Workout Myths – Squat Edition

Back squats are unquestionably one of the single most productive exercises that can be performed in the weight room to increase overall strength and power. Together with bench presses and deadlifts, this trio in my opinion are the most effective at gaining overall strength and gaining muscle.

fs1

There’s no reason there should be blanket cues that encompass everyone—especially where exercise is concerned. When it comes to squats sure, everyone knows there are basic tips to follow in order to stay safe and prevent injury – keeping a tall spine, proper breathing methods, distributing weight through the entire foot, and tightness through the core and upper back. And they go without saying.

Nevertheless, the exercise still has its critics and myths continue to haunt us. Some of them are as follows:

1. Your knees can never go over your toes when you squat

squat_bar_placement-1024x664

The theory that knees should never go over toes was found in a study that found maintaining a vertical lower leg as much as possible reduced strain on the knee during a squat. However, the study only looked at two dimensional models of the knee joint, so it lacked consideration of forces working from above, at the hip, below, and at the ankle, which all receive considerable force in this position

The reason we are told to ensure our knees don’t go over our toes is actually less about our toes and more about our centre of gravity and muscle recruitment. With the weight shifted back, we get more muscle activation from the glutes and hamstrings, whereas when our weight is shifted forward the focus is more on the quads and anterior chain. So… knees over toes is a myth as the toes simply serve as an arbitrary point and the guideline should really be more to do with how to balance load, but the knees over toes works as a simplified guideline.

2. Deep squats are bad for your knees

 

this-is-how-deep-you-should-squatContrary to popular belief, squatting deep is not bad for the knees – studies have found there is no difference between partial, parallel and deep squats impact on the knee.  Another study by The Journal of Biomechanics found that the deeper the squat, the less pressure is created inside the knee. The journal of strength and conditioning research also completed a study which concluded that parallel squats with heavy weights are less effective at increasing strength than deep squats with a lighter weight.

Obviously, there is not a one-size-fits-all perfect squat, but in most cases, gradual progressive training to the full range of motion of a deep squat will be effective.

3. If it doesn’t break parallel it doesn’t count

Myth. Despite the research supporting squat depth as seen above, failing to squat deep doesn’t mean that the squats don’t count. In fact squatting to parallel is probably the most widely used squat because it is arguably the safest form of squatting and the easiest to perform.

For some people, though it has greater muscle activation, squatting below parallel just isn’t possible, be it due to lack of flexibility, lack of strength or lower back issues.

If the lower back rounds when the athlete performing a full squat breaks parallel, it’s time to stop. Rounding of the back during this phase of the squat places intense pressure on the lower vertebrae of the back. Research has shown that during the deepest phase of the squat, this compression is six times greater than at the top of a squat.

Work on flexibility by performing bodyweight squats and gradually sinking lower until you can break parallel and enter the full squat without compromising your spine. Dynamic warm ups and flexibility work will help to increase your range of motion.

4. Look up as you squat

As much as you may enjoy staring at your squirming face as you squat, “head up” is one of the worst commands you can give to a client. The logic behind it was/is that the body goes where the head leads and therefore if you look up, you will be less likely to fail your squat. However, with a heavy load across your shoulders looking up increases the amount of pressure on your neck and could potentially lead to slipping the discs in your neck. Ideally, the aim should be to keep your spine in neutral alignment. For most people you need to keep your eyes forward and tuck the chin slightly.

5. Squats decrease knee stability

This myth can be traced to a research that found that squats increased knee laxity, thus increasing the risk of knee injury. The results of the study have never been reproduced, and later research found that populations that performed squats, such as powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters, possessed more stable joints that other populations.

6. The Deadlift is a good substitute for squats

The deadlift is a great core exercise that compliments the squat by more aggressively working the trapezius, grip, and hamstrings. The issue with the deadlift is that it doesn’t work the legs through a large range of motion as the squat and as such doesn’t provide complete development of the quads. Performing lower body exercises only through a partial range of motion tightens up the tendons, making athletes more susceptible to injuries, and reduces knee stability. Rather than choosing between squats and deadlifts, include both of these powerful exercises in your program.

7. Performing leg extensions before squats works the quads harder

The idea is that this training method would work the muscle used in the isolation exercise harder. However, research found that because lighter weights are used in the second exercise, the strength training effect is reduced. The leg extension is fine as an auxiliary exercise, but they should be performed after squats, not before.

8. Your feet should be shoulder width apart

Let’s be realistic here. It may make for a visually appealing setup when you have a semi-wide stance when squatting, but this statement gives no consideration to the lifter’s anatomy. There are big guys out there who have very wide shoulders, so this cue would almost put them in a sumo squat position right off the bat. Not following your body in this regard may lead to clearance issues when the ball and socket joint of the hip are restricted due to your stance.

In fact, one may choose a very close leg stance on a particular day and a very wide stance on another to ensure they hit all their muscle groups or to avoid a monotonous movement.

Conclusion

The worst thing a lifter can do is try to fit a round peg into a square hole. There’s no one-size-fits-all on body types and skeletal structure, so take heed of this important information.

-The Travellothoner

The Truth About Gyms

The pressure to get fit is real. I gave in at the beginning of the year and purchased a gym membership. Since then I have learnt a hell of a lot and I though I would share some truths about getting fit with you lovely people.

Starting and staying committed is the hardest part.

