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Category: Fitness Articles

How a Workout Partner Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Many of us have a natural instinct to exercise alongside other people, whether that’s in a group fitness class or with a dedicated workout partner. What we may not be as aware of is the many ways science has determined our workout partner is actually benefitting us.

And for those of you who aren’t as inclined to exercise with others, it may interest you to learn more about the benefits of a workout partner—it could make the difference in reaching your next goal.

There’s a Name for It: The Kohler Effect

There is a name for the fact most of us tend to work harder in the presence of others. This is known as the Kohler effect and was named after German psychologist Otto Kohler.

The Kohler effect tends to be stronger in women than men, which may explain why group exercise tends to be more popular with women. But, in contrast to that, when men are paired with highly capable women, men are more impacted by the Kohler effect—meaning, men are highly motivated in the presence of high-performing women.

The Kohler effect isn’t necessarily about not looking “bad” around other people, by the way. It can simply be that a person becomes aware of what is possible by observing others. And, additionally, if the work being done by a group requires the participation of every member of the group, each member may feel more important and therefore work harder.

So, with this in mind, let’s look at three of the research-backed ways that a workout partner could help each of us get closer to our goals.

1. You’re More Likely to Show Up

Most people are aware of this one, and it’s probably the number one reason people will say they enjoy having a workout partner. Knowing you have someone waiting for you at the track, the gym, or the park is what gets you out of bed, into your exercise clothes, and to your workout.

We find it far easier to skip out on ourselves than other people. Because when we rely on ourselves, we rely on the mythical “willpower” we’re all supposed to have. But willpower is, in fact, fleeting. Whereas a good workout partner will do right by you for a long, long time.

2. You’re More Likely to Enjoy It

Research presented in 2013 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health association reported that people enjoyed exercise more when it was performed with coworkers, significant others, or friends. And a 2001 study published in the International Journal of Stress Management demonstrated that working out with others increased the stress-reducing benefits of exercise.

3. You’re More Likely to Work Hard

Interestingly, the subjects in that 2001 study also reported feeling more tired after working out with others, perhaps due to increased motivation and working harder. And this is, in fact, one of the biggest potential benefits of a workout partner—especially if you pick one who is at least a little bit “better” than you.

A 2012 Kansas State University study found that “those who exercised with a teammate whom they perceived to be better increased their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent.” 200 percent!

(And, really, who of us hasn’t tried to sneak a peak at somebody else’s spin bike monitor or mentally calculated the weight on their barbell and then adjusted our own performance accordingly?)

How to Find the Right Workout Partner

If you’ve decided that having a workout partner is a good way to accelerate you toward your fitness and performance goals, the next logical question is, “How do I find a good workout partner?” That’s where things can get tricky, and it might take a little time for you to find the right person or the right group.

Here are some things to consider along the way:

  1. What motivates you? Competition, learning new skills, community?
  2. What are you interested in? Which exercise modalities or activities light you up?
  3. Do you like to talk while working out? (This one can get ugly quickly if partners don’t agree or have an understanding!)
  4. Are there non-negotiables in your life that may get in the way of your schedule sometimes, i.e. kids?
  5. Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
  6. Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening exerciser?

Work through that list of questions and answer it for yourself. Then consider how any potential workout partner or exercise group might answer those questions. The more similar you are to your workout partner—or at least how much you’ve discussed and strategized your differences—the more likely you’ll have a long, successful, and motivating relationship.

Consider a Virtual Workout Partner

If you’re still not sure about working out with “real” people or your lifestyle makes finding a workout partner difficult, don’t worry. It’s possible to find a workout partner even if you live somewhere remote or just haven’t been able to find the right buddy “in real life.”

A 2012 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that people were highly motivated by a workout partner even when that workout partner was “virtual.” So, find somebody online and workout at the same time, do live online workouts with a group, or even just have agreed-upon daily check-in times with a buddy anywhere in the world.

Do You Have or Need a Workout Partner?

If you’re finding yourself plateauing in your training progress or unmotivated to get out there and get working, consider adding a workout partner to your training equipment arsenal. Your workout partner could end up being one of the most important elements in your training success.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

HIIT, which stands for “high-intensity interval training,” is a hot trend in the fitness world these days. But the truth is that HIIT has been around for a long time and is still popular for a lot of good, science-backed reasons.

What Is HIIT? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT involves “repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times.” The bouts of high intensity can be anything from a matter of seconds to multiple minutes in length. The same goes for the recovery periods. The entire workout, once you add the efforts plus the rest periods together, may also range in length, often between ten and thirty minutes. You may have already done HIIT sessions if you have done sprint work either on foot or on a bicycle. You typically go hard for thirty seconds, then walk or cycle at a level that you can recover your breath and recoup yourself before your next go.

Other types of HIIT workouts will include a variety of exercises that you rotate through, intermingled with rest. For example, this workout we posted recently incorporates a row/run/bike, wall balls, and burpees.

The Research and Science Behind HIIT So, now you know the practical definition of HIIT, but what has made it a fitness routine that has lasted the test of time? Why do people get so excited about it? For starters, HIIT can save you a lot of time and modern life has most of us facing very full schedules. This can make it hard to prioritize ourselves and our health. In addition, many people find HIIT to be more fun and more motivating than other, slower-paced modes of exercise. (There’s actually a study that showed this.) And the simple truth is that if you enjoy something, you’re more likely to stick with it and reap the full reward of your efforts.

But beyond those lifestyle benefits, there are a lot of research-backed reasons for the popularity and longevity of HIIT: HIIT workouts require your body to use a great deal of oxygen. Research shows your body has to work to rebuild that oxygen well after you finish your workout. This same research showed that the body’s resting metabolic rate was still elevated sixteen hours after the workout. This means you are getting some measure of “burn” from your HIIT workout long after it’s over.

-A study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2015 reported that performing HIIT three times per week for fifteen weeks “was associated with significant reductions in total body fat, subcutaneous leg and trunk fat, and insulin resistance in young women” when compared with steady-state exercise.

-A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that seven sessions of HIIT over two weeks “induced marked increases” in fat oxidation, which means it’s a great way to burn fat and positively impact your body composition.

-A study conducted on semi-professional soccer players showed it took only one HIIT session every two weeks to maintain their in-season VO2 max (which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use, or your maximal aerobic capacity).

-Furthermore, a meta-analysis (a study of studies on a certain topic) published in Sports Medicine in 2015 examined 28 different pieces of research and concluded, “Endurance training and HIIT both elicit large improvements in the VO2 max of healthy, young to middle-aged adults, with the gains in VO2 max being greater following HIIT when compared with endurance training.” Research done to compare sprint interval training with endurance training showed that both methods reduced aortic stiffness and increased insulin sensitivity. Meaning, you’re not missing out on those benefits by choosing to save time with HIIT and you’ll still be reducing your risk of things like stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.

Similarly, a 2016 study showed that resistance-based intervals (like those wall balls we mentioned) could be a “time-efficient and effective exercise method to acutely improve endothelial function.” Endothelial dysfunction can put you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly if you already suffer from type 2 diabetes. Said another way, resistance-based intervals are good for your vascular health.

Numerous studies, like this one from 2016 and this one from 2017 also support that the HIIT approach can be of great benefit to those who are pre-diabetic or diabetic. And for those who are healthy it still offers benefits to cardiac function and reduction of liver fat. In the 2017 study, pre-diabetic and diabetic men reached regular blood sugar levels after just six HIIT sessions.

And finally, both a 1992 study and a 2014 study showed a positive impact on human growth hormone levels after HIIT sessions. The 1992 study found, “A minimum duration of 10 min, high intensity exercise consistently increased circulating GH in adult males.” And among the benefits of growth hormone are stronger bones, improved lean muscle mass, better exercise performance, and increased energy levels.

The Benefits of HIIT Workouts:

Strengthen against diseases like stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Help restore healthy cardiovascular function in those already suffering from these diseases.
Help burn fat both during and after a workout.
Provide more fun and motivation than long, steady-state training sessions. Raise growth hormone levels needed for muscle building and bone strengthening.
Boost your aerobic capacity.
Take less time.

So, what will your next HIIT workout be?

How to Re-spark Inspiration When Your New Year’s Resolution Has Fizzled

If you’re like most people, approximately three months ago you set a goal for 2018. You probably called it a “resolution” and you also told yourself this year would be different from every one previous. This year, you would stick to your goal until it came to fruition.

So, how’s that working out?

If you’re like most people, it’s not working out so great—and we’re here to tell you that’s perfectly okay.

Over the course of your life, many goals will come and go. Some will be achieved, and some won’t. What’s more important in the long run is that your motivation and commitment stay true despite all the ups and downs that life throws at you.

So, if this sounds like you—if you’re here in March thinking, “How do I get my health and fitness commitment back on track?”—we’re here to help. Here are two things to consider in evaluating your New Year’s resolution and moving forward with your new “March resolution.”

1. Pick a New Goal

It’s entirely possible the goal you picked at the end of December or first week of January wasn’t actually a great goal for you. What the past two months of struggle might have been trying to tell you is that this resolution was never a good fit.

Look back and see if you can determine if this is the case. Why did you pick this resolution? How excited were you about it? Will sticking to this resolution help in your long-term, big-picture goals? Is it possible you could scale back on this resolution a little and find success?

Or, maybe, you’ve learned something from this “failure.” Maybe you don’t like swimming. Maybe you’ve tried to go to art galleries and museums and they’re just not fun for you. Maybe Brazilian jiu jitsu just doesn’t feel great on your body.

Okay, so now you know those things. What can you choose as your new “March resolution” that builds on this knowledge and still propels you toward your long-term goal? Maybe you try a cycling club instead of swimming. Maybe you take an architecture class instead of suffering through museums. Maybe you study Tai Chi.

The takeaway: What can you learn from your “failed” New Year’s Resolution that could propel you toward a future “win”?

2. Don’t Let Yourself Off the Hook

On the flip side of that, maybe you shouldn’t pick a new goal. Maybe what you need to do is give yourself a little kick in the pants and have a serious talk with yourself in the bathroom mirror.

How often do you set news goals? How many of these goals have you achieved before moving on to a new one? What do you tell yourself when thing get difficult and it’s time to dig in and do the hard work?

Life is hard. Goals are hard. We don’t blame anyone for feeling discouraged or overwhelmed when it comes to forging new ground in any part of your life. Whether it’s running further, lifting heavier, or eating healthier—choosing to optimize your life is never the easiest path.

But to get extraordinary results, you have to do extraordinary things. Ordinary people quit when things get hard, when the way gets rocky. That’s not you. You’re not ordinary. (Really, nobody is ordinary—we’re all incredibly unique, talented, and full of amazing potential. The question is: do you see that in yourself and what are you doing to honor it?)

