Fitness at 30,000 ft: How to feel your best when traveling

Since we’re getting close to the holiday season and many of you will be traveling, I’d like to share some helpful hints for staying fit and healthy while on the road!
I recently went to Japan for some martial arts training. With no time to waste feeling jet lagged, here’s how I stayed sharp physically and mentally with a 16+ hour flight.

1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I can’t stress this enough. For every hour you’re in the air you lose about 1C water from your body. Combine this with forgetting to drink water on the plane and you’ve got a recipe for dehydration and feeling like garbage.
As soon as I went through airport security I bought 2 of the biggest water bottles I could find and proceeded to drink them throughout the flight (having a little extra right before landing).
I wasn’t shy about scooting past my neighbor to make multiple trips to the restroom. It’s a pain, but worth it to feel great on the first day of your vacation.
Drinking alcohol on the flight will make things worse. Even if it helps you fall asleep, it won’t be a restful sleep.

2) Bring your own food on the flight. Most of what you find in the airport and on the plane is fast food with questionable quality. Take some time the day before you leave to make a few easy to travel with meals. Choose simple, healthy foods that you are accustomed to digesting. There’s nothing like an upset tummy to put a damper on your travels. For this trip I brought a few containers with turkey burger patties, baked sweet potato and raw green beans.

3) Sleeping on the plane. This one can be tricky especially for those of you who have trouble sleeping while flying. There are a few things you can do to stack the deck in your favor.
Have a positive mindset. If you continually repeat “I can’t sleep on planes” you’ll prove yourself correct.
Get some earplugs to help combat the jet engines and crying babies you encounter
Use a sleep mask to block out excess light
Have a pillow or neck pillow handy to make the seats a little more accommodating.
Even if you can’t seem to doze off, close your eyes and try some deep breathing relaxation exercises. This alone with have you feeling more refreshed.

4) Boost brain chemistry. I got this tip here from Charles Poliquin who has plenty of frequent flier miles from lectures around the world. Around landing time have foods that will boost dopamine and acetylcholine. He suggests caviar and macadamia nuts. I opted for beef jerky and nuts (caviar was a bit out of my price range).

5) Exercise as soon as you get to your destination. As soon as I get to my hotel I exercise for about 15-30 min. I don’t know exactly why this works but it feels like I ‘reset’ my nervous system. Here’s what I did in my tiny Tokyo hotel room.
5 sets of 15 reps
Bodyweight squats
Ending with 7 or 8 min stretch

After all of that I showered and felt fantastic the rest of the afternoon! It also helped me adjust to Tokyo time quickly. In short, don’t waste precious vacation days feeling ‘blah’. A little planning will have you feeling fresh as a daisy!

Happy training!

Will I Get Too Bulky

I can almost hear the collective forehead slap of trainers everywhere as a new client tells them “I don’t want to lift heavy weights because I’ll get too bulky.”

 If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard some version of this, I could buy a really sweet pair of lifting gloves (just kidding, I like my callouses).Many new female and a good number of male trainees have the idea that they will turn into Hulk shaped women and men who can barely fit into regular clothes if they so much as look at a ‘heavy’ weight.  This misconception is somewhat understandable. Most images we see in the media related to weight training are extreme examples of competitive male and female bodybuilders and powerlifters. People start to believe that this body type is the norm for anyone who begins strength training.

Countless frustrated trainers have attempted to explain the science and reasoning behind such muscle gain to put their clients minds at ease.

-Men have roughly 10x more testosterone than woman. It is just about impossible for a woman to gain that amount of muscle as a man (let alone gain it quickly).

-Are you taking thousands of dollars worth of performance enhancing drugs? Oh you’re not? Then you won’t have to worry about waking up next week with bulging biceps.

 -Unless you’re training twice a day along with weighing and measuring everything you eat, you won’t outgrow your current wardrobe.