For the first 2 weeks I used to have a minor breakdown over having to go to the gym. I would feel amazing straight after the workout, but the build up to it I would be like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum. After the two weeks of going to a class every other night it stopped feeling like torture and began to be something I would wake up looking forward to. Your adjustment time might be quicker than mine just don’t give up straight away!

Eating contributes more to weight gain or loss than the exercise. 

Going to the gym working hard and then coming home and eating whole dominos pizza will not have you seeing results you want any time soon. Your muscles need a good amount of protein to heal after a work out and carbs to give you energy to keep you going. No fad diets either, half the time these will only be short term solutions. Depending on your goal will depend on your food intake, but a balanced diet is a good place to start. I’m still working on getting my mix right, but since I’ve concentrated on reducing excessive carbs and sugar I have noticed better results and steadier energy levels throughout the day.

Results will not happen overnight.

It’s demotivating exercising on a regular basis and not seeing results straight away. It takes a while to see any real difference. Tracking your progress through photos bi-weekly or monthly and measurements rather than weighing yourself is probably the best way to see progress. Muscle weighs more than fat that means the scales can be deceiving. Also remember it’s not always about the results you can see on the outside, it’s also about how you feel. Before I could physically see a difference I could feel my body was stronger and more energised – that’s what really counts.

Gym buddies are real life heroes. 

Self motivation is hard; when you’re feeling weak its easy to just skip a day and then a day becomes a week and soon enough you’re no longer exercising at all. Having a friend, club, family member to exercise with is a great way to avoid this as you do not want to let them down and they will feel the same. If you find one person doesn’t share all you fitness interests then mix between a few different people so you always have the best motivation around you for each activity!

Want to improve a certain area ask a trainer.

It can be a bit embarrassing, but asking is probably the quickest way to finding out! Befriending the gym staff then getting them to help you plan you routines to improve a specific area will save you so much time and energy. If you’re not a gym member go on YouTube and have a flick through some videos, most of them will have the same moves which you can then use in your own routines.

You will feel happier and less tired. 

The endorphins released when exercising are linked to so many health benefits. This includes reduction in the chances of heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. I think through the commitment of trying to improve you body you begin to change the way you see yourself which helps you feel more confident.

-The Travellothoner

Your BMI Sucks!

The body mass index, or BMI, is commonly used in doctors’ offices or in general fitness terms as a way to estimate your body fat level. It provides a quick and easy way to evaluate obesity trends in the general population. Medical professionals use it as one of many screening tools, such as cholesterol checks and family history questionnaires, to evaluate your risk of chronic disease related to your weight. But your doctor cannot rely on BMI alone for diagnosis of whether you’re overweight or obese and the health risks posed by these conditions.

bmi

Your BMI is equal to your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. The equation using American measurements is: BMI = weight(kg) / (height x height (m)). For many online calculators, you enter your weight and height, and the calculations are done for you.

BMI is useful as a way to evaluate the rate of being overweight or obese in the general population. It’s easy, convenient and inexpensive, and doesn’t require any specific training to take the measurements. But BMI only provides a rough estimation of your body fat because it doesn’t involve any direct measures of your tissue.

Limitations:

BMI Mistakes Muscle for Fat

BMI uses your weight in the formula but doesn’t distinguish if that weight comes from an abundance of fat or from lean tissue. Athletes and gym enthusiasts who carry a great deal of muscle may seem heavy for their height or overall size, but that’s because muscle is denser than fat. These highly muscular folk may have a high BMI but not have too much fat.

Individuals who are very muscular such as bodybuilders or those that have very little muscle definition may not receive an accurate BMI reading by using height and weight measurements alone. Muscle weighs more than fat. Hence a muscular person may appear to have a higher BMI and be perfectly healthy, or a frail, inactive person may appear to have a lower BMI and in reality have more body fat than is healthy.

Your health care provider can easily see with a physical evaluation and lifestyle questions that your high BMI is due to muscularity rather than fat. Further evaluations, such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings, may still be performed to rule out any underlying health issues.

BMI Can Underestimate Fat

Because BMI does not directly measure fat, it can miscategorize people as healthy who have a normal weight for their height, when they’re actually carrying too much fatty tissue. A man with 20 percent or higher fat and a woman with 30 percent or higher, but both at normal weight, can be at the same risk of chronic disease as a person who looks obviously overweight.

BMI-CHART-2-1.jpg

Sedentary people and older adults are at particular risk of this condition, called normal-weight obesity. If you don’t exercise, you lose valuable muscle mass and accumulate excess fat — even if you don’t rank high on height-weight charts. Older adults naturally lose muscle mass as they age, along with some bone density. For this reason, health providers often run lifestyle screenings, family history questionnaires and annual blood tests in addition to BMI calculations on all patients. This helps rule out normal-weight obesity in otherwise seemingly healthy patients.

A normal BMI is only one factor in your overall picture of health. If you smoke, eat a nutritionally poor diet that contains a lot of sugar and saturated fat, or sit the majority of your day, you may still be at risk of health problems.

BMI May Not Reflect Positive Change

BMI is a broad number that doesn’t accurately reflect changes in behavior, which could be improving your health. People with a high BMI who are physically active are at lower risk for many health problems than people with a high BMI who are sedentary. For example, physical activity correlates with reduced risk of coronary heart disease and early death, regardless of your weight.

People who adopt a healthier lifestyle by exercising more and choosing healthier foods over junk food may not lose weight if they haven’t reduced their calories significantly. They are healthier, but BMI doesn’t change because their weight has remained stable. If they rely on BMI as the only marker of their health, their new habits don’t seem to be doing much good.

