APEX Fitness

Will Eagles CSCS - EST. 2010

(215) 740-2856

Want to get better, DO LESS....

It's no surprise that as a culture we want more and more. We are always chasing the best, most, largest, you name it we want it. However, we seldom realize that to get to the bigger and better we need to do a lot of little things. This is a common theme in many books including, the compounding effect, Switch, and many others.

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B0030DHPGQ&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_vRRWzbJ06QH11

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B0030DHPGQ&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_vRRWzbJ06QH11

See If you give yourself one task a large percentage of the time you will stick with it. Now if there is a second task added into the equation, then, ability to do both at the same time drops to under 40 percent adherence. Don't even get me started on more than 2 tasks. At that point, you will be down to about 10 percent adherence. This was something I took from Leo Babautas book The Power of Less.

do-less.jpg

Too often we want to do it all. Something we need to do instead is to focus on ONE simple yet highly impactful skill at a time. Once that skill is mastered and no longer needs your attention to complete then a second skill should be added.

If you want to lose weight the first skill you may want to work on is slowing down your eating. You will fail but over time you will become more comfortable with it. I also guarantee you will begin the process of shedding the unwanted weight.

See we don't always need to take on a massive amount of stress to see the results we want. People will take on a new diet for example and cut sugar, got to the gym 7 days a week, wear a step counter to make sure they get 10,000 steps a day. However, all this is doing is using up our willpower to focus on the skills that will really help us reach out goals. 

you-did-it-words-scale-weight-loss-goal-met_nyjo0gjsl__S0013.jpg

Want to know the secret to weight loss?

Now sit down this is going to knock you over.

Slow down your eating!!!!! 

That's it. Now there are other skills we need to learn to continue to lose weight but this is step 1. Nothing else. We will get into this more in another post. But that needs to be mastered before we worry about carbs, gluten, hill sprints, joining CrossFit and so on.

Now if you're an athlete and want to get faster and do not to heavy leg work. Well, that would be a great place to start. NOT the agility ladder. See to be fast you need to produce force. You do not develop that on the ladder, you develop that in the weight room. Try adding something like leg press/Deadlifts or walking lunges to your workout a few days a week and see how much that strength with impact your speed over the course of a month.

Squat.png

See without force we can not propel our bodies forward. Without that force, we can not drive our own body weight off the ground. This is where your foot turn-over starts, not the agility ladder. So work on your strength, then the next skill can be added on top of that like plyometrics, and sprint skill drills. But not until the foundation of strength is laid. 

See how these baby steps are piled one by one.

So pick ONE task, MASTER it, and then add a new skill on top. But remember pick skills and tasks that will produce the largest impact with the least amount of effort and don't pick what I like to call Level 3 skills. Pick level 1 skills. You know the crawl before you walk skills. Work smarter at everything you do not always harder.

For more information on skill building or joining my Strength and Nutrition coaching programs feel free to email or call me.

 

 


Foundational Nutrition - The skills and habits to get started on a healthy diet.

When it comes to nutrition we always hear the same things whether we are athletes or just someone looking to be the healthist they can be. Things like:

"Eat Whole Foods."
"Don't eat gluten."
"Shop the perimeter of the store."
"No sugar."
"Eat more protein."

And so many more that I can't even wrap my brain around it.

However, what we really need to be doing is keep it simple and address some foundational deficiencies in our diet. This includes things like the perception we have about food and our bodies as well letting go of all things we have read on the internet. 

When it comes to entry level nutrition I like to focus on a few things. These things are level one nutritional habits and behaviors that often times are all that's needed to become significantly healthier and perform at a high level in whatever endeavor you pursue.

  • Nutritional deficiencies. Things like hydration, protein,  vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids.
  • Food amounts. This includes portion size of the meal in its entirety as well as the portions of macronutrients on your plate, like fat, carbs, and protein. 
  • Food intake frequency. When do you eat and why? How is your energy balanced through the day.

I'll briefly break each of these simple first steps to fixing your nutrition.

The first thing that we all need to take note of is the simple things.

How is our hydration? Many times this is extremely underestimated and often times a leading cause for a lot of issues. An example would be how mild dehydration produces changes in specific cognitive functions such as concentration, alertness, and short-term memory. This can be a major issue for your work, relationships, and energy levels throughout the day.

I think it's clear why hydration is so important.

Dehydration the silent deficiency.jpeg

Other things like protein are the building blocks of everything in our body. We need to make sure that our protein levels, whether from meat or plant sources, are a priority. Things like vitamins and minerals are also often deficient. Vitamins like vitamin D is chronically low in a large portion of the population and is a major contributor to your energy levels. But adding Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon can boost these numbers. Also eating fortified foods like some dairy products, cheese, and orange juice can bust these numbers. The other option would be to supplement but only after speaking with a professional.

Lastly would be the effects of essential fatty acids. We all hear about Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and they are vital. These are fatty acids we can't create on our own in our bodies. These fats are critical for things like the formation of healthy cell membranes, proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, proper thyroid and adrenal activity, hormone production, regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses. 

