- Make movements harder.
- Learn to engage and flex muscles in unity.
- Utilize intense exhalation to contract the diaphragm during peak contraction.
- Peak contraction facilitates progress.
- Grease the groove. Move well throughout the day.
- Slow down. Stop pre-failure.
- Engage daily.
“A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. – Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda
Application of the concept of right practice, the pursuit of excellence, or the process of formative lifestyle change/improvement applies to all areas of your life. Making this distinction and honestly engaging each aspect of your existence with these principles is a skill to be consciously employed.
“I appreciate greatness and I appreciate hard work. It’s something about devoting a piece of every day to something that’s far off that’s really inspiring to me. I know there are areas where I can improve, which gives me a lot of confidence that it’s not the peak for me.” Dylan Bowman – Professional Ultrarunner
“Performance is about being your best and learning to do something better. Excellence does not come easily, nor is it automatic for even the most talented, highly-motivated individuals. Rather it stems from the desire to be really good at something and the discipline to make a lasting commitment.” – Connie Carpenter 1984 Gold Medal Cycling
“A performance gap is thereby delineated with maximum specificity between the performance system subject to premature failure and the image of purpose. By employing the force of will, moment to moment, to sustain the training exercise past such points of premature microsystemic failure, the performance of that particular episode of exercise is enhanced.” Michael Livingston – Mental Discipline
Most athletic practice will embrace some fundamental performance objective, and this objective properly will be embodied in a general image of purpose. Discrete performance objectives / maximum specificity. Each microsystem must be trained with maximum intensity.
The purpose of walking the path is not to attain some final destination but simply to progress ever further along that path.
The ego distorts purity of practice. Product-oriented pursuits serve the ego, seeking some objectified result to be achieved through that practice. There is no purity of practice. No commitment to the process.
The purpose must possess a process orientation. This process orientation to the image of purpose, in turn, has two dimensions: intention and direction. The force of will acts on the mind in two ways. First, the mind must be directed, toward some conceptual goal. Second, the mind must be propelled or animated to move in that direction.
The greater the specificity and intensity of practice – that is, the more purposeful – the more effective the practice will be.
We grow when challenged. Now, more than ever, it is easy to avoid uncomfortable situations. Social, physical, mental, environmental… they can all become non-existent in our lives. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years, they hurry by you. Recognizing a challenge and engaging whole-heartedly without fear of failure, or expectation of success is a trainable skill. Approaching your challenge with a personal, meaningful mantra and reason is paramount. I can’t create your why or reason for you. Spend time in your own head each morning. Rise a little early. Break the routine just a little. Journal. Think. Grow. Be accountable.
Epithets for the self: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative.
Pick your two words. You know you’re going into a tough assignment—say to yourself over and over again, “strength and courage.” You’re about to have a tough conversation with a significant other: “patience and kindness.” You’re about to lead a team of people, and you’re uncertain of your own ability: “calm and composed.” via Daily Stoic
-Let a man not be corrupted by external things
-Let him be unconquerable and admire only himself
-Let him be courageous in spirit and ready for any fate
-Let him be the molder of his own life
-Let not his confidence be without knowledge, nor his knowledge without firmness
-Let his decisions once made abide
-Let not his decrees be altered by any alteration
-Let him be poised and well-ordered
-Let him show majesty mingled with courtesy in all his actions
Be honest. Follow through. Recognize that we often quit at 40% … think about that… you’ve got 60% left to give, it’s there, just waiting to be exposed. Whether training or competing you need to wire your mind to dig deep into the well of effort. This is why you do the uncomfortable, repeatedly. Training is just that. It’s practice. Don’t judge practice. You are your toughest critic. Running 100+ miles in 24 hours is a practice of commitment and self-care. Over and over again you are asking yourself to keep moving for no other reason than a personal commitment. No fame, no glory, no money, nothing but completion of the short journey that is endurance sports.
Value your time and you can create an existence for yourself that will bring you pride and joy. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your soul. Don’t do it for the selfies and likes you may receive. It’s not a reliable source of validation. Accept how much personal power you have. Once realized it may overwhelm you. Move forward and look ahead. The future is now and the path is in front of you.
I applaud your decision to use the sharp knife and make a clean cut on a new future.