Even if you lose weight, your BMI may not change noticeably. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight can lead to positive benefits, such as decreased blood pressure and cholesterol. In a 200-pound person, this is a loss of 10 to 20 pounds. Losing the weight may not move your BMI to a normal range, however. For example, a 5-foot-11-inch person must weigh between 136 and 178 pounds to register a normal BMI. If he started out at 200 pounds and lost 10 to 20 pounds, he may have improved his health, but he still falls into an overweight BMI range. Although a bit frustrating, the change still has positive benefits.

Weight Distribution and BMI

Healthier habits often also change the distribution of your weight, even if weight loss isn’t showing up on the scale. You may lose some visceral — or belly — fat, which is inflammatory and increases your risk of disease. Exercise in particular helps you lose this fat. BMI can’t tell that you’ve reduced a wide waist circumference and added muscle, creating a healthier body composition. It may just show an unchanged ratio of height and weight, putting you in an overweight category.

Your waist size may be a better marker of your health status because it indicates where you store fat. Use a measuring tape to measure around your waist just below your belly button. A waist wider than 40 inches on a man or 35 inches on a woman can be dangerous.

Those who have enough lean mass to be classified as obese by BMI but not by body fat percentage, are far and few in society. These persons would normally be highly active athletes, and it is unlikely sedentary persons or those with infrequent exercise habits would fall into this category.

Does not consider Age, Gender and Other Conditions

BMI fails to take age and sex into account. Women naturally tend to have more body fat than men of equal BMI, while older people tend to have more body fat than younger people with the same BMI.

Furthermore, BMI measurements have no way of measuring where body fat is located in the body. Studies have indicated that belly fat – the fat surrounding abdominal organs – is more dangerous than peripheral fat beneath the skin in other body areas.

If you are normal weight or overweight according to BMI (18.5-29.9) there is still a chance you are actually obese, which is primarily due to low levels of lean mass (muscle, water and glycogen).

BMI also does not account for lactating or pregnant women, children and teenagers who have not reached physical maturity and are still growing, and a tendency for natural differences in height and weight ratios between races.

Conclusion

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that an assessment of weight and health risks involves using three key measures

  • BMI
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.

As BMI is based on weight and height measurements, by losing weight you will reduce your BMI and put yourself into a lower risk group. A healthy diet, including a balance of food groups, vitamins and minerals, is essential for a long and active life. Body weight and shape are a balance of energy intake (dietary calorific content) against output (calorific burn from activity and exercise).

Many studies have shown that, to lose weight slowly and steadily, any diet that includes a healthy balance will work if you are motivated. Ideally, a balanced eating plan is always best to lose weight healthily.

Simply put, BMI can give you a rough idea of your level of health when considered along with your lifestyle and physical factors. Sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet and belly fat all point towards the risks that your BMI indicates. However, if you’re the opposite of the above factors, BMI may not be a criteria doing justice to your overall health.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

Feeling More Confident In The Gym

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

For many people the idea of going to the gym is terrifying. We’re unhappy with our bodies, we know our fitness levels aren’t what they should be, and we worry about what other people might think. And it’s just discouraging to run or lift next to a super fit gym bunny, who makes us feel worse than we already do and so we just don’t go.

Of course, there are other ways to work out, (Check it here Workout For Those Who Hate Working Out! ) and you certainly don’t have to go to the gym. But, it is an effective way to get fit and lose weight. At the gym, there are trainers and experts to help and offer advice. There are cardio machines and weights to target every area of your body, and classes to help you get the most out of your sessions. It’s the perfect place for a full body workout and the perfect atmosphere to stay motivated. So, if you would love to hit the gym feeling confident and ready to sweat, here are some tips to help you.

Go Shopping

What you wear to the gym is down to you, there’s certainly no uniform. Some people prefer to work out in leggings and a baggy t-shirt. Others like to go all out with the professional activewear. Something from Nike, UnderArmour, etc. could give you a brilliant confidence boost and help you to make the gym more fun. Think about what makes you comfortable and treat yourself to some new items.

Although it won’t affect your performance directly, like any other day, dressing up for an occasion does give you a certain level of confidence which can go a long way. Like it is said “Don’t dress for the occasion. Dress to be the man you want to be”.

Pick Your Time

Some gyms offer beginner sessions or specific quiet times for more nervous users. If yours doesn’t, just ask when it’s quieter. Start by going in when it’s quiet and then branch out when you become more comfortable.

Early mornings or evening is when your gym may be most crowded, causing you to wait (which I hate more than anything) and break rhythm. Which is why I personally prefer going at slightly more off timings.

Take a Look Around

Start going in more and you’ll soon notice that there isn’t a “gym person.” You’ll see older people, younger people, large and small; there’ll be people from all walks of life exercising next to each other. Some will be very fit and healthy whereas others will be taking a stroll on the treadmill. Take a good look at everyone around you, and you’ll soon start to feel more confident.

Find the physique that you want for yourself, and track the respective persons workout patterns and preferences. Looking at others can be just as good a teacher as getting a trainer.

Ask for a Trainer

Most gyms offer a personal trainer service, sometimes this is even included in your membership price, and it’s definitely a brilliant idea for beginners. Even if it’s just one session, it’ll mean that there is someone to show you around and teach you how to use everything. They’ll also give you some advice about what you can do and how to push yourself. This will help you to feel like you know what you are doing and give you some focus moving forward.

