Plateau Busting

By The Viking

In exercise terms, a plateau is a sticking point.  A point at which, despite all your efforts, you just aren’t getting the results you wanted.  Plateaus occurs in all types of training and with all types of goals.  Whether you’re trying to gain muscle, loose fat, increase your aerobic or anaerobic capacity or simply trying to get better at whatever it is you like to do, chances are if you train long enough, you’ll hit a plateau.   Why plateaus happen vary from person to person. Regardless of when and how it affects you, the solution is usually relatively simple so don’t get scared.  Here are some points and tips to consider when breaking through those plateaus.

#1: REST, RELAX AND RECOVER

If you’re experiencing a plateau it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to increase the amount of time you spend at the gym.  On the contrary, it probably means the exact opposite.  Your body doesn’t get stronger, faster or leaner in the gym.  All of the benefits of exercise happen when the body is at rest.  If you give it the time it takes to repair and replenish itself, chances are you’ll see much better results for your efforts.

Take a close look at exactly how much exercise you get on a daily and weekly basis.  If you’re spending more than 5-7 hours a week working out at a fairly vigorous pace, the plateau may be a cry for rest from your body.  Try taking an extra day or two of rest during the week and see what happens.

#2: KEEP YOUR BODY GUESSING

The body is an amazing machine.  It adapts to physical stresses very quickly and gets stronger as a result.  It’s constantly learning.   It also doesn’t want to work harder than it has to.   If you’re doing the same exercises with the same weights in the same manner for more than a few weeks, you’re body has probably already figured out the game and is doing what it can to conserve its out.  That’s when a plateau sets in.

By keeping the body guessing, you can maximize the effectiveness of your training.  Try the following changes in your routine:

  • change      up the exercises
  • increase      the weight you use
  • switch      the order of what you do
  • alter      the frequency  (days per week)
  • change      the time of day you work out

By following simple suggestions such as these, you constantly give your body new physical stresses to deal with.  If it doesn’t know what’s coming, it can’t take the easy way out.

#3 INCREASE YOUR MEALS BUT NOT YOUR CALORIES

Diet plays an enormous role when it comes to heath and fitness.  Your dietary habits can mean the difference between seeing the results you want and simply wasting your efforts.  In addition to making good dietary choices, which are detailed elsewhere on the Hybrid Fitness site, consider increasing the number of times per day that you eat (without increasing your overall calories).  Have you ever eaten a big meal and noticed yourself start to get warm or perhaps even sweat?  There is a metabolic response to eating.  As you intake calories, your body has to find a way to digest, process and assimilate everything you’ve eaten.  Everything your body does, every function it performs takes calories and believe it or not, it takes a lot of calories to chew and process the food you intake.  Your metabolic level stays elevated during this process, which may last well over an hour or two depending on what you eat.  When the food is digested, the metabolism slows and your body goes back to its pre-digestive state.  By eating 6-7 smaller meals per day, you’re able to elevate and sustain your metabolic rate, effectively burning more calories than you would eating “3 square meals” per day.

Here’s a couple simple graphs to help explain.  The red line is used to roughly demonstrate the average metabolic rate over a day’s period.

#4 EXERCISE TRIFECTA

Regardless of your goals, be they health, aesthetic, strength, skill or performance, you will benefit most by incorporating the Exercise Trifecta.  The trifecta is a combination of aerobic conditioning, resistance training and proper diet.  For example, let’s say you’re a runner and your main goal is to increase your full or half marathon time.  Most of your time is likely spent logging miles on a treadmill or outside on the pavement.  Sooner or later, your body will get used to the same old training day in and day out.  Try mixing in solely strength training or anaerobic circuit training of a couple of your training days.  Not only will you be throwing your body a necessary curve ball, but you’ll be forced to use different energy pathways to perform the activity.  You’ll get stronger as a result, which will likely result in a lower overall distance time.  If you’re a body builder and not quite getting the results you want, try looking at your diet.  Chances are that small changes in your diet will create a big change in your results.  These rules apply for everyone.  There is no sport I can think of where strength is a detriment.  Don’t ever be afraid to lift weights and don’t ever be afraid to get stronger.  It will only benefit you.

Your results are completely in your hands.  With all of the information available in this world, you have no excuses.  Take these tips apply them to your current routine.  Even if you haven’t hit a plateau, chances are you will eventually.  It’s best to avoid one then to try and get past one.  Either way, it’s never a lost cause.  Keep training hard and listen to what the experts have to say.

JKLOF OUT!

