“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
Metabolic training is all the rage these days in the fitness world. We see fitness magazines, dvds, infomercials touting the miraculous benefits of this style of “new” trainng! There are even new certifications and continuing education for fitness professionals under the name. The way that metabolic training is being described and presented would lead us to think that it is a new way of training. However, metabolic training has been around a long time. We have just called it something different depending upon the latest buzz words. If you have heard of interval training, HIT, or even burst training then you have been exposed to metabolic training. These names refer to basically the same thing and style of training.
The goal is to maximize the amount of high intensity work in the minimal amount of time to maximize the total amount of calories and fat burned. We can view traditional strength training on the other end of the spectrum where an individual would complete a set and wait for 1-2 minutes or longer until they fell recovered before starting another set. During a traditional strength training session our work to rest ratio would be something like 30 seconds at most of work and 1-2 minutes rest for a ratio of 1:4. An example would be Straight Bar Squats or Pull ups for 6-10 reps and rest 2 minutes. An example of a metabolic or high intensity interval training workout would be to do a set of Straight Bar Squats, move right into pull ups with minimal rest for as many quality reps as possible and repeat with minimal rest between sets. We could add exerciseses into the circuit to give us more of a variety: e.g. Squats, pull ups, deadlifts, push ups, sit ups; rest 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. If we wanted to infuse sprints we could substitute sprints for the squats of the deadlifts.
-Remember to focus on quailty reps and good form;
-Use exercises that don’t overlap for consecutive exercises; for example doing a set of bench press followed by push ups or Squats then lunges
-Only take just enough time to catch your breathe between sets, approximately 10-15 seconds or less
-Metabolic training is done in half the time of Traditional Strength training and burns up to twice as many calories. Most of the calories and fat that you will burn from a Metabolic session will be after your workout, during the recovery and next few days.
All emotions are either based in love or they are based in fear.
One is empowering and one is dis-empowering. One is constructive and the other is destructive.
One is a positive emotion and the latter is a negative emotion.
Every emotion that we have can be categorized into or is derived from one or the other.
Kind of emotion
Emotions related to object properties
Attraction, desire, admiration
Aversion, disgust, revulsion
Indifference, familiarity, habituation
Future appraisal emotions
Event related emotions
Joy, elation, triumph, jubilation
Pride in achievement, self-confidence, sociability
Embarrassment, shame, guilt, remorse
Avarice, greed, miserliness, envy, jealousy
Our bodies react to these two different stimuli with two opposingly different hormonal responses as do other mamals.
Threatening stimuli causes us to release the fight or flight hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. While caring, calming, and compassionate stimuli induces the hormone oxytocin.
How Fear Makes us Fat
Fear can be healthy when in a life threatening situation, but how often does that really happen in today’s world? What is the most dangerous situation that you have been in and how often are you in these situations?
Even if you are part of the small percentage of people who are adrenaline junkies that jump off cliffs and skydive you are not in constant fear or scared for an extended period of time. Longer term stress, from 10 minutes to weeks or longer, induces the stress hormone Cortisol.
Gary and Marnia Robinson from their article Love and Fear explain,
The stress encountered by mammals—and our hunter-gatherer ancestors—was chiefly physical, not emotional. The most common physical stressors were probably starvation, long migrations, and critical injury. To cope with such emergencies, cortisol begins to break down non-essential organs and tissues to maintain blood sugar and feed vital organs. When cortisol stays at high levels, it automatically digests bones, muscles and joints to obtain these key nutrients. The result is elevated blood fats and sugar, which are related to many disorders. Another side effect is hunger; we reach for high-calorie foods.
Today our biggest long-term stressors are emotional and mental, not physical. In effect, we are a “new” scientific experiment. We face threats in the form of potential job loss, the pressure of commuting in heavy traffic, a barrage of fear-producing media, relationship disharmony in a marriage, etc. Even though these are not physical threats, our body has only one, automatic response: more cortisol. Cortisol is very hard on the body, so all these threats indirectly become physical threats.“
Cortisol can cause us to store excess abdominal fat, gain weight, increase blood pressure, increase plaque build up in our arteries, depression and anxiety….just to name a few negative effects fear can have on the body.
Love Can Make You Lean
Our second response to stimuli is love which releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has the ability to cancel out the negative effects of excess cortisol.
