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  • 16 Feb 2017
    Keeping a workout journal is one of the most effective ways to get the most from yourself in the gym and the weight room. Here’s how to maximize its use. Okay, so you’ve decided to fully commit to your goals in the gym, or you are frustrated with your lack of progress, or you’ve come to appreciate the power of logging your workouts, and you are ready to crack open the pages of your first workout journal. But where to start? What should you write out? There is literally no end to the amount of stuff you can throw into the pages of your workout journal. So much so, in fact, that you can quickly lose yourself in the minutae of detail if you let things get away from you. Here is what you should be keeping track of with your workout journal to insure maximum benefits while also helping to make the workout journaling habit a sustainable one. Sets/reps/weights. This is the foundation of your workout journal—the nuts and bolts of what make up your workout. Write clearly enough that you will be able to decode your scribbling next week, or next month, or even next year. (Trust me—you will come back and flip through these bad boys later in life. Usually with a lump of pride in your chest.) Make sure to get all of the essentials for your main lifts, including 1RM’s. How you felt that day. How is your body holding up to your workout routine? Feeling better than expected? Try to draw conclusions and connections from why you are feeling the way you are with your lifestyle choices. It’s easy to say that we truly understand how lifestyle affects our workouts, but until you see it written out on paper it’s easy to duck taking responsibility for those choices. Stress levels. Believe it or not, how stressed you are affects your workouts. Increased stress compromises your immune system, opens you up to increased likelihood of injury, and affects how long it takes you to recover between workouts. There will always be stretches of time in our lives where stress rears its ugly head—and while it may not always be our fault that it happened, it’s our responsibility to deal with it. How much you slept. Pound for pound sleep is the biggest performance enhancer out there. If it’s maximum recovery you want simply get 9-10 hours of sleep tonight. Seriously. It will outperform any supplement, any day of the week, and the best part? It’s free and utterly enjoyable. Getting adequate sleep also means improved cognitive function, better moods, and yup, better workouts. The term “win-win” has never been so apt. How you are eating. Almost all of us could stand to eat a little bit better. (And for some of us, a whole lot better.) The first key to making change, whether in the gym or in the kitchen, is having the self-awareness necessary to facilitate it. Using your workout journal as a de facto fod journal can help you shine a light on how you are actually eating, better informing your path forward. Your next workout. Now for the real kicker—use your workout log to write out tomorrow’s workout. This will help you stay more consistent, and it will also help you progress faster. Why is this? Because we are profoundly more ambitious with our training when planning it compared to the moments when we walk into the gym, and our brains are immediately scrambling for excuses to avoid the physical and mental stress to come. Use the workout journal as a checklist, a roadmap for your goals in the weight room.
    1768 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 17 Mar 2017
    We all have big goals and dreams for our body. We want to be able to achieve superhuman feats of strength and power, while also having the health and well-being that comes from being physically active. But living in a world where everything has been made profoundly more convenient, from eating to work to even how we exercise, sticking to our fitness and workout goals is turning out to be harder than ever. Forget the overnight diets. The 6-minute abs. If you are serious about getting into better shape, if you are desperate to make working out a habit, and you want the windfall of benefits that come from being more physically active, than make sure you are doing these three fundamental things. Go into the gym with a plan. How often have you walked into the gym with a sense that you would do what you felt like that day? If you are like most gym-goers or athletes, this casual approach is taken far too often, and almost always at your own detriment. When we don’t have a plan for our workouts we are easily distracted, we cut short sets and workouts because we aren’t “feeling it”, and we let things like our friends at the gym and our cell phone gobble up valuable chunks of training time. Before you set foot into the gym write out the exercises, reps, weights, and the conditoning work you want to achieve that day down in your workout log. Not only will you have much better workouts, but you will avoid the idle time wasted chatting at the water fountain. Have a clearly defined goal. One of the fastest ways to give your training more purpose and meaning—and thereby make yourself more likely to stick to it—is to have a realistic and clearly defined goal. After all, working out is difficult. It goes against our natural default setting of doing nothing. Remember: we are programmed for necessity and to take the path of least resistance. Having a clear, over-riding goal for our time in the gym will help you maintain workout motivation on those days when the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. Drop expectations of progress and focus on the routine. If you really want to achieve your workout goals you need to stop thinking so much about them. One of the most common pitfalls everyone encounters when chasing improvement in the gym, whether an Olympic athlete or someone trying to drop 5 pounds, is that moment when we feel like things aren’t happening fast enough. We’ve worked hard for a couple weeks and have barely improved under the bar. We’ve stuck to the nutrition plan and not lost the weight we expected. The reality is that we are brutal at guesstimating how long it is going to take in order to achieve our goals. Instead of getting frustrated by focusing only on the results, make sure that you are consistently dialed in on improving your daily routine.
    668 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 09 Mar 2017
