Time

There are 168 hours in a week! I constantly remind clients of this because too many of them don’t support their training with their lifestyle, they don’t see results, so they quit, and the most common reason clients give me for why they didn’t do their homework (daily mobility training at a bare minimum) is “I didn’t have time.”

Well, they had the time, (168 hours per week minus 9 hours per night for optimal sleep leaves 105 hours available), they just didn’t manage their time well, and/or their health and fitness is subordinated to more important priorities (like work or the kids). This is understandable, but if it continues for too long and if you’re serious about living a fit life, you should know that there is a way around this issue.

Here’s an easy plan: let’s start with your daily waking hours: subtracting optimal sleep you’ve got 15 hours to work with; ideally, you’re spending 1 hour per day maintaining your fitness, in one training session if possible. For one week, my time recommendations for the average client would be to spend 15 minutes minimum per day, seven days per week on mobility; 3-6 days per week on dedicated aerobic (cardio) work, and 2 or 3 days on strength training. If you cannot devote one continuous hour to work, divide your hour into four 15-minute quarters, then divide each quarter into three 5-minute chunks. Now you have twelve 5-minute chunks every day in which to stretch, move, breathe, and practice. At least it’s a good place to start.

Given this simple formula of time management, “I didn’t have time” isn’t really true, is it?

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Change is Good

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who come to “train” at the studio or the gym, using the same program every time, and wonder why their bodies aren’t changing? They aren’t changing- becoming fitter, leaner, bigger, etc.- because they continue to require their body only to perform the exact same thing they did the session before. This isn’t training, it’s exercise. There’s a big difference. Exercise is merely a confirmation that you can accomplish the same task, over and over, ad infinitum. Training requires programming for a specific goal, or goals. Training requires a record of what you do in each training session, to the very last detail, in order to ensure that you are making progress toward the goal, or goals.

We become fitter (stronger, leaner, bigger, etc) through a constant cycle of stress/recovery/adaptation. We need to record in exact detail these three factors as we train. Stress intensity may be modified by resistance load (weight, or body angle for bodyweight movements), time (speed of movement, duration of rest) and distance (range of motion). We can change one or more of these factors to alter our total time under tension during the training session, and it is this time under tension which determines total workload on the body’s systems. Workload/intensity need to be increased incrementally in order to increase stress, in order to force the body to make an adaptive growth response. Once stress is adequate, we must provide the conditions for complete recovery in order to adapt.

How do we know if we’ve recovered? It’s simple. If you’re really tired, or really sore, you haven’t fully recovered from the previous stress. Use sleep/rest, ice, massage, stretching, adequate hydration and nutrition to facilitate recovery. You’ll know when you’re ready to hit it hard again. Until then, prioritize mobility above all else. Stretch and breathe, do some yoga, drink water, eat clean.

Each morning the first thing I do is drink plenty of water. I use distilled water because it is the most pure. I drink a shot of Carlson’s Very Finest Fish Oil (many benefits to this and thank you Mom for feeding me this stuff when I was a little boy), a glass of water with an entire lemon or lime with a pinch of salt on the tongue (citrus fruits alkalize Ph and salt is the most important electrolyte). Next will be a meal of 3:2:1 ratio carbohydrate:protein:fat. And every meal throughout will be this ratio, the widest variety of food possible and some fish oil gelcaps will be consumed with these meals throughout the day. I also supplement once per day with CoQ10, ascorbyl palmitate (fat-soluble Vitamin C), cayenne pepper, turmeric, a baby aspirin, digestive enzymes and probiotics. During the day and before/after workouts I use creatine in the monohydrate and AKG forms. This may all seem like a lot to do, but it isn’t difficult to organize. I can show you how. And it isn’t expensive either. I can direct you to the best quality, lowest price supplements.

It’s been a long day. Before I go to bed to read myself to sleep, I take 3mg of melatonin and 500mg-1g of L-tryptophan. I sleep deeply, dream vividly and wake up ready to go again. You can too.

Manage your Pain

Musculoskeletal pain is a normal part of living an active life and training, and we can manage it with simple techniques. First we must define it on a scale of 1-10. If the pain is a 5,6 or lower we should first apply ice packs in the broadest area possible. Pain=inflammation=heat. Ice for 20 minutes. The first 5 minutes may burn if the ice pack is cold enough. After 5 minutes, the inflamed tissue will gradually lose sensation and go numb. The ice shuts down the pain receptors of the nervous system. After 20 minutes of icing, you should apply massage to the tissue or lightly stretch it. Both massage and stretching will reintroduce heat, so you may follow the movement period with another round of icing.

Apply massage first in the broadest manner possible, using the biggest tool. I usually start with a hard foam roller- I’ve got an Axis closed-cell foam roller, a grey (firmest) Thera-Roll and a black (firmest) Rumble Roller. I also have a collection of other tools: lacrosse balls, field hockey balls, The Orb, The Orb Extreme, The Orb Extreme Mini, Beastie, a Beastie Bar, The Stiff Stick, Tiger Tail and a Theracane. The purpose of using these tools is start with large areas of muscle groups and progress down to increasingly smaller areas of treatment. You’ll be “finding your body” through this self-treatment and an excellent guide to use to familiarize yourself with your anatomy and the precise techniques of massage and trigger-point therapy is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, 3rd Edition, by Clair Davies and Amber Davies https://www.newharbinger.com/trigger-point-therapy-workbook-third-edition.

