Quote of the Week 3-9-2020
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”
I thought I would change up the normal format of our Blog this week and do a bit of a deep dive into some truths about fitness. I’ll be courteous and split this post into two parts, so we will continue this idea next week. Within this article I mention some supplements I recommend so at the very end I will include links to all of them.
One of my all time favorite books is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. If you have not read it yet I certainly suggest you pick it up. This wealth of information discusses; being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, seeking to first understand then be understood, synergize, and sharpening the saw (personal growth). I recently reread this bad boy and it inspired me to give you all…
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Fitness Enthusiasts.”
1. They Sleep
Okay so everyone sleeps…but highly effective fitness minded folks truly prioritize sleep, which is an incredible difference. When an athlete comes to me looking to get in razor sharp shape, the very first question I ask them is- how well do you sleep right now? Deep, restful, restorative sleep should be the backbone of any fitness protocol. If you do not sleep well you are completely undermining your body and its ability to adapt to training. One of my fitness mentors puts it bluntly- “If you are waking up at 4 am to go do cardio you are stepping over hundred dollar bills to pick up pennies”.
I know it isn’t always best for my business but I have consistently advocated that sleep is in fact more important than training. During sleep, your body regulates hormones- namely testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which are incredibly advantageous to optimize. Proper growth hormone levels will allow you to recover from strenuous training and just improve your sense of well being overall.
When it comes to sleep and training it seems one hand washes the other. Physical activity creates more adenosine in the brain, and adenosine can help us trigger the precursors of a good night sleep. Good sleep equals better workouts which equals better sleep.
So what are my first interventions when it comes to getting better quality sleep? Two words- sleep hygiene. Let’s really look into what that means and how we can enhance our own sleep hygiene. First we need to speak a bit about circadian rhythm- a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. This process is driven by light. One can imagine way back in time during our paleolithic days, people arose when the sun came up and started to chill out and begin rest when the sun went down. Humans have evolved to be very biologically mindful of when and where the sun is in the sky and have grown to allow that to dictate chemical behaviors within our bodies. Imagine you are a cave-person chilling out sleeping somewhere; as the sun came up your environment would become warmer, you would be subject to lots of light, and eventually you would see a tremendous amount of blue color from the sky. Our bodies still respond to those very same signals- warmth and blue light. Blue light specifically tells your body, “we are awake, let’s move”. This is a very good thing when the light source is natural (the sun) and it is time to be awake…it is a very bad thing when the light source is unnatural (your phone, a computer, a t.v.) and it is time to go to sleep. Long story short, if we want to increase our ability to get restful, deep sleep we need to severely limit our blue light exposure around bedtime. This means no television at least an hour before bed, no computer at least three hours before bed and (GASP!) no phone either.
Your bedroom should be a cave. Your bed is meant for two purposes and one of them is strictly sleep. Not watching t.v., not “unwinding” on your phone. Try to get your bedroom as dark as possible (I am particularly crazy and put duct tape over the green and blue lights on electronics) and leave your phone in another room or at least somewhat far away from you. If you have an iPhone turn on “Night Shift Mode” which gradually limits blue light as the day comes to an end. Try to get your bedroom cool in temperature as well- for bonus points, program your thermostat to gradually heat up around the time you want to rise in the morning.
Takeaways- Sleep is the foundation we will build our day off of. We regulate all our important hormones during this precious time and adapt to training. Better sleep means better workouts which means better sleep. Get your bedroom dark and cool and limit blue light exposure around bedtime as much as possible. I also recommend adding some ZMA to your pre-bed ritual for it’s positive effects on sleep quality and growth hormone production.
2. They Breathe
Once again, sure everyone breathes, but highly effective fitness enthusiasts do it with intention. Breathing is the most reflexive movement our bodies do. My best guess is that you are doing it right now! The fittest people I know take time out of their day, every day to focus on the breath and improve their ability to breathe better. This practice can come in many forms; meditation, endurance training, all out sprints. The key here is to be mindful of how you are up-taking oxygen into your body.
What are my first interventions to improve breathing? First and foremost become more mindful of the breath. An athlete who is constantly shallow breathing up into their chest, traps raised, shoulders tight, almost gasping, will inevitably have issues training. Shallow chest breathing will hinder mobility in the spine, create some really unstable positions throughout the thoracic, can lead to shoulder injury and pain, and will certainly hinder power output and athletic performance. If we can train ourselves to take deep, deliberate breaths into our diaphragm we can unlock a tremendous tool during training. I suggest taking just five minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe purposefully deep into your belly. There is an easy system known as “box breathing” which simply is breathing in for a five count, holding it for a five count, breathing out for a five count, then having no air for a five count. Repeat this cycle five times and you will see drastic improvements within your first week of practice.
Takeaways- breathing is reflexive and we want to master all of our reflexive movement patterns. Try not to breathe shallow into your chest, rather let’s breathe expansively into our bellies. Try “box breathing” as a simple system for breath control.
3. They eat
Fit people eat and we eat a LOT. When I was competing 8,000 calorie days were the norm and lots of my competitors were pushing 10k daily. One of the first things people on our Nutrition Plan tell me is “wow this is way more food than I thought”. The fact is fit people simply aren’t starving themselves like the common knowledge and popular culture would have us believe. Nobody worth their salt in this business advocates for crash diets or severely restricted calorie or food choices. This is simply not sustainable and the “getting lean and muscular” game is a long one.
