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How to Start Strength Training

How to start strength training…

How to Get Started with Strength Training | StephGaudreau.com

Chances are, if you’re curious about adding strength training to your fitness routine, you may be excited to try it but totally intimidated about how to go about getting started.

You’re not alone.

Many women that I hear from are at a complete loss when it comes to the type of strength training to do, how to find the right gym, and how to progress safely and effectively so they’re not wasting their precious time.

The internet and social media are partly to blame for this confusion.

Simply put, when you take a quick scan of what’s out there, you’ll see every strength training methodology under the sun being offered and every “expert” telling you their way is the only way to get stronger.

Coaches worth their weight in gold will be the first to admit there is no one “right way” of training that applies to everyone.

That being said, there are a few things you need to know from a scientific and physiological perspective:

Human bodies are designed to move heavy loads.

(Imagine me making air quotes around the word heavy because what’s heavy for me may not be heavy for you.) You have different types of muscle fibers – slow and fast twitch to be very simplified about it. Activating fast twitch fibers requires more load, and it produces more force than slow twitch.

Think of it this way: You can walk all day long (slow twitch) but you can only do a couple reps at a time of a heavy squat. You cannot activate fast twitch fibers doing slow twitch activities. If you want to use all your musculature, you need a mix of slow and fast twitch exercises.

Why does this matter? You get maximum endocrine benefit and body composition benefit when you involve more of your musculature.

Translation: If you want to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat, lift “heavy” weights.

Progressive overload matters.

If you only ever do the same strength training – reps, sets, load – eventually, you’ll plateau.

This is one reason that bodyweight exercises alone aren’t as effective in continuing to build strength over time. (Though, depending on the individual, they can be a mighty great place to start.)

Instead, you’ll want to find a strength program that involves progressive overload – a systematic way of gradually increasing the stressor (load) placed on the body to elicit a response (getting stronger).

I’m a huge fan of linear progression for newcomers and intermediate level lifters. However, once someone has reached the intermediate+ level, it’s generally time for slightly more complex training cycles.

With these in mind, here are 3 tips to get you started on your strength training journey:

Find a quality coach / gym.

If you’re a novice to strength training, the expertise of a seasoned coach is vital. Yes, you can find videos on the internet and check your form in a mirror at home, but there are sometimes subtle differences between good and bad technique.

(I’m not knocking the value of a home workout, but at some point, you may plateau if you’re training on your own.)

Selecting the right facility to train at is probably the most important decision you’ll have to make.

An experienced coach can properly assess your current mobility and strength, take your history and goals into account, and design a program that will challenge you enough to cause improvement but not so aggressively that you risk injury.

Furthermore, a coach should do more than just provide motivation during your training session. (Cheerleading is great, but a coach needs to do more than yell at you to keep going.)

S/he should correct your form and develop a program that will help you advance your strength training in a structured fashion. (Remember the idea of progressive overload?)

When choosing a gym, do some research about facilities in your area. Visit them and take along a list of prepared questions or know what to ask.

For example:

  • Does the facility offer group classes, small group, or even one-on-one training?
  • Is it a general strength and conditioning facility or is there a specific focus (kettlebells, TRX, CrossFit, etc)?
  • Do they offer an on-ramp program for beginners?
  • What certifications do the coaches have? Do they continue to go to trainings and improve their knowledge?

Observe the community of the gym itself and see if it’s a place you’ll feel comfortable training. Of course, you may feel a bit nervous or uncertain when you start something new, but if your gut feeling is that it’s not the right match, find another place.

One of the best ways to find a good spot is to ask your friends. Personal recommendations can go quite far, so see who is training where and whether they like, pros and cons, etc.

Another benefit of working with a coach is avoiding the dreaded “I walked into the weight area and all the people (guys) were staring at me” factor.

Prioritize form over load.

Strength training is incredibly effective, but it’s not worth moving more weight if you have to sacrifice your technique to do it. (This is especially true if you’re strength training for the health benefit and not as a competitor, but that’s another post altogether.)

Yes, form may degrade slightly as you move through the most challenging sets in a workout, but when you cannot maintain basic points of performance, it’s worth thinking about whether you should reduce the weight or stop altogether.

The whole point of strength training is to get stronger through progressively overloading muscle, using good technique, and planning for proper rest and recovery periods.