Oxytocin is produced naturally when we love as cortisol is produced naturally when we are scared. We can increase this amazing hormone through hugging, meditating, massage, yoga, exercise, prayer, cuddling (my favorite), and bonding with others to name a few.
Oxytocin has a wide array of benefits:
- Reduces negative stress
- neutralizes the negative effects of cortisol
- Induces uterian contractions during child birth
- Aids in lactaction in mothers of newborns
- Responsible for the mother’s instant attachement to her newborn at first touch
- Lowers blood pressure
- Bonding and making connections with others
- Speeds healing
- Reduces cravings (with food and other drugs)
We can all use more love in our lives. Whether we are giving more love or recieving more, they both have huge benefits for everyone involved. When we give love and when we recieve love oxytocin is released. Take time out of your day to hug someone you love or even a stranger who needs it, pray for someone who needs it, meditate on anything positive, and exercise. When you find yourself reaching for that late night sweet, take a step back and try really loving yourself by giving your body what it really needs.
Have you ever had a dream where you could fly and do anything you wanted without any fear or possibility of being hurt? Normal limitations didn’t apply, like gravity or pain. Perhaps you can remember a time when you were unstoppable and everything you did was spot on. You were at your best, you were in the ZONE!
Here are accounts of athletes describing their experience of pinnacle performance:
“ a strange calmness; it was a type of euphoria; I felt I could run all day without tiring, that I could dribble through any of their team or all of them, that I could almost pass through them physicall.” – Edson Arantes Do Nascimento (Brazilian soccer legend Pele’)
“It’s a very strange felling. It’s as if time slows down and you see everything so clearly. You just know that everything about your technique is spot on. It just feels so effortless; it’s almost as if you’re floating across the track. Every muscle, every fibre, every sinew is working in complete harmony and the end product is that you run fantastically well.” – Mark Richardson (1996 Winter Olympics Gold medalist)
“I’m Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to football. When I’m on the field sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing out there. People ask me about this move or that move, but I don’t know why I did something, I just did it. I am able to focus out the negative things around me and just zero in on what I am doing out there. Off the field I become myself again.” -Walter Payton (Hall of Fame NFL running backs)
“At that special level all sorts of odd things happened….It was almost as if we were playing in slow motion. During those spells I could almost sense how the next play would develop and where the next shot would be taken. Even before the other team brought the ball in bounds, I could feel it so keenly that I’d want to shout to my teammates, “It’s coming there!” –except that I knew everything would change if I did. My premonitions would be consistently correct, and I always felt then that I not only knew all the Celtics by heart but also all the opposing players, and they all knew me.” – Bill Russell (NBA legend)
Mihaly Csikszentmikhalyi, a western psychologist and leading scientific researcher in the area of flow, a.k.a. the zone, describes the flow as completely focused motivation, a single minded immersion that utilizes your emotions for peak performance and learning. Csikszentmikhalyi has found 10 factors that are hallmarks of the state of flow.
1. Clear goals where expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities. Challenge level and skill should be both high. Your practice should resemble the competition as much as possible.
2. Concentration on a limited field of attention. Fully focused on the task at hand. Being present in the moment. Eliminate distractions. Practice meditation and breathing exercises to clear your mind.
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness. Become one with your craft.
4. A Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered. When we were kids we would play outside for hours.
5. Direct and immediate feedback. Be able to assess your performance quickly and make changes immediately.
6. Balance between ability level and challenge.
7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so that there is effortlessness in the action. You must enjoy the activity. Remember why you started playing.
9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs. Use the restroom before you compete, stay hydrated and fueled.
10. Absorption into the activity, action awareness immerging.
Buddhist PhD Andrew Cooper, a leading expert and researcher of the zone, describes this phenomenon as:
“profound joy, acute intuition (which at times feels like precognition), a feeling of effortlessness in the midst of intense exertion, a sense of the action taking place in slow motion, feelings of awe and perfection, increased mastery, and self-transcendence.”
The way that the athletes have described their record breaking performances sounds dream and mystical like. They seem to be in a trance like state where they could close their eyes and play. To induce these peak state performances of invincibility:
Become one with your craft. Put in the time to perfect your skills.
Love what you do. You should associate pure joy with your craft. When you love what you do it is no longer work.
Practice mindfulness and meditation. Be able to eliminate distractions at will. The better you are at staying focused the easier it will be for you to get and stay in the zone.
