Crossfit is hard. Very hard. But it’s the endless challenges that it presents that makes it so appealing (and humbling). Whether you are a games level athlete or a beginner, there’s always something you can improve upon. Like any other sport, Crossfit requires hard work, commitment and a sensible approach in order to see continual gains and reduce the risk of injuries.
I don’t need to tell you that exercise is a good thing and everybody should do it in some way, shape or form. I also don’t need to tell you that if you exercise, you’ll probably start to look and feel better. What isn’t so obvious though, (or at least to 90% of people who don’t get the results they want) are the habits and character traits of those who achieve their goals.
In Part 1, I only scratched the surface with the 7 habits of highly fit people. I’m going to dig a little deeper and give you some more insight into what separates the really fit from those who just “want to be really fit.” I’m a firm believer that both your attitude and performance in the gym are highly correlated to how you conduct yourself in everyday life. Are you always late? Do you do things to the best of your ability or simply to get it over with? Do you look for ways to be more efficient or do you just cut corners? It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about training, work, or any other part of your life, these are questions you should always be asking yourself.
It has been said that with the proper mindset, anything can be achieved. The problem is, most people are too preoccupied with irrelevant bullshit, put unrealistic expectations on themselves, and make working out more dramatic than a reality TV show! Waiting for the “perfect” time, trying to find the “perfect” program, or expecting huge results before you’ve put in any real work are just a few surefire ways to be back on the couch with a beer in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other. It’s time to wake up and smell the organic, black, freshly brewed, no cream, no whip coffee. If you want to be successful, you need to model yourself after successful people who are already where you want to be. Here are 7 MORE habits that will help you get your shit together and get some real results:
1. Willing to make sacrifices – It’s funny how hard it is for people to just buckle down and make a commitment to something. I’m not sure if it’s fear, laziness or a deadly combination of the two, but people can find any excuse not to face reality. We can talk ourselves into or out of pretty much anything. The people that are in the best shape have no problem taking action and making the necessary sacrifices until they have achieved their goal. Work, school, kids, TV and partying on the weekends are all secondary to getting the results they want. Unless you win the lottery, you’re probably going to be working for a little while so you might as well throw that excuse out the window. At the end of the day, when you can accept that the only thing standing in your way of success is you, then you’ll do what is necessary to become a powerhouse.
“My PVR is way too full to get to the gym today.”
2. Don’t compare themselves to others – “Man, that guy is huge!” “Did you see how much he was squatting?!” “I’m never gonna be that strong.” These are some of the things we all say to ourselves when we see someone who is just killin’ it at the gym. Even worse, social media has made it extremely easy to see what every Tom, Dick, and Harry is doing which, at times, can be motivating but also make you question every aspect of your training. There’s always going to be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you but that shouldn’t deter you from putting your head down giving your best effort. Even the fittest people, despite being extremely fit, are simply trying to be the “best version of themselves” as Elliott Hulse would put it. Knowing and accepting that 100% is all you can give and all you should expect will make training not only more enjoyable but also more sustainable. Turn your phone off and get to work!
there will always be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you!
3. Focus on the process rather than the outcome – It is a well known fact in sports psychology that the best athletes are more process oriented than outcome oriented. What this basically means is that the best athletes focus on the task at hand and let the results take care of themselves. They focus on each workout, each exercise, each set, and each rep until eventually they’ve created a masterpiece. They’re not checking their abs in the mirror after every set of ab wheel rollouts, they’re not weighing themselves 3 times a day, and they’re not testing their max deadlift every week. To be great at anything you have to understand and have faith in the steps/process it takes to achieve greatness. Worrying too much about the end result only creates stress which hinders your training altogether. We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day and deep down inside YOU know that it’s going to take more than just a few workouts before you become a true physical specimen. So stop acting like a 6 year old kid on a road trip to Disneyland asking “Are we there yet?” and just enjoy the ride.
4. Work through and around injuries – I’ve talked about injuries before and how they can be an inevitable part of training – training hard that is. It’s been said that the highest performing athletes train at such high volume and intensity that they are always on the cusp of injury. Pushing the envelope day in and day out has its’ risks as well as its’ rewards. Although inconvenient and frustrating, injuries don’t stop the highly fit from getting what they want. Injuries are simply a bump in the road, not an excuse to give up altogether. The highly fit take injuries as an opportunity to learn more about their bodies, address weaknesses and imbalances and recuperate stronger than they were before. Learning new exercises, deloading, and soft tissue treatment are a few ways to stay in the game. Click here to learn more about how to deal with injuries.
the best athletes are always on the verge of injury
5. Understand that failure is a part of the process – Much like being injured, from time to time you won’t always have the greatest workout. Every now and then, for whatever reason, your energy might not be the best and you won’t be able to push yourself as hard. You might only squeeze out 8 reps on the bench when you would normally do 10 or you have to run at a slower pace on the treadmill to get through your intervals. It happens. World records and PRs can’t be set everyday. The fittest people know that training isn’t an exact linear progression where every workout will be better than the last. If it was, I would have an 800lb squat and be able to run a 4 minute mile but that simply is not the case. There will be ups and downs but as long as you keep moving forward and not dwell on missed lifts or some random cheat meal your chances of success will be much greater.
6. Work through plateaus – “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” If you’ve been training long enough, there always comes a point where it becomes harder and harder to make gains. You feel like you’ve been lifting the same weight for the same number of reps for an eternity. You’ve hit your ceiling. This is as good as it’s going to get so you might as well hang your jersey in the rafters and retire, right? Wrong. Plateaus are an opportunity to reassess your training and mix things up a bit. The fittest people know that sometimes the smallest little tweaks to their programming can make a world of difference. If you’ve been doing the same routine for more than 6 weeks, then it’s probably time to switch things up a little. Anything from changing your training split, the order of exercises or how many sets/reps you do can be enough to shock your body and break through.
7. Open-minded – We all have our favorite exercises that we like do on a regular basis, myself included. That doesn’t mean that they are in our best interest or are moving us any closer to our goals. The fittest people understand that to get the best results you have to be open to new methods and new ways of thinking. Crossfit, as controversial as it is, incorporates some of the most effective training methods from powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and track and field to get the best results possible. If you asked to see the training programs of the top 10 Crossfit Games athletes, the top 10 bodybuilders, and the top 10 sprinters in the world, you would get 10 different Crossfit programs, 10 different bodybuilding programs, and 10 different sprinting programs. Taking your blinders off and accepting that there is more than one way to do things will go a long way in your training. Whether you want to build muscle, get stronger, or even run a marathon, there is something that can be learned from various training methods. Don’t be a fitness Nazi. Listen. Learn. Evolve. Apply. Repeat.
nobody likes a Nazi.
To summarize, make the necessary sacrifices to make training a part of your life, focus on yourself, have faith in the training process, don’t let injuries get you down, don’t be afraid to fail, find a way to work through plateaus, and remember there’s more than one way to get great results.
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Here’s the deal. If you’re looking for a quick fix, an easy out or some magic pill then this fitness game probably isn’t for you. If you’re dedicated, open-minded, and enjoy pushing your physical and mental limits, then I’d say you have a fighting chance of not living your entire life as a snot-nosed weakling.
Like any other game, the fitness game has rules (or at least they should be rules, then you could dropkick any fool who tried to break them) that when followed your chances of success increase tenfold. In other words, the goal is to train hard, get great results and not look like a complete douchebag in the process.
Not to sound like an old man, but with age and experience does come wisdom. It would be an injustice for me not to pass on the few “pearls” I’ve learned over the years (I’m still learning by the way).
Here are 41 fitness rules to live by:
1. There are NO RULES! – The strongest, fittest and most bad-ass physical specimens walking the face of the earth didn’t get there by following some cookie cutter program in a textbook or magazine. They got there through trial and error, hard work and discipline, and defying conventional wisdom. Keeping an open mind and the ability to adapt will keep your training fun and rewarding.
2. Not all exercise is created equal – If it were, then long walks on the beach would be all we need. We have to stress our bodies in specific ways to achieve a desired result. For example, heavy deadlifts and sled pushes produce a drastically different result than a 10km jog. If you want to be weak and look malnourished then jogging will meet your needs but if you want a body that’s worth a double take, then you’ve got to push weight – on a regular basis.
