10 Must Do’s to Stay Athletic (Part 2)

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Before we get to Part 2 of James’ guest post from yesterday, a few things:

1.  You should read Part 1 if you haven’t already. This isn’t like The Matrix Reloaded or Revolutions or anything where, if you didn’t watch the original Matrix, you’d be throwing your hands up in the air wondering what WTF is going on.

Where did 100 Agent Smith’s come from?

If Neo can fly, why go through all the trouble of kung-fu’ing everyone?

And, who the hell is this Architect character and why is he obsessed with the word “ergo”?

Nevertheless, you can absolutely read Part 2 (below) and not Part 1 and get the gist of everything.  But, it’s still nice to have the whole story.

2.  The guys over at Examine.com (THE best source for INDEPENDENT and UNBIASED supplement information in the history of the internet) just released their new product, Stack Guides, today.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “what supplements should I take for ______?” then this may be right up your alley.

The Stack Guides are easy to use and provide a step-by-step breakdown of the most prominent queries people have towards supplementation:

Fat Loss
Muscle Gain & Exercise Performance
Bone Health
Sleep Quality
Libido
Mood/Depression
Vegetarianism/Veganism
Insulin Sensitivity, etc……..

You name it, Examine.com probably has it covered.  For more information, you can go HERE.

And with that, lets get to Part 2 of James’ article….

6.  Maintain an Aerobic Base

Low intensity, long duration cardio gets a bad rap sometimes.  If you listen to some people, it sounds as if even thinking about going aerobic will automatically make you lose all your gains.  Unless all you do is low intensity, long duration cardio, that’s not the case.  Your muscle will not melt off your body.  I promise.

Here are a few reasons to maintain a stellar aerobic base:

– It’s always contributing to energy production

– It plays an enormous role in regenerating the necessary substrates to fuel alactic metabolism (aka it helps you recover)

– Is the most trainable of the three energy systems because its only byproducts are CO2 and water.

– Can push out your anaerobic threshold, which in turn allows you to avoid the fatiguing effects of anaerobic metabolism.

For more on this topic I’d recommend checking out this article.

Action Item:  Do cardiac output work once a week for 30-60 min and mix in tempo work once a week at the end of a workout.

7.  Eat Well 90% of the Time

You are what you eat.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.  Eat like crap, and you’ll probably perform and feel like crap.

If you do your due diligence and eat well 90% of the time, and by well I mean focus on lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, then you’ll do great.

I hate when people get all paranoid and never allow themselves some breathing room.  If you’re craving a milkshake go crush a damn milkshake.  If you make yourself miserable trying not to have it, you’re more likely to binge eat later.  Just indulge yourself within reason and stay on point the other 90% of the time.

If you have questions about nutrition and want an easy to follow plan based on your body type and goals, then click here.

Action Item:  Get protein (lean meat), carbs (veggies and fruit), and fat (nuts, seeds and oils) into every meal you eat.

8.  Play

One of my favorite quotes is by George Shaw, and it goes like this:  “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Think back to when you were a kid, and how much you enjoyed the art of playing.  Just reckless, mindless, good old fashioned playing.  For some reason we lose that as adults, and it’s sad because the health benefits from playing are great.

Although the list is long, I think most of it comes back to stress management.  Playing allows us to take a much needed break from the constant stressors of todays 24/7 lifestyle, and may very well help keep our stress response in tune (ala not “on” all the time).

If you’re interested in reading more about stress and its impact on the body, I couldn’t recommend the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky enough.

Action Item:  Play for at least 1 hour each week.

9.  Have an off switch

Getting jacked up and ripping 500lbs off the floor is great and all, but you have to be able to shut down afterwards.

More specifically, you have to be able to turn off your sympathetic (flight or fight) nervous system and get into your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.  This is important for a host of reasons, but here’s a quick example.

Let’s say you find yourself roaming the Serengeti and come across this cuddly little guy:

Without having to think about it, your sympathetic nervous system will kick into gear, diverting blood flow to your muscles and dumping things like glucocorticoids into the bloodstream, while most other bodily functions that don’t help you survive at this immediate moment get put on the back burner (digesting food, secretion of sex hormones etc.).

Side note:  this is what happens when you train.

Once you’ve escaped the lion you’d like to be able to shut off the sympathetic system and find your parasympathetic system so you can rest, digest and recover.  Unfortunately, some people lose the ability to do this.  They stay sympathetic all the time causing their bodies to constantly act as if they’re running from a lion.  Needless to say, that’s not healthy in the long run.

Action Item:  Try doing 3 minutes of crocodile breathing after workouts and before bed every night.

Note from TG:  Crocodile or Belly breathing is easy to do.  The idea is to “coach” people to become less of a chest breather – which is an aberrant pattern that tends to jack up our secondary respiratory muscles like the upper traps and scalenes (and, not coincidentally, often leads to neck and shoulder pain) –  and learn to breath more into their belly.

Here, you’ll lie prone on your stomach with your forehead resting on your forearms. From there try to inhale and breath more into your stomach.  You know you’re doing it correctly if you notice your lower back moving up and down, like in the video below.

10.  Surround Yourself With the Right People

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  If you hang out with people who have zero interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you will also not care about having a healthy lifestyle.

Not only that, having a supporting cast and a few good training partners can make all the difference in the world.  So choose wisely who you associate with.

Action Item:  Make a new friend this month that shares your health and fitness related goals.

Note from TG:  or, you could also just hang out with Jason Bourne.  That would be pretty bad ass.

11.  Bonus: Have Something to Train For

As much as I’d love for everyone to train just because they love training, I’m a realist.

I know that’s not the case for the majority of people. Go out of your way to find something train for.  It can be anything.  Do a Tough Mudder.  Sign up for a powerlifting meet.  Really…anything goes.  Just pick something you can put on the calendar that’ll act as a source of accountability.

Action Item:  Find an event you can compete in sometime over the next 6 months.

Closing Thoughts

Some of the material presented in this article is probably new, and some is probably old news.  Either way, the overarching theme is this:  if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Funny as that may be, it’s true.  The body will adapt to whatever stimulus you place on it, and that includes whatever stimulus you don’t place on it.

The easiest way to stay athletic is to stay on top of your game—it’s always easier to maintain something than it is to get it back.

About the Author

James Cerbie, CSCS, Pn1, USAW, Crossfit Level 1

James Cerbie is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Precision Nutrition, USA Weightlifting and Crossfit.  He has worked with athletes from the middle school to professional level, powerlifters, olympic lifters, and Crossfit athletes alike.  He’s the owner of Rebel Performance and currently works as a strength and conditioning intern at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.

P.S.  He would love it if you hung out with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Michelle

    Thank you. Well done. I will use this information.

    • James Cerbie

      No problem Michelle. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Shane Mclean

    Great 2 part series mate. Love number 8. Try to play with my young children any chance i get. That’s what i train for.Too keep up with them.