Building Unbreakable Immunity

Building a strong immune system can start now. Like, literally, right this second. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and the information that we’re being fed is incredibly conflicted. From numbers of infected to mortality rates. All of the charts seem to be different and all of the experts have an opinion. All of the politicians at the top have varying opinions and seem to be prioritizing politics over health. The media is fighting back and forth and pointing fingers at everyone. You’re being swamped with information that is, literally, impossible to dissect.

Like anything in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But even still, what would we do with the truth if we had it? Your knowledge of how serious or mild this situation is doesn’t change the situation. Now is the time to drown the noise out with silence and focus on what you can control. Take note of what you can do right now for you, your family, your friends, your fellow humans. Start with physically distancing yourself because we do know that this thing is highly contagious. Notice, I didn’t use the phrase “socially distance.” Yeeaaahh, so, that would be the worst thing you could do during a time like this. Stay social with the people you care about. Otherwise, we’ll all lose our minds.

As far as your health, I can tell you that in your personal space there are a handful of things you can use and that are at your disposal to ensure your immune system has a fighting chance. I’d say this to someone immunocompromised, I’d say this to the elderly, I’d say this to the healthy middle aged person.

#1 Breath work. There are many methodologies that could be used. In the video below, you’ll see my wife and I working through Wim Hof breathing that includes breath holds. The idea is to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system. Wim Hof has shown the world that is it possible to control one’s autonomic nervous system through breath work and cold water therapies. This means YOU get to decide if you want to be sick or not. This isn’t woo woo talk. This has been discussed, studied, and proven in University/Medical settings. It is a thing.

Also, find yourself consciously breathing more throughout the day. Let your breath create your movement. An example of that can be seen in the video below where I inhale to move myself up into space and exhale to move myself back to Earth. Think about that when you’re reaching into a cabinet for a bowl, when you’re sitting down on the couch, and with every movement of your next training session.

#2 Cold water therapy. You’ll see at the end of the breath video posted above an example of a cold water therapy called “cold water dousing.” This idea has been used by the Russians forever and those who practice seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to good health. Walk outside first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening and slowly pour cold water over yourself. The health benefits are incredible. I cover that HERE in a blog I wrote about dousing. Other methods would include ice baths, cold river/lake baths, and to a lesser extent, cold showers.

#3 Mushrooms. There is an incredible fear surrounding these sacred beings because of two things: #1 psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and #2 there is still so much uncharted territory when it comes to the study of fungi. Good thing, there has been extensive research in areas concerning certain mushrooms that should calm some of those fears. There are a handful of incredibly powerful mushrooms that positively affect our immune systems.

Agarikon Mushrooms, Reishi Mushrooms (The Mushroom of Immortality), and Turkey Tail Mushrooms are three mushrooms that pack a powerful punch when it comes to our health and immunity.

Agarikon has shown to have strong antibacterial properties that fight tuberculosis. It also has strong antiviral properties that have shown to fight off cowpox, swine and bird flu, and herpes.

Reishi has immune boosting properties, has shown to have anti cancer properties, is said to fight off fatigue and depression, and may have heart and blood sugar benefits.

Turkey Tail has many of the same benefits as Reishi with its antioxidants, immune system support, and cancer fighting properties. 

#4 Exercise. I’d be careful how intense you work simply because the immune system takes a bit of a hit from the stress of intense work. I’m not saying to not get after it, but maybe dial it back a little. Remember, when you work hard enough to create soreness, the soreness is because you’ve broken tissue down. Your immune system steps in to help you recover from that. Just like you being at work, if your immune system is spread too thin, there can be a price to pay. You should also have a great recovery protocol to lean on in between training sessions.

#5 Cardiorespiratory training should be at the forefront of your training. You don’t have to do anything crazy, but get those lungs working. Part of your morning routine should be a nice brisk walk. Move with purpose. Get a slow swim in, maybe a light jog, bike ride, or a hike through a nature trail.