Strength training can never be 100% risk free. (Really, nothing is when it comes to fitness, but the alternative of being sedentary and losing muscle mass is not without risk either).

By being mindful of and practicing good form, you can minimize the risk while enjoying the benefits.

Be aware of the role ego can unfortunately play in strength training, resulting in you pushing too hard or not following your coach’s advice because you added more weight or reps before you’re ready.

If your coach tells you to stop because you’re too tired, don’t go elsewhere to finish the workout. (Yes, this does happen!)

Ego is probably the most dangerous thing in the gym. Click To Tweet

 …But, don’t go too light all the time.

While lifting too heavy before you’re ready or using improper form aren’’t good, lifting tiny weights that are far below your ability level isn’t much better. Sure, your risk of injury might decrease, but you’ll be missing out on the positive benefits from strength training.

In order to understand why it’s beneficial to lift heavier, remember the explanation of muscle fibers from above.

In order to get the most benefit from strength training, it’s important to lift heavy enough loads to activate the most muscle fiber possible.

So while you may start with bodyweight exercises, plan that at some point, you’ll progress to weighted version of those movements or some other kind of weight training.

(Note: Science is beginning to understand muscle has endocrine functions, meaning peptides released because of exercise can affect metabolism in tissues throughout the body. Though perhaps the most well-known study of this sort was conducted in animal models1, it correlates with what we know happens to humans when they lift heavy weights – muscle mass increases, fat decreases, and tissues become more sensitive to insulin.)

Probably the most common objection from women to the idea of lifting heavy weights is the fear of “getting bulky.”

Females have a fraction of the testosterone that men do – as little as 5-10% (and even less if you’re on hormonal birth control) – making it much harder to put on copious muscle mass.

Also, muscle mass is regulated by a gene called GDF-8 which encodes for a protein called myostatin. Think of myostatin like a brake pedal applied to muscle growth. In most females and even many men, myostatin keeps excessive muscle growth in check.

When I say “heavy load” please don’t envision you need a dozen iron plates hanging off a barbell that looks like it’ll crush you while veins pop out of your forehead.

Typically, that means you’ll need moderate to heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell to select a heavy enough load.

A load that’s heavy for you will differ for someone else, and it’s all relative to your stage of strength training development.

Also, keep in mind that a proper training program will have weeks of progressive loading and should included regularly scheduled deload or recovery weeks.

Strength training at heavy enough load – provided other factors such as proper nutrition, recovery and sleep – are intact, will often lead to small to modest increases in muscle mass.

Women (and men!) you see with incredibly large muscle mass have usually gone to extraordinary measures to achieve those gains.

(Note: When you see fitness programs promising to “tone” muscle, know that it’s used as a marketing term. In order to “get toned,” you have to build muscle and / or lose fat on top of the muscle. Making muscles “long and lean” is another fallacy. Strength training will provide you muscle shape and definition, but the “length” of your muscles is determined by genetics.)

Don’t cherry pick or jump programs.

One lesson that applies just as much to strength training as it does to other areas of life is to be consistent.

If your coach puts you on a four-month training plan but you get restless after a week, be patient. Cherry-picking and program-jumping – moving from one method to another to another without giving it a chance to actually work – is a common error among both rookie and seasoned lifters.

A strength training program need not be the buzzworthy flavor-of-the-week or named after a Russian weightlifter to be incredibly effective.

Instead, novices can benefit greatly from a solid linear progression program focusing on compound movements such as the squat, deadlift, and press while avoiding the overload or riskier tactics that often accompany trendy programs.

When you’re starting out, commit to following through with the strength training program you’re on and be patient in your expectation of results.

Keep in mind that you’re learning new skills and that you may not hit PRs immediately. Jumping from one program to another makes it very difficult to have the consistency you need for success over time.

In conclusion…

by selecting a knowledgeable coach and facility, using appropriately challenging loads and sticking to a program, you’ll give yourself the best possible foundation to enjoy the strength gains that positively impact health.

Pin this How to Get Started with Strength Training article for later…

How to Get Started with Strength Training | StephGaudreau.com

Looking for a functional strength program to get started with? Check out my Get Stronger, my 4-week basic strength program here.

