How Your Mindset Affects Performance

How Your Mindset Affects Performance

There is a lot going on when you step on to that lifting platform or competition floor. Some days you feel strong and focused. Others you can’t quite seem able to connect the dots. You feel slow and foggy or the weight feels heavy.

The mind and body are in constant fluctuation. Our thoughts can instantly change our physiology. Just think of a time when you were mad or scared. Your muscles tensed, heart rate quickened, and pupils dilated ready to react.

And the converse is just as true. Our body influences our mental state and thoughts. Think about how chill and carefree you feel after a long walk in nature or how amped you get when exercising or dancing to your favorite song.

Controlling the stressors and other stimuli in your environment is essential when it comes to controlling your mind and body for performance. Stress can have significant impact on performance and can seriously get in the way of your competitive goals if you don’t have a strategy to manage it.

Let’s take a look at why stress is so damaging to performance and some key strategies to combat it…

The Cortisol/Testosterone Relationship

A study of 109 male Olympic weightlifters was set up to determine the effects of cortisol as a moderator of the relationship between testosterone and performance in Olympic lifting. The study measured pre and post levels of serum cortisol and testosterone to see if there was any effect on performance. It turns out that pre-competition levels of cortisol or testosterone had a significant effect on Olympic weightlifting performance. The inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol shows that the level of stress an athlete experiences before training or competition can significantly impact their testosterone levels and subsequent performance.

Whoop Dee Doo. But what does it all mean, Basil?!

Getting stressed about before a competition or intense training session is a surefire way to negatively impact performance. There are several techniques you can utilize to prepare your mind making it an asset rather than a liability. Top athletes all develop their mental game through practices involving goal setting, visualization, and routines.

“The Ultimate Measure Of A Man Is Not Where He Stands In Moments Of Comfort And Convenience, But Where He Stands At Times Of Challenge And Controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is essential to achieving any specific outcome you want in life. When you focus on a specific outcome your mind will constantly be searching for ways to bring the object of focus into being. That can be for the good or the bad. Say you are a weightlifter competing in your first meet. You should set a goal involving the successful completion of a lift at a weight you feel optimistic you can hit. When you set this metric for success you will be determined to achieve the outcome and take confident action towards achieving it. Odds are you will outperform your goal and be able to raise the bar for your next meet.

Visualization

Visualization is the formation of a mental image. As an athlete you want to visualize a successful outcome you desire. Picture yourself achieving your goals with as much detail as possible. From the clothes you are wearing to the sound of the crowd. The way you move, powerful and strong. The sweat on your brow and the heartbeat in your chest. When you get to gameday, it will feel like you’ve been there before. Visualization of success also lends itself to positive self-talk that will reinforce your mindset and confidence when it comes to competition.

Routines

Routines are extremely useful when it comes to athletes and performance. They help reduce decision fatigue and providing fewer distractions and less to think about on game day. Decide ahead of time your warm-up, clothing, equipment, music, and anything else you would use in competition. Practice with it and make it comfortable and familiar. One important consideration with routines is not to get too superstitious or hung up on these items being responsible for your success. You and only you are responsible for your success. Not your lucky sneakers…

If you want to accomplish your goals working with a professional coach is one of the best ways to develop a strategy and system for results. If you want to work with someone to help you create a game plan for your fitness goals get in touch with one of our qualified coaches and discuss on how we can help you!

Mitch Stout

 

Trust the Prescription

You know that little 5-minute speech that the coach gives at the beginning of class? When they talk about the workout and how it should feel (“The Stimulus”). That’s a pretty important part of planning out your workout for the day and will help you select the weights you use, reps you shoot for, and how to pace yourself in conditioning pieces. If you’ve ever felt a bit lost during this portion of class then this article is for you!

Let’s dive into how to approach some different types of workouts to better understand how the stimulus of each workout should feel so you scale appropriately for you. Of course, our coaches are always available to answer your questions!

One of the simplest ways to look at each workout is based on the energy system involved.

