4 Tips to Feel Great With Strength Training

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If your strength training workouts don’t make you feel great or, worse, leave you feeling achy or beat up, then you need to change things. Now. Here’s how.

Below you’ll find four tips I use with clients (and myself) who complained that lifting weights didn’t “feel good” or left them feeling achy. Whether you’re an older lifter and want to strength train as safely as possible, you have previous aches and pains you want to alleviate, or you want your workouts to make you feel better and have more energy, give these four tips a try during your next workout.

Tip 1: Slow down your reps.*

This tip is simple to practice but also very effective, especially if you’ve previously experienced discomfort or pain from strength training workouts. Give this a try during your next workout (or even test it now with a set of push-ups) to experience it for yourself.

Slow down your reps by taking approximately 2-3 seconds to perform the lowering portion of the exercise. You don’t need to count, but noticeably slow down your rep performance. Using a push-up as an example, take 2-3 seconds to lower yourself down to the ground.

Then smoothly reverse the motion; do not use momentum or “bounce” back up. Sticking with the push-up example, after you lower yourself down, smoothly reverse the motion and press back up. It may help to add a slight pause in the bottom position to ensure you don’t bounce out of the bottom.

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s tips with videos.

**This article was written by Nia Shanks, and is published on her blog “Lift Like a Girl.” Nia Shanks is a writer and coach, and leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution. She helps women discover and reach their potential through an empowering approach to health, fitness, and life. niashanks.com

Take a break, improve your nutrition

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I’m not above putting a task on my to-do list after I’ve completed it just so I can have the satisfaction of checking it off. Or listing things I’m unlikely to forget like “shower” and “make breakfast” so I can check them off and get that little dopamine reward in my brain. Feels good to get stuff done.

But there’s a dark side to buying into our culture’s penchant for busyness. Especially if you make your self-worth contingent on how much you get done in a day, compromising your physical and mental well-being.

If you have a hard time giving yourself permission to take regular breaks, there’s a good chance it’s negatively impacting your eating habits. How? Here are a couple of different ways this can show up—and what to do about them:

1)  You find yourself making numerous trips to the kitchen–even though you’re not hungry. If you struggle with giving yourself permission to take intentional breaks, your body and mind will settle for a pseudobreak: eating. You might rationalize, “Hey, everybody’s gotta eat. At least that’s productive.” Meanwhile, the mindless autopilot eating isn’t so satisfying, and overeating convenient snack foods may lead to less energy…ironically leading to even more eating to pick up your energy (or as a response to food guilt).

Try this: When you notice the kitchen is calling your name even though you’re not hungry, take a moment to get curious and ask yourself, “What am I asking the food to do for me?” 

Maybe your body or mind needs a break, and taking a few minutes to close your eyes, surf the web, call a friend, take a mini nap, step outside, read a magazine, make some tea or stretch would be more restorative than raiding the fridge and pantry. There’s evidence that giving the mind regular breaks improves productivity and creativity.

Or maybe you’re working on a project and hit a rough spot. The inquiry, “What am I asking the food to do for me?” may help you realize you’re tempted to procrastinate on the project and a trip to the kitchen sounds like a good way to distract.

Once you’ve named what’s going on, you can then make a conscious decision on what to do next. Maybe you decide you’re going to tackle the project for just 10 more minutes and then check in to see if you’re willing to do more. Or perhaps you decide to take a 15-minute break—or wait to tackle the project tomorrow. You might even decide to enjoy a snack mindfully even though you’re not hungry—without guilt. The key is to identify what’s going on so you can make a conscious decision, rather than eating compulsively (or restricting) and not knowing why.

The comedian Louis C.K. is a surprising source of nutritional wisdom. In a Rolling Stoneinterview, he says, “Once you say that to yourself, ‘Oh, this is anxiety,’ you get to say to yourself, ‘Why am I anxious?’ because when something’s bothering you, you don’t name it, you just start eating something. I’m still going to eat the two Twinkies, but when I start opening the second package, I say to myself, ‘What’s going on, buddy?’ That will get me to two Twinkies instead of eight.”

2)  You overpack your schedule. Whenever someone asks how you’re doing, your response is usually, “Busy!” Your hectic way of moving through your day leads to missed meals and snacks and/or mindless eating. You might experience more moments of feeling “hangry,” feeling more anxious/stressed or making food decisions that don’t feel so good to your body, all thanks to low blood sugar.

Try this:  If at all possible, try scheduling fewer things in a day (but you already knew that, didn’t you?). Experiment with blocking out a little “white space” or buffer time between appointments and tasks. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time we need to do something or get somewhere. And it can be an act of wisdom and mercy to lower your standards.

Another idea is to schedule in regular meals and snacks, just like you do your other appointments. That may not feel “intuitive” but I assure you, it’s good self-care. Besides, when your schedule is hectic or chaotic, it can make your eating chaotic. It’s harder to stay connected to your body and be able to notice signals like gentle hunger and fullness when your body’s stress response is activated and adrenalin is high.

**This article is written by Minh-Hai Alex, a registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach from Seattle, Washington. Her specialties include Intuitive Eating, eating disorders, emotional eating, sports nutrition, IBS, PCOS, and certain other health concerns.

