All Posts (2814)

Sort by

Most of us are well familiar with resolutions about leading a healthier life, which we usually make a the end of the year. We also know that very few of them materialise in the following year for a number of reasons. The first one is that our enthusiasm and motivation fade as the year progresses and old routines kick in. Next, we often set unrealistic goals and when we realise we can’t achieve them, we simply get frustrated and disappointed.

So, the most important things are to maintain sufficient level of excitement and determination throughout the year and set attainable goals. Once you do the latter, you can start thinking about the strategy that will help you lead a healthier life and become fitter. Here are some of the tips professionals most often mention when it comes to advising people how to improve their overall fitness and health.

More than meets the eye

People often make a mistake of looking too much in a mirror to see the results of their exercises and changes to their diet. Instead, you should focus on performance and strength. If you do that, the aesthetic gains will definitely follow, but this shift in focus will prevent frustration from building up.

You are unique

No two people make progress at the same pace, so stop comparing yourself to others and focus on doing your best. The last thing you need is a distraction, when you need to concentrate. There are many factors that influence the speed at which you’ll lose weight, get stronger or become fitter and you can’t possibly have all the relevant information about other people around you.

Do what you enjoy

It’s important to find something you really enjoy doing if you want to achieve better results. That will make you more motivated and committed to completing the workout. The same goes for the change in your diet. You shouldn’t feel as if you’re being punished by having to eat something you don’t like. There are so many healthy options out there, that it’s just a matter of finding the right stuff.

Keep your head up high

Each time you start a new programme, you need to be aware that there will be times when you’ll feel less enthusiastic or you won’t be able to see immediate results. This is particularly true at the begging of a new regime, which is why you need to be patient and stick to the prescribed routine.

Strength and cardio

Some fitness experts claim that strength training is like the entrée, while cardio training is the side dish. In order to have the full experience, you need both the main and side dish. Each meat tastes better with some vegetables to go with it.

Right equipment

One of the most important things is the choice of equipment. You need to use high-quality fitness equipment for your safety and maximal results. When you get to the point of buying this kind of equipment, make sure you consult an expert or buy from a reputable seller, who’ll be able to advise you.

Set goals you are passionate about

We’ve already established that you need to set attainable goals, but what is also important is to set goals you genuinely care about and not those you think you should be after. If you have this kind of personal commitment to your goal, you’ll be more likely to achieve it.

Be mentally prepared

Any change, no matter how big it is, requires that you alter your attitude, beliefs and conduct. For that to happen, you have to be mentally prepared. Anticipate possible obstacles along the way and prepare strategy to deal with them when or if they appear. There might be some unforeseen circumstances as well, but you simply can’t do anything about them.

The fact that you’ve decided to do something about your fitness is the first and possible most important step in the process. Now, just follow the idea through, use these and other tips you get from trusted sources and you’ll see that you’ll be much healthier and fitter this time next year.

Read more…

Training Speed In

Let not overcomplicate this. You coach speed into the athlete by training speed at the appropriate time in the workout, using an appropriate method and dosage for the time of the training year. You train speed out by doing all sorts of general nonspecific work and slow “base building” type of work, in short emphasizing volume. Remember you are what you train to be! To be fast you must train fast. When I hear a coach say I have not started speed work yet, I just smile, and I hope we can compete against those teams or individuals often. You train speed from the first day of training until the last. Remember the stimulus for speed is high quality intense work. It does not take much to dull speed.

Read more…

As I reflect over the past 49 years of coaches there were some things that were cornerstones of a productive system sport that do not exist today. I hope you all realize that I am not living in the past, but we MUST learn from the past, not repeat it.  Here are some areas that I think we could certainly look at and learn from:

Sport was centered in the schools – Therefore teachers were the coaches. Whether they were knowledgeable in the particular sport they had a foundation in pedagogy. Today anyone can coach.

Elementary schools had after school sports – Kids stayed at their neighborhood schools and played. Sometimes it was organized and other times it was supervised. Today you pass an elementary school after school is out and it is a ghost town.

