The Absolute Minimum

Life, it happens. Work and family demands often interrupt our personal time for health and exercise. When this compounds from a single training session to multiple days or heaven forbid weeks, you have a problem. Time stops for nothing. Thus, the prioritization of self is truly not a choice. It’s a habit. Learning to say “no” is a skill that needs to be trained. When you respect yourself, others, in turn, show you more respect and understand your value.

Here are some tips to make things happen when you’re forced to modify.

  1. Have a list of “go-to” exercises you can quickly engage with. Ideally, these create a large oxygen demand, lending themselves to higher repetition training, via one continuous set, or multiple sets linked with short rest.
    1. Kettlebell Swings
    2. DB Cleans
    3. Squat Thrusts or Burpees
    4. Walking or Standing Reverse Lunges
    5. Step-Ups: weighted or unweighted
    6. Plank Mobility Complexes
  2. Short cardio bouts are good to implement as well.
    1. Warm-up for 5 minutes easy.
    2. Intervals: 10 x (:15 hard / :45 easy) or (:30 hard / :30 easy)
    3. Cooldown with 5 minutes easy.

Remind yourself to ask the question “how can I,” instead of stating “I can’t.” You can do it. Send me an email, give me a call, I’m here to help you implement, strategize and succeed.

Onward and Upward!

Find the Better Way

There is always a better way, so find it. Then find a better one. – Ido Portal

The above quote got me thinking. The one below, drove it home.

Leading is done from the front. I still move, research and explore MORE than my students, even my most advanced ones. Most ‘industry leaders’ have forgotten this while fame and money got into the picture. The rest of the pyramid then dries out as new information stops trickling down. – Ido Portal

The movement “way” is more than a means to an end. With some irony, watching the new Tarzan film, I listened to him describe how his body developed, because of the way he used it. By engaging his upper body in all movements and locomotion his hands grew incredibly strong, and the supporting joints became massively stabile.

Lifestyle drives change. Environment demands bodily facilitations. Engage.

In our training we can all benefit from the basic movements.

The plank, along with downward facing, and upward facing dog, increase strength and flexibility in our chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. Minimal and functional.

The squat demonstrates strength and endurance in our prime movers, the quadriceps and gluteus muscles. Over time, and through consistent practice, it also increase the flexibility of our lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, as well as the knee and ankle.

The hang or pull is a balance to the plank. Stressing your grip, via the muscles and tendons of your fingers and forearms, over time your build strength and endurance. If you like, you can begin to engage the biceps, and large muscles of the back to pull your bodyweight. Strength is built from the small muscles, and the tendons, inward to the large primary muscles.

Swift movements that may require some balance demand kinesthetic awareness. Here not only are you improving cardiovascular health, you also engage the brain by moving in this way and environment.

Action, reaction. Cause and effect. Explore and Learn.

We have new information, yet it increases our focus on the end product, not the journey. Goals are nice, but often mere pillow fantasies. The journey to the peak is found in the exploration.

Find a new edge. Draw a broad boundary. Create space. Evolve.

Sustainable Approaches To Health and Fitness

The mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body. Exercise and athletics are growth. -George Sheehan

How to get the most results / success / gains / change, from the least amount of training? We all want answers to this question. As a fitness professional, having a template that conforms and applies to all individuals would be a dream. Countless hours have been spent trying to create such a product, or system to no avail. Yet, the consumer still desires, and in many cases expects to be offered such products (shake weight, 8-minute abs, 10 minute trainer, perfect pushup, etc…). Substantial physical change requires a lifestyle intervention, drastic measures, and extreme discipline. What are you willing to invest?

