Self Talk: The Real Motivator

A huge part of motivation is what we tell ourselves, or self talk. Having positive self talk is key to success when it comes to fitness goals. According to expert neurologist we average 70,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts include both conscious and unconscious.  Conscious thoughts are dictated by our surroundings and environment, along with past experiences. Our views, outlook on life and perception of ourselves is determined by our different upbringings and life experiences. these experiences will dictate whether you have positive or negative self talk.

What is self talk?

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either outloud or mentally. The messages you tell yourself will encourage and motivate you, or they will limit you if they are negative. It’s important to recognize your inner voice so you can identify when you’re having positive or negative self talk.

Here is negative self talk that you want to avoid

  • Mind reading: assuming we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.
  • Overgeneralization: the habit of telling ourselves that a negative event is bound to continue happening in the future.
  •  Magnification: when we take our own errors or flaws and exaggerate them.
  • Minimization: the mirror image of magnification, being dismissive of our strengths and positive qualities.
  • Emotional reasoning:  the habit of making decisions based on how we feel rather than what we value.
  • Personalization: assuming excessive amounts of responsibility, especially for things that are mostly or entirely outside our control.
  • Fortune Telling: the mental habit of predicting what will happen based on little or no real evidence.
  • Should Statements: are a kind of self-talk we use to try and motivate ourselves by always telling ourselves what we should and should not do.


In order to combat negative self talk use these positive self talk strategies

  1.      Have a purpose higher than yourself
  2.      Cut negative people out of your life
  3.      Be grateful
  4.      Don’t compare yourself to others
  5.      Use positivity with others
  6.      Believe in your success
  7.      Don’t fear failure
  8.      Replace negative thoughts with positive one
  9.      Positive affirmation
  10.   Don’t dwell in the past
  11.   Visualize your success
  12.   Limit your intake of news and media
  13.   Help others
  14.   Be physically active
  15.   Dream and set goals

When and how to be effective at self talk?

In order to be effective at self talk you must make it a habit. To start, Every morning think of something that you are a grateful for and give thanks. Then give yourself positive affirmation such as:

  •      I am determined and successful
  •      I am confident
  •      I am strong
  •      My life has meaning and purpose
  •      I am in control of my choices
  •      I am not afraid to fail because it will help me grow

How is self talk is critical to building confidence?

Do you feel shy in front of a big audience? Do you have little belief in your talents and skills? Positive self-talk can Positive self-talk can make you feel more confident in these situations Negative self-talk will hinder you from performing at your fullest by allowing doubt to come into your thoughts. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts aside and focus on accomplishing your feat successfully. Confidence and success go hand in hand. Those who are successful at what they do, truly believe in themselves and their abilities.  Confidence is so important to success that many psychologists believe that it is one of the primary prerequisites to personal and professional success. Be confident in everything you do by lifting yourself up with positive self talk.


The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

Are you looking to increase your upper body strength? There are tons of exercises out there that can help improve your strength. But there is one that is above the rest. That is, the bench press. This is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength. You can spend hours in the gym doing countless reps of push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder presses, and bicep curls, but none of these single exercises will have as much of a positive effect on your upper body strength than the bench press. Let’s dive in to see why the bench press is the best exercise for building strength!

Bench Press for Gains

The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it gives you the most bang for your buck. It allows you to recruit more muscle fibers than any other upper body exercise out there. When it comes to building strength, you want to stick to exercises that use major muscle groups when exerting sub-maximal and maximal effort to get the gains you are looking for.

The bench press is a compound exercise, meaning it utilizes multiple joints and muscle groups to help you develop functional strength by following your body’s natural movement patterns. Compound movements are among the best exercises to gain total upper body strength because they help you develop the greatest amount of muscle tissue possible. Compound lifts create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time and also have the added benefit of helping develop the body proportionately.

Heavy Weight Champ

Gaining upper body strength requires exercises that stimulate muscular growth by imposing enough stress on your muscles. The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it allows you to contract your muscles against heavier loads, which exhaust your muscles with fewer repetitions. The bench press maximizes damage to contractile proteins in your muscles. Your muscles adapt by repairing the damage and synthesizing more proteins, which effectively increases the contractile strength of your muscles.

Is the Bench Press Right for You?

If you’re looking to increase your upper body strength while improving muscle definition and posture, the bench press is the way to go. However, if you have shoulder issues or any other pain in your back, elbows, or wrist, you may want to stick to exercises that work on stability and control to help strengthen that area or prevent further injury. A great alternative to the bench press is the dumbbell bench press or push-up. These upper body exercises have great benefits but do not put as much stress on your joints. Remember to train mobility and stability, then endurance, then build strength. Failure to follow this progression will result in injury. Also, be sure to incorporate these warm-up exercises before doing any upper body strength routine.

