The Primal Hack – The fastest, most productive thing you can do to take charge of your health.
It’s time to bury conventional wisdom when it comes to diet and exercise, avoid the food pyramid like the plague, and take a fresh look at how you should exercise. The human genome, the result of two million years of evolutionary process, has given you everything you need to be a healthy, vibrant Homo Sapien.
To start, you will need a reboot of your perspectives when it comes to weight management and health. Your body is doing the best that it can and is currently as good as it can be based on your lifestyle choices and the genes you’ve inherited. Disease and obesity are not natural. Our bodies are programmed to strive for health and balance, but we just keep getting in the way by the choices we make. Begin to focus on how you live rather than how you look.
We get too wrapped up with studying ourselves in the mirror or stepping on the scales. Our medical professionals are too quick to prescribe pills for every health issue instead of prescribing what we really need – a lifestyle adjustment. Give the body what it needs and your health will take care of itself because it is programmed for optimal performance. Believe in your body and have faith in the process. There are genes ready to be reignited that will normalize your weight, blood pressure, lipid profile, energy, and even you sex life, no matter what your age.
A good example is to look at wild animals living in their natural environments. They very rarely get sick; they may get injured or suffer an infection, but you will never see obese, wild animals suffering from hypertension or diabetes.
Why? It’s because their bodies, just like ours, have been designed to survive, and good health is essential for survival. They have evolved to eat and move in a way that gives them the best chance for success.
If we were to go back before the invention of agriculture and look at what “wild humans” ate and how they moved, we could use their lifestyle as a blueprint for helping us attain superior health in the modern world. Like wild animals, these early humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and adapted to the food sources available to them.
Compared to our Paleolithic ancestors we are incredibly fortunate to have access to modern medicine. Should we get injured, catch a communicable disease, require critical care or develop an infection we have access to wonderful medical options, and the skills of gifted physicians. Our modern technologies allow us to provide consistently clean water and sanitary sewage systems, eliminating the chance of the devastating plagues that significantly reduced the average lifespan of our ancestors. We no longer have to face wild animals, intent on eating us, or endure the incredible physical struggles for survival that often led to life-threatening injuries and infections.
Combining modern medicine and technology with the knowledge of how our great genetic pool evolved to eat and move in order to survive, enables us to design the optimum lifestyle for a balanced and healthy life.
Your Individual Lifestyle Design
Take charge and develop you own personal healthy lifestyle design.
Although there is not a one-size fits all solution that leads to optimum health, there are some basic foundational principles you can apply using an ancestral approach that will make a huge difference in your health.
The unique adaptability of Homo sapiens is what allowed us to win the hominid war and to survive when so many other species died out. An important component of that adaptability was the fact that Homo sapiens were omnivores capable of surviving on a wide variety of foods in a diverse range of environments; seasonality, locality and variability have ALWAYS been part of the discussion when it came to diet.
The modern human is now faced with many new variables in the foods we consume. Pesticides, herbicides, processed foods, BPA, hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified foods, hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites and easy access to sugar and simple carbohydrates are but a few of the new variables that modern Homo Sapiens have not yet evolved to eat.
Many of our modern lifestyle diseases are based on forms of systemic inflammation caused by our diets, lifestyle choices and environment. Auto-immune diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, ADHD and most cancers are now being linked to controllable lifestyle choices.
Where to Begin
Consider beginning with the Whole30 approach:
“Eliminate alcohol, dairy, grains and legumes for 30 days. These food groups could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that cannot be explained by over-use or injury? Do you have some sort of condition like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues that medication has not helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the food you eat. The only way to know for sure is to strip them completely from your diet. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone unbalancing, gut disrupting, inflammatory foods from your diet for a month.
Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects these foods have been causing. Push the reset button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.
This will change your life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, and it will change your habits and cravings. It could possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food and with your body.” (Source: www.Whole30.com)
I completed this 30-day program at the beginning of my commitment to better health two years ago. After 30 days, I began a trial and error process and learned that I could tolerate some dairy and alcohol but not grains, and so I have kept them out of my diet.
Diet Hack - Eat humanely raised, local and organic when possible, pastured meats, free range poultry, eggs, wild caught fish and seasonal vegetables, fruits and nuts. If you can handle dairy eat, butter, full fat Greek style yogurt and hard cheddar cheese produced from pastured hormone-free cows. Add fermented goodies like sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha, and pickled veggies to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria. Try this yummy homemade salad dressing consisting of equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar combined with a spoonful of whisked Veganiase (Soy and Dairy free brand) and mustard. Use coconut oil for sautéing vegetables and meats. For a treat, have a glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate (70% or higher)
Examining how early man lived and survived can help us in our approach to physical conditioning. Long walks, periodic short intense sprints and lifting heavy things were the most common activites. In addition mobility was paramount, as early humans often had to climb over and crawl through a diverse physical environment which required great mobility, agility and balance.
To reconnect with this type of fitness I highly recommend a program like MovNat, a physical education and fitness system based on the full range of natural human movement abilities. These include the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing and swimming. In addition they have you practice the manipulative skills of lifting, carrying, throwing and catching.
Another good guideline is this Primal Fitness Triangle:
Modern man spends much more time indoors than our ancestors did, and it’s not surprising when you consider that our homes and workplaces are much more comfortable and ubiquitous than early abodes. It’s still important to get outside, get some fresh air, get some sunshine, and touch base with Mother Nature. It will make you feel good; especially when you consider that you need exposure to sunlight in order to produce your own supply of Vitamin D, often referred to as the happy vitamin. If you can combine being outdoors with getting more activity in your day, so much the better, but something as simple as taking a daily walk can be all that you need.
It’s time to stop looking in the mirror and comparing yourself with others.
This blog is for those seeking peak performances in their fitness and athletic pursuits. If you are an overweight, out-of-shape couch potato you will need to focus primarily on a low carb diet until you get your metabolism back in balance and deal with your insulin resistance.
Sedentary populations really only need to worry about providing adequate carbohydrates to support liver glycogen stores, which regulate normal blood sugar levels and fuel the brain and central nervous system at rest. This can be accomplished with roughly 100 grams of carbs a day. You don't have to memorize any of that; just remember that athletes and lifters can handle a lot more carbs than office workers.
That's why research shows that lower carb, caveman-style (Paleo or Primal) diets may be the best approach for improving body composition and biomarkers of health for the obese, insulin resistant, and sedentary populations. So if you're severely overweight, insulin resistant, and/or sedentary, a low carb Paleo-style diet will be the best approach for you at this time. Get in a calorie deficit mode, eat adequate protein, get roughly 100 grams of carbs from vegetables and whole fruit, and make up the rest of your calories from healthy fats. Once you have gained control of your weight and decide to intensify your training, you will need to adjust your diet with a focus on performance.
The basic premise of Paleolithic nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans and others are non-optimal. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time on Earth—more than 4 million years. Only in the last 10,000 years, a mere blink of the eye relative to our species’ existence, have we been eating non-optimal foods. Unfortunately, these foods comprise the bulk of what western society eats today and include such foods as grains, dairy and legumes. Given that our bodies have not changed, we are simply not well adapted to these non-optimal foods and they moderate health and peak performance.
