Minggu, 02 Agustus 2015

Hello Healthy

Hello Healthy


How to Set Exercise Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

Posted: 02 Aug 2015 08:00 AM PDT

exercise goals

Sometimes even the most active and healthy people can occasionally have slip ups or struggle through periods where they lose sight of their exercise motivation. Whether it's due to an injury, life becomes too busy, or a variety of other reasons, losing your drive can be extremely frustrating.

To get back on track you should start working towards creating achievable goals until you rebuild your confidence and reverse your recent exercise shortcomings—right, I know what you're thinking, "If it were that easy I'd be doing it already."

Often times, when others try to offer their motivational support, it can be interpreted as an easy solution—but how could they understand your particular struggle? Do they think this is easy for you?

Well by now, you're likely to have grown to understand that setting healthy goals and actually achieving them can be one of the most challenging tasks that you do.

To get over the hump and start setting new exercise goals, consider the following tips to help you refocus your mind and begin moving closer to your lifelong dedication to health and fitness. Remember, these are only suggestions. What works best for you will ultimately vary. As with many things in life, these tips won't work at all unless you put the work in yourself.

Set Goals That You Can Achieve Consistently

When you're interested in tangibly accomplishing your exercise goals, you should consider altering your mindset to accept a marathon mentality. Marathoners don't start running 26.2 grueling miles out of thin air, they conquer many smaller goals before scaling to this milestone. Success is rarely something that can be obtained overnight, it's the result of hard working individuals that maintain a consistent effort in the long run.

No matter how long you've fallen off the wagon, you can start setting attainable goals each day to help you get back on track. The idea is to create a challenge for yourself and build upon those challenges consistently—day after day, week after week, year after year and so forth.

This consistency doesn't necessarily equate to a hard workout every single day—it means that you have consciously accepted that each day is going to present new challenges to overcome, it means that you are actively focused on tackling speed bumps to become a stronger person tomorrow, it means that you aren't going to let any setback permanently change your path.

Know When to Scale Your Efforts Either Forward or Backward

Understanding whether you are trying to do too much or you're not focusing enough of your energy towards exercising can be a problem that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts face when achieving their goals. Exercising too much can lead to over stressing your body and a complete burnout, whereas feeling like you aren't working hard enough can take a serious toll on your mentality and overall attitude towards fitness.

Ideally, we'd like to sit right in the middle of these two extremes, but this is not generally an easy place to find. To build a stronger understanding of where you currently stand, you should learn to listen to your body. Once again, this can feel like a pretty vague answer, but when you think about it deeper, there are few people qualified enough to accurately tell you exactly what your body is going through—it's up to you to decide.

What you can do, is look for signs that indicate whether you should amp up your exercises or scale back your efforts.

If you've lost sleep from evening workouts, you feel sluggish, or your resting heart rate has climbed these can be warning signs that you're doing too much and headed for a breakdown or an unwanted exercise hiatus.

In contrast, if you aren't experiencing any physical changes, you don't feel sore, you have a stagnant or repetitive fitness routine, or you always exercise at the same low intensity, it may be time to try new workouts and increase your output.

When setting exercise goals that you'll actually achieve, look to find the edge of your comfort zone, but be careful not to overstep your bounds or be too easy on yourself. Finding a happy medium is key to helping maintain a consistent effort moving forward.

Track All of Your Progress

Another problem for many healthy individuals is finding the best exercise formula to reach their long term commitments. Since some goals can only be reached in the distant months or even years ahead, not knowing if you're on the right track can be frustrating and may cause you to doubt how effective your hard earned workouts have been.

To have a better idea of how well you are moving towards your goals, start documenting and tracking your results. In the past, this was a tedious process that needed to be done by manually by counting calories, measuring your waistline, and even jotting down your weekly body weight; however, with recent advances in mobile technology, you can have access to all of your fitness and nutrition data with just a few taps on your smartphone.

Additionally, experimenting with a wearable device or incorporating health and fitness apps into your exercise routine, can help you collect more data about your workouts and better determine if you are on the right track. While these devices can be a good option, they still have their limitations. Again, if you don't put the work in, neither can they.

Keep in mind that setting goals is meant to be a positive experience to help you throughout your lifelong health journey. Goals that are too difficult can be overwhelming and lead to disappointment, but goals that are too easy don't always yield the rewards that your are working towards. Finding a healthy balance that works best for you is the key to creating exercise goals that you'll actually achieve and feel accomplished when you reach them.

