4 Tips To Help You Get Started

Most of us have no problem once we’re at the gym, on the trail, or biting into a salad. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. But getting to that point. Doing the “healthy thing” or the “hard thing” that we know will benefit us. That can be a bit trickier.

There is a certain amount of activation energy we must muster anytime we want to break out of our normal habit patterns. It’s hard to make will power override the status quo every time we need to make a decision though. If you’re someone who finds themselves frequently running into barriers when it comes to healthy habits then this article is for you!

Here are 4 Tips to help you get started on your healthy habits!

1. Define your task.
2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.

1.Define your task.
Specificity is your friend when it comes to taking action. The more focused and detailed your pursuit is, the more likely you will be to get it done. Just think about the following 3 statements:

  • “I’m going to eat healthy today.”
  • “I’m going to have a salad for lunch.”
  • “I’m going to eat a vegetable and lean protein with each meal and avoid eating sugar today.”

Which person do you think is going to have the most success with their healthy eating today?

Ding ding ding! If you said person number three you are absolutely correct. This person took an approach that set them up for success in their meal choices for the day. Notice that they didn’t have to do anything special to make this happen. The short amount of time it takes to plan how you will attack your healthy habit will pay tremendous dividends in the end!

2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
As we talked about before, there is always a certain amount of activation energy required to start a new habit or task. If we can reduce the amount of activation energy it will be easier to get started.

That’s science right? Boom!

So how do we actually apply this concept? There are a ton of ways. Let’s say the habit is to go to the gym at 6am tomorrow morning. What are all the things that could make your trip to the gym happen successfully? You could:

  • Set your alarm so that you have enough time to wake up, get ready, and drive to the gym with 10-15 minutes to spare.
  • Set up your morning coffee and a simple breakfast so it’s ready to go.
  • Set a bedtime alarm reminding you to shut down the tech and get ready for bed at a desirable time.
  • Pick out your gym clothes and anything else you need to start your day off as a success.
  • RSVP/Sign up for the class.
  • Coordinate with a friend to carpool together to class. (This is a great way to stay accountable!)

The less you have to do in any given moment the easier it will be to take action. Try to eliminate as many barriers as possible that would present as an obstacle to your goal.

3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
If you struggle to prepare healthy meals or don’t really like to exercise maybe you just haven’t found the approach that works for you. Trying a group fitness class, small group session, or personal training appointment might help you figure out the right environment and type of support you need to make going to the gym “not so bad” 🙂

If cooking and eating healthy is a struggle try to come up with a ritual that makes meal prep more fun. Invite a friend over, crank up some tunes, or binge watch one of your favorite shows while you chop veggies and cook up your meals for the week!

4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.
Studies have shown that people who publicly announce their goals or intentions are actually less likely to follow through on them. When you tell someone “I’m going to lose 10 lbs” or “I’m going to hit the gym 5 days a week” it feels good at the moment. According to the study, that sense of completeness you feel will make you less effective than if you were to keep the goals to yourself.

So what should you do instead? Write down the goals you have or some of the changes you want to make. Discuss a plan of action with an experienced coach who can tell you what it takes to get there. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Get it done.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you get started towards your wellness goals.

When you hear that alarm go off in the morning and your first instinct is to hit that snooze button remember this maxim from Marcus Aurelius, “Is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” Remember it is human nature to seek comfort. But it is our most basic desire that we are satisfied in the process. Hold yourself to that higher standard. The delayed gratification of getting out of bed for a walk or to hit the gym will improve your life and fulfillment in the long run. The warm bed feels good in the moment, but you’ll sleep easier knowing your actions are aligned with your words.

Wes Wilson

3 Areas That Are Essential To Mobilize

“It’s not enough to exercise, you have got to sleep. You have got to drink enough water. You have got to develop a practice around maintenance of your body. You have got to learn how to move right.” -Kelly Starrett

Let’s face it, there are times when movement prep and cool-down take a back seat to the actual workout. You might be guilty of jumping right into your main lift of the day because you’re short on time. Maybe your post workout cool-down consists of some gasping and sweat angels on the floor before lumbering to the parking lot in search of your protein shake?

Yes, you can make an argument about how kids don’t stretch before taking off at the playground, but with a few rare exceptions all of us need to make time for mobility if we are training hard. Mobility is equal parts injury prevention and performance benefit. If you want to perform at your maximum capability it is well worth the investment of time. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t take much! Let’s look at 3 major areas that can make a huge difference in mobility.

1.Ankles
2.Psoas
3.Thoracic spine

1.Ankles
Tight ankles can be a major impediment in your daily training. If you feel like you are hitting a wall in your lifts and want to improve your squats, deadlifts, cleans, and snatches you may want to give some serious attention to your ankles.

