) Know What Intensity Is….

You Don’t (Really) Know What Intensity Is….

If you’re like most people.

3484457206_f75b936449_b
How you should NOT look after a session.

You probably have this concept of “intense” training as a 45 minute to hour torturous burnout session with things like 1,000 burpees, 500 pull-ups, more burpees, holding planks for 3 minutes instead of resting, thousands of other random “things”… all the while, you’re getting further away from your goals.

The thing most people don’t realize about intensity is it’s something you can do in a very short amount of time while getting much better results(than the aforementioned “HIIT” style classes)

Enter Metabolic Training

Let’s set the scene…

I have a friend who wants to come and “just work out” with me one time(key is usually the “one time”, sometimes it’s twice…) and I tell them we’re going to do a little warm up and then train for 20 minutes… to which they respond “that’s it?” Yes, “that’s it”…

But what they don’t realize is it’s not the amount of time, it’s how you do it. So maybe they shouldn’t have ordered an “ass kicking workout” off the bat and stuck with the more reasonable things I normally have people do.

Anyway, I typically put them through a quick metabolic training session and… oh, what? Metabolic training? Well, I guess I should clarify!

Metabolic training is done using complexes which are a series of movements done in succession that make you feel like yesterday’s lunch is going to come back up on the floor in front of you, they also have this nasty little habit of leaving you feeling like someone sucked the air out the room… and that’s just the first set!

The strange thing is the complexes don’t “look that bad” at first glance(some of them can be literally only 2 movements back to back).

Basically, you put together a series of movements that, on their own, really wouldn’t be that bad to do, but once you put them together(in the correct order with the correct movements) they have this fantastic ability to make you feel like death within seconds of starting the second movement of the sequence.

Don’t worry, that feeling is not for nothing, it’s just your body creating growth hormone, the thing required to help tone/build muscle, in addition they melt body fat like butter in a hot frying pan… the other plus side is they’re typically quite short sessions, less than 20 minutes(20 is the max I would recommend for a majority of human beings).

Here’s an Example of What I’m Talking About:

Dan John(a fantastic strength & conditioning coach) came up with this little combo.

2 Double Kettlebell Cleans
1 Double Kettlebell Press
3 Double Kettlebell Front Squats

See, doesn’t look too bad, right?

Wrong.

This is probably one of the most grueling training sessions you’ll ever do… notice I didn’t say “workouts you’ll ever do”, and there’s good reason.

Part of understanding intensity is understanding how to use it effectively.

Here’s what I mean.

If, for example, the above “Armor Building” complex is just impossible the second time through, you went to heavy. Congratulations, you’re eyes were bigger than your strength, go lighter. If you breeze through it like 15 or 20 times in 20 minutes, you went WAY too light, go heavier. The ideal is 5-8 times in 15 minutes.

Want more of a metabolic hit(for more fat burning) add in some swings and hope for the best.

This training is not for the faint of heart.

We typically do this once a week with my group classes and private training clients, the only exception is my athletes I train – even then it’s a max of 3 days a week(for very short cycles).

Here’s the mistake most “Trainers” make with their clients – They Think More Is Better.

This could not be further from the truth… More is only MORE, and nothing else. It is also the leading cause of disfunction of movements, injuries, increase in body fat percentage, loss of strength, as well as the cause of certain metabolic and health disorders that were not commonplace in the general population(usually just professional athletes) until things like “Interval Training”, Crossfit(the bad coaches), and other similar training methods came about stating in the last few decades.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat…

You don’t always have to create intensity through things that will injure you or otherwise. Here’s a few examples of other ways of varying “intensity”:

On The Minute (or Every Minute on The Minute)

Pick a lift or movement to do, let’s say push-ups, and set a timer to go off once every minute. Perform a set of let’s say for this discussion 8 push-ups, rest for the remaining part of the minute and repeat for between 10-15 minutes. There’s your “upper body” training for the day(trust me, it’s harder than it sounds…)

As the weeks progress, again for this example, add repetitions on making sure there’s still time for rest after their complete.(this too can be done with too much intensity and often becomes a struggle, it shouldn’t be) As the movement gets easier pick a more advanced version to do instead, drop the reps down, and continue on.