Liability was not an issue – Climbing Ropes, Tramps, Peg Boards were everywhere. All of this has been taken away for “safety” and liability reasons. We are not challenging the kids.

Coaches were the experts – The high school coach was the expert in his or her sport, no special QB schools, you got coaches by your high school coach. Can this be a shortcoming if the coach is not knowledgeable, absolutely, but somehow, we overcame this.

Daily Physical Education was mandatory K through 12 – Need I say more. These PE teachers were also the coaches. They knew how to teach skill and organize, because they did it all day!

Off season Football was track – if you were a football player and did not play baseball you were out for track. You became a better athlete and you learned how to compete.

You played multiple sports – This was the rule not the exception. Seasons were defined so it was easy to do.

No Travel Teams & All Star Select Teams – This is killing school sports

A few ideas from an “OLD” coach; interested in your comments on how we could get some of this back if you think it is important.

Read more…

Sports have been used for centuries to help people get to healthy bodies and keep their minds sharp. Even at the time in history when curves or even gluttony were used as a symbol of status, there was still the notion of Mens sana in corpore sano , meaning that a healthy mind and spirit lie within a healthy body. Even though golf is not your first choice for gaining muscle mass, it has more than one advantage for those who want to stay healthy in both body and mind.

An activity for the entire family

Golf can be the means of strengthening family bonds and spending quality time together. The first way it can be applied for this purpose, is by being turned into a DIY activity for the family. You can build a playground in your backyard. Parents can work together with their children to make a miniature golf course as a part of the playground. Use your favorite obstacles as inspiration and create your own. Once you have the course set, enjoy your family time by playing on it. Alternatively, you can always visit one of the local golf courses and play the game on the big scale.

It improves mental health

The Professional Golfers Association of America collaborates with doctors and therapists to make their courses available to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which notoriously affects return military personnel. The stress-free environment relaxes them, helps reconnect socially, and provides a pleasant distraction by engaging them in the game. Furthermore, a famous musician Alice Cooper has used golf to rehabilitate after dropping his addictions. He used golf to keep his mind agreeably engaged and spend as much time as he possibly can in nature.

Fighting dementia

One of the best advantages of golf is its social nature. While you can definitely play it on your own, it is usually played in teams of two or three people. The pace of the game allows and encourages social interaction. Dementia represents a number of diseases usually affecting thinking and memory. Since it is proven that isolation causes cognitive decline, it is further concluded that the social nature of the game definitely helps improve cognitive skills. This is only one of the ways golf can keep the brain active and exercised as we will have a chance to find out soon.

The overall physical well being

Even though it may seem a little bit “lazy” to some, due to its peaceful nature and a very low injury count, golf is by no means sedentary. Depending on the size of the course you are playing on, whether it is a full 18-hole course or just your backyard, your entire body constantly works to get you from one place to another and to assume a position you need to reach and hit the ball. This can help you burn excess calories, strengthen certain muscles, improve your heart rate, and everything else that goes with it. A study by a Swedish institute even proved that golfers have a 40% lower death rate which means, about 5 years added to their life expectancy.




Improves focus and dexterity

Precision is one of the skills required to be a successful golf player. A precise golf swing requires both focus and dexterity. The dexterity refers to the ability to control your arms to, in this case, be an extension of your mind. The focus refers to vision and mind. You need to be able to focus your eyes on your targets, that is, the ball and the holes. You also need to focus your mind to calculate the path that the ball will take and send the right signal to your arms ready to swing. This is how golf can help you practice the sharpness of the brain, your eyesight, and your dexterity.

It reduces stress

Being an outdoor sport, golf allows you to spend a significant amount of time surrounded by nature and in the sun. Both of these can have a positive impact on your psyche and bring you the necessary stress relief. This is usually combined with the positive impact that socializing has on people. An additional reason why golf acts as a tool for stress-reduction is because of the aforementioned shift of the focus. You can stop worrying about work and other things suppressing you daily, and focus on the game of golf.

