Marathon Training: Generic Plans Vs A Whole Body Approach Pt. 1

Personalized Marathon Training

As the saying goes, “Marathon training is a cruel mistress”, why else does every marathoner feel the need to tell you about their training regardless if you have asked our not?

It’s a lot of time, effort and sweat equity put into one day, months away, where you will test your mettle on the road…

Which is why you need to be cautious with which marathon training plan you choose!

You need to choose a plan that will work best for you; a plan that will fit within your time constraints but also work with your body and how you as an individual respond to training. However, sometimes it’s hard to tell which plan will work best, especially if you are unsure what to look for!

Take the plan below for instance: Continue reading “Marathon Training: Generic Plans Vs A Whole Body Approach Pt. 1”

Getting started – it’s the only thing that matters

Getting Started - it's the only thing that matters

Getting started on something is usually the hardest part. I believe it’s the only thing that matters!

I actually wrote a similar version of this article about a year and a half ago but just realized I never got around to publishing it…

I apologize because I feel I prevented a learning opportunity for you.

I’m writing about it again now because I had a new realization about this concept the other day. I even did a Snapchat rant about it.

Continue reading “Getting started – it’s the only thing that matters”

The Health Benefits of Improving Your Sleep

improving your sleep

I like to classify sleep as one of those things we “know we need more of” but fail at actually getting more of (kind of like veggies :P)

There are many health benefits to improving your sleep and without getting too sciencey on you, here are a few quick facts regarding our bodies and their need for Zzzz’s

A lack of sleep can actually cause the body to act similar to a state of intoxication

  • Less sleep can mean more weight gain (due to a lack of time for the regulation of necessary hormones)
  • A lack of sleep can impede any muscle building attempts due to HGH (human growth hormone) not having enough time to release and regenerate
  • While you sleep your immune system restores. A lack of sleep can cause you to become more susceptible to colds and flu
  • There is such thing as sleep debt. While you may function “just fine” on four hours of sleep, your body and hormones do not. Eventually you will have to makeup that time

Now, I won’t bore you with the different kinds of sleep but know that in order to function optimally the next day (increased brain activity, creativity, improved energy etc) you need to have hit a deep sleep (or your REM stage). Continue reading “The Health Benefits of Improving Your Sleep”

Do you have vague goals or measurable goals?

Running a marathon is a measurable goal.

When I ask people for their goals, I oftentimes get vague responses. Most commonly, people tell me that they want to lose weight or build muscle.

Let’s start with the “losing weight” response and let’s first change the terminology.

What we’re really talking about here is losing body fat, right? You can lose weight by simply dehydrating yourself, but I realize that what people mean by “lose weight” is actually that they want to “lose fat.” – if your goal is to simply lose fat, how do know when you’ve attained that goal? Continue reading “Do you have vague goals or measurable goals?”

Trust the process… but only if you trust your coach

Trust the process but don't just follow along randomly

We all have different goals, routines, habits, programs and beliefs when it comes to training and building a training plan. Regardless of any of the above a common rule of thumb is to trust the process.

When planned properly, this “process” will get you exactly where you need to go. All you have to do is trust it and follow along accordingly.
And like most things in life, this is way easier said than done.

Trust the process.. but only if you trust your coach

Recently I have switched my personal style of training to accommodate my daughters sporadic schedule. As much as I would love to spend two hours in my studio, it simply won’t happen. To add even more fun to that adventure, she frequently cries during my training sessions and needs to be fed/comforted/changed… this makes rest times between exercises a bit random. Continue reading “Trust the process… but only if you trust your coach”

How To Get The Results You Want

you need the gym to achieve results

“I just want to get ‘toned’, but not ‘bulky’”, she said.

“I just want my arms, chest, and abs to be lean, and chiseled. I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder”, he said.

These are two of the answers I receive most often when speaking to men and women about their fitness goals. I’m not really sure who educated so many people on exercise science, but it is particularly clear that there are obvious misconceptions on what happens when people lift weights. Also, there are some misconceptions on what it takes for someone to reach those goals they stated in their answers.

Unfortunately, “toned” isn’t a word found in any exercise physiology textbook. It’s also not found in any peer reviewed scientific literature. Why? Continue reading “How To Get The Results You Want”

Do you even know why you are running?

Think back to your last run

How did it go?

What did it accomplish?

Did you log it?

Why did you run?

Think hard on that last question, most of us runners would have a hard time coming up with an answer – maybe you were just following your schedule or maybe you just thought, “a run sounds nice, lets do that.”