Why is the Paleo Diet Beneficial for Athletes?
Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, many athletes are fit but unhealthy. Frequent illness, injury and overtraining reduce performance potential. An ancestral diet approach for athletes significantly improves health long term. Compared with the commonly accepted athlete’s diet, the Paleo Diet:
· Increases intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Benefits muscle development and anabolic function. Also counteracts immunosuppression common in endurance athletes following extensive exercise.
· Decreases omega-6: omega-3 ratio. Reduces tissue inflammations common to athletes while promoting healing. This may include asthmatic conditions common in athletes.
· Lowers body acidity. Reduces the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with aging.
· Is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health and long term recovery from exercise. The most nutrient dense foods are vegetables and seafood. On average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient density of grains.
Modify your Paleo approach for performance – Here’s what you need to know:
· The ultimate performance diet for athletes is a caveman-based diet with the re-introduction of starchy carbs and workout nutrition to support training.
· There's no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, but tell that to the person who's combining high amounts of anaerobic training with no carbs and whose sex drive is in the toilet.
· The anaerobic energy production pathway runs on glucose/carbs. High intensity muscular contractions require glucose.
· The true value of an ancestral approach to nutrition is what it cuts from the average person's diet.
Simply put the optimal eating approach for merging health with performance and physique enhancement is to follow a caveman-based diet – animal proteins and veggies, no junk – with the re-introduction of a select few starchy carbs. That's it. Don't eat crap and adjust the macronutrients to the demands of your modern sport nutrition plan.
Use the Paleo diet as the baseline template for food choices, cutting out refined/processed foods and emphasizing animals and plants. Add back in some starchy foods to support your training. Try to minimize sugar, gluten, anti-nutrients, and toxic compounds. What you're left with is root vegetables (yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes) and white rice. Maybe you do okay with gluten or dairy, but a large percentage of people don't. Test and assess to see what works best.
Let's talk about the Paleo diet in terms of its most generally accepted, well-known version – the low-carb, higher protein and fat version (eat animal protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, and healthy fats).
It’s important to note there's no single "Paleo" diet, and food choices and macronutrient percentages vary among time periods and regions (Inuit versus Kitavan, etc.). I know that's not really fair to the whole Paleo movement, but this article is about simplifying and giving people actionable strategies, and putting it in terms they know.
Target your approach
The problem occurs when any nutritional approach becomes a religious-like cult – rabid teachers preaching it as the only way with no possible modifications based on individual goals; hardcore followers condemning all other methods; brainwashed students that may be inhibiting their progress or even doing themselves harm by dogmatically adhering to the tenets of an inflexible system, instilling fear that if a starchy carb ever touches your lips, the wrath of the four winds is going to swoop down and destroy your village.
You'll never convince me that a 300-pound, obese, insulin resistant, sedentary office worker trying to save his life should be eating the same thing as a regular exerciser or athlete that wants to reach peak physical condition. Yet that's what you have to believe if you buy into the dogmatic adherence to a one-size-fits-all "system." Cookie-cutting only works in the cookie-making business.
The true value of a caveman or ancestral approach to nutrition is what it cuts from the average person's diet – high-fructose corn syrup, soy, gluten and table sugar, trans-fats, high n-6 vegetable oils, etc. – rather than a religious-like adherence to one specific macronutrient distribution pattern regardless of individual activity levels, metabolic condition, or goals.
Why? Because 100% Paleo eating (as it is most commonly defined) just doesn't account for variances in activity levels, individual metabolic factors, overall health, and the differences between average and elite physique or performance goals.
Avoiding Skinny-Fat Syndrome
Animals and plants provide us with the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients we need for survival and normal functioning. Everything else is about providing us with the energy we need to fuel our daily activities.
"Added fats" are an energy source, not an essential nutrient. This can be good or bad depending on your total calorie requirements and goals, and the composition of the rest of your diet. Starchy carbs are an energy source, not an essential nutrient. This can be good or bad depending on the type and amount of training you do. A healthy and active human body is adaptable and can do well on either one.
Low-carb diets are great for certain demographics – sedentary, obese, insulin resistant, etc. – thus they should be the default status for probably 70% of our population.
However, exercise creates a unique metabolic environment, an altered physiological state, and changes the way your body processes nutrients both during activity and for up to 48 hours after completion of a training session. If you train intensely three or more days a week, then your body is virtually in a recovery mode 100% of the time. It's in an altered physiological state 100% of the time and its nutritional needs are completely different than that of couch potato populations. In a sports nutrition context, carbohydrates are thus considered conditionally essential.
Fats should then be adjusted up or down accordingly to stay within your allotted calories. If the training program is different, the diet should be different. Beyond dietary dogmatic creeds, that's just common sense.
The anaerobic energy production pathway runs on glucose/carbs. It can't use lipids or ketones. While the body can use fatty acids as fuel at rest (and the brain ketones), and even those who train only in the aerobic zone can become "fat adapted," high intensity muscular contractions require glucose.
Therefore, chronic carb depletion combined with anaerobic training can impair performance and eventually lead to muscle loss: skinny-fat syndrome. The body will break down amino acids as a reserve fuel to provide the necessary glucose to fuel high intensity activity. You know how they say fats and ketones are more "muscle sparing" than carbs? Not necessarily, when you factor in anaerobic training.
And low-carb diets combined with consistent high intensity activity can have a lot of metabolic, hormonal, and physiological drawbacks including impaired thyroid production, low Testosterone and sex drive, decreases in metabolic rate, muscle loss, skinny-fat syndrome, insomnia, depression, irritability, and low immunity.
For those who fear carbs during fat slashing phases, just remember that total calories are still the most important step. If you strength train while maintaining a relative calorie deficit, you can still include some starchy carbs in the diet while losing significant amounts of body fat.
Paleo Diet for Athletes – Overview
Serious athletes, when it comes to immediately before, during, and directly after workouts, need to bend the rules of the Paleo Diet a bit since we're placing demands on the body that were not normal for our Stone Age ancestors. Hour after hour of sustained high energy output and the need for quick recovery are the serious athlete’s unique demands. This requires some latitude to use non-optimal training support foods on a limited basis. The exceptions may best be described by explaining the athlete’s 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise.
Stage I: Eating Before Exercise
In brief, we recommend that athletes eat low to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates at least two hours prior to a hard or long workout or race. There may also be some fat and protein in this meal. All foods should be low in fiber. Take in 200 to 300 calories for every hour remaining until exercise begins. If eating two hours prior is not possible, then take in 200 or so calories 10 minutes before the workout or race begins.
Stage II: Eating During Exercise
During long or hard workouts and races you will need to take in high glycemic index carbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids. Sports drinks are fine for this. Find one that you like the taste of and will drink willingly. Realize that events lasting less than about an hour (including warm-up) don’t require any carbohydrate. Water will suffice for these. A starting point for deciding how much to take in is 200 to 400 calories per hour modified according to body size, experience and the nature of the exercise (longer events require more calories than short).