Despite all the rational reasons, many clients are still skeptical and hesitant to work with heavier weights and miss out on all the wonderful benifits like…

-Greater bone density

-A boost in metabolism

-Increased imunity against illness

Just to name a few.To help overcome people’s strength training fears, I’ve come up with a simple analogy that has helped a great deal.  I’ll ask “If you’re stopped at a red light in your car, are you worried about going 100 mph when the light turns green? No of course not.  You speed up to 20, 30, 40 mph and then ease up on the gas. The same goes for strength training.  We’ll gently press the gas with a few weighted exercises, you’ll see some gradual progress and if you feel that you’re starting to gain more muscle than you like, we’ll simply take our foot off the gas and do less work with heavy weights.”This explanation is often just what they need to hear in order to put their mind at ease so we can introduce the squats, deadlifts and presses they need to have a well balanced training program!

Happy lifting

The Fountain of Youth

When a fitness professional who hasn’t even hit middle age yet (such as myself) tells someone that strength training can add an abundance of vitality to a senior citizen’s life, it’s hardly seems credible. “Oh just wait until you get older.” they say, “You wont be bouncing around like you used to.”

 Hogwash I say!  Study after study shows beyond a doubt that strenuous exercise in one’s golden years keeps pep in your step and wards off illness.  It is in essence preventative medicine! But guess what?  You don’t have to take it from me, just listen to what this near-centurian has to say! Age should not be an excuse for an inactive life style. And just in case you need more proof…

Happy training!

Health, Exercise and a Book: Vol.2

Health: Let’s talk about seaweed!

If you’re from the New England coast like me, most of your exposure to seaweed comes from jumping in the ocean and coming out looking like Swampthing!


But guess what?  You can eat seaweed too…and it’s good for you!

 The Pro’s:

-Seaweed is very nutrient dense.  It contains a multitude of vitamins and and more minerals than you can find in almost any other food.

-It is chock full of antioxidants and calcium as well.

-Seaweed can aid in reducing inflammation.

-It contains iodine which is important for thyroid health.

-On top of all that, it helps regulate the hormones estrogen and estradiol.  There’s evidence that it plays a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

 The Con’s:

-A serving doesn’t provide a significant amount of some vitamins.  But taking multiple servings isn’t the answer either.  Too much of a good thing (such as iodine) can be a bad thing and have some negative side effects.

-Seaweed Pills aren’t regulated by the FDA.  There’s a chance that it could have been grown in water containing toxic chemicals.  It’s a good idea to stick with the food form.

-For some, it’s an acquired taste.  It can take a little getting used to, although I find it delicious!  (But then again, I’m a bit weird.)

 A few servings a week would be a great addition to a healthy diet.  Whether you’re going with kelp, dulse, arame, wakame or kombu, give it a try as a snack or with your next meal!


Exercise: Keeping a Neutral Spine


This week’s exercise isn’t really an exercise per se, but rather how to maintain a neutral spine which actually applies to the majority of exercises we do.

Whether you’re performing a squat, deadlift, bench press, lunge, curl etc. etc., keeping a neutral spine will help keep you stable and injury free.

 Here are the basics of getting into neutral spine position:

Stand nice and tall.

Engage your quads, glutes and abs (core).

Keep your chest high, shoulders down and back.

Chin slightly tucked.

 This is the position we want to maintain.  How much your muscles are engaged depends on the exercise.  A body weight squat might require 10% engagement whereas a heavy 3 reps could call for 90% engagement.

 Check out the video demo (by yours truly) for a more detailed explanation.



A Book: The Rise of Superman

by Steven Kotler



Ever wonder what’s going through the head of an athlete just before skiing off a cliff?  Or surfing an 80 foot wave?  “The Rise of Superman” takes an in depth look at the psychology of extreme sport athletes.

 Our first reaction upon seeing someone put himself in a life or death situation for fun is, ‘That person’s crazy!’,  ‘They are just adrenaline junkies.’  or ‘He must have a death wish.’

This is actually far from the truth.  When putting their life on the line, the athlete gets into a state of intense present moment awareness, sometimes called a ‘flow’ state.  Their minds are clear.  Their bodies relaxed and responsive without impeding thoughts.  It’s a state of awareness that is so focused it acts like a sixth sense.