How do you develop exercise goals that you'll actually achieve? What are some of your biggest setbacks when work towards your goals? Have you ever fallen victim to exercising too much? Answer in the comments section below and as always, your feedback and criticism is warmly welcomed.

This article originally appeared on underarmour.com.

Sabtu, 01 Agustus 2015

Hello Healthy

Hello Healthy


Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Posted: 01 Aug 2015 10:00 AM PDT

Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Meat-and-potato fans will enjoy this hearty salad featuring lean flank steak and roasted potatoes. The tangy side salad helps make this a well-balanced, nutritious meal. If you’d rather cut the carbs, omit the potatoes and double up on the mixed salad greens instead.

Hate Crunches, Planks & Burpees? Try This Ab Workout

Posted: 01 Aug 2015 08:10 AM PDT

rolling like a ball

Pilates is a fantastic low-impact workout that strengthens your entire body, but it’s particularly effective at strengthening abs. We asked Amanda Masarjian, Miami-based Pilates instructor to create a simple routine that focuses on your core (also known as your Pilates powerhouse). Just check out her Instagram for a little abs-spiration and jaw-dropping workout views.

Some of the moves on the following slides use the Pilates circle, a tool that helps engage your core and activate your leg and inner thigh muscles. Most gyms have these rings stashed in the group fitness studio or by the ab mats where the medicine balls and foam rollers are kept, but if you don’t have access to one you can still do the following routine without it. Now let’s get to the moves shall we?

The Hundred

the hundred

Lie faceup and curl head, neck and shoulders up off mat. Extend legs to a 45-degree angle (as shown). Keeping arms straight and palms facing ground, pump arms for five quick inhales, then five quick exhales. Repeat for a total of 10 times. Modify by bending knees at a 90-degree angle.

Roll Ups

roll-ups

Lie faceup and hold the circle between hands. Extend arms straight to sky so the circle is directly above face. Inhale and curl head, neck and shoulders up. Exhale and roll spine, one vertebrae at a time, off mat. Keep arms straight and parallel to legs. Continue to fold forward and reach the circle past feet (as shown). Inhale, exhale and slowly reverse the movement. Repeat a total of 6 times.

Rolling Like a Ball

rolling like a ball

After finishing your last Roll Up, place the circle to the side and pull knees into chest so feet are lifted a couple inches off ground. Grab front of ankles and keep heels together and toes apart. Inhale and roll back on the curve of spine to shoulders blades, exhale and roll up to a seated position (as shown). Repeat a total of 5 times.

Single-Leg Stretch

single-leg stretch

Complete your final roll and release left leg and extend it away from body. Straighten right leg and place both hands comfortably on your ankle or shin. Curl head, neck and shoulders off mat (as shown). Keep torso lifted and switch legs without lowering to ground. That's 1 rep, do 10 total.

Frog Legs

frog legs

Lie faceup and bend knees 90 degrees and bring heels together, toes apart. Stack palms one on top of the other and place them at the nape of your neck (as shown). Exhale and extend legs at 45-degree angle. Inhale and pull knees back to tabletop position. That’s 1 rep, do 10 total.

Corkscrew

corkscrew

Lie faceup with arms by sides. Place circle between ankles and raise legs straight into the air. Circle the legs to the left (as shown) then stop in the center and reverse the movement, completing a circle to the right. That's 1 rep, do 10 total.

Teaser

teaser

With legs extended, hold circle between ankles. Lift torso off mat to create a "V" shape (as shown) balancing on sit bones. Exhale and lower legs and torso (to shoulder blades), then raise both back up to the V. That's 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 3 reps.

Kneeling Side Kicks

kneeling side kicks

Start kneeling and place right palm on mat with right shoulder stacked above wrist and right side parallel to ground. Extend left leg at hip-height and place left hand behind head (as shown). Lower left foot and tap toes on mat then raise back to hip-height. That's 1 rep, do 10 total then switch sides.

Photos courtesy of SELF.

8 Hip Stretches Your Body Really Needs

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 12:00 PM PDT

8 Hip Stretches Your Body Really Needs

We’ve all had those intense lower body workouts that leave you beyond sore, when just the thought of moving hurts. Rest easy though—these stretches will open up your hips, groin, and legs, making your tomorrow a little bit easier. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing like the day-after sore that follows a killer day in the gym.