Practice loving self talk and self awareness. Pay attention to your thoughts. Be able to replace and or change negative self talk quickly. This will improve your confidence.
Go and grow beyond yourself. Be part of something greater than yourself. Practice forgetting about yourself and your ego. Grow for the greater good.
Being your best will never be achieved strictly through physical training. We must train the mind with the same intensity and purpose of improving our game. Spiritual practices have proven successful throughout the world before scientific methods were ever employed. By synchronizing our body and mind, we can grow on the eternal rhythm of the universe. Living for something greater than ourselves will truly make us invincible and our spirit unstoppable!
I originally wrote this article for the guys over at Diesel Crew and it was published last month on their website. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, then go ahead and save their address in your browser now www.dieselcrew.com Jed and Smitty are true artists at their craft and are always posting the newest and most innovative tips in the strength and conditioning field.
Knee injuries are some of the most common pests among athletes and anyone who is active. The knee joint is subjected to the highest forces during physical activity because it is between the two longest levers and it is surrounded by the most powerful muscles in the body. An athlete must be able to run, jump, and cut with the utmost efficiency while minimizing the probability of injury.
Knee stability is the ability to keep the knee in proper alignment under significant stresses and forces while your body is in motion. Increasing knee stability will increase performance and decrease the likelihood of injuries not just to the knees, but above and below the knees.
Surprisingly, knee stability starts with ankle mobility. When the ankle does not have enough range of motion to complete a movement, the knee is likely to be forced out of alignment to compensate for this deficit.
The following two exercises will improve ankle mobility during dorsal flexion to minimize compensation by the knee and increase knee stability:
Wall Touch with Knees
Stand with your feet flat and toes almost touching the wall. You need to be far enough away from the wall so you can bend both knees until they touch the wall while keeping your heels on the floor. Make sure that your big toes, knees, hips and shoulders are square facing straight towards the wall and that your heels stay on the floor. You should be able to feel the stretch in your feet, ankles and calves. Your knees may be a bit stiff, so don’t be surprised.
After successfully touching your knees against the wall while keeping your feet flat, take a small step back (about 2 inches) and repeat. Continue to work yourself away from the wall to the point where you can no longer keep your feet flat and heals heels down. You should eventually be able to touch the wall with correct foot positioning at the previous distance you were unable to and in the process loosen up your knees, ankles and feet.
Place both hands in front of you on the wall right below shoulder height and lean forward as if you were pushing the wall away from you. Take a big step back with your left foot as you continue to push against the wall. You want to feel a stretch in the left calf muscle. Keep your left foot, knee and hips pointed straight ahead towards the wall.
Try to keep your left foot flat as you stretch your left ankle, calf and all the way up into your hip. This exercise can be used as part of your dynamic warm-up or part of your post-workout stretching to decrease soreness and increase flexibility. To utilize this exercise before a workout you want to stay in motion. Once you feel the stretch along the back of your left leg, alternate feet by stepping forward with the left leg into a lunge position and back with the right leg to be straightened and stretched.
As a warm-up, the actual stretch should take approximately 5 seconds. When using this stretch at the end of a workout I would recommend holding it for a minimum of 30 seconds and repeating it at least twice on both sides.
Strengthening the Glutes
Weak glute muscles lead to a lack of leg stability and also increase the probability of knee injuries. I always tell my clients, “it is all about the glutes,” because it truly is. Glutes are the largest muscle in the human body. Our large glutes keep us walking upright, which and is one of the biggest anatomical differences between us and apes. Strong glutes protect not only the knees but the lower back. The glutes are the major player of the core and surround the body’s center of gravity.
Lateral Tube Walk
This lateral tube walking exercise will activate and strengthen the glutes.
Grab a light to medium resistance band/tubing. Stand on the center of the resistance band holding each end in opposite hands so the band crosses in front of you. Once the band is crossed in front of you, bring your hands up to shoulder height. The end of the band coming from under your right left foot should be held onto by the right hand in front of the right shoulder.
Just as in the previous two exercises you will want to keep your big toes, knees, hips, and shoulders facing straight ahead. Take a step to your side without leaning over with your upper body and without turning your foot out. Take two more steps to the side, now take three steps back to the starting position in the opposite direction. Complete 15 repetitions in each direction. You want to make sure you are stepping out to the side with the outside of your lead hip. This will ensure that you are feeling it and working the hip abductors and the gluteus medius and minimus (deep hip muscles along the back and sides).