3. There is no ideal program – You can search high and low trying to find the “perfect” program but it simply doesn’t exist. What does exist are effective programs that when properly applied produce fantastic results and ineffective programs with no substance that are a complete waste of time. Anything that forces you to work hard and makes you better than you were yesterday is an ideal program.
4. Compound movement is and always will be king – It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get bigger, stronger or lose fat, the answer is always to use compound exercise. I’ve yet to see an effective program that didn’t contain a squat, deadlift, press or row, but I have seen a ton of shitty programs filled with curls extensions, and crunches.
5. Universal machines are expensive but provide little value – Pick up a dumbbell or a barbell and learn how to move weight through natural ranges of motion that aren’t predetermined by a machine. No one’s ever asked you what your max “pec deck” is.
6. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Advancements in technology has changed the way we communicate and live our lives. In some ways better and in some ways worse. The abundance of choice we have nowadays has distracted us with useless “wants” however the best results are still achieved when we fulfill our basic “needs.” Needs such as our primal need for a healthy diet and regular exercise. A stalk of broccoli was good for you 50 years ago and it still will be 50 years from now much like a chin-up or a lunge. We’ll never outgrow the basics.
7. The “Big 3” will never go out of style – To further elaborate on #6, the big 3 (squat, bench, and deadlift) and its variations are the foundation of almost any good strength and conditioning program. Become a master of these exercises and everything else is gravy.
8. Nothing great was ever achieved without intensity – Whether your goal is strength, hypertrophy, work capacity, or fat loss, training at high intensity is undeniably the way to go. Shorter rest periods, more time under tension, steeper inclines, and higher speeds are just a few ways to get to the promise land faster.
9. No program will work unless you do – It’s not enough to just show up. You have to put in work and lots of it. The world’s greatest program is useless without effort.
10. Reserve low intensity cardio for active recovery – A light jog, a long walk or a bike ride are great ways to flush out toxins and keep your muscles loose until it’s time to hit it hard again.
11. Don’t neglect accessory work – Use unilateral exercises to address imbalances and weaknesses. These exercises aren’t as glamorous as the big lifts but are necessary for proper activation, stability, and strength. Exercises like single leg deadlifts and single leg glute bridges are an excellent choice.
12. You don’t always have to go heavy to get stronger – Let me clarify. You don’t need to always train in the 90% or above range to increase your strength. Just the other day, I hit a 455lb back squat and I haven’t put more than 400lbs on my back in over 5 years! Don’t underestimate the strength that can be developed at higher rep ranges. Good quality sets in the 5-15 rep range can produce some shocking results. It will also be easier on your joints in the long run.
13. Don’t neglect your overhead strength – Lifting weight over your head is an often under trained movement pattern. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to train through all major planes of motion to avoid muscular imbalances. Strong, healthy shoulders will allow you to get more out exercises like benching and chin-ups.
14. Maintain healthy thoracic mobility – Overhead strength does not exist without sufficient thoracic mobility. Many of you have been unlucky enough to have a job where you sit at a desk all day. This absolutely destroys your posture and inhibits a lot of major movement patterns including overhead range of motion. Work on your thoracic mobility to avoid neck and shoulder problems.
thoracic mobility is critical for overhead movements
15. Lifting shoes can save you a lot of pain and frustration – If you have poor ankle mobility (i.e. you have trouble squatting to full depth and keeping your heels on the ground) then Olympic lifting shoes may be the answer to your problems. Not to mention, they just look cool.
16. Hang cleans and hang snatches are the way to go – Olympic lifts performed from the “hang” position are excellent for beginner to intermediate lifters. There’s less room for error (i.e. early arm bending and the bar coming away from the body) and promotes explosive triple extension (hips, knees, and ankles extend simultaneously). These movements are simply too good to pass up.
keeping the bar close to the body is essential in Olympic lifting
17. Strength can solve most problems – Want to run faster? Jump higher? Want a bigger chest and shoulders? 9 times out of 10 the answer is to simply get stronger. The more weight you can lift, the more force you can produce and the more you can stimulate your muscles to grow.
18. Women who look best in yoga pants don’t do yoga – Random thought but the irony was too good not to mention it.
19. Ladies, your ideal body is just a few squats and deadlifts away – Your fat loss efforts will be more successful under the bar than on an elliptical machine.
20. For beginners, training is a sacrifice, for veterans it’s a way of life.
21. Bodybuilding is not for the general public – Bodybuilding works but the workouts are too long and boring for the average Joe to stay committed long enough to get any results.
22. Less is more – Training doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. In fact, there are a relatively small amount of movements worth doing on a regular basis so don’t waste your time with all the “fluff.”
“It’s not daily increase but decrease – hack away the unessential!” – Bruce Lee
23. The “ideal” body can be achieved with basic strength training, high intensity conditioning, a high protein diet and limited consumption of processed foods PERIOD.
24. Yoga’s greatest value is in active recovery – In the strength and conditioning world, flexibility and mobility are often overlooked and yoga is a great way to address this.
25. Exercise is the best preventative medicine on the planet – The only catch is that it’s hard work and you have to do it regularly.
26. The secret is to gain momentum – Newton’s Law of Inertia can be applied to fitness as well. It basically states that it takes less force to keep an object in motion than it does to put it in motion in the first place. In other words, the hardest part about training is to simply get off of the couch and get started. Once you’ve established the habit (which for most takes about 6 weeks) and gained some momentum, it’s far easier to stay committed.
27. Overtraining is like the moon – We know it exists, very few have experienced it and it’s so far away that it’s not something the average Joe needs to be concerned about.
28. Lifting weights is the new prescription medication – Decreasing testosterone levels? High blood sugar? Low bone density? Lift.
29. Lifting weights fast is the new cardio – Barbell and dumbbell complexes, and intervals using big lifts are the way to shed fat and build a strong set of lungs.
30. If it comes from European descent it’s a good thing – i.e. TURKISH get-ups, BULGARIAN split squats, ROMANIAN deadlifts, RUSSIAN kettlebell swings…
bulgarian split squats aren’t glamorous but they work!
31. Develop your posterior chain – The best way to develop strength, power, and athleticism is to develop your hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back). Kettlebell swings, sled pushes, and deadlifts are a great start. Well developed glutes and hamstrings make for an admirable physique that is more resistant to injury not to mention you’ll be as strong as an ox.
32. Train your weaknesses – If you suck at an exercise do it at least once a week. Either at low intensity or high intensity just do it. Doing what you’re already good at might feel good but it doesn’t make you any better.
33. A weight vest is a great investment – Another random thought but it’s such a great training tool.
sky’s the limit with a weight vest!
34. Variety is key but don’t stray too far from the basics – Switching up grips, loading (front vs back), and tempos are easy ways to keep the body guessing. However, don’t get so creative that the objective of the exercise is completely lost.
35. Don’t neglect your conditioning – 5-10 minutes of a high intensity finisher at the end your workouts is enough to maintain a good level of conditioning. It’s far easier to stay lean year round than it is to try and lose 20lbs every summer.
36. The “listen to your body” conundrum – Veterans need to listen to their bodies more and learn how to take their foot off the gas sometimes and rookies need to learn how to push through discomfort and understand that pain is only temporary.
37. Compliment your barbell work with high rep bodyweight exercises – Absolute and relative strength are the foundation of a well rounded fitness program. For every bench press there’s a pull-up, for every deadlift there’s a push up. You get the picture.
38. Dan John put it nicely – “Put weight overhead. Pick it up off the ground. Carry weight for time or distance. The body is one piece.” If you’re doing all of these things on a regular basis it’s pretty hard to lose.
39. Crossfit is hard not dangerous – It’s tough, it’s really tough but that’s what makes it so appealing. If we never pushed the boundaries, no one would’ve ever climbed Mt. Everest and we never would’ve put a man on the moon. Not all of us are cut out to test the limits of the human body but that doesn’t mean those limits shouldn’t be tested.
40. Veterans are intrinsically motivated and don’t need a reason to push themselves. Rookies are extrinsically motivated and need to book a tropical vacation before they start to take things seriously.
41. Can’t we all just get along – Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Crossfitters, and anyone that just enjoys being in great shape all share a passion for training. It makes no sense to judge and ridicule someone else’s training methods if they are achieving their goals and having a good time in the process. Let’s be honest, everyone steals ideas from everyone so it’s hypocritical to condemn another “system” of training. Bodybuilders use powerlifting methods, Strongmen use bodybuilding methods, and Crossfitters use everything in between so I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The people that complain about how unhealthy they are but are too lazy to do anything about it are the ones that should be worried. The rest of us that put in work day in and day out should be open to new ideas and know that there is more than one way to workout.