#6 Nutrition. Keep it clean. An alkaline protocol would be best, but do what you can. Stay away from the inflammatory stuff and dig into the anti inflammatories. Stay hydrated with water, not sports drinks, alcohol, sodas, etc. Water. It’s what you’re made of and what you should replenish everyday.

The benefits of each of these ideas take hold almost immediately. Virus or not, this is a way to not only live, but to thrive.

Treat your mind, body, and spirit well and they will treat you well.

– Jason

Coffee, Wine, Bacon, and Fitness

The truth about some of your favorite indulgences

When you’ve gotten into a consistent fitness routine and finally started to feel good about the healthy choices you are making you tend to adopt a few new favorite foods along the way. At the top of the list for many folks are coffee, wine, and bacon. These foods are dietary staples in the fitness community and seem to fall somewhere in the category of “not bad enough to worry about and maybe even good for you.”Obviously with this kind of grey area it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the health benefits and potential pitfalls that can occur when eating these favorite foods.

Coffee

More than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed everyday in the united states alone. Coffee also happens to be the world’s number one source of antioxidants due to widespread consumption and high levels of polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Despite its amazing capacity to fight free radicals in our body most people reach for a “cup of joe” each morning for one reason only. That energizing boost of energy from it’s high caffeine content.

Caffeine has become a huge catalyst for many of us to have a productive start to our day. For some of us taking one day without it and WHOA, watch out! Caffeine is also a popular beverage choice before a workout due to the increase in focus, energy, and alertness that make us feel ready to perform. Caffeine has even been shown to reduce pain associated with exercise making it a truly powerful training partner. Caffeine may also create a more favorable environment in the cells of muscle tissue that facilitate force production.

It also turns out that a cup of coffee can be beneficial post workout as well. When we exercise our bodies utilize glycogen, a form of glucose stored in our muscles, as a fuel source. In one study it was observed that athletes who consumed caffeine with carbohydrates after exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles 4 hours later. This significant boost in glycogen storage means you have set the tone for success in your next workout in terms of available energy.

Challenges arise when the quantity and timing of caffeine consumption begin to interfere with rest and recovery. Caffeine has been shown to interrupt sleep even when consumed 6 hours before bed time. Individual caffeine sensitivity can vary from person to person so you need to really listen to your body.

Wine

Red wine has long been touted as “heart healthy” and the best choice if you do wish to drink. However if you are a competitive athlete, trying to build muscle, or on a mission to lose fat there really isn’t much of a place for alcohol in your diet. After all, alcohol is merely empty calories (it will only contribute to fat gain, not lean muscle growth) and interferes with sleep, testosterone production, and puts extra wear and tear on your already busy liver. If you do find yourself in a situation where a drink is fitting, red wine tends to be a better than cocktails and heavy beers when it comes to calories and sugar.

What about the heart health benefits and antioxidants in red wine, don’t those make a glass worth it a few times a week?

Yes and No. And mostly no…

The link between red wine and heart health is still unclear and a positive correlation between the two has not been found. Red wine also doesn’t seem to perform better than other alcohols in its effect on cholesterol and heart health. Some of the hype around red wine comes from its resveratrol content. Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skins of grapes. It is possible that resveratrol reduces LDL levels and prevents blood clots. Unfortunately to consume high levels of this nutrient means drinking more alcohol and creating other potential health problems. Resveratrol supplements may not be absorbed that well so look for other good sources in foods like blueberries, peanuts, and plain old unfermented grapes!

Bacon

Bacon. Crispy. Crunchy. Delicious.
Is there any dish that can’t be improved by its presence?
Bacon may be the most controversial and beloved food in existence. In the wake of the paleo dietary movement and a shift in the way our country views dietary fat intake bacon has become the “little cheat food that could” for folks in the fitness community.

Bacon is made from pork belly and contains high levels of both monounsaturated and saturated fats. Bacon contains the monounsaturated fat oleic acid which is found in other healthy fats like olive oil. Saturated fat, long considered a culprit of heart disease actually plays an important role in our body’s signaling mechanisms. The ratio of different fats in the diet, genetics, and lifestyle choices all contribute to how much saturated fat we can consume for our optimal health.

