Posts Tagged ‘mindset’

A bold way to start 2014…are you in?

Alright, so 2014 is here and I’m sure you’ve made some sort of promise to yourself about your training and/ or nutrition program. I know that I sure have and that’s great, except I know that odds are very high we’ll never see them through unless we take some massive action.

Heading into the New Year we always hear people around us talking about what they want to accomplish in the next year. But here is the sad truth…most of those people will not make much progress on those goals.

The problem is that action is the only thing that brings results. Thinking about things doesn’t do it and neither does studying and learning more about it, “planning” your next move.

You have to act to see results.

But action is a tricky thing because it takes guts and the ability to be alright with making mistakes. It is so much easier to talk about what we would or want to do in the future than to actually act on them.

As my favorite 17th century Samurai would put it –

“The warrior attitude is very simple. Focus your mind on your goal, constantly strive for perfection and don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked.” – Miyamoto Musashi

In other words, once you have a goal start taking action on it. Focus and commitment are easy words to say but putting them into action is a different story.

To do this it is very important that you don’t worry about doing everything “perfectly”. Figure it out as you go, making mistakes and seeing them as opportunities to learn.

And one of the best ways to do this is to commit to spending at least 20-30 minutes a day working towards your training goals for the next 28 days.

If you really want to see change then we need to take action on those goals and there is no better time to start than today.

At the end of the 28 days you’ll not only look and feel differently – not to mention rolling differently as well – but you’ll also have built some good habits and learned a lot about yourself and your body along the way.

This is one of the best ways to kick start your training program because it gets you into the habit of forcing yourself to make time to train. If you have to wake up a little earlier or turn off the TV a little sooner then you do it, no excuses.

You can’t make excuses, only work on finding solutions.

This puts you in a totally different mindset compared to the “we’ll see if I can find some time to train this week” mentality we usually take with our program. You start seeing opportunities to train when you can instead of obstacles to train like you think you should be training.

Like I tell my clients, there is optimal and then there is reality. In my experience this 28 Day Challenge is one of the best ways to learn how to deal with reality instead of stress over optimal.

Just to keep things simple I’d recommend shooting for 2-4 days of strength and conditioning and doing some mobility work on the other days. Whatever it is you choose to do you just need to punch the clock and put in your time each day.

So to help you with this challenge I’m giving you a free copy of the Accountability Log I’ve used with some of my clients in the past. It is a great way for you to see how you’re doing each week with your training goals plus, let’s face it – there is just something motivating about being able to check something off your list.

Click here to download the Accountability Log and instructions on how to use it.

Just remember that taking action can be a messy process and things often won’t go as planned. You may miss a few days over the course of the challenge but instead of worrying about how many you might miss because now isn’t the perfect time to start, think instead about how many you’ll miss if you don’t try.

Fortune favors the bold, my friend, and this 28 day Challenge is a bold way to start 2014.

I’d also like to mention that if you need a training program for this 28 Day Challenge the free 30 Day BJJ Bodyweight Workout Program would be perfect for you. With short, fun bodyweight only workouts it is exactly what you need to fit smart, effective strength training into your busy schedule.

That’s it for now, if you’re in for this 28 Day Challenge then post a comment below this blog post. I’ll be doing some check in posts over the course of the next 28 Days and we’ll see how many of us are still on track.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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Are you “false fit”?

Most exercise professionals would agree that there are many components to fitness. A well rounded approach to fitness that addresses all of them is usually the best way to achieve lasting gains and continual progress from a program. Being deficient in even one of these components leads to slow progress and results in a condition I call “false fit”.

“False fit” is when someone perceives themselves to be fit when there are glaring holes in one of the 4 Fitness Components. While each area can cover other, more specific concepts here is a list and brief description of 4 Fitness Components you need to work on:

1. Mobility – Your ability to move freely while maintaining good posture. Also includes elements of body control and body awareness.

2. Power – Your ability to coordinate your muscles in order to create quick, dynamic movements. Life is dynamic and so everyone should have some sort of power training in their program, even if it is something as simple as slamming a medicine ball into the ground.