I hope you enjoyed these few pearls of wisdom, I’m sure I’ll have more for you as time goes on. Until then, train hard and train with a purpose.
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Are you an average Joe? Are you someone that just goes through the motions just to get shit over with? Do you think you have more to offer but don’t know how to get out of your funk? Not to worry, you’re not alone. Only a very small percentage of people wake up in the morning excited to start their day. It’s time to be one of those people.
You can break out of your shell and live life by your own means by changing your habits and the way you think. It’s time for you to become a leader, someone who exudes confidence, someone who never gives up until they achieve success. To quote Eric Thomas “it’s time to be allergic to average!”
Here are 97 ways to step your game up and become an alpha dog.
1. Pay your bills ON TIME and IN FULL – Life is way less stressful without debt.
2. Do something that scares you – Facing your fears builds character.
3. Stop hitting the snooze button – It screws up more than your sleep cycle.
4. Eat more vegetables – Even if they’re not organic it’s a step in the right direction.
5. Sweat – Do this regularly, it’s what your body was meant to do.
6. Cut back on sugar – Fresh fruit is cool but anything you can buy at 7/11 has gotta go. Besides the taste, the stuff is basically poison.
7. Stop buying stupid shit – “Too many people are buying things they can’t afford, with money that they don’t have… to impress people that they don’t like!” – Will Smith
8. Lift weights – Muscle breeds confidence.
9. Run uphill – Do you want to be strong and powerful or weak and slow?
10. Set goals – It’s OK to have ambition.
11. Set smaller goals – Small victories lead to HUGE victories.
12. Believe in yourself – Believing is seeing. You can only be successful once you allow yourself to be successful.
13. Learn how to cook – It’s healthier, cheaper and the ladies will love you!
14. “Eat meat, veggies, nuts seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar” – Greg Glassman
15. Be on time – Punctuality shows you’re organized and that you care.
16. Be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave – Dedication and hard work always beat natural talent in the long run.
17. Don’t be a hater – Criticizing other people’s goals and achievements is a waste of energy and makes you look like a fool.
18. Dress to impress – You can never look too good for the occasion. Look professional. Feel professional. Be professional.
19. Study successful people – The easiest way to be successful is to model the habits and character traits of those more successful than you.
20. Read books – Not magazines or the newspaper. Books.
21. Go to bed early – 10-11pm at the latest. You’ll feel better and be more productive.
22. Take naps – One of the best ways to maximize recovery and get more out of your day.
23. Save money – You never know when that “rainy day” will come but when it does you better have an umbrella!
24. Everything in moderation – Live life and have fun, just know your limits.
25. Learn an Olympic lift – A power clean at the very least. It will work wonders for your fitness.
26. Sprint – Anyone can jog, sprinting takes real effort.
27. Keep a clean home – It’s true, cleanliness is next to godliness.
28. Don’t believe the hype – Take everything with a grain of salt. Mass media prides itself in telling you what you want to hear.
29. Challenge the status quo – “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” or going with the flow.
30. Uplift others – Make it your mission to better yourself as well as make others better and the world will be your oyster.
31. Pursue your passion – Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
32. Build a legacy – Do you want to be remembered for something? We all have talents worth sharing.
33. Learn how to communicate -Life is about building valuable relationships.
34. Be realistic not delusional – It’s OK to dream but don’t get your head stuck in the clouds.
35. Think outside the box – Traditional thinking is what keeps you stuck in your same old routine.
36. Take responsibility for your current station in life – Take credit when credit is due but have the balls to take the blame when things don’t go your way.
37. Wake up early – No one ever got shit done waking up at 11am.
38. Be competitive – Find something you care enough about that you want to fight for it.
39. Be a student of the game – The learning never stops. Become a master of your craft. Eat, sleep, and breathe what you do best.
40. Eliminate unnecessary stress – Separate yourself from negative people that will only bring you down.
41. Don’t let other people’s opinions influence you – People will always tell you can’t do something. Mostly because they’re too scared to try themselves or because they just don’t want to see you succeed.
42. Squat regularly – There isn’t a sport or activity that squatting can’t help.
43. Deadlift regularly – Lifting heavy shit is gratifying.
44. Stay lean all year round – There is something to be said for having a six pack in the dead of winter.
45. Interval train – It hurts way more but it’s totally worth it.
46. Take supplements – Only if you’re not eating like shit then they might have some value.
47. Speak your mind – Get your point across and don’t always be so worried about offending people.
48. Stop and smell the roses – You can’t hustle 24/7. Every now and then you have to stop and appreciate everything you have.
49. Work for happiness not money – Money, benefits and “security” sometimes aren’t worth it if it’s sapping your energy and making you miserable.
50. Trying puts you ahead of 90% of people.
51. Do shit that matters – You’re too busy playing video games, watching TV, or dickin’ around on social media. Find a way to improve your life and the life of someone else.
52. Be confident – Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.
53. Be humble – Be grateful for everything you achieve and never forget the struggle to get there.
54. Be content not complacent – Don’t be greedy but don’t be lazy either.
55. Have an opinion – But don’t be opinionated. There is more than one way to get shit done.
56. There is no off-season – The hustle is year round. Training, nutrition, business, life. It’s a lifetime commitment.
57. You can’t please everyone so don’t bother trying.
58. Take risks – They’re opportunities dressed up in disguise.
59. Get rid of useless junk – Declutter your mind and your surroundings.
60. Learn how to dance or play an instrument – Tap into your artistic side, the ladies also love this.
61. Focus on what’s important – Start each day with your most productive tasks first.
62. Visualize – Every success starts with an idea.
63. Don’t gossip – “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
64. Don’t hold grudges – Living well is the best revenge.
65. Live within your means but slightly outside of your comfort zone – Be conservative with your spending but liberal with your ambitions.
66. Become an expert listener.
67. Don’t be too proud to get your hands dirty – Everyone’s got to start somewhere and for most of us that’s the bottom.
68. Take action – Most people love talking about what they “hope” to achieve. It’s the few that actually do something that are remembered.
69. Laugh – Man, I definitely love a good laugh. It’s one of life’s greatest medicines. Find the humor in things especially yourself.
70. Have only one fear – The fear of being average.
71. Be loyal to your family and friends – Without them you have nothing.
72. Invest in yourself – You are your greatest asset, make it as valuable as possible.
73. Play a sport – Be athletic, build comradery, and learn how to trash talk!
74. Walk the walk – Take your own advice, nobody likes a hypocrite.
75. Start a business – Even if it’s small and doesn’t make a lot of money it will empower you.
76. Reduce your dairy intake – Like an 80″ TV, it’s not a necessity.
77. Cut the grains – Unless you like feeling bloated all the time.
79. Be in touch with pop culture – Don’t let it consume your life though. Kim and Kanye’s life isn’t that amazing.
80. Learn how to create value – Having the ability to solve people’s problems and improving their lives is the name of the game.
81. Travel – See the world and all it has to offer so you can realize how lucky you really are.
82. Stand up for what you believe in – Have principles and don’t be afraid to stick to them. There’s already too many yes men in the world.
83. Don’t discuss religion in public – Controversial.
84. Don’t discuss politics in public – Highly controversial.
85. Don’t discuss Crossfit in public – You’re better off discussing religion or politics…
86. Eat breakfast – Give yourself a fighting chance to have a productive day.
87. Listen to your body – Train hard when you feel good and take your foot off the gas when you’re feeling beat up. You can’t PR everyday.
88. Eat less snacks – You’re not that hungry, you’re just bored.
89. Find a good soft tissue specialist(s) – The fitter you get, the more important maintenance becomes. Even a Ferrari needs regular oil changes.
90. Work on your mobility – It’s not glamorous but it needs to be done if you want to train hard and pain free.
91. Try a Crossfit workout – Even if it’s only once, it’s something every fitness enthusiast should experience.
92. Listen to old school hip hop – It’s just great, feel-good music.
93. Wear Air Jordan’s – They’re timeless and they’re comfy.
94. Never give up – Failure is almost inevitable but that’s what makes the journey so rewarding.
95. Don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses “ – Stay in your lane and run your own race. Your achievements happen on your schedule not someone else’s.