 This is a highly desirable state for EVERYONE although athletes and artists see it most often. It’s where we perform and feel our absolute best.  Time disappears. Creativity peaks.  Our best work comes out.  The big difference is that for extreme athletes it’s ‘get in the flow’ or die…literally.

 The author provides a great mixture of stories and science to illustrate his ideas.  The only point I took issue with is when the author claims that ‘flow’ is an alternative path to mastery and can circumvent the 10,000 hour rule (which says it takes 10,000 hrs to master an activity).  The athletes he highlights in the book have certainly put in those hours before attempting their life or death activities.  None of them got up from a desk job and free climbed a mountain.  They put in the groundwork just like any piano player, chess grandmaster or martial arts master.

 All in all, this is a fantastic read (or listen)  full of great stories and insight into peak performance!


8 Ways to Perk Up During Your Day


It’s 3PM on a Wednesday.

Lunchtime is long gone.  Your eyes are starting to glaze over.  You feel antsy, yet tired.  It’s becoming difficult to concentrate on your work and productivity is plummeting.  There’s still work to be done, but you just can’t muster the energy to perform your best.  Is there anything you can do?

Fear not!  There there are more solutions than merely running to the coffee pot!  Let’s take a look at 8 things we can do to immediately restore your energy and vitality…


1) Do a simple stretching routine

All you need  is a small clear space about the size of a yoga mat.  A stretching routine has numerous benefits.  It gets you out of that crippling desk posture, lengthening the muscles that get short and tight from sitting.  It will get your heart beating a little faster, giving your limbs and brain a fresh supply of oxygenated blood.

No equipment is necessary, just put together a series of stretches that you enjoy.  Give these a try and feel free to do them several times throughout the day!


2) Give yourself a foot massage

I got this idea from my good friend Coach Jim Shortz.  Most of us wear shoes throughout the day.  Unless you have a contract with Nike, your shoes won’t be perfectly molded to your feet.  Keeping our feet in an unnatural position can have subtle effects on our energy (and if done long term can actually change the shape of our foot!




Although I don’t have a great scientific explanation for this, taking off your shoes and giving yourself a foot massage can relax you and improve the flow of energy.  Here’s a great little foot massage tutorial.


3) Take a cold shower

You might have shivered a bit just reading this one but I promise, those 30 seconds of frigid torture will have you feeling like you plugged yourself into the wall socket!  This might not be an option if you’re in the office, but if you’re home or have access to a shower, gather your courage and give it a try.  Personally, I’ll take a minute or two under some warm water before I turn the dial far into the blue.

Embrace the rush, dry yourself off and go back to work feeling energized…and clean!


4) Climb some stairs

If you’re having a busy day with no time to exercise, this one will be doubly useful.  You can get a mini workout as you wake yourself up!  Climbing flights of stairs is excellent exercise giving both your legs and heart a challenge. This one works whether you have 100 floors in your building or just 1 (just repeat up and down).  Try a few flights when you’re feeling stagnant.  For a real challenge, time yourself 3, 4, or 5 min and see how many flights you can do.  Then next time try and top your total!


5) Do a breathing exercise

Take a few minutes to focus on the thing your body needs most.  Air!  When we are feeling stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow and high in the chest.  We can’t put forth our best work if we’re depriving our bodies of this vitally important element.  Take a moment, stand up and place a palm just below your navel.  Focus on the rise and fall of that hand on the inhale and exhale.  You can continue doing this standing or come back to your seat for some relaxed breathing.

Check this short guide out for more detail


6) Play a song and boogie down


If you’re like me, you’ve had a few days here and there where you got up on the wrong side of the bed and ate a big bowl of Crabby-O’s for breakfast.  An impromptu boogie down can boost your mood and turn around your day.  Grab your favorite tape, record, CD or ipod, press play and get your groove on!  You can do it in a secluded spot if you’re shy or get a few people to join in.  Co workers may chuckle, but you’ll be the one refreshed and productive!  Here are a few of my go to songs:

Dancing Machine- Jackson 5

Apache- Sugar Hill Gang

Don’t Sweat the Technique- Rakim and Eric B.