We think you’re worth not letting yourself off the hook. If your New Year’s resolution was a goal that meant something to you and that you feel is worth achieving, then recommit yourself right now and get back to work.

The takeaway: You’re worth it and you can do this.

Remember Where Your Motivation Comes From

You’re the only one who can know whether the best thing to do is stick with your New Year’s resolution or create a new March resolution. But success on either path will depend on you remembering where your motivation comes from.

Whatever your goal is, you have to be capable of getting up each morning—when it’s raining, when you’re tired, when a work deadline is looming—and taking care of you first. Health and happiness are not separate things. You cannot put off one for the other and live a long, fulfilled life. Why did you pick this goal and what does it mean for your life? Spend some time on that.

Then, incorporate some of these tips to help you re-kindle and maintain your motivation:

  • Schedule a workout date with a buddy
  • Dedicate times in your weekly calendar for yourself (and refuse to reschedule them)
  • Tell your spouse, friends, children, and/or co-workers what your goals are
  • Rewrite your resolutions and goals every day in a journal
  • Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror with a positive reminder
  • Create a series of smaller milestones that lead to your big goal
  • Celebrate each time you achieve something and forgive yourself each time you stumble

So, what’s your March resolution? And what are you doing today to achieve it?

How to Use Simple Visualization to Better Achieve Your Goals

When you think about losing weight, achieving an athletic goal, or becoming healthier, you probably don’t immediately think of visualization. But the practice of visualization can help you in all these areas and more.

And while visualization might seem like something that belongs in the more metaphysical realms of health and happiness, there is a lot of biological and psychological science behind it, too—especially when it comes to physical performance, training, and sport.

Because the real power in visualization lies in its ability to build confidence, improve skills, and help you get yourself into the best possible mindset for the task at hand (whether that’s facing down a deadlift, a handspring, a marathon, or a cold tub full of ice).

The Simple Key to Why Visualization Works

The key to understanding the real-life powers of visualization resides in the simple fact that the human brain is connected to our endocrine system. The endocrine system controls the hormones and chemicals in our bodies.

We all know that these hormones and chemicals can impact both our emotions and our physical state. When we become frightened, nervous, or angry, we shake because of the increase of adrenalin and related substances coursing through our bodies. This mental and physical state certainly doesn’t help our performance, confidence, and ability to think clearly.

But what if it could work the other way?

What if we could use our mental and physical state to influence the chemicals in our body? This is exactly what Russian sport scientists spent a fair amount of time researching in the 1970s and 80s as they pursued better performances from their elite athletes. And visualization is a practice continued by Olympic athletes from all over the world today.

The Facts About Visualization as Shown in Research

Here are some interesting facts gleaned from the research on visualization:

  • According to a 2009 study, the patterns of brain activity that occur when we execute a movement are the same patterns of brain activity that occur when we simply visualize a movement.
  • A 2003 study compared a group doing mental visualizations of finger exercises versus a group who was actually doing the finger strength exercises. While the group doing the physical exercises increased their strength by 53%, the visualizers gained an amazing 35% without (wait for it) lifting a finger.
  • A 2014 study of two groups who all had a cast immobilizing one arm from elbow to fingers. One group performed visualization exercises for four weeks, while the other did not. At the end of four weeks, the visualizers had lost 50% less strength.
  • A case study published in Psychiatric Annals shared that a young gymnast was able to overcome her performance anxiety and better enjoy competition through the use of relaxation and visualization techniques,
  • Researchers at New Mexico State University demonstrated that female basketball players who imagined free throw success prior to a game experienced a significant increase in real success during their games.

Based on all this information, visualization may be especially key for building new skills, honing technique, and reducing anxiety around performance or learning. In addition, it can be a powerful tool for anyone who is working through an injury and may not be able to train.

How You Can Practice Visualization

Quick instructions for a simple visualization practice:

  1. Relax: Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably. Breathe deeply and imagine your whole body relaxing, imagining one muscle at a time letting go of any tensions.
  2. Picture a specific goal: This could be becoming fluent in a physical skill, an achievement like finishing a marathon, or reaching a body composition goal.
  3. Create a picture of achieving that goal: What does it look like when you deadlift two-times your bodyweight? Or cross the marathon finish line? Or swim a mile?
  4. Go further with that picture: What are the details? What time of day is it? What temperature is it? What do you smell? Who else is there? What are you wearing? What does your face look like at the moment of achievement? What does your body feel like?
  5. Face your doubts: If doubts arise as you draw the picture and keep playing the scene in your mind, work through and eliminate them. What will you do if an obstacle arises? Okay, and what if a different obstacle arises? Keep solving any problems you imagine. In fact, work to imagine all possible obstacles and how you will solve them.
  6. Keep playing the movie of your success: See yourself achieving your goal. Keep your picture positive and successful.

You don’t have to have all the details at first. Just schedule the time to sit down in a quiet place and draw your picture of success once a day. Add more details each time.

And, of course, be sure to keep up your actual physical practice, as well, whether it’s making healthy food choices, remaining consistent with your exercise, or making the time to practice recovery techniques. Each time you make a positive choice, you are laying another stone in the road to your goal—so keep building that road both in your mind and in the physical world.

Nature Calls

If you’d rather listen to the sounds of waves crashing and wind rustling than the whir of a treadmill, and look at the blue sky or grass underfoot instead of a weight rack or the back of some sweaty guys’ head while you workout, well…there’s science behind how you’re feeling.

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 A few studies over the past years have proven the benefits of exercising in a natural environment versus inside a gym or studio. A 2011 study published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal honed in improvement in both mental and physical wellbeing from exercise outdoors:

“…compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.”

 And a 2013 study in Extreme Physiology and Medical Journal pointed to exercising in green spaces actually lowering levels of perceived exertion, stress reduction, resorting mental fatigue and improving moods, self-esteem and overall perceived health.

That study even stated that, “…exercise within green spaces and the great outdoors may be a useful natural medicine…”

We draw a lot of rejuvenation, balance, and joy from exercising in natural environments. Most of the time, after a run or workout on the beach, an outdoor pool session or any time in the ocean, we feel like we’ve had a giant dose of that medicine. These studies confirm all that mental and physical positivity.

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The next time you’re craving some “natural medicine,” “increased energy,” “greater enjoyment” or “decrease in tension, confusion and anger” (and who doesn’t crave all of that?), head outside for a workout.

 Consider a run on a trail instead of a treadmill. Climb some stairs in a stadium instead of on a machine. Head to your local park and do your core workout on the grass. Or come join us for an XPT workout where we hit the beach and outdoor pool.

Whatever workout you do in a natural environment, be sure to really breathe in that fresh air and take a look around you while you sweat. Your mind and your body will thank you for it.

Why Exercise Is Good for Your Brain Health

Did you know it’s possible your brain is bigger because you exercise regularly?

You may currently be exercising because you’re seeking stronger muscles, a more powerful cardiovascular system, or a long and activity-filled life. But it’s entirely possible you’re racking up brain health benefits in the process, even if you don’t realize it (although we’re willing to bet you’d notice if your brain was not as sharp).

This includes brain health benefits like:

  • Increased memory
  • Improved focus
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved decision-making
  • Decreased stress and anxiety

So, let’s take a few minutes to look at why this happens, and then how you can plan your exercise to not only build muscles and endurance, but a bigger, stronger brain, too.

How Does Exercise Help Brain Health?

According to Heidi Godman, executive editor at the Harvard Health Letter, “Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t.”

Additionally, a 2014 study conducted at the University of British Columbia showed that aerobic exercise increased the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a vital role in our memory, in particular the transfer of short-term memory to long-term memory and also the kind of spacial memory that allows us to successfully move around (which is important for both our training and our everyday life).

Researchers believe the increase in blood flow to our brain is one of the keys to exercise being beneficial to brain health. In addition, many of us experience that when we exercise regularly we sleep better. And when we sleep better, we recover better—and that goes for all parts of our body, including our brain.

Additionally, a 2016 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise demonstrated that as little as a twenty-minute session of moderate-intensity cycling improved brain health by alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. And a 2015 study found that higher levels of physical activity correlated with lower levels of depressive symptoms.

A particular protein known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is important to know about when it comes to this discussion of brain health. BDNF helps repair and protect brain cells, and it also triggers the growth of new neurons. While why and how BDNF works is not completely understood, we do know it’s released when we exercise. This is one of the reasons you’ll find that children’s fitness coaches often suggest kids get out their homework right after an exercise session. (This is also why those precious minutes of recess in school were actually far more beneficial for us than we realized.)

And if you have someone in your life who thinks they’re too old to start exercising, science says it’s never too late to exercise for the brain health benefits. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of exercise on Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other degenerative brain conditions.

What Kind of Exercise Is Best for Brain Health?

A meta-analysis (a study of a collection of existing studies on a certain topic) conducted by the  British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at 39 different studies that examined the relationship between brain health and exercise. The researchers found aerobic exercise improved cognitive function while resistance training improved memory and executive function (things like impulse control, attentional control, and the ability to focus). Exercises like tai chi were also found to be beneficial. Additionally, a 2006 study found that aerobic fitness played a strong role in “maintaining and enhancing central nervous system health and cognitive functioning.”

While the science seems to favor aerobic exercise, it’s probably smart to include a variety of modes of training to achieve the most robust brain health. Do your best to achieve a combination of intensity levels in addition to performing both strength and endurance training. Because what we can say for sure is that regular exercise yields the best brain health results.

Build a Bigger Brain with Regular Exercise

Exercise isn’t just about strength, endurance, health, and longevity when it comes to the function of our bodies—it’s also vital to both the short-term and long-term function of our brains. And we can start earning these benefits at any age.

So, go have a great workout today—your mind will thank you for it.

The Benefits of Bodyweight Workouts

What if we told you that everywhere you go, you’ll find a gym right nearby? Well, it’s true. Wherever you go, you never have a reason to skip a workout—because you’re there.

No, we’re not trying to be cryptic. We just know that your body is the handiest gym there is and doing bodyweight workouts can take you much farther in your fitness than you might imagine—and the research backs that up.

Bodyweight workouts have been repeatedly shown to be effective and efficient when it comes to building strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Bodyweight workouts can also help injury proof your body and give you a break from the wear and tear of weightlifting.

Every form of exercise has its place, depending on your goals and situation. But we think bodyweight workouts are a fantastic method of training for athletes of all levels and here’s why.

Bodyweight Workouts Build Strength

Think you can’t get strong and stay strong with bodyweight workouts? Then you’ve probably never seen a picture of Hershel Walker. Walker was a very successful football player in college and the NFL, and after he retired from football, he went on to become a professional MMA fighter. (And somewhere in there, Walker also competed in the Olympics as part of a bobsled team.)

Throughout his career, Walker looked every inch the athlete, but contrary to what many assumed, he didn’t lift weights. According to a Sports Illustrated article, My Body’s Like an Army, Walker used only bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and sprints.