Tight muscles aside, great hip mobility is beneficial when it comes to allowing your body to have the full range of motion it should. "If our hips aren’t able to flex and move in the way our bodies intend them to, they don’t become as useful as they should be, which means a lot of the load will fall onto your lower back," says Heidi Jones, Head Coach at Brick New York. "This creates problems over time." And your hips are 100 percent designed to generate a ton of power. So go ahead, get your stretch on!

1. Deep Squat Stand

hip-stretches-deep-squat-stand-580x383Get into a deep squat with chest and eyes up and forward. Keep your core contracted and upright. Hold onto the front of each shoe. Then as you stand and extend hips back, continue holding onto the front of each shoe to full extension. Repeat 9 more times.

This stretch improves hip and leg mobility while stretching your hip and hamstrings.

 

2. Samson Stretch

hip-stretches-samson-stretch-580x383Interlace your thumbs and raise your arms overhead. Engage your shoulders and shrug them up towards your ears. Step forward into a lunge with the knee of the rear leg touching the floor. Stretch your hands up towards the ceiling as you sink into the lunge and push your hips forward as your arms reach back behind you. Stand up out of the lunge and repeat on the other side.

This move stretches and lengthens the arms, shoulders, and back while stretching the hip flexors as well.

3. Couch Stretch

hip-stretches-couch-stretchFind a wall and get down on all fours and move your bent knee back into the wall with your shin and the top of your foot touching the wall. Then bring the forward leg into a 90-degree angle with the knee directly over the ankle. Then stand tall with your torso and your chest and eyes up looking forward to the opposite side of the room. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to prevent hyperextending your lower back. Hold for 30 seconds and switch to the other side.

You will feel an intense stretch on the right front side of your hip.

 

4. Toy Soldier

hip-stretches-toy-soldier-580x383Stand upright with feet under the hips. Core engaged and gaze forward. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling. Then swing your left leg up towards the ceiling as your right hand lowers to tap your left foot. Return to standing position and repeat on the opposite side. Do 10 toy soldiers to each side.

This dynamic stretch will take your hip flexors through a forward range of motion.

5. Figure 4 Hip Stretch

hip-stretches-figure-fourThis stretch will externally rotate your hip. You can do this stretch on a box or a table. You’ll need a box or table that you can bend one leg and lay the front of the leg or the shin on the box. Keep your torso erect and your core engaged. Keep mild pressure on the leg to try and keep the leg as flat on the table or box as you can. Hold for a 5-count and repeat on the other leg.

This stretch targets the hip muscles and the hip joint.

 

 

6. Goblet Squat

hip-stretches-goblet-squat-580x383The goblet squat hold is literally holding a kettle bell in the bottom of a squat. This is an isometric hold which is super effective at improving hip flexibility. You want to use a moderately heavy weight. Flip the kettle bell upside down and hold it by the belly of the bell, or the part that would resemble a goblet. Lower into the bottom of the squat with the elbows just inside the knees. Use your elbows to drive your knees outward increasing the stretch on the adductors. Hold this stretch for 10 deep inhales and exhales.

This is a great stretch for the hips, hamstrings, and glutes, while also strengthening them as well. It also targets the hip flexors and stretches the groin.

7. Spiderman Stretch

hip-stretches-spiderman-stretch-580x383Start in the pushup position. Step forward with the left leg outside of the left hand. Drive the hips forward and hold for 5 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat on the right leg. Alternate for 5 reps on each side.

This stretch targets the hip flexors.

 

 

8. Banded Child Stretch

hip-stretches-banded-childPut a medium resistance band around your hips and your glutes and sit your glutes as close to a wall as you can. Loop each side of the band around each knee. Place your feet against the wall with your back flat on the ground. Rest your hands on you knees. Contract your legs in towards each other for 2 seconds and then let them relax out to the side. Do this 10 times.

This stretches the inner thighs or the adductors.

Jumat, 31 Juli 2015

Hello Healthy

Hello Healthy


Baked Mozzarella Bites

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 10:00 AM PDT

Baked Mozzarella Bites

Serve this quick after-school snack, courtesy of Cooking Light, to your kids as an alternative to traditional fried cheese sticks. Each serving of 3 mozzarella bites packs 7 grams of protein and is less than 100 calories.

This recipe is part of our 30 Healthy Log It Now Recipes e-cookbook!
Download your free copy here.