So it turns out that bacon may not be so bad for you after all, but you have to be choosy. You have to consider the quality of the pork and the processing it undergoes during the curing that transforms bacon into the product we all know and love. The process generally involves curing the cuts of pork belly with salt and sugar and then the application of heat through a smoking process. There is also generally the application of some form of nitrates or nitrites to help preserve quality and appearance of the bacon.

For starters when you select your bacon product focus on where the pork came from and how it was raised. The tops brands will be pasture raised or humanely raised and organic is definitely an appropriate choice for this food. Next you will want the ingredients list to be short and not too sweet. That means pork, water, sea salt, and a small amount of sugar in the form of brown sugar or maple syrup. If you see a long list of preservatives and words you don’t recognize steer clear.

Finally some brands will use different sources of nitrates, even if the brand claims to be nitrate free it will often contain an ingredient like celery powder which has naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates can convert to a carcinogenic compound known as “nitrosamines” under high temperatures. If you like your bacon crispy and brittle then you increase the chance of consuming these compounds. No fear, our body blocks the effects of these carcinogens in the presence of Vitamin C so grab a slice of orange or grapefruit with your bacon to play it safe!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to enjoy your “healthy” vices in the most appropriate ways possible. If you have questions about nutrition and how other dietary and lifestyle choices are affecting your training it can help to discuss them with a qualified coach who is experienced with nutrition as well.

Sugar: An Athlete’s Survival Guide

As an athlete or someone who cares about their health and fitness it is important to make dietary choices that are nutritious.

One of the biggest battles faced by Americans today is contending with the high amounts of sugar that seem to be everywhere in the foods that we eat. Sugar seems to sneak its way into many of the foods and drinks we consume daily without us even realizing it. This can be detrimental to our health, training, and body composition goals because sugar can provide unnecessary calories, impact our mood, alter cognitive function and energy levels, and impact so many other vital functions in our bodies.

Sugar, What it is?

Simple sugars are the most basic form of carbohydrates known as a monosaccharides. You will often hear these referred to as glucose, fructose, and galactose. These ringed structures are also the building blocks for larger compounds such as disaccharides like sucrose (table sugar), and polysaccharides like starch (foods like potatoes, corn, and wheat).

What does it do in my body?

Our body actually runs off the simple sugar known as glucose. With the exception of individuals in nutritional ketosis, our bodies actually require sugar to perform vital functions to survival. Our brain is actually the biggest sugar hog in our body and consumes approximately 120 grams of glucose daily, thats about 420 calories worth! That glucose can come from our diet or produced through a process called gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Even though our body loves glucose it needs to moderate the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. A steady stream of glucose is preferred to large amounts because consistent excessive amounts can cause problems in our bodies. Its like filling up the gas tank in your car. You need to put in the proper amount of fuel and have a maximal capacity for storage. You keep the fuel in the gas tank even though there is more room in the trunk of your car. If you filled your trunk with gasoline it would no longer serve its useful purpose as fuel and would be very dangerous.

What if I have too much?

To prevent our body from excessive glucose levels in the blood we have the hormone insulin to help store the glucose we don’t need as fat. This is like having those handy little red 5 gallon gas containers. When the tank of the car is full we simply start filling our storage containers to save the energy for later. Having a little bit of extra fuel on reserve is always nice, but we don’t need to store extra fuel every single day or we end up with a problem.

So when can I have sugar?

As an athlete sugar is important for refueling our body after exercise. This makes sure that we have enough fuel in the tank the next time we want to go for a drive. If we want to drive fast and race however we don’t want to carry any extra storage containers in the form of fat. That will only impede performance. Most of our diet should consist of healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables that will not spike our blood glucose levels.

If you have questions about the optimal food choices for your diet to optimize performance you need to work with an experienced coach who gets the best out of athletes. Nutrition is a highly personalized journey and can take some refining and tweaking to optimize. Once you dial in what is best for you there is nothing that can get in your way!