So you can see why all these things are critical for the foundation of your health.

The second important aspect is portion control. We underestimate how much we eat, and more often than not it's a lot more than we think. 

This leads to being told what is thought to be the simple concept of calories in verse calories out. So we try to count our calories only to find out that the labels on our food can be 25% off in either direction. That's 500 extra calories on a 2000 calorie plan.

This is no way to live life.

The simple fix is to utilize simple portion recommendations and adjust based on the results you get. For example, the average male should have two palms of protein, two cupped hands of vegetables, two fists of healthy carbs, and two thumbs of healthy fat at each meal. For a female, this is cut in half to one portion of each.

                                                                                                Sourced from Precision Nutrition

                                                                                                Sourced from Precision Nutrition

From there it's trial and error. Try it for two weeks and see how you feel and how the scale moves. If it's in the right direction for your goals you're on the right path. If it's moving in the wrong directions make adjustments, like maybe half the portion of healthy carbs if you're trying to lose weight.

Lastly, it's meal frequency. 

Eat before you work out. Make sure you have protein within an hour of your training. Breakfast is the most important meal. Don't eat after 7 o'clock. (There will be another post about this)

These are all fine pieces of advice for level 2 and 3 eaters, but we are not there yet. We need to get a grip on our eating habits and understanding of what they do for us. 

My recommendation is always to first set some type of schedule. This isn't etched in stone so don't worry, but have some guidelines. Don't worry yet about post workout, pre workout, or any of that. Set 3 or 4 meals out throughout your day and nail down their content. Use the guide above and master it. You may feel hungry because it's not normal for you currently however, HUNGER IS NOT AN EMERGENCY! 

Something to understand is we are designed to handle hunger. We can go quite long without food. This does not mean starve yourself. What it means is the previous meals energy content was not enough to fit your activity level. So grab a healthy snack and adjust the volume the next day to make it to your next meal without pain.

These tips are the foundation prior to the fine-tuning of a healthy diet. If you don't have these things mastered right now then work to make them a regular part of your life. These are the crawl before you walk skills.

For help with your fitness and nutrition Contact Me Here. Or give me a call at (215)740-2856.

"Keep it simple, stupid"....Why over thinking your training works against you

Over time I have grown as a coach. It used to be all about making sure that my clients got a great workout that was challenging, new, and changed every time. 

I'm sure that most of you approach the gym and your workouts that way. However, this is counter-productive. There is no such thing as daily muscle confusion. It's a buzz word and really keeps your body from adapting to the stress you put on it.

To often coaches and trainers want to make guys break. They confuse breaking someone with developing someone. We have to remember that if we take athletes or clients to the breaking point and they are constantly broken down and sore, what we are really doing is taking them to a point that they are not conditioned to do. This is poor coaching. 

The key to developing an effective workout program is to keep it simple and not complex. If you are leaving workouts broken you need to reevaluate if your coach is competent to develop your fitness and get you to your goals. Keep it simple in the movements you choose and implement different variables to the simple things. Progress and change come from the consistency of  stress you put on your body. The secret is it doesn't need to be complicated just consistent.

Here's an example. Let's take shoulder training. We could make it extremely complex stand on one leg, BOSU balls, or use different devices and toys. But the limiting factor for these drills is not the max strength you can gain in the muscle but the tools your implementing. I can only get as strong as my balance on the BOSU will let me. This will be far less then what I could develop using a simpler approach of say, seated shoulder press.

When I'm doing my seated shoulder press, which is a simple exercise, I can vary other aspects of the movement like the tempo of the movement, or use one arm at a time. Here is an example of a shoulder press progression that is simple yet will yield greater results than gimmicks like single leg balancing kettlebell pressing.

  1. Traditional seated shoulder press With a slow tempo
  2. Seated DB shoulder press with a moderate tempo
  3. Seated single arm shoulder press with a slow tempo
  4. Seated single arm shoulder press with a moderate tempo
  5. Arnold shoulder press
  6. Single Arm Arnold Press
  7. Seated Straight Bar Press with slow tempo
  8. Seated Straight bar press with moderate tempo

This is just to name a few. These are simple movements with added challenges. If each drill was progressed for 3-4 weeks before rotation, these alone would take up to 32 weeks. And we never stood on a ball, or added some gimmicky tools.

We also didn't break our athlete or client using some gimmick we saw in a magazine or on some workout DVD.

Something I want to remind you. Derek Jeter didn't become the best shortstop because of doing his jump throw from behind 3rd base. He was exceptionally good at the simple things like fielding easy ground balls and making the easy play. So don't try and do the most complicated things in the gym. Just get really good at the simple movements with great pain-free movement and you will progress much further and reach your goals quicker.

If you want to learn more about some simple exercises shot me a message here and I'll send you some more info.

Overtraining…..the silent killer of performance

Overtraining is something that many people and athletes hear about but rarely really understand what it is and what to look for. Overtraining is based on an equation of;

 

Performance=Intensity+Volume+Nutrition+Recovery

 

This is a complicated equation and really isn’t an exact science but what we do know about it can change the way you train and perform.