Cooking Light Diet

Find more low-calorie dinner meals like this from the new Cooking Light Diet, where you can lose weight without giving up the foods you love. Learn more at CookingLightDiet.com. Follow Cooking Light on Facebook for more daily recipe inspiration.

Follow Cooking Light on Facebook for daily recipe inspiration.

16 Surprising Sugar Bombs You Might Be Drinking

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 08:00 AM PDT

sweet_surprises_featured_image

Eating less added sugar is a great strategy to cut empty calories. If your goal is to slash added sugar from your diet, the best place to look is your drinks. When you're adding sweetness to your beverage, make sure to do it mindfully. Grab a low-sugar beverage instead of the following popular sugar-bombs.

Excited to cut sugary beverages from your diet? Take our Better Beverage Challenge today!

FINAL_sugar levels

 

Infographic designed by Tierra Wilson

Bad Knees? Try This 10-Minute Low-Impact Workout

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 12:00 PM PDT

bad knees

A while back, I suffered from a knee injury that kept me from doing a lot of my usual jumping and running, but I didn't stop working out while I was recovering. Instead, I switched from high-impact exercises that tended to aggravate my knees to low-impact moves—these still gave me a great workout but were more forgiving on my joints.

Here is my favorite low-impact circuit. To get a great 10-minute workout, perform each of these 5 exercises for 30 seconds for a total of 4 sets (or do as many as you can with good form).

Front Kick with Backward Lunge

  • Start with your right knee in front of you at hip level.
  • Kick straight out in front of you.
  • As you bring your leg back, go straight into a reverse lunge. Perform for 30 seconds—15 seconds on each leg.
  • Try to do as many reps as you can.

Curtsy Lunge with Sidekick

  • Take your right leg and bring it behind your left leg, then squat into a curtsy lunge.
  • As you come out of the curtsy, perform a sidekick by extending your leg straight out to your side.
  • Do as many reps as you can in 15 seconds, then switch to the other side and repeat.

Plank Up-Downs

  • Start on your elbows in a plank position. Your body should make a straight line from head to toe.
  • Keeping your abs tight and trying not to sway your hips too much, go up on one arm at a time into a full plank (no bend in your elbows).
  • Then, one arm at a time, go back down onto your elbows. Perform this for as many reps as you can in 30 seconds.

Triceps Dip with Leg Extension

  • Sit on a mat with your feet out in front of you and shoulder-width apart, knees bent, hands behind you with fingers facing toward your back and elbows slightly bent.
  • Pick your hips up off the ground so you're in a tabletop position.
  • While your left leg stays on the ground with the knee bent, extend your right leg out in front of you. This is where you start the exercise.
  • With your abs engaged, go down into a triceps dip while keeping your leg extended.
  • Perform as many dips as you can in 15 seconds, then switch your legs and perform for 15 more seconds.

YTW's

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your legs and arms extended on the ground.
  • Using your arms, you will make the letters Y, T and W. Here's how:
    • With your hands in the "thumbs up" position, slightly raise and squeeze your arms and legs off the ground while making the letter "Y" above your head. Bring your arms and legs back down.
    • Next, as you squeeze and raise your arms and legs, lift your arms out to the side at 90 degrees, making the letter "T." Return to the start.
    • Finally, raise your arms and legs again while squeezing your shoulders and glutes. Make an upside-down "W," with your arms raised in line with your hips.
    • Perform all 3 of these letters in a fluid motion for 30 seconds each.

zen habits: A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

zen habits: A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit


A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 08:13 AM PDT

By Leo Babauta

There aren’t many of us who don’t have some bad habit we’d like to quit: smoking, sweets, shopping, nail-biting, porn, excessive checking of phones or social media, other distractions …

The problem is that we think we don’t have the willpower, faced with past evidence of failure after failure when we’ve tried to quit before.

We don’t think we can quit, so we don’t even try. Or if we do try, we give ourselves an “out,” and don’t fully commit ourselves.

Let me tell you this: quitting a bad habit takes everything you’ve got.

It’s hard, but doable — if you put your entire being into it. If you’re not good at changing habits, I actually suggest you start here, and just focus on creating a new, good habit.

But if you’re ready to finally quit something, here’s a short guide to doing just that.

10-Steps — Just as Good as the 12-Step Folk

You don’t actually need to follow every single one of these steps to quit a habit, but the more of them you do, the higher your chances. I recommend all of them if you want to be all in.