If a trainer isn’t an option at least make sure, you have a thorough induction and ask any questions that you might have.

Keep Going

The best way to feel more confident and comfortable with anything is experience. Stick to a regular gym schedule, try classes and use as many of the machines as you can, and you’ll soon feel more at home. Slowly, you can phase out to non-machine workouts to gain raw strength, and that’s just awesome!

Regards,

The Travellothoner.

Note – Featured Image Courtesy : https://gedgetsworld.in/best-treadmill-in-india/

Benefits of a body-weight workout

bodyweight-exercises

Bodyweight training is as simple as it gets and requires no equipment in order to perform it.

1. It’s a super-efficient workout.

Research suggests high-output, bodyweight-based exercises like plyometrics yield awesome fitness gains in short durations. Since there’s no equipment involved, bodyweight workouts make it easy to transition from one move to the next with little rest. And you’ve probably already heard that those short-but-intense HIIT workouts can yield major results.

2. It can combine cardio and strength training

Performing quick cardio sessions (such as 60 seconds of burpees or high-knees) between strength movements (such as a set of push-ups or lunges) will keep the heart pumping while still encouraging muscle and strength development.

3. You can burn fat—fast.

Just a few minutes of a bodyweight circuit training can have a major impact on the body’s metabolism. If you’ve ever heard of the afterburn effect, you know that even when your workout is over, your body can still be revved for hours to come.

4. At any fitness level, it’s challenging.

Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. Adding extra reps, performing the exercises faster or super slowly, taking shorter breaks, or adding a ballistic movement (like a clap at the top of each push-up) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. And with each added modification, your progress is obvious.

5. You’ll gain core strength.

Your core is more than just six-pack abs. In fact, at least twenty-nine muscles make up the trunk of the body, and many simple bodyweight movements can be used to engage all of them. Such exercises won’t just give you tighter abs, you’ll also gain better posture, relieve lower back stress, and improve overall performance.

6. It can increase your flexibility.

Not everyone who does regular resistance training has to end up with tight muscles and inflexible joints. Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury.  Yoga, the fave no-equipment workout for many, is another great way to to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.

7. There’s never an excuse to not workout.

Ask someone why they don’t exercise, and chances are they have “no time” or it’s “inconvenient.” Luckily bodyweight exercises eliminate those common obstacles. When you only need a little space, it’s easy to squeeze in workouts wherever you are. Exercising without equipment can also be used as a stress reliever whether you’re working at home or on the road.

8. You’ll achieve better balance.

When it comes to this type of training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a normal squat can be ramped up by swapping in a single-leg squat (a.k.a. a pistol squat). Functional movements like that one can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.

9. You’ll never get bored.

It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut of treadmills, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and bench presses. That’s why bodyweight training can be so refreshing: There are countless exercise variations that can spice up any workout routine. Working with a variety of exercises not only relieves boredom, it can also help break plateaus and spark further progress.

10. Mixing up your workout is easy.

11. It’s free.

Gym memberships and boutique classes can quickly add up—but bodyweight training is free. Experts cite the low cost of bodyweight training as key to its rise in popularity.

12. It can help with injury prevention.

Injury is one of the main reasons people stop working out, so preventing those aches and pains should be a big priority. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe for any exerciser regardless of experience, age, or fitness level. Many simple bodyweight movements can actually be an effective option for rehabilitation, even for those with significant impairments.

13. You’ll see results.

Bodyweight exercises get results partly because they involve compound movements—meaning numerous joints and muscles are engaged in each move. Compound exercises such as push-ups and lunges have been shown to be extremely effective for strength gains and performance improvements. And research shows improved core strength (see No. 5 above) translates to improved strength gains throughout the entire body.

From 300lbs to 30 Muscle-Ups for time

As you guys are aware, writing on a topic involves having great knowledge on the subject which comes from regular reading and updation on the topics; and one of my favourite and regular pages to do this is The Crossfit Journal and their instagram page. And today I came across their ig post on Jared Enderton, A Crossfit Games Rookie, who basically was like any of us, and now competes for the title of “Fittest On Earth”.

I shall post the article below, and attach a link too. I own no rights to the article, and have no contributions in its construction. I am merely sharing it here for everyone to read.

Link : https://games.crossfit.com/article/300-pounds-30-muscle-ups-time

The night before the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games began, Jared Enderton posted to Instagram.

“If I can do it, so can you.”

img_8719.jpg

Above were side-by-side photos of the 29-year-old Games rookie. One featured a grinning, flexing Games athlete in uniform; the other, an impassive young man with a belly.

“Ten years ago I weighed 300 lb., and tomorrow I’ll be one of 40 men competing for the title of Fittest on Earth at the CrossFit Games,” he wrote.

Football, baseball, golf, track—Enderton had always been an athlete. In high school, he was an All-American wrestler and Iowa’s 2007 undefeated state wrestling champion at a body weight of 189 lb. Then he took up strongman.

“The more weight you gain, the stronger you’re gonna get,” he thought.

So he ate.

At first, it was all in the name of sport—a lot of protein, a lot of carbs, a lot of gains.

“And then at a certain point, it really wasn’t even about that,” he said. “It was just like, I’m just eating everything I can to eat everything I can.”

Cake, pasta, cookies—nothing was off-limits. It wasn’t unusual for Enderton to devour a half a gallon of ice cream—cookies and cream was his favorite—in one sitting. By the start of his freshman year of college in 2010, he’d gained more than 100 lb. and lost his sense of self.