Now, there’s no denying Walker is a genetically gifted person, but if you use progressions of the various bodyweight exercises, you can continue scaling up the “weight” of your exercises for a long time. It’s just that instead of putting plates on a bar, you’re putting your feet up on a box when you do push-ups, for example.

Bodyweight Workouts Builds Endurance

Because bodyweight workouts tend to include higher repetitions than traditional weight-based resistance training, you receive the additional benefit of building muscular endurance. We all know there’s a big difference between your ability to do a one-rep-max squat and your ability to do a hundred bodyweight squats. But they are both important qualities for all-around fitness and performance.

Bodyweight workouts offer you the opportunity to train muscular endurance as well as cardiovascular endurance. And because there is so much potential variability in bodyweight workouts—from long, slow sessions to high-intensity intervals—you can choose which aspect of your metabolic pathways you’d like to train.

Don’t forget that climbing, hiking, walking, and running are all bodyweight workouts, too. “Cardio” doesn’t have to mean endless miles in the gym under the fluorescent lights. It can mean scheduling your favorite outdoor activity a couple times each week, and even spicing them up with sprints and obstacles.

Bodyweight Workouts Build Balance and Mobility

Think about it—yoga is bodyweight exercise. Of course, yoga is most often thought of a method for building balance and flexibility, but what makes it so powerful is that’s not all it builds. Yoga is an incredibly well-rounded form of bodyweight exercise, with many different options that can emphasize strength, endurance, mobility, and more.

In a study published in 2011, researchers wrote that the “sun salutation has the potential to improve the muscle strength, general body endurance and body composition to the optimum level in healthy individuals.”

Bodyweight Exercise Builds Consistency and Results

With bodyweight workouts you don’t need equipment, space, or a lot of time. You can do bodyweight exercise at home, in the park, or anywhere you travel.

If you can set up a couple pieces of equipment, then a jump rope and suspension trainer will give you endless options when combined with truly equipment-free bodyweight movements. We all know that when we enjoy doing something and it’s simple to get ourselves going, we’re far more likely to do it regularly.

When you’re consistent in your workouts, a lot of good things happen. A study from the University of Georgia says that regular exercise will increase your energy level and reduce your fatigue. And that’s on top of all the other benefits.

The Real Benefits of Bodyweight Workouts

When you look at all these factors together, the benefits of bodyweight workouts add up to a broad spectrum of fitness. When you are strong, stable, flexible, mobile, fit, and consistent in your efforts, then you are also injury-proofing your body because you have achieved a balanced program.

In addition, bodyweight exercise can often be done outdoors. A research review published in 2013 demonstrated that, along with supplying your body with much needed fresh air and vitamin D, outdoor exercise has also been shown to increase levels of exertion, reduce stress, and boost mood.

But the best thing about bodyweight workouts, aside from the convenience, may be the endless variability. No matter if you need to go hard or go light, you can easily adjust. From high-intensity intervals to a recovery walk, bodyweight workouts can provide what you need, wherever you need it.

Strengthen & Tone with Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises only require your own body weight to workout with. Your weight provides resistance for all the movements that you do. Bodyweight exercises build lean muscle, give your body endurance, flexibility and strengthen your body from its core. Bodyweight training can lead to stronger bones and a stronger immune system. Bodyweight exercises are convenient because you can work out anywhere; your home, at work, on vacation, at a park, the beach, pick your place.

These exercises can be for people of all fitness levels and the degrees of difficulty can be adjusted by simply modifying your position. Some bodyweight exercises that you may be familiar with are pushups, crunches, dips, the plank, chin ups, squats and yoga, to name a few. There are also bodyweight exercises that provide cardio workouts as well such as jumping rope, jumping jacks, swimming, and jogging.

Using your own bodyweight to exercise with does not cost a dime. You do not have to go anywhere to do any of these exercises (unless you want to). However, no one can do the exercises for you, you have to put the effort in to do it, just like anything else. Get to it and report your results in the comments below.

– Gabby

Laird’s Top 5 Tips on Training for Surfing

There’s nothing better for developing your surfing abilities than to actually GO SURFING.  But when that’s not possible, here are a few things you can do to strengthen your skills.

1. Build your legs.  Most experienced surfers have good arm strength because they spend so much time paddling.  After all, we don’t run down the court, we paddle down the court.  And then when you’re riding the wave, it’s only for a short burst of time, maybe 10 to 30 seconds.  So your legs really don’t get pumped.  But you do need strong legs to surf, especially in more challenging conditions.  That means you have to supplement surfing with other kinds of activities.  Biking’s great, as is any kind of sand training, such as running on the beach or up and down the dunes.  Weight lifting always works, and, of course, if you’re doing our XPT Daily Training, you’re getting well-rounded total body conditioning in the gym and out in nature, and if you love to surf you probably also love to be outside.  (XPT Trainings feature a lot of outdoor workouts).  LEARN MORE ABOUT XPT DAILY TRAININGS HERE

2. Practice Crossover Board Sports. Yes, you can benefit from balance training.  After all, if you can do something well on one foot, you’ll be able to do it amazingly well on two.  But standing on one foot on a balance board while people throw tennis balls at you–while it’s neurologically tricky and hard to master–won’t make you a better surfer.  That’s a misconception people have sometimes.  They don’t always realize that balance training will only help your surfing if you’ve already got good board skills.  One precedes the other.  You need to know how to apply your balance properly, and you can only do that once you know how to ride.  Fortunatly, there are many board sports that enable you to practice riding, and they all have benefits.  At it’s root, surfing is about motion and rhythm.  You can do it on land as well as you can in the water.

Snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding–they’re all children of surfing.  For me, snowboarding was an instant fit.  The first time I tried it, I was in Alaska and got dropped off by a helicopter in deep powder on a knife-edged peak.  Luckily, it was just like surfing.  However, if you take me to a resport where I’ve got to make it along a catwalk or onto a chairlift, that’s harder.  What felt the most natural to me was steep and deep.  Likewise, someone who’s a great snowboarder will learn to surf quickly.  It’s the exact same stance.  They just have to learn paddling and wave timing, and they’re set.

3.  Work on your weak side.  I learned to surf both directions when I grew up, so I don’t realy prefer one side over the other.  Front side and back side both have their advantages, depending on the wave.  In the same vein, good swimmers learn how to bilateral breathe, and tennis players work on both their forehand and their backhand.  Being functionally ambidextrous as an athlete makes you more versatile, more balanced, more able to adapt on the fly to whatever circumstance you face.  It also means you’re less vulnerable to fatigue from stressing one side of your body more than the other.  Make a point of practicing on your weak side until you don’t have one anymore.

4.  Swim.  Get yourself a pair of fins, and hit the water.  When I learned to surf we didn’t have leashes.  That make us good swimmers.  Aside from making you more comfortable in the water, swimming develops the same back and arm muscles that you use for paddling.

5. Breathing.  Performance breathing increases endurance.  Learn to master it.  FOR OUR ARTICLES & PERFORMANCE BREATHING VIDEOS CLICK HERE.

All is possible.  Enjoy the ride.

-Laird

Join Laird for 3 days at the XPT Experience where he’ll personally coach you to breathe, move and recover the XPT way.  We have a variety of locations and months to choose from.  Click on the link here for videos of what to expect and what attendees had to say about their journey at the XPT Experience, and why people have started calling it “The Ultimate Fitness Retreat.”  FOR A LIST OF UPCOMING XPT EXPERIENCES CLICK HERE.

Some of the excepts above are from Laird Hamilton’s book Force of Nature.

Make Passion Your Motivation to Change

Love sign, Selective focus close up blue sport shoes on gray floor.

by Gabrielle Reece

I raise my hand and admit that I get sucked into how things "look" as a huge part of my motivation. Is my house organized, the car clean, my rear-end looking OK, my skin clear, hair shiny, teeth white? Do I look happy? What is everyone thinking about me?

I have to stop and back that bus up. Being concerned with what others think, and how things appear to them, is completely human. However, there comes a time when we have to ask ourselves, "What makes me happy?"

I think the same goes for exercising and trying to eat healthy. We shouldn't be striving to do these things just to be thin or look good. How about striving to have more energy and emotional happiness, which are increased by eating well, stabilizing blood levels, and exercising? Why not be a lifestyle role model to your kids and friends? Or focus on treasuring and taking care of the gift of good health? These sound like reasons one can believe in.

When I look at most successful people who are fulfilled, they are doing something because they are passionate about it. As a by product, they may have stumbled upon recognition, money, or other opportunities. I've found that if you are going just for the mighty dollar, bragging rights, or power, you will either fall short or get it and be miserable. Why? Because isn't so much of life about intention?

I can be in a heated discussion with my husband, and if he isn't trying to go out of his way to make me angry or hurt I don't get that upset. When I see he is deliberately pushing my buttons, I react so strongly to his intention. If the kids spill something on accident? No problem. If they do it on purpose? Don't you get mad?

How about finding something you enjoy (or can bear to do) in the exercise arena that makes you feel good? Start here: Don't eat food that tastes like cardboard to you, but find something that you enjoy eating that is doing something good for you and your health. Will you ever enjoy it as much as cheese pizza or ice cream? Do I need to say it?

In the end, and overall, you will feel so much better; and, as a byproduct, your waist will become smaller, skin clear, and smile wider. If we only focus on the drag idea of "I have to lose weight," who can sustain that as a motivation for a lifestyle change? Love yourself and learn enough about the importance of good health to become passionate about the continual pursuit of improvement. Oh, and on the days you can't get out of bed to do your workout, then sure, think about how great your butt is going to look. Hey, on certain days it's just about getting the work done.

Gabby’s tips on fueling before a workout

top view of healthy breakfast ingredients, selective focus

You can’t starve your way to fitness. You must eat the right types of food to help you achieve your goals. Whether you want to look thinner or more ripped, gain muscle mass, or just have more energy, food is your friend. Feeding your body before a workout to generate the most amount of energy, create the chance to burn as many calories as possible, and fit into your real time schedule can be a bit of a dance.

To those of you who think not eating anything before exercise will set you up to burn, baby, burn are a bit off. First of all, if you are going to work out in the morning your body has just burned 80% of your glycogen (which is the main energy source that is stored in your liver and muscles for energy) while you were sleeping. So, you need to replenish your energy reserves to help your body to work efficiently and to have enough energy to actually do the “work” in working out.

If you don’t normally eat in the morning then start off with small meals to get you accustomed to eating first thing. If you don’t want to eat, it’s fine to go the smoothie route, which, when made correctly, is rich with nutrients. 

Oatmeal is also great to sustain your energy. And for something quick and to the point, I love a banana with almond or peanut butter for a solid burst of energy.

