Everything I knew about fitness is wrong.
Well, not everything is wrong. But there are a lot of things I used to believe that I would never preach again. Some of them are innocuous, but others led to injuries and delayed my own results. They stunted my understanding of the foundations of fitness as I spent years “barking up the wrong tree.”
In this article, I want to cover some of the big ones — discovering these realities changed the way I looked at fitness and transformed my results. Read on with an open mind…because you might believe some of these too.
“Train like a Powerlifter.”
Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe everyone should do some sort of resistance training to strengthen their bones, muscles, and joints… but they don’t need to train exactly like a powerlifter.
Take squats and deadlifts for example…I used to think in order to get strong, everyone needed to do insanely heavy back squats and deadlifts. They are, like, the two most important exercises IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND because they build so much muscle.
But the fact is, there are a lot of people whose joints don’t like the extremeness of powerlifting, even if they have great mobility. So instead of creating a “one size fits all” program like 5×5, why not just do a reverse lunge, a Bulgarian split squat, or a hip thrust?
Ultimately, the real goal is to build muscle, gain strength, and feel great — not to “accomplish” a certain lift (unless you’re a competitive powerlifter). I wish I knew that earlier in my career; my lower back would’ve thanked me.
“High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best form of cardio.”
For a long time, I was like: “HIIT or bust!”
With HIIT, I can burn far more calories than traditional, steady-state exercises (cycling, running, rowing, ellipticals, etc.). Thus, why the heck would I want anything less?! I MIGHT AS WELL TURN FOLDING LAUNDRY INTO HIIT!
Short durations aren’t always better.
1. Long form aerobic conditioning is extremely important. You’ll actually build specific adaptations to improve your fitness: more mitochondrial density, more capillary density, a larger left ventricle, and a stronger parasympathetic response. All that combined actually helps you crush HIIT workouts!
2. HIIT is stressful on your body and nervous system. Sure, it’s a great way to develop alactic and lactic capacity — but you shouldn’t do it all the f*cking time.
It took me a while to understand that. I wish I knew earlier because, by now, I would’ve had an incredible aerobic foundation that I could build everything else upon.
“You need to stretch more.”
I used to be as flexible as a 2×4 — touching my toes was an ordeal that could only be accomplished after a thorough warmup and some luck. Not only was that pathetic, it was also dangerous in the sense that I was risking injury through sports, lifting, and other modes of fitness.
So I started stretching. But what happened after I stretched?
I got tight again.
The truth is most people need more stability around their joints, not muscle length. That’s why we’re so tight — no stability around the joints forces our muscles to compensate.
A great way to loosen up is by using air to create stability. If you can breathe into your diaphragm and ribcage — and get all that air out too — you’ll allow muscles to “tone down” and relax instantly become more flexible. Better still, you’ll be able to maintain your mobility instead of getting tight again.
“Minimal shoes are better.”
I never wore those dorky “five-finger” shoes, but I did wear those minimal shoes that bragged about “zero heel lift” and “simulating barefoot running.”
But most people need more stability in their feet, NOT mobility. Sure, it would be different if we were born in the jungle and spent our entire life barefoot; but we don’t.
Because we don’t have that ideal foot stability — and because we walk all day on hard, flat surfaces — the body will compensate by tightening other areas of your body (which further feeds the problem of “you need to stretch more”).
Once I found the right shoes for me, I tested my range-of-motion at my shoulders and hips and it improved. Better still, I was able to maintain the benefits of stretching and mobility drills with my new footwear.
Some things to look for:
• Shoe bends at the toe box, not in the middle of the shoe
• Heel has an even height from outside to inside
• Heel doesn’t collapse if you push it in from the rear or outside
“The more you train, the better.”
You know the drill: 6 days a week in the gym. Two-a-days. Long-ass workouts. And getting up the next day to do it again.
Sure you’re a badass in the gym, but it’s also important to remember that life happens outside the gym.
Training isn’t about doing a speed ladder really fast… it’s about building the foundations so you can leave the gym and enjoy life.
And looking at it from a 30,000ft view, living a “healthy life” isn’t a badge of honor that only comes after your 8th triathlon or having the perfect amount of macronutrients. It’s about doing the basics really well, having fun, and enjoying the process.
Get more sleep. Lift weights. Try sports you’ve never tried. Drink more water. Take a walk on a sunny day. Play basketball with your buddy instead of watching TV. Cook at home instead of eating out.
Enjoy the journey and you’ll improve your chances of living a long, happy life.
by: Anthony Yeung
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Scissor Step Ups
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by: Ron 'Boss' Everline
Take a moment to visualize this…
You’re in a crowded arena with thousands of people around you. The noise is crushing and you can’t make out a single, coherent word. Your senses are heightened to the point where you feel sharp and at the same time, everything is a total blur.