Get Stronger 4-Week Program | StephGaudreau.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References & Further Reading

1Izumiya, Y., Hopkins, T., Morris, C., Sato, K,, Zeng, L., Viereck, J., Hamilton, J., Ouchi, N., LeBrasseur, N., & Walsh, K. Fast / Glycolytic Muscle Fiber Growth Reduces Fat Mass and Improves Metabolic Parameters in Obese Mice. Cell Metabolism, 7(2), 159-72.

Srikanthan, P., & Karlamangla, A. (2014). Muscle Mass Index As a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults. The American Journal of Medicine, 127(6), 547–553.

Pedersen, B., & Febbraio, M. (2008). Muscle As an Endocrine Organ: Focus On Muscle-Derived Interleukin-6. Physiological Review, 88(4), 1379-406.

Photos by: Richwell Correa

How to Choose Weightlifting Shoes

Weightlifting shoes & gear – specifically getting the right kind for your budget and experience level – is something lifters ask me about all the time. I figured it was high time to give you a peek inside my gym bag and talk about what’s essential – and what’s just fluff – as you start your journey to getting stronger.

How to Choose Weightlifting Shoes | StephGaudreau.com

Today, I’m focusing on weightlifting shoes.

Note: The shoes covered in this post are often used by Olympic weightlifters (snatch, clean and jerk), some powerlifters for the squat, and others who are in the functional fitness / CrossFit communities.

My Philosophy on Gear

Look, when you’re first starting out, everyone’s going to give you their 2 cents about weightlifting shoes and gear. Coaches, training partners, people on social media, internet weightlifting coaches (jerks that come out of nowhere and analyze your form without you asking, thankyouverymuch) are all going to have their opinions.

All that analysis will give you paralysis.

My philosophy on it is two-fold:

  1. I almost never buy the cheapest gear. There’s a saying: Buy cheap, buy twice.
  2. I almost never opt for the most expensive stuff the first time I start something. Why? I don’t know if I’m even going to like the new hobby a couple months from now.

I usually aim for a mid-priced option because that leaves me the wiggle room to upgrade over time, but what I’m using now also won’t fall apart next week.

Definitely ask around and get opinions, but remember to consider what’s right for you, your goals, and your budget.

In this multi-part series, I’m breaking down your weightlifting gear essentials, starting with the most important first: shoes.

I’ve personally owned four pairs of weightlifting shoes – which I’ll detail below – since I first got into the sport six years ago, and I’ve got some pointers for you if you’re getting started or looking to upgrade.

Why Weightlifting Shoes Matter

Ah, weightlifting shoes. So important, yet often ignored.

When you’re lifting a barbell, you have two points of contact as you pull the bar off the floor: 1) your feet on the floor and 2) your hands on the bar.

Translation: As one-half of the contact points, having the right shoes matters.

Squashy-soled running sneakers are the worst platform upon which to perch your tootsies if you’re weightlifting.

Now, if you only do weightlifting once in a blue moon, fine. Get a pair of minimalist sneakers or flat athletic shoes like Chucks and have at it.

But if you’re weightlifting even once a week on a regular basis, you need proper footwear.

Hard-soled weightlifting shoes are key because they provide stability, and the force you generate doesn’t get sucked up by squishy bottoms. Efficient lifting means transferring the power your legs and hips generate into your arms and eventually, the bar. If you’re leaking power because it’s escaping through the marshmallow-y soles of your sneakers, you’re losing out.

Hard-soled weightlifting shoes are key because they provide stability. Click To Tweet

The raised heel of a lifting shoe also puts you in a more upright squatting position.

What to Look For in Weightlifting Shoes

There are a few main factors to consider when you’re shopping for a weightlifting shoe:

  1. Heel height
  2. Durability & construction
  3. Style (hey, it matters to some!)
  4. Price

Yes, there’s also the material the upper is made out of, but almost all are made from synthetic materials these days.

Heel height will vary slightly between brands, but even 1/4″ differences can have a big impact on your lifting, especially if you’re switching between brands. Recently, I experienced this when I swapped to Nike Romaleos after wearing Adidas Adipowers for two years. There was definitely an adjustment period of a few weeks until I settled in.

Durability and construction are most important when it comes to weightlifting shoes that are built to be multi-purpose. Some brands are designed only for lifting barbells (Adidas, Nike, Risto, VS, and Rogue Do-Win weightlifting-specific shoes come to mind). These will have a stiff upper, and you won’t find a ton of flex if you try to bend the sole.