Interval Rounds(done properly)

Set a timer for one of the following time schemes: Low Intensity(45 sec work:15 sec rest, 4-5 rounds should do it), Moderate Intensity (30 sec work:10-15 sec rest, depending on your level… about 5 or 6 rounds should do it), High Intensity(20 sec work:10 sec rest, do 5-7 rounds of the same movement)

The rest in between “sets” of rounds should be at least a minute, 2-3 minutes, at least 3 minutes, respectively.

Don’t rest using planks or other silly intense exercises between…. rest means rest. That doesn’t mean stop moving, however, keep moving my pumping your arms back and forth, walking around, easy bodyweight movements or stretching, just don’t stop moving – your heart will thank you later.

Speed of Repetitions

One totally overlooked way to increase intensity by the general population is to use an old bodybuilding trick that not only builds strength, if done with the correct reps/weight/sets it also builds muscle too. Tim Ferriss even dedicated a section of his book “The Four Hour Body” to this very method under “Occam’s Protocol”.

Basically, pick a lift (we’ll say barbell curl) and instead of trying to crank out as many as you can in a certain time – Slow. It. Down!

By controlling the “tempo” of the movement you increase the Time Under Tension effectively creating a bigger “load” on the muscles without increasing the weight. This also helps to clean up technique(I’ve found) because you’re more focused on moving smoothly through the motion. This can also, if done properly, prevent injuries in the future.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeants Brian Weaver, left, from Philadelphia, and Matt Leahart, from O'Fallon, Mo., use exercise equipment in a room that has been converted into the gym on Combat Outpost Munoz, Paktika province, Afghanistan, Nov. 13, 2009. The Soldiers are deployed with Baker company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne).

Here’s what it would look like:

Grab the bar into the starting position. Start the lift and either have a clock in front of you or count your Mississippi’s for anywhere from 2-5 seconds(longer is crazy intense, but you’re welcome to try it…) until you reach the top of the movement. Once there, pause for one second, and lower slowly.

There’s honestly so many variations on this your best bet is to play with different timing on each lift between training sessions. Oh, one more thing, PICK THE APPROPRIATE LIFT & WEIGHT FOR THIS!! Do not do this with deadlifts(unless you hate your back), also, don’t use close to your max – start light an work your way heavier slowly, it’s harder than it seems.

The optimal range for strength using this is anywhere from 3-6 reps, muscle size is typically 8-12 reps, but these are generalizations and most people respond different to the variations. Side note, these “tempos” are often written out such as (2:1:2) or (5:0:5) or (2:1:4) and so on. The first number is the start, the second is the top/bottom of the move, and the third is returning to the start position.

The big thing you should take away.

Intensity is what you make it. It’s individualized. My level of intensity might be a higher or lower threshold than yours, but that’s honestly okay.

It’s all about pushing yourself to the next level without pushing yourself over the edge. There’s a fine line that needs to be walked, so be reasonable and don’t push yourself to the brink every time you train, reserve it for every so often and work to improve slowly, the results will come faster than you think.

Have A Strong Day!

~Justin

If you’re interested in more ways to bump up the “intensity” of your training, feel free to reach out [email protected] or keep an eye on our Facebook Page for workshops and events.

FAILURE. Why It’s Not As Bad As You Think(for your success)

Everyone gets knocked down every once in awhile

Some of us get knocked down more than others, heck, some of us even get kicked and beat down while we’re there.(I know it always seems like I’m part of this last group myself)

Even the word, “failure”, causes some physical discomfort in most of us just at the sound of it(or sight of it)!

But here’s the thing.

It doesn’t have to be that bad…

If truly want something, something so important to you that you couldn’t imagine your life without this “thing”, this goal, it’ just like breathing, you can’t give up…

If you really want something, there’s nothing that will stop you from accomplishing your goal. This goes for anything – Fitness, Business, Personal, Financial, Martial Arts(and this is where I learned from).

If you truly want it,you will find a way to endure through the knock downs, kicks to the face, insults, defeats, and negative thoughts to pull through stronger than when you started.

