By Bryan Opaskar
Preparing for the end of the Strength Cycle
As we near the end of the strength cycle, we would like to take this time to inform you on stress management. Training, like any other aspect of life, is a stressor. Positive or negative, stress has an accumulative effect and needs to be managed in the grand scheme of day-to-day life. Whether you are an accountant, strength coach, banker, or student, stress needs to be managed in an appropriate fashion to avoid burnout and allow you to achieve your short-term and long-term goals.
Becoming Aware of our Stress Levels
Monitoring/controlling stress in training is no different than in life. More than likely, you develop a yearly goal for your job/company. This is the big picture and is adjustable somewhat, but gives you guidance as to where you want to ultimately end up a year from now. You proceed to make a plan in order to achieve your yearly goal by breaking it down into smaller steps, typically quarterly goals. The quarterly goals allow you to focus on a select few aspects that will accumulate and ultimately help you achieve your yearly goal. Each quarterly goal can be broken down into smaller steps, such as monthly and weekly goals. The process helps manage your stress over time by spreading out the workload appropriately into manageable loads. Will there be times where you have to put your head down, eyes up and plow through? Absolutely. It is necessary at times. However, it typically gets balanced out by periods of lighter workloads.
Training is no different. You set up a goal, such as losing 10 lbs, and determine roughly how long it will take to achieve your goal. Set up a target date and work backward, developing a plan to achieve your goal. Throughout the development of your plan, you will have smaller goals to monitor progress and keep you on track. This allows you to get less discouraged by small fluctuations in weight or small deviations from the plan and help you stay consistent with your plan. Additionally, it reduces the stress of trying to lose all 10 lbs at once, spreading it out into manageable steps throughout the process.
The gym should not be a place that negatively affects your life by adding more unnecessary stress. Rather, it should be a place where you improve your health, physical performance, and overall quality of life. You do not need to bury yourself in the ground all the time to achieve greater fitness and health outcomes. Rather, monitoring your stress in the gym takes you to far greater places overall. We as coaches believe in monitoring your workload because we value each and every individual that walks through our doors. Your safety is our top priority. Hence, workload monitoring is one aspect we utilize to help keep you safe.
A look into the future of the gym…..
At The Bar Athletics, we are implementing training cycles to help monitor your stress in the gym. We have broken down the yearly programming into 5 training cycles that focus on further developing every individual’s general physical preparedness (GPP) while simultaneously managing your stress. There will be times where you will be pushed hard and feel “broken down”. However, we will help build you back up so you are stronger and better than before. Especially near the end of each cycle, when we test out, you will experience a deload/”peak” week in which your overall workload will be significantly reduced. The purpose is to help your body (especially your nervous system) fully recover so that on the testing day you can put forth your best performance.
If you have any questions about specifics related to you, please feel free to reach out to one of the coaches.
By CJ Kostranchuk
Increasingly popular in gyms, and commonly utilized by boot camps and personal trainers, battle ropes are a dynamic, effective training tool. They are available in a variety of diameters and length, creating progressive levels of difficulty.
Longer ropes ideal for pulling movements; thicker ropes are advantageous for developing power and grip strength. Battle Ropes are also great because their portability lets you take your workout outside.
To find out the primary benefits of using battle ropes in your training, click the link below:
By Coach Meredith
Spring is here and the weather is finally getting warmer. Now is the perfect time to think about ways to switch up your gym routine and bring your workouts outside! Besides fitting in more physical activity, there are also many other benefits to working out outside such as fresh air, sunshine, and enjoying a wide range of activities that are perfect for the outdoors which you may not be able to do during your normal indoor workouts. Not sure how to get the same intensity as your indoor workouts? Try one of these ideas to get started:
Just a reminder-- No matter what activity you try outside:
Depending on where you go, whether you’re in the park, at the beach, in a field, a parking lot, or maybe just in your own backyard—workouts that are typically done inside can always be modified to bring to the great outdoors. No one said exercise has to stay inside, so get out there and enjoy the benefits of some fresh air and sunshine while becoming a stronger, healthier you!
By Coach Meredith
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training is going to give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to exercise. Want cardio? It’s got it. Want to gain strength? You will. Want to burn fat? This is your solution.
Luckily, The Bar Athletics offers TWO great exercise programs that use high intensity interval training: Crossfit and B-FHIIT.
While our Crossfit program does offer workouts with HIIT, our B-FHIIT program is completely based off of it (if you couldn’t already tell by its name… Bar-Fitness High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT (B-FHIIT) alternates between periods of high and low intensity and periods of rest. For example: 40 seconds of a set of burpees followed by a set of ring rows and then 20 seconds of rest OR 30 second sprint followed by 1 minute of walking.
HIIT is an important form of exercise because it is impossible to sustain maximal intensities during an extended amount of time. This is due to how our body processes fuel. Let’s take this a step further and explore a magic molecule called: Oxygen.
One thing everyone knows is we need oxygen to breathe. When our bodies work at low intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk, we utilize aerobic metabolism. What does this mean?
-This means we use oxygen to break down carbohydrate and fat for energy. This is great! It’s an efficient process, however we can’t work at top speed so we lose intensity.
When our bodies work at higher intensity, such as sprinting, we utilize anaerobic metabolism. What does this mean?