Wrap-up

Golf is a peaceful game which can boost your overall spirit and exercise your mind through time spent in nature and pleasant social interaction. It has been used for therapeutic purposes to fight addictions and help those suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, even though it does not require much strength, golf requires stamina to help the players endure the time spent walking and playing the game. For those who lack the stamina at first, they can be sure that they will gain it by playing, as well as keep their bodies in a good shape.

Read more…

Muscle Firing – Where’s the Switch?

"A lot of things weren't firing -- his glutes, his hips, thighs," (Training Guru to the star players – name deleted to protect the guilty) told the newspaper. "I wouldn't say his condition was the most severe, I wouldn't say it was the best. ... But if I were to classify it on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the most extreme, I'd say he was definitely in the seven, eight category." This is definitely one of my pet peeves. If those muscles were not firing how did this player walk? Let’s get logical rather scientific. If there is an injury the body is very intelligent much smarter than the coaches and therapists who try to intervene by turning muscles on or off. The body will guard and call in substitute, as in most teams the substitutes are not as good as the starters, what we need to need to do is figure how to get the first string back into the game and playing as a team. We don’t do that lying on a training table trying to get individual muscles to fire and then hope we can get them back into sequence. We need to figure out what muscle synergies we can use to coordinate all those muscles to work together as a team. Otherwise it would be so simple, just find the master switch, program the body, turn it on and just like flipping a light switch beautiful motion. Hate to break to the gurus, but there is no switch. We need to understand planes of motion and muscle actions and be able to figure out how to manipulate those variables along with the ground to get the first team players back on the floor playing together. Just remember if they ain’t firing you ain’t moving. It is not about firing it is about coordination and teamwork. Join the team and skip down the functional path to movement bliss. (This is a post I wrote over ten years ago, if anything this thinking is more pervasive now than it was then.)

Read more…

It can be really difficult to find motivation and actually start exercising, not just talking about it, and this stands for anyone who doesn’t live a physically active lifestyle. But for people who are overweight, it’s even tougher to get started, as exercise it not just pleasant but painful as well. But there’s a way around each and every obstacle, and believe it or not, you can start even right after finishing up this article. With the right mindset, you’ll reach your goals and feel proud of yourself.

Self-compassion

Before you even begin, it’s the most important to check your approach. Accept yourself, love yourself and you will want to do more for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over being overweight or feel guilt, because guilt has never helped anyone strive to improve. Who are you doing this for? Nobody but yourself. You want to feel better and be healthy, more than anything else, and exercise is just a skill that you can gradually improve in order to get there. Always remember this.

Fitness, not weight

Again, regarding your mindset – don’t focus on sizes, scales, mirrors and measuring tapes. These are short-term motivators, and rather unjust ones, so that whenever you come across a stumble, you’ll feel terrible and like none of your efforts are producing results. Just focus on moving and getting those endorphins from being active, and very slowly things will come in line. You’re looking for health and fitness, which can actually come in various shapes and sizes. Don’t even measure yourself, don’t think about how your body looks, but rather what it can do.

A comfortable environment

You can try out a bunch of different ones until you find a gym or rec center that you feel comfortable at. This is important in order to make exercise a habit for you. You’ll probably be more comfortable at a place that’s more laid back or a gym class where you get lots of support. You can even commit to start with light exercises at home, just to get in the vibe, but it is recommendable to not be doing this completely on your own so that you ensure you’re doing exercises properly.

Personal trainer

If you can, set more money aside and hire a personal trainer to help you get started. If you’re on a budget, you can consider bringing a couple of friends for a group session with a PA. The most important thing is to take your time and find someone who is compassionate and understanding of the obstacles you’re facing. There are even a lot of personal trainers who used to be overweight, which can be a huge motivating factor. A lot of fitness trainers approach workouts as “punishment for your own good, so stop being lazy”. That’s definitely not the right approach to living a healthier lifestyle, so find a trainer who will modify workouts for you and encourages you to enjoy physical activity.