If you aren’t going to workout until the end of the day, then go ahead and have a giant, healthy lunch because you have plenty of time to digest it. And you will need that energy when you are ready to go.

To give you an idea of how we burn through different types of food, it takes four to six hours to digest fat, three hours to digest protein, and two hours to digest carbohydrates. I would avoid eating too much fiber long before or right after exercise, as it can cause bloating and a bit of an irritation in your GI tract. You don’t want to have the sensation of gas while working out (unless, of ourse, you are trying to keep other gym members away).

If you only have fifteen minutes as you head from work to the gym, then drink a smoothie. Try rice or almond milk as your base, throw in some frozen fruit, powdered protein, a banana – and if you are getting wild, some greens – and off you go. If you feel like getting crazy you can add flaxseed meal for thickness and some Udo’s oil.

No, potato chips aren’t a great pre-work out meal, and watch out for energy bars. Eating too many sugary bars can work against you in the weight area: Some are not that far off nutritionally from a Snickers.

Another critical thing to pay attention to is what a lot of professionals call the golden hour: the sixty minutes after you train that is so pertinent to recovering and refueling muscles. This is a great time to eat a protein-rich meal.

Just remember the time line for how long it takes to digest food and strategize about what would be best to eat and when.

Remember your mantra:  “Food is my friend.”

-Gabby

For healthy recipes from XPT click here…

XPT Water

TRAINING IN WATER

One of the most challenging and sought after sessions at an XPT Experience is XPT Water –  Laird’s pool exercises and methods. In Laird’s quest to continuously explore ways to physically and mentally challenge himself he built a large, deep pool at his home in Malibu. Gabby, friends, and colleagues quickly became involved in the evolution of dynamic, ballistic, and mentally challenging water based training. Because Laird is an advocate of training with a community (big or small) he invites his friends to train with him. Besides for safety reasons, training with others has many benefits; support, friendly competition, assurance, accountability, comradery, the list  goes on and on.

ONLY AT XPT EXPERIENCES

Fast forward 10 years and XPT Water has become an incredibly popular way for people to exercise and it is taught at all XPT Experiences. Why? Because it makes fitness fun. It’s challenging, a little scary, increases endurance, strength, power; all in a less impactful way than gym based training. It’s one more way to move, which is what we want people to do – move. It’s what we were born to do every day but we know that – because of how we work – some of us sit at a desk all day long; and then get into cars and then onto couches. The ‘move’ part of our day gets put aside. So if you have a pool or have access to a pool XPT Water will be available to you soon (to do with your own trainer). But for now, you can experience these amazing exercises at an XPT Experience.

POPULAR FOR ATHLETES

Many pro athletes and former pros from various sports have become interested in Laird's training although it's for any level: Joakim Noah, Kelly Slater, Victoria Azarenka, Baron Davis, Chris Chelios. To increase difficulty just like any workout you add weight, or reps, and for XPT Water – depth. Because of the one extra component of needing air – this type of training takes workouts to the next level. Learning how to maximize your breathing and become so connected with your own breath and its full potential capabilities.  It requires mental focus, timing, and courage unlike many other workouts. It keeps people engaged and it's never boring – another reason why people love it.

*Do not try these moves on your own. XPT Water is only taught by certified XPT Water trainers who follow the safety measures and guidelines; never workout alone, have constant, trained supervision, train in the proper environment with full safety precautions.XPT WATER Laird Hamilton XPT WATER EXPERIENCES XPT WATER EXPERIENCES XPT WATER EXPERIENCES XPT WATER EXPERIENCES XPT WATER EXPERIENCESxpt-water-pool-training .laird-gabby-xpt-experience  

Sneak a Holiday Workout

Finding time to exercise proves to be a challenge during any time of the year, never mind the holidays. Most of us have mentally written off or compromised our workouts from Thanksgiving until the New Year. Hold on to the dream, and get sneaky. If we view exercise as something we have to sneak in (like a good piece of chocolate) then maybe we will get some pleasure out of the navigation.  Here are my top tips on making it happen even during the overscheduled holidays:

1. Schedule it. That's right. It doesn't sound very sneaky, but take a look at the coming weeks and write in your workouts on the open gaps of the calendar. Don't put off the rhythm of exercise until the New Year.

2. Walk whenever you can. This is the time of malls and shopping. Wear some comfortable shoes and pick up the pace. Even park your car as far away as you can from where you are going. If there is a set of stairs, take them. Work the legs and glutes.

3. Maximize your efforts. If you're headed for a walk with a friend or the kids, strap on 3 to 5 pound ankle weights. Only have 10 minutes? Bust your buns. Even if you are watching TV with the family sit on the floor and do push ups and sit ups. Don't just park it on the couch; keep moving when you can. Need to get some yard work done? Put your back into it, and turn it into a productive workout for you.

4. Stay body conscious. Working on the computer? Keep that tummy taught. Laundry? Do sets of squats in between unloading the washer and loading the dryer. Standing at the counter? Do kick backs and tighten those buns. Commercial break during your favorite show? Drop and give yourself 20 sit ups.

5. Organize "games" with the kids. Hang out with the kids and play active games like touch football, hide & seek, and tag. You will keep yourself moving, have fun with them, and maybe even wear them out in the mean time.

6. Keep free weights (a few light dumbbells) and some exercise bands in your house. If you only have a few minutes, do a mini circuit that will be fast and effective. Start with a 1-2 minute warm up, head to a set of 20 squats and lunges, and then move on to a bicep curl to shoulder press. Still have time? Drop to the floor and do crunches, push ups (even if on your knees) and then repeat the circuit again. Try to move non-stop, and get 3 rounds done.

REMEMBER: A few minutes of exercise will benefit you. As they say, "condense but intense."

7. Fill up on good stuff. Going to parties or hanging around the house? Try to fill up on healthy foods first so when you reach for the yummy stuff, you won't eat as much. Even though this is not sneaking, eating well will assist you in the process of trying to keep it together during the holidays. While running around town being super Mom, it may be a good idea to take along some healthy snacks to avoid eating fast food on the road.

8.  Plan ahead for travel.  Traveling or going to family for the Holidays, then plan ahead. Find out if they have any exercise equipment at their home or a gym near by. Pack accordingly and attempt to make a plan.

9. Create your sneak time around your house. Let's face it, driving to and from the gym is going to get harder and harder during this time of the year (kids are out of school, it may be cold where you live, and there is a lot to get done). Don't just look at the house as a place to do laundry, cook meals, hang with the family, and answer e-mails. Create a space within your house that is for exercise.

Remember that it's not hopeless, and that your mind, body, spirit, and sanity are worth fighting for. If you can keep it balanced, you will be more jolly and less like a grinch.

I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

-Gabby

XPT Spotlight on NFL Alumni & Former CBS Survivor Castaway: Meet Steve Wright

Former NFL offensive tough guy Steve Wright played for the Colts, Cowboys and the Raiders, retiring from professional football in 1994 after an impressive 12 years in the game. He has been an XPT Experience and Hamilton pool regular since discovering XPT, and has brought his new knowledge of the training into his regular fitness regimen. We sat down with Steve to talk ice, breathing, Mike Ditka and starving in the jungles of Nicaragua for reality TV. Here’s how it all shook down.

Steve, how did you first hear about XPT?

My wife Liz and I first heard about XPT online. We respected and followed Laird and Gabby’s activities through Instagram. Laird and Gabby’s experience and passion for what they teach inspires you to dig a little deeper, focus a little more, and to raise your belief in yourself and hold it to a higher standard. And we needed a vacation and the XPT Experience delivered.

What’s your current fitness regimen and how does XPT training enhance that?

I’ve been doing beach workouts since 1987 when I moved out here. I became more aware of my weight–250 lbs–and 280 lbs when I was playing—and that working out on any man made surfaces—pavement or cement—running, stairs, climbing hills just beats your knees and your joints up so much.

steve-wright-beach

I still do hills, there’s a Sand Dune park near me that I like. It’s brutal but it’s so forgiving on your knees and joints and it works your legs and thighs and your hams and everything but you don’t feel any of it in your joints. And it’s the same thing out on the beach, so I’ll do interval runs, walking and speed skater lunges where I jump back and forth like a speed skater down the beach.

My favorite element of XPT is really the pool work. Laird and Gabby emphasize how to focus while relaxing the mind and body, all while holding your breath and working through a sequence of dumbbell movements. It helps to workout in a pool with the weightlessness. You just feel really good, your joints and everything, so it’s just a remarkable difference than having gravity and the weights as you’re jumping up and down, because a lot of the pool work with XPT is jumps. And if you did that up in gravity with 20 pound weights in each hand, you’d be able to jump maybe a foot and after maybe 20 of them your knees and back would start hurting. So it’s amazing how the water just cushions and eases and works with you.

steve-wright-pool

People do have different experiences with the performance breathing when they first start out. What was your experience early on and how are you finding it now that you’ve been at it for awhile?

I try to do at least 30 minutes of breath work 3-4 times a week. I really enjoy the calming benefits I get from it, as well as the stretching and centering myself. It’s an awesome feeling before doing hill work or going to the gym or just attacking the day. Air is paramount and knowing how to use it…building a relationship with it is key. The breath work and expanding your limits in the pool can be very profound. I always leave the sessions higher and in a better place for the rest of the day.

I also do the breathing at home, I sit on a mat or lay on a mat and do 20-30 minutes. Once you get started it’s easy to keep flowing. It really relaxes you, gets your mind off of everything. I like to put on some meditation music, some monks chanting or something and it just puts you in another place. You really can just feel it relax you internally. The program is super easy to do, there’s really no really right way or wrong way, you can get benefits from exhausting yourself, from exhaling as hard as you can, just clearing out all of your CO2, which the free divers do. My thing that I enjoy doing is just working on being able to hold my breath longer. After three weeks of breathing sessions, I went from being able to hold my breath for 2 minutes to 4 minutes. It’s so important and it’s amazing how I’ve never been exposed to it after 12 years of professional football and high school sports and college. No one ever talked about breathing and it’s just so bizarre because it has so many benefits. (For more on the benefits of XPT Performance Breathing click here)

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Talk to us about recovery when you were in the NFL and post-training recovery now. What goes through your head when you’re in the ice bath?

As a former pro-football player, I’ve experienced more ice than the average Joe, and it’s always mind over matter: Clear the mind and focus. Once you experience the positive benefits from the ice and the daily consistency of the baths, it gets easier.

