Links You Should Click, Questions You Should Answer

Recently, I’ve been posting a great deal of links that I’ve read to Facebook.  Hopefully, people read the articles and learn from them rather than get angry that I may be clogging up their news feed.  (I’ve thrown in some funny links and videos I’ve found as well.)  At the bottom of the page you’ll also find the most in-depth survey ever; I want to poll some readers about what they do as far as diet and exercise.  It’s only a few questions, but with some good feedback, I’ll be able to write more about things that you’re interested in.  Hopefully, this will include convincing you to run hill sprints instead of going to Zumba; that’s just my bias though.  It’s not that Zumba is bad, it’s just that there are better ways of doing work.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

In today’s post, we’re going to follow a workout from beginning to end.  Thanks to Ben Bruno’s blog, I found an article from strength and conditioning coach David Lasnier called 7 Things We Need More Of.  In the article, David discusses eating whole foods, stretching, listening, pulling, walking, reading, and getting more variety.  They’re all things that we need more of, and if you want to read more, read THE ARTICLE.  For the workout theme of this post, let’s talk about eating whole foods, static stretching, pulling more, and walking more.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that eating real, whole foods is better for you than eating processed junk.  Unfortunately, the odds that people at real food is the same as finding a rocket scientist; it’s not very common.  Diet is one of the most important factors in staying healthy, and you need to avoid the sugar-laden lattes and hundred calorie packs.  Fortunately, in THIS post from the Diesel Crew website, Brian St. Pierre explains the simplest rules for how you should eat.  In fact, I’ll insert the information below, it’s that important:

Eat mostly real, whole, minimally processed food.

•    If you couldn’t hunt, fish, pluck, grow or ferment/culture the food, you probably shouldn’t eat it
•    If it wasn’t food 100 years ago, it isn’t food today
•    If it comes in a box or a plastic wrapper, it most likely isn’t food, it is a food product

The fact of the matter is that humans throughout history have thrived on a tremendous variety of diets. High fat diets, high carb diets, mostly animal foods diets, mostly plant diets, and everything in between. Yet all of these societies were almost entirely free of the “diseases of civilization” that haunt us today – metabolic syndrome, diabetes, overweight, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

How is it that despite having diets that were upwards of 50% of calories from saturated fat, or upwards of 90% of calories from carbohydrates these people did not develop heart disease or diabetes, or other diseases of civilization that are crippling us today? Well, the answer is two-fold.

1.    They were not eating a lot of sugar, refined flour, industrial vegetable oils or processed foods.
2.    Though all of their diets were different, they all had one thing in common – they all ate a diet based around real, whole, minimally processed foods.

They did not eat poptarts, soda or white bread. They also did not eat fat-free cheese from cows force-fed tons of corn and living in filth, or even seemingly “healthy” foods like egg-white omelets, they ate the whole egg! That is where the vast majority of the nutrition is! (omega-3’s, vitamin D, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, iron, iodine, and more)

The moral of the story is the first key to improving your nutrition, health, body composition and performance is to improve your food choices by eating mostly real, whole, minimally processed foods. That is the first step to making a drastic difference in how you feel, look and perform.

Now, if you’re going to eat a healthy meal before you hit the gym, which you should do, you’ll want to eat real food.  How about a salad and salmon?  Or maybe you want the old staple of chicken and broccoli?  Choose something that grew and was alive instead of something that was made; you’ll be better off for it.

You ate real food, and now you’re on your way to the gym.  If you’re like me, you need music to get you mentally prepared to workout.  Thankfully, Art of Manliness created a list of the 52 Best Workout Songs, which can help you make a great playlist to listen to on your way to the gym and while you workout.  As good as the AoM list is, some of the music is a little ‘soft’ for my tastes, but luckily I found THIS LIST on the website Ploomy.  The number one link is “Killing in the Name” from Rage Against the Machine, which is scientifically proven to be the best workout song ever.  If you’re not into the cussing music, but you love  Tom Morello’s guitar riffs, check out “Cochise” from Audioslave; it hits just as hard.

When you get to the gym, park as far away from the door as you can.  Consider the walk from your car to the door the first part of your warm up.  On you’re way in, you can figure out how to incorporate more rowing into your program.  You might want to add facepulls to the beginning of your workout, or use higher rowing volume.  Benching for sets of 6?  Row for sets of 10.  Easy volume!  You know that during your workout you need to stretch, lift and sprint, because you’re on the up-and-up, or you’ve read my post discussing Jim Wendler’s World’s Simplest Training Template.  If you’re trying to figure out two lower body exercises you can use in between your facepulls and rows, check out a recent pot from Bret Contreras called “Best Squat and Deadlift Combination“.  Bret says that the full squat and the conventional deadlift are his go-to exercises for hamstring, glute, and quad development.  With good form, these are easily the two most powerful exercises to use for the lower body.  However, our sedentary and injury prone world, these may not be the most practical.  For safety, Mike Boyle uses the trap bar deadlift and the rear foot elevated split squat.  If you read my post frequently, you’ll know that those are two of my favorite exercises.  I like Bret’s stuff, I like Mike’s stuff, and I think that all 4 exercises should be part of your programming.

I also think that the Goblet squat should be part of your programming; you can use it as a strength exercise, or as a patterning drill to develop a picture perfect squat.  If you’d like to read more about the Goblet Squat, you’re in luck; the man who made the exercise popular, recently published an article on T-Nation called Goblet Squats 101.  Read it!  If you’re looking for a finisher to use during the ‘Sprint’ portion of your workout, you can use of his two options at the end:  The ButtBurner 4000, and The Eagle.  The Butt Burner involves a pyramid of Goblet Squats and Bulgarian Goat Bag Swings, from 1 repetition up to 10.  The Eagle involves alternating sets of Double Kettlebell Front Squats and Farmers Walks.  Says Dan, “If you can do eight sets of eight with this exercise (plus serious farmer walks in between) you are in rare air.”

Now, you just kicked your own ass at the gym, right?  You fueled your workout the right way, worked up one hell of a sweat, got stronger, and increased your conditioning.  Now you need to recover, so eat more real food.  Foods high in the amino acid leucine will help you recover quickly, so try eggs, soy, or game meats.  For a list of leucine high foods, you can click HERE.

With proper post workout nutrition, you’re set to enjoy the rest of your day.  You can read some books, listen to some music, or hang out with your girlfriend.  (That’s usually what I do in my free time.)  Or you can look at links sent to you by friends who just returned to the east coast after 9 months in Arizona.  Thanks for the gif, Ryan.

Lastly, I have some questions that I’d love for you to quickly answer.  It will help me figure out what to post on the site for the next few months, and tell me if we’re on the same page as far as exercise and nutrition.

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