On the other hand, Inov-8 and Reebok have multipurpose weightlifting shoes with semi-rigid soles designed with more flex. These are great if you do CrossFit or other types of functional fitness; they allow you to do workouts that combine lifting with cardio, calisthenics, or gymnastics.

I ask people, “Are you a weightlifter who does a little CrossFit now and then?” If the answer’s yes, opt for traditional weightlifting shoes.

Style, while many people don’t want to admit it matters, plays into weightlifting shoe selection. With the growth of the sport in recent years, it’s easier to find mega-cool, stylish shoes. Girlie colors, bright and bold looks, or neutrals like white and black abound; just do some searching to find what you like. Personally, I think Nike has the most variety in terms of color combinations.

Price may factor into the decision for you. Unless you’re seriously on a budget, don’t buy the cheapest pair of shoes. They probably won’t last long, and they’re likely to need replacing sooner. That being said, I rarely recommend newbies spring for Romaleos or Adipowers which both retail for about $180-$200.

Sometimes you can find closeouts on uncommon sizes – think teeny-tiny or gigantor – and score there, so look around online.

Here’s an easy retail price-ranking of some popular weightlifting shoes and models:

A Word About Fit

If you can try weightlifting shoes on before you buy, do it. Even if you’re sticking your feet in your training partners’ lifters, give them a shot. Do some air squats. Move around in them.

You don’t want weightlifting shoes to be too lose or have too much give. Time and time again, I see folks with their feet practically swimming in their shoes.

The whole point is to build stability, and if the shoe is too big, your feet slide around too much inside them.

Even if you have wider feet – which I do – most shoes will give significantly in the toe box over time.

You don’t want your toes painfully jammed against the top of the shoe, either, but keep in mind that the uppers will stretch over time. Some brands even recommend going down a half size, so read their sizing charts carefully.

And ladies, be aware that most brands only sell “men’s” styles so you’ll have to convert the size to a women’s equivalent. Confusing, I know.

My Personal Experience with Weightlifting Shoes

I started out with a pair of Do-Wins back in 2010 and used them for CrossFit and weightlifting. As you can imagine, the shoes didn’t hold up well. They were an affordable entry point at the time. However, when Reebok came out with its CrossFit Lifter, I upgraded to those. Perfect for the sport, they lasted for a couple years.

In early 2014, I decided to focus on Oly, so I opted for a pair of Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes. Compared to the CrossFit Lifters, they felt like big boots: super stable! After about six to nine months of 4-times weekly wear, they started to show signs of breaking down. Though I liked the heel height, I was disappointed with how quickly the uppers cracked / split.

I hung on to the Adipowers until early this year because my husband gifted me with a pair of Romaleos for my birthday – hey, I think it’s totally romantic! Reluctantly as I was to switch, I did. Though it took a few weeks of adjustment, I’m used to them now and really like how they feel.

We’ll see how they wear long-term, but for now it’s a bit early to tell.

The best advice I have is to use your weightlifting shoes for their intended purpose to give them the best longevity.

Pin this article on How to Choose Weightlifting Shoes for later:

How to Choose Weightlifting Shoes | StephGaudreau.com

Ready to jump into strength training? Click here to get my 4-week program!

Shame Sells… But Who’s Buying?

In the advertising and marketing worlds, it’s true that sex sells, but so does shame.

Shame Sells But Who's Buying | StephGaudreau.com

(If you get the band reference in the title, one billion bonus points to you.)

Its effects are no less insidious than the massive culture that objectifies women to sell everything from diet supplements to fitness equipment. “Here’s some giant knockers, now buy this protein powder.”

This week, someone brought to my attention an article about ten reasons to add bone broth to your diet by a doctor with a bone broth diet book. (Imagine that.) Seemed harmless enough, but when I clicked the link, I was wrong.

First, let me say I’ve got nothing against bone broth! I love it, and I make a few batches a week to sip on or to use in cooking. Yes, it has nutritional value. Yes, it’s a traditional food. But let’s be honest, some of the claims people make about bone broth are grossly overstated:

  • Erases wrinkles
  • Makes your gut glow
  • Makes stress disappear
  • Zaps cellulite
  • Melts fat

You get the idea.