The 3 main energy systems in our body are: 

  • Phosphocreatine System
  • Glycolytic System
  • Aerobic System

The differences between these systems are based on the source of energy or “fuel” for the activity. These systems are always functioning in our bodies at all times, but depending on the type of activity we’re doing one energy system may be the predominant fuel source.

Training these energy systems improve our ability to use fuel more efficiently, recover more quickly, and improve our overall health as a side effect. It’s important to know what the result you are trying to achieve is for each workout. This makes sure that you get the most out of your efforts without burning yourself out!

The Phosphocreatine System is associated with short intense efforts, usually lasting 10-12 seconds or less. Most dedicated power and strength pieces fall into this category.

An example of a workout item that targets this energy system could look like:
Build to a 3 Rep Max Back Squat with 2:00-3:00 rest between.

Another example could be:
Every 2:00 for 5 sets perform :10 second max effort assault bike sprint.

Notice how in the second prescription we chose a time domain rather a set number of calories on the bike. If the assignment was 10 calories every 2:00 you might see very different time domains based on the athlete. It might take one person :08 seconds to complete 10 calories and another person :30 seconds. This would change the energy system being trained, the rest interval, and totally change the dose response of the workout.

The Glycolytic System is associated with medium to high intensity efforts that can last from :30 – 3:00 and will taper off drastically based on how well trained an individual is. These usually show up as higher rep weightlifting sets or interval style workouts. Efforts in this energy system rely on glucose (blood sugar) to fuel the effort. They also generate lactate that the body works to clear in order to continue the effort. Adjusting the amount of time you rest.

One example of an interval workout would be:
4 sets of 10-12 reps of Bench Press with a 40X0 tempo followed by :90 seconds of rest.

Another example would be
Every Minute On The Minute for 8 rounds perform :40 seconds of Russian Kettlebell Swings.

Aerobic workouts cover the broad spectrum of workouts remaining. Most efforts lasting longer than 3 minutes will put you in an aerobic state. If you’ve ever “come out too hot” in a workout you have probably approached the workout as a glycolytic piece and when your body could no longer sustain the effort you switched to an aerobic approach.

A classic benchmark workout that requires an aerobic effort would be:
Cindy, Complete as many rounds as possible in 20:00 minutes of
-5 Pull-up
-10 Pushup
-15 Air Squat

If you are not able to sustain that number of reps or continue completing the movement safely for 20 minutes at a steady pace then you can explore scaling the movements, repetition numbers, or shortening the time domain.

Each day’s class might contain one or more elements of these types of training. There may also be a skill component to a workout that may not be targeting a response from any of these energy systems and is instead geared towards improving movement patterns and transferability of key skills.

Questions about scaling? You know where to find us!

Mitch Stout

 

Tips For A Balanced Lower Body

After an intense workout of front squats or thrusters, you may have felt that burning pumped up sensation in your quads. Your pants are tighter and you can no longer put your phone and keys in your front pocket for fear of getting them stuck.
The quadriceps and hip flexor muscles on the front of your legs are responsible for extending the hip and knee joints. They have tremendous potential for growth and get a great workout from movements like front squats, step-ups, and walking lunges.

Having powerful quads is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, the greatest Olympic weightlifters, cyclists, and speed skaters have huge powerful quad muscles (the speed skaters always catch my eye with quad size!).

Some folks have very powerful quads but have issues recruiting the muscles of the posterior chain.  They allow the quads to handle all lower body movement. Having poor form can also contribute to you being quad dominant (majority of us are). If you are an athlete who notices that your weight is often in your toes you may be prone to this imbalance. If the coaches are always telling you to “get in your heels’ this is probably the correction they are cueing.

You’re much stronger on the backside comparable to the front side (Posterior VS. Anterior). The top priority in a training program should always be safety and function. That’s why using compound movements like squats and deadlifts provide excellent returns. In terms of strength building and promoting lean body mass they provide the most bang for your buck. People who focus too much on a single movement like squatting may be neglecting movement patterns that would keep them strong and healthy.

