Check Your Ego at the Door


“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.”

-Ryan Holiday

As an athlete you know how to work hard. You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal. The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?

In his book Ego is the Enemy, author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness. Avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.

Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?

In this moment you were probably not taking the best course of action. Not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.

Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete and need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.

The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Often times they think themselves invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.

Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly outcomes of a situation you will be in a much better place to decide and act.

Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams”. If you can be realistic with your current standing or status it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.

How about in the gym-are you checking your ego when you train?

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat.

They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. To tell you exactly the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.

If you have a health goal you want to achieve don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out today to speak with with one of our trainers.

Maximize Your Macros


A Consumer’s guide to Fat, Carbs, and Protein…

Diet and nutrition are a highly individual journey and no one answer is true or right for everyone. The simple fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, you have to figure out what works best for you. However there are some overarching philosophy that can channel your approach to healthy eating. When you figure out a style and frequency in your relationship with food that works well you will notice improvements in energy levels, focus, mood, and of course physical performance.

Fats

Paleo, Ketogenic, and Atkins diet have helped change many of the negative perceptions of fat in the diet. As Americans a far bigger threat to our health is a diet that contain high sugar and processed foods.Fats are not only not bad for you but are an essential source of fuel and micronutrients that make us healthy. It’s important to choose the right types and amounts of fats in your diet that let you operate at your best.

The chemical structure of a fat or fatty acid determines what role it will play in our bodies. Based on this structure we are able to classify fats in certain classes that share similar characteristics.

Fats can be divided into saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in red meat and coconuts and up until recently have gotten a bad rap as culprits of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s which can be found in fatty fish, flax seeds, and walnuts and are associated with a variety of health benefits.

Fats are essential for energy requirements, hormone production, and make up the wall of every cell in your body. They are also directly related to our immune system and having the right ratio of fats is very important for a healthy inflammation response.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found across a wide variety of foods and depending on the structure of the molecule our body will respond to eating carbs in very different ways. Carbohydrates have a direct relationship with the glucose levels or blood sugar in our bodies. When our blood glucose levels become elevated our body releases a hormone called insulin to store this extra energy for later when we might have a greater need for it. This glucose is stored in the muscle and liver in long chains known as glycogen or the glucose can be stored in adipose tissue to be utilized later (aka fat storage).

Your goal should be to optimize the amount of carbs that are being stored as glycogen and minimizing excess carbs that would contribute to fat stores. Selecting the right types of foods like vegetables are beneficial because they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a food increases our bodies glucose after consumption. High GI foods include white bread, white rice, and cereals. These foods can be very bad for your waistline, because if your body is not prepared to receive fuel and store it as glycogen they will immediately be stored as fat.

Our bodies can become insulin resistant and requires higher and higher amounts of insulin to store the glucose. Resistance training however, can increase our insulin sensitivity. That means that our cells are highly responsive to storing glucose when insulin is present. Focus on consuming low glycemic carbohydrates that provide key nutrients and avoid high sugar or refined ingredients.

Protein

Protein is found in and comprises most of the cells in our body. It is found in a variety of animal and plant sources. Protein is important because it contains amino acids, tiny molecules that are the building blocks of muscle and also used for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Some of these amino acids are considered essential meaning they must be provided from a dietary source. Without these essential amino acids we will not be able to repair our tissues and certain vital processes will cease to happen.

Since protein helps us recover from and perform optimally during our workouts it is important to consume after a workout for muscle repair. Real food sources of protein include beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. Try to include these foods as staples in your diet. These foods have amino acid content that is similar to what our human body requires for repair. This is also known as the biological value of the protein. Vegetable sources of protein have a lower biological value and may lack one of the essential amino acids needed by humans. These foods must be strategically combined by vegans or vegetarians so they consume all the amino acids needed for tissue repair. As a vegan athlete it can be challenging to meet your needs without supplementation and can be difficult to get a full spectrum of key micronutrients.

Try to consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound man (90 kg) that means 90 grams to 135 grams of protein per day. This will provide enough amino acids for your bodies daily needs. Unfortunately eating more protein doesn’t mean it  automatically turns into muscle. Unused protein will be broken down and utilized as a fuel source by the body.

Hopefully knowing a little bit more about each of the macronutrients and how they act in your body will help you to make informed decisions. 