7) Play a game like trashcan basketball


Channel your inner 10 year old and get creative with a fun little game.  Try an make it a $0 budget activity and get creative.  If you want to up the anti, grab a friend and have a little ongoing competition.  Here are a few ideas:

Trashcan basketball

Rubber band target shooting

Paper football


Putt Putt golf into an empty cup


8) Get some fresh air (sunlight, barefoot, combine with stretching)

There’s a reason why people feel so energized and ‘clear’ after a walk, hike or camping trip.  Being out in nature has a relaxing and grounding effect on us.  We spent tens of thousands of years being surrounded by nature.  Until about 100 years ago, most of our homes and shelters were part of a natural environment.  There is something magical about trees, grass, dirt and fresh air.  Take a step outside and you’ll instantly feel better.


Combinations:  Each of the above is great on its own, but also feel free to put together your own combinations!  Try a foot massage followed by a stretching routine.  Do a breathing exercise outdoors.


Next time you’re feeling like a little pick-me-up, one a try and go back to work firing on all cylinders!

My Other Curfew


In my previous post I discussed my newest health habit for energy and productivity.  The caffeine curfew has helped immensely, but it is just one half of the dynamic duo of curfews I’ve recently implemented.


In my ongoing quest to become more energized and productive I’ve adopted an electronics curfew.  When the designated time hits, I go dark, turning off all screens, buzzes, beeps and alerts.  Why did I decide to go all 1920’s in the evening?  I’m glad you asked!


Recently a great deal of research has been published on the adverse effects of electronic devices on our brains and bodies.  The short-wavelength ‘blue’ light that’s emitted from our computers, TV’s, tablets and phones suppresses melatonin and disrupts sleep duration and quality leaving us feeling tired and drained throughout the day.  (not to mention the inhibited hormone production)


Along with the effects of the light, the over-stimulation we get from our electronics causes us unease.  Constantly jumping from one web page to the next, one headline to another, this video to that, limits our ability to concentrate on a single task for an effective period of time.  It is rewiring our brain so that we are unable focus, giving us a perpetual state of what the Buddhists call ‘monkey mind’.


I could feel these negative effects happening to me.  It became difficult concentrate deeply on anything.  I began to feel anxious and even a bit short of breath.  I would stay up much later than I should and when I did try to sleep, I would lay in bed trying in vain to calm down my brain and drift off to dreamland.



Then one day it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I do with electronics the same thing that I did for caffeine?’  I put a curfew into place that has me flip the off switch an hour before I hit the hay.  My bedtime varies from day to day so instead of having an exact time to unplug every night, I keep it a little more flexible with the ‘one hour prior’ rule.


The first time I tried this I had the ‘well what the heck do I do now?’ feeling.  There was nothing left to keep me passive entertained.  Then I took a look beside my bed and noticed the knee high stack of books that are just begging to be read!  I peered over to my desk and oh, hello, there’s the year old journal that’s 90% blank.  It’s about time I cracked that open!


Now the hour before bed is reading, writing and meditation time.  And according to plan, by the end of that hour I’m pleasantly sleepy and ready to catch some proverbial z’s.


For your own practice, you could include any number of things in your last hour.  A board game, time to talk with your spouse, yodeling practice, you name it!  As long as anything that needs a battery or an outlet is turned off, you’ll be on your way to a more restful night’s sleep and a more energized and productive tomorrow!


Note: I actually had to stop editing this post one night to stick to my curfew!

Health, Exercise and a Book: Vol.1

Health: My New Curfew
Anyone else had this experience?  You’re 16 and out well past your curfew.  After planning your oh-so-sneaky entrance home, you tiptoe through the back door only to find your parents waiting with a look that says ‘Are you ok? Good, because I’m gonna kill you!’.


I never would have imagined that 16 years later I’d be implementing my own self induced curfew! (Actually 2 different curfews to be exact)


The first is a caffeine curfew.  I realized that having coffee later in the day was keeping me up and effecting sleep quality.  If I want to be productive and well rested, having a good night’s sleep is incredibly important!


So now 4PM is the cut off!  No coffee or stimulants after 4.


The caffeine curfew may vary depending on how fast you metabolize it.  I tend to process it quickly, within a few hours.  Someone who’s slower may need to bump it to 2PM or even noon.