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.

5 Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips

“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” – Bob Knight

Many people have diligent post workout recovery routines including consuming protein shakes, supplements, and other key nutrients.

However, very few individuals give much thought to their pre-workout nutrition.

What you consume for fuel before you exercise should include more than just a stimulant based energy drink. It should contain the right types of fuel for your body and mind to meet the demands of the days activity. A great pre-workout nutrition routine will not only help your days performance but can help improve your daily energy levels, build lean muscle mass, and shed unwanted fat. It is essential for taking your performance to the next level.

Pre-Workout nutrition is unique for each individual. The types of foods, quantities, and ratios of macronutrients may need to be adjusted based on how you are feeling and performing. It is important to discuss all these factors with your coach so they can help you dial in on a plan that works best for you. Check out these 5 pre-workout nutrition tips to start creating a routine that works for you.

1. Leave time to digest

You want to consume the right amount of food to fuel your workout but not so much that it slows you down. Depending on body size and food choice the body will generally absorb about 300-400 calories per hour. That means a meal of approximately 30g of protein and 40g of carbohydrates an hour before your meal will be fully digested by the time you begin exercise. If you have ever tried exercising on a full stomach you the feeling of bloat as all of the blood is out of your working muscles and in your abdomen for digestion. If you continue to push through the exercise your body may try rejecting the remaining contents of the stomach. This is best avoided and makes proper pre-workout nutrition an easy choice.

2. Choose the right foods

The types of foods consumed are just as important as the quantities consumed. A balanced meal of low glycemic carbohydrates and high quality protein is the best choice. For carbohydrates the best foods to consume are fresh fruit like apples, berries, and oranges. For protein try grabbing a 4-6 oz. chicken breast or a shake containing 30 g of quality whey protein. Fats carry a high caloric load and are not an immediately available source of energy for high intensity activities like strength training so they are best left out of pre-workout meals in high quantities.

3. Avoid Certain Foods

Dairy products, spicy foods, and fibrous vegetables may not be the best choice for your pre-workout meal. They can cause cause discomfort on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is less than ideal when you are about to train. Feeling queasy, or running to the bathroom is not the best way to spend your time at the gym. As a rule of thumb, if you have to ask “will this food bother me?”, it is probably not the right choice.

4. Keep it consistent

The more you change up your pre-workout nutrition the greater chance you have of something going wrong. It’s best to be a bit boring when it comes to nutrition, especially when you are eating to live rather than living to eat. Eating the same foods every day around your training schedule is the best way to dial in exactly the foods and quantities that give you the best results.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

5. Keep it simple

The best routine is the one that you have the highest probability of following. When you plan your pre-workout meal consider the foods that you generally have access to and can properly prepare and take with you.

So there you have it. The top 5 pre-workout nutrition tips. If you have any other questions about diet or training reach out to one of our coaches and get started.

Missed Lifts and Threshold Training

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to lifting, there always seems to be an area for improvement.

As you train each day you are working hard to make progress and hit that next PR.

Some days when you’re pushing the weight you might feel your form start to break down. It might be a low catch on the clean you couldn’t quite rack or taking ten steps across the gym floor to stand up a snatch or jerk. You want your lifts to look snappy and butter smooth. A performance worthy of a super slow-mo breakdown to epic music like the folks on Hookgrip. Unfortunately your running man snatch is like that bad high school yearbook photo your girlfriend always laughs at.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

You’re working hard and no one is going to hold an ugly lift against you, but sometimes the best way to move forward is with a work smarter not harder approach. Working with an experience olympic lifting coach can help you tackle your weaknesses head on. There are many reasons why you could be missing lifts and many of them have nothing to do with your time in the gym. Sleep, nutrition, stress and recovery are all important areas to consider before addressing the training program itself. If you feel that things outside the gym are good then it is time to look at your training program as well as you as an individual athlete.

A proper training program should incorporate some form of periodization. This means alternating volume, intensity, and exercise selection in a fashion that keeps continuous long term progress. The program should address your goals and take into account the whole body of work. If you are missing lifts during a lifting session you first need to identify if the issue is technique based, strength based, or a mobility issue.