You should have an equal ratio of squat and lunge workouts to hinge and deadlift workouts. If you are quad dominant or lacking in the posterior chain department then that ratio should be 2 to 1 in favor of the hinge and pulling movements. As you are able to better recruit and develop the glutes and hamstrings then you can start to balance out the program you are following. Not only that but building a stronger posterior chain will make all of your lifts more powerful and you will look and feel better too!

Deadlifts, RDL’s, Kettlebell Swings, Good Mornings, Reverse Hypers, and Hip Thrusts are all excellent for beefing up those glutes and hamstrings. You can also adapt movements to make them more favorable to the posterior chain. Low bar back squats and box squat variations recruit more posterior chain than front squats do. Reverse lunges instead of forward or walking lunges will also be a better option to help you stay in your heels.

If it looks like you have a second kneecap then you might be in the running for quad dominance. Our training programs contain constant variance to make sure you are improving in all areas and eliminating weaknesses. Our coaches can help you through a series of assessments to determine what to focus on and how to get your body strong, healthy, and balanced.

Run For Your Life

Depending on your sport, you may or may not have dedicated time to your running technique. Even if your goals are focused on lifting heavy, knowing the proper way to run is beneficial and can be incorporated into any training routine. Adjusting the volumes and time domains around running is up to you and your coach but learning this skill is essential.

As humans our bodies have developed both the anatomy and energy systems to make us highly capable runners. It can be a great way to break up your training, provides you a chance to get into nature, and can be a great form of meditation.

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has
the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine

Running and Genetics

In the early evolution of humans we developed several characteristics that lead us to be exceptional long distance runners. The muscles of the legs and glutes grew stronger, our feet got bigger, our ability to cool down via sweating improved, and our brains improved at maintaining homeostasis during rigorous endurance activities. This allowed us to become “persistence hunters,” tracking animals for long distances
until they were too worn out to put up a fight.

Recreational Running

Fast forward to today. Long distance running and other feats of endurance are primarily recreational as we rarely need to hunt in order to eat. Running now optional, it has become a skill that some use and others lose. Running however, is part of what makes us human. It can only be assumed that having evolved and adapted as runners to optimize our physical health, running would play an important role.

Mental Health Benefits

Not only does running keep our body healthy but it also stimulates brain growth and function as well. Findings at the University of Liverpool found that “Aerobic exercise increases anterior hippocampus size. This expansion is linked to the improvement of memory, which reflects the improvement of learning as a function of running activity in animal studies.” Aerobic activity like running actually helps our brain improve function. Not only that but it can be a great way to sort out thoughts and clear your head when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Plus the release of endorphins provides an instant mood boost!

Why The Assault Runner

A curved treadmill burns calories faster, according to its makers, you can burn 30% more calories on a curved treadmill. Scientists measuring the physiologic intensity of a standard motorized treadmill compared to a non-motorized, curved treadmill reported stronger results from the latter. You’ll increase your heart rate faster and keep it up, increasing your need for oxygen and helping torch more calories than regular aerobic exercise. A curved treadmill engages more muscle groups, since you don’t have to push to propel yourself forward, traditional treadmills don’t actually activate your entire leg. Curved machines, on the other hand, force your legs to power them from the very start – activating everything from your glutes to your hamstrings to kickstart the machine. You can’t just flick an up switch to control the running speed, either – you can only increase the pace by working out harder. A curved treadmill is less harmful on the joints, you don’t have to sacrifice your running to save your knees. The rubber surface of a curved helps absorb the impact on your joints and connective tissue, preventing injuries often associated with pounding the ground. Standard treadmills aren’t designed to soak up this shock, meaning your joints are more prone to wear and tear over time.

If you care about squatting, nutrition, and mobility but can’t remember the last time you ran more than a mile it might be time to lace up. If you have questions or you are not sure where to start, talk to one of our trainers that can teach you the proper mechanics for running, sprinting, and other essential skills.