96. Read this blog regularly.
97. Share this with your family and friends.
That’s my rant for today. I hope these few tidbits help you rise up and get more out of life.
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Health and fitness is a booming industry and the demand to look, feel and perform better has never been higher. With that, comes a lot of information and advice; some good, a lot bad, and some down right ridiculous. This has made it next to impossible to decipher quality information from pure fallacies made up for the sake of telling people what they want to hear.
It’s no wonder so many people struggle with reaching their health and fitness goals; they’re too confused to make any progress! Drink 8 glasses of water per day. Lift light weights to get ripped and toned. Crunches are the best ab exercise to get a six pack. These are just a few of the most common myths looming in the fitness industry today. It’s time for the hard truth and to put some of these myths to rest. Here are some of the most common and RIDICULOUS health and fitness myths debunked.
1. You can turn fat into muscle – Muscle and fat are two separate tissues that cannot be converted into one another. Both fat and muscle can be increased or decreased depending on diet and activity levels. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat.
2. Crunches are the best exercise to get a six pack – Getting a six pack is more a product of eating a clean diet and reducing body fat than any ab exercise you do in the gym. If you want to see your abs, you need to get lean and that starts in the kitchen. Oh, and crunches are a shitty exercise by way.
3. Squats are bad for your knees – If this were true, I don’t think toilets would ever have been invented. If squats were food, they’d be raw broccoli. The truth is squats performed incorrectly are bad for your knees. When done right, its hands down one of the best exercises in the gym.
4. Deadlifts are bad for your back – Another controversial exercise but again the danger lies in having shitty form. If deadlifts were food, they’d be spinach. It doesn’t get any more functional than being able to pick an object up off the ground. Another gem of an exercise once you get the right form.
5. Crossfit is dangerous – I love this one. So is race car driving. So is NFL football. So is downhill skiing. People have suffered far more serious injuries from these activities but there never seems to be any controversy surrounding them. Crossfit can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t use appropriate progression but the same can be said for learning any athletic activity. Not exercising for 10 years, eating and drinking excessively, and working a high stress job – THAT’S DANGEROUS!
6. High rep Olympic lifting is dangerous – This method of training is quite popular in the Crossfit community and has got the general public in a complete state of paranoia. Come on people, smoking is dangerous, drinking and driving is dangerous, high rep Olympic lifting is just hard. Just because something is hard and requires some skill and athleticism doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. ANY exercise performed for high reps and under a state of fatigue will increase the risk of injury. There is no evidence that high reps are doing the body any harm. In fact, one could argue that it’s having the opposite effect as evidenced by the everyday participation in Crossfit boxes across the globe.
7. You can’t get strong doing Crossfit – Crossfit sure does get a lot of press. Contrary to popular belief, there is a great deal of strength training in Crossfit. All you have to do is look at the top performers and you’ll see some pretty impressive numbers. 500+ lb deadlifts, 400+ lb squats, and 300+ lb clean and jerks! Most people will train their whole lives and never hit those numbers.
8. You can’t put on muscle doing Crossfit – Last word on Crossfit I promise. The ability to get big and strong doing Crossfit is definitely in the realm of possibility, it’s all in the programming. There’s more to it than just endless burpees and kipping pullups. 9 times out of 10, you’re doing something with a barbell and that provides a lot of opportunity to get jacked! Ironically, most guys that go to the gym are training to hopefully one day have the body of a Crossfitter.
the real danger lies in standing on the sidelines
9. Lifting weights will make you bulky – If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one I’d already be retired. The truth is ladies (yes ladies I’m talking to you) you don’t have enough NATURAL testosterone to build muscle mass the way men can. In fact, lifting weights is the most effective way to burn fat, increase bone density, and sculpt your body. The body you want is just a few squats and deadlifts away.
ladies, there’s no shame is moving some weight!
10. Use lighter weights for toning and getting ripped – Let’s put an end to this “toning” thing right now. There is no such thing as toning. You’re either building muscle or you’re not. Your muscles already have tone, that’s what makes them muscles. What you’re after is definition and that comes from reducing body fat. As far as using light weight goes, this does not help you get ripped any faster. Getting ripped is about getting lean and getting lean is all about what you do in the kitchen regardless of how heavy or light you lift at the gym. In fact, lifting heavy will help you to better preserve your muscle mass as you start to cut weight.
11. Muscle weighs more than fat – What weighs more, a pound of concrete or a pound of feathers? Don’t answer that. Time for a little physics lesson. Muscle does not actually weigh more than fat, muscle is more DENSE than fat. Density is the weight of an object relative to its volume. This means that a pound of muscle is smaller and takes up less space than a pound of fat. This explains why a 200lb person with 10% body fat looks smaller than a 200lb person with 25% body fat. Who says you never use physics in real life?
muscle is more DENSE than fat!
12. Carbs are bad for you – Ridiculous. I’m not even sure when this phobia of carbs even began. Your body’s main source of energy during intense exercise, GLYCOGEN, comes from carbohydrates. What’s bad are shitty, processed carbs that provide no nutritional value. Quality sources from fresh fruits and vegetables are optimal for health and nutritional balance.
13. You can eat whatever you want as long as you workout – Sorry to break the news, but just because you workout doesn’t give you a free pass to eat whatever you want whenever you want. In fact, exercise increases your appetite and if you’re making crappy food choices, you could end up putting on excess weight and body fat. Eating sensibly will actually help you reach your goals faster with less effort in the gym.
not exactly the ideal post workout meal
13. Jogging is the best form of cardio – Jogging is certainly the most CONVENIENT form of cardio but hardly the most effective. Now, it certainly beats sitting on the couch eating a bag of baked Lay’s (at least they’re baked right?) but it’s a far cry from the best form of cardio. Long distance running can be quite catabolic (muscle wasting) reducing your ability to burn fat and increase the risk of chronic injuries. Shorter and more intense forms of cardio such as interval training are more effective at increasing cardiovascular endurance, reducing body fat, and preserving lean muscle tissue.
14. Stretch after you workout so you don’t get sore – There actually isn’t any scientific evidence that stretching reduces muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is actually a product of microtears in the muscle fibers as a result of the stress that was put on them. Stretching can provide temporary relief of stiffness and increase blood flow but does not reduce the level of soreness experienced after a workout.
16. Lifting weights makes you slower – If this were true, the strength and conditioning industry would cease to exist. Name a professional athlete (a good one) that doesn’t do any strength training. You can’t because there aren’t any. Lifting weights is actually one of the most effective ways to improve speed due to increased force production from stronger muscles. Carrying excess muscle mass can make you slower simply because you have more weight to carry around. However, an effective strength training program can make you bigger, stronger, AND FASTER!
17. Yoga and Pilates make you strong – If we’re talking about spiritual or emotional strength then maybe, but if we’re talking about good ol’ fashioned strength that allows you to lift heavy shit then it’s a hell no! Yoga and Pilates have many benefits but strength is not one of them. Without sufficient overload (resistance on your muscles), it is next to impossible to build any sort of notable strength. Pump some iron if you want to get strong.
nobody ever got strong from just doing the “downward dog”
18. Low fat is better for you – Sometimes. Low fat versions of foods can sometimes be higher in sugar which spikes your insulin levels and will cause you to store more fat. Eating high quality fats like avocados and fish are better for regulating your blood sugar levels and keeping you lean. Read food labels carefully and watch out for excess sugar.
19. Milk does a body good – No it doesn’t. One of the biggest farces in the health industry today. There is nothing in milk that is a necessity in the diet that can’t be found in other foods. In fact, most people, with the exception of those from Eastern European descent, are somewhat lactose intolerant. We are the only species that drinks milk beyond infancy so that should tell you how “vital” it is to our diet.
20. Eating late at night will make you fatter – What time of day you eat isn’t as important as the total amount of food you’ve eaten throughout the day. If you have already met your daily caloric limit then eating late snacks will push you over the edge. The excess calories is what causes you to store fat not eating them late at night.