We’ve All Heard This From Every Motivational Speaker EVER…

…And it’s fairly common knowledge…

The Trick Is This.

It’s all in your thought process….

Most people quit before they even try.

So think about the act of just starting, this puts you ahead of the curve. Your chances of success are so much higher than you even think!

And therein lies the secret… that once you get started, you need to stay in the game long enough to see the results. If you think about it, out of the other people that started “at the same time” as you, most will quit at their first obstacle. Or the second, or heck, most people quit inches from the finish line!

So if you just keep moving, working through the obstacles, it will eventually put you right where you want to be.

I always tell everyone when we’re doing timed training sessions that right about the point you want to give up is when there’s only about 5 seconds left. So when I’m telling them “keep holding it” or “keep going, you’re almost there!” I’m not just saying it to make noise, it’s an analogy for life… right when you’re ready to quit, if you hold on just slightly(italicise) longer, whatever you’re experiencing will be over.

One of my favorite quotes is from Les Brown, and I have to remind myself of this(constantly)

“No matter how bad it is, or how bad it gets, I’m going to make it. Say that to yourself every day”

After all, there’s a reason these obstacles are in your way…

You need to become the “better” person you want to be after your goal is achieved BEFORE you get there.

And it happens in small steps, so miniscule you won’t notice a difference until one day you’re there, and it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was when you set out.

Nothing worth having in life is easy.

You may need to be more disciplined, more confident, a more creative thinker, increase your knowledge… really, there is so many things involved with succeeding at just ONE THING that it’s no wonder most people just give up at the first sign of trouble.

The one thing you should take away is this, it’s the ones that persevere who succeed. And to do that, you need to be comfortable with failing and being uncomfortable.

You need to learn to use your failures to your advantage by learning something every time you miss a goal or deadline. The great thing about fitness training is if we miss something we were going for, our body naturally prepares to do ‘more’ the next time you attempt it. It’s literally built into our dna, it’s as natural as breathing, you seriously don’t even need to think about it, it just happens!

“It’s not what we get that makes us happy, it’s who we become… how we live our life, who we are as a person, people can take away all the things, but who you become no one can take away”  -Tony Robins

We have 5 Tenants we work on in Hapkido that you would be wise to try embody.

Courtesy
Integrity
Perseverance
Self-Control
Indomitable Spirit

None is less important than the other.

If you are not courteous and lack integrity you will be alone on your journey. Sometimes when you’re down and out, you need someone there to encourage you. You can’t accomplish that if you’re a complete a$$ hole… just sayin.

You need to have Self-Control, so when your emotions take over you can remind yourself that it’s only one day, the sun will rise tomorrow morning and you will have a fresh opportunity to start new. Self-Control leads way to Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit…

Without Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit, you will never endure long enough through the rest of the setbacks, trash talkers, and general negativity of life.

Now, I am FAR from the absolute best person to speak on this subject, but I feel personally and professionally I’ve survived a lot, especially since opening PostFit(2 ½ years ago at the time of this writing).

I’ve had months where I couldn’t pay all my bills. Recently, a banking error put me out $800(plus late fees), and that wasn’t even my fault! But hey, things happen, and it put me behind (again) when this last summer has really been the only time I’ve been “ahead” since I opened. (ahead means no more living off Top Ramen, PB&J, and sneaking in healthy foods where I can afford them…)

After all, it was only a little less than a year ago I quit my second job and started supporting myself off what I built, so you can imagine it didn’t feel good to be almost back in that position again. But i’m still ahead, and I still love what I do and the people I get to work with.

And I really have my amazing girlfriend to thank for most of my success as of late, mainly because she helps me up when something knocks me down, and that’s huge. It definitely helps to have someone put things in perspective for you.

Never underestimate the power of someone encouraging you because they see the best in you. If you don’t have that person in your life, that needs to be your number one goal before you do anything else. Trust me, I’ve been kept from closing the doors on more than one occasion by encouraging words and some emotional support. You can get pretty low when you’ve missed your goals for so long.