The caffeine curfew is one of the two that has helped me get a better nights sleep and wake up energized!
Stay tuned for curfew #2 which I’ll talk about next time.


An Exercise: Bulgarian Split Squat
Looking for a new exercise to add to your leg training repertoire?  Give the Bulgarian Split Squat a whirl.  Also known as a rear foot elevated split squat, it’s an incredibly challenging unilateral exercise that will build strength and sculpt your ‘wheels’!
Here’s the breakdown of the form.
Have the rear foot 6-18 inches from the ground.  If you’re not uber flexible, a bench can be a bit too high and hinder the range of motion.


Taking a shorter stance will be a bit more quad dominant while a longer stance will target your glutes and hamstrings.


And for a brutally hard version, try a drop set like this


And a Book!
The One Thing
by Gary Keller


At first I thought this may be just another book about productivity that goes in one ear and out the other.  On the contrary it was full of useful ideas that can be put into practice right away!


Find the one thing
A focusing question will help you find the most important task for success in your chosen venture.
It asks: What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?  This question forces you to do what is absolutely necessary for success.


Use your best energy for it
On any given day you have a limited supply of willpower.  Don’t squander it!  Use that willpower on the ONE task that is the most important of the day.  Case and point:  For me doing this writing is far easier at the beginning of the day as opposed to after work when I’m spent.


‘Balance’ does you no good
Don’t seek to live a perfectly balanced life.  Extraordinary results require focused attention and time on your ONE thing.  This means time away from other things.  Take a day, week or month and focus the majority of your energy on your ONE thing.  Afterwards, shift your focus to the things that have been on the back burner.


A calendar is a powerful tool
Block off time for your ONE thing on your calendar.  If it’s a regular thing, block it off every day/week.  If it’s a big push, block off however many weeks are necessary.
Stephen King has mastered focusing on his one thing.  Mornings are devoted to whatever project he is working on for about 4 hours.  Afternoons are for naps and letters.  Evenings are for family, reading, Red Sox and important revisions that can’t wait.


Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.

What’s your ONE thing?

Why I Became A Personal Trainer

A longtime client of mine recently asked me why I became a personal trainer.  The question made me realize that the reasons I initially became a trainer are not the same reasons that I remain a personal trainer today.

My answer echoed something a martial arts teacher of mine once said.  He first started studying martial arts so that he could kick asses like Bruce Lee did in the movies!  But through his decades of training, ass kicking became an afterthought while his primary motivations became self development and self expression through the art.


After I graduated from college, I floated around for a while before a generous relative offered me an entry level position at his company in California.  Although I greatly appreciated the job, I quickly realized that I was ill suited to sit at a desk for 9 hours a day.  I’d find myself chomping at the bit, doing pushups and hand stands in the warehouse during my lunch break and bolting out the door to get to the gym as soon as the work day ended.


I’d always had a passion for physical fitness but wasn’t sure if or how I could make a living from it.  I wasn’t a professional caliber athlete in any major sport but a conversation with a close friend who just passed his CSCS exam made me realize that I could make a living as a personal trainer.  This was music to my ears!  I thought to myself “Great!  I can learn as much as I can to improve my own training and share it with a few other people to make some money and sustain my workout habit.”


My motivation at the time was partly selfish.  I wanted to be active and work out all day long!  But I also knew I was a pretty good teacher so I figured that I could help a few young, athletic clients improve their fitness.  Most new trainers (especially athletes) want to train young athletic people like themselves.  I soon realized that it rarely works out that way.  To be a successful trainer you have to be able to work with people of all ages and levels of fitness.


Over the past 7 years my motivation has changed. I’ve grown to love training anyone who wants to improve their health! Young or old.  Healthy or injured.  Fit or soon-to-be fit.  I loved seeing my clients finish the session more energized then when they started.  I can share in their joy of seeing their fitness goals become a reality. I also see the bigger picture: A healthy person tends to be a happy person.  And what’s better than a city, country or world full of happy people?!  The more people I can help be healthy and happy, the better.