“I’ve always viewed myself as being a little bit athletic, but once you’re that heavy, you lose some of your identity, too; you kind of lose that belief in yourself,” he said. “I didn’t feel like the same athlete, and I wasn’t happy.”

Though he could certainly lift heavy shit—he was a nationally ranked strongman competitor—he could do little else. No more track, no more pick-up football games.

“Even thinking about those things I’m out of breath,” he said of his 300-lb. self.

He had trouble finding clothes that fit and lacked confidence speaking to women. Every glance at the mirror poked holes in his self-esteem, and the anxiety was a wake-up call.

“I’m like, ‘Whoa. … You need to do something to feel better about yourself.”

So, he cut the ice cream and ditched strongman for weightlifting. By 2014, he was a nationally ranked weightlifter competing at a body weight of around 185 lb.

In 2015, Enderton started CrossFit and further cleaned up his diet, adding more vegetables and tracking volume and macronutrients. He went on to take 22nd and 12th at the 2016 and 2017 South Regionals before qualifying for the Games this year with a fifth-place Regional finish.

The rewards of a healthy lifestyle aren’t limited to the leaderboard.

Enderton

“When I eat a healthy meal and it’s got protein and some carbs and a little bit of fat, I feel good, and a lot of times, after I’d eat all those binge meals I would feel horrible; I’d feel bad about myself.”

On Wednesday, Enderton—who currently weighs 195 lb. at 5 foot 6—made his CrossFit Games debut with an 22nd-place finish in Crit, 10 laps of a 1,200-m cycling course. Not long after, he opened 30 Muscle-ups with an unbroken set of 13 reps before racking up 1,230 lb. in CrossFit Total for a tie for fifth in that event.

That doesn’t mean the struggle is over.

“I still have some body-image issues,” he said. “It’s not like I made the Games and everything’s gone. … And I’m OK with that. It’s never a finished journey.”

Still, it’s a hell of a lot easier to pick out clothes now, he said.

“They mixed up my shorts with somebody else’s at the check-in,” Enderton said, noting that instead of the medium and large shorts he requested, he was given smalls.

“And the pair of shorts that are smalls actually fit great,” he said, grinning. “Who would’ve thought? From triple X to small—it’s kind of crazy.”

I hope you find the article as motivating as I do, for I was this guy, and aim at having a journey similar to him. Do tell me how you feel about the article in the comments below.

Regards,

The Travellothoner.

Who says you can’t? You do!

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, a professional athlete , or an everyday man or woman- there are a handful of general fitness standards. For example, you should be able to deadlift and back squat at least your body weight, run 3k in 20 mins or do 15 complete pushups. I personally keep pushing my limits and levels based on these standards.

Deadlifts-Should-You-Train-Them-With-Back-Or-Legs-header-960x540

During summers I focus more towards my strength and mobility and running takes a backseat until the weather improves and I am fresh and motivated to pick it up again (You can call it my pre-season training and preparations). Hence, for a while now I have been obsessed with hitting more than my body weight.  With 90 kgs (198 lbs) on the bar, I could fire off 4 clean reps. So a normal thought would be that I could pull off at least a single rep of 100 kgs (220 lbs) easily.

But it wasn’t. If I loaded 100 on the bar, I could barely budge it. I just thought 100 was too much for me for the time being, and I needed to train more to get there. However, this continued for about a couple of weeks. I would look strong working up to my goal, but the 100-kg bar would cause me to flatline. That’s when it became abundantly clear to me that it wasn’t my strength that was holding me back, but my mind. I believed that pulling 100 kgs was going to be one of the hardest things he’d ever do, and so it was.

Fitness Starts In Your Mind

locate-lost-item-hypnosis-ny

I started researching about this. Reading articles on bodybuilding.com and talking to other professional lifters. That is when I came across an article that talked about how you set psychological blocks for yourself and how it is that mental aspect that limits your physical potential.

My fix for was easy: One day, I asked my trainer to get me through the deadlift. We were using bumper plates, and throughout the lifting session I asked my trainer to keep mixing and matching and adding and removing plates each set. Eventually, I lost track of how much weight was on the bar.

Without knowing it, I casually pulled 105kgs from the ground with perfect form, but I did not believe it when my trainer told me I’d easily blown through my goal. I made him recount the weight twice.

I told you that to tell you this: Fitness starts in your mind.

If you say something is going to be hard, it will be hard. If you say you can’t do something, you won’t do it.

During my first full marathon, it took me 6:35 hours to get done. It was filled with cramps and blisters. What got me through was the fact that I was not going to give up! Even during my Ladakh Marathon, what kept me going more than anything was the fact that I had decided mentally, that I would finish it.

Since then I’ve seen these kinds of self-limiting beliefs hold back the strength of everyone from average guys to the professional athletes that i come across. These beliefs even held me back. I run marathons, and it wasn’t until I got rid of my self-limiting beliefs that I started hitting PBs (Personal Best Timings).

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t as easy as simply trying to think more positively. One should read the book “Who says you can’t? You Do” byDaniel Chidiac. Although its about one’s psychological and emotional journey, it has a lot of lessons and is certain to unlock our truest potential. Here are my two favourite mental hardening techniques, that I’ve drawn for myself.

Think YES Thoughts

When it comes to performance, we have two types of thoughts: “Yes” thoughts and “No” thoughts.