Our musculoskeletal system generates movement through the contraction of muscles on a series of levers, our bones. Some positions are more advantageous than others and our goal as athletes is to take advantage of these positions to generate more power in our lifts.

Shortened range of motion in the ankle will make it difficult to maintain powerful positions in the squat because to achieve depth the body must borrow additional range of motion. This compensation is often shown by the individual turning their feet out to the sides. This is often a less favorable position for our muscles to produce optimal force from and can increase risk of injury.

To prep the ankles and increase range of motion practice sitting in the bottom position of a pistol (1-legged) squat. A pistol squat forces the ankle of the working leg to dorsiflex, or shorten the angle created at the ankle joint.

2.Psoas
The psoas is a tricky muscle that often slips under the radar. It runs from the head of the femur in the hip socket and travels up attaching to the lumbar spine. If the psoas tightens it reduces range of motion in the hip socket and simultaneously pulls the lumbar spine down and in. This usually shows up as pain in the low back.

Mobilize the psoas by exploring positions of hip extension. Think about the backswing of the leg before you kick a ball. This means creating space with movements like the couch stretch. Your low back will thank you.

3.Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine or t-spine for short refers to the series of vertebrae the length of your rib cage, from the neck down to mid spine. As you can imagine, this area is profoundly impacted by the activities we perform and the positions we keep it in. Sedentary behavior and poor posture will cause the thoracic region to become immobile and lose its ability to flex and extend. This becomes problematic and dangerous especially when overhead movements are involved.

Just like with our ankles, a lack of mobility causes our body to compensate and search for movement in alternative areas when hitting an end range of motion. This means losing stability in order to allow for additional mobility. When the thoracic spine is tight our body finds extra space in the lumbar spine and/or scapula region. Chronic injuries and inflammation tend to spring up in these areas if we continually force this movement during exercises like the overhead press or kipping on the pull-up bar.

These are just 3 areas where mobility can make a huge difference in your performance and your health. If you want to learn more about ways to improve your mobility stop in to speak with one of our coaches today.

Wes Wilson

The Beginners Guide to Stability Training

Stability training is an important and often overlooked element of training. Whether it’s your first day in the gym or you are a veteran athlete you can benefit from stability training. Our bodies are forced to accommodate the demands of sport and life. To prevent falling, maintain balance, and moving our bodies and external objects through space requires stability and motor control over our muscles and joints. Improving one’s ability to stabilize is an essential skill in life!

So how do you get started at training this essential skill? Let’s answer some of the common questions around what stability training so you can start training it today.

One. What is stability training?

Two. How Should I incorporate stability training into my workout?

Three. What does stability exercise look like?


One. What is stability training?
Stability training can be defined as maintaining control or a joint movement or body position by coordinating actions of the surrounding muscles and central nervous system. It can be achieved using bodyweight movements or through some form of resistance training such as with free weights. When most people think of stability training they think of someone balancing on a Bosu ball or foam pad waving their arms around trying to maintain balance.

Stability training doesn’t actually require any special equipment and for most people, it’s actually totally unnecessary. In fact, all that training on an unstable surface does is limit the ability to add intensity or load to train the working muscle groups.

Which brings us to question number two.

Two. How Should I incorporate stability training into my workout?
The most effective way to incorporate stability training into your training is actually through strength training on stable surfaces. Through resistance training with free weights and bodyweight movements you can improve the strength and endurance of the most commonly underworked stabilizers and core muscles. Training unilateral (1 arm or 1 leg) movements will ensure that you minimize any imbalances that may occur with a typical barbell or machine training.

Focus on balancing in different positions as you move your own bodyweight through space is a great way to assess your athleticism and identify areas for improvement.

Three. What does stability exercise look like?
Stability exercises could include movements like single-leg deadlifts and lunges and will help strengthen the muscles that stabilize the knee joint. Using dumbbells or kettlebells for movements like bent-over rows or pressing movements will help improve stability and proprioception. Using basic jumping and plyometric exercises with a focus on “sticking” the landing position is also a great way to improve balance and stability.

Stability training can help us all enjoy a better quality of life. From playing with our kids to playing recreational or competitive sports it can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

If you’re looking for a training routine that works for you get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Wes Wilson

3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors. Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back.

Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

Wes Wilson

The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing for Your Elbow Health

Still have that nagging elbow pain that won’t go away? It can prevent you from even picking up your coffee cup if it is really aggravated and will keep you out of the gym for days at a time.

This type of pain often occurs as inflammation due to overuse of the forearm muscles. The symptoms of “tennis elbow” or “lateral epicondylitis” can be mitigated with ice or NSAIDs, but your goal should not be to deal with the symptoms.