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Icy Toughness

A story of overcoming self-doubt

By Wayne “Scrapper” Fisher

I stood on the shore and knew there was no way I was going to get in chest deep like Doug was doing…there was just no way. Getting in that water slowly was just too much so I decided to take a “SCRAPPER ROUTE” instead and waded out a short way between the rocks and planned my immersion. I then walked back up the beach and positioned the Bruiser for the next phase of this insanity.

I stood at the Bruiser, took several deep breaths and, demons be damned, sprinted as fast as I could through my chosen path. When the water reached my mid-thighs I simply launched myself towards the sun while I secretly hoped that I would levitate and that Doug and Brandon would be sufficiently impressed with that neat little trick and I could avoid any further contact with the water. Sadly, for me, there was no levitation and when the water envelope closed around my body it stung so bad that all I could think of was getting myself back OUT of the water as quickly as possible. I sprinted back up to the Bruiser, grabbed it with both hands, swung it between my legs and then THREW it over my head and as far behind me as I possibly could.

Before it hit the ground, I had turned and started running to where it would land. Once there, I grabbed it and threw it again for a total of 4 throws. This was followed by another sprint out into the Bay of Icy Death, and another set of Bruiser Throws.

After a few more rounds of immersion and throwing I had had enough and figured that it was time for Brandon and Doug to play along with me.Brandon seemed to balk at my initial mention of this but I had already switched into full SCRAPPER mode and told him that he could either dunk himself or I would run out there and tackle him (he had slowly waded out to waist-high by this point). I think it was the way I laughed sadistically when I said it or something and while I’m sure he can snap my spine like a dried branch, he also knew that he would be getting tackled into that freezing cold water. At least I’d have THAT satisfaction! I took a step or two towards him before he said “Fine! Fine!” and threw himself face-first into the Harbor of Shrunken Cajones.

After a few rounds, we decided it was Doug’s turn and he tried his hand at sprinting and throwing the Bruiser.

The “Throwing of the Bruiser” competition immediately commenced at that point. The three of us took turns throwing the Bruiser over our heads to see who could heave it the greatest distance. To my surprise, I threw it the furthest. Of course, I started talking as if I had known all along I could throw it further and started asking Doug if he thought it was because of my stunning good looks or any other ridiculous reason I could come up with to get him irritated enough to grab the Bruiser and try, one more time, to throw it further than I had. With each throw I’d askBrandon to double check and make sure that I really HAD thrown it further and once when Dozer barked, I told Doug that his own dog had announced me Champion.

I don’t think Doug ever really got mad at all my trash talking but he did give me a few icy stares that made me check and make sure I had a clear sprint path up the trail back to the car if I needed to avoid a beating!

By now you’re probably wondering how this applies to my initial question about what constitutes mental toughness. Oftentimes in life we face situations that may cause doubts, fears, and hesitations to arise. Sometimes these negative emotions/feelings are legitimate and serve a definite purpose but there are also plenty of times when those feelings are either given to us by other people or they are never investigated, found to be erroneous, and discarded. This lack of investigation into our own beliefs can turn into a terrible habit that can cripple our growth and prevent us from fully experiencing the wonder of life. Even worse is when we build up defenses (which eventually turn into prisons) around these limiting beliefs and fall into a false sense of security that only spirals downward.

Mental toughness can be attributed to the ability to acknowledge those self-limiting beliefs and proceeding one step past them.  

Now I’m not saying that jumping into freezing cold water or having good friends trash talk you during a competition is some magical wonder of life, but these situations can be threatening enough to manifest our mental demons and pull us out of our comfort zone long enough to see that. While I may not get anything substantial out of immersing myself into this freezing hell, the opportunity to face limiting thoughts and conquer them at least THIS ONE TIME can have an amazing snowball effect that can lead to greater things in the future. While there may be no one waiting to hand me a trophy or belt as I conquered these demons, the feeling that I took one step past a limiting self-doubt is something that can never be given or, more importantly, taken away by anyone.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Scrapper for this weeks article.

 

“Myth”

By Jim Bryan

“Myth”*An imaginary or unverifiable   person or thing* 

Strength Training and Bodybuilding has it’s share of myth’s that seem to die very slowly. Many times people want to believe, even in the face of proof to the contrary. Myth drives or at least helps keep the commercial interests going in this Strength, Health, and Fitness field.In no particular order:1. You have to have supplements to succeed. The reality is that some supplements do help but why not fix your diet first?2. Functional Training. This is one of the big buzzwords now. Seminars are being held as I write this. They will show you how to balance on a ball, how to throw a medicine ball, how to balance on one leg. How much of this is needed and how much of it is pure bull hockey? Somehow we are being led to believe that the way we have been weight training is not “Functional.” Please! The fact that you are making your muscles stronger, more flexible, better conditioned is “Functional Training.” If you are lifting weights you have been doing it already. Just another gimmick for the latest Expert.