  1. Have a big motivation. Lots of times people quit things because it sounds nice: “It would be nice to quit caffeine.” But that’s a weak motivation. What you really want is strong motivation: I quit smoking because I knew it was killing me, and I knew my kids would smoke as adults if I didn’t quit. Know your Why, and connect with it throughout your quit. Write it down at the top of a document called your “Quit Plan.”
  2. Make a big commitment. Now that you know your motivation, be fully committed. A common mistake is say, “I’ll do this today,” but then letting yourself off the hook when the urges get strong. Instead, tell everyone about it. Ask for their help. Give them regular updates and be accountable. Have a support partner you can call on when you need help. Ask people not to let you off the hook. Be all in.
  3. Be aware of your triggers. What events trigger your bad habit? The habit doesn’t just happen, but is triggered by something else: you smoke when other people smoke, or you shop when you’re stressed out, or you eat junk food when you’re bored, or you watch porn when you’re lonely, or you check your social media when you feel the need to fill space in your day. Watch yourself for a few days and notice what triggers your habit, make a list of triggers on your Quit Plan, and then develop an awareness of when those triggers happen.
  4. Know what need the habit is meeting. We have bad habits for a reason — they meet some kind of need. For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. The habit might be helping you cope with stress. For some of the other triggers, it might help you to socialize, or cope with sadness, boredom, loneliness, feeling bad about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, needing a break or treat or comfort. Write these needs down on your Quit Plan, and think of other ways you might cope with them.
  5. Have a replacement habit for each trigger. So what will you do when you face the trigger of stress? You can't just not do your old bad habit — it will leave an unfilled need, a hole that you will fill with your old bad habit if you don't meet the need somehow. So have a good habit to do when you get stressed, or when someone gets angry at you, etc. Make a list of all your triggers on your Quit Plan, with a new habit for each one (one new, good habit can serve multiple triggers if you like).
  6. Watch the urges, and delay. You will get urges to do your bad habit, when the triggers happen. These urges are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and just sit there watch the urge rise and get stronger, and then and fall. Delay yourself, if you really want to act on the urge. Breathe. Drink some water. Call someone for help. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. The urge will go away, if you just delay.
  7. Do the new habit each time the trigger happens. This will take a lot of conscious effort — be very aware of when the trigger happens, and very aware of doing the new habit instead of the old automatic one. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but you need to be very conscious of being consistent here, so the new habit will start to become automatic. This is one reason it's difficult to start with bad habits — if there are multiple triggers that happen randomly throughout the day, it means you need to be conscious of your habit change all day, every day, for weeks or more.
  8. Be aware of your thinking. We justify bad habits with thinking. You have to watch your thoughts and realize when you're making excuses for doing your old bad habit, or when you start feeling like giving up instead of sticking to your change. Don’t believe your rationalizations.
  9. Quit gradually. Until recently, I was a fan of the Quit Cold Turkey philosophy, but I now believe you can quit gradually. That means cut back from 20 cigarettes to 15, then 10, then 5, then zero. If you do this a week at a time, it won’t seem so difficult, and you might have a better chance of succeeding.
  10. Learn from mistakes. We all mess up sometimes — if you do, be forgiving, and don't let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time. Write this on your Quit Plan. Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

I’m not saying this is an easy method, but many people have failed because they ignored the ideas here. Don’t be one of them. Put yourself all into this effort, find your motivation, and replace your habit with a better habit for each trigger. You got this.

Help Quitting Your Habit

If you’d like help quitting your habit, join my Sea Change Program as we learn how to quit a habit in August. It’s free to try for a week, so sign up today and do your quit with us!

The program offers:

  1. Articles & videos to teach you about the concept of quitting.
  2. Daily reminder emails if you want them.
  3. A forum for discussion.
  4. A live video webinar with me where you can ask questions.

Sign up here to be a part of the Quit a Bad Habit module.

Food Politics

Food Politics


Weekend reading: Food, Farms, and Community

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 05:40 AM PDT

Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger.  Food, Farms, and Community: Exploring Food Systems.  University of New Hampshire Press, 2014.

Here’s my blurb for this excellent and most useful book:

If you haven't a clue as to what's meant by food systems, read Food, Farms, and Community right now.  The book covers the territory from farm to fork, clarifying the complexities and focusing on what's really important: what to do to create food and farming systems that promote the health of people and the planet.