  1. Seek improvement and enhancement. Is this visual? Probably not so much. Can you feel it and describe it? Definitely. Does it make you happy? Hopefully. This can be an exercise, a series of exercises, an activity, a sport, or a competitive challenge. Enjoyment. Engagement. Improvement.
  2. Work with a coach, trainer, or specialist to get feedback. This is time well spent. Confidence builder. Very helpful in the day to day, week to week process.
  3. Career enhancement. We spend most of our time working on and in our careers. A huge portion of our life’s satisfaction comes from our chosen careers. Most of us are professional workers, not athletes. What exercises, workouts, and activities can help correct physical imbalances obtained from our jobs? How can they enhance my ability to perform at work? Can being more physically fit help me advance my ___ career? These are the questions to ask yourself, repeatedly.
  4. Know the Impact of Your Choices. If you are a top physician, researcher, educator, or attorney, etc. deciding to invest 15 hours each week into training for a triathlon most likely will have a negative impact on other areas of your life, in which you are already successful. Your optimal fitness may be obtained with as little as 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 days per week, and 15 minutes of strength training 3 days per week. Simple, right? Knowing the best, most practical approach to your lifestyle demands is key.
  5. For many of us the endurance activities are all we will ever need. Jogging, cycling, walking, hiking, playing… loving and committing to every moment of it.

The time benefit equation is delicate and constantly evolving. Understand yours, be flexible and forgiving, and optimize your fitness practice to give your life the most benefit.

Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse. Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing. We are our bodies, our bodies are us. Satisfaction is such a minor thing. Joy is what we want. -George Sheehan

[polldaddy poll=9379431]

Effective Strategies For Health and Wellness Pt. 2

The previous post was a bit of an extended lead in to this one. Now, onto the nuts bolts of applying and implementing knowledge.

Sleep/Wake:

  1. Get to bed on time. Put some closure on the day. Plan the next days events, including your workout time. Schedule everything.
  2. Wake up EARLY. Just a few minutes at first. This is step #1 in winning your day.

Nutrition:

  1. Schedule a cheat-day. Keep it the same day, no matter what your week entails. I like Saturday.
  2. Keep foods out of the house that are known culprits of indulgence: alcohol, peanut butter, potato chips, any and all sweet or savory snacks.
  3. Hydrate first. When feeling tempted to eat, or overindulge at a restaurant, drink a large glass of water first. Then, make the proper decision.
  4. Join or start your own group, for accountability purposes. Believe me, there is power in numbers when seeking to elicit change. Well established, in place, peer and work groups are great places to start. Who doesn’t want to make positive change?

Cardio/Aerobic:

  1. Think about activities you’ve been interested in in the past. If they’ve gone completely dormant ask yourself why, then decide if their benefit could possibly outweigh their cost. With a new mindset/outlook/goal you might be surprised at the answer.
  2. Get it in before the day starts. Four days each week wake up to that early alarm and start moving. I find getting it in before sunrise gives me a lot of power and momentum to seize the day. Start with 20-30 minutes for the first 6-weeks. Patiently increase your time each subsequent week until you reach that 50 minute sweet spot.
  3. In areas or times of inclement weather, or simply if you prefer indoor exercise, try utilizing media to make the time pass and gather knowledge at the same time.
  4. Seek enjoyment! The mind is powerful. If you believe what you are doing is improving your health, giving you more enjoyment, and increasing quality of life, you are more likely to be proud of it.

Strength:

  1. Keep it super simple (K.I.S.S.). No sense being overly creative here. The same exercises that worked in the early 20th century still work in the early 21st century.
  2. Be creative in your programming. Utilize ladders, timers, games, competitions, and keep track of your workout totals.
    1. Max reps in 10/20/30/60 minutes. Take 1-3 bodyweight exercises and do as many reps as possible in the allotted time period. Squats, lunges, pull ups, push ups, and dips work best here. Metabolic conditioning movements, such as burpees or squat thrusts are great as well, but don’t combine these with the other movements as they are most effective, in this format, when isolated.
    2. Kettlebells. Simple and sinister. Check these out, but be sure to learn proper form and technique. The best exercises are the Goblet Squat and the Swing.
    3. Deadlifts. If you’ve got a background in strength training, you’ve probably done a few deadlifts. Check out the form here, and then keep the reps simple. Build a solid base of 5-10 reps at 100-150% of bodyweight before cranking out super heavy sets.
  3. Rest 48-72 hours between workouts. Unlike cardio, it’s not advised to “lift” on consecutive days. You can get away with this in your youth, with hormones raging, but let commonsense play out and recover properly. Proper recovery insures we absorb these hard training sessions.