REMEMBER- if the muscle hurts at level 7-10, ICE IT FIRST! It will hurt less to work it.

More on therapeutic stretching later. Good night.

 

Motivation

What motivates us to train? What is our incentive to train? I’ve been training people for years and the answer to these questions are as individual as each person.

Most want to look better to themselves in the mirror. Training people for body composition goals (what they look like to themselves) is the toughest task for me as a trainer because it requires so much commitment to the hours away from training sessions to accomplish. 90% of this is nutrition. For these people, if you limit the bad stuff (sugar, processed-grain carbs [bread, pasta], and dairy) to one day per week you’ll be OK. Give yourself time for transition. Gradually reduce these foods or you’ll crave and rebound and eat too much and get stuck again. Eat as many vegetables as possible, pair them with clean proteins and healthy fats. Try to maintain a 3:2:1 ratio each meal of complex carbohydrate:protein:fat.

Some clients have performance goals in sports such as golf, tennis, baseball, lifting weight, etc. Training for physical performance is much easier; the client has clearly established performance goals and by virtue of this fact there is little doubt about their commitment.

Very few people, I would estimate 25% of the population, are self-motivated to really push hard in training without a trainer or a partner, or a group.

There are 168 hours in 1 week. If a client trains with me for 1-3 hours per week they are left with 167-165 hours of lifestyle which must support their training goals, and the vast majority of my clients over these years do not do the “homework” which will enable them to achieve their training goals. Homework is clean, health-sustaining nutrition, rest/sleep, a daily habit of maintaining or developing mobility and a constant training mindset.

“Do you really want my help?” “Do you really want to accomplish whatever it is you’ve signed up for training with me to accomplish?” More times than I can count clients have said to me “you make it look so easy!” It is easy, because I am practicing perfect, consistent repetitions as I demonstrate them to you. You, the client, could do the same, if you were committed to daily practice.

Do some time introspectively to find what it truly is that motivates you, and once you’ve identified these things, make a commitment to your self and your training goals. Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.- Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Realistic, Timely.

Let’s do an assessment to establish a baseline starting point and set a MINIMUM 90-day training period. 90 days is one-quarter of one year and the absolute minimum time required to truly realize progress (6 months, 180 days is better). At a minimum, be motivated and committed to following your path for 3 months.

The Principle of Individual Differences

If we are interested in our health and longevity, we must all understand one principle of nature which is ultimately inescapable: we are all created uniquely different and we develop along individual paths. This is The Principle of Individual Differences.

We are created equally only in the sense that we are human. Nature creates many different humans.

Because of individual genetics, some people may do all the wrong things and live a long life. Conversely, some may do all the right things and die prematurely. This happens first because of nature, secondly because of individual circumstance, wisdom and choice.

Know that you are a singular entity, and from the day of your birth you have developed in response to external stimuli in a unique way. What you think, how you compose yourself, the decisions you make about the external influences you are experiencing, all of these momentary experiences have a profound effect on how you live your life today.

The only thing, the one element you cannot change, is what you were given, biologically, by your parents. You can change everything and every moment forward from that starting point. What you do with your freedom of choice is on you.

Wellness is not Fitness

Wellness is an absence of illness. Wellness means you’re not diseased and incapable of ordinary function. The term “wellness” is touted as a desired state of being in many places and programs of “fitness” in the world of today. But wellness is not fitness. “Fitness” and being “fit” takes wellness to a higher level. To progress from wellness to fitness requires a lot of continual hard work and an acceptance of what time and training for fitness does to a human body throughout it’s lifespan.

A lot of people want to retire later in life so they can take it easy and relax. I’ve got bad news for them. As time and Earth’s gravity wears us down with age, our requirements for work INCREASE. Sorry, but we’re all gonna have to fight like hell to maintain our functional mobility. Accept this truth of Nature’s Law or live your last years in pain and dysfunction.

The Flow, part 2

On a macro-scale, our flow and it’s rhythm is our life. As we drill down deeper and break this macro into the smallest of micro components we have one breath, one movement. In weightlifting or strength/conditioning terms, this is the individual repetition, (rep). Expanding outward, multiple reps make a set, multiple sets make an individual episode of one movement, multiple movements make an individual training session. I believe we should spend one, one and a half or two hours each day in training movements and breathing. These total time aggregates may be broken into smaller time segments if one has the ability to completely focus on one task for a short period of time. The ability for short-time focus is a good skill to develop because it increases our ability to segment and compartmentalize our macro life into many, many meaningful little moments.

Back to the rep. Skeletal muscle is 40% stronger in the eccentric (lengthening) phase. This eccentric phase should be loaded as long as possible for the desired number of reps per set because time under tension ultimately is what summarizes the overload effect and therefore the total workload volume. I coach my clients and students to make the two phases of a movement (concentric- [shortening, lifting] and eccentric- [lengthening, lowering] as distinct in timing as possible. Breathing follows this pattern: quick, short time exhalation and deep, slow inhalation.

In summary, establish the intent of your movement pace, measure your breath, and commence. Happy training everyone!