In the NFL, it was a game a week over 16 weeks. We used to do ice for 15 minutes, I think there was only a few inches of ice at the top of the bath, it wasn’t packed like XPT—they really pack the ice in there, which makes it a little bit colder—we used to sit in there for 15 minutes on Monday, the game was on Sunday, and we’d come in and break our lactic acid down by running and getting a sweat going and then lift weights and then go in and get your wounds and everything tended to. But it was voluntary, you weren’t told to sit in the ice bath, and everyone would fight over it, especially early, because the later you got into it, the dirtier the water would get. Now the teams have big ice baths that a lot of guys can get in all at once but this was just a little tub, but we’d climb in there for at least 15 minutes. And then Tuesday was our day off and it was amazing how I’d almost feel like I didn’t even play. It would revive your legs so much. If I didn’t do that, there was so much lactic acid and soreness and tightness and everything else. But when you sit in that ice bath then your body’s working triple overtime to get fresh fluids and blood in there and get the lactic acids and the bruises and everything just to get the circulation going again. (For an article on the benefits of heat and ice click here)

What’s it like going through each XPT Experience with a new group and how does this play into the journey?

At the XPT Experience you just feel the immediate sense that “we’re all in this together.” No egos, no belittling, just supporting one another. We’re together roughly 8AM-8PM for a solid three days of work, education, eating, resting and being together…relationships are quickly made. We all just look out for one another and egos are left at the door.

And I love Laird and Gabby. They are so helpful and giving to everyone else. They’ve got that X Factor of good, positive, loving, helping energy.

You talked a lot about team work on Survivor. How did being on CBS’s Survivor change your life? How did it change your body? What did you do after being on the show to get back into shape?

I’ve learned that when people say to me, “Hey, let’s go to dinner, I’m starving.” I think, no, I promise you’re not. I lost 33 pounds in 31 days. It was so unhealthy–not eating, except thousands of termites and little handfuls of rice. But it changed me, allowed me to really appreciate those that have less, who go to bed hungry every night. You learn to deal with it but it’s not a great way to go.

To get my health back, for one, I had to go through a whole parasite protocol. A ton of different herbs over the course of 6 months, I went to see a naturalist, my system was really screwed up. I got a really bad tooth infection. There was actually a little plant growing underneath my molar. My dentist said he’d never seen anything like it. You know, you don’t brush your teeth for over a month. It was bad.

When I got voted out then I was on a jury for about 4-5 days. We were contained at this place, a really nice little boutique hotel with probably 10 rooms on this cliff in Corona del Sur in the southwest corner of Nicaragua. I remember waking up the first morning after getting voted out and they were making eggs and pancakes and hash browns and everything else, and while they were doing that, I had the biggest bowl of ice cream, three different kinds of ice cream with chocolate sauce and M&Ms. It was raining and I was on this balcony looking down at the water and it was beautiful. I thought I was in heaven. Totally guilt-free. It wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but it was fun.

Do you think XPT can help current professional athletes?

During time outs and during the games when everyone else is just jumping around, to just sit on the bench for a few minutes and just deep breathe, basically fill up your lungs before you need it. You’re not just filling up your lungs, you’re trying to completely oxygenate your system. There are so many different drills you can do, but for sports, just filling up before the race or the competition. And it’s not just for athletes—filling up before you go into a board meeting, or a company meeting, or something you need to really focus on. Because when you’re tired, you’re yawning because your body is trying to fill up with more oxygen. So if you’re tired or if you’re driving home late, you can just take a couple of deep breaths it just wakes you up. Your brain needs it. Your system needs it.

imgres-4So, for sports teams, just load up when they need it. Pat Riley (President, Miami Heat) was up with us at the (Hamilton) pool and said he can’t wait to bring this back to the team. When I was with the Raiders, we’d just be standing out there in the field during a time out, maybe watching fights in the stands or talking. If they were to focus instead on doing some deep breathing, then when the game goes back on there’s nothing better. (Click here for more info on XPT Performance Breathing)

What advice would you give to young athletes who are dreaming of one day going pro?

Ya know, Mike Ditka pulled me aside one time and put his arm around me and saw that I was frustrated. He said that everyone here has the physical tools, everybody’s pretty much on the same page, everybody’s on the same level. There’s not an amazing standout and it really comes down to the shoulders up—your head. You’re gonna get beat. Learn fast. Be the smartest guy. There’s no reason not to learn all the plays in basketball or football or hockey or soccer, or anything else, don’t be caught off guard, all the information is there. And then learn how to deal with adversity, be a team mate. It comes down to everything above your shoulders. Because if you think you’ve got the talent then you may. You may have the physique and the athletic skills, pretty much a good chunk of the rest of the guys you’re playing with do, too. So it comes down to being mentally strong. Deal with getting your ass beat. Because it will happen. And you’d see guys that would point fingers and make up excuses or be lazy and just…do that little bit extra. Go in there ready to go.

Join us for the next XPT Experience. Make some new friends, take your training to a deeper level and make an investment in yourself. Click here to learn more.

-Team XPT

Daily Training Circuit Challenge

This past weekend, Gabby, Laird and XPT Advisor Adam Friedman led volunteers through a mini XPT challenge at The Land Rover Discovery Activation, to give away one spot at the next XPT Experience being held on Kauai December 8th, 9th, and 10th. Participants received encouragement and feedback during their circuit.

Want to test your fitness skills? Try these 5 moves that are a staple in XPT's free Daily Training to see which muscle groups you may need to strengthen.

XPT DAILY TRAINING CIRCUIT CHALLENGE

Requirements:

Good Form – the repetition did not count unless good form was in place

1) 10 Donkey Kicks – – over a shin high structure about 2 feet wide.
2) 10 Burpees – – on the ground or balance board
3) 10 Pushups – – on the ground or balance board
4) 5 Clean and Press – 1 Kettle Bell – – participants used a minimum weight of 15lbs
5) 5 Hollow Holds – Side to Side Rolls – – participants had to pause 2 seconds at each base to show good form

Congrats to winner Leslie Scofield! Leslie's winning time was 2:10.
Special shout out to Alejo Mo-Sun and Carl Vance for a great effort!

Want to make this circuit a full 30-Minute workout?

-Increase reps for each station x 2 (1 circuit now becomes 5 minutes + / – )
– Do 5 circuits in total with 1 minute rest inbetween and you have a 30 minute workout.

 

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Glamour or Sweat, Perfection or Health

I was in a meeting with a great woman executive one day in New York City, and it dawned on me about why some women don't want to workout. We are so busy trying to "keep it all together" that the act of working out is a bit of an "unraveling" process. I mean you have to change clothes, get all sweaty, take a shower, redo your makeup and hair, and it's not just about the workout but the EXTRA work to workout.

Who needs it? You're already trying to keep yourself together, your kids moving too all of their activities, food in the fridge, laundry clean, house dialed, get to work, and find some loving time within all of that. Whew, no wonder exercise is one of the first things to suffer, and get blown off the list.

Is it worth it? I mean in an attempt and a desire to "keep it all together" is it worth foregoing YOUR health? I know it's an extra pain in the butt, but isn't it important to try and figure out away to get the training in even if it means blow drying your hair again?

If we as women have grown up dealing with sweaty clothes and hair it's not such a problem, but if you haven't it can be a foreign situation to figure out. So I get that a part of exercise goes against your innate drive to keep all things tidy and together, but EVERYTHING else will be EASIER if you feel good. Not to mention you will have more energy if you find time to exercise.

Is it ever really perfect or all together anyway? May as well get a workout in.

-Gabby

Conscious Adaptation

By Rob Wilson CMT
An XPT Advisor

When I was a student attending the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy I had an instructor, Dr. Mark Haynes, who had an insightful saying, “The difference between toxin and medicine is dose.”  All adaptations ultimately come from a disruption of homeostasis, the sum of what is physiologically “normal”.  It is the dynamic balance of dosage and response that will ultimately determine whether a choice we make is to our benefit or to our detriment.

“The difference between toxin and medicine is dose.”

Adaptation, which is the underpinning concept of all physiology, connects the dots of training in a way that allows us as humans, athletes, and coaches to make conscious choices about how the combination of what we do and how much of it we do ultimately effects the ever unfolding outcome of our lives.  The beauty of being human is that we can consciously effect our own adaptation through choice in literally every moment.  None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves in total.

To be able to apply this thinking fully, we must develop the capacity to feel what is going on in our bodies and minds and be honest with ourselves about how our choices are effecting us.  This seems an obvious part of being an adult on some levels but shifting the turret to a training environment can be difficult.  One issue we come across regularly is how compartmentalized our thinking can become in regards to how we believe stimuli effect us or whether we are evenText Box: “None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves in total.” aware of it all.  Many times there is a cognitive dissonance that creates space between our choices and the timelines of their effects. Repetitions are measured in time and minutes become hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months and so on.  When moving unconsciously we can arrive at a place and have no idea how we got their or that we were moving at all.  This is akin to a toddler being driven around by a parent.  They are only surprised by their arrival but also have no real memory of the trip at all.

“None of our choices exist in isolation and behaviors that may seem unrelated to training and performance outcomes are still nonetheless expressions of ourselves.”

From a training perspective this means seldom do we take into account the bigger picture of what we are really asking from ourselves and how our training and non-training behaviors tie in to performance when the time comes to culminate our abilities into a given moment.  For example in the performance therapy world an almost epidemic problem among athletes is stiff hip capsules and loss of true extension of the hip (the primary driver of power in most everything).  I often ask athletes when teaching how many of them identify themselves sedentary humans.  Very few raise their hands.  As expected most of us who latch our identity on being fit, capable, and athletic do not view ourselves as sedentary.  However, further examination of the numbers highlights the fact that our bodies through tens of thousands of hours of this behavior to become more efficient at just that, sitting.  Has even a fraction of this time been spent practicing any other given endeavor?  And even though we weren’t making a conscious choice to become adapted to sitting our physiology still responded directly to the behavior.

The disconnect begins when we have an expectation of a result that does not match the behavioral choice.  If we have done nothing to mitigate the effects of this adaptation how can we expect a different result? The more awareness we bring to our actions both during training and during other life activities the more we can direct our own adaptations.

It’s unnecessary to ascribe any certain value judgement to any stimulus or behavior whether training or otherwise, but to instead simply ask, what do I want?  And am I giving myself a dose of the right behavior that moves me towards what it is that I really want?  No one else can tell us this; we can only answer this question ourselves.

When we ask these types of questions it moves us towards becoming educated about the effects of training choices and how we want to spend our time.  Thus, we can shift our consciousness from one of slipshod, haphazard, suffering (the way many of us train) to a paradigm of awareness where we become active participants and choose what we get from any training experience that I decide to engage in.  Then training becomes not just about learning to work hard, but to know why you are working so hard and how to best achieve the result you want.  This type of intrinsic motivation shifts the focus to conscious practice and we then innately begin to move from behavioral dosages that are toxic and deleterious to ones that are medicinal and productive.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 Coming Soon…

Have Some Fun

I realized something about training that is so important. Have some fun!! What a concept. I go day after day doing my "workout routine" or better yet "regimen" mindlessly grinding through it.