I still get my fill of working out and improving my own fitness, but it brings me great pleasure to do the same for others.  That’s why I do and will continue to be a personal trainer!

5 Habits to Stay Healthy Through Your 30’s

If there’s one thing I detest, it’s admitting to any signs of aging or slowing down.  Anyone who knows me can vouch for that.  But alas, now that I’m in my 4th decade I’m beginning to notice some subtle changes.  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be making excuses to let myself go but while I am still as strong and nearly as fast as ever, I have noticed that it takes a little longer to get warmed up for a workout.  Recovery is a bit slower.  And I pay a hefty price after having a few drinks the night before.
Despite the march of time, the aging process is something that we have a great deal of control over.  Why should a little thing like the number of years we’ve been on this planet get in the way of our health and vitality!?  There are many habits we can adopt to minimize the effects of chronological aging.  Here are 5 simple yet important ones that I’ll be sticking to throughout my 30’s (and beyond) to ensure that I feel and look as youthful as possible.
1) Have a well balanced training training plan that focuses on strength and mobility.
Muscle is the engine that drives youth.
Tufts University researchers have recently told us that muscle mass is the best biological marker of anti aging.  Strength training increases bone density, keeps your metabolism running like a furnace, boosts your immune system and combats the sagging of various body parts.
Now I must emphasize that your strength training program should be well balanced.  Gentlemen, it’s a must that you expand your repertoire from the lifts of your high school football days.  A balanced routine for where your body is now is essential.
Ladies, be sure that you include strength exercises that work the largest muscle groups in the body.  Core classes and running have their place but biggest benefits will come from a progressive training program that includes the ‘bigger’ lifts (squat, deadlift, chinup etc.)
Take some time to learn proper technique and how to put together a strength training routine.  It’s an investment in future you.
Also, since most of us aren’t moving around as much as we did during our school days, it’s imperative to spend some time improving upon our mobility.  Many of the little aches and pains that creep in over time can be negated with some basic soft tissue work along with various stretching techniques such as dynamic or PNF stretching.  Some soft tissue work and mobility drills will go a long way to keeping you moving freely without discomfort.
2) Drink 3-4 liters of water a day
This is the one that we all know we should be doing but rarely do!
Our bodies are over 60% water and it is something every bodily system depends on in order to function.  Water is second only to oxygen in the hierarchy of things you need to stay alive!
Have too little and you’re subject to fatigue, headaches, hunger, premature aging of skin, and kidney problems just to name a few.
The average adult in a temperate climate needs approximately 3 liters of water a day.  That’s the minimum recommended amount.  If it’s hot out you’ll need more.  If you’ve been working out, you’ll need more.  The ever popular “8 glasses a day” recommendation may be easy to remember, but falls short of the 3 liters everyone should be getting on a daily basis.
Although fruits, coffee and juice contain some water, it’s best to count only fresh water and tea towards your daily total.
(Note, there may be an increase in bathroom trips for the first week or so, but this will diminish over time as your body adjusts to the increase in fluids.)

3) Cook for yourself

We have a saying in the fitness industry: The more you cook, the better you look.  Granted, this may not be accurate if you’re pulling recipes from the Paula Deen Cookbook, but preparing your own meals will help keep your body fit and your wallet a little fatter.