Stage III: Eating Immediately After
In the first 30 minutes post workout (but only after long and/or highly intense exercise) and post-race use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 4-5:1 ratio. You can buy a commercial product such as Ultrafit Recovery™ (www.ultrafit.com) for this. Or you can make your own by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3 to 5 tablespoons of glucose (such as CarboPro) depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg or whey sources and two pinches of salt. This 30minute window is critical for recovery. It should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race.
Stage IV: Eating for Extended Recovery
For the next few hours (as long as the preceding challenging exercise lasted) continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein at a 4-5:1 carb/protein ratio. The perfect Stage IV foods are raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
Stage V: Eating for Long Term
As you recover during the remainder of your day, or until your next Stage I, return to eating a Paleo Diet by focusing on optimal foods.
How Much Protein, Carbs and Fat Should I Eat?
The macronutrient requirement changes with the demands of the training season and so should be periodized along with training. We recommend that athletes maintain a rather consistent protein intake year round. As a percentage of total calories this will typically be in the range of 20-25% for athletes. This is on the low end of what our Stone Age ancestors ate due to the athlete’s increased intake of carbohydrate in Stages I to IV which dilutes protein as a percentage of daily calories.
On the other hand, periodization of diet produces significant and opposing swings in the athlete’s fat and carbohydrate intake as the training seasons change. During the base (general preparation) period the diet shifts toward an increased intake of fat while carbohydrate intake decreases. At this time in the season when a purpose of training is to promote the body’s use of fat for fuel, more healthy fat is consumed—in the range of 50% of total calories—with carbohydrate intake at around 30%. During the build and peak (specific preparation) periods the intensity of training increases placing greater demands on the body for carbohydrate to fuel exercise. At this latter time of the season Stages III and IV become increasingly critical to the athlete’s recovery. Carbohydrate intake increases accordingly to around 50% of total calories with fat intake dropping to around 30%.
During times of the year when training is greatly reduced (peaking/tapering and transition periods) the athlete must manage caloric intake to prevent unwanted weight gain.
I encourage you to take some personal accountability and self-experiment to find what works best. You should use science and systems to give yourself an informed starting point, but don't dogmatically cling to anything, regardless of the source. Simply find a way to win.
References: The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance by Dr. Loren Cordain and
2/26/2014 0 Comments
Generally I don’t like hype, so you are probably wondering, why I wrote a headline like the one for this blog. Well because it’s true.
What’s this food I’m talking about? It’s actually not a food, it’s a derivative of food; an extract, if you will.
And no, it doesn’t come from some far away mountain range or the Amazon River, procured by indigenous people with great care and shipped to you for $19.95. The food I’m talking about is concentrated fat called MCT oil. And it offers some unique advantages for both cooking and consumption. There’s absolutely nothing mystical about it, it just freakin’ works.
So what is MCT oil? You can think of it as a concentrated form of coconut oil. The extremely healthy saturated fat in coconut is comprised of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). And MCT oil is a concentrated form of that fat (about 6x stronger than eating coconut oil).
The reason I’m so interested in MCT oil is twofold: it’s uniquely metabolized and it’s easily digested.
Instead of being metabolized through the digestion process like other fats are, MCTs are taken straight to the liver where they act very similar to carbohydrates, providing instant and sustained energy.
If you want to feel the effects of this for yourself, put a tablespoon of MCTs in your coffee — or really go for it all and make bulletproof coffee (or tea). Seriously, this is an effect you WILL feel — and it feels like you gave your body rocket fuel.
Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
Kerrygold butter or another grass-fed brand of butter really matters because corn or soy-fed cows don’t make butter with the same fats. Those butters don’t blend well, don’t taste good, and don’t make you feel Bulletproof.
Grass-fed butter is much healthier than other butter. It doesn’t make cholesterol levels worse, it optimizes them! Starting your day with grass-fed butter will give you lots of energy and it will give your body healthy fats that it will use to make cell walls and hormones.
Try this just once, with 2 Tbsp. of butter, and have nothing else for breakfast. You will experience one of the best mornings of your life, with boundless energy and focus. It’s amazing.
After one drink of bulletproof coffee, you’ll never be tempted to eat fat-free, insulin-raising, fat-storing toast and oatmeal breakfasts again!
But it’s not just the energy you get that’s interesting. MCTs improve blood sugar regulation (yay!), improve metabolism (especially fat metabolism), may improve thyroid function, improve appetite regulation, and are used to treat many ailments (Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, seizures, cystic fibrosis, etc.).
As far as brain function goes, MCT oil is like rocket fuel because it enhances ketone production. Ketones, of course, are a more efficient fuel for your brain. For productivity, using MCTs to outwork my competition is my unfair advantage.
That’s a pretty compelling list — and it’s why MCT oil (or coconut oil at a minimum) is prioritized in how I eat. (And it’s probably why breast milk contains a lot of MCTs and — shocker — saturated fat).
Of course, a side effect of all of that is improved body composition. If you’re into burning fat, MCTs are your friend.
The digestion of MCTs
The body is very efficient at metabolizing and digesting MCTs. They don’t require bile salts for digestion and they pass easily from the GI tract to the blood stream without being modified the way long-chain fats must be.
If your body has trouble digesting long-chain fats, you should definitely be adding MCTs to your diet.
The reason something like bulletproof coffee works so well for energy — especially sustained energy — is that it combines MCTs with longer chain fats. This gives you the rocket boost up front with a sustained, diesel-fuel-like energy that lasts for hours on end.
How to use MCT Oil in day to day life
Getting MCTs in your diet is simple. For starters, you should be using coconut oil for something on a day to day basis, whether you’re cooking with it, putting it in a smoothie, or eating it with a spoon.
Beyond that, I highly recommend you supplement with pure MCT oil. You can cook with the oil itself (or add it to the oil/fat you’re already cooking with (as long as temperature stays under 320 degrees)). You can put it straight into your smoothie, coffee, or tea (as I do). And you can use it in your salad dressing or soups.
You do need to start out slow. Until your body gets used to the straight dose, taking too much at once can cause you to experience digestive disturbances. Start out with one tablespoon at a time and then you can increase to two or three.
MCT oil can help you get in shape for the following reasons:
It improves endurance and athletic performance:
MCT’s ability to rapidly be used as a fuel source and improve athletic performance has attracted the attention of athletes in recent years.
Animal studies have shown the ability of MCTs to improve athletic performance and endurance. In one such study whereby mice were subjected to swimming capacity tests, those fed a diet containing MCTs outperformed those fed a diet containing LCTs (1).
The researchers also found that the mice fed MCT’s produced the key energy ‘creating’ enzymes (3-oxo acid CoA-transferase, citrate synthase and malate dehydrogenase) at much higher levels than the mice fed the LCT diet. The MCT-fed mice also burned fat at higher rates which further enhanced energy production (1).
It promotes fat burning (Thermogenesis):
Human studies have shown the ability of MCT oil to enhance thermogenesis (fat burning).
