motivation

Quick Holiday Workout

Yeah yeah I get it, you are soooooo busy. All day, every day, every week.. You work 3 jobs daily, have 12 kids and have absolutely no time to cook or work out.

Right?

I don't know about you but I get tired of these excuses. But I do understand. I can relate. I sympathize because I am human and I'm also busy.

Real quick story here-  Back when I was working 3 jobs (for real), being a single dad taking care of a child a few days a week and living alone (cooking/cleaning for myself) I had to find a way to get in some workouts. 

I had to "find" time.  What I really did was MAKE time.

No way to get to a gym? I would do a quick bodyweight workout on my lunch or at the end of the day or in the morning (my least favorite)

Truth be told, I hated bodyweight workouts. They felt lame. No weights, no clanging of plates and dumbbells. No benches or pulleys or cables or racks.

I would dread those workouts. But I found a way. Which meant I just did it. Even if it was just 20 minutes.

So today is a holiday and we are all busy, including myself. I had some clients this morning and I have family gatherings all day but I had a small window (that I created) of 30 minutes between clients and going home to get ready for the family holiday party.

Not enough time to drive to a gym and get warmed up and work out with weights, cardio etc..so I did a bodyweight circuit.

And honestly, I don't dread them anymore as much as I used to.  Maybe it's my age or the years of lifting under the barbell, but lately I almost (stress- almost) enjoy these high-intensity bodyweight circuits. Today's felt good.

Here's what I did- squats-15 reps, pushups 15 reps-bird dogs-12 reps-reverse crunchesx15-side crunchesx12-planksx30-reverse pushupsx15-

I went from one exercise to the next without rest. After the circuit I rested 30-45 seconds. I did 5 rounds. It took about 25 minutes. For the next 5 minutes I did some stretching/yoga/mobility flow movement. Done.

Work up a little sweat and feel better about your day and your self.

Take pride in the fact that you chose to do something. Instead of saying you have no time (but you have time to watch tv/play on the internet/social media etc.. Have some pride, it's ok. It means you worked on improving yourself today. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. Even if it's only bodyweight exercises and not anything exciting like a big heavy squat or deadlift.

Happy holidays to you and your family. And if you don't celebrate any holidays, have an awesome day!

Rules are Made to be Broken

When you are running a fitness business you absolutely must have a presence on social media.  Or so they say. Who are "they" anyway? What else do "they" say?

You must have your post-workout shake within minutes of your last set or else all your lifting will be wasted and you will not grow any muscle... so they say..

"They" say a lot of things. Full range of motion. Compound movements first. Machines are worthless.. squat ass to grass..be hardcore, hustle.. Most of which I have learned. Then I learned to forget them.

I've been doing this all my life.

Whenever I didn't do this and I did what I was supposed to do, my results were average at best. It doesn't matter what I was doing. And more importantly, I am not happy when I go according to the "rules"..

What does this have to do with you and your fitness pursuits?  Glad you asked.

You have to learn the basics first. Of nutrition and training. The most effective ways to lift weights, burn fat, gain muscle and strength..

Once you learn your way around and you achieve some results you can start to tweak to your own design. Eventually you may break every rule.

I'll use myself as an example-  I ate every 3-4 hours, decent amount of lean protein, small amount of carbs, very small amount of fats. I saw some results.

I also made sure to focus on the "most important meal of the day"- breakfast and the post-workout shake. I got some results.

Eventually I started to break those rules. And guess what,  I got results that way too.

So yes, you need to learn the tricks of the trade. Gain some discipline and make some progress. Then you will hit a plateau. This is normal.

Then you start to experiment. Find out what really works for you. What speaks to you. What do you really enjoy and know that you will be consistent with?

Maybe one exercise is not effective for you or makes you feel too much pain in a joint. Or maybe it's one specific food you think you're supposed to eat, according to the rules, but you can't stand the taste of it and dread packing it in your lunch..

Break the rules. Find your own way.

As Jim Morrison once said "Learn to forget"..

That's what we need to do. In fitness and in life.  There's only one you and I believe that within each of us there's some sort of wisdom, an instinct and knowledge that we can align with, that will give us great strength and lead us to evolve and adapt as we go through life.

 

That Damn Snooze Button

How did you start your day today?

Did you hit the snooze button?

That damn button is no good!

I know you don't want to be preached at. To have someone tell you to "do this, do that" or "stop doing this, stop doing that"..  I get it. I don't want anyone telling me what to do or what not do do.

It needs to happen on your own terms. On your own time. When you are ready. When will you be ready to change your life?