No one is watching

Wherever you may go to exercise, huff and puff away and let your face get tomato-red. Nobody cares. You’re not going to quit fitness because it doesn’t look pretty, are you? Don’ be embarrassed, just suck it up and once you start exercising, you’ll find that the others are actually not watching you and not caring at all – everyone is there in order to focus on themselves. Even if you do run across some smirks, don’t let ignorance get you down, f* ‘em.

Activities you enjoy

Physical activity is not a form of self-punishment. Repeat that one more time and let it sink in. Exercise is a way to spend your time productively and if you find something you like doing, you’re going to stick with it. So scan the Internet a bit to get some ideas. Are you worried starting to exercise might be painful for your knees and joints? Look for adjustable road bikes for sale or aquarobic classes in your area, because bike riding and water exercises are an easy and painless way to start. Look for activities that look enjoyable and will easily become a part of your lifestyle.

Focus on what you can do

Start small. If you’re able to walk only for 10 minutes currently, own those 10 minutes! Next week, it may be 12 minutes, and so on. We’re all beginners at some point, for everything in life. Don’t get overwhelmed by “all the things a fit person should be able to do” – you’ll get there one day too, just set small goals for yourself. Once you get in the habit of moving regularly, it’s recommendable to increase your exercise efforts by 10% weekly. Don’t overdo it from the start or you’ll get disappointed easily – it’s much more rewarding and sustainable to increase goals gradually.

Limitations can be overcome

Exercising carries certain discomforts for overweight people, but luckily, this can be avoided. For example, you can avoid chafing by wearing bicycle shorts, double sports bras for women or putting adhesive bandages on the nipples, friction-reducing lubricant and shirts with tighter sleeves so you don’t run into problems in the underarm area. These are all normal, regular issues (actually, even for people who are not overweight) so don’t be upset about them, but find solutions. Avoid what makes you uncomfortable as you slowly but surely find the best ways to exercise and feel good.

Today is the day to start. Appreciate yourself and your efforts. Your decision to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle is an enormous and commendable one. So give yourself a pat on the back, tell yourself You can do it (because, believe me, you most certainly can, no matter how hard it seems), and don’t look back. Slowly but surely, physical activity will become a part of your life that you’ll love so much. And in return, your body will give thanks.

Read more…

Formulating Effective Movement Problems

A big part of effective coaching is formulating appropriate movement problems for you athletes to solve. Here are three things I consider:

  • Learn when to use explicit learning or implicit learning methods – learning to balance the two is a skill.
  • Learn to use constraints that will challenge the athlete and lead them to the solution
  • Develop task appropriate cues – Use action words and clear metaphors

Movement problems for an elite athlete will look and feel different than those for a beginner. Ultimately the goal at any level is to reinforce the basics and instill competence and confidence.

Read more…

Training Mistakes

The following is a list of some mistakes that I have made in coaching and teaching. If you learn from your mistakes I should be a genius, but unfortunately some of the lessons were only learned after I repeated of these mistakes several times. I hope that by sharing these with you, it will help you to avoid making the same mistakes I have made.

It does not have to be hard to be good - Each workout is part of a larger picture. If you put their backs to the wall in each training session you will quickly lose sight of the picture. Everything must be in context. Remember that different physical qualities adapt at different rates, so they need to be stressed differently.

Too much, too soon - You can’t hurry the adaptive process. The younger athlete can handle a lot both in terms of volume and intensity, but once again if you lose sight of the big picture it is important to remember that not following proper progression and individualizing can stifle long term development.

Overloading the spine – Too often and too young - I think this is obvious, so I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. Even with the mature athlete the spine just cannot take the heavy repetitive loading that is imposed on it by too much heavy back squatting and dead lifting.

Too many exercises or drills in a training session - This just leads to confusion from an administrative perspective and poor adaptive response on the part of the athlete. This results in a loss of focus. They get tired, but they do not get better.