In one study, researchers fed six lean and six obese young men a meal containing either LCT’s only, or a mixture of LCT’s and MCT’s. In both the obese and lean individuals, thermogenesis was enhanced after consuming the meals containing MCT’s (2).
Another study conducted in Czechoslovakia concluded that the administration of MCT’s can improve the long-term success of diet therapy in obese patients (3).
MCTs increase metabolic rate:
There is mounting evidence to support the fact that MCTs increase your metabolic rate.
Studies have shown that replacing dietary LCTs with MCTs increased the daily energy expenditure (metabolic rate) in men and women (4). So, assuming your calorie intake and exercise remain unchanged, any increase in metabolic rate through the addition of MCTs to your diet will result in the loss of body fat.
MCTs have also been shown to improve satiety of meals, meaning you feel fuller, and satisfied quicker, making you less likely to over-eat and ingest too many calories.(5).
MCTs maintain muscle mass:
MCTs assist in preventing muscle breakdown in a number of ways.
Firstly, they promote the production of ketones, which are used as an energy source in the muscles before amino acids (which become available through muscle breakdown), thereby delaying muscle catabolism (breakdown).
Secondly, they are able to act as amino acid ‘carriers’, helping to assimilate proteins inside the muscle, which further aids in preventing muscle loss and breakdown.
MCTs have also been shown to delay muscle glycogen depletion, as they are used preferentially over glycogen as a fuel source, thereby preserving muscle glycogen and improving endurance. This fact is especially useful for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists etc.)
1. Fushiki T, Matsumoto K, Inoue K, Kawada T, Sugimoto E. Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by chronic consumption of medium-chain triglycerides. J Nutr 1995 Mar;125(3):531-9.
2. Scalfi L, Coltorti A, Contaldo F. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides. Am J Clin Nutr 1991 May;53(5):1130-3.
3. Hainer V, Kunesova M, Stich V, Zak A, Parizkova J. The role of oils containing triacylglycerols and medium-chain fatty acids in the dietary treatment of obesity. The effect on resting energy expenditure and serum lipids. Cas Lek Cesk 1994 Jun 13;133(12):373-5.
4. Flatt, J. P., Ravussin, E., Acheson, K. J. & Jequier, E. (1985) Effects of dietary fat on postprandial substrate oxidation and on carbohydrate and fat balances. J. Clin. Investig. 76:1019-1024.
5. Stubbs, R. J. & Harbron, C. G. (1996) Covert manipulation of the ration of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men. Int. J. Obes. 20:435-444.
Today in the fitness world we are blitzed with fitness trends, experts, and gadgets that provide us with an apparent blue ocean of innovation and new opportunities. In reality, they are sharks defending their current positions often leading us into a red ocean of frustration. These cookie cutter, one size fits all approaches often start with a meaningless assessment and/or track our efforts by documenting little other than the number of reps or how fast a person can finish the movements. The cycle of learning has not really changed, and I believe it is time that the validity of traditional training methods and conventional wisdom be challenged.
The fact is most people starting any fitness program will get results for 8-12 weeks. The question is - does doing the current exercise regimen help an individual reach the desired long term goals in a sustainable and progressive way?
So where do we go? The need for pragmatism is greater today than in the past. Everyone needs to exercise, that is an undeniable truth. When considering a program, we should begin with questions like - Why do we do a particular exercise? How do we measure intensity and recovery? What is the correct movement? When do we re-asses, measure program effectiveness and establish new goals?
To start with, we need to take a big picture view that defines training as exercise at a given intensity, for a given time, that produces a specific outcome (aka: dose response). This can be expressed mathematically as the algorithm T=E*I. As an example, when training for a goal, a dose response to training needs to be established. Establishing a dose response helps to understand what is enough intensity and time needed for desired results. Personally, I have used heart rate variability in my training and have seen a wide spectrum of athletes use this technology as well. Herat rate variability is a measurement of the heart activity and is a reflection of the state of the autonomic system. For the non-science people think of it as a stress traffic light that indicates to go for it, stop, or reconsider the intensity. Below is a chart as an example of using technology for managing training dose.
Next we should compare the differences between methods of training that share common goals. For example, the term martial arts is a general term meaning the art of fighting. There are many differing styles and methods of marital arts, however they all have the common goals of defense and attack. The same is true when considering the incredibly diverse range of fitness training methods. For example, I am not going to train a Judo fighter like a Taekwondo fighter, as they have different methods. Before pursuing any training program ask the question, is this method specific to my goals?
Many of today's training models have their basis in ancient Chinese or Roman culture and provide the foundation of today's fitness programming. What is new today is the use of marketing devices and the cult of personality that create loyal tribes of followers seeking the next sure fire way to create a better body. The result leads us to ask, are we creating a society of followers or thinkers? In the past we wrote a blog post on being mindful of your training, click here to review.
In my next blog I intend to stimulate the thinker in all of us. I will discuss the why, how, what and when of training with a focus on body weight movement, Olympic lifting and power lifting. I will share the latest research and explore the practical application of a new wave of fitness technologies.
To learn more about HRV listen to this FREE podcast from Sports Rehab expert interviewed the Founder of Omega wave http://www.sportsrehabexpert.com/public/865.cfm
It’s all about energy. The reason we encourage people to improve their fitness and nutritional habits is because we believe doing so provides the foundation needed for Peak Performance.
The more fit and healthy you are the more energy you have available to engage in work and enjoy being active during your off hours. Quite simply, more energy contributes significantly to a better quality of life.
An energetic person has the intensity, the persistence and the prolonged stamina to accomplish long-term goals. This kind of energy involves an observable determination that is always present -- a constant striving to accomplish whatever it is the person is trying to achieve. It stems from a single strong belief in what the person is attempting to accomplish and a passionate commitment to do it.
To get more energy you have to produce it. If you find yourself complaining that you don’t seem to have enough energy to do your job properly, to work-out or to spend quality time having fun with your friends and family then it’s time to do something about it. You’re just putting gas on the fire if you plop yourself on the couch when you get home from work.
Your body loves to do nothing. Then it doesn’t have to work so hard. That means you don’t burn as many calories. That means you have a hard time losing weight. That means you gain body fat. That means loss of lean muscle and that means NO ENERGY.
You need to force your body out of your comfort zone. Yes, if you’re particularly low in energy it is critical for you to get off your duff and get moving. Yes, there is the initial stage of effort even to just go for a 5, 10 or 20 minute walk.
But it get easier, you must know that. Even after a few workouts, you’ll easily notice an increase in your energy levels.
Strength training makes you stronger, so you can do more tasks without undue muscle fatigue. Aerobic exercises condition your heart and lungs delivery nutrient rich blood to working muscles and organs and don’t forget sound nutrition. The right balance of nutrients, at the right times, in the right amounts gives you the fuel to function at your absolute best every day.
But high energy won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. You need to go and make it happen!
Energy is a required element for a Successful Life
I believe your attitude and frame of mind can be greatly impacted by your level of energy. Remember everything you do is contagious. If you are discouraged, pessimistic, or lacking in energy, people will feel it. Conversely, when you are upbeat, energetic, and optimistic, people also feel it. It will have an effect on your family, friends and fellow employee and help you generate the life outcomes you hope to create.