Yoga/Stretching:

  1. Do it. Once a week, minimum, spend 45-60 minutes breathing and stretching.
  2. Focus on the hips, low back, and shoulders. Breathing is everything here.
  3. The foam roller can be extremely therapeutic. I use it as a passive activity for my back and spine, but you can get extremely involved with it.

Search, Seek and Employ. The solutions are right in front of your eyes. Make the time. Make it happen.

Onward, Jake Lawrence

Checking In: Connecting Trainer with Client

“If you are prepared, have confidence and persevere, you will always have the edge.” Howard Ferguson

As a personal trainer, I find the most difficulty and dissatisfaction in those days in between my training sessions with my clients. On the way to meet the trainee I’m pondering how their week went. Did they workout? Eat well? How are they sleeping and recovering? Days always turn into weeks, turn into months, and eventually years. Time is always of the essence, so for me, finding a program that allows me to be connected and locked in with my clients in the virtual world is essential, but until now, it wasn’t a reality.

Trainerize, an online personal training software has changed the game for me. My plan is to fully integrate all clients into it’s usage moving forward. The ability to see how each week is structured, and how those week’s lead and build into a 4-6 week block of training, is a game changer for clients. It shows them where the process is going. As much as it is about the daily workout, the focus is more on the long-game. Are you building or are you dabbling? Are you hoping it gets easier, or are you planning to get stronger?

I won’t wax philosophical too much, but I will challenge your involvement with the success process. It’s as simple as checking-in. Once that becomes automatic, a connection is established that gets strengthened on a daily basis. For the client, knowing that I’m not judging what they did or didn’t do is crucial as well. I want to know and understand they “why” so we can implement some strategies and find other paths to success. It’s there, but we need engagement in the process in order to unlock your/our potential.

Check in. Utilize. Implement. Engage. Discover. Succeed.

Onward and Upward,

Jake

PS- I’ll leave you to ponder all of the crucial moments of your life where you were required to check in. Listed below are just a few examples.

  • Your first days of college. Checking in at the dorm, registering for classes, exploring options of engagement with the university and your peers.
  • Medical/dental/legal appointments.
  • Sports practices.
  • Job interviews and admissions interviews.
  • etc

The list can flow on and on. Give the process a certain importance and your actions will follow.

Massive Change / Simple Action

Forget the outcome and focus on the daily task.

I started to achieve, as an athlete and fitness professional when I looked at what I needed to do each day to progress. At first this was a “to-do” list of exercises, minutes, and miles. A list of foods to eat, and foods to avoid. Guidelines. Slowly, over time, this became a “feeling” that I sought in my daily movement and nutrition. Now I was thinking of how to win each day by finding satisfaction in feeling positive about my actions. This change was slow, and not something I set as an outcome, but it was revolutionary. It’s a mindset we utilize in other areas of our life, but often forget to apply to our fitness.

Win each moment. Recognize, when you made a bad choice, and take note of it. Don’t over dramatize it, but look at what led to that choice. Also, look at the impact of that choice. Sometimes the impact is small therefore you need not fret too much. Perspective.

  • Be present. Make cognizant purchasing decisions.
  • Know the purpose of the activity. During aerobic activity seek a feeling of flow. Look for those moments when it all clicks and you are locked into that positive state. When performing calisthenics or strength training recognize what each exercise requires, and work to maximize the effect of each movement.
  • Form follows function. The mode of fitness needs to be consistent with your desired outcome. Aesthetics differ from performance, greatly. The shape of your life should be based on your intended purpose.
  • Why. Stop here and really think about “why” you want to change. Make this a layered response. Meaning, start with you, add in your family, friends, and finally think of how you want the world to view you.

Do not focus on the time if you haven’t mastered the movement. Focus on the movements first, then increase the time your exercise or maximize the movements done in a specific time. Quality sticks. It progresses your forward. Quantity builds, but without quality, it promotes poor movement patterns and an outcome based, competitive focus. Their is a time for everything. Quality before quantity.