When you eat out you’re subject to the restaurant’s menu.  It’s easy to be tempted by many unhealthy options.  And even the ones that appear to be healthy might be prepared in a not-so-healthy way (with excess salt and low quality oils for example).
Yes, I admit, cooking can be a pain.  But you’re no longer a college student or a 20-something just getting used to the ‘real world’.  You’re a full blown adult and as such you have to take responsibility of your nutrition.  This includes learning a handful of healthy recipes, preparing them and choosing to eat them while many of your peers are digging into the dinner rolls.
The meals you prepare may be just this side of edible at the beginning, but with a little practice and some idea sharing with a kitchen savvy friend, you’ll be able to prepare meals that are far better than the typical restaurant!
4) Move in the morning
How you begin your day will largely dictate the path of the rest of your day.
Mornings can be rough. We wake up thinking about the ten thousand things we have to do.  We crack open our eyes then immediately check emails, texts or social media.  Then it’s off to a rushed breakfast and a hasty exit from home, rushing off to work.  We end up going through the morning feeling half awake and stiff as a board!
A little stretching and movement routine first thing in the morning will give you a far better start.  Take 3-5 minutes for a series of stretches like these, followed by 5 min of bodyweight exercises such as squats, pushups and band pull-aparts.
These 10 minutes of movement will wake you up more than the strongest cup of coffee possibly could.  You’ll be sharper mentally and energized physically, setting you up for a more productive day.
5) Meditate
If I had to chose only one thing from this list to do every day this would be the one.  The benefits of meditation are tremendous both physically and psychologically.
Just to name a few, meditation…
-Can lower cortisol levels, which, among other things, can aid greatly in weight loss.
-Stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system which allows your body to return to a relaxed state.
-Aids in relieving chronic physical pain. (1)
-Helps improve sleep and can be beneficial for those with insomnia. (2)
-Improves athletic performance by boosting circulation, relaxation and the ability to focus without being distracted.
Along with all the plentiful physical benefits, meditation is the foremost tool for raising our level of consciousness.  For us to live in a happy and peaceful society this is a necessity.
You’ll feel a change meditation just 5 min a day and 20-60 min a day will change your life!
Check out this simple guide for details.

Wrap Up

To a large extent, I believe that your true age lies in state of mind.  There are people who stay healthy and energetic well into their 70’s, 80’s and beyond.  They are not anomalies, rather they are the ones who practiced a healthy lifestyle throughout the years and did not let the idea of aging slow them down.  The sooner we start the better!
Now that you’ve heard my 5 tips, feel free to post your own in the comments section!



15 Techniques for Strength and Muscle Growth

Everyone who’s worked with weights is familiar with a straight set and rep scheme.  You pick an exercise, choose a weight, and do the prescribed number of reps.  This type of training can get you very far.  It took me from a weightlifting newbie to winning my first few fitness competitions.  But after a while, I found that I hit a plateau in terms of muscle growth.  I also became a bit bored with this style.  I began to include some different training techniques to breathe new life into my routine.  It added much needed fun to my training.  Also, my body responded with all kinds of great soreness and muscle development!  Here are 15 of my favorite techniques to spice up your repertoire.