Mitch Stout

The Top Three Supplements for Healthy Digestion

How do you judge your gut health? Do you base it on having a stomachache or not? A stomachache isn’t the only identifying factor that sheds light on digestive issues. Discomforts are only a piece of the pie when it comes to having a healthy digestive system.

So why should you care about your digestive health? Digestion is responsible for turning all of the food we eat into something useful for our body. If you have weak digestion, your absorption of essential nutrients, your mood and of course bowel related pains become an issue. We need to make sure it is functioning at its best to ensure a healthy body.

Mitch Stout

Here are the top three supplements for healthy digestion (with a little help from Dr. Jessica Stout, D.O. [3rd year GI fellow]:

  • L-Glutamine:
    This amino acid is responsible for a lot of different functions in the body. Your body produces this naturally, but eating meats, seafood, milk, nuts, eggs, cabbage, & beans can also produce it. This amino amplifies the function of your digestive system, which means optimum nutrient absorption and organ health. “It is important in immune function, but unless you have a medical condition that is causing a glutamine deficiency or you aren’t eating any meat, you’re likely getting plenty of glutamine in your diet.” said Dr. Stout. If you can’t get enough of this amino acid in your diet, look into supplementing by protein powder/drinks to get enough in your system.
  • Pre & Probiotics:
    Your gut is home to hundreds of microorganisms helping to aid your immune system and digest your food properly. These wee little beasties also known as bacteria are largely responsible for the productive breakdown of nutrients in foods. “Probiotics are a hot topic of research right now. They have a lot of evidence for use in preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, but many other measurable health benefits have been disappointing. That being said, they’re almost definitely not harmful, and I have plenty of patients tell me anecdotal stories about “how much better” they feel after starting probiotics. This includes mood enhancement and improvement in symptoms of bloating and diarrhea. I often recommend trying them—unfortunately, you often get what you pay for, as the more expensive probiotics tend to be hardy and more diverse. Speaking of diverse—don’t eat the same foods over and over again. Mix it up, try a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. This will naturally improve the diversity of your gut flora,” said Dr. Stout.

 

Pre and probiotics make sure that your body is housing quality bacteria, instead of others that may promote disease and discomfort. Prebiotics are in foods such as whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurts, but also come in a pill form.

  • Fiber:
    This one is a no brainer. You’ve probably heard of it from your doctor or on the latest health supplement commercial. Having fiber in your diet helps to relieve your digestive tract of waste. “Why care about fiber? It keeps blood glucose low and prevents diabetes, lowers cholesterol, and also keeps stool moving through the bowel preventing constipation. It can also add bulk to stools and help with diarrhea. Not all fiber supplements are created equal, I recommend looking for the word “psyllium,” said Dr. Jessica Stout, DO. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day. If you don’t get enough, you become quite literally full of **it. This can lead to bloating, pain, an overgrowth of bad bacteria and essentially poor digestion. Fiber is important to include in your diet. Vegetables (green peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts), fruits (raspberries, pears, apples, bananas) and some grains (quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice) are natural sources of fiber. If you think you’re not getting enough, have a conversation with your doctor about how you can go about supplementing it. If you’re consuming fiber, be sure to focus on getting the recommended amount of water in your diet too, since fiber can’t do its job without it.

Nutrient breakdown starts with digestion and nutrients are the building blocks of your body. If you’re spending anytime in the gym trying to be healthy, don’t overlook the tool that helps fuel your engine. What’s your gut feeling?

5 Bodyweight Exercises That Will Make You Better At Everything

Mitch Stout

No doubt that in the past few months your workout routine has changed. Depending on the space available that was in your home and what equipment you have access to that change may have been drastic. If you really enjoy lifting heavy and make that the focus of your training then you may have gotten frustrated.

“Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are.”
-Teddy Roosevelt

Over the 6-8 weeks we were closed at WRCF, you had an awesome opportunity to deload your body, rehab nagging injuries, and bulletproof your body to come back to training ready to rock. There is a lot you can do right now that will strengthen your joints, build up core strength, and address imbalances and weaknesses that may have been holding you back while we were closed.

So check out the top 5 Bodyweight Exercises that will make you better at everything and show up to the gym ready to crush it!

  • Candlestick
  • Hollow Body Wall Walk Ups
  • Pullups
  • Pistol Squats
  • Glute Bridges
  1. Candlestick

Roll out the yoga mat or find some space on any type of floor. The candlestick is a fun exercise that has tremendous benefits. If you are about functional training this is perhaps the best demonstration of real world functional movement. In fact, the ability to move one’s own body from the ground to standing is a great indicator of fitness (burpees anyone?!). You will also learn coordination, balance, and build your core strength as you strive to maintain a hollow body position. Try filming yourself as you do these to refine your positions and maintain a global shape from head to toe. Candlesticks translate really well to pullups, toes-2-bar, pistols (single leg squats), etc. You’ll feel way more comfortable in the gymnastics field!

Check out a great video on the candlestick here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXoNNx-uOtU

  1. Hollow Body Wall Walk Ups

Wall walks for short. Think of these as planks taken to a whole new level. The key here is to maintain your position and not let your low back arch. If you are nervous to go all the way upside down or have trouble getting your nose all the way to the wall don’t worry. Just go as far as you safely and comfortably can – there are still so many benefits to doing this exercise!

Focus on moving slowly as you work on these and challenge yourself to spend more time under tension rather than completing the wall walk up as quickly as possible. Play around with different variations and mix in elements like shifting your weight from one hand to the other – this will have tremendous carryover to skills like handstand walking (or any variation of being upside down)!  It’s a whole new world upside down!

Pro Tip* Do not perform these on the bathroom door while someone else is in there! 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmbZyKmJwbo

  1. Pull Ups

Pull ups can’t be beat when it comes to upper body strength training. Build up your lats, arms, and core strength by adding these in daily. Pull ups respond well to training frequency so try to do more small sets throughout the day to build up your neuromuscular efficiency. Try doing sets that are 50% of your max number of pullups to ensure you are always able to rep them out (if 8 pullups is your max always do sets of 4 with plenty of rest in between). If doing your first pullup is the goal then focus on doing just the lowering phase of the movement. Step up so your chin starts over the bar and control your lowering at a steady rate of speed so that it takes at 4-5 seconds to get your arms fully extended at the bottom of the movement.

Most of us have picked up a basic pullup bar that can hang from a door frame but even if you missed the boat or don’t have the space we have you covered. Check out this video for pullup variations that don’t require a bar!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=299&v=vGAK2-_kn1U&feature=emb_logo

  1. Pistol Squats

Pistol squats (single leg squats) are a great way to maintain leg strength without any external load (Ex. barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.). They also improve your squat mechanics and mobility if you are disciplined with your form and really focus on movement quality. Make sure you are mobilizing your ankles and properly warming up before diving into pistol squats.

Below is a great progression you can use to warm up and train this beneficial movement!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WFpjKRP_HI

  1. Glute Bridge

The movement we all know and love and probably don’t do often enough (EVERY. DAY. For warm-up at Wellness, right?!?!). If you are working from home right now (or spending more time on the couch than usual) then set an alarm on your phone to drop and perform some glute bridges every hour. Your low back will thank you and so will your Levi’s!

There are a ton of variations of the glute bridge that you can train. Performing these as often as possible with your bodyweight will pay huge dividends. It can help alleviate back and sciatic pain and will also improve your squat and deadlift. Checking out this video is a great place to start.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl6xvm4-Qk0

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
-Vince Lombardi

Fitness is a mindset. Not an activity that you go to the gym to perform for an hour 4-5 times a week. Our gym and community is here to facilitate your fitness journey. Let us know if you need guidance, motivation, or just someone to sweat with (virtually or in-person)!