Enjoy the summer weekend!

Kamis, 30 Juli 2015

Born Fitness

Born Fitness


Training to Failure: 5 Questions You Need to Answer

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 04:10 AM PDT

When I first started training, someone very smart told me that if I just stuck with the basics I'd be fine. Naturally, I ignored this information and struggled to see much progress. Eventually, my muscle building mistakes and lack of results frustrated me enough that I finally went back to my mentor, asked for his advice, and actually took his tips to heart and followed them to letter. Or so I thought.

I did the exercises, worked hard, but still didn't quite see the changes I imagined. Some of this was due to impatience and unrealistic expectations. But part was due to a fundamental basic misunderstanding. I did not know how to build muscle. Heck, I didn’t know how to build a good workout. When I went to the gym, I still really didn't understand how to lift weights.

Form was secondary to output. And listening to my body was secondary to…well…I never really listened to my body. Or even understood what that meant. And that was a big reason for years of subpar training

You see, when I lifted weights I tried to take every set to failure. I attempted to push my muscles to the point that they could not lift the weight, never really understanding that this wasn't how someone at my level should be training. And it really isn’t how to build muscle or how to become stronger.

As I became older and smarter, I finally began to learn how to train the right way and when to push to failure, and it made all the difference.

To help you understand how hard to push, I reached out to Jordan Syatt, owner of Syatt Fitness. Let his be your lesson on everything you need to know about training to failure. –Born

Training to Failure: The Final Word

By Jordan Syatt

Think back to the first time you ever lifted weights. What did you do?

You probably walked up to a dumbbell rack, picked up the heaviest weight you could hold, and performed some exercise movement–heck, any exercise movement–to the best of your ability. Rep after rep after rep. And you did so until you could no longer move the weight. Then you rested—probably until you felt fresh again—and repeated. Sometimes, a little naivety and simplicity is a good thing.

But that simplicity is also why so many people are frustrated by what they do in the gym. Beyond the exercises you perform and the frequency with which you train, most people don't know how hard to push on any given set. They don’t know how to build muscle. And they don’t know how to build strength. What they do know how to do is just perform exercises.

It's the reason why "training to failure" is one of the most highly debated topics in the fitness industry and, truth be told, it's extremely misunderstood.

I've spent enough time studying the topic to know that there's no simple answer. Some people swear that taking every set to failure is the secret to success while others insist it's a recipe for guaranteed injury and "overtraining."

Is training to failure good or bad? Right or wrong? Will it help you achieve your goals or will it devastate your body and ruin your chances for success?

The answer – as most things in life – depends entirely on the individual as well as their needs, goals, and preferences.

Unfortunately, though, saying "it depends" doesn't help to clarify the situation. You need to go to the gym and know what to do. So consider this your guide to know when—or if—training to failure should be incorporated into a training program.

The Tale of (Training to) Failure

While there are numerous types of muscular failure, the most commonly referenced type is known as Concentric Failure and it's what most people are referring to when they talk about failure.

From a definition standpoint, concentric failure is:

"The point in a set where a full repetition cannot be completed during the concentric (positive, or muscle-shortening) phase of the rep without assistance from outside means (such as cheating or assistance from a training partner)."[1]

To use the bench press as an example, failure would be the point when—after lowering the bar—you are unable to press it back to the starting position. If you've ever read any of Adam's work, you'd know that he had trouble with this scenario when he first started training and it almost caused him to be crushed.

Research comparing the differences between training to failure vs. not training to failure is, unfortunately, scarce. Furthermore, it's unlikely that future research will tell us more than what strength coaches, bodybuilders, and other experienced fitness professionals have intuitively known for years.

That said, here's what we know from a scientific standpoint:

Training to Failure Builds Muscle and Strength—If Not Done Repeatedly

Willardson et al. is perhaps the highest quality review of the literature pertaining to failure-based training. After examining the data, the authors concluded that training to failure is a valid method to use in order to enhance muscle hypertrophy, facilitate maximal strength gains, and break through plateaus.

However, it's important to note that Willardson also stated "training to failure should not be performed repeatedly over long periods, due to the high potential for overtraining and overuse injuries. Therefore, the training status and the goals of the lifter should guide the decision-making process on this issue."