Those seeking Peak Performance don’t leave their energy level to chance. They are intentional about creating it.
Tips To Have More Positive Energy
Simplify your life. The first step in achieving more positive energy in your life is to simplify your life. Many of us are charging so hard after so many things that we tend to get negative when those things don't happen immediately. Slow down, take a look at the next experience that you want to manifest and how can you get there. Then, look to simplify your life. Get rid of the clutter, the mental things and the physical things that you're holding onto. Release the things that are holding you back. I know this can be challenging but in order to have more positive energy in your life you need to create that space.
You can make a choice. Understand it is your choice to either be positive or negative. It is not what other people do to you; you are allowing them to make you feel a certain way. Only you can make that decision. If other people are pushing your buttons, you are allowing them to be pushed. Make the decision to be positive today, and start in this moment.
Have a self-improvement plan. It is critical that you have a self-improvement plan. What are you working on currently that will take you to the next level? The key is to make sure you're growing and moving forward. I would suggest that you have a few things that you're working on for pleasure or for wealth attainment that are going to help you move forward.
Learn to say no. It is important to be able to say no. This can be extremely challenging when you're at work or you’re building a business. There's nothing that will hold you back than having too many projects going on at any one time and then taking on something new when somebody asks you. Manage your project’s improvement and overall productivity by making sure you don't have too many things going on at any one time. This will keep you more positive and give you more energy. It is okay to say no.
Stay present. In order to stay positive you cannot live in the past or the future. Many people are stuck in a mindset where they are thinking about what is going to happen in the future, or they can't move past the past. The power is in this present moment. Be mindful and stay focused.
Get proper nutrition and exercise. In order to have positive energy you have to exercise and get the proper nutrition. It’s important to take time to make sure every meal is a spiritual and healthy meal. Remember using energy creates energy, that means when you move and exercise you start to feel more energy. Starting today, make sure you're on the plan to eat right and exercise.
Take physical and mental breaks. You can't run 100% all the time. You need to make sure you're taking breaks physically and mentally.
It’s important to remember you can change your life by changing your attitude - decide to be energetic. This is huge. Unless you are ill, you can be more energetic by simply acting more energetic. I am always surprised at how my emotions follow my body. If I walk faster, sit on the edge of my seat, and smile, I will eventually feel more energetic.
Your energy level will have a big impact on those people in your life who are important to you whether it’s your fellow employees, friends or family. The good news is that you can be more energetic and set a positive example by becoming more aware and intentional about developing it.
Decide today to take charge of your health and your attitude and begin living a life of energy. Become an energetic, impatient optimist and help change the world.
Energy Index – How much energy do you have available for Peak Performance?
An exciting new way of interpreting Fitness Test Results
At Peak Performance we are always on the lookout for cutting edge ideas that help you take charge of and improve your life.
We believe the foundation of a healthy lifestyle begins with an effective fitness program and always recommend starting out on your fitness journey with a fitness assessment that determines your starting point and measures the success of your fitness and nutritional programs.
However the fitness test result numbers produced by most assessments are sometimes difficult to interpret and it’s often a challenge to understand how they relate to your overall health.
That’s why we were intrigued by a new algorithm for fitness test results developed by Laturi Corporation a Finnish Company that specializes in Fitness Assessments for the corporate wellness market.
Their approach is to provide a quick, accurate and informative fitness assessment that provides individual employees with their personal Energy Index - an estimate of the amount of hours of peak performance energy they have in their energy bank for the day.
Energy Index indicates the amount of time during which you can experience your peak energy output.
The Energy Test provides information about your health and your body’s potential performance. The overall test is comprised of easy to perform subtests that include a fitness assessment, a wellness questionnaire and biometric data. These subtests reliably estimate different health risks and provide meaningful results for people of all fitness levels.
The maximum Energy Index result is 16 hours. Of this, about eight hours is spent at work, and the remaining eight hours remains for free time. If your Energy Index Fitness Test results indicates an Energy Index of between 4 and 6 hours you will have trouble providing peak performance during your eight hours of work and most certainly have little energy left over for your free time.
My Energy Index – 12 Hours 5 Minutes of energy available for Peak Performance
For information on the Energy Index test for you or your company feel free to shoot me an email and I will send you some information. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1/15/2014 0 Comments
It’s amazing to me how many people waste time at the gym.
There’s a Rolling Stones song about having time on your side. And there are a lot of people who treat working out as though they have all the time in the world.
If you’re independently wealthy and can afford to take your time while working out because you don’t need to go to an actual job, great, but most of us are busy people. In fact, I’ve read several surveys about reasons for not working out, and No. 1 on the list always seems to be “lack of time.”
There is merit in being efficient in the gym. First off, it gives you time for other, non-gym stuff in life, and most importantly breeds greater mental intensity. You know that when you’re on a tight schedule, you need to kick some ass, so you do.
Personally, I am never in the gym for more than 60 minutes max and that includes having a shower. It’s interesting to observe people who practically live in the gym, spend several hours “working out” and yet they never seem to improve.
I get that social support is great for fitness motivation, but if you’re constantly chatting, it really distracts you from the task at hand: working out. What’s more, it’s important to time your rest breaks between sets appropriately: short breaks for endurance lifting (+12 reps), medium length breaks for hypertrophy (6-12 reps) and longer breaks for strength focused work (<6 reps). If you’re gabbing away all the time, you may end up taking longer breaks than necessary and doing less overall work in the gym.
For me, today was a leg day – Heavy Squats and hack lifts, thigh extensions, leg curls, calf raises and squat jumps followed with couple of sets of 50 kettlebell swings - very intense and done within 40 minutes. My routine is to get in, work with super intensity and get out. I stay focused and limit any conversation to before and after the workout.
It’s a New Year so the gym was full of people starting their resolutions hoping to regain their health and fitness. As often happens I was asked by someone how I got in shape, that they’d been working out for a year and hadn’t really improved. I told him that it was 80% diet and 20% working out and most of your working out should be hitting the iron, but the working out had to be intense and that you needed to push yourself. I told him to embrace the pain, pain isn’t your enemy; it is your call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and then spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.
I told him there is no quicker way to changing your body than to build muscle and that it was quite simple really:
Here’s why you should commit to making weight training the cornerstone of you fitness program:
Weight Training will make you feel strong and fit – There is a reason this is number 1, it is the most important aspect. A feeling of strength and power will give you confidence you possibly never had. We have all heard the saying a strong body is a strong mind and it is absolutely true. Strength IS confidence.
Weight Training will help to burn more fat – There is a prevailing myth that the only way to burn fat is to do cardio. Nonsense, building solid muscle mass with an adequate diet is the absolute best way to get rid of those love handles. Muscle mass raises your metabolism. Muscle mass burns fat. Build more muscle to burn more fat. If you don’t have muscle mass to begin with cardio may help you lose weight but you will not get the toned look. At best you will look skinny-fat if all you do is cardio. That’s good enough for some, but it’s not good enough for you.