What will it take to make you decide now is the time? Today is the day I change my life for the better...

I can't be the deciding factor for you. No one can except the man in the mirror.

What I can do is tell you the benefits of changing your life with weight training and fitness.

You will have more energy. When you feel drained at work, or after work when you get home to your wife and kids or home to your girlfriend. It may seem counter-intuitive that by working out you will generate more energy but it's true. 

You will notice your body change on the outside. Looking in the mirror you will see your muscles pop, your belly shrink.. your shape will take on more of a masculine, attractive look.

When it comes time to work in the yard, or to move furniture, you will be more confident. Up and down the stairs you will have more air, you won't be out of breath as easy.

You'll sleep better. Eat better. You're standard of living will improve. Yep, all this from lifting weights on a regular basis.

Get on a program today.

Do something daily.

Don't do it for anyone other than yourself. Or if you find your motivation comes from wanting to be strong for your kids or your wife or whatever, then use that as fuel for your fire.

Whatever it takes, find a way to just do it. Morning, on lunch hour, after work, late at night in the garage.. etc.. Find a way, not an excuse.

Most people find an excuse.

But not you.

Be different. Be strong.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I remember it clearly.

It was the first day of my new life. My new work.

Work as a personal trainer and coach.

I could barely sleep. I was too excited. But I had no problem getting up at 5 a.m. when my alarm went off.

Of course, this doesn't last forever. No one gets up every single day like this, no matter how much they love their job, their passion etc.

But it makes me think of an important idea.

This idea about being excited. What motivates you to change your life?

I'm sure it's not seeing pics of models on the cover of men's health. Or some big gym sending you a flyer saying "get fit, get healthy!"..

But what will get you to change? What is the catalyst that can drive this difficult transition?

It's not for me or anyone else to know. No one can tell you what will drive you to get up at 5 a.m. and go train, when all you want to do is sleep another hour in a nice warm, cozy bed.

Only you can find that reason that will propel you when you get home from work and you are exhausted and stressed and hungry and just want to lay on the couch and watch sports center.

But what will it be? Is it to be healthy for your kids? And then grandkids? Is it to get lean so next summer you aren't embarrassed to take your shirt off? Maybe it's to prove to someone that you can do it.

The more the reason can resonate with you, the better the chance you will stick with it when things get tough. And they will.

Everyone can start and go a few weeks/months.

This can be tough enough and part of the barrier to being consistent with fitness is the fear of failure. That you will give up eventually. Go back to your old ways. Your will-power will run out of gas.

But if you have a powerful reason, that comes from deep within yourself, you will have much much better odds of sticking to it.

So if you don't know your reason yet or have lost your way, do some soul-searching. See what resonates with you. It may be totally different from the last time you committed to a fitness regimen.

If you're 45 years old and working long hours in a white-collar job, you're motives will be different than when you played high school baseball and wanted to be a better athlete, stronger and look muscular for the chicks. (maybe the last part is still the same)

This exercise of looking within to find what drives you to change into a better version of yourself, is so crucial. It's easy to overlook it. Many do.

Don't be one of them who think they can just will themselves into the gym when they sign up for a year at a big commercial gym. Thinking that because they pay $30 a month that they will automatically go and results will come.

Find what compels you, what drives you. And make this your best month ever.

NOT another "TOP 10 Tips" Post

Back when I was starting out writing on the interwebs some 5 years ago, I remember "experts" saying you had to do TOP 10 Tip articles. I did a few. I tried to follow what I was supposed to do. What others were doing who were successful in the blogging world and specifically in the fitness blogging world.

But like all things, I eventually go off the path and do my own thing. You gotta follow your own heart, listen to your own drumbeat and other such sayings..

So I've grown to dislike the "Top 10" posts. Or top 5, 20.. Mostly because, you don't need any more tips.

You know what to do. But you aren't doing it. Or not enough of it. 

Why?

The biggest excuse I hear is lack of time, and rather than just scream at the top of my lungs "MAKE TIME!"  I choose to offer up something more helpful, in my opinion.

Here's what I want you to do. This is your action-plan.

Go to a store that sells t-shirts and shorts/sweats/workout clothes. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive or colorful.

More basic the better, in my view but if you like to mix it up with fancy colors then have at it.

Also, while you're out, buy a gym bag. Seriously. It can be a no-name brand, doesn't matter.

Now before you go to bed I want youto pack the gym bag with your gym clothes. Set your alarm for an hour earlier than you normally do.

You will be doing a 30 minute workout. Depending on how far your gym is (it could be your garage or basement) you will have to adjust for time, obviously.