Repetitious Exercises - Usually overloads one area or one component, the end result is a poor training response. I always say hunt with a rifle, not a shotgun.

Training to failure - This leads to failure. Each workout becomes an end unto itself and the athlete starts holding back anticipating the failure.

Over reliance on one exercise or training method - This created on trick ponies. You are what you train to be.

Reliance on a machine in training or a modality in rehab - You adapt to that environment, but not the environment you need to perform in.

Quick fixes - There are none! I have learned that it is an easy come, easy go proposition.

Crash programs - Crash programs crash, you can’t hurry the process. Adaptation takes time and the time frames for the various components are quite predictable.

Read more…

Here is some advice for young coaches from my experiences. I originally posted this in 2012 but it demands to be reposted. This advice reflects lessons that I learned, no need to make the same the same mistakes I made.

Be prepared to pay your dues, you don’t enlist the army as a general.

Practice humility – No matter what your athletic or academic accomplishments you are going to have to prove yourself as a coach. Check you ego at the door.

Keep Learning – Keep a notebook of your ideas and observations. Write in it as often as possible. It will be an invaluable reference as you progress through your career. I have filled Moleskin notebooks in my 49th year of coaching.

Listen and watch - You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Dress Professionally – That should not need explanation.

Be fit, look the part.

Learn the culture of the sport(s) you are working with ASAP. Do your homework.

Be the first to arrive and the last to learn – Earn your stripes.

Never let anyone outwork you. Forget what you are being paid get the job done.

Do the grunt work, in fact volunteer for it.

If you are working with athletes that don’t speak English learn the language, it will open doors for you.

File the theoretical peer reviewed stuff you learned in class. You are in the real world now, on the job it is about producing results, make the athletes better.

Maintain professional distance from your athletes you are not their friend you are their coach.

Rome wasn’t built in a day learn patience it takes time.

Coaching is a profession - Never lose sight of that.

The head coach is the boss. Be loyal and respectful.

Never forget coaching is not about sets and reps or X’s and O’s it is about people.

If you want respect then show respect.

When it is all said and done be sure that you have had as many experiences as possible not one experience many times.

Read more…

All Periodization is Undulating

Why does periodization or as I prefer to call it Planned Performance Training (PPT) have to be either linear or undulating? Frankly in my application of the principles of planned performance training for 49 years I have observed that adaptation is always undulating. The body does nothing in a linear manner, so therefore all periodization is undulating. I think this distinction is just another exercise in intellectual gymnastics. You may write a linear program, but the response will not be linear. I have analyzed my training results over my coaching career; I have NEVER seen a linear adaptation! Planning is planning; we must remember that it is always about the individual and their adaptive response. Variability and contingency must be built into the plan. Plan, execute the plan, evaluate the plan, revise the plan and execute the revised plan.

Read more…

Revised blog #51 from 1 year ago...forward thinking...I suggest for parents and coaches is the answer. #LifeMovementSkills "The A,B,C’s of Adolescent Movement Skills Development Part 2, Ch 3" #JoinTheAthleticMovementSkillsSeries http://bit.ly/2n2EzlC

Read more…

Training Mechanisms

It doesn't matter what your training for, the reality is that all training is specific to how and in what manner you train.  That's pretty simple right?  I prudent review of comprehensive literature supports this notion.  In this context, using exercises like barbell squats to improve sprint speed almost makes zero sense.  Why, sure barbell squats can improve leg strength, but so can a lot of other exercises.  In a very, very minimal sense barbell squats don't feed-in to a sprint biomechanical and muscle use pattern akin to sprinting.  That's not rocket science is it? 

Yet, there's an immense gravitational pull from traditional lifts or more realistically what we know from our own experience towards these lifts being applicable to other human movements, such as sprinting and explosive sports or tactical movements.  We know or should know this is not true.  Traditional lifts simply are mechanisms, that's it.  Now, further scientific review is needed to understand how mechanisms, in this case strengthening mechanisms, relate to other mechanisms, in this case sports or tactical movement.  In most cases, they are probably not as relative as we think.  