Perhaps you didn’t even think about it before hand, you just ran out the door ready to get that run out of the way!

I run into this mentality with my runners every year, there always comes a point in the season where they reach an impasse and start going through the motions. They might hammer an easy run or stop doing some of the little things we do post runs (I’ll cover these in another blog post soon) and if left unchecked they could start to unravel. I just make sure to remind them of what we are trying to accomplish, our easy runs are helping us recover and when we push too hard we aren’t accomplishing that goal.

That’s not to say that every easy run has that purpose but you – or your coach – need to have a firm understanding of your program.

Even if you don’t know what that particular run is doing for you on the molecular level – it still helps to know the reasoning behind it. Maybe you don’t need to know that the reason why we incorporate long runs into 5k training is because they help your body build bone density and help oxygen delivery to your muscles (those are just a few of the benefits) but you should still know that long runs will help build your endurance and help make 5ks seem easier.

In my experience just knowing why you are doing something can do miracles for motivation, not only on that run but throughout your program.

Does your program call for speedwork, do you know why?
Does your program call for speedwork, do you know why?

 

What if I’m not training for anything specific?

This is a good question because if you aren’t trying to train a specific system why should you care? – the more relevant question becomes:

What do you want out of this run?

Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you just want to feel better or maybe you use running as a stress relief and having that daily run keeps you from going insane.

Then THAT is why you run, and you need to write those words down and remind yourself before every run. Put that statement somewhere where you will see it everyday! When you start to feel the urge to stay inside ask yourself, “why am I running?” – This is how we succeed, this is how we make a lifestyle change!

And who knows, maybe down the line you will decide to train for a 5k. It’s an easy transition and just knowing how to set yourself up for success will put you miles ahead of your fellow beginners… literally and figuratively.

So… Why do you run?!

Let me know @anthrophysique – or leave a comment below!

Go Get After It!

-Justin

Do You Suffer From Athletes Brain?

Athletes Brain is a term I’ve come up with for a common scenario I run into. At least I think I’ve made it up… Please correct me if not!

I use it to reference a time where people think they can do more than they are physically capable of. Or more specifically, their brain remembers what they used to be able to do but their body can no longer do that. Their brain remembers when they used to be an “athlete” of some sort, but their body is no longer at that same level.

It comes along with common phrases like:

“I used to be able to do that”
“I used to be able to lift more weight”
“I used to run way faster”
“But I should be able to do way more than this”
“Oh my god, I can’t believe how sore I am after such a simple workout”

As you can see, the theme is that the brain is still in the past. Your brain remembers everything you used to be able to do and for some strange reason your body isn’t doing it any more.

Your brain says “yes” and your body says “no”.

Guess what, your body wins.

The challenge with this scenario is that it can be frustrating as hell. I just want to be back where I used to be. Why can’t I be there now? I don’t remember it being this hard.

Fact is, in the past you worked really hard to get yourself to a certain spot in fitness or sports. You pushed, you overcame obstacles and you got results.

But then you stopped.

For whatever reason your life changed course and you stopped pursuing that path.

Maybe it’s been months, maybe it’s been years. Either way, it’s been a while. When you don’t keep at it, you don’t keep the results. As my university professor used to say: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.

Your body has become de-conditioned and it now has to start all over. Although unfortunate and often frustrating, it is what it is. The only way to move forward is to accept it and just do what you can.

If you suffer from Athletes Brain, you’re going to have to tell your brain to shut up. Just like your parents when you were 16, it doesn’t know what’s best for you!

You need to get your brain to stop talking and start listening. Listen to your body and just do what it can. It may mean you start a little slower, but the good news is that won’t last.

You’ll start seeing results pretty quickly even at a modified level. If you don’t believe me, you might be suffering from All or Nothing which is a cousin of Athletes Brain.

Your body will actually re-gain a decent level of fitness pretty quickly. Within a few months (yes months, not weeks) your athletes brain will regain it’s value. Your body will have re-built a foundation and now you can use that same brain to start pushing yourself again. You’ll use it for good instead of evil and launch yourself into success!

Have you ever had Athletes Brain? Did it frustrate you and cause you to quit? Share your experience in the comments below.