There is a tendency to turn the lead foot out which will activate the wrong muscle, the Tensor Fascia Latte (TFL) and psoas (hip flexors). Watch the video below and you will see how the athlete, Badger, turns his feet out. Try to avoid this while doing this exercise.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
A single leg stability ball glute bridge works the deep stabilizer muscles of the hip, gluteus medius and minimus. Master this exercise with both feet on the floor first before advancing to the single leg bridge. You should be able to hold your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line and parallel to the floor for a minimum of 1 minute and 30 seconds before advancing to the single leg bridge:
Sit on an exercise/stability ball that is the correct size for your height. One way to quickly assess this is by getting into the correct starting position for this exercise. If your head is not level with your knees, then you need to find one that will place your head at the same height as your knees when lying down with the back of your head and shoulders supported on the ball and feet flat on the floor. The butt/hips should be raised to the same height as your head and knees.
Finally I leave you with a fully integrated exercise that challenges not only knee stability, but total body stability, coordination, and balance. A single leg dead lift with a wood chop is a must in anyone’s program.
Straight Leg Deadlift (SLDL) with Wood Chopper
Hold a 5 lb medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands. While balancing on one foot slightly bend the balancing leg’s knee and keep the knee bent throughout the exercise. Next bend forward from the hip as is if you were gently placing the item on the floor to the outside of the balancing leg’s foot. The opposite foot and leg will raise up behind you at the same rate the upper body is descending towards the floor, maintaining a straight line with your spine. Stop your descent using the large muscles in the back of your balancing leg right before you’re able to set the dumbbell or ball on the ground. Return to a standing position and twist the ball over the shoulder opposite your balancing leg.
You want to feel the large muscles in the back of the leg (glutes and hamstrings) doing the movement. The stability foot will want to curl up, which is likely to cause fatiguing in the foot, ankle and calf before the larger muscle groups. Focus on keeping your weight back on your heel, keeping your foot from trying to grab the floor, curling up, and using the glute to lift you up by driving through your heel.
We need a strong foundation upon which to build our strength. Mobility and stability precede strength and should be prioritized in programming accordingly to build and maintain your foundation. To squat, first you must be able to squat to parallel (mobility and range of motion) without losing your balance (stability) and with correct form. Only then can you safely lift anything beyond your own body weight.
Nick Outlaw is a personal trainer in Raleigh, N.C. He is nationally certified through American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer and has helped hundreds of clients change their lives in the 8 years he has been training. His experience includes, but is not limited to college and pro athletes, sports specific, strength and conditioning, functional training, post rehabilitation patients, a physical therapy clinical setting, and general fitness, toning and weight loss. Nick has a BS from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While attending college he competed in the Power Lifting and endurance competitions where he placed in the top three every time. His Senior Research project was an in depth study of ideal body images in American culture.
A unilateral movement such as a one leg squat is used mainly for stability. However a one leg squat does require much coordinated strength as well, but not as much power that a “traditional” squat with both feet on the floor and 300lbs on your back would require. Further, with the one leg series you will not have to worry about putting such a tremendous stress and strain on your spine. If you are interested in begining to learn the safest and most effective way to start a one leg training program you can contact me for further guidance and instruction at www.raleighpersonaltrainer.org
Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a group max interval work out. Interval training has gotten a bunch of hype within the past 5 years because of the return on time investment, 20-30 minutes of exercise for the same calorie burn as most hour to hour and a half workouts.
With interval training you can burn a high number of calories in a short time because you are ramping up your intensity between 90-100% exertion for short periods of time, then resting for longer or shorter (depending on fitness level) periods and then repeating.
The concept of max interval training is to push yourself on an exercise to the max or as close to it for a minute or longer, then rest for 30 seconds to a minute (or no rest at all) and go to the next exercise. This is similar to circuit training done with resistance/weight.
Usually the exercises are more aerobically inclined or cardiovascularly challenging when termed interval training. Hyperfitness and Insanity are two popular versions of this type of training. Below is a list of a sample to try if you’ve never done max interval training.
A) Burpees for 1 minute
B) Alternating Reverse Plyometric lunges for 1 minute