Onward and Upward.
Simple movements will expose you. Therefore, they should be, and are, all you need to evolve in your body-knowledge. Developing an understanding of what skilled movement patterns require takes patience and commitment.
I thoroughly enjoy this process! Lowering repetitions, yet keeping time under tension high has forced me to engage more, mentally.
In my profession, the plank allows me to assess where the client is weak. Their limiter could be core-strength, unactivated glutes, poor leg-tension, weak chest, weak shoulders, weak triceps, or an un-present mind. Movements are linked and connected, thus, how you do one thing is how you do everything.
Modifications are numerous. The plank can be performed from your knees, or with hands on an elevated bench, chair, or bar. Yoga blocks and parallettes are fun additions.
Simple Implementation. 1:00 Plank. 1:00 Squats. 1:00 Walking Lunges. 1:00 Rest. Repeat three times.
Free your mind and make it happen.
It is said that there are two centers of action. The head, or medical statistics, and the heart, or independent counsel.
- Think on this: in a climate of negativity, the ability to heal is greatly reduced – depressed people not only lower their immune response but even weaken their DNA’s ability to repair itself. – Can you relate? Have you been a part of an unhealthy cascade at any time in your life? Have you been around friends, relatives, or coworkers whos thoughts manifest an undesired reality? Be careful what you verbalize. Always guard your well-being.
Impulses require discipline. You must work to train how you act on each impulse. Once you say yes, you can’t go back. The ticket has been purchased and you are now taking the ride.
- Think on this: as long as each impulse is healthy, the future is not unknown – it will flow naturally from the present, moment by moment.
Implement self-analysis. Be honest. Look in the mirror and list all of the important decisions that you’ve made. What you see, how you feel, even how you think and decide on a daily basis is a direct result of those decisions. Now you must quiet the mind and think hard about how each decision will affect your future.
- Think on this: touching the source of thought is how the mind creates patterns of intelligence. At first, these patterns are only blueprints, but whatever they inscribe will hold – they will form our ideas and beliefs about reality.
“The implication is that we should dive very deep if we want to transcend normal reality. We are in search of an experience that will reshape the world.” – Deepak Chopra
Expansion of the mind can happen during meditation. The mind, when thinking, is in all activity. When not thinking, it is in silence. To “go deep” means to contact the hidden blueprint of intelligence and change it. Meditation is a state of hypometabolic wakefulness. When the mind shifts during meditation, the body cannot help but follow.
I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It’s my tranquilizer. It’s part of the way I tell the truth – and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years. – Jack LaLanne
Despite being quite fit and strong since I can remember, there was always something missing. I never missed a workout, and if I did, I’d make up for it by doing calisthenics in my spare moments at home or in between commitments. Instant feedback, endorphin rush, muscle pump, vascularity, increased energy, etc. kept me coming back day in and day out. Nutrition wasn’t even on my radar. I consumed too much of everything bad and had an immature relationship with nutrition and health. I was lazy and took shortcuts whenever I could. Luckily, this didn’t last…
Fast forward to late 2005. I had started to make fitness and personal training my career. Surrounded by friends who had matured in their nutrition and consumption behaviors, as well as clients that struggled with this aspect (some mightily), I started to take this aspect more seriously. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up the food as pleasure outlook I’d been living my entire life. Jump ahead a few more months and my training curiosity placed me in the bodybuilding world in the summer of 2006. Good nutrition builds lean mass. A heavy rotation of protein: steak/fish/chicken/eggs, and healthy carbs: sweet potatoes and brown rice, had me realizing the work hard, eat smart equation produces results. I signed up for a competition, which built-in accountability and added a deadline feature to this process. A magic formula if there ever was one. My food choices were narrowed down to only those things that would guarantee a successful outcome. Elimination works. Just getting rid of the sweets, refined sugars, and most carbs had me leaning out and putting on muscle. The decision fatigue that plagues many adults was no longer present. I had begun to evolve as an adult.