If it is technique based there are accessory drills to help you address the weak component of your lift. If it is strength based you can adjust the percentages you are working at to ensure you are able to successfully complete. You may also need to incorporate more strength work based on a strength inadequacy or imbalance. You may simply need to dial back volume to prevent neuromuscular fatigue. Mobility issues can be corrected by screening a series of movement patterns to identify where to tackle with stretching and mobilization.

Missing a lift during a lifting session has different implications than misses on olympic lifting movements incorporated in a metcon based workout. The first thing you have to remember is the intention behind the workout programming in terms of the energy system being taxed and desired physiological response. It wouldn’t make sense to incorporate Cleans at 90% of your 1 rep max into a workout designed to build aerobic capacity. The lift would slow you down too much in between attempts and make it challenging to repeat the efforts with an elevated heart rate. There could also be a discrepancy between movements that is holding you back. For example it may be dangerous to attempt snatches after performing grip taxing movements like deadlifts, pull ups, and kettlebell swings. Some workouts are designed to tax the grip and that is perfectly fine but you need to be smart about the goals of the workout to keep your training both safe and effective.

Finding a coach who can help you improve your technique, strength, and mobility is a surefire way to stop missing lifts! If you want to improve get in touch with us today!

Speed Is a Skill

Here is how to master it…

Depending on your sport the importance of speed could be a defining characteristic of your success. Naturally track and cross country athletes want to run fast, but speed can help in almost all team and individual sports where strength and conditioning comes into play. Whether you’re a running back who needs to hit the gap just a split second before the linebacker can wrap you up or a basketball player who needs to explode past the defender for a layup speed can be your best friend on the field or court. Given all else, a faster athlete tends to be a better one and luckily many of the defining characteristics of speed are skill based. That means they can be trained and improved upon. It is important to work with a coach who can teach you the skills and mechanics you need to learn. When improving speed is the focus you need to make progress in at least one and possibly all 3 areas of strength, mobility, and mechanics.

Strength

An athlete can become faster by improving their absolute strength and relative strength to their body weight. This can be achieved through a combination of resistance training and plyometric exercises. Heavy squats and deadlifts will help develop the the motor unit recruitment and force production ability of the leg muscles. Plyometric exercises like box jumps will strengthen connective tissue and improve the stretch shortening cycle in the muscle. Athletes will grow stronger and more powerful and this will directly correlate with increases in speed. Working with a coach who is well versed in speed development will help you get results quickly as well as stay injury free.

Mobility

Improving mobility, the ability of your joints to move freely and easily can directly improve your speed. This is primarily due to the increase in stride length when the hips, knees, and ankles have full range of motion. This allows for greater muscular contraction due to the body having a higher threshold for motor recruitment. Your coach should explain the proper way to dynamically stretch, warmup, cooldown, and mobilize as a part of your program. It is important to discuss any past injuries with your coach so they can help you to the best of their ability.

Mechanics

The foundational movement pattern of running is a skill just like any other. Learning how to generate power through the proper mechanics can be a game changer for many athletes and may make you feel like you are running for the first time all over again. The timing, stride length, ability to change directions, and use both the arms and legs for explosive movement are all essential skills to improve speed. Your coach will be able to address your unique needs and provide the proper guidance to dial in your mechanics.

If you are serious about improving speed to crush it in your sport seek out one of our coaches to develop a training plan to reach your goals.

Eat This Not That!

Easy food swaps to keep you fit.

Is there anything like a piping hot slice of pizza sliding out of the oven? How about a heaping mountain of nachos in front of you during the game or a tall stack of pancakes for weekend brunch?

As you look to improve your diet you may have struggled to give up certain foods. Knowing how to make a few simple ingredient changes can have a major impact on your nutrition and health. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice any of the delicious foods you love. Whether you are an athlete, a mom, a busy working professional, or maybe even a combination of all three of those, making healthy diet choices easier is something you can benefit from. Try these a few of these easy switches to make any meal healthier!