Today, I had a pool workout where a friend of mine showed me a ton of incredibly difficult drills inspired by water polo training and I struggled. However, more importantly, the training was challenging AND I tried something new and had some fun. I was doing egg beaters in the pool like a wet kid trying to stay afloat.

Of course the majority of my training will have a scheduled routine type feel to it, but I really believe that once in a while we just have to go do something completely different and have some fun flopping around. I get so caught up in being a serious and responsible adult that I don't allow myself the joy of child like play. I'm not sure where I got this idea from, but I really want to spend the rest of my life undoing my stiff mom and wife role just a little. Maybe in the end it's about finding the JOY in everything you do (when it's possible). After all we all know how boring serious is, and if you can get the work done and still put the fun into it, why not?

Best, Gabby

Ways to have fun while being shedding those calories:

Play on the playground- swings, monkey bars, etc.

Swim

Join a sports league or organize a game of choice with friends for fun

Have a relay race with your kids-on land, the pool or the beach

Make an obstacle course in your backyard

Just 10 Minutes a Day

By Gabby Reece

I really can't stand the infomercial shows that claim you can make any kind of change to your body in "just 10 minutes a day." Then I was talking to a friend of mine about a lady who works above him on the second floor. She's very overweight and takes the elevator up and down at least 3 round trips a day (6 times total). He said to me, "Imagine if she just walked up and down the stairs every time she needed to go somewhere?" We both concluded that after a year, she could lose about 50 pounds. Mind you, this woman is very overweight, and her body is just looking for an excuse to unload the pounds.

What's my point? The number one thing people complain about is not having enough time. They think if they can't go to the gym or work out for an hour, then it doesn't count. They don't have an hour and feel overwhelmed by the process of trying to figure out how to stay or get in shape. What happens? Nothing. We just give up on things when they become too big to manage.

I'm here to tell you that if you only had 15 minutes a day for 4 days a week, at the end of the year, you would have made a change. If we did an experiment with two similar people (body types, age, sex, environment, genetics, personality), and one did a little something a few minutes a day and one didn't, by the end of one year, their physiques would look different.

Cliché: Baby steps. Oftentimes, when we're pursuing anything, we're trying to take on the whole endeavor at once. Be it weight loss, relationships, a busy week, etc. It's often beneficial to just do what you can and take it as it comes. Don't think, "Oh, I need to lose 30 pounds" and get paralyzed by what adaunting undertaking that can be. Set up a goal and then create little goals within the big goal that are easy to obtain. Then when you string together all of the little successes, you will have arrived at some bigger destination.

This week, set two new goals. I'm always going to take the stairs vs. the elevator or escalator. Park as far away from everything as you can and walk. Whenever you have 5 minutes, do something – do jumping jacks, walk around the block, practice squats in front of the TV, hop on your bike. Don't think, just do. Don't feel so much about it all – just go for it.

Make a goal about what you will put in your mouth. If you're a coffee drinker, OK but then just drink water for a week. No soda (that includes diet sodas especially) or juices – just water. Tell yourself you're not going to eat beyond feeling full, and lay off the snacking.

If you start to do some of these tiny things, you will make a change, I promise.

As you begin to get momentum and start feeling better and better, you'll find 100 new mini goals to set. You may even start getting rid of friends that aren't good for you. Watch out – when you get start making changes, only the positive things survive a real shakeup.

Is this ideal? No. Would it be better to have a trainer, a shrink, and a chef and hours and hours in the day to dedicate to the quest of losing weight and being fit? Oh, sorry I fell asleep for a minute and was dreaming of a really cool place.

Listen, we're all where we are because of choices we made. Make new choices and you'll watch as your outcome begins to shift from the same old self-fulfilling prophecy.

Write your goals down. Visualize the changes. See yourself. Believe. Commit, and get to work. If you have a bad day or slip up, get up the next day and go get it.

Oh, and this is going to be my new mantra (especially after reading people's comments), stop saying you can't or you don't have time, stop placing blame. At the end of the day, what is the alternative? When people complain about not having time to eat well or exercise, I start to wonder what do they have time for? TV? Family, work, and then what? What else is more important than your health? It seems like the most fundamental part of living, yet so many of us keep trying to make it a negotiation. So here's to "10 minutes a day."

Going with the Flow

June 19th, 2016

Today I did what I have done around this time of year for the last 15 years – earn at least one Gold Medal at the Sunshine State Games Track Meet, Florida’s annual sports festival (think a state-wide Olympics).

This event is an annual target for me. But, before I earn another championship, I have to arrive at the starting line with enough fitness to chase the prize.

Every year in this streak is unique in terms of training, preparation & life circumstances. Each go-round reinforces the mantras of: 1) “there is no such thing as a perfect training program” and 2) “the best workout is the one you do”.

At 48 I harbor no longer harbor aspirations of the pro lifestyle. I need to shoehorn my training and recovery around life’s responsibilities. This year was no different.

Eleven days before the meet I was dispatched to Colorado for a Strength and Conditioning conference. I took advantage the ample high altitude training venues to put the finishing touches on my preparation. After logging my carefully planned epic workouts, I knew I was ready to go. Except for one small detail, leaving Colorado and returning to Florida.

The airlines conspired to reinforce the above mantra #1. After staying up for 36 hours straight, 4 cancelled flights and one Kinesiology lecture later I made it to bed Tuesday night.

My original plan for the week included a snappy bike ride, a lifting session and a couple of sharp lacrosse workouts. Due to the lack of sleep it devolved into 15 minutes of easy lacrosse each day leading up to race day. Just enough movement to get the blood flowing, work some accuracy and most importantly have fun. The remainder of my daily training budget was dedicated to recovery modalities: heat, ice & electric muscle stimulation (The Marc Pro Plus).

From Tuesday to Saturday I slept 10-12 hours each night and locked in my nutrition using 3Fuel & 3Carb. Each day I felt progressively better. So when this morning arrived I was ready. I Lawsonized1 the 3000m run to earn the overall title & followed it up with 45-49 age group wins in the 800m and 1500m runs.

Programming workouts is as much art as it is science. Have the courage to take a fluid approach to training, listen to your body and rest when needed.

We compete to earn results, not amass gaudy training logs.


Thanks for Reading,
Doc

  1. Lawsonize verb to lead every step of a race, winning in convincing fashion; an homage to former Marathon American Record holder Jerry Lawson who would bolt from the starting line like an extra in a disaster movie, never relinquish his lead and usually break the course record in the proces doc’s Final Training Cycle in Preparation for the 2016 Sunshine State Games

 

Wednesday June 8

  • 30 min run including 70 sec @ 800m race effort, 30 sec rest, 35 sec @ 800m race effort, 30 sec rest, 35 sec @ 800m race effort

Venue: University of Colorado’s Buffalo Ranch (home course of the multi-time National Champion M&W Cross Country Teams)

  • 30 min lacrosse practice (shots on goal)

Venue: Kitt Field – University of Colorado

Thursday June 9

  • 5.5 hr bike ride in & around Boulder, CO including: Flagstaff Mt and Magnolia Hill (a Category 1 climb)
  • 20 min lacrosse practice (fundamental stick work)

Venue: Kitt Field – University of Colorado

Friday June 10 (planned ez day)

20 min lacrosse practice (shots & stick work) – Tama Lacrosse Colorado Springs, CO (one of the best lacrosse shops on the planet!)

Saturday June 11

  • 90 min bike ride at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO w/ a few brisk efforts (< 1 min) to open up the legs
  • 20 min lacrosse practice (fundamental stick work)

Venue: University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

Sunday June 12

  • 1:40 aerobic effort

1.5 mi run to the base of The Incline, The Incline up & down (68% grade at some points) 1.5 mi run back to the car

Venue: The Incline, Manitou Springs, CO

  • 2:30 lacrosse practice (shots, shots & more shots)

Venue: Barton Lacrosse Stadium, University of Denver (home of the 2015 NCAA DI Men’s Lacrosse Program)

Monday June 13 – Saturday June 18

15 min lacrosse practice (fundamental stick work)

Sunday June 19

  • 5 mile bike ride – warm up

Sunshine State Games: 3000m run, 1500m run, 800m run

5 mile bike ride – cool down

  • 20 min lacrosse practice (shots on goal)

 

Moving Diagnostic for Sport | Strength & Conditioning

BRIAN MACKENZIE (3)By: Brian MacKenzie
XPT Co-Creator

SIGN UP FOR THE XPT POWER SPEED ENDURANCE ‘RUN’ CLINIC

 

Most of us look at strength training or using other training models as a means to make ourselves stronger, fitter, or more mobile; think Yoga (flexibility), CrossFit (fitter), Power-lifting (stronger). While these all have unique and amazing qualities to them for their own sports or practices, we’ve seen them each as individual tools for expressing human motion under a different light for human performance. Having a simple understanding of some of the basic or fundamental shapes that a human being makes throughout their day and how those correlate to running has become the staple of our research. While I greatly respect a Yogi, CrossFitter, and Power-lifter for their specializations, like runners they all have their own “issues” too. While it’s easy to spell out the differences between someone who enjoys running and any of these other practices, let’s focus, instead, on the similarities.

First, body weight is everything, and understanding this application of body weight is involved in anything we do with movement. From standing, sitting, running, walking, squatting, pressing, throwing, kicking, etc., it all involves your connection to you. If we don’t have the proper understanding of flexibility (passive ROM [Range of Motion]) vs. mobility (working ROM), then we do not understand stability and motor control. Having a strength issue is much different than having a motor control issue. Yet everything in this universe, even your body is looking for stability. Stability is nothing more than our bodies attempt to hold a specific shape or position. We can have poor stability (think poor posture), and better stability (think good posture, where we are stacked structurally). Regardless the perfect position does not exist, which means it can always be improved upon.
MacKenzie-800x449 - Copy

An example for runners is a unstable knee. An unstable knee in running can have a multitude of issues that follow. From, a collapsed arch, IT Band issues, torn/ruptured ACL, patella femoral issues, Hip issues, to name a few… You also may show no issues or problems right now, yet still have an unstable knee. What does that look like?  Sometimes these things are hard to pick up on too, and in both instances we can use something like a squat, or a jump, and even a deadlift to not only diagnose an unseen issue in ourselves, and/or we can use the these exercises to correct the issue* (*the runner will most likely need to take some time off to set up this new pattern, so that the body starts to adapt to the better position of stability). Setting up these positions (and I’m starting with body weight) we need understand the prioritization of movement. Simply put stabilizing the spine first, then working out from there.

In the squat, learning to hip hinge with a stable spine while maintaining the hip in external rotation keeping the entire foot connected through the ground will create an arch and a more optimal ‘stable’ position. The connection through the ball of foot (BOF) is how the foot should be connected to the ground through the foot.This position at the top ⅛ of the squat is something every runner needs to understand specific to running, everything below that becomes a test that allows every runner to understand what will inevitably happen when fatigue gets the best of you. Your worst position becomes your go to position with enough fatigue. So we are letting the exposed (more) ROM show us where the real problems are.