    It’s the injury that is so common for swimmer’s that it is literally called “swimmer’s shoulder.” Research performed by USA Swimming showed that 10% of current age group swimmers are presently experiencing some sort of pain or aggravation in their shoulders, while a whopping 26% of national level swimmers are having shoulder issues of some type. For swimmers who have experienced it, whether as a chronic condition like I have, or in random, acute bouts, the injury can be frustrating, leaving you feeling hopeless, and cost you valuable chunks of training time. But the good news it this—there are a ton of things that you can help ease the pain and also insure that you avoid injuring it again (or for the first time). Here are a few ideas for fixing and preventing swimmer’s shoulder that have worked with myself (and my 20+ years of competitive swimming experience), as well as tips I have collected over the years from fellow swimmers and coaches. 1. Warm-up with fins. Swimmers perform a metric butt-ton of meters in the water. From warm-up to warm-down, the pre-set and main set all combined it’s not uncommon for chlorinated athletes to log up to 8,000m in a single session. When you consider that a lot of that yardage is done with shoulders above your head, you can begin to imagine the stress and strain that we are placing on our shoulder joints. A simple way to loosen the load that we lump onto our shoulders is to use swim fins during our warm-up. Not only will you help get your legs warmed up faster, but wearing fins during the opening set of the practice will help ease your shoulders into the workout. 2. Stretch your pecs One of the big misconceptions with this particular injury is that we should focus all of our injury and preventative measures on the shoulder capsule itself. But that’s not usually where the problem started, only where it ended up manifesting. Swimmer’s shoulder is usually caused by muscle imbalances in the back, poor technique, and tight pectoral muscles from repeated use. You might be familiar with the rounded, slouched shoulders that many swimmers tend to have from swimming on their front for so long. You can correct this before and after during your swim workouts by making sure to mobilize the chest area (which you probably already are with arm swings), while also performing chest stretches afterwards to keep them loose. Additionally, you should hit a foam roller for 5-10 minutes after each session in the water to loosen up your t-spine. Not only is it a relaxing way to end your workout, but rolling out your t-spine will help keep your chest open and loose. 3. Train with a snorkel. As mentioned earlier, one of the leading causes of swimmer’s shoulder is a muscle imbalance in the back and shoulders. This arises often from swimming predominantly to our dominant side. So how can we correct this? By taking our breathing patterns out of the equation entirely and training with a swimmer’s snorkel. By having your face down in the pool you will be forced to have a more balanced, even stroke (there are a ton of other reasons snorkels are awesome—from allowing you to swim with better hip position, focus on technique, and so on). Evening out the musculature, and undoing the years of breathing to one side is not easy, but introduce some longer, easier reps of straight freestyle swimming with a snorkel in order to help begin the process of developing a more evenly strengthened back and stroke. Other quick things you can do to help deal and avoid swimmer’s shoulder: Kick more. The more you kick, the stronger your hip rotation, meaning you rely less on the shoulder and chest for propulsion, particularly at the front of the stroke. Developing a strong flutter kick is hard, and takes a lot of time on the kickboard, but beyond making you a faster swimmer it will also help lessen the load on your shoulders. Stick to your pre-hab routine even when you aren’t injured. For most swimmers the moment they decide to get serious about when shoulder health is when they are banged up and injured. You’ll see them dutifully hit their internal and external rotator exercises on the band, and spend more time stretching. Make this stuff routine and not just a band aid, and you will be injured less often as a result. In Closing Being injured sucks. You know it. I know it. The bad news might be that you are having to spend some time on IR list, but the good news is that there are some powerful and proven things that you can do in order to make sure you don’t end up there again. Give a couple of these strategies a go over the rest of the training cycle or season and swim your way to healthier, stronger shoulders.
    643 Posted by Mike Nunya
  • 02 Mar 2017
    One of the essential components of competitive swimming is a solid set of swim goggles. Along with your bathing suit, goggles form part of the “uniform” of your local lap and competitive swimmer. Goggles are a relatively new invention, only popular amongst elite swimmers since the mid 1970’s when a British breaststroker named David Wilkie put on a cap and set of goggles at the Commonwealth Games. Swimming goggles are more critical than we realize, however. For starters, goggles help us to see properly under the water. The human eye is not designed to see well under the water, and goggles will help us to see other swimmers, the black line at the bottom of the pool (so that we can circle swim properly), and the upcoming walls. Secondly, and this goes more to our health, goggles protect our eyeballs from the redness and irritation that arises when they interact with chloramines over the course of our swimming workouts. What are chloramines? The result of chlorine interacting with human feces, urine and sweat. Yup, that’s gross. Here’s what ya need to know when trying to pick out a perfect pair of swimming goggles: Choose your goggles by tint and color of lens. One of the things you should absolutely keep in mind when picking out goggles is choosing a tint or lens color that matches up with the environment you are swimming in. Are you swimming outdoors? Pick out a pair of goggles that are darkly tinted or that are mirrored. This will help cut down on the glare, and also help you to see when swimming backstroke and have your face pointed at the sun. Many, if not all, mirrored goggles also have UV-protection. Are you swimming indoors? Choose a lens that is clear or lightly-tinted. Choose comfortable lens. Beyond the color of the lens make sure that the ocular part of the goggles sits comfortably in your eye sockets. Most goggles have rubberized linings around the lens that will help buffer the pressure of wearing them for extended periods of time. Swedish goggles, one of the more popular types goggles, have lenses that are made strictly of hard plastic, making them not advisable for beginner swimmers. Don’t buy into the anti-fog myth. Every goggle manufacturer, from Arena to Speedo to Nike, will tell you that their goggles are anti-fog. And this is true, for about two weeks of use, at which point the anti-fog will wear out and you will be struggling to see through a film of sweat, beaded water, and fog on the lens. This is where choosing a goggle tint comes in particularly handy, and why you should stick to lighter lenses if you are swimming at an indoor pool. My local YMCA pool, for instance, is poorly lit, making any of my dark or mirrored goggles nearly worthless in use. You shouldn’t have to spend the duration of your swim taking off your goggles at the end of each length in order to see the pace clock and dodge other swimmers.  
    608 Posted by Mike Nunya