After competing in the bodybuilding competition I realized that the weightlifting lifestyle was not for me. Being active, mobile, light, lean, and adaptable was much more appealing. I started rock climbing and trail running. Both sports require a maximum strength to weight ratio. Like bodybuilding, the sport, or activity, was the driver for the nutritional component to follow. Fueling for prolonged movement meant eating less (volume), but more nutritionally dense foods. The focus was on feeling light and agile. Over time, my appearance shifted quite drastically. I was smaller but leaner, and more striking in physicality. Think Bruce Lee versus an NFL linebacker. The saying, “appearance is a consequence of fitness” became something I could actually relate to.
Epiphany. I can control how I look and feel by moving daily, and eating only healthy foods. We all know this works. Live the script day in and day out. By doing this you will develop your own standard.
My Nutritional Environment:
- Drink a lot of water with a pinch of sea salt. Start your day with 20-24 ounces of cold water. Drink up to 1 gallo throughout the day depending on the activity level and environmental demands.
- Water. Coffee. Tea. An adult beverage in the evening.
- Almond or Coconut Milk
- Almond Butter
- Protein Powder
- Local Honey
- Snacks (options):
- Mary’s Gone Crackers (costco in bulk)
- Kirkland Protein Bars (costco in bulk)
- Hardboiled Eggs
- Macadamia Nuts
- Chicken / Sardines / Venison / Steak
- Occasional sweet potato, brown rice, or other carbs
- Spinach salad w/beets, carrots, feta, avocado oil and sea salt
- or similar combo of veggies, sometimes sauteed.
- 1-2 meals a week. Keep it to a meal, not an entire day. Make sure you are very active on that day and it won’t set you back very much.
- Always check in with how your nutrition is making you feel. This is key.
- NOTE: be honest with alcohol. Don’t consume within 90 minutes of bedtime or you’ll pay for it in quality of sleep, hydration, and performance the next day.
- Be smart when you intake carbs. Make sure they go right to an activity or are being stored for a big cardio/endurance event the next morning.
Many years later I still adhere to this philosophy. Make good choices easier by limiting your options. Repetition is beneficial or harmful. I choose to make it beneficial by making the high-calorie meal the outlier. Plan for success. Foster the environment for this to occur.
Make the transformational process of owning your health a focused competition with hard deadlines. This works! Remember that today is the best day of the rest of your life and live it that way. Positive choices > Negative choices. Win the day.
Writing this reminded me of a great article that arrived in my inbox last summer. Click here to read.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Da Vinci
Simple is key, but simple isn’t easy.
Exercise, for most, is a small part of our lives. A means to an end. Keeping it simple and efficient requires a skill of practice that is not instantly obtained. In order to excel with this concept: repetition, discipline, and desire must be harnessed consistently.
- Coaching is an accelerator.
- Accountability ensures.
- Progress comes quicker.
- Results are seen sooner.
- With trust and commitment change is possible.
- Our species thrives on forward/upward movement.
- Feeling the momentum of progress is addicting.
- Chasing the idol of physicality is never-ending. Mastery is an illusion applicable to no physical endeavor.
Endurance is repetition / Movement molds / Breath is fluidity & connection
The effective minimum dosage of the physical permits frequency.
Where does this lead us?
Guided, online coaching requires you to be heavily engaged in the workout. Focused and attentive. Understanding the stimulus. Adjusting resistance or rep count to elicit the proper feeling. There is no “plug and play” concept to exercise. Questioning if the movement warrants the response. You will never skip this step. Avoiding failure is smart for most. Quality repetition leads to increased frequency via efficient recovery.
Desired results. Efficiently delivered. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Have you ever experienced the feeling of decreased self-control, or willpower due to simply being tired? I know I have. Finishing a long run, depleted, I’m susceptible to cravings and impulses I simply do not normally have. Sweets, carbs, bread, beer, etc. Following the “positive” comes a negative.
What do you think this is telling your body?
The same can be seen in the effects of excessive high-intensity interval training. Crushing workouts followed by fatigue, lead to diminished discipline and heightened reward signals.
- Know the purpose of your training:
- Why are you exercising? Body composition change? Image enhancement? Mental and physical performance? Hobby?
- Your purpose should direct the type of exercise you employ, as well as your nutritional needs.
- Avoid the extremes:
- Injuries happen when you ignore the signals your body is giving you. Excessive fatigue before, during or after exercise is a “Red Flag” to be respected. Stop and reassess.