-This means our bodies can’t get oxygen to where it needs to go fast enough. This is inefficient, but it allows us to produce short bursts of speed or high energy.
So, we have these two systems, both of which have advantages and disadvantages. How can we make the best of both worlds when exercising? – HIIT.
-The alternating of short bursts of intense exercise (anaerobic metabolism) with periods of low intensity exercise (aerobic metabolism) allow for long-term fat loss, overall conditioning, and muscle recovery.
Again, just to recap-- Why HIIT?
HIIT is excellent for:
HIIT is extremely efficient. It lets you get a bigger training effect with less time spent. And compared to a 45-minute jog, 45 minutes of HIIT is a lot easier on the joints.
If you’re tired of seeing the same results from lifting weights in front of a mirror and doing the same old circuit, check out our 45 minute B-FHIIT class or 60 minute Crossfit classes for some HIIT fun!
Stop Exercising...Start Training!
By Coach CJ
You’ve probably had every intention of getting in the best shape of your life THIS year, but still haven’t committed to the process. What went wrong?? It doesn’t matter if you haven’t stepped foot in a gym for 20 years or if you’ve been going FIVE times per week, chances are you’re looking at it as 'EXERCISE' not ‘TRAINING.’
Let’s take a step back and discuss the difference:
Exercise is movement without purpose; motion without direction. It’s what my mother does when she walks around the block, or you go to the gym and make up a workout on the spot.
Training is a mindset. It’s, the way in which you approach any exercise you do. Training is doing that same ‘EXERCISE’ activity, but with a specific, measurable goal in mind. Training involves having a plan of action on how you’re going to get to that goal. If you want results, training is the most effective way to get there.
Here are 5 steps to begin training:
1. SET A PRIMARY GOAL & MAKE A PLAN
We at The Bar Athletics love SMART Goals (Refer back to last week's SMART GOAL BLOG). SMART Goals allow you to get started in the right direction. All too often we hear, “I want to get healthy [fit, strong].” In order to become healthy, fit, or strong, you need a plan to get to that destination. “Healthy” and “strong” aren't specific enough. I want you to think of a road map, the foldable kind our parents kept in the glove box and used for family vacations. My father would unfold the map, mark our home or our starting location, and then find our destination. Next, he would highlight the route from starting location to end destination, figuring out the most efficient way to get there. He included checkpoints for gas and rest along the way. The point here is that he had a goal, a destination in mind, and the map was his plan. Think of your goal as a destination on a map. What route and what checkpoints do you need to go through in order to make it to your goal? How will you become healthy, fit, or strong? It’s time to set some goals and get SMART!
2. SMALLER, MORE SPECIFIC GOALS
How do you know you're headed in the right direction? Smaller, more frequent goals. At any particular moment, training and exercise might look more or less the same. But as we discussed earlier, they are not. When you train, sessions have specific goals relative to the overall goals of a program. The activities, loads, and frequencies you use are vital. You do what you need to do, not just what you want to do. For example, when training for a competition 3 months down the road you will need to set expectations of your training in order to perform at your best ability when the competition date arrives. Smaller goals such as attaining a higher load or more repetitions, will benefit the ultimate goal of your performance down the road.
3. FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
Fundamentals are the basics of your training. Without them we should not and could not train. They also provide the importance of having a coach. Having a coach might seem obvious, but there are many athletes that prefer to train alone. There are several important reasons for having a coach, but two integral reasons are:
1. The coach has knowledge, experience, and can provide an unbiased set of eyes.
2. The coach will get an athlete to do things he or she wouldn't do otherwise.
4. TRAINING IS EFFICIENT
If you look at any particular element in your training program and you can't explain how it will aid in your primary goal, then you probably shouldn't be doing it. For example, let’s say you’re looking to fit into your bathing suit this summer and are only doing cardio and avoiding strength training. Oh, you just want to “tone up?” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but “TONING” is actually saying you want to build some muscle and lose body fat. Strength training is the most efficient way to “tone” up and lose body fat as it burns calories both during and post-exercise versus cardio which only burns during. An Olympic lifter, for example, would be wasting his time and energy doing hundreds of bench presses and calf raises when his focus should be on cleans, jerks, and snatches. In comparison, a bodybuilder doesn't need to be doing an hour of power cleans every day. My point here is to train efficiently for your goal. Do what is necessary to get you one step closer to where you need to be.
5. TRAINING USES STATS
When training, you will know before a session is even finished whether or not that day was successful. You don't judge training quality based on how tired you are, how sore you got, or the volume you were able to perform. Successful training is not judged on the pump you got, but on the progression toward YOUR GOALS. This is made possible by keeping record of all volumes, repetitions, and drills you use in training. Other items we must keep track of are our nutrition and sleep. If you didn't hit your planned number or rep scheme for the day, then there was a flaw somewhere. Flaws are due to the many variables in our lives. Maybe it was the programming, maybe your nutrition was off or perhaps you weren't rested enough. Good record-keeping will help you identify the problem and point you in the right direction to solve it.
So if you want results from your exercise, set up a training program to get to your goal the right way. Use the five steps we discussed to get started today!
Not sure what goals to set? Meet with one of our coaches for a FREE goal setting session.