Visit Minh-Hai’s website, and read her blog for more information: Mindful Nutrition

The Four Causes of Skinny Fat

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Skinny fat is an oxymoron.

Skinny usually is associated with underweight, while fat is associated with overweight. Skinny fat refers to someone with unappreciable levels of muscle mass associated to a high percentage of body fat. Basically, not a great sales point for mating season…

Here are four reasons why people achieve the skinny fat look:

1. Doing too much cardio
Research is fairly clear on this. If strength and muscle hypertrophy is your goal, aerobic work will interfere with that goal. Aerobic exercise will cannibalize muscle mass.
2. Eating far too less
Of course, the natural thing to do when attempting to shed body fat is to restrict caloric intake. Skinny fat people take this axiom way too far. If you want to hold onto your muscle mass while restricting your calories, upping your protein intake is key.

Click here to read the rest of the article by Charles R. Poliquin

*This article is written by Charles R. Poliquin
Charles R Poliquin is recognized as one of the World’s most accomplished strength coaches who attributes his success to the quest for the “magical training program”. Now as Strength Sensei he shares his acquired knowledge and wisdom with the emerging leaders in the strength and conditioning field. Now after decades of disciplined research and training he has refined his craft so he can educate the dedicated few who want to maximize their learning so they can bring their results back to their athletes. Charles now dedicates his time to educate strength coaches from around the world so they can produce world class athletes.

Thinking of trying that ‘one last diet?’

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Can you relate to this line of thinking?

‘I know dieting doesn’t work long-term, and eventually I really want to try mindful and Intuitive Eating. But I’m at my highest weight now, so I’m going to try just this one last diet to get the weight off. And THEN I’ll work on my relationship with food once I’m more comfortable in my body. Because my body right now is unacceptable. ‘

I get it. It’s hard to imagine listening and trusting your body more when you’re so invested in the idea of changing it asap. While more people these days seem to agree with the idea that “diets don’t work,” the seductive magical thinking of “just this one last diet” is…huge. Plus, wouldn’t it be amazing if all those dieting claims were true?

But of course they’re not. Most companies don’t want you to know there’s overwhelming research that dieting causes harm physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

You might be tempted to hop back on the dreadful diet rollercoaster thinking the worst that can happen is that you don’t lose as much weight as you hope. But let’s take a moment to consider some of the known unwanted side effects, including:

Physical

  • Decreased metabolism (how your body adapts to restrictive eating)
  • Increased bingeing, especially on “forbidden foods,” which are now more rewarding to the brain
  • Increased risk of disordered eating
  • Low energy
  • Decreased ability to identify subtle hunger or comfortable fullness
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased weight gain. Dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain. Up to two-thirds of people who start a diet will eventually weigh more than when they started. Dieting is the one known way to increase your body’s setpoint (the weight range your body feels best at and naturally wants to be). Also, there’s not one single study showing that any diet leads to sustainable weight loss.

Mental & Emotional

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood and depression
  • Increased food fears
  • Decreased focus and concentration
  • Feelings of deprivation
  • Increased stress in social situations
  • Less presence with others and life in general
  • Increased hopelessness
  • Increased guilt and shame
  • Decreased body trust, leading to decreased overall self-trust
  • And more…

It’s tempting to buy into the promises that you’re just a 30-day challenge away from food and body confidence. But if you take a moment to look at the evidence and your years of experience, what do you already know? If you find yourself fantasizing about that one diet that “worked,” what happened after it stopped “working?”

Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

**This article is written by Minh-Hai Alex, a registered dietitian and certified health and wellness coach from Seattle, Washington. Her specialties include Intuitive Eating, eating disorders, emotional eating, sports nutrition, IBS, PCOS, and certain other health concerns.

Visit Minh-Hai’s website, and read her blog for more information: Mindful Nutrition

The Case For Eating Your Carbohydrates At Night

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Carbohydrate intake is subject to a lot of misconceptions and myths, one of them being the timing they should be consumed.

Since 1982, from sheer observation and from experience, I have been recommending eating them later in the day.

Not only does it help from a body composition change standpoint, but also for enhancing sleep. This was going against the grain (no pun intended) of bodybuilding gurus who advocated eating carbs in the morning.

Along the years, various diet protocols followed that pattern, a few of the latest to come along being the “Carb Back-loading” protocol (created by John Kiefer and popularized amongst others by Ben Pakulski, who a strong proponent of the meat and nuts breakfast too), and the The Biorhythm Diet, proposed by Borge Fagerli (1). Beside my observation and experience, many studies came out, backing up this protocol of nutrient timing.

Click here to read the rest of the article by Charles R. Poliquin

*This article is written by Charles R. Poliquin
Charles R Poliquin is recognized as one of the World’s most accomplished strength coaches who attributes his success to the quest for the “magical training program”. Now as Strength Sensei he shares his acquired knowledge and wisdom with the emerging leaders in the strength and conditioning field. Now after decades of disciplined research and training he has refined his craft so he can educate the dedicated few who want to maximize their learning so they can bring their results back to their athletes. Charles now dedicates his time to educate strength coaches from around the world so they can produce world class athletes.