The jump is nothing more than a dynamic un-weighted shortened ROM squat. So now we get to use speed to dictate reality. If we can not descend into the proper position (¼-½ squat) to explode out, or even use a jump rope without our knees diving in (medial) than we know we need to step back to a shorter more scaled version of these to get the correct proprioceptive response we need.

The deadlift plays almost the same role as a squat but is more or less the ability to stabilize/prioritize the spine in a hip hinge  with our torso almost perpendicular to the ground (more extreme lever). The reason the deadlift gets a bad rap is because when people can not prioritize the spine, the back tends to do what the hip should be doing, flexing. This is of paramount concern for any human being looking to be in a more stable position, especially running, as over-extension and too much flexion of the spine can and will lead to compensatory reactions up and down stream. The deadlift also gives us the ability to understand hamstring ROM, and what happens top down when we load. Maintaining the hip hinge is crucial to keeping your posterior chain involved in “true extension” (when running, your support leg and foot must support your body weight in front of it, and keeping your posterior chain involved is critical so that smaller muscle groups don’t pick up the slack of the larger ones = compensation).

There are an infinite amount of examples in human movement; the fact is these movements have helped out numerous people with running when used appropriately. We need to understand how to move, and not just move in one special way. So let’s start here with an overall understanding of the majors…

True extension plays a major role in keeping the body stable for most things we do. Leonardo Da Vinci’s depiction of the anatomical man was spot on, in that the shoulders and hips sit in external rotation. I am not relying on Da Vinci here as the interpreter of what stability is, but when we look at the best or the youngest in anything, we find the exact same things we do with the best in any sport. When a child learns to stand, walk, run, press, etc. the shapes that are needed, and instinctual, are mimicked by the best runners, powerlifters, and gymnasts in the world. A gymnast performing various explosive overhead maneuvers can express as much, if not more, force than most Olympic Weightlifters can get overhead. Running is a knee forward sport, meaning the knee is bent at landing causing us to be anterior chain dominant (flexed). In order to counter this our posterior chain needs to be developed to maintain proper stability in extension (running). Your hips keep you upright, and if they don’t, your hip-flexors and quads will. We see that most runners end up learning to stabilize only internally as a result of lots of logged miles with no other guidance on movement.

Your hips and shoulders are probably the most important joints we have, so we need to get them to full ROM or optimal ROM / mobility as best we can. This is why we squat (get up off the seat), and this is why we jump, deadlift (pick up something), press (reach for something overhead) or pull (climb)… They are everyday movements that can be mimicked with strength and conditioning. The great thing about all of these movements is this: If you don’t see any problems with your running, meaning no injuries or pain, and you find you are having trouble doing any of the mentioned movements in the manner I have described, we have most likely made something that was invisible visible and can prevent injury and pain down the road. On the other side, if you are experiencing problems when currently running then we can almost guarantee we can show one or some of these positions are compromised that we’ve gone over. This means you’ve screened yourself and you can, more than likely, stave off a future problem by addressing this issue in another fundamental human movement with the squat, press, pull, or just picking something up.

Want to apply this in person and learn more about Power Speed and Endurance?
Sign up to attend the XPT Run Clinic led by Brian MacKenzie.
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Laird’s How To Be Healthy Guide for Men

Being healthy is no easy formula, but you can make it so it’s not unattainable. We do know by research and facts that exercising versus not exercising is better for your body. It’s what our bodies were designed to do. We also know that the food we consume has an effect on our bodies function, performance, and appearance. Most importantly exercising and eating right makes us feel good, great in fact. So why do we make it so hard to choose to exercise and eat right?

Temptation, Peer Pressure, False Information, Access, Affordability

We can come up with all the excuses we want to deter us from exercising and eating healthy. But why do you want to? I choose to set those excuses aside and just exercise and eat right every day. I do it for myself, and for my family.

Here’s My How To Be Healthy Guide for Men

Morning Ritual ~ Coffee, Smoothie & Workout
I highly recommend starting everyday with a workout and good nutrients. Because I workout my consumption of calories is on the high side. Calories are a blessing to me; they give me energy and fuel me. I make sure my calories come from clean food sources.

SMOOTHIE RECIPE INGREDIENTS
Whey Protein plus coconut milk, bananas, greens, omegas, flaxseed, and ice.

PURPOSE
Everyone needs omegas for healthy heart and …
Everyone needs greens for antioxidants, and minerals
Men especially need flaxseed for their prostate
Even though the greens contains enough fruits and vegetables I like the consistency bananas provide, it tends to thicken the smoothie.

WORKOUT + FUEL

My workouts usually run for 2-3 hours. They consist of strength training and cardio vascular training like the ones posted on xptlife.com. I do gym workouts (weights, body exercises) pool workouts, and cycle on the road and mountain.
Because my smoothie has a lot of calories I make it through these workouts with plenty of energy.

I realize most people don’t have the luxury of training this long and a 45-60 minute workout is ideal.
The more ingredients you add to your smoothie the more calories, and the more servings etc. Find out what proportions work for you, your goals.
If you want to gain muscle, add an additional scoop of protein
If you want to slim down, cut down on the fruit and use water instead of coconut milk.

MID DAY RITUAL

I always eat a large lunch that has a protein and heavy vegetables.
Examples of my meals are;
Eggs, Black Beans, Onions,Peppers
Rotisserie Chicken, Squash, Spinach
Sashimi (various kinds), Salad
Steak, broccoli, squash

EVENING RITUAL

I have the good fortune of having a wife that is an amazing cook. She is definitely more traditional when it comes to meals and we eat 6 out of 7 dinners at home. We both like eating at home for these reasons:
-We control the ingredients, and portion size
-It costs less than dining out
-It provides a family environment so we can talk and engage with each other and our children.

Our meals usually consist of:
Barbequing chicken, pork, or steak along with fresh corn and other grilling veggies.
Gabby always makes a huge salad loading with so many unique toppings we never get board of her salads. We eat a lot of chili’s made with beans, vegetables, etc. Baked chicken with yams and squash is always an easy go to for her.
Before we go to bed usually around 9:00 which allows our bodies 7+ hours to sleep, we both take a recovery formula.

Not too complicated right? I try to stick with as close to natural ingredients as I can. Here’s to our health.

Brian Mackenzie on the Doc and Jock Podcast

Episode 61 is another doozie. Running guru, strength & conditioning coach and just general badass Brian MacKenzie joins the conversation with Doc Danny Matta and Coach Joe Szymanek. Brian fills the fellas in on what started him into the strength and conditioning world and what eventually led him to starting CrossFit Endurance. The dialogue morphs from there into a bigger conversation about CrossFit, and if it’s healthy and furthermore if spending your whole life in a gym is healthy. Which brings us to a rundown on Brian’s latest life work with Laird Hamilton, Wim Hof and Gabby Reece called XPT Life. If you are an athlete (and you all are because you all have a body) then this is a must listen. It will challenge what you think about, what you believe and what the hell your purpose is in a totally awesome and exciting way.

Click Here for details on full Episode 61

Fat Burning & Athletic Performance

Coffee Plus Fat = Increased Fat Burning and Athletic Performance
There is a reason why elite athletes are now jumping on the ketogenic bandwagon. Unlike weekend warriors or casual exercisers, elite athletes are extremely tuned into their bodies. In other words, they definitely notice the way different diets affect the body. One such athlete is Gabrielle Reece. Gabby is known for her accomplishments as an elite athlete, mother, author and leader in the fitness industry.

I recently talked with Gabby about the ketogenic diet. She has discovered what many elite fitness experts are noticing: If you eat fat before a workout, body fat is burned more efficiently and endurance and performance are increased.

Needless to say, she is fired-up on this topic and is passionately working with the Laird SuperFood team to research and develop products that induce ketogenesis. See our ketogenic blogs for some recent science and information on this revolutionary way of eating. Ketogenic Diet Part I, Part II & Part III.

Multiple studies have been conducted on the effect of coffee on exercise performance. Long story short, it enhances exercise endurance and performance as well as promotes thermogenesis (fat burning). That is precisely why there is a lot of caffeine in various performance drinks and supplements. Our team has little interest in caffeine supplements. We believe in the whole food approach. Therefore, we use whole, hand picked high altitude coffee, which is far superior to commercially available coffee beans. We believe it will help you perform better especially when you combine it with TopFuel or the Laird SuperFood Creamer.

Try the following and let us know if you are performing better too!

Pre-workout – Have a cup or Laird Coffee with TopFuel. Optionally, add more fat to the pre-workout beverage by consuming 2 eggs or an avocado. This is very ketogenic.

By Jeff Grimm

References:

Coffee Induced Thermogenesis and Skin Temperature

The Ketogenic Diet and Sport: A possible Marriage?

The effect of weight loss by ketogenic diet on the body composition, performance-related physical fitness factors and cytokines of Taekwondo athletes.

7 Tips for Building Bigger Muscles

Laird is always about being functional first.  He always says “there is a lot of fun to be had; you just have to be healthy enough to go and enjoy it”.  So when he trains or does anything outside of his ocean endeavors it has to make sense on a functional level.  However having said that we know that some of you out there are interested in ways to build more muscle.  It’s funny to me because you always hear women say they don’t want to build too much muscle, and the men are searching for ways to keep what they have or get more.  Let’s stick to the basics and assume you are not taking GH or steroids.

Eat Your Protein
Figure that you should consume about one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight:  sounds easier than it is.  If a chicken breast has about 15 grams of protein, but you weigh 200 lbs well, you can do the math.  A great help at getting the extra lean protein is whey isolate powder that you can drink a few times a day in a smoothie.

Cardio Is Not Your Friend
If you are serious about building muscle then you should do only about 30 minutes of cardio, three times a week.  This is why all the rippers love to cardio out because it sheds all the excess. What you can do is after you build; slowly add the cardio in to lean out.

Become An Eating Machine
Make sure you are getting 6 to 8 mini meals a day.  This will take a lot of preparation and strategizing, and Tupperware may become your new best friend.  Do it like the body builders and cook all of the same thing twelve times and start divvying up your chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Don’t Let Yourself See You Coming
That’s right about every four or up to six weeks change your workout routine.  Your muscles will not respond as well through time so give your workout new moves and a new look.  This would also include adding weight as well.

Your Testosterone Will Love You For Your Healthy Fats
It is a scientific fact that eating healthy fats and having enough in your diet will increase your testosterone.  Trying to build muscle? Well then testosterone is your best friend.  Avocado, flaxseed and coconut oil are easy to find and work with.