Even if you have weights in your garage I want you to perform this routine. It seems so simple and ridiculous, I know. But it's important.

The act of buying gym clothes and packing your bag can make a huge difference. And the repetition of this act, over and over for weeks, months, years will pay off in big-time results. (along with hard work in the gym and proper diet, of course)

If you have yet to cement your fitness habits this is a great way to start.

Just do this. Don't worry about packing your lunch every day or anything else just yet. Do this 3 times per week for 2 months. If you have found it hard to get to the gym and only go sporadically, this will help.

No "TOP 10 Tips" here. Just actionable advice. Now do it.

If you need someone to help you stay accountable send me an email. I will do my best to help you get over the hump.

 

Everyone Knows Everything

On the one hand you have fitness experts who say the general public is clueless about health and fitness.  The other hand says people know what to do, they are just lazy and don't want to work hard. 

Which is it?

If I was trying to sell you a program I would choose one side and cherry-pick some studies to back that program up (there would be plenty on both sides) and voila, here's the answer for you.

But I don't work that way.

I know that life isn't so black and white. There's plenty of grey area.

But for the sake of this post let's talk about the person who knows what to do. Generally speaking.

Let's say you have a decent grasp on eating right for your body, what kind of exercises to do, how to structure a workout, a week/month of workouts etc.. you have a basic understanding of supplements and which ones are a waste of money and the ones that may help a bit.

But you don't do it.

Why?

Are you just lazy?   Can't find the time?  Have too much fat to lose and you know how long it can take?

Maybe it's just your MINDSET.

You don't take your fitness seriously. It's not a priority.

So what will it take to get you on track? For good..

Accountability.

Find a friend that you can go to the gym with. Drive together if that helps. Pick days/times and stick to them. Hold each other accountable.

If that doesn't work for you, try an online forum. Check in daily to post about your workouts, meals, progress, struggles etc.. it doesn't take as long as you may think. You're already on a computer anyway aren't you? Make a few internet friends and comment on their training logs. They will comment on yours. When you don't post, they will ask where you are.

If that doesn't work for you, find a coach/trainer. Search your area, ask around, post on your facebook.. get a referral. Talk to someone who has a trainer and get a recommended name.

This is huge. And it's often overlooked.

I've done each of these three methods and they all work.

Try one. Any of them!  They are better options than what you're doing now aren't they?

You can search the internet all day long for new diets, workout ideas and fun things to do but until you actually starting taking action CONSISTENTLY, you will stay stuck where you are and it will only get worse.

So start today. You know everything, I know.  But when you start taking action on this, you will find that guys will have tips for you that you wouldn't have found out yourself just from reading.  It's a whole new level when you have someone there to check on your form, assess your movement, and push you beyond the level you'd push yourself.

 

What's this Blog All About?

There are a million different blogs out there on the internet. You can learn about everything and anything, including fitness, nutrition and health topics.

So what is this blog about? What's the point?

I had a blog before this one for 4 years. I wrote about strength training, specifically with tips on lifting form, exercise selection dietary strategies etc.. very much a how-to get started and how to make progress in the world of fitness and lifting weights.

How many people did I really inspire or help?

It's hard to know for sure but when I decided to start a new blog I thought that kind of website was already done and gone for me.

We are constantly changing, evolving and I felt it was time to move on.

This blog is then what feels natural to me.

Running a personal training business is my number 1 focus. This blog serves as an extension of that. I can flesh out ideas and share some concepts that I find to be effective. Hopefully they help you.

I also write because I feel compelled to. I am a writer at heart.  So part of this blog's purpose isto tell stories and to entertain.

I realized that a lot of people read articles online just to read and not for advice perse.

From almost 20 years in the gym to the screen here. Hopefully something strikes you and even if it doesn't I must do it. You ever feel compelled to do something and you don't know exactly why?

Another idea that keeps creeping back into my mind is to write a book. Multiple books really but one about my fitness journey, in particular.

So this is another way to flesh out ideas to see where they lead.

I'm open for suggestions on article ideas also, as I truly enjoy helping people with specific questions. Send me an email with your question (try to keep it short- 1 paragraph) and I will give you an answer.  My opinions may not be mainstream as I don't fall into any category of fitness (powerlifting, crossfit, bodyweight only, functional, paleo etc..)

Thanks for reading.

Jim

Split Personality?

We finished our last set of our leg workout.

As I turned around from the water fountain, he looked at me and said, "sled?"

It was time. He had his game face on.

This guy seemed to always train like a madman.

There was no tomorrow. Today is the day. Give it all you got.

We were both exhausted already but then we pushed into another level with sled pushes.