What really matters is what context we view and use mechanism.  Again, I'll use simply any barbell lift off of the floor as an example.  In the context of working in a sterile, closed training environment, I could point out the power and explosion used to complete the movement from a visual perspective.  However, upon actually measuring power, one might be amazed at how little power is actually generated at times and at certain points of movement.  I could also measure torque on various points of the body, especially the low back, and point out fault patterns that contribute to L3, 4, and 5 injury patterns.  Lastly, we could use biomechanical analysis and compare kinematics of any of these lifts compared to free movement and really see they are nothing like free, reactive movement in open space.

Now, I don't point this out to belittle any lift.  The reality is that mechanisms to train the body are just that, mechanisms.  We should really take a look at mechanisms in the bigger context of how they fit into a practical sense rather than a convenience or experiential sense.  This does not mean trying to retrain adults how to move in space as that does not make much practical sense either.  It does mean gravitating more towards understanding the context of how training mechanisms and complex human systems interact with one another and to what extent training can impact systemic function outside of the training environment. 

Read more…

Notecards: Pre-Hab

I use the heck out of notecards for just about every aspect of strength and conditioning planning.  They are compact and easy to use; however, unformatted notecards can be uninviting to use.  So, I design and format my own cards and put them in my Coach's Companion planner.  

This card is formatted for a pre-hab circuit.  Pre-hab is a very important aspect of comprehensive strength and conditioning.  In some cases, maybe pre-hab consists of ankle mobility and neck strengthening, but as maturity increases as well as competitive level a more advanced program can be added.  For me, pre-hab is part of a dynamic warm-up and involves much more than stretching and doing a few shoulder rotation exercises.  Lastly, a prudent coach should examine pre-hab and dynamic warm-up movements and exercises so as these do not contribute to injury pathways, but rather seeks to help prevent them.

 

Read more…

White Boards

I like to use whiteboards when facilitating physical training.  They serve as a constructive piece of communication and can be quite an effective teaching aid.  I format my whiteboards so that session information can be coordinated in the way I want it to be facilitated.  I also like to use magnets with my mobile boards so that I can hang them up and free my hands to teach and/or demonstrate.

Read more…

More on Drills

It is important to be clear on one thing regarding drills. If you use a drill or drills know why you are using the drill. In my experience drills are most effective in closed skill activities where they can be used to correct a part of the movement or reinforce a concept. But always go back to the whole movement, remember Whole – Part – Whole. In any situation drills are most effective when the athlete has a clear image and feeling for the end result – the whole action. I know from personal experience that the longer I have coached the less drills I have used. My menu of drills has grown but the actual use has decreased. For me drill are highly prescriptive to the individual athlete.

Read more…

The Seduction of Drills

Ask yourself we do we spend so much time teaching and perfecting drills? Wouldn’t the time be better spent coaching skills? No doubt drills are seductive, some even look like the skill, we can repeat them until they are flawless and then what? 95% of drills have no transfer to skill so what is the attraction. Focus on what will make the athlete better at their sport, not better at drills. There is so much good evidence and practice today in nonlinear pedagogy to guide us so don’t be seduced by the allure of drills. Drills do not equal skills!

Read more…

Meaningful Practice

I know the term deliberate practice is the current buzzword but I don’t think it is getting the job done. Words create images and images create action, so I use the term meaningful. Meaningful clearly communicates what I want from practice, it leaves little room for nuance. Practice must have a clear plan and purpose that the athlete understands. It must relate to the competitive demands of the sport the athlete is preparing for. It must be relevant to physical and developmental age of the athlete (Adult drills and training methods imposed on children are counterproductive). Mindless repetition does not count as practice. If you want examples go watch a typical tennis academy practice where they hit balls for four hours or watch a baseball infielder take 100 ground balls repetitively. That is the norm just look around, nothing meaningful, just work. Each drill, each exercise must have a purpose that the athlete clearly understands or it is just time on their feet punching a clock accumulating time toward that magic 10,000 hour number. Focused meaningful work that chooses to distort the competitive demands not replicate them is the answer. That is meaningful, the athlete relates to it because they see the relationship of the technique they must master or the game situation they must improve. At the end of the day less is more to make the practice meaningful.