Training to Failure Increases Growth Hormone

Linnamo et al. found that training to failure resulted in a significantly greater increase in the secretion of growth hormone compared to non-failure based training. While this finding in no way, shape, or form proves that training to failure is better than other methods, it may lend credence to the success so many athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts have had with failure-based training.

There are other studies, but the findings are limited and hard to apply to the typical gym-goer. And that's really what matters: How does this apply to you?

So let's start there: You. After all, it's your goals and training style that will play the biggest role in determining if and when you should push you body to failure. And that decision comes down to asking 5 questions.

Question 1: How Intense is Your Training?

Training intensity is perhaps the single most important factor in deciding whether or not training to failure is effective or even appropriate. Training intensity refers to the percentage of weight being lifted in relation to an individual's 1-repetition maximum (1-RM).

In my opinion, training to failure at intensities at, or above 90 percent of your 1-RM should be avoided. Training to failure with such heavy weights will do very little (if anything) to enhance muscle hypertrophy and may actually hamper strength gains.

Furthermore, training to failure with near maximal weights will almost inevitably result in a breakdown of technique, drastically increasing the likelihood of injury.

Generally speaking, training to failure should be reserved for training percentages ranging from 50% to 85% 1-RM. While I rarely prescribe training to failure at either of these end-ranges, I believe that they are appropriate guidelines to follow for a majority of intermediate and advanced trainees.

Keep in mind, though, training to failure at 50% of your -RM can take an inordinate amount of time to complete and may not be well suited for those with time restrictions. On the other hand, 85% of your 1-RM is still heavy weight and the use of a spotter is strongly encouraged.

Question 2: What is Your Training Age?

There are three major categories signifying the current "level" of a given trainee. I call this "the trainee continuum" and they are: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

An individual's training status will determine what they need, and therefore someone who is a beginner might require unique methods of training that may substantially differ from someone who is at an intermediate or advanced stage.

For example, beginner trainees must, first and foremost, work on developing proper form and technique in compound movements such as the squat, bench press, deadlift, and chin-up. Consequently, training beginners to failure would likely do more harm than good as maintaining proper form becomes exceedingly difficult in a fatigued state.

On the other end of the spectrum, intermediate and advanced trainees usually understand what constitutes correct technique so their time would likely be better spent bringing up individual weaknesses through various methods of strength training.

Increasing muscle hypertrophy, for example, is often necessary for physique competitors and strength athletes to improve performance. Since training to failure "may activate a greater number of motor units" and potentially enhance muscle hypertrophy, training to failure is often warranted among these individuals.[2]

Question 3: What is Your Goal?

An individual's desired goal will dictate numerous components of their program, not least of which includes whether or not they should train to muscular failure.

Take, for example, the differences between powerlifters and bodybuilders. Powerlifter's are focused on maximal strength development and consequently train at relatively high intensities of their 1-RM. Additionally, powerlifter's place a distinct emphasis on full body, compound movements, which require a great deal of skill to maintain proper form.

Bodybuilders, on the other hand, are focused on improving muscle hypertrophy and, as a result, train at comparatively lower intensities of their 1-RM because strength is not always the answer. What's more, bodybuilders tend to emphasize smaller, isolation movements designed to target individual body parts, which require less skill to maintain proper technique.

Because of these different approaches and the types of exercises performed, bodybuilders are able to train to failure more frequently than powerlifters. Not only is it safer for bodybuilders in that they are using less complicated movements at lower training intensities, but it's, in all likelihood, a highly beneficial component of their training protocol.

It's important to note, however, that many elite powerlifters also train to failure on a regular basis. In fact, as a world record powerlifter myself, I regularly utilize failure-based training within my programs. That being said, I rarely train to failure in big, compound movements and almost exclusively use intensities between 60% to 80% of my 1-RM.

Question #4: What is Your Mindset?

Failure occurs when an individual is unable to complete another full repetition. This tends to happen due to the onset of fatigue.

Fatigue, however, is a truly subjective term and is nearly impossible to quantify. Based on pain tolerance, willpower, and other psychological factors, what constitutes muscular failure for one individual may only be slight discomfort to someone else. As such, it's difficult to know whether a given individual is training to true muscular failure or simply cutting the set short.

Furthermore, it's important to note that while some individuals derive pleasure from training to failure, others do not and attempting to force them may, in fact, deter them from strength training. Understanding the psychology of your clients (or yourself) and how they respond to training is of the utmost importance to long-term program adherence.

Question #5: What Exercises Are You Performing?