1) Drop sets
With a good old fashioned drop set, you perform an exercise to muscular failure, quickly reduce the weight and continue to failure with the lighter weight.  You can continue to extend the set by dropping the weight a second and even third time for a few more reps.
Example: After a set of dumbbell lateral raises move down the rack to grab a lighter pair and continue lateral raises (repeat with even lighter weight if desired)
2) Mechanical Drop Set
Here we are changing the mechanics of a movement to go from a less to more advantageous position. Perform a set of an exercise to failure then, keeping the same weight, change the EXECUTION of the exercise for more mechanical advantage and continue to failure.
A)After a set of wide grip pronated pullups, switch to neutral grip for a few more reps.
B) Perform front squats to failure and immediately switch to back squats for a few more grueling reps.
3) Rest pause
Here we do a full set of an exercise, rack the weight for a few seconds (5-15) and force a few extra reps.  You can repeat as much as you like to get more reps with good form in a set.
Example:  Hit your target number of reps on a bench press, rack it (keeping your hands on the bar), take a few breaths and hit more reps.  (Note: Use a spotter on an exercise like the bench press)
4) Band Assist
Use a set of bands, specially made for this technique, to assist you in a lift.  This method is typically used on the bigger lifts (squat, bench etc).  The bands give more assistance during the most challenging part of the movement and less assistance in the easier phase.  This allows you to get used to weights beyond your training max.
Example: For squats, attach the bands to the top of the rack and to the bar.  They will make the weight feel lighter at the bottom and heavier at the top where you have the most advantage.  Perform your set for the prescribed reps.
5) Band Resisted
This is the opposite of a band assist.  Here we are using sub maximal weights with added band resistance.  This allows for more resistance at the ‘easiest’ part of the lift.
Example: When performing deadlifts, anchor one end of the band to the floor and attach the other to the bar.  This will provide more resistance as you move the weight away from the floor making the lockout portion more challenging.
6) Tempo change
Many lifters become married to the 1010 tempo (one count up, one count down, video).  Some will occasionally throw in a slow eccentric or ‘negative’.  But why limit ourselves to these tempos?  The’re not written in stone and we can certainly benefit from switching it up.  Just like how we don’t want to use the same weight over and over for weeks on end, we don’t want to get stuck in just one tempo.  Along with slowing down the negative, we can slow down or have an explosive concentric portion.  Throwing in some pauses at either end of the movement will give an added challenge as well.  Try a 52×0 tempo, a 2022 or any number of combinations.
Example:  A squat with a 52×0 tempo takes 5 grueling seconds to get to the bottom, pauses in the hole for 2 seconds, then explosively pushes to the top.
7) Pre-fatigue with an explosive movement
Here, we perform several reps of an explosive/dynamic movement before moving on to a heavier exercise using the same muscle group.  The explosive first movement will slightly fatigue the muscle (the fastest twitch fibers) before going immediately to the main exercise so don’t try to set a PR using this technique.
Example: Perform a set of 5-10 clapping pushups before going into a set of DB chest presses.
8) Pre-fatigue from isolation movement
With this method, we do an isolation exercise for a muscle group before a compound exercise that features that same muscle.
Example: Rep out a set of quad extensions right before a set of squats.  Afterwards, hobble over to the water fountain.
9) Post fatigue sets
After a compound movement, go right to an isolation movement for one of the muscles that was just worked.
Example: Right after a set of deadlifts, go to a set of glute/ham raises.
10) Forced eccentrics (negatives)
After hitting concentric failure on an exercise, take out the concentric portion (how you do this will depend on the exercise) and force a few more controlled negatives.
Example:  When you can no longer get your chin over the bar on a set of chinups, jump to the top and slowly control yourself to the bottom.
11) Partial reps
This is one of the rare times where we actually want to use a partial range of motion.  After reaching failure on a full range of motion, squeak out a few more half or quarter reps of part of the movement.
Example: After hitting as many perfect reps as possible on a BB bicep curl, get a few more reps of the bottom portion of the movement.
Or you can purposely split up the segments of an exercise, doing the tougher portion of the movement to failure before switching to the easier portion.
Example: Do a set of lateral raises from the middle to top of the movement.  Then burn out a few more reps of the bottom portion.
12) 1 1/4 reps
From the stretch position, do the first quarter of the movement.  Go back to the full stretched position.  Then complete the entire range of motion.
Example: From the bottom of a squat, go 1/4 of the way up, then back to the bottom, and all the way up.  That entire sequence counts for 1 rep.
13) Shortened rest
Grab a stopwatch and chop some time off your regular rest period.  For a muscle burning, lung heaving challenge, cut rest time in half! (Note, do not try this when maxing out in the 1-5 rep range. Your nervous system needs adequate time to recover)
Example: Take only 30 seconds between sets of lat pulldowns. Enjoy the burn!
14) Isometric holds
Iso-holds are becoming a lost art but they can help bust through a plateau in muscle growth.  You can use this technique in several different ways.
A) Pause 5-10 seconds on every rep of an exercise.  This can be done at peak contraction or anywhere else in the movement besides the stretched position.
Example: Pause for a 5 count at the top of each rep of spider curls.
B) Pause 5-10 seconds on the last rep of an exercise.
Example: Hold the last rep of a chin-up at the top of the movement.
C) After completing a set, flex the muscle and hold for 5-20 seconds.
Example: After a set of weighted pushups, clasp your hands together and flex your pecs hard!
15) Forced or Cheat reps
This is where we use some momentum and less than perfect form to do a few more reps at the end of a set.  Let’s be very clear here, you should only use this with an exercise where there is a very low chance of injury when form breaks down.  No cheat squats.  No cheat deadlifts!
Example: Cheat curls.  Use a little kick from the torso to get the weight up when you can’t do another rep with strict form.
Pepper in a few of these techniques during your workout to bust through a plateau and add a little excitement!


Happy training!