3. Strength – I define this a little differently than most. I define strength as your ability to create proper movement and maintain that proper movement under load. Creating a movement through compensation, such as using your lower back during leg exercises, is not true strength no matter how much weight you move.

4. Conditioning/ Endurance – Your ability to engage in your chosen activities without excessive fatigue. A good conditioning program will also act as a catalyst for fat loss. For most people proper conditioning should focus more on intervals than on traditional steady state aerobics.

Do you do yoga and/ or Pilates but do not work on power and conditioning?

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Do you run or bike but don’t work on mobility and strength?

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Do you “body build” but don’t work on mobility and conditioning?

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If you answered yes to any of those questions, or if you see something on the list above that you are not addressing, then you have developed the “false fit” condition. You are fit as it pertains to the particular activities and exercises you engage in but the truth is your fitness is limited. Get you outside of your comfort zone and your true fitness levels will get quickly exposed.

Our body wants to maintain a balance between the 4 Fitness Components. When we lose that balance we slow down our progress and set ourselves up for pain and injuries. Sometimes the answer to achieving the fitness levels that you want is not in looking for different twists on what you are already doing but in looking outside your box for new elements.

I tell people all the time that if you do not want to look and/ or perform like everyone else don’t train like everyone else. Most people are dissatisfied with their current fitness condition so don’t take the same approach they do. Make sure that you work on developing true, well rounded fitness and avoid the pain and frustration that goes with being “false fit”.

If you have any questions about how to avoid being “false fit” please post a comment below. And if you liked this article I’d really appreciate your help spreading the word by clicking one of the Like or Share buttons below.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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Lessons from an 8 years old’s belt test about Focused Practice, the Grind and what it takes to be great…

994796_10200307267619234_825583089_nA few weeks back my little girl Shilo had her first belt test in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She’s been really dedicated since starting and has picked it up really quickly. Plus we have a lot of fun “wrassle frassling” with each other as we practice at home.

In BJJ you actually have to show that you know a few things to earn your next level belt, which I think is really cool in a world of McDojo’s that give out stripes at every class and hand out belts for just showing up. They’re not fanatical about things being perfect but the kids do need to show that they’ve paid attention and can apply some basic techniques.

To prepare we practiced every day of the week leading up to her test. She didn’t want to practice some days and I’m ashamed to admit I bribed her with a popsicle once but she logged the focused practice time to learn the test.

Now, I don’t mean to brag but all that practice paid off and she nailed the test. She ended up testing by herself as the whole class watched and she never flinched, going through the techniques before the coach was even done explaining what to do in some cases. She was done quickly and showed a lot of confidence during the test thanks to how well she knew it.

So, what’s the point besides being a thinly veiled chance to brag about my little girl? There is an important lesson in there for all of us…

Focused practice can be a grind but it is needed to be great.

In fact, that was the question I asked Shilo before we decided to practice every day – do you want to be average or do you want to be great? Like a lot of people she answered “great” but found it tough to stick to it once the initial fun factor wore off and the grind set in.

Luckily she had me to help keep her motivated in various ways but we don’t have a parent telling us what to do for our own good anymore. This means we have to rely on ourselves and our own internal motivation.

For me, just knowing that it is normal to not find every training session a super fun experience helps a lot. I think we get brainwashed with the whole “do what you want/ makes you feel good” mentality into thinking that if it isn’t fun it isn’t worth doing.

It also helps to know that it isn’t the most people with the most talent for a sport that end up being great, it is the people with the best talent for practicing that sport. Being able to find the mindset that will get you through the grind is what guarantees your success in anything.

So don’t be afraid of the grind and learn to embrace it. Everyone who has achieved any lasting success will tell you that it pays off big time over the long run. Just knowing that you need to do this one simple thing will put you on the right path to achieving your goals.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I tell myself when I need to change my mindset for a training session…

If you continue in this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power.” – Shunryu Suzuki

If you have some lessons about the Focused Practice or Grind it takes to be great please post a comment below. Also, if you liked this post please take a second to click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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The Internal-External Intensity Continuum: Which side does the “hard” come from in your workouts?

One of the more common responses I get to the early phases of my programs is that they look too easy, especially for those who have some strength training experience under their belt. For someone who has built up to doing 50+ push ups at a time (although I have yet to see 50 perfect push ups from anyone) only doing 5-20 reps seems like an insult to their pecs. Surely they should do more, right?