“No” thoughts are inherently negative thoughts. They set you up to fail. For example, “This will be hard,” “I’m not strong enough,” “I’ll probably fail.” These are the thoughts I had before I got tricked into pulling my deadlift max, and the ones I had before the marathons that I underperformed in.

“Yes” thoughts, on the other hand, are positive thoughts, which breed success. They sound like this: “I’m going to crush this,” “I belong here,” “I am capable of this,” and “Nobody works harder than I do.”

The more NO thoughts you think, the more likely you are to develop a negative self-image—and the more likely you are to fail. The more YES thoughts you think, the more likely you are to succeed.

images

Everyone has a balance of the two. No one is immune to self-doubt, but you need to learn to shift your thinking to tip the balance in favour of Yes thoughts.

This is a technique I read online that will help you breed yes thoughts. Here’s how: Place little green stickers over things you see on a daily basis, like your car’s steering wheel, the bathroom mirror, the inside of your fridge, or simply on the weight rack. Every time you see a green dot, tell yourself one reason you’re going to succeed and reach your goal.

This constant repetition of positive thoughts shifts your thinking, reinforces your confidence, and improves your output, essentially overriding your brain’s performance-crushing negativity.

Visualize Successstealandsharefeb14

Visualization was used heavily by Soviet sports scientists in the 1970s, and it’s something a large number of professional athletes and businessmen at the top of their game use today. There is a reason we call every inventor, revolutionary or path-breaker “A Visionary”.

The main principle of visualization is simple: You take time each day to psychologically rehearse what you want to accomplish, like you’re an actor in a movie playing in your mind.

Let’s say your goal is to deadlift two times your body weight. Mentally picture and rehearse exactly what you need to do to accomplish that. See yourself loading the plates, chalking up, spotting up to the bar, and then taking in air as you hinge back and grab the cold steel barbell.

Imagine how all of your muscles feel as you rip the weight from the ground and lock out.

The more details you incorporate, the more effective visualization is.

Scientists believe visualization works by altering processes in your brain like motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory, while also enhancing your motivation and confidence so that, when it comes time to perform, your brain is “trained” for the actual performance and success.

For visualization to work, however, you need to take it seriously and be fully committed. Every day, you should sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Free yourself of all other extraneous thoughts. Take deep breaths and simply think about exactly what you’ll need to do to reach your goal—visualize your surroundings and engage all of your senses as you see the performance play out.

If you think this sounds weird, ask yourself a question: Could it hurt?

Legendary athletes Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, and Kobe Bryant have all used this technique with great success, and science confirms that visualization has tangible performance enhancing benefits.

The best part is, this practice applies in all walks of life; for EVERY aspect of your life.

It’s the little things that make the difference between winners and losers. And the little things start in your mind, and lead to success.

Until Next Time,

The Travellothoner.

How to Keep Nutrition Top of Mind

a-selection-of-nutritious-food-in-bowls.jpg

I came across this article on The Crossfit Journal, and it is definitely worth a read!The original link for the article is here : https://journal.crossfit.com/article/nutrition-culture-achauer-2

Disclaimer : I do not own this article, nor do I have any contribution in this writing, or have anything to do with the writers or publishers of this post. I simply think everyone should read it. So here goes :

Courtney Shepherd noticed that the same thing happened every January.

After eating and drinking to excess over the holidays, members of CrossFit Verve in Denver, Colorado, would approach Shepherd, the owner, and say, “Hey, I really need to lose some weight. When are we going to do the next challenge?”

“It got disheartening in the sense that we (were) not making a long-term impact,” Shepherd said.

A coach since 2011 and an owner since 2014, Shepherd knew the cycle would repeat itself after the challenge: binge, nutrition challenge, repeat.

Most CrossFit athletes understand they can’t get in shape by working out for six weeks and then staying home for the rest of the year, but many take this approach to nutrition. It’s often difficult to get members to develop lifelong habits instead of looking for quick fixes.

Some CrossFit affiliate owners have discovered the best way to improve the nutrition habits of their members is to develop a culture in which nutrition education is part of each class—coaches teach the importance of eating vegetables along with the clean and jerk.

ALT TEXTA diet challenge can be a start, but sustainable lifestyle changes will bring long-term health. (Dave Re/CrossFit Journal)

Build Good Habits

Shepherd started CrossFit in 2007 while training to be a firefighter at the South Metro Fire Academy. She became a member of CrossFit Verve in 2009, a part-time coach in 2011 and a full-time trainer in 2013. She bought the affiliate from Matt Chan in 2014 and works for CrossFit as a Level 1 and Level 2 Seminar Staff member.

Shepherd said CrossFit Verve used to program nutrition education as part of its on-ramp program but stopped because it made the foundations program too long, which was frustrating to new members who wanted to start attending regular classes.

Since then, the affiliate has run countless nutrition challenges, focusing on everything from the Paleo Diet to the Zone Diet to eliminating grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. Shepherd participated in many of those challenges herself as a member, and she said she continues to implement many of the things she learned. She also observed people miserably following the diet to the letter for six weeks only to finish and say, “Thank God I can eat normally again.”

Last year, Shepherd made a change to Verve’s approach to nutrition. Instead of a six- or eight-week nutrition challenge, CrossFit Verve now hosts eight-week habit-based challenges.