5 Tips To Boost Your Squat


“There is never an absolute answer to everything, except of course that you have to do your squats.” – Mark Rippetoe

The one exercise that we all know and love is truly the foundation of any strength and fitness conditioning program. Today there is enough equipment and variations to have you perform a different set of squats every day for a year. Depending on your sport, your goals, and who you get your information from there is a lot of terrific and some questionable advice when it comes to squatting. Today let’s explore 5 ways you can boost your squat and stay strong and healthy in the process.

 

  • Learn how to sit into the squat

 

Many individuals are familiar with the cue to “sit back” into a squat. This cue is problematic because it causes an anterior pelvic tilt that will cause the athlete to experience a rounding of the low back as they get deeper into a squat, commonly referred to as a butt wink. The goal should be to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire squat.

Practice sitting into a squat by initiating the movement at the hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously. This allows you to keep an upright torso as you lower your body straight down into the squat. Put a stool, box, or medicine ball at a height close to the bottom depth of your squat. Practice lowering to this height and stay engaged with a neutral spine. Use a video camera or grab a friend to learn at what point in the squat your low back starts to round.

 

  • The truth about “knees out”

 

The Vagus Knee fault is term used for a lifters knee’s tracking inside the foot, essentially “caving in” during a squat. This is generally due to weakness or an inability to activate the lateral hip rotators and abductors. To correct this fault practice your squat with a mini band wrapped around your knees so you have to actively drive your knees out against the tension of the band. Another correction would be to practice tempo or pause squats that allow your body to develop more muscle memory in these positions.

Keep in mind that just because you don’t want the knees to cave inside the feet doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to drive the knees far out past your feet either. For most individuals the knee and thigh should stay aligned with the foot throughout the movement. By driving the knees out too far in the bottom of a squat you will increase risk of injury as well.

There is some natural flexion of the knee when you squat, but we don’t want wide variance of the knee during a squat, it should be small. Large movements are a weakness that needs corrected.

 

  • Amplify the signal

 

Learning how to breathe properly during a squat can provide a tremendous advantage to your strength and stability. Inhale fully into the stomach creating intra-abdominal pressure before initiating any heavy lift. This creates a solid wall of pressure around the internal organs, chest, and of course the spine allowing you to keep proper form under heavy loads where you may lose your position if not properly braced.

The other benefit of creating this pressure is that amplifies the signals from your brain telling your muscles to contract. This might just give you the little extra push you need to stand up that weight.

 

  • Learn how to get under the bar

 

One of the biggest areas for rapid improvement in the squat come from approaching it as a full body exercise. The legs are the primary drivers of the squat movement, but by activating your your core and upper body properly you will be able to generate significantly more power.

One of the most common reasons for missing a rep in the squat is failing to keep a strong upright torso position. One way to prevent this is to step under the bar like you mean business. As you step under the weight and find the proper position across your traps stand up powerfully under the weight. Pull the bar against your body as if you were trying to wrap it around you like a blanket. This will help you activate your lats, a key factor in staying strong throughout the movement. Finally as you lower into the bottom of your squat squeeze the barbell as if you were trying to crush it in your hands.

 

  • Power through your sticking point

 

At first thought you might think that the sticking point (the hardest part of the lift, slowest point of acceleration) would be in the very bottom of the squat but that is not actually the case. The sticking point of the movement is generally encountered as you try to stand up the weight but can’t seem to push through. That’s because your body is at a point where the muscles are at their lowest possible capacity to generate force. At the bottom of the squat the muscles are fully stretched and able to generate “elastic” energy. As you start to stand the stretch is released. The sticking point occurs because the muscles are not at an optimal stretch that generates passive energy but they have not fully returned to a position where they are able to generate enough active tension to overcome the load.

If you find yourself hitting a sticking point in your squats you can train your muscles to become stronger at this particular range of motion. Practice pause squats where you hold in this challenging position for a few seconds. If you still find yourself struggling with the sticking point focus on generating more speed out of the bottom of your squat. Often times this momentum can carry you through the sticking. Make sure the bar keeps moving.

5 Reasons To Find Your Tribe


The word tribe may conjure up the image of native americans working together in a small village or a handful of cavemen chasing after a wooly mammoth with crude spears. Tribes have been an essential part of human existence for a long, long time. And guess what? Today they are more prevalent than they have ever been before.

By the end of this read you’ll have 5 reasons to go out and find your own tribe.