“You are what what you eat eats.” -Michael Pollan

A twist on pasta

Spaghetti dinner is a staple in many American diets but if you are focused on eating healthy you have to tread lightly. The calories and carbohydrate content of pasta adds ups quick. Even alternative pastas that are gluten free are still calorie dense foods to keep an eye on. A better choice is to try veggies like spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini. Combined with a low sugar tomato sauce and a healthy serving of lean protein pasta night can take on a whole new meaning of health.

A new slice on pizza

Pizza can be tough to navigate as your range of options is so vast. Some local joints may use great quality ingredients but still pack a caloric punch. National chains should be totally avoided with the processed ingredients and additives that make up their knock-off pies. Since most of us would love to keep pizza in our lives it is important to develop a system of eating it that supports your diet and lifestyle goals. Gluten free has become a buzzword and marketing tool used to attract new customers. I’m not here to have the GF debate about whether or not your body can digest it, I’m saying that a pizza crust made from processed starches that happen to not have gluten does not make them any healthier. Luckily you have a few options…

One method is to limit total intake, order a pizza with as many veggies and proteins on it as possible and limit yourself to one slice of the crust. Or you can try finding a restaurant that has or making your own cauliflower crust pizza. This is a great low carb alternative that lets you reach for another guilt-free slice.

Flip what you sip

It’s easy to forget the calories that are found in drinks. A study conducted by Harvard found that women who consumed sugar sweetened drinks daily tended to consume more calories daily and gained weight. Meanwhile women who eliminated sugar sweetened beverages tended to consume fewer calories and demonstrated better body composition. Scientists believe that drinking calories doesn’t provide the same signaling mechanisms in the body as food does. Basically our body doesn’t recognize it has consumed calories and the subsequent insulin spike can leave you feeling energy depleted and hungry.

Soda, juice, and alcohol don’t really belong in your diet if you are trying to build muscle or burn fat. If you are looking for a fun drink try reaching for a juice made from vegetables like kale and collard greens, powerful nutrients like ginger root, and maybe a dash of lemon or lime juice. Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage, can be a great option as well provided you find a low sugar variety (always read the label) and of course there are many great flavored sparkling and seltzer water options out there.

The Burger Swap

One of the toughest foods to give up can without a doubt be the hamburger. Before you part ways with this American classic let’s figure out a way for you to still enjoy your cheeseburger in paradise…

There are two ways to clean up this delicious food. One way is to eliminate the bun. Replace it with a collard greens wrap or two pieces of fresh romaine lettuce. Two large portobello mushrooms can also do the trick if you have them available (Pro tip: Grill the mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side with a little oil, salt, and pepper).

The second way to clean up your burger is to make sure you have a patty made from high quality grass fed beef or organic ground turkey. Balance the fats you use as topping and try swapping out the cheese for some fresh avocado slices.

Pancake, stacked to jacked

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes or belgian waffles are a staple of weekend brunch. Instead of shooting for the white flour varieties though try a cleaner approach next time. Start with the batter. Substituting bananas and ground flax meal, almond, or coconut flour are a much better alternative. Keep an eye on the fat content if using nut flours as they are very calorie dense. Make sure you have a ratio of at least one egg per pancake or add a scoop of protein powder to the mix to keep the macronutrients balanced. Top with fresh berries and grass fed butter and avoid the powdered sugar and whipped cream. Also be sure to spring for real maple syrup over any of the high fructose corn syrup versions. It is packed full of antioxidants and so sweet that just a teaspoon will go a long way in terms of flavor.

If you want to learn more about eating healthy and getting in shape then talk to a coach today.

We can develop a plan for you to help you achieve your goals!

Ditch the Bench…

The top 8 Press variations you should be training instead

There are an incredible number of options of exercises to train the chest and shoulder muscles. Yet most athletes stick with the same barbell and dumbbell presses year after year. When it comes to training upper body pressing there are many alternative movements that will improve strength and mobility.