Max It Out
Obviously lifting heavy will help you increase mass.  Your sets need to be at least 40 seconds long to put enough stress on the muscle to grow.  There is a fine line between enough and not enough with regard to reps and weight ratio.  Also make sure you are doing enough exercises for each muscle.  Gone will be the days of one move per muscle.  You may even want to go old school, and divide up your groups over three days (legs, back and biceps, and chest, shoulders and triceps).

Get Your Rest
Recovery is quintessential for building muscle.  You must get into a deep restorative sleep in order to get the maximum benefit of all your training and eating.  Deep sleep is king.

I get the appeal for BIG muscles but try and look at the long run.  How can your training let you have more fun, keep injury at bay, and vitality and mobility long into your years?  If this is just a phase that’s great, go ahead and experiment but in the long run being balanced, flexible and functional is king!
Great, just want you want to hear from a woman.

You know the old joke about the guys in the mid west lifting?  The one guy says to the other “what about leg day”?  The other guy looks at him and says “you own pants don’t ya”?

Power Up,
Gabby Reece

The 411 on Interval Training

All cardiovascular exercise is the same, right? Not true, according to our fitness experts. The truth is the type of cardio exercise, the muscle fibers you recruit, the equipment you choose, your duration and heart rate all matter if you want to achieve the best results possible. Your time is precious; spend it wisely and make each minute of your workout count!

If you currently are not incorporating interval training into your routine at least once a week, you may be seriously slowing down your progress. The experts at XPTLIFE want you to understand the powerful benefits of interval training and how to work it into your exercise plan today! Please note, interval training is intense and should not be taken lightly. Always check with your physician before beginning any new exercise.

What is Interval Training?
Interval training is a method of exercise in which you spike and recover the heart rate in measured intervals for a short period of time. This intense activity recruits your fast twitch muscle fibers and burns sugar, to sky rocket your results and shock your body into change!

How Do I Perform Interval Training?
The key with interval training is to remember to keep it short and sweet!

Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with a brisk jog or walk.

The next 30 minutes should consist of 30-60 seconds of a full sprint or a movement of your choice, followed by 60-120 seconds of recovery (make sure to allow your heart rate to come down and recover fully).

Repeat the same protocol for a total of 30 minutes

Interval training should only be incorporated 1-2 times per week

Hint: At this point, your workout should be a total of 35-40 minutes, including the warm-up. The Interval portion of your training should only be performed for a total of 30 minutes to prevent loss of lean muscle mass. You may follow this exercise with red fiber training if you would like to extend your workout duration.

What are some unique ways of performing interval training?

Remember, interval training does not have to only include sprinting; there are many fun ways to switch up your routine with this fat blasting exercise! Just follow the basic protocol above by spiking and recovering your heart rate.

Sprint on grass, a track or even sand

Climb stadium stairs or use a Step Mill (large revolving staircase) at your local gym

Walk fast and slow on a treadmill set at an incline or in deep sand to recruit maximum muscle fiber

Pedal fast and slow in intervals on a bike, elliptical and other non-impact machines (especially great for weak knees and joints)

Jump rope (to spike heart rate) in combination with walking (to recover heart rate)

Remember, interval training, if performed correctly, is an incredibly effective form of exercise. Have fun with it!

Laird Hamilton’s Big Wave Nutrition and Fitness Routine

Big Wave Surfer Laird Hamilton shares a day in the life of his typical nutrition and water activity schedule when a decent size swell arrives (IN SEASON NOV-MARCH). With Laird’s summer workout combination of 90 minute functional training sessions, alternated with his innovative pool workouts, is considered highly demanding by most people’s standards, it is really just a warm-up for the “real deal”. When he is back in Hanalei Bay with his fellow big wave surfers, Laird’s real work begins. Anyone who has made the journey out to Kauai to spend a few days with Laird when he is at full-tilt, has seen first-hand the intense pace he and his tow-in partners maintain when the “big swell” is in.Of course, with all Laird’s physical activity comes plenty of healthy eating and proper nutrition supplementation to make sure that he has the all essential nutrition necessary to support such an intense schedule.

Big Wave Surfer Laird Hamilton shares a day in the life of his typical nutrition and water activity schedule when a decent size swell arrives (IN SEASON NOV-MARCH). With Laird’s summer workout combination of 90 minute functional training sessions, alternated with his innovative pool workouts, is considered highly demanding by most people’s standards, it is really just a warm-up for the “real deal”. When he is back in Hanalei Bay with his fellow big wave surfers, Laird’s real work begins. Anyone who has made the journey out to Kauai to spend a few days with Laird when he is at full-tilt, has seen first-hand the intense pace he and his tow-in partners maintain when the “big swell” is in. Of course, with all Laird’s physical activity comes plenty of healthy eating and proper nutrition supplementation to make sure that he has the all essential nutrition necessary to  support such an intense schedule. But like most other world-class athletes, Laird has his own tried and true nutrition routine that he has perfected over years of personal experimentation. So for those of you who like to live vicariously through Laird’s big wave exploits, or if you are just looking to pick-up a few tips for how to perform your best, here is a typical Laird Hamilton big wave day.

Typical Laird Hamilton Big Wave Day

5:50 A.M. – Hydrate
Laird has recently been drinking a giant glass of water to start the day, and to get the pipes working; mixed with ¼ tsp. of Himalayan salt and fresh squeezed lemon.

6:00 A.M. – Father Daughter Bonding Breakfast; Laird and Brody share a morning smoothie

Brody is an early riser like Laird, while Reece sleeps in a bit longer. Brody loves her morning time all to herself with her Dad. This time of year Laird adds two full scoops of Whey protein for himself (staying warm in the surf burns up to an extra 400 calories an hour), plus adds ½ scoop for each girl.  Then mixes in a serving of Greens, as well as a broad concoction of fruits, nuts, and other ingredients to increase the calorie count.

6:15 A.M – ESPRESSO
Laird drinks a cup of his Superfood Coffee and Creamer.

6:30 A.M – Quick Surf Check
Calls to the crew

6:45 A.M. – Barn
Quick commute to his river front work shed – workout barn ‘man cave’.

7:00 A.M. – Gear Check and Load-Up
(jet ski fuel check, rope and radio equipment inspection, board selection, and mount-up)

7:30 A.M. to 1 P.M. –  5 hour morning Foilboard session
(20 or more 2 to 3 minute rides each)

1:30 P.M. – Massive Lunch with the Boys and / or Gabby
Laird’s lunch is usually a major sushi and sashimi chow-down, typically consuming enough food for two grown men. A combination of up to 8 assorted raw fresh fish and vegetable rolls, plus plenty of locally caught Ahi. No bread or pasta, just lots of close-to-the-source local foods, including plenty of fresh fruit and coconut water that is hand-picked and straight from the shell.

2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. – Afternoon Ocean Session
Foilboard session 2, tow-in or afternoon SUP session, (10 or more additional rides per person)

5:00-5:30 P.M – Stretching, Meditation

5:30 P.M. – Sunset River Paddle Board Session
40 minutes or more of high intensity stand-up paddle boarding

6:30 P.M. – Dinner with the family
Gabby cooks almost every night. Always plenty of high quality protein such as very lean steak seasoned with sea salt, served with a variety of vegetables, quinoa, and a big salad.

8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. – Quiet Time
Reading, nightly walk with the kids, Gabby and Laird personal time.

9:35 P.M. – Bed
Laird winds down early to recharge for the next day. He is adamant about getting enough sleep 7-8 hours.

The friends and family who take turns rotating into Kauai throughout the winter months to be a nearby spectator to the daily exploits of Laird and his co-extreme big wave surfers, get to momentarily immerse themselves in this high-energy and high-risk routine. Better yet, a few brave souls even get to occasionally join in. But to maintain the pace of a big wave surfer day-in and day-out requires significant prior conditioning and discipline. So when you start to feel like maybe your 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity a day is a bit tiring, remember, Laird and team get that much exercise in by 9 A.M, just as a warm-up to 8 hours more of intense physical activity.

Written By, XPT Editor

Kelly Slater trying an XPT Water Workout

You can always count on Gabby and Laird to keep their fitness level progressing by developing new functional training movements and innovative training methodologies. Nothing could be much more unique or challenging than their underwater training pool workout. This underwater exercise routine combines resistance training with functional movements and breath control for a workout that can’t be replicated any other way.

After several years of refinement, Gabby and Laird have refined this distinctive training method in to a comprehensive fitness regimen almost any athlete can use to advance their fitness level without the risk of injury from similar land based programs. As such, athletes of all types show up from time to time to train with Gabby and Laird in order to learn some of the movements most applicable to their individual sport.

Surfing world champion Kelly Slater experiences firsthand XPT’s underwater functional training workout, and with Laird out in some big surf, Gabby was willing to take him through an intense training session. Of course, Kelly being one of the world’s top watermen quickly got the hang of things, and was soon matching Gabby stride for stride. It was an amazing workout just to witness as both Gabby and Kelly demonstrated perfect breath control along with an ultra-high level of fitness worthy of truly world class athletes.

Check out this underwater workout HD video, it will inspire you to want to jump in the pool and get going with your own water-based program.

Joakim Noah Talks Peculiar Offseason Training Methods

The Chicago Bulls center was profiled over the weekend on NBA Inside Stuff  on his offseason workouts with surfer Laird Hamilton
By Bryan Crawford
Monday, Nov 11, 2013

Source: NBCCHICAGO.COM

Joakim Noah is known for his intensity and energy on the court, and he says it’s his unorthodox training methods during the summer that makes all the difference.
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Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was profiled over the weekend on NBA Inside Stuff on his peculiar offseason workout with professional big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton. The workouts – consisting of underwater laps in a swimming pool using weights – were designed to increase the big man’s stamina and shed his “baby lungs” moniker.

“I started this training a couple years ago, when I met Laird. Laird’s crazy. He’s a freak of nature,”  Noah said. “Every time I do his workout, he always makes me do things that I didn’t think we’re possible.”

“First of all, I wouldn’t subject him to anything I wouldn’t implement for myself,” said Hamilton. “So I’m coming from a real, genuine point of view. We always say, ‘Do what you can’t do, so you can do what you want to do.'”

Noah missed a large part of the Bulls training camp and preseason due to a groin strain and as such, it has affected his conditioning and his play on the court during thus far the regular season. But the veteran seems to be rounding into game shape once again and he insists the unorthodox training methods he employs during the offseason, will help him throughout the remainder of his career.

“It’s great for your cardio, and you can also work on your explosive training with no impact,” Noah explained. “There’s a lot of pounding in what we do with basketball, so just being able to train like this, it’s perfect. This is a perfect workout for me. I’m going to do this for my whole career, and I think it’s going to help me a lot. When you’re underwater and you’re exhausted, and you know you have a ways to go and you can’t get that air, it kind of reminds me of just being really, really tired at the end of a game. It gives you so much appreciation for breathing.”

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