21. Longer, slower cardio burns more fat – This is only partially true. When you work at low intensity, a larger percentage of the calories you burn come from fat. For example, when you are sitting on the couch watching TV, you are burning almost 100% fat! We all know how effective that is don’t we? Even though you burn a larger percentage of fat at low intensity, the OVERALL calories and fat burned is more at higher intensities. For example, if you burn 500 calories going for a 45 minute jog and 75% of those calories came from fat, you burned 375 fat calories. However, if you burned 700 calories from 45 minutes of interval training, and 60% of those calories came from fat, you would have burned 420 fat calories. More calories and more fat can be burned at higher intensity and you can preserve more lean muscle tissue.
hill sprints trump jogging any day of the week
22. Women need to do different exercises than men – If there’s one arena where men and women should be treated equally, it’s in the gym. What’s good for the dudes is good for the gals. The only difference between men and women when it comes to training is the adaptation to training. This is due mostly to differences in hormones and the distribution of muscle mass. High quality exercises will serve both sexes equally well.
what’s good for him is good for her
23. Machines are safer than free weights – Universal exercise machines were created to make exercise more convenient not more effective. They serve more as a marketing tool to attract naive customers to join their gyms. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing, machines can be just as dangerous, if not more, than free weights. Using improper form and/or too much weight can put you at risk for serious injury. Proper coaching and instruction is the key regardless of the equipment you’re using.
you can never go wrong with some good ol’ iron
24. Drink 8 glasses of water a day – I’m not sure where this one came from but I do admire the intention to keep us all hydrated. The truth is that everyone’s hydration needs are different depending on a variety of things including your food intake, activity level and muscle mass. A more active and muscular person will need to drink more water than a sedentary person who is half the size. Also, the food you eat also contains water and that is never factored into your daily intake. Using your thirst and the color of your urine are good measures of your hydration. 8 glasses may be a good starting point but it’s hardly an exact science.
25. Egg whites are healthier than egg yolks – Unless you are on a very restricted diet, there is more than one good reason to eat the yolk. There are loads of vitamins and minerals found in the egg yolk including vitamins A, B12, and D as well as calcium and omega-3s. The egg yolk provides far more nutritional value despite the extra calories (16 cals in egg white vs 71 cals in egg yolk).
26. If you aren’t sore, your workout wasn’t hard enough – Muscle soreness is definitely a sign that you stressed your muscles and they will need some time to recover but it doesn’t tell the whole story. You can have a great workout and have little to no muscle soreness and that is completely acceptable. Depending on how long you’ve been training, you may not experience as much soreness as a beginner. Use progress as your measuring stick for the quality of your workouts.
27. Cleanses are great for weight loss – You know what’s great for weight loss? Eating less and exercising more. You can lose a couple of pounds from a cleanse but that is usually water weight that is gained back once you start to eat regular food again. The body is actually quite efficient at cleansing itself with the kidneys and other antibodies. Eating nutrient dense foods, staying hydrated and limiting your intake of processed foods will be way more beneficial than any cabbage diet.
I hope this sets the record straight. Your path to greatness should now be a little more clear. Train hard and enjoy the ride!
What other issues do you struggle with when it comes to fitness? Drop a comment below!
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Do you love training as much as I do? Are you constantly searching for ways to make your workouts more effective? Do you live for the endorphin rush you get from a great workout? If you answered yes to all of the above, then there’s a good chance you have what it takes to rise head and shoulders above everyone else in the gym.
In part 1, I stressed the importance of not only “showing up” but making your workouts potent if you want real results. In the Pure Payne Method, I outlined a basic template for a kick ass strength and conditioning program. Now I want to take it one step further and show you even more ways to improve your strength, build muscle, and just get fit as hell!!
Besides the big lifts and basic bodyweight training, there are some other highly effective and often overlooked training methods that deliver results in a big way. The methods I’m going to reveal to you all have one thing in common – POWER!
That’s right, if you really want to spice things up, you need to start adding power development to the mix. Simply put, power is the combination of strength and speed. Training for power comes with huge benefits including:
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased strength
- Increased explosiveness
- Increased fast twitch muscle fiber development (the shit that makes you look amazing)
- Increased athleticism
- Reduced body fat
Hershel Walker – the epitome of power!
Now, if that doesn’t get you excited you might as well stop reading now. But if you’re fired up and want to add more intensity to your training then you have come to the right place. Now, I’m going to show you 4 ways to develop power, amplify your workouts and take your fitness to a whole new level.
1. Olympic Lifting – The fastest and mightiest of the barbell lifts, the clean and jerk and the snatch, sit on a pedestal as one of the best group of exercises a human being can perform. These full body exercises recruit a ton of muscle mass and ignite your nervous system making them an ideal choice for strength and muscular development. However, with great benefit comes great risk due to the high degree of technical proficiency needed to do these movements. Not to worry, if you’re new to Olympic lifting there are variations you can use that still provide lots of benefits and reduce the risk of injury. Some typical variations include:
- Hang cleans/hang snatches – The “hang” position is when the barbell starts above the knee rather than on the ground. This essentially will help to strengthen and develop the major part of the movement – the second pull. The hang position allows less room for error (i.e. early arm bending and the bar coming away from the body) and forces you to be more explosive with the barbell.
- Clean pull/snatch pulls – One of the most difficult aspects of olympic lifting is the ability to receive or “catch” the barbell properly. This hassle can be avoided by doing “pulls” instead. Clean/snatch pulls allow you to start with the bar on the ground and generate maximal force without having to catch the weight. This is a great way to lift relatively heavy loads without risking injury from improper catches.
- Dumbbell variations – If you aren’t comfortable with a barbell, you can always opt for dumbbell variations that can be quite intense as well. Dumbbell snatches and dumbbell cleans performed with 1 arm or 2 arm variations are excellent alternatives and far less technical than using a barbell.
barbell and dumbbell variations both deliver HUGE results
Whatever variation you choose, always remember that these are “fast lifts” and the more explosive you can be the better. Check out the video below to see how to perform hang cleans with good form.
2. Sprinting – I remember the good ol’ days when I was a kid in elementary school and we’d spend an entire recess having little 50, 60, 70 yard foot races to see who was the fastest kid in our grade. Man, that was fun and it was damn good exercise too! I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time (with the exception of the Olympics which is once every 4 years) I saw an adult do anything that resembles anything close to a sprint. It seems we’ve opted for the more convenient and far less effective alternative – jogging. You don’t need to aspire to be the next Usain Bolt to incorporate sprinting into your training but if you want to get chiseled like a world class athlete then you should strongly consider it. Here are some options for sprinting:
- Wind sprints – Good old fashioned all out sprinting. 30-60 meters will get the job done. Walk back and repeat or rest 2-3mins between efforts.
- Hill sprints – The only thing better than running really fast is running really fast UPHILL! Hill sprints will definitely put hair on your chest (unless you’re a woman of course, then it will just give you incredible hips and thighs). Find a hill or use a treadmill (10-15% incline) and try 20-60 second intervals with a 1:1 or 1:2 work/rest ratio.
- Resisted Sprints – Another great way to intensify your workout. Like I always say “when in doubt, add a little more weight.” This mantra applies to sprinting as well. You don’t need a lot of resistance though, just enough to make you work harder but not so much that you lose your running form. Parachutes, weight vests, and sleds loaded with 10-15% of your bodyweight are great options.
Usain Bolt – world class power and a world class physique
3. Plyometrics – The former Soviet Union knew what they were doing when they popularized this training method. Plyometrics is essentially jump training. The act of jumping recruits a ton of fast twitch muscle fibers and is one of the most effective ways to develop explosiveness. Popular and effective plyometric exercises include:
- Box jumps – Basic jumping onto a 20-30″ box is an excellent way to develop lower body power. Single leg variations are also an option for you keeners out there.
- Split jumps – One of my personal favorites. Split jumps or jumping lunges can be humbling to say the least. The glutes and quads will get punished but rewards are well worth the pain.
- Lateral jumps – There’s something about jumping sideways that slaps you across the face and completely shocks your body. Jumping over a hurdle or onto a box laterally challenges your athleticism and makes for one hell of a workout!
- Clap Pushups – A great upper body plyometric exercise. Your chest, shoulders and triceps will be lit up after a few sets of these. Like a pair of Air Jordan 3’s, the clap pushup is a classic that will never go out of style.
Air Jordans and clap pushups – timeless classics that never go out of style
4. Sled Pushes – Did someone say prowler? Disputably one of the most intense conditioning exercises in all of fitness, sled pushing will leave you speechless (because there will be no air left in your body to speak). 8-10 intervals of 30-50 meter pushes will have you spent but every muscle in your body will thank you for it. Stay low, push hard, try to breathe, repeat. Check out the video below to see how Joe DeFranco lays the smack down with the prowler!