Your thoughts are a pattern. Master the pattern of thinking and decision making for daily success and you’ll achieve great things in your health and fitness.

A Call to Action

Fit. Healthy. Confident.

2013Superior100

A Call to Action.

Get Noticed. Be Different. Stay Successful.

Do you see how “fit, healthy, and confident” translates to “noticed, different, successful?” Now, do you think those words mean the same thing to all people? No. Everybody has a slightly different vision of their end-point. But, you can begin to understand that being fit and healthy will give you confidence. What might that look like? Well, to me it’s someone that stands out (getting noticed for being different), their presence is stronger than the rest of the group. A quiet confidence comes from knowing you’ve given yourself an edge over a vast majority of your peers (you are fit and healthy). You want success right? Well, take heed in knowing that by carving time out of your busy schedule and daily demands to “workout” and producing results from that time commitment is the ultimate representation of success. Make no mistake, physical fitness and the confidence that comes from knowing you are doing more in the same 24 hours that we are all given, is an elite edge.

Are you my ideal client? Do you want to be fit, healthy, and confident? Do you want to get noticed, stand out, and exude success? If so, I can help you gain the edge.

Your time is valuable. Unless you simply go through the motions day in and day out. Living the same complacent life as your parents, neighbors, or friends… a consistent acceptance of mediocrity. If so your time is not valuable. Your time is expendable. The throes of complacency have gripped you, wreaking havoc on your ability to manifest powerful images of success, and transform those thoughts into action.

It’s just a decision away. Stay on a health and fitness path (if any) that is not producing and eliciting, or do a 180 degree about face. Without decisive action you won’t make distinctive change.

In parting, you are closer than you think you are. You can handle more than you think you can. The future reveals an empty canvas of potential.

  • Focus on building an able body to take on and complete athletic competitions
  • Dial in your nutrition and obtain a complete understanding of your bodies response
  • Give yourself daily options to stay on the path of results and success
  • Maximum results / Minimum time
  • Give yourself an edge
  • Stand out wherever you make your presence felt
  • Become inspirational in your social and community circles

Mobile: 505.715.9316 / Email: jake@xclusivefitness.com / Local: Twin Cities Metro

“Short-Time” Workouts

“Short-Time” Workouts

Ease of implementation is the most important factor in a busy, professional’s ability to consistently workout. It should be no surprise that consistency, with proper application, is the most important factor in relation to obtaining results.

We are going to assume that motivation and desire is not lacking, just organization. A sets and repetitions based strength workout does not require a 60-90 minute commitment to be effective. In fact, 30-45 minutes of focused effort is plenty of time to get results. Even, 10-15 minutes can be enough time to create balance in your physique and make small, consistent improvements. Let’s focus on the 10-15 minute, “short-time”, workouts.

Organization:

In order to be effective in your training there must be organization and planning. What do I need to do today, this week, and this month to make the progress I need to get the results I desire? How do I start and finish a workout?

Time:

Knowing, realistically, how much time (each day) you can devote to working out is crucial. The ego always believes we have more time, and a greater ability to complete tasks than we actually do. Set for yourself a high-end (ego-based) time allotment, as well as a low-end (reality based) time allotment. Always start with the low end. It allows a lot of upward mobility and with completion and consistency, comes confidence.

Knowledge:

This is the most important factor, which means it is always the biggest results limiting factor. Strength training can also be extremely confusing. With all of the tools, props, machines, and programs on the market it can be a foreign realm to step into. This is why classes are so popular. People sign up and follow along. The problem with most classes is there is no evolution or progression built into the programming, creating a reliance and dependency on the class format and structure to stay fit. Knowledge, meaning knowing how to workout, is empowering, it creates ownership of your health and fitness. Once you own it, you simply need to apply it. It’s that simple.