“A Tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to each other, a leader, and an idea.” -Seth Godin

The tribes of today certainly have a different look and feel than any image you may conjure up and for good reason. We are now fancy and well off 21st century people that have less need to collaborate for survival in that whole hunter-gatherer fashion. Today we have the iPhone X, the interwebs, and virtual reality glasses. We gather in online communities to fight for causes we believe in, ping our friends when it is time to celebrate a special occasion, and tune in to our favorite artists, athletes, and actors to hear them live from anywhere in the world. There is an incredible opportunity to connect like never before.

There’s just one problem. Despite the incredible technological advances people are feeling more alone and unheard than ever before. We have unlimited information, but don’t always know where to start when we want to make a change. There is a conflicting facet to social networks that make people oddly enough, antisocial.

If you feel like you’re not being heard in the noise it is probably because you’re not connected with the right people. If there’s an area in your life that feels like it is lacking, it’s probably because it needs to be filled with the right tribe. Your tribe.

So what exactly are the benefits of finding your tribe? Let’s dive in…

 

  • Tribes help raise your awareness

 

Like Seth Godin says, a tribe is connected to each other, a leader and an idea. If you already have an idea, for example, I want to improve my health and fitness. Now it is time to find a leader and some friends who are on the same track as you. So often people go on personal crusades to make make a change in their life but they stay in the same environment. By joining forces with your new tribe you will be in a heightened state of awareness with a focus on the habits and activities that your particular tribe engages in.

 

  • Tribes create an instant network for success

 

Members of a tribe gain the privilege of caring for one another. When a group of diverse people are able to collect in one place they bring an extensive background of knowledge, contacts, and opportunities to the table. They form a bond over the common interest of the tribe and are able to assist one another based on unique skill sets, each person has strengths they can use to help their neighbor.

 

  • Tribes create positive social pressure

 

When you surround yourself with people on a similar mission every individual action has an effect on the group. Individuals will feel the urge to act and perform in a manner that is congruent with the groups goals. That means increased accountability and less stumbling on the part of the individual.

 

  • Tribes help you feel a sense of belonging

 

Sebastian Junger in his recent book Tribe:On Homecoming and Belonging, discusses how modern society has been successful in so many ways, but as wealth goes up so does depression. That is because in our daily lives we no longer experience codependence and using our survival instincts. Our brains and bodies are equipped to function in 30-40 person groups taking on a harsh environment that no longer naturally occurs. He has worked closely with military troops and identified that a platoon in combat experiences this feeling at a high level and subsequently experiences a new deepness in their relationships.

What does this mean for you? Enduring hardship and struggle (even if it is voluntarily chosen) with a group will bring you closer together and provide you with a sense of belonging that is so primal to us.

 

  • Make a difference that is bigger than you

 

Let’s not forget that tribes are also connected around an idea. Achieving a goal or raising awareness to a cause is great but that effect is magnified when you help others do the same. Decisions that carry more weight in their effect will provide a deeper sense of meaning to the individual because they know they are making the world a better place.

Now find your tribe and make a ruckus!

 

How Eating Better Makes You Feel Better


Nutrition is an individual journey. We owe it to ourselves to determine which foods and what style of eating works best for our bodies. Just like learning any new skill, nutrition takes practice.

The goal should be to develop an approach to eating that makes you feel great, maintain a healthy body, and achieve your goals. We all run into moments of weakness around food, but if your current diet makes you feel angry or sad on a daily basis it’s time for a change.

Let’s take a look at some different ways that eating better can make you feel better:

Improved mental function


Our brain is the control center of the body and just like our muscles and organs it requires fuel to keep it going. In fact, some studies have shown that the brain uses up to 20% of our body’s daily energy.

Focusing on eating to improve our brains function is a great way to feel better. 
The brain loves wild fish like salmon and mackerel. That’s because these fish contain omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA. DHA helps our brain send signals to our body and improves our memories. Try adding 1-2 servings of wild caught fish each week to get an optimal dose.


The foods we eat determine the way our body and mind perform. Next time you reach for that donut try to picture how your brain will run using the donut as fuel. Instead look for some fresh veggies and hummus, a handful of nuts, or a stick of turkey jerky to give your brain some jet fuel to run on.

Add Muscle, Burn Fat

The battle to fit back in those jeans from college starts and ends in the kitchen. No amount of exercise can overcome an unhealthy diet. Figuring out the right foods in your diet is the key to unlocking your ideal body composition. Imagine how good it would feel to go out on your anniversary wearing the suit from your wedding rehearsal! Protein is known for building muscle but it can do more for your body than help you recover after a workout.

