Being physically fit begins with a plan. Variety and fun are two key ingredients. I love to ride my bike so I use it to and from my small gym which is in the community I live in.Reading fitness blogs and forums help give me new ideas and support for my program. Today I am going to give a short overview of some good fitness sites.
Breaking muscle is the best resource for all things physical. One of the keys to success fo me is visualization.
1. From Erica Saint Clair: “Visualization: The Simple Tool for Even Greater Athletic Success”:
In 1984 the Russians realized that Olympic athletes who mentally rehearsed their sport experienced a positive impact on their performance. Since then the area has been widely studied. In the 1990s a researcher showed that just five minutes of mental visualization, versus five minutes of basic tasks yielded a significant difference in overall performance – and the dramatic increase in performance wasn’t limited just to experienced professionals, the researcher showed that it applied to novices as well.1
Just five minutes.
Another researcher showed that mere mental rehearsal triggered responses from the autonomic nervous system, which in turn improved athletic performance. It seems that the simple act of visualizing a movement, be it an Olympic lift, a desired gymnastic skill, or an overall performance, helps in the construction of schema.2
Heck, one study even showed that people who carried out virtual weight training workouts increased their muscle strength by 13.5%. 13.5%! For simply thinking about lifting weights. That was almost half of the gains seen by the group that actually lifted weights (they saw a 30% increase in muscle strength).3
So why does visualizing success work? It works because you imagine yourself performing whatever task with perfect form.
You see yourself lifting a new PR off the ground, you see yourself above the rings after a perfectly executed muscle up, or you see yourself running Pose method. And when you see yourself doing all of these amazing things, your brain is creating a neural pattern, one that your muscles will follow tomorrow when you are in the gym.4
The best part is that visualizing success isn’t particularly difficult or time consuming (really, five minutes a day is like brushing your teeth one more time a day).
If you have the time, you can check out some great reading on sports psychology. I would recommend 10-Minute Toughness by Jason Selk, Finding Your Zone by Michael Lardon and David Leadbetter, An Athlete’s Guide to Sport Psychology by Tony Reilly, or Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack.
But you can also just jump right on in. There is no right way to practice visualization, you can do it at the gym sitting on a stack of weights or at home under warm covers, in a loud bustling area or in a quiet out cove. You don’t even have to put in five minutes, just put in whatever time you can.
2. From Winslow Jenkins: “Desk WorkOuts: Cycle 1, Weeks 1-4-Habituation“:
Study after study is revealing that health isn’t maintained by an hour at the gym three to five days a week. Consider that hour your “pleasure workout” – do it because it’s fun, do it because it makes you look good and feel good, do it because it lets you eat dessert, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that it undoes eight hours of sitting each day.
According to this study, long periods of unbroken sitting puts you at greater risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and death, with the strongest correlation to diabetes. Fortunately, this study determined that taking short walking breaks each hour counteracts many of these negative effects.
Working a sedentary job has been equated to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day in terms of health outcomes. Sobering?
The desk workouts are not only a collection of activities to perform throughout the day, but a framework to plug them into. This enables you to maintain or even boost your work productivity while staving off damage to your health associated with sedentary work and long periods of sitting.
The Pomodoro Technique
To correspond to the five minutes per hour recommendation of the second study, we will use the Pomodoro technique to schedule our activity sessions. The Pomodoro technique is a timeboxing technique that creates artificial deadlines (increasing motivation and efficiency) and breaks up monotonous work.
You are invited to watch the short video at the Pomodoro technique link, but keep in mind that our first concern here is freeing up the necessary time, not becoming Pomodoro experts.
You will need a timer. Whether it’s your phone, an online app, or a simple kitchen timer, it doesn’t matter, as long as it doesn’t disturb you until it’s supposed to.
We’re going to ease into this thing, so to start, you’ll set your timer to count down from 55 minutes. When the timer goes off, re-set it for five minutes and perform an activity for the entire five minutes. When you’re done, set it for 55 minutes again and the cycle begins anew.
Alternately, you can set an alarm for each hour, then time your five minute sessions. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as you achieve five minutes of activity per hour.
What is the Point of Five Minutes of Effort?
Here are some benefits you can expect if you follow this plan consistently:
- Consistent production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor – you want this)
- Improved bloodflow
- Postural benefits (and therefore reduced pain and injuries)
- Improved alertness and productivity
- Increased lifespan
- Increased sense of wellbeing