Example:

Being a distance runner, most of my energy for training is devoted to running. Strength training takes a backburner to endurance work pretty much all the time in my world. Does that mean I don’t do it? Of course not, but what I do is place restrictions on frequency and duration of these workouts. During my running season,10-15 minutes, 3 days per week is my allotment for strength training. In that time I’m pulling, pushing, lunging, stepping, squatting and planking. Knowing my time is limited I work off a plan and focus on flow, moving from one movement to the next, always finishing feeling like I could have done a lot more. Compressing my time commitment increases my focus. Quality becomes more important than quantity. The stress of chasing fatigue, and muscular exhaustion is eliminated.

Implement:

It may take 8 minutes, or 15…

10-1 Ladder Circuit (10,9,8,7,…1):

  • Squats of Swings
  • Pushups
  • Sit-Ups

Theory:

The more we promote balance in our life the less susceptible we are to the burnout of over exertion, over consumption, and general “life-binging” most Americans engage in and are attracted to.

Think about it, for many people working out is a means to allow them to, “eat and drink whatever I want.” I hear this all the time. This idea of balancing the good behaviors with the bad behaviors is not sustainable and will never be equal.

As a coach and trainer I prioritize balance, completion, and consistency. When I talk about making fitness a lifestyle, it’s not simply being active more often. I’m speaking about taking the values and ethos of exercise and fitness and implementing them to all other areas of your life.

Creating a state of flow, via movement, is transcending. Once it’s felt, the value becomes inherent, an un-fleeting element of one’s existence, and a way of life.

Conclusion:

10, 15, 20-minutes… it’s enough to make a difference.

Intervals

Intervals

I just finished reading an article in the New York Times about HIIT, or, high intensity interval training. The title of the article, “How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week” caught my eye, as titles like that usually do. The article does a good job of using science and study to give evidence based recommendations to the reader without too much complication in application. The concern is benefit and improvement in aerobic endurance capacity.

The “hacking” of fitness and health is extremely popular. The common theme is that we don’t have time to workout anymore. One hour of physical activity is just too daunting of an endeavor for the common human. The reasons why this is so are far too many to discuss here, so in interest of sticking to the topic I’ll move on to the nuts and bolts of interval training.

The body adapts very quickly to the stress we place upon it. If we do the same thing, at the same intensity day after day, week after week, our improvement stops, and as is often the case, overtraining and a loss of fitness can take place. Not good. Doing intervals is an effect way to layer differing intensities on top of a solid base aerobic fitness foundation.

  • What I mean here is that after running 50 minutes, 6 days per week at a moderate intensity, for 8-12 weeks it would be wise to substitute a couple higher intensity interval workouts into your week. You’ve got a base, now we can work on getting faster, building speed and power, 30 seconds of very hard effort followed by 60-90 seconds of recovery jogging, for as many as 10 repetitions.
  • Or, speaking in terms of strength training, instead of doing 4 sets of 15 kettle bell swings or burpees, resting between sets you would do 8 sets of 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This varied demand takes us out of a certain comfort with the exercise and training, forcing us to adapt and become more efficient in the movement.

These are just two examples of application. Implementation of interval training is not a daily occurrence. Recovery is essential to improvement and sustained fitness gains. A good standard to follow is 48 hours between these workouts. Here, we are not talking about complete rest. It is always advisable to perform a lower intensity, endurance based or corrective exercise on these recovery days. Looking at our week of training, usually 6 days, we can space these sessions on days 1/3/5 with our targeted aerobic/endurance or corrective/recovery workouts on days 2/4/6.

Creating a flow in our training is essential. When thinking of efficiency don’t focus on cramming the workout into 8-12 minutes of pure sprint/recover training. Instead focus on optimization of those 30-60 minutes you are working on your fitness. In the gym take 3 full body exercises: burpees, kettle bell swings, and ball slams. Use an 8 x (:20/:10) or 4 x (:30/:30) format for each exercise, resting 3-5 minutes between them. Simple and effect application for 4-6 weeks, followed by assessment of progress toward your goals is the standard assignment.

Remember. Know your desired outcome (point B). Whether you are trying to get fit from a long period of inactivity, diligently training for a competition, or fixing a problem or weakness in your fitness (mental, physical), you need to keep an accurate assessment of your training.