Read more…

How to Build the Best Home Gym On a Budget?

Building a home gym requires a lot of strategic planning, however, when it comes to the budget, it really depends on your ambition. You see, going with the most expensive machines, treadmill and exercise gadgets is an idea that will cost a small fortune, yet you will be surprised just how much can be done with little to no cost. Therefore, in this guide, we will focus on the essentials and then proceed to add an item or two you might want to get but that you don’t actually need. With this in mind and without further ado, here’s how to build the best home gym on a budget.

Providing the adequate workout space

The first thing you want to do when building a home gym is – provide the adequate space for exercise. This mostly depends on the amount of equipment you are going to need, as well as the question of whether you’re going to use it as a platform for cardio, as well. A lot of people simply prefer to run outside, however, this is usually not possible whole year round. If this is the case, you probably want to pick a room downstairs, since you don’t want to cause too much noise while hopping, trampling and lifting. With this in mind, a basement might serve as an excellent spot.

Apart from this, you do need an entire room, which means that all the furniture you take out needs to go someplace else. Taking it to your storage room is a great idea, yet those who don’t have enough space in their home as it is might want to consider hiring a lock up storage. This is a great temporary solution, at least until you figure out what to do with all the extra furniture.

Cardio

Even though treadmill is the most popular indoor cardio solution, it is also the most expensive one. To make the situation even stranger, it isn’t even the most efficient one. A simple skip rope is capable burning as much as 720 calories in a single hour and it moves almost all muscles in your organism. According to some estimates, skipping rope for about 5 minutes (120 to 140 skips per minute) is as efficient as 30 minutes of jogging or 720 yards of swimming.

Apart from rope skipping, you can also purchase a small or medium punching bag. Apart from being great for your cardiovascular system, this exercise is incredibly intensive and significantly boosts the strength of your arms. Moreover, punching bags are fairly inexpensive and don’t take a lot of space. Especially when taken into consideration that they can be taken off at any given moment.

Barbell and weights

The next thing you want to invest in is a barbell, seeing as how it provides you with four exercises that should be enough on their own. Squats, bench press, deadlift and barbell upright row are exercises that move all the major muscle groups in your body, legs, chest, back and shoulders, respectively. In other words, a single barbell and several weights are more than enough to replace a myriad of expensive gym machines, although some exercises may require specific racks (bench press, squats).

Apart from this, you might also want to install a pull-up bar, seeing as how it provides you with space where to do pull-ups and lunges. Needless to say, this rack can also be modified with a hook, so that you get a place where to hang your boxing bag.

Additional equipment

As for the additional equipment, you can let yourself go wild, seeing as how, up until now, you’ve saved quite a bit on your gym equipment. First of all, however, you want to purchase an exercise mat, so that you get to practice yoga, or at least do sit-ups with a greater comfort. Apart from this, you might also want to consider investing in a stereo system, in order to make your exercise sessions more effective. If not, for the time being, you can just get some decent speakers to connect to your phone.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, building your home gym on a budget is not that hard. In fact, exercises with barbell tend to move more muscles than machines do, making them somewhat more effective, to begin with. When it comes to cardio, we already demonstrated that cheaper isn’t necessarily better. As for the mirrors, mats and overall décor, it is completely up to you. Luckily, even here, you have more than a few options that can fit your budget.

Read more…

Every culture in the world has its own set of traditions and habits that help people get in shape and stay fit no matter what, and diversity is exactly what makes those cultures unique and worth mentioning. So, if you’re up for some useful fitness tips from different corners of the world, you’re definitely at the right place. Here are four of them you’ll absolutely adore, so check them out and enjoy!