Have you trained with guys like that? Or is that you? Maybe that's you every once in awhile. You let the animal out.

I've had phases where I've gone all out, every session. Then there were times I just went in and did the work.

Then there's those days you just turn it up a notch.

What's the best way?

Where I'm at in my fitness/strength training journey I believe it's best to train hard but live to fight another day. I enjoy a little soreness but I don't want it interfere with my next two or three days of workouts.

I enjoy training every day. Even if it's just a 30 minute session. You can do 3 sessions per week and make progress. Even 2 or 4 days. I just crave something physical daily. It makes my days better. More complete.

So what's your fitness personality? How does it affect your workouts and your recovery from training?

Sometimes you're in the gym and you just have to hit it hard. You need that push. That burn. The strain and struggle.

The fight with the iron. To see what you are made of. How far you can go..

Then there are those days you just need to show up and put in work. It's not going through the motions just doing the minimum and watching tv while coasting along. But it's not giving every single ounce of your energy either.

There's a time and a place for many fitness personalities. Choose wisely.

First Thing in the Morning

I was never a 'morning person'.

Am I now? 

I get up early every day but I wouldn't say I'm a morning person.

Do morning people just get up naturally without an alarm?

Do they enjoy being up and shaking off the cobwebs and going right for the coffee?

I don't know and it doesn't matter.

What matters is getting up early can be a great habit to help you get much more done in your life and this includes your workouts/nutrition.

I used to think morning workouts were impossible. But now I never train later than 10/11 a.m.

What you do first in the morning sets up the day. It's like laying down the foundation. Doing it properly so the rest of the work will follow suit.

I can hear the complaints already. I hear them often from clients before they begin training with me.

You're not a morning person. Isn't it better to eat before working out? I can't eat that early, I'm not hungry. It's still dark out. It's cold. I have to shovel the driveway. Get up earlier. Leave home earlier. On and on..

Do what you want but I'll tell you this-- if you have trouble with finding time to workout or with being consistent then working out first thing in the morning may be the best change you can make right now.

And I mean right now. Not for the next holiday. Or summer. Or after you get all your ducks in a row. (what does that mean anyway?) 

But RIGHT NOW. Take action. Decide right now that tomorrow you will get up an hour earlier and eat something light and then go to the gym or your garage. Get in a half hour session. Warm up for a good 5 minutes with bodyweight exercises/calistenics then do some weight training.

Finish with some more calistenics/bodyweight training for a few high-paced circuits. See how much better your day goes.

You will be hungry earlier in the day.

You will want to go to bed earlier.

There will be slight changes.

All for the better.

Even if you aren't a morning person, whatever that means. Try it out.

You may never go back.  I haven't.

Make Your Own Path

I love finding my own way.

My best training 'programs' have always been my own creation.

Templates and popular programs can be great too, and I've had some success with them as well, but nothing feels quite so empowering and fun and challenging and rewarding as making my own way. Experimenting. Trial and error.

Taking notes. See what works, what doesn't. What used to work and no longer has the same effect.

I try to give some of this vibe to my clients who I work with in-person.

To share some of my love for fitness, lifting weights, becoming better physically, achieving goals etc..

When a new client comes to me that hates working out or hasn't found a way to be active that they can stick to, it is a challenge I welcome and love. I hope to rub off a bit on them. Make them see that it's doable. That they can do more than they thought.

That working out/training doesn't have to be this awful thing you dread. And that there are so many ways to go about it that you are bound to find one that will speak to you. One kind of training that will really resonate with your inner-being and you have more desire to keep at it and to excel at it.

Training your own way can take you far. It transcends the gym and looking in the mirror.

Every struggle in the gym can mirror the challenges of life. Small scale but really when you build those habits of physically challenging yourself and overcoming the resistance, it builds something within you. True strength. Will.  And a sense of confidence. 

I can do much more than I ever realized.

This is what I aim to instill in my clients.

You can do much more than you realize. And when you reach another level, you can go even further still.

It's remarkable what we can do when we set our minds to it.

So find your own way. Try out different programs. New exercises. Hell, make up an exercise or modify one you don't like or don't feel it the way you think you should. It's your journey. Don't let anyone tell you there's a right way or wrong way to do it.

You can pick up tips along the way. This can help tremendously. But in the end, it's on you.

Just you vs. the resistance.

Make your own way.

Your Biggest Fitness Struggle

My mind was set. All I wanted was to get my deadlift up to 4 plates. 

405 lbs..

This was my priority number 1.

I pushed my other lifts also but all my focus was on this goal.

Having just one goal will give you tremendous focus.