If you’re reading this it might just be time for you to ditch the barbell bench and strict press. These exercises are great for building pure strength, but without some variability in your training could leave you vulnerable to injury in other ranges of motion. Selecting a wide assortment of pressing exercises to train your chest, shoulders, and triceps is best for an athlete who is serious about long term growth and success in their sport.

Ideally working with a coach who can program the best drills and exercises will optimize your training. Here are the top 8 movements that will help you build strong healthy chest and shoulder muscles and convey other performance benefits as well.

  • Behind The Neck Push Press
  • Z Press
  • Filly Press
  • Plyometric Pushups
  • One Arm Dumbbell Bench
  • Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press
  • The Sots Press
  • Landmine Press

Behind The Neck Push Press

The push press performed from behind the neck is a great exercise for developing strength through the full range of motion of the press. It has high transfer to other exercises like the jerk. Many athletes find they are able to develop better neural connection between the dip and drive portion of the lift than when performed in the front rack because the load stays directly over their hips.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” -Thomas Jefferson

Z Press

Named after the strongman Zydrunas Savickas, the Z Press is a press performed sitting flat on the floor with legs extended in front so your body is in an L shape. It requires trunk strength, hip flexor mobility, hamstring flexibility, and lumbar and thoracic spine health. The Z press can be performed with any implement of your choice and is great for training out inefficient movement patterns in the press.

Filly Press

This is a 1 arm dumbbell Arnold Press while holding a Kettlebell in the front rack position of the non-working arm. This exercise is great for building scapular stability as well as core strength as you balance the two different implements throughout the press. `These are also great for address muscle imbalances.

Plyometric Pushups

The ability to generate power can often be beneficial to athletes. Lifting heavy loads slow is generally not as useful as rapidly being able to generate force. Plyometric push-ups provide a way to train the fast twitch muscle fibers of the chest and triceps. You also achieve a stimulus as you receive your body’s weight during the eccentric deceleration experienced after every rep.

One Arm Dumbbell Bench

One arm movements are great for challenging stability and core strength. For an added challenge try performing this movement with only your upper back resting on the bench while driving your heels into the floor and bridging the hips to full extension.

Bottoms up kettlebell Press

The bottoms up kettlebell press is a very challenging movement that should be learned with extremely light loads. It is tremendous for teaching proper pressing mechanics and learning how to develop stability in the shoulder. You are forced to stay engaged with a tight grip, elbow underneath the wrist, and tension in the total system.

The Sots Press

The Sots press is an tremendous strength and mobility exercise created by weightlifters but beneficial for all. This movement requires you to press from the bottom of a front squat and will force you to increase mobility and strength in the hips, back, and shoulder girdle, while increasing core stabilization. Clearly this movement has huge carry over to athletics and completing it with a moderate load is very impressive.

Landmine Press

The landline is a great tool for developing pressing strength in the upper chest and shoulders. It is effective because it provides a new vector to move weight through and disrupts the vertical resistance curve you are used to with most pressing movements.

There you have it. The 8 pressing variations you should be training!

When implementing new movements or routines into your training safety is the most important factor to focus on. Working with an experienced coach to learn the proper progressions is the key to having long term success!

Differences between CrossFit and Orange Theory

Group fitness training is a highly effective way to train.

Two popular methods of group training are CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness. If you have been trying to find a fitness program to help you get stronger, lose weight, or improve your health and energy you may have had some questions about the program for you. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness to help you make an informed decision on these training options.

A key difference

One of the key differences to know between CrossFit and Orangetheory is that CrossFit gyms are affiliated and Orangetheory is a franchise. CrossFit affiliation means that the location and it’s coaches are certified in the CrossFit Methodology, the workouts, class structure, and equipment used is dictated by the individual owner. Orangetheory Fitness is a franchise so workouts, equipment, and class structure will be standardized amongst locations.