The name of the game my friends is power. If your goal is to pack on serious muscle, build superhuman strength and have a body carved out of granite then power is your ticket to the motherland! You can use these exercises on their own or pair them together with other strength exercises to really crank things up. It’s time to get in the trenches and get to work. And remember, doing what others are unwilling to do is the key to success.
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When it comes to training, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or if you’ve been pushin’ weight for 20 years; you can never stray too far from the basics. Exercises like the bench press and the deadlift should always be in the rotation. There’s another big lift you can always count on, “old reliable”, “the godfather”, I’m talkin’ about the back squat. Like the saying goes “when in doubt, SQUAT.” I’m not sure if that’s an actual saying or just something I like to say but it sounds pretty good to me!
Just like a house that stands on a solid foundation, the back squat is fundamental to a good strength and conditioning program. The benefits are countless: lower body strength development, lower body muscular development, athletic development, core strength, and a faster metabolism to name just a few.
As important as the back squat is, it’s value is in direct proportion to the ability to perform it correctly. In other words, if you can’t squat you ain’t doing squat. That’s a lot of squats in one sentence. There are a few key things to keep in mind in order to get the most out of this exercise. Let’s take a look at some quick and simple fixes to get the most out of this exercise.
1. Keep your shoulder blades pinched – It’s important to keep your shoulder blades “pinched” together while holding the barbell. This provides more support for the barbell and prevents unnecessary rounding of the back throughout the movement.
2. Break at the knees first – The squat is initiated by bending the knees first THEN pushing the hips down and back. If you try to break at the hips first, there will be a tendency for excess forward lean at the torso. Keeping a relatively upright torso will take stress of the back and onto the legs where you want it.
3. Turn your feet and knees out slightly – By rotating your feet and knees out in an “11” and “1” formation will allow your hips to descend more freely making it easier to reach full depth. Also, if you have poor ankle mobility, this make it easier to squat without your heels coming off the floor.
4. Push your knees out – With your feet turned out, it’s important to remember to push your knees out both on the way down and the way up. This will prevent the knees from coming to far over the toes and maintain tension on the hips rather than the knees.
5. Maintain neutral spine at the bottom – Ideally, you want to be able to squat below parallel but only if your strength and mobility allow you to. If your lower back is rounding at the bottom, you’ve gone too deep and adding stress to your lower back. Squat as deep as you can with the best form you can.
Not enough good things can said about the squat but training smart and staying pain free are critical to your success. Keep these tips in mind the next time you get under bar.
The video below illustrates some of the key points to squatting effectively. Check it out.
Are there any other exercises you struggle with? If so, drop a comment below! Don’t forget to subscribe below to get more great articles!
The internet has been a gift and a curse. Information has never traveled faster. Also, the amount of information that is available to us is downright overwhelming. I’ve found this to lead to paralysis by analysis. As someone who enjoys acquiring new and useful tidbits, I’m often overstimulated by the simplest of Google searches. For example, the other day I was looking for a new restaurant to try out only to find myself completely glazed over by how many choices there were. In the end, I just picked a place that I was familiar simply because it was too stressful to make a decision. The fitness game is no different. With so many experts and so many philosophies on how to get results, it’s easy to find yourself confused about what the “right” program is. How reps/sets should I do? How much rest should I take? Is 12 weeks too long? The reality is, MOST programs are good as long as you stick to them and put in your best effort. Now when I say MOST programs, I’m referring to the ones that incorporate proper progression, intensity, and good use of the big lifts. As you know, I’m a big believer in the big lifts serving as the foundation of ANY effective strength and conditioning program.
In the 14 years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen and tried a lot of different things. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there are definitely some tried and true rep schemes that will always deliver. If your goal is to increase strength, muscle mass, or overall work capacity, these rep schemes will never get old. In no particular order, here they are:
1. 5×5 – A classic strength building rep scheme that never disappoints. Bench, squat, deadlift, it doesn’t matter. Pick one challenging weight for all 5 sets or slowly increase to your heaviest 5. Either way, if you hit it hard, you’re gonna get strong.
2. 5/3/1 – Jim Wendler is world famous for bringing this rep scheme to the masses. A simple but effective progressive overload scheme that works for lifters of all levels. If you’re pressed for time, give 5/3/1 a try.
3. 10/5/5/5/10 – This is one I use with my clients a lot. I like to sandwich the heavy sets with higher rep sets. The first set of 10 is to ensure proper warm up prior to hitting the heavy sets and the last set of 10 is aimed at muscular endurance after they have been pre-exhausted from the heavy sets. That last sets of 10 can be quite deceptive after some heavier loading.
4. 9/6/3/6/9 – Inspired by old school bodybuilding, this pyramid scheme is a great strength and muscle builder. Essentially, a “light/medium/heavy/medium/light” scheme that can be very challenging with the right loading (i.e. 70%/80%/90%/80%/70%).
5. 21/15/9 – If you’re a Crossfitter and you’re reading this, I don’t need to say anything more. This is arguably one of the most potent rep schemes in when performed at high intensity. “Fran”, a classic Crossfit workout, comprised of thrusters and pullups paired together and performed with this rep scheme will have you begging for mercy in 5 minutes or less! Again, simple but very effective.
6. 3/6/9/12/15/etc. – Another great rep scheme courtesy of Crossfit. Set a clock for a desired amount of time (i.e 8mins), pick two movements (i.e. deadlifts and burpees) and perform the designated reps for each movement climbing the ladder as high as you can within the time limit. A beautiful blend of strength and conditioning. If you want something quick and dirty, I highly recommend this one!
7. 10/15/20/25/30 – That’s code for 100 reps. This high volume rep scheme is great for conditioning and bodyweight (i.e pushups, pullups, situps) movements. Pick an exercise and follow that rep scheme with a 60-90sec break between sets of pair it with a heavy barbell movement and you have yourself quite a meaty workout!
8. 30 – A somewhat random and very open ended number but can be quite potent depending how you approach it. For example, you can pick an exercise and weight and do 30 reps at that weight. You can pick a weight that you can try to do unbroken reps or heavier loads and get 30 reps done in the least amount of sets possible. You also have the option of doing 30 reps for time which can be quite devastating. Any way you slice it, 30 is great!
9. Max reps – This requires a little more mental fortitude but if you can endure a little suffering it will be well worth it. Pick a weight and do as many reps as you can unbroken or as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time. All aboard, lactic acid city here we come!!
10. Every minute on the minute (EMOM) – Although not a specific rep scheme, this form of interval training is great for building muscular endurance and work capacity. Generally, whatever exercise you choose, your reps shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to complete leaving you with a least 30 seconds rest prior to the next interval. 8-20 minutes of this type of training and you’ll get one kickass workout!
The world of strength and conditioning is constantly evolving but as much as things change they also stay the same. As long as you attack your workouts and step out of your comfort zone from time to time, the rep scheme you use is simply a formality. Don’t sit on the sidelines trying to find the perfect program; get in the trenches and start doing work!
P.S. When you train with me, you’ll get workouts that use these highly effective rep schemes and a lot more!
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There is something very gratifying about lifting heavy things. It satisfies a carnal instinct to be in control and exude power. One of the best ways to demonstrate this is with the deadlift. I’ll be first to say that a training program without deadlifts is like a cheeseburger with no ketchup – it’s alright but with a little fine tuning it can be PHENOMENAL. The bench press and the squat pack a punch but being the biggest of the big lifts, the deadlift has tremendous benefits that can’t be denied. Grip strength, glute/hamstring strength, and upper back strength – yes UPPER BACK are just a few of the benefits of this great exercise. If a deadlift was food, it would be broccoli. Raw broccoli – not the stir fry stuff that’s drenched in soy and teriyaki sauce. Like any exercise though, in order to reap the benefits, it must be executed with proper technique. For that reason, the deadlift can sometimes get a bad rep due to crappy lifting form leading to injury. Here are a few tips to make this lift both safe and effective.
We are all creatures of habit in some way, shape, or form. I enjoy a cup of black coffee every morning while I check my email and prepare for my day ahead. As well, my afternoon naps are a definite must to get me through the day. Our daily routines are what shape and mold us into what are. In Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, he outlines 7 key habits that a vast majority of successful people share. These traits were found to help people become successful in business and in everyday life. Similarly, there are habits that are shared by those that are killin’ it at the gym and getting great results. Here are 7 habits of highly fit people, see how many of these are a part of your repertoire.