1×10 Each


How to Do a Turkish Get-Up

How to Do a Turkish Get-Up

The Turkish Get-Up is an exercise that dates back to ancient wrestlers in what is now Turkey to prepare themselves for competitions. This is a great ancient exercise with present day benefits. The Turkish Get-Up is a total body exercise that increases strength, stability, mobility, balance and coordination. It can be used in a warm-up, as an assessment of overall strength and mobility, and within a strength-training program. The Get-Up is generally performed with a kettlebell, but can also be used with a dumbbell. The Get-Up is a complex movement that requires coordination in order to execute properly, but the benefits of this exercise are well worth it.

Here are a few benefits of the Turkish Get-Up

  • Single leg hip stability during the initial roll to press and during the bridge
  • Shoulder stability
  • Incorporates all three planes of movement
  • Thoracic extension and rotation
  • Hip and leg mobility and active flexibility
  • Stability in two different leg patterns – lunge stance as well as squat stance
  • Both rotary and linear stability
  • Ankle mobility
  • The ability to link movement created in our extremities to the rest of our body

Step-by-step guide on how to properly execute the Turkish Get-Up

  1. Starting position – Lie on your back with kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand – straight up in the air. Right knee will be bent with foot planted firmly on the ground and the left leg is straight on the ground. Left arm is straight on the ground, at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Elbow – With your right foot being firmly on the ground, roll onto your left elbow, with weight still above head.
  3. Hand – Once you have shifted weight to the elbow, continue rolling up until your weight is supported in your left hand. You should have 3 support points – left hand, left glute, and right foot.
  4. Bridge – Lift your hips off the ground keeping your right arm extended straight overhead, and your weight in your left hand. Keep looking up at the weight and keep it overhead.  You should have 2 support points – left hand and right foot.
  5. Leg Swing – With hips still lifted in the bridge, swing your left leg under your body, and place your knee on the ground underneath you.
  6. Kneel – Take your left hand off of the floor and straighten up so your body is upright. Turn your legs so that they are parallel to each other.
  7. Stand up – Drive your back foot through your hips and into your front foot, stand up from the lunge – keeping the weight straight overhead and look at the weight.
  8. Reverse Lunge – Keep the weight overhead, and step your left foot back in a reverse lunge, lowering your knee to the ground – with legs parallel.
  9. Lowering Hand – Swinging hips, lower left hand down to the ground.
  10. Swing leg – Now that your hand is on the ground, swing your left leg back to the front of you – with your weight in your left heel, left hand, and right foot.
  11. Elbow – Lower your weight back to your elbow – with contact points being your left elbow, left butt cheek and right foot.
  12. Finish – Lower your torso down to the ground and end in the beginning position.

The Turkish Get-Up can be modified for beginners and people dealing with injuries. Possible modifications would be to lighten the weight, no weight, Stage 1 Get-Up, or Stage 2 Get-Up.

Stage 1 Get-Up

 

Stage 2 Get-Up

 

 


Unilateral vs Bilateral Lower Body Training

Unilateral vs. Bilateral Lower Body Training

The unilateral versus bilateral training debate is just about as controversial as what comes first, the chicken or the egg? If you were to ask personal trainers, fitness coaches, or performance specialists which is better, you would get mixed responses. To make things easier for you I am going to break down the differences between unilateral and bilateral lower body training.  The best one for you depends on where you are on your fitness journey or performance goals.

Unilateral Training

Unilateral training involves asymmetrical exercises that only use one side of your body at a time. A unilateral lower body movement involves the use of one leg. There are varying intensities when it comes to unilateral lower body training depending on whether the exercises are done with free weights or machines. Here are examples of unilateral lower body exercises:

Bilateral Training

Bilateral lower body training involves the use of both legs symmetrically. Bilateral lower body exercises are the staples of most strength programs. Here are examples of bilateral lower body exercises.

Benefits of Unilateral Training

Unilateral lower body training is great for improving muscle imbalance, kinesthetic awareness, and stability. The asymmetrical nature of these exercises cause your body to stabilize joints and core muscles to maintain balance while executing the movement. If you have had an injury or dysfunction in your lower extremities, unilateral training will help isolate those weak points, and the appropriate exercise can help strengthen to restore full health and function. Unilateral training puts more isolated stress on the single limb being worked. This allows people to put stress on their limbs without overloading with weight, which can increase risk for injury.

Benefits of Bilateral Training

There are many benefits of bilateral lower body training. These include greater muscle recruitment, strength gains, central nervous system (CNS) adaptation, hormone response, greater metabolic effect, and requires less coordination. When performing bilateral lower body exercises, balance and stability are less of a factor compared to unilateral training. This gives you the ability to lift more weight. If your goal is to increase strength, muscle mass, power, or speed, bilateral training will help you make the necessary gains to reach your goal.