Weight Training will increase your energy – It’s an invigorating feeling getting under a bar and lifting what you never thought you could lift. That energy stays with you. There is no better high than after an intense workout; no chemical substance can match the feeling of calm after a great workout. Enough of the routines, driving to work, needing cup after cup of coffee, only to be exhausted by the time you get home, enough energy to eat pizza and watch tv all night long. Turn off the TV, put down the pizza, and pick up some weights. You will thank yourself later.
Weight Training will teach you discipline and hard work – You must remember, nothing good ever came from something easy. It takes hard work, pain, and sacrifice.
Weight Training will make you healthier – After several months of weight training you will notice you get less colds, flus, and other sicknesses. That is because regular exercise improves sleep patterns.
Better sleep + regular training = stronger immune system.
Your body has become stronger from the inside out. Weight Training will also help bone strength and density, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and a host of other illnesses.
Weight Training will improve poor posture – In the age of the computer, many of us sit for long periods hunched over. This is horrible for our posture. Most people have weak backs, weak abdominals and walk with a hunch. Strengthen your body, especially your back and your abs, and walk upright with a purpose, a drive. Don’t walk hunched over like you’re ready to die at any moment. Life is for the living. Hit the weights.
Weight Training will help you look good naked – A strong body signals the opposite sex that you are healthy and that is sexy.
Weight Training is FUN – After you get through the initial phase of forcing yourself to get to the gym you may realize you actually enjoy being there. There is nothing better than pushing through plateaus and lifting weights heavier than you have ever dreamed. Breaking past your previous limitations is a thrill. It gets to be damned fun.
There’s a confidence gained in the gym that people who never train cannot understand. When someone first starts out and can barely bench 45 lbs and ups that to 225 lbs with steady, solid training the feeling of accomplishment is immense, when someone starts out deadlifting 95 lbs and ups that to 405 lbs that’s a huge boost to the ego. That’s something you can be proud of. Even if no one else in the world understands where you came from it doesn’t matter, you have accomplished what you once thought impossible and no one can take that away from you.
Discipline comes along for the ride. If you never had any before, you will after you start training. Weight training requires you eat right. You won’t even want to eat junk food anymore, your body will crave the good foods and you’ll want to eat those good foods. Heavy weight training requires you get good sleep, and you will. Weight training requires you get up off the couch and go to the gym and accomplish something. If you can manage that you will see what all the hype was about.
The real benefits of weight training have nothing to do with reducing body fat or a having a nice build. The real benefits have everything to do with relieving stress, getting out aggression, building confidence, giving you a positive mental attitude, giving you pride and developing discipline, all things which are foundational to Peak Performance and will help ensure a successful year in all aspects of your life.
Recently I taught a group of trainers in the Chicago area. We were going over program design and the process used for progression of the performer, the client, to higher skilled movements. The question asked of me was, what process do I utilize for the progression process? My answer is the subject of this blog.
In general, I use phases of motor learning to gauge and determine my client’s, the performer, skillfulness. Let me delve deeper. An exercise or movement is a skill. Like any other skill, there is a process of learning and development. This process is known as the motor learning process. As the performer goes through the process, there are distinct observable behaviors that the coach or trainer can observe to determine the level of development of the performer.
These are the three phases of motor learning:
In this model the phases of learning overlap as the performer increases in skillfulness. As the performer practices the skill the observable behavior will change over time. Frustration level will drop as confidence increases with each given practice.
As one of my mentors would say: “So what”! This was his way of saying make something practical of the information, what is the take home message, how is this important or how is this info pertinent to what I do as a coach/trainer?
The take home message is this:
When the performer is learning a new movement(s), the coach can observe the movement behavior to gauge the progress of skillfulness. Once the performer has reached a level of proficiency, high associative phase to autonomous phase, variables within the program can be changed to challenge the performer and enhance overall performance, i.e.: increased load, orientation of the load, complexity, stability, counting in different sequence…etc.
The performer may come to work with you and have experience. After doing the needs analysis and intake keep that learning process going. Challenge them by changing a variable(s) so that skillfulness degrades, from high levels of confidence to a lower in level of confidence in execution. Thereby the observable behavior for the given skill(s) will go from smooth, deliberate and executed at high velocities to moving indeterminately, choppy and lower velocities.
In summary, understanding the motor learning phases and how the phases relates to the proficiency of the skill will help you gauge where your clients’, athletes’, or the performers’ are in their skillfulness. This will help you determine WHEN it is appropriate to progress your client and help you determine if the changes made in variables and or program ARE appropriate for the individual.
More to come…
This is a 3 part series of blogs on providing some ground rules on strength training. What I intend through this article series is to make this topic less mystifying and teach everyone how to do what trainers, coaches and gym rats do very well, workout. If you have not read part 1 read it here in my last post I discussed training variables, terms such as core, supplemental and accessory movements and types of training. In this post I will discuss goal setting, exercise order and provide a 4week example of a 3 phase system. Strength training program is progressive cycle program serving as your roadmap for training making for real physical change. However, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and exercise with fitness professionals to establish proven long lasting results.
2 key questions to building a great workout plan.
1. What is your level of Fitness?
Fitness is a measure of how well a person is able to meet the energy production or demands of the life or specific fitness goal. In weight training we measure strength by acquiring a 1 or 10 repetitions maximum of a target movement such as Squat, push up, pull up or deadlift. That way one can determine improvement or some goal directed program is results of a program.
Resistance training Repetition Maximum
Facts about Rep Selection:
1. Total volume of work either it being time or repetition is the most important acute exercise variables.
2. Understanding the above will help you establish a safe, effective, and efficient workout.
3. If you seek muscle mass, increase repetition from hypertrophy (a 6-12 rm. range)
4. Sets of 1-3 reps demands great amount of force, which puts great stress on the neuromuscular and endocrine system, they are best used 1-3 weeks.
Exercise variables and their relationships with strength training.
2. What is your goal? _______________________________________________________
After establishing your goal you need to profile yourself as an athlete. Coach Dan John 4 Quadrant system helps in selecting the appropriate movements as well and puts people in the proper path. I strongly recommend these two resources Intervention DVD by Dan John or the book Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline, in both sources athletes are categorized into 4 “quadrants.”
Most of the general population falls into Quadrant three the biggest issues with this target is they need to just to be more compliant. Shocker! According to Dan it’s quite possible to get results if you just stuck to resistance training three days per week and followed a sensible nutrition plan, you could achieve a decent level of fitness and body composition. But, nutrition is key and not negotiable in Dan’s mind. A good thing to do is to use an app or simple pen and pad and track what you eat! Personally I like MyfitnesPal application is easy and can easily share your information with clients or friends. Measuring and tracking information has shown to be the most effective method to a fitness program.
To recap the 4 Quadrants is about profiling yourself and then applying your level to proper exercise progression, intensity and order. Below is a chart that scales exercise by complexity of skill. I got this idea from two people. Dr Juris and Coach Mike Boyle described a system for skill development. All movement is a skill and some people move well and some have room for improvement ;). Be wise and select proper movement and practice good form. It takes time, consistency and allot of commitment to get to your goal. It does not have to be complicated to be effective.