A voice comes on the PA. It’s serious and structured:
“Thirty seconds, athletes.”
Your breathing is steady and your body feels like it’s floating. You pull yourself back into the present moment and reset your feet on the start mat. Gazing first to the right and then to the left, you see your competitors; their eyes fixed ahead. The race has yet to begin, and but everyone seems to be already going for it.
“Standby”, the moment you envision your body going through the motions, and taking control of the intensity happening around you. You can see your hand placement, your foot placement, you feel yourself already going. Your heartbeat steadies, as the world around you seems to come to a stand still. Then you hear the beep…
Maybe you’ve had many moments like the one I’m describing…
It’s a scene played out in competitions of all sorts, where your mind and body are put to the test. It’s where all the training, the blood, the sweat and the heartache come together. But the second you lose focus, it’s over.
The only thing standing between you and your best performance is your mind.
As an athlete, there’s a constant mental battle between your body and your mind. There’s a phrase, “The mind will give up a thousand times before the body will.” But it doesnt have to.
Mental control is everything to an athlete and it begins with a technique called, mental visualization. Back when I was a firefighter, I’d use mental visualization to calm my nerves, clear my mind and prepare for potential obstacles. During a fire, not only can stuff go sideways in a fraction of a second but also if you don’t have the right tools, escape plan, or manpower…you won’t make it.
Mental visualization for the athlete is running through an event in your mind. How will you use the tools you have (your body)? What will the competitive environment look and feel like? What potential setbacks could arise? Visualizing these components helps minimize uncertainty, which is the essence of fear. Fear and overthinking is what trips us up during performance.
Then, there’s the “Dark Place”…
Perhaps you’ve experienced or heard other athletes talk about going to the dark place during training. This mental state is close to unconsciousness, when your physical body is literally running on autopilot as a way for you to mentally continue the deluge of physical exertion. In this mental state, positivity will help charge you and motivate you.
Through the darkness, you can develop an inner dialogue that will pull you back up. A simple phrase that I have used for some time is “If you can take it, you can make it”. Simple and rhythmic but highly effective, it can put me in a state of heightened consciousness where I feel devoid of pain and I am just in flow!
You must adapt and learn to love being inside your mind. Being an athlete is funny like that. You have to be devoted to your goals and to who you are as a person. You have to be a warrior.
Have you ever looked at the cover of a magazine or flipped through Instagram and wished you looked like a fitness competitor? There’s a misconception that fitness athletes look sculpted to perfection year-round. I’ve competed several times in the WBFF and during competition time, it was my job to look a certain way. I’m still lean, but I certainly don’t look competition-lean 365 days out of the year.
Let me explain…
When I was prepping for competition, I would hit the gym in the morning for long-winded cardio sessions and then again at night for intense weight training sessions. Between the double workouts and my job, there wasn’t much downtime. But in order to win or to place within the top 5, I had to look as close to “perfect” as possible. After all, I would be standing next to dozens of other bikini-clad women, all of whom had trained with the same goal in mind!
Training for competitions is rewarding. But preparation for those events is tough, it’s strict, and to be honest it’s not easy to sustain for the long haul. Most competitors only look that lean for a week or less and sometimes even just on the day of the show. Then we ease up a little until the next photo shoot or competition.
The secret to staying lean year-round is to be consistent and embrace variety.
While I’m super strict during competition time, when I’m not competing I take a pretty balanced approach to diet and training. My goal is to look and feel healthy in body and mind. I still have intense gym sessions but I also like to skip the weights and hit up a yoga class or go hiking if the mood hits. Adding variety and fun to my fitness keeps me motivated, makes me feel stronger, and helps me perform better. My body fat may be a bit higher than it was when I competed, but I can (for the most part) maintain my physique throughout the year.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I don’t want you to strive to look competition-lean if you’re not competing.
Instead, I urge you to pay close attention to the awesome results you’ve gotten from being consistent with your fitness…whether that’s lifting more in the gym, holding a yoga pose just a bit longer, feeling less stressed, or increasing your endurance. That progress is quite rewarding and a tad more sustainable than maintaining 8% body fat year-round!
I want to set a good example for those of you who come to me for health & fitness advice. I think it’s important to practice what I preach and to show others that if you’re consistent you’ll see the changes you want! Will I ever compete again? Who knows what the future holds. If I do, it would be on my own terms, embracing a little more variety because I love the impact that adopting a true fitness lifestyle approach has had on both myself and countless others.
Will I ever compete again? Who knows what the future holds. If I do, it will be on my own terms, embracing a little more variety because I love the impact that adopting a true fitness lifestyle approach has had on both myself and countless others.
The post The Secret to Being Lean Year-Round, from a Fitness Pro appeared first on Cellucor ForTheRecord.
by: Jen Jewell
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