Set the bar at breakfast. A high protein breakfast is one of the best ways to improve body composition. Studies have shown that consuming 30g of protein at breakfast helps with satiety and improves glycemic control. This means less desire to snack on high carbohydrate or sugary snacks later in the day. One study showed that participants who ate a high protein breakfast on average consumed 441 calories fewer each day!

Foods that light you up

Eating is often thought of for fueling performance, but food plays another important role as the building block of our cells. Certain foods help build healthy hair, skin, and nails.

If you’re looking for a youthful glow and to get carded until you’re 50 try these 3 superfoods:

  • Avocado. Rich in vitamins A, D , E, and many phytonutrients; avocado promote supple skin, help prevent environmental damage and prevent signs of aging.
  • Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, an essential nutrient for forming collagen which holds hair particles together.
  • Lentils contain Folate, a B vitamin needed to repair cells in your fingernails and skin.  

Get Creative


Preparing meals from whole foods can be a fun and relaxing part of the day. Learn how to season dishes using herbs, spices, and complementary pairings. This eliminates “empty calories” from your diet that show up in sugary sauces and dressings.

Eating is a time for bonding and camaraderie, get together with family and friends to create a new dish. Focus on great conversation, chewing your food, and turning off the TV and electronics. By giving new meaning and tradition to your meals, eating can be a source of enjoyment beyond just the food.

 

4 Myths about CrossFit that may suprise you


I won’t “fit” in.

When you show up to a CrossFit gym, you’ll find a different scene than the one you saw on television. Guess what else? You might be farther along in your fitness journey than other people attending the class…

It’s surprising, but one of the biggest factors keeping people from the gym is not being as fit as they want to be. What a catch-22! So, before you rule yourself out from being able to complete the Workout of the Day (or “WOD” in CrossFit lingo) let’s try to view the situation with fresh eyes.

As CrossFit has grown in popularity you’ve seen the well-muscled men and women of the CrossFit Games. As you watch them run, jump, and hoist tremendous weights overhead you think to yourself “I could never do that.”

So, what do you need to do? Try to reach out to a local CrossFit gym and see what it’s like. Like in the popular romantic comedy, Hitch, when the date doctor played by Will Smith teaches his client to move in for a kiss. The man moves in 90% of the distance and lets the woman come in for the final 10%. That’s where CrossFit is going to meet you. By opening the door, you will have access to a supportive and accepting community.

Your coach will help you “scale” to give a similar workout as those athletes on TV. The difference will be with lighter weights, shorter duration, or fewer repetitions. Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses, but they are always there for each other.

CrossFit will make me too big/bulky.

Getting too muscular is a common fear that many women have when they deliberate strength training programs. Developing bigger muscles is a process called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy will occur with a consistent resistance training routine. Training volume, caloric consumption, and hormones all play an important role in the growth of new muscle. Any person you see that appears to muscular may spend as much time training as you do at your full-time job. With that said, it’s one piece of the puzzle and most likely won’t happen on accident.

Most athletes find that lose inches in all the right places even with increased muscle. Clothes fit better, they have a healthy appetite, and even look better naked!

Don’t a lot of people who do CrossFit get injured?

Do people get injured participating in CrossFit. Yes.

They also get injured while jogging, moving furniture, walking their dogs, and shaving their legs in the shower. Injuries come from a lack of focus, preparation, or by not listening to our bodies. In fact, the injury incidence in CrossFit fits into a category with most other recreational training activities.

The functional movements used in CrossFit model the movements we complete in everyday life. Practicing fundamental movement patterns reduces the risk of injury and helps us become more confident and competent. A quick internet search will show you the tremendous success stories of individuals who have used CrossFit to overcome past injuries and debilitating diseases.

CrossFit will make me worse at my sport.

If you have concerns, talk to a CrossFit gym who has trainers with experience in your sport of choice; football, baseball, triathlon, golf, and snowboarding athletes all can use the CrossFit method. CrossFit can support their sport with workouts built around the various stages of their competitive season.

CrossFit is “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” It is a system of general physical preparedness (GPP). Being more prepared can benefit all athletes as they adapt to and overcome the rigors of their sport.

CrossFit is also designed to increase work capacity. Moving loads that are heavier, moving them faster, or moving them farther are all examples of increased work capacity. A football player who can perform more work will be stronger on each play he participates in. Increased work capacity will help an individual and team succeed in any sport!