This program uses training phases that is designed to continuously stimulate your body through progressive exercises and movements so you avoid the effects of plateauing. By frequently introducing your body to new and demanding stimuli, you will see the benefits to body and mind throughout the life of your training program.
The 3 Phase system
Establishing Progression with 6 variables of exercise:
1. Load: By adding weight increase of 5 to 10 lbs for arms and shoulders and up to 20lbs for leg and back.
2. Sets and Repetitions: Vary sets (18-24 total per workout) and reps (6-15 reps) for different programs
3. Time: Perform same amount of work in a shorter period of time. Increase the work rate per unit in time.
4. Movement: Matching up planes of motion with goal
5. Joint Balance
6. Flexibility: to allow for feedback to be considered in changing the goal of the workout.
What if my weight is to light?
As a technique slow the Speed down never go to failure in movement but practice form always leave the ability to do a repetition
What if the weight is too heavy?
Then use technique like partial repetitions or work n isometrics to make the desired time
On your off days I strongly suggest you have recovery work outs such as low intensity cardiovascular work that increase blood flow and static stretching along with soft tissue work to reduce stiffness and muscle soreness. I strongly suggest working with a personal trainer to get feedback on quality of movement.
DUE TO THE RISK OF ANY NEW FITNESS PROGRAM I RECOMMEND THAT YOU CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE PERFORM THIS OR ANY OTHER EXERCISE PROGRAM
Stay Tuned for the Final Installment!
Ok, if only I had a dollar for every time I hear this: “can you make me a workout program?” The expectation of trainers if often that they can provide the elixir of life that will not only make a person lean but make that person perform like a champion! What I intend through this article however is to make this topic less mystifying and teach everyone how to do what trainers, coaches and gym rats do very well, workout.
What are the ground rules for strength training? Strength is the ability to do work; from this basic definition we can derive other physical attributes like power and endurance. Power is the ability to move maximal resistance as fast as possible, and endurance is the ability to lift a sub maximal resistance for a long period. Please look at Figure 1 a training variable chart from National Strength and Conditioning Association essential of strength and conditioning manual
Traditionally people use a load and a rep scheme to develop a program. Most conditioning specialists will use a principle of F.I.T. (Frequency, Intensity and Time). Let us say that through trial and a lot of error from research and personal experience the current principle that works the best is a planned fitness program. What a shocker!!! Most specialists call this Periodization, a fancy word that means a plan with specific variables that take into consideration the level of fitness, training volume, intensity, and recovery.
I propose that people create health and performance programs in three steps.
Step 1: A Foundation
To create an optimal program, having a plan and sticking to it provides for better opportunity for success. When you have a plan, you can always change it. Track your workouts and see what is working and what is not; most people never commit and always have some excuse for not achieving success; when all it takes is having a plan. This typical excuse can be resolved by having a plan that matches the Frequency, Intensity and Time that is realistic to execute. I always come across individuals who focus on the obstacles to their starting a workout program (such as not having the perfect workout sneakers), and they never get started. My advice is, something is better than nothing, so let’s get started! What does this process look like getting going on a program? See below for a sample.
The goal of building a foundation is to build the discipline for a period of time. Yes, this sounds like a one size fits all program, but this is an example of a place to start. Many individuals never commit to anything, believing that this program is not specific enough to them, and thus will not yield results. Those same individuals often then choose to do nothing, and most health and performance problems are due to not having a plan and practicing it for a period of time. The period of time here outlined in Step one is 4-6 weeks. Science shows that soon after this time the body adapts and a change is needed for further progress. This becomes easy to implement if we have a plan.
When I say “moving,” the goal of any program is proper exercise sequence and proper joint and load balance. Most of time people will only select movement they like, such as the top heavy guy in every health club always at the bench press with tooth pick legs. Can we see there is some muscle imbalance occurring in his program?
So here is a basic checklist in creating every program
Work larger muscles first, then smaller muscles: This is due to the fact that if you, for example, work biceps before lats then try to perform chin-ups, your biceps will already be fatigued, and it will be difficult to fatigue yours lats effectively.
Maintain a neutral posture: this means your “normal curve,” whatever that may be.
Keep breathing: holding breath can lead to the “Vaslva Maneuver” which is sudden increase blood pressure. Proper technique is to breathe out during exertion.
Exercise through the full range of motion: the body is capable of moving through great ranges of motion. It is good to exercise in full range of motion. You do however put strains on joints, ligaments, and tendons when you add load or resistance to the movement. In general, the more weight you add to movement, the more conservative the range should be.
Do not strain when you are being challenged: Always keep neutral spine and posture in place. Educate yourself that it does not help them lift more weight, or get better results when they arch their necks or backs while they are attempting to lift weights Remember, exercise is a stress on the body. It is a positive stress, which brings much benefit, but we do not want to add more than is necessary for the task a hand.
Keep the five point of Alignments: The head, spine, hips, knees, and ankles. For joint integrity keep this alignment.
So keeping in mind this basic checklist we need to arrange our movements
Practical Scheme for exercise order
1. A Core Movement considered a "primary” lift that is “total body”: multi-segmental, weight Bering (see next page for example).
2. Supplemental Movement a “secondary lift” could be multi-segmental to enhance improvement of Core lift (see next page for example).
3. An Accessory movement is a “isolation lift” usually single joint, non weight Bering (see next page for example).
Basic Foundation consist of 2 Training Methods
1. Circuit training: Performing a number of exercises in series, often with very short rest periods between each station (exercise) or using active rest. An extended rest period is commonly given after a completion of a circuit (As an example please click onto Fitness program and review Day 2 and 6).
2. Station training: Performing one single exercise generally followed by a rest period and then repeated for a predetermined number of sets (As an example please click onto Fitness program and review Day 1,3,4,5,7,8).
Well this is the end to step 1 a foundation stay tuned for my next article step two individualization. In the meanwhile stick to the sample workout that I provided for six weeks. As a personal trainer and coach I am constantly looking for ways to help clients and teams achieve their targeted goals and improve overall athletics abilities.
As specialist, I can help clients to seize opportunity, overcome obstacles, and achieve full potential. To embark upon this challenge I expect hard work and commitment, both by me as a coach and the person in front of me. Applying a principle- centered approach to training helps people to stay focused and most importantly to enjoy the journey of improving ones ability and one self.
Some of these principles are commitment, determination, flexibility and a positive mindset. The true power of success occurs when and individual can transition from understanding these principles to living them. MY challenge is to help each individual make that transition on the road to mastering personal goals and challenges. Stay tuned for the next two steps to program design!
11/21/2013 0 Comments
Certainly a critically important place to strive for Peak Performance is in our nation’s educational system. This blog outlines the case for an important new role for the physical educator and makes the case for more physical education and active play in our educational system.
One of the biggest challenges facing the US public school system has been its struggle to prepare students for careers in a new and highly competitive information based economy. Obviously this is a challenging issue and a source of pain for administrators as they bear the brunt of criticism from parents, politicians and the media, who often point out that the US spends more per student than any other country and ask “Why then does the US rank so poorly when compared to other countries (17th in Science and 24th in Math)”?