The Movements

CrossFit places an emphasis on functional movement and work capacity. Functional means movements that transfer over to everyday life, using your body to perform the movement it is capable of. Work capacity means being able to perform a certain body of work in a given amount of time. This requires you to standardize movement and lets you measure where progress. If you used to be able to perform 15 pushups in one minute and now you can perform 22 pushups in a minute you improved your work capacity.

CrossFit combines gymnastics, weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, monostructural (run/row/bike), and calisthenics movements in a variety of combinations. The program will generally reflect the style and background of what the gym owner is most comfortable teaching and believes will achieve the best results. For this reason you can witness unique fitness programming at each gym that you attend. You will learn the foundational movements CrossFit teaches like squatting and pressing. The great thing about CrossFit is that each movement and workout can be tailored to fit your unique needs. If a movement is outside your comfort zone then your coach can provide you with an alternative movement that replicates the movement pattern, but may be lighter weight or less technically demanding. Each individual in the class will get a similar result from the workout even though they have a wide range of strength and ability levels. Everyone moves forward together.

“Typically the world’s best athletes are minimalists when it comes to their training. They work hard and fast with few exercises. They master the fundamentals and work with them for years. This is the secret that no one wants to hear.”
-Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit

Orangetheory Fitness incorporates a combination of movements into their classes as well. Participants will run, row, and perform some light resistance training or calisthenics in a high intensity circuit style. You will generally not lift heavy weights and more emphasis is placed on the cardio component in these classes.

“We have a walker category, jogger category, and runner category. With this language I eliminated that fear people have when they walk in like, “oh no I’m not going to fit in.”
-Ellen Latham, Founder of Orangetheory Fitness

Class Structure

A CrossFit class generally consists of a discussion of the days workout and group introduction, a group warm-up, a strength or skill component, a metabolic training component known as the “workout of the day” or “WOD”, and a cool down or stretching session. These sessions are usually an hour long and are always lead by a coach who is certified by CrossFit.

Often times the gym will utilize specific programs designed to improve your strength in a particular lift or muscle group. Improving strength in compound lifts like the squat and deadlift recruits more high threshold motor units and is the most effective way to get stronger. This is a huge area where CrossFit differs from many other popular fitness programs. To truly perform at high intensity the workout must be designed for you to maintain intense effort in a single bout or multiple efforts with rest in between. The longer the duration of the exercise the less intensity you will be able to maintain.

Many programs just keep you moving for long lengths of time that merely grind you down. You might get sore or sweaty but you don’t improve in any measurable way. Learning how to safely and effectively lift heavy loads is a great way to improve muscle mass, burn fat, and build strong bones and joints. You should leave your workout feeling empowered to take on other tasks in your life.

Orangetheory utilizes heart rate monitors to keep you aware of your metabolic output. Your heart rate corresponding with an intensity zone is displayed for you to view. Each class will have you spend time exercising in different zones. Measuring your exertion allows you to improve your fitness if you are able to manage your heart rate in set zones for set durations of time. Similar to CrossFit you will spend time performing a warm-up, both strength training and cardio elements, and a cooldown. More emphasis is placed on the heart rate to achieve a cardiovascular response.

Cost

When it comes to your health the cost of a fitness program is always a great investment. CrossFit is usually purchased as a monthly membership with common options being unlimited classes or 3x per week. The cost typically ranges between $100-$250 with the biggest factors being what the gym offers balanced with cost of living in the area. You can usually begin with a free trial or consult to see how well you like it. The coaches will want to meet you to learn about your goals and any concerns you may have before you begin so they can set you up for success.

Orangetheory Fitness is a more informal process. You can purchase memberships for 4 times, 8 times, or unlimited classes each month with prices ranges from $59-$159.

Summary

Both CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness are popular ways to train. In CrossFit you can expect more specific programming, a tighter community, and a great focus on strength development and functional training. Orangetheory Fitness is a bit more of a generic way to train and you can expect an upbeat cardio training session with less focus on weight training. Finding a gym that meets your specific needs is the key. A great coach is going to ask you about your goals, injuries, and experience levels. It’s all about finding a program that fits into your budget and lifestyle and most importantly delivers the results you want!