Today's blog comes from the last chapter of Eric Cressey's book Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better. The book's on sale right now, and Cressey, in addition to being a prolific writer, runs an awesome website and performance company. He often works with athletes, so you could say he knows a thing or two about what makes someone successful. He's not just for the hardcore, though. If you're interested in learning more, pick up a copy of his book or sign up for his newsletter, which contains daily information about proper technique, tips for success, and even nutritional guidelines.
Here, Cressey focuses on weight lifters, but the tips are still relevant for our weekend warriors and Spartan Class crushers at Arena Fitness.
Consistency – Their outstanding results are never about just a 16-week program, finding a magic pill, or taking shortcuts. They don’t skip out on 2-3 months here and there because work gets busy. They never let minor aches and pains sidetrack them because they find ways to train around these issues and rehabilitate them in the process. They can’t fathom taking 19 weeks to complete a 16-week program. Training is an integral part of their lives, so they do it with more consistency than their less-accomplished peers. In the grand scheme of things, the programming, technique, and training environment are important – but just showing up is the single-most important thing.
Focus – When it’s time to train, the cell phone goes off. There’s no talking about the boozing that went on at the bars the weekend before, or complaining about problems with the new girlfriend. When these successful trainees are in the gym, they are there for one reason: to lift heavy stuff and get better.
Training Partners/Environment – Successful individuals realize that they’ll never be as well off alone as they will be with the help of the individuals around them, so they surround themselves with the right people. The end result is constant, detailed feedback; handoffs and spots whenever they’re needed; accountability to ensure the aforementioned consistency; and camaraderie that improves results exponentially.
Realistic Expectations – My best deadlift is 660 pounds, but to be honest, on about 363 days of the year, I don’t think I could come within 20 pounds of it. It just isn’t possible to be at your best for every training session – and it gets even harder to be close to that “peak” feeling as you get more experienced and accomplished. Push too hard when you aren’t feeling it, and you’ll set yourself back. The most accomplished powerlifters, bodybuilders, and strength sport athletes out there know when to push and when to hold back to take deloading periods; they have realistic expectations of themselves and listen to their bodies.
Insatiable Desire to Improve – Some of the best athletes I’ve ever met and worked with have also been the most inquisitive and open-minded to suggestions. They are constantly looking for new ways to improve, and appreciate that the field of strength and conditioning is a very dynamic one in which new research emerges almost daily. They recognize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so they borrow bits and pieces from many different philosophies to find what works best for them.
When you push your body to the limit, you must fuel it for success. This Banana Oatmeal Smoothie is packed with protein and healthy carbohydrates that will keep you running with ease this Saturday when the Arena Fitness family runs for the kids. This is a great quick fix for breakfast, too!
Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
Pour all ingredients in blender pouring ice in last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until smoothie thickens.
With our Run for Kids Race coming up this week I'm reminded of all the tough training everyone has gone through in order to prepare. This is an old workout of the week that we use here at Arena Fitness to prepare people for Mud Runs.
Try putting this workout into your weekly routine. Start with 8 minute miles and try to go faster each time you run. Have fun and join us soon for a run! Stop missing out on all of the fun.
1 mile run
50 Push Ups
1 mile run
1 mile run
50 Lunges (each side)
Cool down with 200 reps of your favorite ab and core exercises. Remember to stretch for 5-10 minutes after every workout. Train hard but always train smart!
Be a part of your own success story...
When it comes to this whole weight loss thing, your diet is extremely important.
Let me repeat that: When it comes to this whole weight loss thing, your diet is extremely important.
I know several people who want to lose weight and decide they're going to try Insanity or P90x or start going to the gym five days a week, and end up disappointed because the number on the scale hasn't moved (not that the number is the be-all, end-all indicator, but that's a different post for a different time). Upon closer inspection, I learn that their diet hasn't changed much, if at all. And the diet is the real culprit behind any sabotage of your workout routine.
The first thing to note - and this is so much of a gimme that it's not really a tip - is that you should be cooking for yourself. It's really hard to control how much oil or butter or whatever a restaurant is using to cook your meal. Unless you have the willpower of a monk (or are eating half-poritions of relatively healthy salads with dressing on the side every time), the portions are likely going to be wayyyyy more than a single-serving. So your first step is to take it home and start in your own kitchen.
Eat real food. Eating clean is all about eating real food. I haven't done any scientific studies or read any of them, but I am convinced part of the reason the Paleo diet is so successful is that it forces you to eat real food (I disagree on some of the parts about grains and don't get me started on the authenticity). If you eat real food that you enjoy - not just grapefruits - you're more likely to stick with healthier eating. If you can make a meal that's out of things that come out of the ground, or don't use foods that contain chemicals that make organic chemistry a prereq for reading an ingredient label, then you're on the right track. This doesn't mean that you only have to eat salad, obviously. You can make a meal that doesn't look, sound, or taste like health food by using real ingredients. Now, isn't that better?