Overtraining is a syndrome that can cause imbalances in your hormonal, nutritional, mental, emotional, muscular, and neurological systems. You may notice symptoms such as depression and most importantly you will notice a reduction in performance.

Preventing overstraining is our number one goal but we also need to understand how it works and how we can correct it. It can be as simple as tracking morning resting heart rate or as complex as using blood testing from companies like Insidetracker to see how your training is effecting your body.

If prevention is the number one goal, then we need to look out for the subtle clues of the early stages of overtraining that will allow us to halt its progression while not losing extended training time or extreme performance regression.

There is also a second label that gets thrown around and that is “overreaching”. This is just the acute (or short term) increase in intensity and volume, for say a week, that can cause physical and mental stress that with proper monitoring will progress and develop your body. However, if this increase is done week after week it can lead to a more chronic condition which is overtraining.

There is a wide array of symptoms that can be present based on the level of overtraining that you or your athlete is at. First we will look as some small indicators that show how overreaching may be starting to convert into overtraining. 

Phase one

A few different symptoms start to present when overreaching is turning to overtraining. Little things like general colds, sleep disturbances, increases in resting heart rate, and decreases in appetite or increases in consumption of refined carbs. Some may think that these things are just regular occurrences for an array of reasons. However, these are the result of extended overreaching. As a result of these symptoms we may start to see performance problems/issues begin to present themselves. Some examples are back: knee, and ankle injuries, reduced sexual desire, mental and emotional stress causing a short temper and depression/anxiety.

While these symptoms may not be extreme in the beginning, they will begin to intensify and when not addressed will bleed into the second stage of the syndrome. 

Phase two

If the symptoms of early stage overtraining are not recognized or addressed more serious and long-lasting effects will start to occur. While in phase one we addressed that there are some reductions in hormones like testosterone and increases in hormones like cortisol. This is called adrenal dysfunction. The hormone cortisol if left elevated for extended periods of time like during overtraining can cause performance issues comparable to that of extreme and exhausting training. If we look further at the chronic increase of cortisol during overtraining, we also will see it leads to an increase in insulin levels. The increase in insulin level can cause many issues but the one that relates to athletes is an increase in fat storage. So the training that is being done to lose weight has to be regulated and progressed properly or it may have the opposite effect.

One positive aspect of this part of overtraining is that with proper recovery techniques, lifestyle changes, and nutrition interventions, hormonal imbalances can be corrected. However, I would recommend not just reading online sources and contact a professional Human Performance Coach or your personal Health Professional for more information and guidance. Feel free to reach out to use at WE Perform as this is something we manage for many athletes.

Phase three

Lastly, when we look at the end stages of overtraining there are serious hormonal and mechanical issues. There are also neurological imbalances and athletic performance issues with other overall health issues that will drastically be impacted. The most common feeling is the lack of desire to compete or even go out and train. Depression is common and also the feeling of always being exhausted. While in early stages of overtraining we see an increase in resting heart rate in late stage overtraining you may see an abnormally low resting heart rate. Some may view this as a good thing but it is actually caused by a depressed nervous system. Athletes or individuals that are over trained are in reality not well and there is no doubt something is wrong.

How to fix it

The first thing that needs to be done is a proper screening for symptoms like resting heart rate and recovery heart rate as well as possible blood testing or salivary testing for cortisol and testosterone reasons.

Another important piece is to properly record your training and any physiological issues as they arise. If you have a working history of training and ‘symptoms” a coach or health professional will be able to better guide you on how to avoid overtraining. If avoidance doesn’t happen then reversing the issue is still an option.

You will need to restructure our training as a whole. There needs to be extreme reductions in training from 75% to 50%. You will need to stop all competition and anything anaerobic. Also I would recommend making exercise strictly an enjoyable process. Things like walking with the dog or kayaking in the lake, try to avoid strict structured exercise. This will also aide in the recovery of your mental state.

The final consideration would be nutritional. You will need to increase foods high in antioxidants and low glycemic. Sugar and other processed foods need to be removed from you or your clients diet as they promote inflammation which need to be avoid at this time. Another thing that tends to help is the overall reduction of carbs. Caffeine and other stimulants like coffee and soda need to be avoided as well. Some final tips that may also help reduce the levels of cortisol would be things like massages, slow breath oriented yoga, relaxing with family and friends, and making sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

Athletes or individuals that are over trained need to be aware of early signs and realize the problem should be addressed quickly. Early stage overtraining can be handled with small daily adjustments by your coach or trainer but only if you are hyper aware of your body and the signs its giving you. Overtraining if it goes untreated can take much longer to resolve. I have seen some athlete take anywhere from 6 months up to a few years to truly recover from overtraining. It’s a serious issue for competitive athletes and hardworking weekend warriors. 

Overtraining is serious but treatable if acknowledged, even more importantly it can be prevented.
For more help and info into performance management contact us below.