Go heavy and hard or go home is the battle cry for thousands of well meaning BJJ athletes limping their way to the gym or “boot camp”, never realizing that there is another side to the strength coin that is needed to complete and round out their strength.

Not so fast…I am not impressed when someone tells me that they are not challenged by an “easy” exercise. In fact, when I hear this I know that true strength has eluded that person since strength consists of the ability to not only make heavy weights feel light but also the ability to make your light weights feel heavy.

You should be able to do 50 reps and be able to wear yourself out in 5 reps. When you can make 5 bodyweight reps feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done then you truly have control of your ability to produce tension, which is the root of strength. If you are always relying on the load or the number of reps to tell you how strong to be then you don’t really own your strength.

This leads us to the Internal-External Intensity Continuum. This is something I made up one day while trying to explain this concept to a guy who trained at my facility. In a nutshell, it explains where the “hard” is coming from during an exercise or workout.

If you are Internally producing the Intensity – like getting really tight and staying that way during bodyweight squats – then you are purposefully producing more tension than you need to in order to complete the movement.

If you are Externally producing the Intensity – like doing a max effort lift or amount of reps – then the load is causing the body to reflexively produce tension in response to it.

You want every workout to be “hard”, you just don’t need or want to be going to the External side of the Intensity Continuum every time you train. Being able to benefit from the Internal side will round out your strength and support the other side of the spectrum.

This explains how you can have a “hard” workout without training balls-to-the-wall every time you hit the gym. When I tell BJJ athlete that they should walk out of the gym during week 1 of a new program knowing that they could do more the old bodybuilding mindset starts to creep in – how can you get results if you don’t max out every time you train?

Notice, though, that I didn’t say that the workout should be easy; you should simply not max out how much weight and how many reps you can do. If you don’t have the ability to internally produce more tension than the weight or reps call for then this sounds ridiculous, however, for those who have learned the art of strength this makes total sense.

For example, during my current training phase I have a workout that calls for me to do 3 sets of 8 reps on the deadlift. I wanted to use week 1 to set up the next 2 weeks and so I didn’t want to go too heavy or I would not leave myself anywhere to go. So, I used conservative weights and built up to doing 185 pounds on the last set.

During week 2 I built up to 205 pounds and then in week 3 I hit 225 pounds for 8 reps, which was my max effort – I walked out knowing I couldn’t have done 1 more good rep. While a bit off topic, I’m going to finish the cycle with 3 sets of 5 reps with 205 pounds to back off a bit after my peak effort.

The point is that if you look at the weight progression (185 pounds to 225 pounds) my week 1 effort looks easy – its 40 pounds less than my max weight. However, I can tell you that week 1 was not easy (I was there). Week 1 was more on the Internal side of the Intensity Continuum, Week 2 was in the middle and Week 3 was on the External Side of it, making every week “hard” in its own way.

This concept also applies to training phases and plans. You have to spend some phases focusing more on the Internal Side and some on the External side of the Intensity Continuum.

This is why the early phases in my workout programs confuse some people – my programs advance from Internal Intensity focused phases to External Intensity focused phases and since they have never been told the value of working on the Internal side of the continuum it makes no sense.

Unfortunately, our training culture seems to have largely forgotten and dismissed the Internal side of the Intensity Continuum. Go heavy and hard or go home is the battle cry for thousands of well meaning BJJ athletes limping their way to the gym or “boot camp”, never realizing that there is another side to the strength coin that is needed to complete and round out their strength.

So if you have an “easy” workout then take that as a chance to work on the Internal side of the Intensity Continuum, not as a chance to breeze through it and tell yourself how super fit you are.

For a lot of people it will be very humbling to realize how little body and tension control they really have. But with focused practice it will come pretty quickly.

Make sure that you have a balance of Internal and External Intensity focused exercises, workouts and phases in your overall program. True strength demands a balance between the two sides of the Intensity Continuum so make sure you respect and practice them both.

If you have any questions about this article please post them below and I’ll get to it ASAP. Also, if you liked this article please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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