In fact, not so long ago(okay, very recently) I spent a large sum of money and even larger amount of time on finally getting my kettlebell certification.

I worked like hell to get ready for that damn thing(5 days a week). I tore up my hands from training so hard, and aches and pains became a part of life(so did my kettlebell – I actually took it on trips with me so I didn’t miss any training). And even though I felt better than I have in a while about having the skills to pass the physical requirements, when it came time for the cert, I failed….

I was literally just a few kettlebell snatches away from holding my certificate and fancy instructor t-shirt in my hand and being able to say I did it…

Here’s the kicker.(and why I decided to write this)

I had a 14 ½ hour drive home after that because I couldn’t afford to fly to Philly for the weekend. I also couldn’t afford a hotel, so I camped(it wasn’t all bad, campground was on the Brandywine Creek). Honestly, I had just enough cash for fuel to make it back home with $10 to spare. (literally, that’s all I had left between my accounts and cash in hand).

Normally, that wouldn’t have bothered me, but imagine sitting by yourself for that long after failing at something you had worked so hard for, something that you put all of your spare time into working for so you could succeed only to fail… and then remember that on top of that, you’re near broke(thankfully bills were paid) AND you’re not where you planned on being with your business goals when you set out for this fun little adventure.

I was not a happy camper to say the least(no pun intended). I mean I really hate losing, more than anything else, it’s a flaw of mine I’ve been working on for a while, and I’ve had to walk away from some things in the past because it would’ve become an unhealthy obsession…

Naturally, I thought about quitting. I mean, after all, how can I expect the people I train to do something I cannot do myself? That’s how I think anyway… but after much time spent sulking and throwing the most epic pity party you can throw yourself in a VW Golf (and sitting through Chicago traffic!)…

I came to the decision that if I gave up on this, all the work I put in would be for naught and I just wasted the last 2 plus years of my life, and wasted everyone else’s time that I’ve worked with over the years… I also couldn’t bring myself to break promises to that many people that I’ve come to feel are like family to me…

Here’s where the real magic happened…

At some point, I reminded myself of WHY I started.

To help people.

Not for money, or bragging rights, or anything else stupid like that… I got into this to help people who, like me, aren’t always the first picked, most athletic, impressive looking(or performing) human beings, but they will work damn hard to get better than where they were yesterday…. and mainly, to help encourage them like very few others had done for me in the past. Come on, everyone needs a cheerleader sometimes!

Which Brings Us To The Last Thing – Be A Little Stubborn.

I’d like to think part of what got me to where I’m at now is being pig headed enough that no matter what I do, I HATE leaving things unfinished(quitting). It physically pains me and wakes me out of a dead sleep sometimes thinking of things I started and didn’t finish…

I hate losing, at anything(can you tell I hate losing?) – this is why I won’t go to casinos…

It might pay to have some of that same attitude and feeling of disgust toward failure that I have, although it can be unhealthy… But keep reminding yourself that it’s okay to miss a goal every once in awhile. Heck, I re-did my snatch test this past weekend and I’m officially certified level 1 instructor through Strong First…

So go ahead, suck for a while. Fail a bunch of times and find your weak points and try to improve on them.

“I’ll be happy when I just… just what? You’ve got to be a dreamer, you’ve got to see the future finished in advance. Happiness doesn’t come from big pieces of great success, but from small advantages hammered out day by day” – Jim Rohn

I always keep this in mind when training – You work on your weak points in practice, but you play with your strengths. If you elevate your absolute WORST qualities, everything else will get better(mine is kettlebell snatches…)

Pick one thing to improve from your last “failed” diet or workout program. Maybe you didn’t make it into the gym like you planned, so plan to go for less days, start with less time at the gym, set yourself up for success where you previously failed. Do the things you’re good at more often and use those habits to replace the bad ones then slowly start adding in the next best thing, then the next, then the next, until all of a sudden you’re there!

It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be consistent, and it has to make sense for you. After all, you’re who these goals are about anyway…

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin

P.S. If you read this far, here’s a link to the video I snagged some of these quotes from. I’d recommend checking some of these guys out(outside this video).