1. Journal your workouts – It has been said that those who keep journals of their daily activities and write down their goals are more likely to be successful than those who don’t. Keeping a journal of your training helps keep you accountable and allows you to better track your progress. Making note of little things like you’re energy levels during your workouts or any aches and pains you may have had that day can provide a lot feedback for future workouts.
2. Post workout nutrition – We all know how important nutrition is to training – at least I think we all know. Making sure to get adequate protein and carbohydrate intake after a workout is important for recovery and replenishment of nutrients. It does you no good to break your body down during training if you aren’t refueling it properly to rebuild and repair. Get a shake or some high quality food in you within 60 minutes of training – PERIOD!
3. Sleep – With our lives becoming more hectic, sleep is becoming more and more of a limited resource. However, that doesn’t change the fact that our body still needs it. In order to get the most out of your workouts and recover efficiently our bodies need sleep and lots of it – I’m talking 7-9 hours a day. This will help regulate your cortisol (stress hormone that prevents your body from burning fat) levels and rejuvenate your nervous system. If you don’t want to be slob, get to bed earlier and try to increase the quality of your sleep.
4. Intensity – This could be one of the most neglected habits of 98% of gym goers. I’d like to thank Crossfit for not only defining what intensity is but also getting people to work harder than they ever thought possible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, showing up is only the FIRST step to making gains. Ask anyone who is in great shape and they’ll tell you that you’ve got to go hard if you want to go to the next level. As they saying goes “everything you want lies just outside of your comfort zone” including that 6 pack and 500lb deadlift.
5. Consistency – Doing something right is good. Doing something right OVER AND OVER AGAIN leads to greatness. The biggest, strongest, and fittest all put in time and lots of it. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become and expert at something and building a body that looks and performs well is no exception. Guys like Matt Chan, Jason Khalipa, and Dan Bailey (all pictured above) didn’t just wake up one day with physiques like that. What you’re looking at is the cumulative effect of putting in solid work day in and day out. Take each workout one day at a time and remember – the journey is the reward.
6. Mobility/Active Recovery Days – When you’re putting your body to the test on a regular basis, it’s important to take a step back and focus on the less glamorous things every once in a while. Stretching, foam rolling, massage, chiropractic are examples of ways to keep the body supple and revving on all cylinders. Deloading and low intensity conditioning are also great ways to restore the body. The better you get at the big things, the more the little things matter.
7. Train your weaknesses AT LEAST once/week – One of my favorite athletes of all time, Michael Jordan, came into the NBA demonstrating superior scoring ability. That wasn’t enough for him. In 1988, after a couple of seasons under his belt , he went on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He also won the MVP award that year, making him the first player in history to win both awards in the same season. That’s what I call turning your weaknesses into strengths! Now, for the rest of us mortals, if your list of weaknesses is too long just keep training and take it one workout at a time. For the more advanced lifters, take the time to balance out any deficiencies at least once per week. If you’re conditioning sucks, do some more interval training, if your overhead strength is lacking, work your shoulder presses and push presses. Whatever the case may be, don’t shy away from weaknesses and maybe one day you can walk with the athletic gods too.
The late, great Aristotle once said ” we are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I’m pretty sure he was talking about jacking weights when he said that too. Regardless, the take home message is great habits lead to great results. If you aren’t already practicing these habits, step your game up and start now!
Are there exercises that you struggle with? Let me know and drop a comment below!
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I don’t know about you, but I find it tough to go balls out in every single workout. Some days it doesn’t matter what I do, everything just feels heavy and I feel gassed just lifting my gym bag out of the trunk of my car. I still try to give it the old college try but some days there’s just less gas in the tank for various reasons. Not enough sleep, sore from a previous workout or poor nutrition are just few things that leave me feeling weak and sluggish. Not to worry, just because you’re not feeling 100% doesn’t mean your workout has to be a complete write off. A few small adjustments can make the world of difference. Here are 5 ways that I’ve found help to not only salvage a mediocre workout but also make it worthwhile and productive.
1. Longer warm-ups – Sometimes the body can be like an old car when the engine just needs time to warm up before you pull out of the driveway. An extra 5-10mins of light cardio, stretching, and foam rolling can help to get the blood flowing and wake up that old nervous system. Getting a good sweat going will also loosen up the joints and mentally and physically prepare you for the work ahead.
2. Go lighter – Sounds simple enough but sometimes it’s hard to leave your ego at the door and just do what your body will allow on that given day. You can’t set PR’s every time you step into the gym – at least I can’t. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t have a productive workout. Taking your lifts down 5-10% can be just enough to allow you to get through a tough workout instead of quitting halfway and feeling like a complete waste of space.
3. Do more accessory work – When you’re energy is low, this is a perfect opportunity to work on the less glamorous things. Lunges, single leg deadlifts, dumbell rows, and pushups are examples of great exercises that attack your weaknesses but are far less demanding than the big lifts. This will give both your nervous system and muscular system a break and a chance to regenerate.
4. Focus on your strengths – This may sound like a slight contradiction to #3 but sometimes when you’re not feeling the greatest the best way to get your mojo going is to pick 2 or 3 of your favorite exercises and have at it! What better way to lift my mood and redeem my workout than by doing what I’m good at? Just because my energy is rock bottom doesn’t mean my self esteem has to be too!
5. Suck it up princess – If I only worked out when my body wasn’t sore and tired, I’d probably train once MAYBE twice per week. At some point, you have to accept that life will always be busy and you have to make health and fitness a priority. Greatness is never achieved without a certain degree of sacrifice and fortitude. The Pure Payne Method is a free workout program but there is still one cost – EFFORT! At some point you have to ask yourself how bad do you want it and make a decision.
Next time your feeling 50/50 about training keep these few tips in mind and see how if you can get a better workout.
Do you have a hard time staying consistent with your workouts? What is your biggest obstacle? Drop a comment below!
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It’s funny and somewhat ironic that the bench press is disputably the most popular barbell exercise in the world yet so few of us actually perform it correctly. I’ve been benching for almost 20 years and I’m still refining my technique. The good news is you can avoid the pitfalls that I and many others have fallen victim to with a few simple fixes. Here are 3 quick fixes that will help you to push more weight and reduce the risk of injury.
1. Keep your feet in line or slightly behind your knees – Believe it or not, the bench press is actually a full body exercise when performed correctly. By moving your feet back and pressing them into the floor you are creating leverage with your lower body. This provides stability allowing you to generate more force against the bar. If you’re shorter, you can put your feet on plates so you don’t over -arch your back. Your feet should NEVER move at any point while benching.
GOOD FOOT PLACEMENT
BAD FOOT PLACEMENT
2. Keep your shoulder blades pinched back throughout the entire movement – A great strength coach and “shoulder guru”, Eric Cressey always emphasizes protecting the shoulders during upper body lifts. By retracting or “squeezing” your shoulder blades together and keeping the back of your shoulders pressed against the bench, you are stabilizing your rotator cuff and preventing any unnecessary loading on the shoulder capsule. The key is to stay “pinched” from the bottom to the top of the movement to protect the shoulders.
3. Keep your elbows in – A common mistake people make is they tend to press the bar with their elbows flaring out. This can be due to lack of tricep strength and can lead to excessive stress on the shoulders. By keeping the elbows in, you can better recruit your pecs and triceps making the movement more efficient and taking the stress off the shoulders. As well, if you have a hard time bringing the bar all the way down to your chest, keeping your elbows in will most likely reduce any shoulder impingement that is restricting you.
BAD ELBOW POSITION
There you have it, 3 quick and simple fixes for more strength and less pain. Check out the video below from the strength gurus at Westside Barbell. These guys know their stuff!
[youtube id=”k3Mvyt4pBQQ” height=”315″ width=”560″ marginbottom=”15″]
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I thought this would be a great time to express my thoughts and feelings about an underground phenomenon (well it’s actually pretty mainstream now) that is taking the fitness industry by storm. I’m talking about the “C” word. Ok, I’ll just say it – CROSSFIT. Nowadays, it seems there are 3 things that you don’t openly discuss: Religion, Politics, and CROSSFIT. There are a lot of critics out there who have their reservations for various reasons (some warranted, some not), however, speaking as someone who is not a certified Crossfit coach, does not workout at a Crossfit gym, does not own or operate a Crossfit affiliate but has competed at a relatively high level in Crossfit (17th in Canada West Regionals in 2011), I think the training system has some merit. I would like to be one of the few (maybe even the first??) people who have no vested interest in Crossfit to speak out about the positive side. Here are 4 reasons why I think Crossfit is a good thing:
1. For the first time fitness can be defined and measured – I’ve spent most of my adult life in the gym and managed to stay in pretty good shape for most of those years. The problem was, prior to Crossfit, I never really knew how fit I was. I could use different measures like body composition and various strength tests to get a rough idea but even then I would only be testing things that I was good at so it still seemed a little biased.