3. Pilate’swill not make your muscles longer! If you want to train that way, go ahead. But use your brain and don’t fall for the marketing.

4. You have to Olympic lift to be a successful athlete. Any method of Strength Training that allows you to progressively load your muscles safely will work. Period. Olympic Lifting can be that method but others have done JUST as well WITHOUT using it.

5. “HIT” is the   best way to Strength Train. Let me put this to rest. Most of the first generation that trained with Arthur Jones are not going to tell you this. What you will hear from them or me is: High Intensity Training is a Safe, Efficient, Practical, and Productive way to workout. The BEST way for you is what you’ll actually do. Getting in the gym to lift weights is the most important decision. The method is your choice. My opinion is to forget the latest “Bloat Freak’s” routine. He didn’t write it and he most likely   doesn’t do it. You’ll soon be reading about his fall do to health problems   anyway. Last conversation I had with Arthur Jones he told me he wouldn’t   change a thing except, he would not workout as often as he once did.

6. Women should not “Train like a Man.” Just what does this mean? I had a friend (Female trainer) tell my Wife this once. My Wife was doing a routine I made for her. Standard exercises in a pretty much free weight gym. She was doing squats, overhead presses, Benching etc. Just standard stuff. I never knew she was training “like a Man.” I just thought she was training.

7. Free weights are for Athletes and Machines are for the Fitness crowd. Who came up with this? This keeps coming up in any Discussion Board anywhere. It is not true! You can use either / or. You can use any combination. Use what you have. This is not worth the time wasted thinking about it. If you do use free weights MAKE darn sure you have a safe way of doing it. Use a power rack. If you don’t have one….GET one! Never train by yourself without one.

8. All machines are the same.Not true! Even to the casual user, some feel right and some just downright suck. I happen to like Leverage Machines. Pendulum is my choice. If you have a chance to go to a Trade Show for Exercise equipment, go! Try it all. Then decide what you want for your personal gym.

9. Drugs will turn you into a Bodybuilding Champion!You have to have the POTENTIAL first. Without POTENTIAL nothing will turn you into one of the cartoonish characters dominating Bodybuilding right now. BUT they may turn you into a   corpse.

10. Exercise Science. Much that is being passed around as Science in Strength Training and Conditioning is flawed. There are a lot of personal axes being ground.

I won’t   mention his name but most of you reading this know who I’m referring to. I know of one person that was really interested in the outcome of his studies. He really wanted to know the truth and he invested millions to find the truth, even if it proved him wrong.

11. Women that exercise with weights will develop large bulky muscles. Forget this! As long as you train in a safe practical way you’ll look great and feel better too. The Women Bodybuilders are not an example of anything except excess. Are they on drugs? Ya think?

12. All HIT trainees are brainiac geek’s that don’t actually work out. Who comes up with this crap? People that know me will tell you I’m for sure no Brainiac! I’m not even sure if I qualify as a HIT Trainee. According to the latest Internet expert I don’t. Anymore, I’m not sure if I want to.

13. HIT is one set per Body   part…only. Never was! Remember Pre-Exhaust? This is just another example of Internet experts opinion.

14. There are no examples of High Intensity Training success in Bodybuilding, sports, or anything having to do with athletic teams. Really? That is such a broad, crazy statement that I find it insulting to even think about. It insults many of my friends that are working their asses off in the NFL right now.

15. Arthur Jones has appointed a successor to carry on his legacy and training ideas. He could care less. Fact is when he’s gone much of what he has worked on will also be gone. He has never been given the respect from the Strength Training Science community that he deserves. His contribution to the advancement of Strength Training Science is largely unknown by the ones that would benefit the most. Who knows why? The fact is, he’s over it. He has “Sanctioned” no one. Has no interest in it. There are a number of Coaches and Trainers out there that have a great deal of knowledge gotten from Arthur and some of the first and second generation Nautilus group out of Lake Helen and Deland. There are a number of books and hundreds of articles written in the time it was “happening.” AND then there are the things written by the “experts” that think they know.

16. HIT is set in stone. My feeling is that it is still evolving and will continue.

17. Super Slow is HIT. Super Slow is a branch of HIT started during Osteoporosis studies that Arthur lost interest in. It developed into its own form of training later under Ken Hutchins and has been a successful protocol since.