HIIT Workouts – the pro’s and con’s

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts seem to be a lot more popular lately. Well, maybe it’s not that they’re more popular but the term “HIIT” itself is more popular. For me it’s been popping up a lot more so I figured I might as well write a post about it 🙂

A couple examples of HIIT programs are:

  • P90x
  • T25
  • Bootcamps
  • CrossFit
  • Tabata

In a basic sense, HIIT workouts alternate between periods of high intensity with periods of rest. The length of each period can vary greatly depending on who’s writing your program or hopefully what you’re training for.

HIIT workouts can have a lot of benefits too:

  • Improved anaerobic capacities
  • Improved aerobic capacities
  • Shorter workout times to fit busy schedules
  • Sustained increase in metabolic rate for longer periods after workouts
  • Reducing risk factors of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Improving Insulin sensitivity
  • Generally less boring than sustained state workouts

As you can see, there are many reasons to use a high intensity workout in your routine. In fact, I’m always looking at how I can help my clients increase the intensity in workouts, ONCE they’ve reached an appropriate level of fitness.

My main concern with any workout program is to make sure that it’s appropriate for the desired goals and current fitness level of the individual. All too often I see something like a HIIT workout being given to a client who’s not ready for it. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Just because it CAN have a ton of benefits doesn’t mean it the right thing to do.

I say CAN have a ton of benefits because sometimes I feel it may not be worth it. There are risks that come along with intensity and it’s important to make sure your body is ready for the challenge.

Some of the cons of HIIT workouts are:

  • Increase toxicity in the body
  • Extreme muscle soreness
  • Risk of injury

These risks are generally greater for anyone just starting into a fitness routine. If you’ve been consistent with a routine for a while, then a HIIT workout program might be a great option for you.

It’s the intensity itself is the main risk for beginners.

By pushing your body too fast, too far, too soon you’re setting yourself up for failure. Injury is the biggest concern because usually your joints aren’t strong enough and your technique isn’t solid. As you push intensity, it’s going to challenge anyone’s technique. Poor technique at a high intensity is a recipe for injury.

Also, high intensity produces a lot of metabolic breakdown of muscle and fat tissue in your workout. This can lead to extreme muscle soreness lasting many days and potentially challenge the body’s ability to effectively filter the toxins out of your body leading to major health risks.

I don’t want to stop anyone from using a high intensity routine, I just want to inform people so they know when to use it.

In my opinion, intensity is where the results are. I’m a strong believer in the value of high intensity workouts.

That being said, intensity is relative. If you’re starting from couch potato status, walking or cycling for 30 minutes is an increase in intensity. There’s no need to be doing 400m repeats on day 1.

As always, progression in your workouts is going to be your best bet for long term success.

What HIIT workout programs have you tried and what have been your results?

The Perfect Program

When you start a new fitness program, you probably want to know the best way to get the result you want right?

Of course!

It seems reasonable: You have a goal you want to reach, you’re not sure how to get it, so you ask if anyone can help you get there. Or maybe you do a google search.

The good news is that there’s a ton of options out there. The bad news is how do you know which one is right for you?

Which one is that perfect program?

Which one is going to get you the results you want the quickest?

Unfortunately, everything out there seems to claim it is the best: 6 minutes this, high intensity that, “The #1 secret you’ve been missing…”, “6 pack shortcuts” and “The ultimate fat burning program”.

If you follow their plan, you’ll look just like their models!

We’re taught to believe that the perfect program exists. And we’re taught to believe that the it’s the perfect program itself that will get us the results we want.

There is a little bit of truth in this. A good program that fits your needs is important, but that’s not usually the problem.

When I start coaching someone, the problem isn’t that they aren’t doing the RIGHT program, it’s that they aren’t doing ANY program. Or at least they can’t stick to any program for a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s say I create the perfect program for you. It targets everything you want to target and will get you all the results you want to get. Sounds pretty sweet right?

Now what if you don’t do that program?

If you’re not doing it it doesn’t matter how good the program is. It’s useless.

It doesn’t matter how perfect the program is, you’ll never get any results if it just sits there collecting dust.

For most people starting out, the perfect program is the one you’re actually doing. It’s the one that progresses you effectively, meets your needs, and helps you achieve success so you’re motivated to keep pushing yourself further.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

When you’re getting started in a workout routine, often it’s less about WHAT you’re doing and more about the fact that YOU’RE DOING IT.

Once you’ve built yourself to a point where you’re exercising consistently (3+ times per week for at least 6-12 months in a row) THEN you can become more concerned about the specifics of the program. At that point your body is adapting to the program you’re doing so you’ll need a smart, targeted plan to help you reach the next level.