“(In) the very first (habit-based challenge) that we did, we said you need to have three habits you want to change—and it can be anything, it doesn’t have to be nutrition,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd chose to remove her phone from her bed after 8 p.m. every night. Some participants committed to working out four days a week, and others decided to avoid snacking at night.

Participants were also placed on teams so they’d have an accountability buddy.

“If you accomplished that habit for the day, then you got a point. And if you didn’t, you didn’t get a point. It’s a great way to stay accountable for things like stretching or going to the gym four times a week,” Shepherd said.

After observing that people continued these habits after the challenge was over, Shepherd applied the concept of a habit-focused challenge to nutrition.

“It didn’t matter if you wanted Zone or flexible dieting. You just need to state what you wanted to change,” she said.

Leading up to the challenge, Verve hosted talks that detailed different approaches to nutrition.

ALT TEXTAt CrossFit Verve, Courtney Shepherd focuses on helping members change habits. (Gaby Gallou)

Shepherd scheduled the talks for the evenings. The sessions were free to members and their guests, and they covered basic nutrition, including food quality and quantity. She also hosted more in-depth nutrition classes that covered eating for competitions, the Zone Diet and flexible dieting.

Shepherd said this approach was helpful even for people who were already following the Zone Diet or who knew a lot about nutrition but had a few things they needed to tweak.

“For the people who’ve been following Zone for a long time but still have a post-workout shake, what if we say the entire challenge is based on real, whole food now?” she said. “Now you don’t get to supplement with your Belgian chocolate (protein shake). Or what if you are weighing and measuring doughnuts as part of your diet? What if we took those out?”

Shepherd said she doesn’t like telling people they should completely change what they’re doing for six weeks. She said it causes stress, people are often miserable, and when the challenge is over the good habits they developed go out the window completely.

It’s more realistic and sustainable, she said, to change just one habit at a time.

“The goal of the six weeks is to recognize that whatever you are doing, it’s not that hard or that big of a change,” Shepherd said. After, people can build on this new habit and make more small changes.

The challenge of this approach for affiliate owners and coaches is that it yields results more gradually, which could cause some people to lose interest and motivation.

Shepherd said she deals with this problem in two ways.

First, she makes an effort to remind clients that anything worth having takes time.

“We can give you what you want in six weeks, but at what cost?” she asks her members.

She also scheduled a BodPod—a mobile device that measures body composition—to visit CrossFit Verve every quarter. Taking regular measurements helps members see their progress and keeps them on track.

“The entire point of (the BodPod) is, (wherever) you start now, I want you to see that you are making continual progress over the years,” Shepherd said. The members pay for the scans but pay less for each retest, and the company doing the testing keeps the information on file for easy comparison over time.

Shepherd knows challenges help motivate people but don’t always lead to lifelong good habits. Her goal is to find a balance. Familiar with the bingeing that typically happens before and after challenges, she tries to set a different mindset from the beginning.

“I bring it up before the challenge starts, on the whiteboard, reminding them the purpose is to create lifelong habits,” Shepherd said.

ALT TEXTBy keeping nutrition top of mind, members learn that a good diet is the foundation of CrossFit, and they’ll regularly make better decisions. (Milisa Smith/CrossFit Journal)

Flip the Script

Sam Karoll has owned Shadow CrossFit in Quincy, Illinois, for five years. Working with a few other affiliate owners and coaches, he recently launched an online nutrition coaching program, Xplore Nutrition, which offers a free affiliate service for gym owners who want to outsource nutrition education and coaching.

“If (affiliate owners) don’t know how to manage nutrition and they don’t want to deal with it, we (can be) an extension of their gym and create that culture for them, so a CrossFit coach can focus on CrossFit while we focus on a different side,” Karoll said.

Karoll has advice for affiliate owners who want to create a stronger nutrition culture on their own: He recommends flipping the script and turning the challenge around to the owner.

Instead of—or in addition to—instituting a six-week nutrition challenge, Karoll recommends affiliate owners challenge themselves to discuss nutrition every day for six weeks. This discussion could take the form of an article on the affiliate’s website, a post on social media or a comment at the beginning or end of class.

Karoll said this would get people thinking, “‘Hey, why is my affiliate starting to talk all the time about nutrition? Maybe I should ask my coach about this.’ And then hopefully that turns into something a little more organic, and you can actually start growing that as another service and another addition to your clientele,” he said.

ALT TEXTSam Karoll works to help his clients understand how they can enjoy food and accomplish their goals. (Courtesy of Sam Karoll)

Karoll’s goal as an owner of a CrossFit gym and a nutrition coaching program is to teach people how to eat the foods they love—within reason—to accomplish their goals.

“If we restrict everything that people are able to eat and we make it difficult for them to go out and go to social events, … they start feeling nervous and uncomfortable, or they feel like they have to give up what they love. We see people start to fall off quicker because they are not able to maintain their lifestyle,” Karoll said.

Encouraging members to eat well benefits more than the health of your athletes, Karoll said. It also helps with retention.

An athlete who works hard in the gym but whose nutrition is trash won’t see desirable results. This could result in thoughts of “‘hey, I don’t think your programming is that great’ or ‘I’m not doing well,'” Karoll said.

Once nutrition enters the conversation, that’s when real change happens, with both performance and aesthetics.

“Then people really start to talk about (the change),” Karoll said, “and they can actually show those results, and they start sharing on social media before and after pictures, so it’s absolutely a retention booster.”

Coaches only see their athletes for an hour each day, Karoll pointed out, while the decisions that have the most significant effect on health are made during the other 23 hours.