Crossfit is constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity and defines fitness as work capacity across broad time and modal domains. I think most knowledgeable and experienced fitness professionals would agree that functional movement and intensity are two key ingredients to getting results regardless of the clientele you are working with.
As far as work capacity goes, this is simply a measure of power (force x distance/time), which is a basic scientific formula. Essentially, do more work in less time. So for all the pundits who say that Crossfit has no scientific foundation, I strongly beg to differ. There are some who may disagree with this definition of fitness but I’ve yet to see or hear of anyone coming up with anything more accurate or effective. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe there are many ways to get in great shape without doing Crossfit but if you want a “TRUE TEST OF FITNESS” Crossfit seems to be the only objective measure.
2. The unique and effective blend of training modalities – If you want to get scientific, all the research says that high intensity strength training performed in a circuit fashion (i.e. “fight gone bad” – 3 rounds of push presses, box jumps, sumo high pulls, wall balls, and rowing performed for 1 min each) or high intensity strength training and plyometrics mixed with short bursts of high intensity cardio (i.e. “Kelly” 5 rounds of 400m run, 30 box jumps, 30 wall balls) are the most effective methods for building muscle and burning fat simultaneously. Sounds a hell of a lot like Crossfit to me. So what’s the problem? Exercise selection? Progression? These are all things to take into account whether you are a Crossfit coach or a trainer at Gold’s Gym. Crossfit is hard, there’s no disputing that but that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from it under the right programming. If anything, Crossfit has taken the most effective and challenging movements and allowed the general public to reap the benefits.
3. The Paleo Diet – There always has and always will be debates over the most effective training methods and nutrition is no different. Crossfit is the first strength and conditioning program that has taken a strong stance on the importance of sound nutrition to maximize the results of their training system. The Paleo diet, which some may find quite strict and difficult to sustain, points us in the right direction of what our everyday eating habits should be. To quote the infamous Crossfit Founder, Greg Glassman “Meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, NO SUGAR.” Now is this diet ideal for everybody? Absolutely not. Is it a huge step in the right direction? ABSOLUTELY!
Remember, Greg Glassman is known for INVENTING Crossfit, not doing it!
4. The Crossfit Journal – The internet can be an overwhelming resource for information. The Crossfit Journal has proven to be a phenomenal one-stop resource for strength and conditioning. Want to learn proper technique for a power clean? Want to learn progressions for handstand pushups? Want to become a better runner? Want to build a kick ass home gym? The Crossfit Journal has it all and more! You can always expect the best as “specialists” from various fields including Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics deliver the most up to date information. With articles, videos, and podcasts on wide range of topics, there’s always something to look forward to. For $25/year, the Crossfit Journal definitely gets an A+.
5. Crossfit Kids – We all know the youth of today are lazier and fatter than they’ve ever been. Teaching kids the benefits of regular functional exercise and good nutrition will help to build a foundation of good lifestyle habits that carry on well into adulthood. Not to mention, the potential for developing some fierce athletes. Kudos Crossfit for keeping our future healthy and fit.
6. The Crossfit Games – Not power lifting, not bodybuilding, not strongman, not triathlon, but the sport of fitness. I’m not taking anything away from the previously mentioned sports but the Crossfit Games is something to marvel. I’ve had the opportunity to watch the Crossfit games live on more than one occasion and it is one of the best sporting events I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere and energy are unmatched in any other sport. It’s the first time I’ve watched a sport where everybody was cheering for everybody! No booing, no trash talking, everyone wanted everyone to do well.
if you’ve never attended the Crossfit Games add it to your bucket list
Crossfit has filled a void in the sports market by creating an entirely new breed of athlete. It is a tremendous feat to be able to run a sub 6min mile, deadlift 500+ lbs, and pump out 50+ unbroken pullups. With Reebok as the official sponsor, credibility and sustainability are becoming less of an issue. Through this, Crossfit has given me the opportunity to compete with some of the best athletes in Canada (even the world for that matter). At the age of 35, that level of competition is far and few between. Knowing that this level of competition is still within reach for me makes training that much more fulfilling.
7. High Rep Olympic Weightlifting – That’s right, I said it. High rep Olympic weightlifting can be extremely beneficial once a certain level of proficiency has been developed. This is probably one of the most controversial aspects of Crossfit. Crossfit has done a great job of giving Olympic weightlifting more mainstream appeal. The strength, power and athleticism required to perform these lifts is what makes them so beneficial. No one can deny that taking a weight from the ground to overhead is a highly functional movement. However, performing a clean and jerk for a one-rep max is a completely different story than doing 30 reps for time at a sub maximal weight (i.e. “Grace”). The power output and metabolic conditioning this provides far exceeds any other compound movement. With proper progression, the Olympic lifts performed at high intensity can be your best bang for your buck!
Here’s a video of me doing some “high reps” and getting a killer workout!
8. Crossfitters work out with their shirts off BECAUSE THEY CAN! – Let’s face it, aside from leading a healthy lifestyle most people work out because they want to look better. Most guys want that lean and chiseled physique that carries just the right amount of muscle but not too much. Most women want just the right amount of curves and muscle tone without looking masculine. I think Crossfit pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. Even though the focus was never on aesthetics, Crossfit has helped produce some of the greatest physiques in fitness. High intensity exercise coupled with good nutrition? Novel concept.
Arguably, some of the most impressive physiques in all of fitness are a product of Crossfit
9. The community – Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something, a sense of belonging if you will. Crossfit has done a great job of creating a community that is both encouraging and supportive. A Crossfit box is a lot like Cheers, “it’s where everybody knows your name.” This definitely makes working out more fun and sustainable.
minus the beer and excessive loafing, Crossfit is a lot like Cheers!
10. There’s a lot of barbell training – If most of your time in the gym is spent working with a barbell, you have no choice but to get big and strong! Deadlifts, squats, shoulder presses, cleans, you name it and you’ll find it with Crossfit. Don’t let the myths fool you, there’s a lot of strength and muscle to be gained.
there’s no shortage of iron in Crossfit
11. There’s a lot of bodyweight training – The next best thing to pumping iron is effective bodyweight training. With exercises like dips, pullups, handstand pushups, and muscle ups you are going to get more than your fill of great bodyweight exercises.
the muscle up is a signature bodyweight exercise in Crossfit
12. There’s a lot of conditioning – There’s no shortage of heavy breathing and lactic acid with Crossfit. The intensity of Crossfit is undisputed but with that comes elite conditioning and the ability to literally melt fat off your body. The interval training and intense “metcons” make this an ideal choice for anyone trying to lean out.
conditioning is inevitable with Crossfit
13. It’s easier on the body – If you’ve been training for a number of years then you know what it’s like to suffer from the aches and pains of repetitive stress. Crossfit can take a toll on the body if you are competing at a high level but for the average meathead who benches 3 time a week the variety Crossfit provides will work wonders for your soft tissue health. Rotating from heavy to light loading and from longer to shorter workouts keeps the body guessing and prevents the onset of chronic pain.
14. Competition brings the best out of everybody – If you’ve ever been an athlete at any point in your life then I don’t have to explain to you the feeling that comes from going head to head with your peers. A surefire way to get one more rep is when egos and bragging rights are on the line. Even if you’re feeling tired that day, a little competition may be all you need to redeem your workout.
competition is the cornerstone of human performance
15. You stay in shape all year long – No more “cutting” and “bulking.” The well-rounded approach to the Crossfit methodology allows you to stay lean and strong year round. No more restrictive dieting and arduous “cardio” sessions.
not a bad physique to have 12 months out of the year!
These are just a few reasons why I think there are some serious gains to be made with Crossfit. It’s certainly not perfect but what training program is? Be open-minded and try new things, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Have you ever done a Crossfit workout? If so, what was your experience like? Drop a comment below!
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