In addition the great recession led to significantly reduced tax revenues and has put additional pressure on an education system that is asking administrators to do more with less.
Apparently the high per student investment is not a result of teacher’s salaries as the US ranks 27th in that category. However, the unfortunate consequences of this new reality has forced administrators to make tough choices leading to a significant cutback in teachers and programming deemed non-essential to improving academic performance. Quite often physical education has become an easy target in a misplaced effort to improve a school’s academic results. This I believe is a mistake.
If physical education is to survive it must adapt to this new reality and become part of the solution.
Fortunately ongoing brain research has shown the important role of movement in brain development. Dr. Vonda Wright (The Mobility Doctor) states: “Even at a cellular level we are wired for mobility. Intense physical activity increases capillary development in the brain, enabling oxygen, glucose and a spectrum of growth hormones access to the brain. When we get our blood pumping, we release norepinephrine or adrenaline and we stimulate the end cannabinoid system in our brains. Adrenaline acts on our brain to sharpen attention, increase our arousal and motivates us to assimilate new information and learn. At the same time, serotonin is released to calm the brain’s “nerves” so you can think straight. This puts our brains in a prime environment for learning.”
It’s also important to understand that our hunter gatherer ancestors passed on the genetic coding that requires humans to make movement a critical part of their life experience and that movement is essential to brain neuroplasticity (“brain changing” AKA “LEARNING”).
From the beginning of life in the womb, movement is considered an indicator of a healthy fetus. At birth the primitive reflexes of grip, neck movement and the Moro reflex are considered key indicators of a baby’s health and brain development.
In the early years of a child’s development the actions of rolling, crawling, walking, clutching, grabbing, climbing and tactile interaction with their environment are essential foundational skills necessary for proper brain development. It is important to note that the motor control area of the brain is interconnected with the brain’s focus and attention capabilities and is critical to the learning process. It is vital that children grasp these skills to ensure they enter the education system prepared to learn.
An Exciting New Opportunity for the Physical Educator
As children enter the school system we need to make certain that teachers and their students include movement before, during and after school to help ensure students are ready to learn.
This opens up an exciting new opportunity for the physical educator as they can position themselves as the school’s expert on movement and learning and become a key resource in helping administrators and teachers improve academic performance.
Leading physical educators across the nation have worked with their administrations to blue print exciting new programs that have proven the effectiveness of this approach.
Here’s a great segment that played on Good Morning America called “Learning on the Move” that showcases and discusses physical activity and learning process:
Another exciting development is the design of training programs and courses that help physical educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become their school’s specialist in creating a readiness to learn environment.
One such course was developed by Fizika Group, a Lancaster PA based company that recently partnered with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to create a self-paced, inter-active, online certificate course to train and prepare what they call Active Learning Specialists for schools. Their target is not just physical educators but all teachers or administrators who may have an interest in Active Learning. A large part of the course focuses on helping the AL specialists learn how to form an interdisciplinary team to address active learning from multiple vantage points
Using evidence-based approaches to design, implement and evaluate active learning interventions, a certified Active Learning Specialists is informed by best practices and the latest research to help educators incorporate physical activity into the learning process — to help improve academic and health outcomes.
Redesigning the Classroom for Peak Performance - Moving Physical Education beyond the Gymnasium: Creating Activity Permissible Classrooms
As school leaders charged with promoting healthy and active lifestyles, physical education professionals who are trained as Active Learning Specialists can extend their expertise to school classrooms by helping to facilitate the creation of more active and engaging teaching and learning areas. These teaching and learning areas include such moving innovations as exercise stability balls as chairs, fixed-height stand-up desks, Steelcase Node chairs, and Steelcase buoy chairs.
Using chairs lined up in rows, the center pieces of most classrooms, creates one of the least effective environments for learning. Sitting increases fatigue and reduces concentration. Ironically, you're more tired from sitting than you would be if you had stood up and moved around. Most children - and adults, for that matter - need to move in order to learn. We wiggle, fidget, tap our toes, drum our fingers and more and it's completely normal to have trouble sitting still in school. Our bodies contain energy that needs to be used up or burned off at regular intervals. And the longer we compel kids to sit at desks and tables, the harder it is for them to learn.
Using an active learning approach refers to making arrangements for kids to move their bodies during lessons leading to increased information retention as students become comfortable in their learning spaces.
A recent article in The New York Times outlines how small modifications made to classroom furniture can have a conversely enormous impact on learning, and even children's health.
“With multiple classrooms filled with stand-up desks, Marine Elementary (in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota) finds itself at the leading edge of an idea that experts say continues to gain momentum in education: that furniture should be considered as seriously as instruction, particularly given the rise in childhood obesity and the decline in physical education and recess.
Dr. James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, advocates what he calls 'activity-permissive' classrooms, including stand-up desks.
Having many children sit in a classroom isn't the craziest idea, but look at how children have changed,' Dr. Levine said of the sedentary lives of many. 'We also have to change, to meet their needs.
It’s important to note that movement facilitates cognition, that 85% of children are kinesthetic learner’s also known as tactile learners, an educational style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, by touching and doing rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration.
Bring Back Recess! – The Importance of Unstructured Play
The 2009 February issue of the Journal Pediatrics shows that students who received more than 15 minutes of free play a day were better behaved than those who had no recess period. The researchers argue that these findings, along with similar findings from other studies, “support the importance of recess for student attentiveness in the classroom.”
The relationship between academics and play appears to be in constant tension, as though adding to one results in taking away from the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. It would appear that recess contributes to academic success in a variety of ways.
“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do,” writes Mark Twain in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I find myself yearning for the days of Tom Sawyer when leisure antics were the norm for children’s behavior and play was natural, spontaneous, and yes, sometimes mischievous.
Play is the antidote for depression, isolation, and fearfulness. And it is play that holds the key to leading a happy and healthy life whether we are 1 or 100 and everywhere in-between. Recently we, adults and children alike, appear to have lost our motivation to play. With the economy spiraling downward, fear and uncertainty can manifest itself into anger and frustration. Who feels like playing in these uncertain times?
But for children, oblivious to the worlds’ angst and anxieties, let’s not forget as caregivers we can encourage children to go outdoors and play. Physical educators can become advocates of recess time for unstructured play and encourage administrative decision makers to balance the time spent indoors and out. Schools and daycare centers can bring back recess and playtime for children by scheduling a minimum of 30 minute break times in the day for fun and unadulterated play.
Get Involved – Join the PTA and Make your voices heard!
If you are a parent reading this I encourage you to support physical education, join your local Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and stay connected and aware of what’s happening in your child’s school.
There is no better way to meet other parents and teachers to share ideas, concerns and experiences, build rapport and discuss issues that are on your mind.
Tell your school how you feel about the importance of physical education, recess, good nutrition and an active learning environment. The PTA’s nationwide network provides parents with the forum and tools to collectively influence the decisions that affect children not only at their schools, but also throughout their districts, within their states, and across the nation.