Wes Wilson

Prevention is always the best measure and there are exercises you can do that will act as a rehab and prehab. Here is the best exercises you’re probably not doing for your elbow health. Adding this exercise in to finish your workout is a great way to combat elbow pain and prevent it from coming back! Enter the Zottman curl.

The Zottman Curl:

The Zottman curl is one of the best and most efficient exercises that you should be doing if you care about performance in grip heavy workouts with rope climbs, kettlebell swings, and deadlifts. This is also a great movement to prevent elbow pain from occurring.

You won’t need much weight to start ( especially if you’re rehabbing an injury). These curls are extremely hubbling and are very challenging on the biceps and extensor muscles in your forearms if performed correctly.

Start with a pair of dumbbells and a supinated grip. Perform a bicep curl and pause in the top position or :01-:02 with your biceps fully contracted. Slowly rotate your hands into a pronated (palms down) position before lowering the weight. In the bottom position rotate your palms back to a supinated position before performing your next rep.

Pro tip:
Performing these from a tall kneeling position on both knees will help you activate your core and glutes simultaneously and prevent you from cheating on the curl.

Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of this exercise with a light to moderate load. You should be able to perform these curls at the beginning or end of your workout 2-3 days each week. Give the Zottman Curl a try and bulletproof those elbows today!

The 4 Best Lateral Movements to Include in your Training Regimen

Lateral movements often get overlooked, but these kinds of movements are actually the best way to prevent injuries and increase your athleticism. Lateral movements are the side to side movements you see in sports and are key to a healthier you.

Things like running, walking, cooking, weight lifting-these all happen forward to backwards. This is where we spend most of our time and can actually create deficiencies in our joints and muscles when we only train these movements on a regular basis. Lack of training lateral movements can result in knee injuries and other various sprained or torn ligaments.

Wes Wilson

The best way to avoid these deficiencies and strengthen any underused joint or muscle is obvious: train lateral movement.

Add these movements on to your weekly workout routines as a pre workout warm-up or post workout cool down. It will do wonders for your fitness training and longevity.

Here is a great place to start. Try to complete three rounds of 12-15 reps of the following:

Side Planks

Trains the obliques or the “sides” of your core musculature. Planks are a static movement. The goal is to resist breaking the side plank position. Whether you are positioned on your elbow or stacked on an extended hand, focus on maintaining a solid midline and touching your top hip to the ceiling. This will prevent any sagging on the working side. Hold for 10-15 seconds, gradually increasing as it gets too easy, repeat for 10-12 reps.

Side leg raises

These can be performed laying down or standing. If you’re looking for extra points, try these standing to challenge your balance. Standing on one leg, while activating your core, gaze straight out at a fixed point. Once you feel balanced, flex your foot (toes towards the shin, and pointed forward) and raise your heel as far up as you can until you feel a contraction on the outside of your hip. You can use a wall or chair for some extra balance. This exercise trains the outsides of the legs, strengthening and protecting the ligaments and muscles around the knee and hip joints.

Side Lunges/ cossack squats

This exercise helps with knee and ankle mobility. It trains outsides of legs, balance, stability, and ankle mobility. Begin with your feet together and step out with the right leg into a wide sumo stance. Begin to sit back putting all of your wait on your right leg as you send your weight down and back. Go as far as is comfortable. You can drive out on this leg back to a neutral standing position, then repeat on the left, or you can gently send your weight through the middle and lunge into the left side. This variation would be more like a cossck squat rather than a side lunge. Do what you are most comfortable with. While completing this movement, notice if your knee is tracking in line with your toe. If you can’t see your big toe on the inside of your knee, chances are you’re letting your knees cave it, which would not be great for your knee joints. When in doubt, grab a coach to get this one dialed in.

Lateral Box Step ups

Trains legs, core, outside of knees, insides of knees, ankles and balance. Stand on the side of a lower box, adjusting the height as necessary. Balancing on the outer leg, use your inner leg (closest to the box) to drive your weight and step up and onto the box, leaving your outside leg to float at the top, then slowly lower onto the outside leg and step down off of the box. Start at a low height and work up to a place you feel challenged, but secure.

Lateral movements are important to incorporate into your workout routines. If all else fails, grab your weightlifting partner and turn up the Cotton Eye Joe.

Happy side stepping!

3 Nutrition Tips When You’re Stuck at Home

Wes Wilson

Under a Stay at Home order, a lot changes in your normal everyday activity. You aren’t doing your two-a-day workouts, maybe your parks are closed so you’re not running around enjoying the weather, or maybe your pick-up basketball games have come to a halt. The point is that we’ve all become a little less active than we’d like if we’re forced to forgo all of our normal activities.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself..”
-Leo Tolstoy

If your activity has gone way down in the past few months, you may be experiencing unwanted body composition changes. So let’s tackle the best things you can do if you’ve adopted a mostly sedentary lifestyle with a little too much “Netflix and Chill”.