Plan ahead. This tip knocks out two concerns. First of all, if you're busy, any ideas and hopes and dreams go right out the window. You forgot to pack food because you ran out the door. You decide that you'll just grab something on the way home. Hours later, you're about to eat your steering wheel or punch out the next driver who looks at you funny because you're so hungry. We actually call this "hangry" in my household, and yes, I am describing this from personal experience. But your decisions made while hangry are not necessarily going to be healthy ones - by the time you get to a place that serves food, it's probably going to be a fast-food place. And it's probably going to be something that serves up 1200 calories instead of 400.
So what do you do? Plan ahead. This means that you plan out what you're eating for the week, or the next few days if you find a week too intimidating. If I make a big dinner, I can have the leftovers for lunch, saving my steering wheel from teeth marks. It also means that I don't go out to Trader Joe's and buy a ton of produce that will go bad in my fridge because I've been too busy to actually do anything with it. Planning helps keep you from making bad decisions while in the grocery store and helps you stay on track with your eating throughout the week.
Trick your eyes. I have these big, giant plates at home. Whenever I use them, I feel compelled to cover it in food. This works if I have a salad with my meal, because then I've just upped my veggie intake considerably. But if I'm not eating a salad, I'll fill it up with a bunch more food. I know this sounds crazy, but a covered plate makes me feel good, and I discovered that I'm much more likely to eat less if I put my meal on a smaller plate. If you look down at your meal and think it looks measly in comparision to your appetite, you are way more likely to overeat. And it turns out I'm backed up by science on this one. Score one for me! Anyway, if you put your meal into a bowl or a smaller plate, you'll feel fuller and happier than if you place a reasonable portion size on a regular plate.
Reblogged from 52 Kitchen Adventures
As someone who constantly carries around a water bottle, I am on board with this campaign and immediately pledged to drink water instead of sugary drinks for the next 30 days. I know that for most other people, this would be a tough challenge. Many people drink soda everyday, or don’t think twice about picking up a Red Bull or a mocha. It’s shocking how much sugar is in pretty much any drink you can get at Starbucks. I don’t want to spoil your annual pumpkin spice latte, but seriously check it out and think about making it homemade or opting for water instead.
I came across this eye-opening photo online. I think it’s particularly important to watch what our children are drinking and eating. Do they need all that sugar in sweetened chocolate milk or soda? Instead, let’s encourage them to have water.
I know, I know. Water is boring. I hear people say that all the time. Well, not anymore! You can add tons of different fruits, veggies, and herbs to make water taste better. Fill up a pitcher, toss in some combination from below, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours (the longer you let it steep, the more flavor you’ll get, but you can also enjoy it immediately).
Without further ado, 50 awesome flavored water ideas. I hope this gets you thinking outside the box and trying out more water. Try a 30 day challenge where you switch your non-water drinks for water!
- Blood orange
- Honeydew melon
- Fresh ginger root
- Mango And don’t forget fun combinations of the ingredients above! Get creative and combine them so it never gets dull. The possibilities are endless but here are some of my favorites:
- Watermelon and mint (pictured above)
- Cucumber and mint
- Lemon and mint
- Cherry and lime
- Watermelon and cucumber
- Ginger and lemon
- Orange and pineapple
- Lemon and lavender
- Lime and mint
- Cucumber and lime
- Lemon and basil
- Strawberry and mint
- Blackberry and ginger
- Lemon and blueberry
- Thyme and blackberries
- Cucumber and rosemary
- Cantaloupe and watermelon
- Cucumber, lemon, and mint
- Lemon and lime
- Strawberry and basil
- Cranberry juice and lemon (use a capful of unsweetened cranberry juice)
- Ginger and lime
- Pineapple and mango
- Strawberries and lime
- Orange, lime, and lemon
- Lemon and a pinch of cayenne
- Papaya and mango
…and I could keep going. Seriously, there are so many potential combos!
For the herbs, crush or chop them up to get the best flavor. Similarly, squeeze citrus wedges, slice or cube melons, and crush berries. Nancy Creative has some more great tips and recipes for flavored waters.
Arena Fitness is a Personal Training and Group Fitness Facility in Encino and Northridge, CA
Run 3 miles or a 5k, either on a treadmill or outside.
Four Rounds of "You're Not Going To Quit"
30 Push Ups
1 Minute Plank
Cool down with 10 minutes of your favorite stretches and pat yourself on the back for not quitting. We have all worked out before and heard that little voice in our head telling us to stop during our personal training sessions or group fitness classes. Not today! Pushing through and getting it done is what it takes to get results. I can't tell you it gets easier or that the voice will ever go away but what I can tell you is that you will get stronger with every workout completed. That little voice telling you to stop doesn't have a chance! Great job!
I found this handy dandy infographic while boppin' around Greatist, which is an awesome website if you haven't stumbled upon it already. Though the infographic is for running - specifically running your best Half-Marathon Ever! - you can take most of these tips and apply them to your adventure course racing, Spartan Core blasting, Arena Fitness loving self.