The more skill required for a lift, the less frequently it should be performed to failure. Conversely, the less skill required to perform a lift the more acceptable it becomes to train to failure.

Snatches, for example, are arguably the single-most complex lift and training them to failure is dangerous. Simpler multi-joint movements, such as variations of the chin-up, bench press, and lunge, are suitable for failure-based training but should be performed with extreme caution. Same can be said for exercises like squats.

Finally, single-joint exercises, including bicep curls, triceps extensions, and calf raises, are the least complex of movements and are far more appropriate to train to failure.

While it'd be easy to make a blanket statement about training to failure, ultimately it depends on your answers to the questions above. Failure-based training is a valuable tool in your training arsenal when applied correctly. If it fits your goals, needs, and preferences then use it wisely and with caution

Stop Failing. Start Succeeding

At Born Fitness, we help you make sense of fitness and nutrition information. If you want to create a plan for your life, here’s how you can stop guessing and start living healthier.

Works Cited

[1] Aragon, Alan. “Training to Failure.” Alan Aragon Research Review. Alan Aragon, Mar 2009. Web. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.

[2] Schoenfeld, Brad. “The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24.10 (2010): 2857-2873. Web. 10 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847704>.

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zen habits: Worried About What You’re Not Doing

zen habits: Worried About What You’re Not Doing


Worried About What You’re Not Doing

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 09:26 AM PDT

By Leo Babauta

In any given moment, many of us are thinking about what we’re not doing.

We feel guilty that we’re not doing more. Worried that we’re not as productive as we could be. Guilty that we procrastinate.

We feel guilty that we don’t exercise more, eat right, have better bodies.

We worry that we should be doing something better, something more amazing, doing what the amazing people we see online are doing.

We worry about what we have to do later, what’s next, where we’re going.

We worry about the goals we’re not reaching, or that we might not reach. We feel guilty that we’ve failed in our many attempts at these goals or habits.

We worry about what other people are doing, the ones we see in social media, the ones whose pictures in Instagram look more amazing than our lives.

We feel guilty that we aren’t perfecting ourselves. That we aren’t doing the perfect thing right now.

This is perfectly natural, and there’s nothing wrong with this worry and guilt. We all feel it. I’ve probably felt it about a dozen time just this morning.

But there is another way. Allow me to share this way with you today.

The Fallacy of What You’re Not Doing

I think we have an idea that in an alternate universe, there’s a version of ourselves that could be living a more amazing life. That is perfectly productive (no procrastination!), that doesn’t get distracted, that hits all kinds of goals. At the same time, this person is also traveling, having amazing experiences, living the life with great friends and a wonderful partner. This person is learning all kinds of skills, reading, learning about fascinating topics. With a great body, of course.

This alternate self, of course, doesn’t exist, and never will.

All we have is this plain ol’ regular self. We’re stuck with it.

So we should make the best of what we have. Take a look at the current-reality self and say, “Hey, you’re OK. You’re pretty awesome in some ways. In other ways you’re flawed. That’s how all Earthlings are, actually. In any case, you’re good enough. Oh, and btw, I love you.”

There’s no perfect version of your life, of you. There’s no perfect thing you should be doing now, no perfect sequence of things you should be doing today.

There’s just what this moment is … including your dissatisfaction with this moment and yourself (and other people). This dissatisfaction is part of the moment you’re stuck with.

So we can be dissatisfied with this moment, or practice being satisfied with it.

Satisfaction & Appreciation of This Plain Ol’ Moment

The other way that I mentioned above is a simple (but not easy) practice:

  1. Pause, and notice that you’re worried about what you’re not doing. Notice the feeling of dissatisfaction with yourself or this current moment.
  2. Accept your feeling of dissatisfaction as a part of you, and just allow yourself to feel it. Notice the sensations of this feeling in your body.
  3. Turn to the current moment: what are you doing right now? Be completely present with the physical sensations of whatever activity you’re doing.
  4. Notice that this current moment is absolutely enough. It doesn’t need to be different, doesn’t need to be more. It’s great already, in its own way. And so are you.

This is a practice, and it’s not something you’ll ever perfect. You just remind yourself, and forget, and remind yourself, and forget. That’s the fun of it.

This post, by the way, is as much a note to myself to remember to do this as it is a guide to anyone else who might find some use in it.

May this moment, and the next, be full of enough-ness for you.