When the level you’re trying to reach is Level 1, worry less about finding that perfect program and focus on just doing something.

Do you have experience with this? Share your story in the comments below.

– Chad

Head Fitness Coach and Founder

Progression – walk before you run

I touched on the idea of progression last week but I think it’s a valuable topic to expand on.

Once you build the belief that you can succeed with small wins, that’s when you want to start increasing the challenge.

Progression is a gradual development over a period of time.

Last weeks reference was to how many times I see people jumping into a routine or diet with both feet and not really knowing where they want to go. They are so excited about the result they are trying to achieve that they try and do everything all at once so they can get the results ASAP!

Yes, I’ve done this myself, but don’t lie, you know you’ve done this too! You’ve been this “person” I speak of 😉

It’s okay though. It’s natural, kinda…

We now live in a world of immediate gratification. If I’m hungry I go to the fridge, store or restaurant and I’m eating within minutes. If I want to watch a movie I find it on Netflix or rent it on iTunes and within minutes I’m watching it. If I’m having a conversation with someone and we can’t remember which actor was in a movie a quick google or imdb search gives us the answer in seconds.

So it’s natural to think that if I want a strong, healthy, toned body, why can’t I have it in minutes as well?

Heck, even the majority of marketing in the fitness industry tells us we can have the six pack abs in just minutes a day.

As I mentioned in my last post, this method of jumping into it usually sets us up for failure. We take on too much too soon and we can’t keep up.

However, with progression, we’d have a more systematic approach to how we build our exercise and nutrition habits.

We always encourage our clients to start small and start with success.

This could literally be focusing only on one simple habit daily, like eating breakfast, to just doing three 20-minute workouts a week.

If you haven’t been working out at all, why try and start with 5+ days a week?

Once you start to have success with those basics, THEN you can start to increase the challenge. Start to focus on lunch and dinner if it’s nutrition related or add time or days to your workout plan. Once you have the habit built, it’s a lot easier to progress to a more advanced level of your program.

In fitness progression, I suggest that people progress through these phases in fitness: joint strength, core strength, general strength, power development, intensity, athletic movements.

This lets you start small and builds a strong foundation to reduce the risk of injury.

At the end of the day, all successful learning comes through a progression over time.

“Walk before you run”. Literally.

Next time your working on your fitness or nutrition routine, consider if you’re in the right stage of progression. Are you bitting off more than you can chew or are you starting small and creating success?

Do you set yourself up for success or failure? Share your experiences in the comments.

Belief – how to succeed!

When I talk about belief, I’m specifically referring to the belief in yourself. Maybe “self belief” or “belief in self” is more accurate?

A belief is a feeling of being sure that something is true.

If I have a belief in myself, it’s a belief that I know something about me is true. Or, I believe that I have the ability to do something.

An example might be that I believe I am a creative person or I believe that I can workout 3 times a week on a regular basis.

The opposite of this might be doubt.

Applied to the context of fitness or nutrition; if I believe that I am the type of person that will follow through with my plans and goals, I’m probably more likely to succeed at them. The belief actually leads to the success!

If I have doubt in what I can do, it’s hard for me to get going and I likely fail.

When I start coaching with my clients, one of the first things we start to do is build their belief. Belief in themselves and what they can achieve. If they want long-term success they need to feel confident that they are the type of person that will be able to follow through.

How does one build this belief?

Great question! 🙂

As I’ve said in many other posts, like here and here, a big key to success is starting small. Set some small achievable goals so you can build a foundation of success. As you succeed, you feel better and better about your ability to re-produce that success.

The next step is knowing when to start adding complexity and how to progress, but I’ll talk more about that next week. For now we’ll stick to building the belief.

I see it time and time again where people have a great excitement towards their goals and want them NOW. They want the results as quickly as possible, so they start full steam ahead.

They go from working out less times than they can count on one hand over the past 3-6 months to going to the gym 5 days a week over night.

Ever done that?

Heck, even I’ve done that!

I had a couple months with a scarce workout routine and then when I got back on track I thought I could do everything I used to do 2 months earlier. Let’s just say it was tough to sit down for a few days…

Anyway, moving along…

The problem with this aggressive approach is that it sets us up for failure. By trying to take on too much and rush our results, we end up failing. Instead of building belief we build doubt. We don’t see that we can succeed so we doubt if it’s even possible.

If you jump into 5 days a week and only get 3 it feels like a failure. But if you start with 3 days a week and happen to get 4, that’s a HUGE victory!