As Dr. Phil Maffetone (endurance athlete coach)  says: Work + Rest = Training

 

 

The Spirit of Training: Intention

I’ve been strength training a long time. It’s been on my mind ever since I walked into the gym at the tender age of 13, enrolling in my first “weight lifting” class so I could use the YMCA facilities without adult supervision. The gym was a place I could work on myself. Watching strong bodies move was motivating to my younger self. I wanted to be impressive. I longed to develop strength and power. I associated being strong and athletic with confidence, standing out amongst my peers, gaining attention and admiration.

This became a passion, that ebbed and flowed for many years, mostly mimicking bodybuilding style training, which although good for hypertrophy (muscle growth), it was not the most efficient style of training. Alas, I knew no better, but it kept me coming back for more week after week. I was constantly learning.

After 10 years of purely weight training I had a chance encounter with a rock climber in a gym in Albuquerque NM. In between sets of bench presses and bicep curls I kept glancing over and watching his powerful, extremely lean body, moving on the climbing wall. It was impressive to say the least. Watching muscle, fitness and athleticism being displayed in that manner was completely new to me, and from it, a curiosity was born. I saw potential. I saw the future. I desired a transformation.

I spent three years becoming immersed in functional training. Movement based strength training. Bodyweight, leverage training. I utilized controlled, suspension based exercises: gymnastic rings, pull-up bars, medicine balls, stability balls, climbing ropes. Every rep engaged the core. I learned what “body tension” felt like. Each rep was confidently approached. I believed in it’s successful completion before the attempt was made. Over time, I transformed. The previous struggle of controlling the weight, was now a struggle to control my body. A monumental shift in focus. The gym/studio became a place to grow. It had purpose again. It was no longer a routine, expected daily event. I engaged in 2-3 intense sessions per week, while focusing my other efforts on the sport I sought to improve at.

Strength. Movement. Sport. Image. All these things are linked. When I saw these elements linked in action it opened up my eyes to the future. If I was to stay fit and keep progressing I needed to attach myself to a lifestyle activity that required utilization of my competitive nature. A fusion of my passions so to speak. I had no idea where this would lead, and really, did not care. Total immersion requires this blind faith following of routine. When the goal is to change your body to complete a task, OR to be more efficient in the activity, repetition and structure is the key. Deviations, in the beginning months and even years of training can be highly detrimental to progress. This relentless requirement, which was completely self-imposed, thrusted me forward.

This period of development is a permanent stamp on my approach to fitness. If I look closely at this training period I see simplicity and minimalism at it’s best.

Tools employed:

  • Bodyweight, Gymnastic Movement
  • Leverage, Suspension Training
  • Core-Specific Exercise
  • Intense, Focused Sets of Maximal Effort and Focus
  • Rings, Medicine Balls, Dumbbells, Ropes, Bars

Learning the exercises. Failing or encountering difficulty is key to development. From here we can break down the weaknesses that caused the failure. This process of developing strength through controlled movement connects and unifies us with our bodies. Sport gives us this unification. The gym enhances our development in sport. Downhill ski racers are powerful, sharp and controlled athletes. Rock climbers are strong, powerful, gymnastic movement specialists. Distance runners are masters of efficiency and pain tolerance, striving for the perfect balance. Wrestlers are the ultimate fusion of endurance, power, strength, flexibility, balance and technical movement. What unifies these activities is movement. We seek to understand movement NOT in a complex matter, but in basic steps. Gym training, properly imposed, should be about understanding movement and effort, and about learning proper progressions of exercises, and correct implementation.

Complexities, fads, trends, extremes… they will come and go. We will always have our bodies and we will always have Sport. Constants. Choose to learn, not shortcut. Choose sport and lifestyle over quick fix programs. Find your passion. Be intrigued by activities that inspire you. Even if you never intend to explore a proficiency in them, let them be a source of inspiration. Let yourself be impassioned. Read a book about someone who accomplished something that was truly hard. Learn about sacrifice and devotion. Gain confidence from human completion of projects, goals, and life events. Come to the realization and understanding that you are better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.

Mindset trumps everything.

Onward and Upward!