Here are the top 3 nutrition tips when you’re stuck at home:

  1. Replace processed carbs with veggies.
  2. Eat smaller portions.
  3. Keep a food journal.

 

1.Replace Refined or Processed Carbohydrate Sources With Veggies (Preferably Green)

This is an easy one to start doing today. If you normally have cereal for breakfast, think about how you can swap out these refined carbs for a vegetable. Maybe have an egg omelet with spinach instead? Or a smoothie with a scoop of added greens. For Lunch, try replacing the bread of your sandwich with a salad. For Dinner, maybe some steamed veggies with some protein and healthy fats? The point of this is to replace your normal carb sources with vegetable sources because when you’re sedentary more often, you need to keep your fiber and nutrient content of your diet high. 

You are also burning much less energy, and high energy carbohydrates like rice, bread, and cereal will most likely get stored rather than used during this time. Many folks out there count macros, but understand that different sources of carbohydrates do get stored differently in the body. If you’re counting macros, be especially aware of where you’re getting your carbohydrates from when your activity level decreases.

2. Smaller Portions

If you’re eating the exact same portions you were eating before getting quarantined, chances are you’re consuming a bit too much for your energy needs. In addition to switching out your carbohydrate sources for nutrient dense veggies (that will up your immune system by the way) you’ll most likely need to eat a little less per meal. Here’s what your new quarantine plate should look like on a normal dinner plate: Fill your plate with about 70% veggies, 20% protein, and 10% fat. 

3. Keep A Food Journal

Sometimes when we’re home, we tend to snack unnecessarily. By keeping a food journal of everything you eat, you’ll be way more aware of any extra calories you are consuming throughout the day. One of the biggest benefits of keeping a food journal is that it makes you more mindful and in touch with your hunger cues so you don’t eat based on boredom. Getting in touch with the feelings you have when you are eating is a great way to raise awareness and help you improve decision making.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
-Abraham Maslow

Having trouble keeping your nutrition on track right now? We want to talk to you and help you get a plan in place to feel on track and in control!

Just Not Your Type

Ever feel like all the hard work you’re putting in isn’t paying off? Maybe you are sticking to a diet that one of your friends swears by and you haven’t lost a pound. What gives?!

You may be struggling to achieve results if the plan you’re on doesn’t best line up with what your body actually needs. Knowing your body type could help you bring your nutrition game to the next level. There are three different body types known as somatotype.

Wes Wilson

The 3 somatotypes are ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. They are each characterized based on body shape and composition. I bet you will be able to quickly identify which somatotype you must align with.

Ectomorphs are generally leaner and long limbed folks. If you are an ectomorph you may have a more slender build and find it difficult to put on muscle or gain weight at all. Many ectomorphs find themselves drawn to endurance activities like running due to their bodies natural proclivity to endurance events.

Mesomorphs are naturally muscular folks. They tend to have broader shoulders and gain muscle easily when training without putting on fat. Mesomorphs may be the classic build you picture of a gymnast or football player.

Endomorphs tend to have a larger build and may put on muscle, but also body fat easily. Classically “big boned,” these folks may remind you of a powerlifter, strong man competitor, or football lineman.

Knowing which type you are can be useful when it comes to your eating choices and may help you identify which exercises you may perform best at. Your body type helps give insights to how your genetics and body may react to certain foods. For example, are you insulin resistant or sensitive and how can you determine this?

If you are an ectomorph you may thrive off of a higher carbohydrate diet even consuming over 50% of your calories as carbs. Endomorphs who tend to store fat will do better on a lower carb diet and would do better to consume a higher protein and moderate fat diet. Mesomorphs fall into the middle and can do well with a balanced diet like a zone diet that is 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein. As you perform more strength training you may find that you are able to better tolerate carbs in your diet, because your insulin sensitivity improves.

Body types aren’t all about looks. You can also use this approach to eat in ways that support activities where certain body types thrive. For example, if you’re an ectomorph body type, you’ll thrive doing endurance activities more than heavy weightlifting. That doesn’t mean you should limit yourself though. Most of us are not purely one somatotype and you can always train in the direction that aligns with your goals. Just because you aren’t naturally inclined to a certain activity or style of heating doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals.

Body types are not a one size fits all approach, but can be a good place to start if you’re struggling with fat loss, muscle gain, or even fatigue. Knowledge is power and hopefully you can use this to improve your decision making around your training and diet. If you have questions just let us know!