“So getting that nutrition component (fixed) is what can help them wake up and have more energy or sleep better or play with their kids in the backyard, and it adds up and continues to stack on top of what CrossFit already is,” Karoll said.

ALT TEXTOwners can use simple things like blogs and social-media posts to help members start thinking about food. (Dave Re/CrossFit Journal)

Customized Approach

Rachel Carr owns CrossFit Laramie in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s been doing CrossFit since 2006 and has owned the affiliate for five years.

With new members, Carr starts with movement, leaving nutrition aside until they have a well-established fitness routine. Still, CrossFit Laramie has a website page devoted to nutrition, and Carr provides nutrition coaching for members and nonmembers for an additional fee.

Her approach is habit based—she tells people not what to eat but how to eat.

Carr accomplishes this by addressing manageable habits, such as telling a member to try eating until 80 percent full instead of eating until he is completely stuffed. Once that habit is established for two weeks, she’ll add in another habit, like eating more fruits and vegetables.

ALT TEXTRachel Carr using a bit of humor to get people thinking about the best fuel for exercise. (Courtesy of Rachel Carr)

“I don’t really operate on a fast-fix type thing,” Carr said. “With the 30-day challenges you get a great kick-start, but it’s not a lifestyle and wellness change.”

Carr has posters around the gym and hands out flyers about her nutrition services to encourage conversations and give a little extra push for that person who is ready to make a change. She also posts articles and tips on social media to address problems that could be solved by a change in nutrition.

When people approach her with a problem, Carr tells them to keep a food log for three days, “and (then we) look at what they are doing and make little tweaks. Most people who want to venture into that nutrition world are somewhat motivated, but they are scared,” she said.

Carr likes to focus on habits and a foundation of good nutrition, no matter what style of eating the client ends up following.

“We’ve had one person who’s lost, I think, 120 pounds. We’ve had other people who have eliminated most of the soda in their diets and lost a fair amount of weight,” Carr said.

She lets the conversation about nutrition develop with a lot of dialogue about what is and isn’t working for the client.

If something’s working, she motivates the client to keep doing it. If things aren’t working, she’ll suggest another approach.

“It’s not a planned conversation, but it’s something that you kind of end up talking about just as part of your overall lifestyle,” Carr said.

Right now the gym is doing the Whole Life Challenge, which she says has gotten people looking at recipes and sharing tips, successes and failures with each other.

When it’s done, Carr plans to have a party and a conversation, asking members what they can take beyond the challenge and maintain for the long term.

Year-round Conversation

Six-week challenges get people excited about big changes and quick results, but real change happens in the other 46 weeks of the year. Once the challenge is over, does nutrition discussion end, or do your coaches talk about meal preparation along with strength and mobility?

“As an affiliate owner, I think it’s really important to start thinking on the end date (of the challenge). How do we get people to keep these habits past six weeks? What service can we offer, what information we can offer?” Karoll said.

As Karoll pointed out, nutrition is not like an AMRAP: work for 20 minutes and it’s over, back to normal life.

Nutrition is an every-day, every-month, every-year challenge.

“We want them to keep going,” he said. 

I hope you find this article as informative as I did.

Regards,

The Travellothoner.

 

 

How To Reboot Your New Year Resolutions!

We’ve all been there. Made resolutions that were unrealistic or just not motivating enough; and we’ve learnt from these mistakes and refined our resolutions BUT not mid-year, we just procrastinate it to the next year. Most resolutions are either aimed towards self-improvement and self-development or aimed at just making certain changes.

I bet many of you either wanted to lose weight, be fit, or have some element of fitness goals on your annual resolutions. Therefore, if you fell off the wagon, and want to get back on it… it isn’t too late. It’s never too late. Here is how you can start over:

  1. Pull out your resolutions – whether they were scribbled on a piece of paper, a note on your phone or a word document on your cloud… pull it out, and read it. See if it still aligns with your life. And if they were a mental note, pen it down and stick the paper somewhere, so that it can remind you of your goals everyday!
  2. Assess the status of your resolutions. That fitness goal … yes you know you have it listed and have certainly not forgotten about it. Assess how far you have come, did you lose a pound or 2, or are you behind? That’s OK, there is still time to get back in the game! 9 full months and change. Don’t lose motivation – starting over is better than giving up permanently.
  3. List out smaller goals to get to the big goal – I suggest, to break that resolution in parts and make that resolution more defined, so that you can measure your success in small bits. Each week, aim towards maybe 3 – 4, 30 minute workout sessions. As the week begins (my running week starts on a Monday) start checking off your completed workouts for the week on a calendar. You will feel more accomplished, instead of counting pounds.
  4. Don’t be afraid to realign your goals – changing or modifying your resolutions doesn’t mean failure. Maybe you wanted to start dance classes, and now you have realised, that meh, it’s not that important to your life goals as you thought. Maybe you are now more interested in taking a kick-boxing or sharpening up your technical or interpersonal skills, do that instead
  5. Read your resolutions on a daily or weekly basis – keep those resolutions close by. Read them to remind yourself of your goals. If you have a private place to stick it up, do that… if you don’t care about other people reading them, stick them up in your office, on the fridge and in your bedroom! Reading them will help you become them!

So take time today in this lovely life, and start over! I have a few things to start over myself. And I am proud to admit it. Better start over, than give up or let go!

Until Next Time,

The Travellothoner.