Remember when Mom made you eat your veggies? They didn't have any flavor. The texture was weird. But it doesn't have to be that way! Here's a flavorful way to get your family to eat their Brussels sprouts and enjoy them! Adding veggies to your diet will help you out immensely on your fitness journey. Even better? Getting your family to eat their veggies happily will set them up for future successful eating!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli
20 brussels sprouts cut into wedges (I used the 1 lb bag from Trader Joe’s)
salt & pepper
6 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place brussels sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Crack some fresh salt & pepper to taste and mix around the brussels sprouts on the pan to ensure they all get nicely coated in the oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on at least one side. While the brussels sprouts are roasting, mix together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Serve in a ramekin alongside the finished brussels sprouts.
With the Run for the Kids 5k/10k and Kid's Run coming up, it's time to prepare for an Adventure! Now, this isn't the muddy kind of Adventure, or the kind in which you have to climb over walls or under barbed wire, this is a street race kind of Adventure, but it's an Adventure nonetheless.
Plus, with other obstacle course races coming up later in the year, it would be wise to be ready for anything! So, today we will re-post an earlier WOW as a reminder to always be prepared for any Adventure that pops up by gearing your training towards well-rounded athleticism.
1 mile run
50 Push Ups
1 mile run
1 mile run
50 Lunges (each side)
Cool down with 200 reps of your favorite abdominal exercises. Remember to stretch for 5-10 minutes after every workout. Train hard, but always train smart!
Be a part of your own success story...
Arena Fitness is a Group and Personal Training Facility in Encino and Northridge.
Ok, it's no secret. I love to eat, and it's been that way since I was a little kid. I was never a picky eater. Of course, this has come to bite me in the ass since, as an adult, I am not really all that great at eating less. And, as we've told you time and time again, diet is a HUGE component in anyone's weight loss journey. If you make a change in your diet and keep it up, your gains will be much better than through exercise alone.
Changes can be really difficult to make, especially if they've been deeply ingrained in your day-to-day behavior. Have you noticed that we reward children with treats? Have you noticed that when someone says, "No, I'm not going to have some cheetos/pizza/ice cream," people sometimes look at you like you're the crazy person? It's like eating poorly is expected and any deviation from that is weird. It's like we, as a society, have decided that everyone should be able to eat "whatever they want", where "whatever they want" means "junk food". Oh, and we're supposed to stay thin while doing it. Sound crazy yet?
Digression aside, if your routine includes foods that aren't exactly fantastic for losing weight, it can be diffcult to drop them completely...and stay away from them forever. This is why yo-yo dieting happens: you completely change your diet and become extremely strict with what you put in your body. Until you reach your goal, in which case you backslide back into the same eating habits. Rinse and repeat.
I'm a huge fan of making sustainable changes to stop yo-yo dieting in its tracks. To that end, I'm going to give you three of my favorite food swaps to help you get on track to making your fitness journey one with a healthier diet. This comes with the caveat that these swaps may not be the absolute best thing you can do. However, when you need to start, you have to start somewhere, and changing one thing is less intimidating and overwhelming than changing everything and quitting things cold turkey.
Instead of cheese or mayo on your sandwhich...choose avocado or salsa. Health food gets a bad rap because it's usually seen to be tasteless or dry. If you've tried to eat a sandwhich without any condiments, you know what I'm talking about. If it's not fun or satisfying to eat, you're probably not going to stick with it long term. Avocado's creaminess lends a smooth texture while providing good, healthy fats (in moderation, of course). If you don't like the taste of avocado or you want a different flavor profile, salsa is also a great substitution, offering both less calories than mayo as well as some spice.
Instead of pasta...try spaghetti squash. Pasta is one of those things that is incredibly tasty but incredibly not that great for you. Whole wheat pasta is a substitution but sometimes I find that the taste of whole wheat noodles just doesn't do it for me. I've found a friend in spaghetti squash, though. It holds a sauce well and provides servings of vegetables where you did not have any before. One squash yields a TON of "noodles", so you can have leftovers for later in the week, which is great for anyone (me) who lives their life in the car. For everyone who is balking at the idea of eating a vegetable, keep in mind that the squash, in this application, is meant to be eaten with a sauce. It won't be bland unless you make a bland sauce.
Instead of soda...drink water. I know, I know: we love to tell you to hydrate. The fact is that you're probably not drinking enough water. Left to my own devices, I'll drink coffee and only coffee all day long because that's what's in front of me. However, if I keep my water bottle in front of me, I'm more likely to drink water, and you know what? I generally feel a lot better and, perhaps more importnatly, I recover from personal training session-induced ass kickings faster.
Now, I know some people don't like water because it's boring. I'm not going to pretend that I understand what that means, but I know it must be true because multiple people have told me this when I suggest they drink more water. Your Coke Zero or whatever might have zero calories but it also has a host of other stuff that isn't fantastic for your body (or teeth). If you really can't deal with the taste of water, add some flavor with some fruit or vegetables. Add strawberries, cucumbers, lemons, or oranges to your water to impart some flavor. While this method probably adds some sugars to your water, they're naturally occuring at least, and you're drinking water, so that's an improvement over your multiple servings of Mountain Dew.
Cutting calories can be intimidating, especially if you employ a scorched earth policy when it comes to your food. Making healthy choices that still taste good will help you keep them in rotation for a much longer time than if you decided to do a crash diet.