- Only use a training weight that you can manage effectively. Ignore rep counts that you can’t mentally stay engaged long enough to handle.
- Where the mind goes the body follows. If 100% focus is not happening, then stop the exercise. More harm than benefit may be had on this day.
- Leave a little in the tank:
- Learn to leave something in the tank for the other events of your day, or tomorrows workout. Consistency and repetition are where your results will come from, not the temporary beat down of too much too soon and subsequent delayed recovery.
- Exercise in a 1:1 environment or alone:
- Distractions help pass the time, but it is not passing the time that we are after.
- Mind/Body is not a byproduct. Manifest the desired outcome and picture it happening.
- Less is More:
- Simply put. Learning to engage a muscle, what it feels like to achieve a proper contraction and seeking that feeling each repetition will give you amazing results.
- Eating less frees your body up to focus on aspects other than digestion and recovery.
- Less time spent exercising means more time spent living with your fitness.
Remember that your fitness and health are positive enhancers to your lifestyle. Engage in the learning process. Mastering a few key aspects of movement will do more for your health than any amount of variety can muster.
Onward and Upward!
Assessing how you feel before, during, and after a training session is essential.
Some things to consider while training:
- Stress comes when you don’t feel in control. After you’ve done the movement in a few training sessions there should be no stress associated. If it stresses you out or requires too much effort to complete, move on to an exercise you can safely complete.
- Rep count does not matter. This is exercise not a prescription or competition. A few good, quality repetitions are better than many partial or cheated ones.
- Modifications are good. Have trouble with walking lunges? Use trekking poles, or do them in place, next to something you can use for balance (couch, bench, etc.).
- Weight. Start light. Take your time. If you can move it easily, work your way up. When it challenges you, stay there for a few sessions to build confidence in the exercise, set or workout. Repetition trumps variety.
How do you feel after a set? Stressed, exhausted, out of control? Those feelings are to be, mostly, avoided. Anxiety, fear, and worry don’t lend themselves to repetitive behavior. On the other hand, elation, positive energy, and enthusiasm build confidence and pleasure, which lead to increased repetition.
- Find out what you enjoy and repeat it.
- Build skills in 5 or so exercises you can go back to on a daily basis. Developing skill leads to the ability to increase resistance and difficulty. Variety is not necessary.
- Remember why you are exercising: to progress, maintain, become more able/capable, increase energy, increase outlook, enhance performance in all areas, and improve both health and quality of life.
Forced oxygenation and deep breathing change your bodies chemistry. This is a bonus to strength training in a circuit format. Transitioning and actively recovering while training is a skill that once possessed, powerfully changes your approach to movement.
Until you have the skillset you shouldn’t seek out the pain and strain of hard training. Shortcuts lead nowhere worth going. Time spent in foundation building is never wasted.
Think of your fitness training as building skillsets to last a lifetime. Moving well throughout your life is more important than momentary glory obtained in youth.
Sometimes, head down, into the unknown, is the only way to go.
Changing course can be a stressful event. Exchanging comfort and control for the unknown is often too much for one to handle. From personal experience, I can attest to this. Recognizing, though, that time moves quickly, and making transitions requires taking action, I’ve become more open to evolving. Opinions, priorities, habits, people all must at some point be questioned. The desire to be yourself must be greater than the need to be liked or to fit in.
Have I become stagnant? Am I moving forward? Is my mobility upward?
Honesty, with yourself, is essential. Self-assessments can be harsh. You must remember that it is easy to judge yourself harshly. Comparisons (to others, and society) are easy to make, yet often disregarded is the fact that your (my) goals and direction may be different from the common human. Moving through life, living true to yourself, accepting the discomfort of alienation (self or group imposed) requires maturity and confidence. Thus continuing to evolve, your positions should be questioned and challenged.
It’s up to you. If you are happy with your current trajectory, by all means, continue onward. For those of you that are still curious, don’t fret, you are not alone. Take comfort in that. Understand that your self-confidence is paramount to living an authentic life. Evolve from within. Learn new skills. Disengage from that which may be holding you back. We all know what those things are in our lives. Evolving requires honesty.
Do not be afraid to use the knife on the reins of your existence. Freedom is always one swift slash away.