The cost of progress

skinned knucklesThe problem with a weekend heavy-bag workout is that it’s easy to get carried away and go at it a little too hard! Especially when you throw an energizing playlist into the mix!

Today’s twelve-round slug-fest was hard in all sorts of ways, and adding abs and footwork into the rest intervals keeps the heart-rate elevated for the entire thirty minute workout. Unfortunately, despite using hand-wraps and good punching form, over twelve two-minute rounds, you will miss with a few punches, and that’s when the (wrong) knuckles can take a battering.

Still, a little skin lost is a reasonable investment in shifting that visceral body fat. You also get to release all your pent-up frustrations from the week past!

Closing thoughts: It never ceases to amaze me just how much harder music can push you in a workout. I have an awesome playlist that I listen to for cardio workouts and it can literally drive me to the point of exhaustion… and skinned knuckles! 

Weekly round-up #13

When it comes to health and fitness, the Internet is a mixed blessing. Yes, there is great information out there, but unfortunately, the good (useful, accurate, valuable) material is outnumbered 1,000,000:1 by inaccurate, misleading BS.

If you are to truly make progress on your goals–be that getting healthy, improving strength or shifting visceral bellyfat–you’ll need to start following people that can actually help move you in the right direction. Here’s excerpts from just three of the people I follow on a regular basis.

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Intermittent Fasting: It could just be the difference

nofoodIntermittent Fasting (IF) is a style of eating, not a diet. It is also not the silver bullet to fat loss that some might claim it to be. It IS, however, something you should know about, research and ultimately try for yourself.

Three quick sources for you to do some homework:

For me, IF works. In fact, it almost works too well and an eight hour eating window makes it hard to get all the calories I need when trying to gain muscle. However, when I am trying to lean out, combining an IF regimen with a healthy diet, balanced macros and a good training program makes a big difference. As a bonus, the IF protocol has hidden benefits:

  1. More free time to do more things; less time thinking about and planning eating.
  2. You care a lot more about what you put in your mouth when you’ve been fasting for 16 hours.
  3. You learn to appreciate your food more and associate being hungry with being healthy.

Closing thoughts: Don’t dismiss an approach or idea without doing your homework. Also, be prepared to invest some of your own time in trying and evaluating a diet or workout regimen. What works for one, may or may not work for another — but you won’t know unless you try! 

Not every workout will go to plan

MMA Heavy BagI worked from home today and didn’t have access to the gym. So that meant mixing things up and improvising with what I have at home… which isn’t much!

The “plan” was to unhitch the heavy-bag and go through a series of lifting, pulling, pressing movements with it as many times as possible in 20 minutes. This particular routine is more about metabolic stimulation than it is strength and conditioning…

Anyway, after setting-up and trying a few of the movements, I knew I’d miscalculated. On the downside, the “plan” went out the window within seconds as I quickly realized there was no way on earth I could complete the sequence as written. On the plus side, it turned out to be a grueling workout!

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That’s how winning is done!

balboaThis scene from Rocky Balboa gets me every time. Every. Single. Time.

Heck, I even have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I proof-read this post!

Yes, I know it’s a movie, and sure, the words are explicitly intended to create a sense of drama and elicit an emotional response from the audience. But there are quite literally thousands (millions?) of movies, books and theatrical works that try to achieve the same result and fail. Of course, one’s reaction to any given dialog or scene is a deeply personal experience. But why is it then, that this speech from Balboa to his son stirs so much emotion in me?

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Goals + Motivation ≠ Success

running-skyWhen individuals fail to meet their goals, they often attribute it to not being sufficiently motivated enough to see things through. However, in my experience goals plus motivation seldom equate to success.

Consider this common scenario:

  • A goal or desired outcome is conceived, usually as a result of some external influence, and motivation to move toward that goal is high.
  • For a few weeks, concrete progress is made toward the goal and you start to see results.
  • Then, just as everything appears to be going well, life gets in the way: Work gets busy. Events come-up. You travel. Friends and family vie for your attention. Chores need to be done. You get injured. You’re not sleeping well. The list goes on…
  • Slowly but surely, motivation wanes and progress slows to a crawl or even stops completely.

So why is it then that, despite having concrete goals and good amount of motivation, you don’t accomplish your aim?

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Appropriately sore

sleepykittyToday was a rest day; an opportunity for my body to recover from the first two workouts of the week. Now sure, I am not quite as tired as this little fella, but I am appropriately sore from my efforts.

The week started out with lower body on Monday and upper body on Tuesday, with both sessions largely focused on increasing strength. And I did feel strong, in spite of the super-set format and short rest intervals. Still, there’s a long way to go this week with a second round of full-body conditioning on Thursday and an intense, metabolic stressor on Friday.

That reminds me, I’m working from home Friday so I need to think about an alternative to the barbell complex I’ve been using at the gym. Unhooking the heavy-bag and manhandling that for the 20 mins seems like the only viable option, although I’ll need to figure out some straps or ties to help with grip.

Closing thought: The importance of rest days is easily overlooked and more often than not, resting feels counter-intuitive to achieving your goals. However, if you are following any sort of strength or conditioning program, the rest days are when you actually get stronger!