How to Implement Unilateral and Bilateral Training into your Workouts

Both bilateral and unilateral lower body training exercises are beneficial whether you are looking to improve your fitness or performance for sports. The most important thing to consider when selecting bilateral or unilateral lower body exercises is what is your number one goal? Do you want to maximize your strength? Do you want to improve your balance, core strength, or stability? Are you recovering from an injury and looking to strengthen an isolated joint or muscle group? Answering these questions before making exercise selections will help you map a plan of action before putting together an exercise routine.

My recommendation is to combine both bilateral and unilateral training in the same training session. After completing a thorough warm up, start with a compound bilateral exercise such as a squat or deadlift. It is important to do these exercises while mentally and physically fresh because they are more taxing than unilateral exercises. After completing one to two compound bilateral exercises, add in one to two unilateral exercises. Another option to consider is switching back and forth between hip dominant exercises (deadlift, hip thrust, etc.) and knee dominant exercises (squats, step ups, etc.).

Below is an example of a combined bilateral and unilateral lower body training routine.

 

Example 1

Bilateral

Back Squat 3×8-12
Unilateral

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

3×8-12
Unilateral

Dumbbell Lunge

3×8-12
Bilateral Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

3×8-12

 

Example 2

Bilateral

Deadlift 4×5

Unilateral

Bulgarian Split Squat 3×6
Bilateral Nordic Leg Curl

3×8

Unilateral Single Leg Hip Thrust

3×8

 

 


How Gut Bacteria Effects Body Function and Performance

How Gut Bacteria Affects Body Function and Performance

Gut health has gained traction in the health and fitness community as more people are aware of dysfunction in their gut health. Food sensitivity awareness has skyrocketed with over 15 million Americans dealing with food allergies. Your gut is the powerhouse of your immune system. It greatly affects your mood, energy level, digestive system, and response to stress. The state of your gut health is determined by the amount of live bacteria you have to allow your gut to function properly. Let’s dig into how gut bacteria affects body function and performance.

What is gut bacteria?

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota.

People who take antibiotics and consume highly chlorinated water may be at risk of flora imbalance. The good news is that this can be treated by creating a breeding ground for microflora. The microflora in your body needs a stable environment to grow and flourish. Experts suggest that your ideal colon pH should be between 6.7 and 6.9. A pH of 7 is neutral—anything lower than 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline. Your colon should be slightly acidic, which decreases the growth of harmful bacteria like E. coli, Shigella, and Salmonella.

Your gut is the powerhouse of your immune system. Roughly 70% of your immune system is found within the gastrointestinal tract. This is why having a balance of flora in your gut is so important to have a healthy immune system. Experts suggest that an imbalance in flora could be the cause of some autoimmune disorders and allergies.

What does gut bacteria do?

Bacteria lines your intestines and help you digest food. During digestion, it makes vitamins that are vital for life, sends signals to the immune system, and makes small molecules that can help your brain work. Gut bacteria plays a key role in our health, from metabolizing food to preventing disease.

Researchers have discovered that people who suffer from disease have a different combination of bacteria that line their intestines compared to healthy individuals. They are still working to define the makeup of gut bacteria in a healthy person versus the gut bacteria that puts you at risk of disease.

Ongoing research reveals that people with certain diseases often have a very different mix of bacteria in their intestines compared to healthier people. Researchers are working to define the makeup of gut bacteria in a healthy person versus the gut bacteria in an unhealthy person that can point to higher risk or presence of certain diseases.

What can you do to restore and maintain a healthy gut?

In order to restore and maintain a healthy gut, you should create an acidic environment for bacteria to thrive. You can do this by consuming probiotics like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (live bacteria and yeast that are good for your health). There are beverages, supplements, and natural food sources that you can consume as well that are a good source of healthy bacteria.

Foods and supplements that will help you restore gut health 

  1. Fermented Foods
  • Yogurt
  • Natto
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  1. Probiotic supplements – beverages or capsules
  • Flora Protect
  • Culturelle
  • Kavita
  • CoCo Biotic
  • Suja
  1. Lactic Acid Yeast Wafers

How much healthy bacteria should you be consuming?

Experts recommend one to ten billion live cultures split into three doses daily. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) has established a Live & Active Cultures seal program for all yogurt manufacturers whose refrigerated products contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture, and whose frozen products contain 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. This level was based on a survey of leading research scientists involved in clinical studies of the health attributes associated with live and active culture yogurt. The seal appears on yogurt packages and indicates whether this level of live and active cultures is present in the product.

Benefits of a healthy gut 

Having a healthy gut has many benefits whether you are an athlete, someone looking to improve your overall health, or someone who frequently takes medication. Here are a few reasons why you should stay on top of your gut health.

  • Powers digestive system
  • Contributes to immune function and health
  • Fights off urinary tract infections
  • Good for cholesterol management
  • Cleansing agent
  • More efficient nutrient absorption
  • Increases stress tolerance
  • Offsets harmful effects of medication

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