Thailand: Spice it up and you won’t regret it

Everyone knows that Thai cuisine is famous for its delicious yet extremely spicy dishes, and the truth is that it’s actually one of the spiciest in the world. Of course, we don’t talk about a tickle-on-your-tongue kind of spicy – it can be described as lava spicy, so be sure you ask for a milder version of a particular dish if you don’t enjoy such an extreme. However, you should know that ingredients like hot pepper can boost your metabolism and make you eat slower at the same time, which is a great weight-loss strategy that can be quite beneficial for your waistline in the long run.

India: The ancient yoga philosophy at its finest

You may already know that India is home to yoga – a group of mental, spiritual, and physical practices that have multiple benefits for our health and overall well-being. This Hindu philosophy is also said to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve various medical conditions. Besides that, practicing yoga can perfect your posture and build muscle strength, while increasing your blood flow and therefore improving your circulation. This basically contributes to a good heart health, and inverted poses like Headstand and Handstand are particularly helpful in this case, as the blood from your legs and pelvis flows back to the heart where it can be pumped to the lungs in order to become freshly oxygenated.

Japan: Work out hard and stay forever young

When speaking of Japanese fitness tips, we have to say that these people are all about working out in order to stay as young as possible. Facial exercises are here to confirm this claim, and their goal is to wake up and strengthen sleeping muscles on your face and prevent your skin from sagging and developing wrinkles. On the other hand, there are also workouts that require the finest compression clothing, such as HIIT Tabata training. This kind of a workout is a 4-minute fat-burning session, and such clothes will improve your performance, reduce the risk of injury, and speed up the process of recovery, so make sure not to skip them if you’re up for a fabulous Japanese workout.

Germany: Don’t forget to eat your breakfast

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do you really eat it regularly, without exceptions? We don’t know about you, but Germans definitely do! In fact, about 75% of them eat their breakfast on a daily basis (compared with 44% of Americans), and they’re taking it to a new level. Whole-grain breads and cereals are their thing, as well as fresh fruits that accompany their meal. As you can see, they’re staying away from processed foods like Egg McMuffins or anything similar, which is exactly what you should do, too. Some studies even show that you’re more likely to indulge in a high-calorie meal later on if you haven’t eaten your breakfast, so make a wise choice and eat healthy before you leave your house in the morning.

Each of these amazing tips can be more than helpful, so be sure to bear them in mind if you want to improve your fitness levels and become leaner and fitter in the near future. Never forget to skip your breakfast, have a spicy meal from time to time, take some yoga classes, and then have an intense workout (accompanied with some facial exercises), and you’ll see a fantastic improvement!

Read more…

Growing the Athlete

Growing the athlete is an organic not a mechanistic process. For years I used the metaphor of building the athlete but over the past few years I have become uncomfortable with that metaphor. Certainly, building is part of the process, but I find that building evokes a reductionist mechanistic image of constructing, of replacing parts as opposed to the cultivation of synergistic relationships between training means and methods and the systems of the body. The whole is much more than the sum of the parts as the athlete is nurtured and develops throughout their career. It takes time and timing of the appropriate stimuli for the level of the athlete’s stage of development.

My father was a gardener and I remember the first time he took me to work with him, I was probably ten or eleven years old. As any youngster I was impatient and full of questions. I wanted to know why this patch of garden had no plants. Why we had to water this area and fertilize another section. Why we had to trim these plants and let others grow. I wanted to know why he didn’t plant all the seeds at the same time. He explained it to me, but I must admit that I did not fully understand it until years later after I had started coaching. The carrots had to planted at a certain time. The winter and summer squash were different. Some vegetables thrived in the cold of winter and others need the heat of summer. The same is true with the nurturing of the athlete. You must carefully cultivate the soil by developing physical competencies. Then you plant appropriate levels of training of the various physical capacities. You allow those capacities to grow and develop and then you carefully harvest them in competition. Nowhere is anything forced, it is a long-term time-consuming process that requires constant attention from the gardener/coach. Lest we forget the nurturing never stops.

Read more…