Fitness and nutrition obviously go hand in hand. If you have been to any of my nutrition seminars you know how passionate I am about this. I will be real with you- I no longer am eating 8,000 calories a day but I am still very meticulous and deliberate about what I ingest. At first, nutrition is about qualitative means not quantitative. I dislike the calories in versus calories out angle for most people. Of COURSE calories play an enormous part of the fitness equation but most highly effective fitness professionals know it is not the entire equation.
What are my first interventions when it comes to diet? Eat whole, mostly single- ingredient, natural foods. People that eat obvious cheat foods because “they are paleo” or “it’s zero carbs” aren’t even fooling themselves. Find the joy in actually tasting a sweet potato or blueberry or nicely seared steak again. Consume a good amount of protein from a variety of sources. I am certainly a meat eater but if you have some moral or ethical issues with this just be sure to track your protein consumption even closer. I feel it is important to say that if you are looking to maximize performance or increase lean body mass, meat eaters will simply have an easier time than their non meat eating counterparts. Be sure you are getting adequate essential fatty acids- I highly recommend fish oil supplementation and eating fatty fish twice a week. I also place a great deal of emphasis on micronutrients and gut health.
Takeaways- do not be afraid to eat, but we must eat the right foods in the right ratios. Eat with intention and with a clarity of purpose of our goals in mind. Don’t be dogmatic about any one way to eat- “I’m paleo” or “I’m vegan” or “I’m carnivore” are much less important than “I’m healthy”. If you want all this spelled out for you in an easily digestible form ( excuse the pun) then I very much recommend our Nutrition Program. We tell you what to eat, why, and when and make it as easy as possible to achieve the results you are after.
4. They think
Thoughts become things. Your internal monologue is as important as what you eat or the weights you lift. I truly believe that mindset mastery must proceed any major physique breakthrough. Just like our other habits, thinking must be done deliberately and with purpose. I treat each training session as an opportunity to become MORE mindful, more in touch with my body, more aware of the mind muscle connection within. There are so many people out there in the fitness space going to workout angry. If we approach workouts with anger we are just reinforcing that mentality. Each session should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you might have eaten.
There is also a very cerebral skill acquisition period of fitness that most Coaches are simply, and erroneously skipping right over. If you never dribbled a basketball before it wouldn’t be reasonable to think you could play a pick up game with the Lakers (maybe the Knicks). This is also true of complex movements like a squat or deadlift and certainly true of snatches and clean and jerks. It is incredibly important to think intensely on movement patterns, develop the skill required to execute them with intention, and then put those movements into practice.
What are my first interventions regarding thinking? Meditate. Just five minutes a day will change your life. There are plenty of apps out there that offer free, guided meditations. Or you can simply just sit and breathe (principal #2 anyone?) becoming more mindful. I also recommend spending some time outside of that reptile mind during difficult training sessions. We have all been in that almost panicked mindset of playing number games with ourselves when the reps get hard- “just twelve more reps, that’s two sets of six or three sets of four”. On the other hand we have all been in the place where we just zone out and do the reps and leave. While both places have merit I suggest a third path- take some time and really FOCUS on the particular movement you are doing. If you are performing a back squat really become hyper aware of how your quads contract on the way up, how the weight sits over your mid-line, how you breath into your core, how the weight feels as it is being lifted. Really explore these sensations, how they feel in your body, and maybe more importantly- how they make YOU feel. Do you have a sense of empowerment? How do pull-ups affect your mood? Opening the door to thinking about these movements this way will give you a better understanding of your body and of yourself.
Takeaways- Become cerebral about your fitness. Master a skill then put that skill into practice. Meditate daily.
For numbers 5, 6, and 7 tune in next week! If you enjoyed any of this info or learned something please share this post with someone that you think will benefit. They certainly don’t need to be a member- our goal at 631 is to help as many people as possible live lives they love in bodies they can celebrate!
Get ready for something fun- THROWBACK WEEK! Not only do we get to hit all PRs for our strength we are also hitting some of the best workouts of last year. You could call these Metcons the “Greatest Hits” of 2019. I will be using all the same pictures shared on that day and we should all go through our Zen Planner apps to try to beat our scores. With Throwback Week I am also offering pre-orders on any of our old t-shirts! Time to gear up and get ready to look fresh for spring.
LET’S DO THIS!
Compare to 12-16-2019
3 Burpee Over Bar
With Remaining Time
First 3 Minutes AMRAP Air Squats
Next 3 Minutes AMRAP Front Squats (75#/55#)
Next 3 Minutes AMRAP Thrusters
Last 3 Minutes AMRAP OHS
*Scored For Total Squatting Movements*
Compare to 10-15-2019
Devils Press (35#/20#)
Compare to 1-8-2019
50 Cal Row
50 Hang Clean (75#/55#)
25 Power Snatch
Compare to 4-1-2019
400 Meter Run
3 Rounds of “Macho Man” (155/105)
1 Round of “Macho Man”:
3 Power Cleans + 3 Front Squats + 3 Push Jerks
30 Minute Cap
Compare to 2-22-2019
15 Box Jumps
12 Push Press (115#/75#)