Laser-like.

And this is a big struggle for most guys I talk to.

No excitement about training. Not looking forward to the gym.

No destination. No plan.

This is for you guys.

For the guys who have a plan and need a break from goals, this is not for you.

So having no passion for training. You don't have thoughts in your head while sitting at work about getting into the gym and crushing pullups.

Or how you can't wait to feel the sweat from your sled pulling after your lifting.

The problem of having no real zest for the physical. For hard training. The work. The grunting. Sweating. Swearing. Moaning and groaning that comes from real tough physical exertion.

What should you do to get it going?

Find something, anything really, that you can get excited about. Maybe it's one exercise you really enjoy because it's easy. Or one muscle group that seems to grow easy for you. Or a good challenge that gets you amped, maybe it's a crazy workout of the day that scares you a little bit.

Anything will work.

The feel of the barbell. The sound of the weights clanging.

The high after your session when you sip on your protein shake as you drive home. A feeling of accomplishment in your veins.

Just get that one tiny flame. Find it. And ride it. Let it take you to the gym. Or your garage or the park. Wherever.

Passion for physical fitness.

It doesn't have to be a gym.

In fact, there are NO limits here.

Anything goes.

But don't let another day, week,  or year go by without making some kind of physical progress.

 

Just Stop Complaining

A little tough love today because that's necessary sometimes. 

As a trainer/coach I walk the line between being compassionate and being hard on my people.

I want to help you. I want to help everyone. Get better. Achieve the results you seek.

Sometimes you don't want to hear me say that you need to do your cardio and eat your greens.

There are days that you just need to vent and you don't want to feel like you are getting yelled or or preached to.

I get it.

But then there are those times that you need to hear it.

Stop what you are doing.

It's not working.

You are sabotaging your efforts.

Get it together!

Stop eating like a child!

Put in the work.

Don't look for an easier way.

A faster way.

So today some tough love.

No complaints today. Don't think about tomorrow. Or the whole week. In relation to your fitness goals.

Just today.

If you have an injury, think of what you CAN do.

If you're tired, go for a shorter session at the gym.

Missed some meals or had too much junk on the weekend?

Forget it, it's over. Today you start fresh.

No complaining about your wife who doesn't cook healthy meals.

Or your 6 full time jobs you are juggling and can't FIND TIME to get in 30 minutes of weight training.

Nope. Not today.

Today you train.

I don't care what you train. What program. What set and rep sequence.

Just get it done

 

How Do You Get Motivated?

I'm fired up today. And I sure didn't wake up that way.

How do I get motivated? How do YOU get motivated? To train. To improve your fitness. To get stronger. To gain muscle, burn fat, get healthier, own your life, gain confidence, fill out a shirt, get better at a sport etc..

Regardless of what anyone else says, this is my opinion here. I believe that no one is 100% motivated at all times. And I also believe that motivation doesn't always have to come from within like some hardcore fitness gurus may say.

Example.

And I'll make this quick, because it's a blog not a novel and we all have like 5 seconds to spare so here we go.

Today I was exhausted. Spent. Almost hit the snooze this am. I never do that.

Fighting off some kind of sinus/allergy crap and it's annoying the heck out of me. Putting a drain on my energy. I can go on and on all the reasons why but here's what I did. The action.

I said I'm going to the gym to just do one exercise. Just 1. Then I'll sit in the sauna and sweat for a half hour. So that's what I set out to do.

Packed my gym bag, went to do my 1 exercise. It wasn't even going to be a really tough one. Just rear delts. But like almost every single time I play this mental trick on myself, once I get there, get going, warm up, feel some blood moving in the body, a bit of sweat, heart rate goes up.. then on to the next exercise... few reps, some sets later.. on to the next.. and then I'm revved up with some music that gets me going.

I had some old school Black Sabbath come on. Boom, I started hitting up the dips with bodyweight for high reps. Feeling awesome. Still tired yes. Same body. Yes. Same mind. But I found a way that worked FOR ME.

And that's the answer.

Find whatever will get the job done for you. Today. This moment. OR whenever you go work out. Find it. It's out there. Or in there. Either way.

Maybe you need to get stronger for your family.

Maybe you have a wedding coming up and need to look better.

Whatever it is. Just do one exercise. Just do cardio. Just walk.. etc.. start. And you will be surprised how much just getting moving will do for you.

Motivation is not some magical thing that only the select few possess and they have it all the time. Everyone has to find ways to get up early. To go to work and stay late and still go to the gym afterwards when all they want to do is go lay on the couch and eat chips and dip.

Find a way. Outside. Or inside.