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Health 552 views Nov 24, 2017
How to Recover Faster Between Your Workouts (part 1)

When it comes to accomplishing your workout goals, whether it is losing weight, gaining muscle, or simple feeling better (mentally and physically), the big secret to getting more fit is in taking better care of yourself between workouts.

This kind of thinking can seem counter-intuitive. After all, we’ve been told to work really, really hard in the gym, and good things will happen. But this isn’t enough—you need to take care of yourself between those workouts, through good nutrition, hydration, supplementation, resting properly, etc.—in order to make the most of the time you are spending in the gym.

On top of that, your workouts will improve too. So here’s what you can do to make sure that you are recovering faster between your workouts.

  1. Use a foam roller.

One of the most popular tools for both gymgoers and athletes alike is the foam roller. But too often it is used improperly. You will see people sitting on the roller before their workouts, rolling back and forth quickly in a fast effort to loosen up and get ready for their workout. (The foam roller features in our gift guide for athletes, as well.)

But where the foam roller can really come into effect is by using it after and between your practices and workouts. The foam roller has been shown to decrease soreness, increase blood-flow to target areas (facilitating recovery), and can even help boost power and endurance in the days following a big workout, helping you bounce back faster.

If you are new to foam rolling, and you are unsure what the best foam roller is to try, start out with your basic TriggerPoint rollers. For those of you who are particularly dense in muscle, pick yourself up a RumbleRoller—the protruding knobs will really dig into the nooks and crannies of your muscles.

  1. Get more sleep at night.

Wanna know what the best sleep aid there is for you and your athletic pursuits? Sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping. Now, I know what you might be thinking—we’ve been told over and over again that sleep and rest is for the weak. Don’t buy into this hot garbage.

By far the biggest performance aid there is for athletes is simply getting more sleep. A stunning amount of studies have found a massive connection between how much sleep you get and physical endurance, power, immunological function, mood, ability to pay attention, and even how mentally tough you are.

There are a handful of things that you can improve upon in life that will color every other area of your work, relationships, and yes, your workouts: and simply getting more sleep is one of them.

The Takeaway

In this first part of our series on how to really boost your recovery efforts in the gym we talked about foam rolling and getting more rest. Next time around we are going to talk about the boring importance of staying hydrated, and another tool, this time compression gear for athletes and the research behind whether or not it works.