So again, start small, get yourself some wins and enjoy the success. Setting yourself up for success will help you build the belief that you know you can do it. You’ll believe in yourself and your ability.

What is your self belief with fitness or nutrition? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

– Chad

How to Target Fat Loss

fat loss

Have you ever wanted to target fat loss from one specefic area of your body?

For women it’s often around the hips and thighs and for men it’s around the belly or love handles. If you’ve experienced a bunch of weight loss, those might be the last areas to go.

Google search “Fat Loss” and you’ll find picture of models in big pants or with a tape measure around their waist. I had to use this image because it had BOTH!!

fat loss

It’s an extremely common question I get: “How do I lose weight here?” and then they point to a certain area of their body. Or, I’ll get “What exercises can I do to help get rid of this fat” and again point to an area of their body. The unfortunate reality is that it’s not really possible to just lose fat from one area of the body. We can’t target fat loss to one location only.

Caveat: I coach with a natural, drug-free approach to health. If there is a drug or pill claiming to target fat loss, I’m not interested.

The struggle is usually because it’s the last area to lose fat. You may have had success already, but this last place just won’t go. If it’s in the abdomen, no amount of sit ups is going to make the fat go away. Yes, you’ll develop the muscle underneath, but that’s not going to results in losing fat from that area. However, once you do lose the fat, your 6 pack will be ready!

Fat loss comes from a result of many factors: diet, exercise, age, stress, sleep, gender, etc. Often what got you your initial fat loss won’t get you that last 10 pounds. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working, then it’s time to do something differently.

Targeting fat loss in one area isn’t going to happen. I’d suggest looking at what changes you can make to re-ignite your metabolic fire. Take a close look at your fitness routine and diet and see what changes you can make. If you’re not sure, or you’ve been at a plateau for a while, it’s probably time for a coach. Getting an experienced and outside perspective could be the key to finding the change you need and tipping the scale in the right direction.

Have you been successful with fat loss? How did you achieve your results?

Step-by-Step Guide to Picking the Right Trainer or Coach

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Coach

There comes a time in most people’s fitness journey when they realize a benefit of hiring a professional for help. We go to a mechanic for our car, or a builder for our house, why not get a coach for our fitness?

If you’ve been to a gym, there’s probably at least a half-dozen trainers to chose from. Not to mention the option of an online coach!  🙂

Each option is going to have different levels of education, experience and specialty. How do you know which one is right for YOU? Follow the simple steps below to help ensure you find the right trainer/coach for the job.

*Disclaimer: I believe there is a difference between a “trainer” and a “coach”. I use the terms interchangeably in this post but I will outline the difference in next weeks blog.

 

Step 1: Determine your goals

No matter what, a trainer or coach is there to help you achieve YOUR goals. Determine what you want to do and achieve. Is it weight loss, weight gain, general fitness, body building, or sport performance? Knowing what you want to get from a trainer is the first key to finding the right one.

 

Step 2: Determine your starting point

Now that you know where you’re going, where are you starting from? Are you a beginner or an advanced athlete?  Do you need to learn how to use the machine or how to maximize your workouts? These will make a difference in who can best help you.

 

Step 3: Education.

What is the education your prospective trainer/coach? You want to match the goals and starting point you determined in the first 2 steps with the education of the coach. If you’re wanting to learn how to use the machines in the gym, or a few more core exercises, any trainer with a certificate will do. If you’re looking to rehab an injury or do sport specific training, you’ll want someone with a kinesiology degree.

 

Step 4: Experience

As with anything, the experience of trainers and coaches will vary greatly. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and starting is how we will gain our experience. The questions for you are: how simple are your goals and how much are you willing to experiment. If your goals are simple (like learning new movements) a newly certified trainer can be useful. However, if you’re looking to takle a goal you’ve been struggling to achieve on your own, you’re going to want a coach with years of experience working with many clients. They’ll know how to navigate your struggles and help you through them.

 

Step 5: Measurement and Assessment

You now know where you are and where you want to go. The final key to the puzzle is finding someone that will provide regular assessment and measurement of your progress. If you’re not constantly testing your body and performance, how do you know if you’re going where you want to go? A good coach will constantly assess you and calibrate your training as needed.

Finding the right coach is important to your success and enjoyment of reaching your goals. Follow these steps, interview a few coaches to see where they fit and then give it a go!

If you’ve enjoyed this content, please share!

What’s your story? Have you worked with a trainer or coach before? What has been your experience? Please post in the comments below.