Ever wonder if you’re doing enough? Enough to get strong, enough to make ends meet, or what about enough to live a longer healthier life?
As a strength coach I’m always wondering these things. I wonder for myself and I wonder for my clients. After all, they are putting their lives – more or less – in my hands.
Last weekend I attended the Strength Matters Summit here in Chicago and a few points stood out to me. I feel every person needs to have them whether they want to get strong or simply stay/get healthy and live longer.
Who would think that something as simple as breathing would be mentioned on this list? If you currently train with me or have trained with me in the past 2 years you already know the importance I place on proper breathing mechanics.
100% of the people I work with have a problem with their breathing patterns to some degree.
Why does this matter and how will it make you strong and live longer?
Live in a state of Zen. Phil Jackson and Yogi’s should have no problem with that…
Here’s the problem – your brain perceives the way you currently breathe as a threat.
As crazy as that may sound, it is the case and you don’t even know it. In the world today we have numerous stimuli that are omnipresent. Your cell phone being the biggest one of them, and I admit, I’m guilty of this as well.
When you’re focused so intently on your phone while walking the streets, sitting on the bus, or even just sitting in front of the computer, chances are your breath is very shallow and short. This creates a lack of apical expansion (think lung inflation) and actually leads to the hunched posture you think is being created by sitting at your desk all day.
In addition, your brain associates this style of breathing as a “threat.” Think of the fight or flight response. A whole range of effects trickle down that not only inhibit your performance but can also cause adverse health effects. For example; digestion slows, mental clarity becomes foggy, and your ability to move freely is restrained.
For those reasons I give someone a balloon and teach them how to breathe properly, it’s as if they’ve instantly become someone “new.” They stand taller, feel lighter, and move freely.
Check out this video of how you can instantly achieve all of these feelings in a matter of 60 seconds!
This drill not only helps to re-train the diaphragm, more importantly it speaks to your brain letting it know you’re safe, you’re controlled, and your brain can “let go” and allow you to perform better.
Practice breathing drills 2-3 times a day for roughly 4 breaths at a time. You will be shocked at the difference you feel.
In addition to the ever-present breathing issues we see, it’s also not uncommon to see people who have a hard time getting up and down off the floor.
This is a HUGE problem!
At the Summit, Perry Nickleston shared an alarming fact. When comparing one person who fights cancer and the other who has fallen, the cancer patient is more likely to live longer than the one who fell!
Movement is medicine. Movement keeps us young, and more importantly keeps our brain fresh.
Try this test I was introduced to, it’s called the SRT Test (Sit and Rise Test.) The video’s a little weird but you’ll get the point.
The seemingly “routine” movement will have a lifelong effect on not only your health, but your performance as well. Don’t think for a minute that only “older” people have problems with this test.
I’ve seen people in their mid-30’s that have a hard time scoring between 8-10. That’s alarming!
How do you fix it? Practice getting up and getting down every day! For strength training purposes the Turkish Getup is always a preferred choice of mine.
I think it’s safe to say that most people associate keeping a journal with teenage girls writing about their high school boy crush. Growing up in a house full of girls I can attest to that.
Journaling actually aids in strength gains, unloading mental stress, and monitoring your nutrition.
As it relates to nutrition, many of my clients don’t even realize the setbacks they’re creating through their diet until they write it down. It’s shocking for most people and serves as a wakeup call to tighten things up.
If you don’t want to or can’t journal daily, find a happy medium.
Journaling doesn’t have to serve solely as a means to keep you on track. It can also serve as a means to reflect and celebrate your accomplishments.
Just the other day I was pulling a heavy set of deadlifts for 2-reps. I pulled strong but was disappointed that I only got one. After scrolling back to the previous week’s workouts I realized that I had attempted a 10lb PR that day and in fact nailed it but thought it was short of where I should have been.
Keeping my journal allowed me to feel good about my set the rest of the day rather than feel like a failure until my next workout.
Reflection is absolutely necessary for self-development. Keeping a journal can help you become more aware and make change easier because let’s face it – change is hard no matter how you spin it!
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