18. You have to use “Split Routines” to be a successful Bodybuilder. Truth is “Split Routines” work for some better than others. Full body is a more Time efficient way to   train.

19. Over training is a major problem. I feel that many involved in High Intensity Training carry this too far. To the point of being afraid to “live.” Some that I come in contact with, could use some daily activity. That doesn’t mean I feel you should workout every day. But if you are afraid to carry out the garbage on a non training day, your carrying it to far. Yes, there are some in HIT that are obsessed.

20. A Certified Trainer is an Expert. I have found that this can be a problem if you go by this assumption. Would it surprise you if I said that many have no real clue? EVEN if they do train celebrities. Some of the “Gold-Standard” Certifying Org’s. Function as “Diploma Mills.” Many just benefit the Org. officers and not the members.

Strength Training and Bodybuilding can be a lifetime pursuit. It’s benefits are numerous for men and women, athletes and non-athletes. But like anything else there are many myth’s and half truth’s. The system or method you choose to use for your training doesn’t have to have a name. Just plain old “Training” is good enough.

Good luck, Good health, God speed.

TAKU’s NOTE: Yet another excellent article from my friend Jim Bryan. Thanks for sharing Jim.

Secrets to Performance Enhancement

Do you want to lose body fat, gain muscle, and feel more alert and energetic every day? Would you like to feel more productive at work and at play? Would you like to improve your concentration and memory? Well I can tell you the secret that may help you accomplish all of the above and more.

What is the secret you may ask? Is it some new wonder drug, or the latest super supplement from the eastern bloc? Is it a weekend with Tony Robbins or some other self-help Guru? No. All you need to help you get the most out of your fitness is SLEEP.

That is right sleep. Could it be that easy? Well for many of us it is not. Many of us find it difficult to get enough sleep these days. This lack of one of our simplest and most precious commodities may be what is keeping us from achieving our fitness goals.

There are many types of stress in our daily lives. There is work stress, relationship stress, financial etc. Stress is caused by both emotional and physical stimulus. We have a finite amount of recovery ability in our body and although we view exercise as a positive thing in our lives, it still adds to the pool of stress that we deal with on a daily basis.

Most of us know that to get the most out of our exercise plan we need to expose our bodies to new challenges and then allow the body to adapt to these challenges. This adaptation takes time and resources. If we overload our bodies with too much, too fast, too soon, we break down and become sick and or inured. If how ever, we give our bodies the time needed to adapt,

We slowly but surely get stronger and fit over time.

Sleep is our bodies’ natural repair and replenish cycle. When we get enough we are able to recover fully from the strain of not only exercise but also all the other stimuli we face daily. Too little and we start to break down.

Let’s look at a few ideas on how we may improve our ability to sleep, naturally.

  1. Stick to a bedtime. While this may seem obvious to most adults, going to bed and getting up at the same time, even on days off from work, is an essential key to obtaining a quality nights sleep.
  2. Have a comfortable mattress and pillow. You mattress and pillow are essential tools in helping you get a good nights sleep. Preferences vary from person to person, but there are many options including air mattresses, which adjust for firmness as well as new memory foams and other high tech and low-tech options.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both of these are stimulants and can keep your brain wired. Keep in mind that chocolate has small amounts of caffeine, so if you like chocolate desserts eat them at lunch instead of later in the day.
  4. Avoid large amounts of food or liquid within three hours of bedtime. Large amounts of food or liquid in your stomach before bedtime may result in heartburn, acid reflux and multiple trips to the bathroom.
  5. Make your bedroom cool and dark.  Turn down your thermostat so your bedroom is a few degrees cooler then the rest of the house. Also, reduce the amount of light in the room to create a dark, comfortable environment.
  6. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise 30 – 60 minutes a day can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.
  7. Avoid long naps. Daytime naps may take away from your ability to sleep. Limit your day time sleep to less then one hour and eliminate naps after3 PM. This will help ensure a good nights sleep.
  8. Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol may be relaxing but it will deprive you of REM* sleep. Constant deprivation of this type of sleep can result in depression a mood disorders.
  9. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn on relaxing music, take a hot bath within 80 minutes of bedtime, or pull out a fun book. Such activities aid in relaxation.

So, there you have it. Some simple tips on how to get a more restful nights sleep. Try incorporating some or all of these ideas into your sleep routine and you should reap the benefits of a well-rested and fully recovered body, mind and spirit.

PAU for NOW

TAKU