Though the exaggeration of the benefits is bad enough, what I read next as my eyes skipped down the post stuck out like a sore thumb:

“8. Bone broth can fight cellulite.

Because the collagen in bone broth strengthens your skin’s connective tissue, it doesn’t just erase wrinkles – it helps smooth out that unsightly “cottage cheese” cellulite on your thighs. (Hello, swimsuit!)

(Note: The article was quietly edited earlier this week after several people spoke out about it.)

There’s virtually no evidence to support that claim.

Other nuggets include a comparison to bone broth as, “Spanx for your face,” – there’s a visual for you – and the prescription of a twice-weekly fast of nothing but broth so you can “lose weight rapidly.”

I’ve sincerely held out hope that the holistic health and wellness communities would take the higher road and shun shame-based marketing, but the people looking to capitalize on your purchasing power are circling like sharks around chum.

Mainstream advertisers have realized this market is insanely profitable, so they’re shoving their traditional messages into pretty packages full of bone broth, “natural” supplements, and gluten-free this-and-that.

The average person is already bombarded by dozens, if not hundreds, of advertisements daily from mainstream diet and fitness companies that relish the opportunity to tell you how fat, wrinkled, grey-haired, ugly, and inadequate you are. And now, it’s coming at you from the holistic angle, too.

As if the false promises and marketing hoopla weren’t bad enough, there are two bigger issues looming here.

  • Health still being reduced to what you look like and,
  • Shaming people into buying whatever it is you’re selling.

Logically speaking, you know that the complete picture of your health goes beyond skin deep. It goes further than your weight, further than your body fat percentage, and further than your bumpy, wrinkly, saggy bits.

Yet it’s still so common to hear how clients improved their diet, started exercising, and sleeping better which leads to feeling like a million bucks, but if the scale doesn’t budge as much as they wanted, the whole effort is deemed futile.

Your health is so much more than your weight on the scale. Click To Tweet

Marketers can’t wait to sell you on quick weight loss but time and time again, experience shows that shedding weight quickly and keeping it off are usually at odds with each other.

And now we come to shame-based marketing.

Cellulite. It makes me so angry to have to even go here.

It’s normal to have “unsightly cottage cheese” cellulite. Yep, normal. Even really f*cking fit people – yes, elite athletes – have it.

Here’s a photo of Elizabeth Akinwale, CrossFit Games competitor, and her cellulite. (Read her post here.)

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The horror.

I wrote about my own cellulite a few months ago.

There’s nothing wrong with cellulite. In fact, 90% of women – yes, you read that right…NINTEY – have some cellulite.

The only reason we think it's ugly and unsightly is because people with something to sell tell… Click To Tweet

News flash: You can wear a swimsuit even if you have cellulite. And if you’re convinced that cellulite makes you bad or ugly, there are deeper issues that you may need help addressing.

Trying to change from a place of self-loathing, hatred, and shame doesn’t work for a lot of people. Even if it does jump start you into acting, it’s unlikely to address the underlying reasons you feel that way in the first place.

Will marketers ever stop with this nonsense of pointing out your flaws, telling you you’re bad, and then offering you a “solution?” Unlikely, as long as there’s money to be made and someone with an open wallet nearby.

How do you avoid it?

Get attuned to shame-based marketing. Yes, it’s even present in alternative holistic health circles that exist outside the mainstream.

Vote with your dollars by supporting companies that refrain from these tactics.

Change the conversation, starting with the language you use to think and speak about yourself. Are you constantly focusing on  your “flaws” and imperfections instead of what makes you incredible and unique beyond skin deep?

(Looking for more strategies? Check out my post here.)

So the next time a marketer ponies up, points out your flaws and (subliminally) asks, “Are you buying,” you can say, “Not today.”

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Shame Sells But Who's Buying | StephGaudreau.com

Questions or comments? Does shame sell? Write your thoughts below!

CrossFit Competition Nutrition Tips

CrossFit competition nutrition can make or break your performance.

CrossFit Competition Nutrition Tips | StephGaudreau.com

I remember the first time I rocked up to a multi-event competition with a confident plan for what to eat before, during, and after. It was the 2011 Left Coast Invitational, and I arrived with my little cooler and upcycled Lululemon bag full of foodstuffs. At first, I felt kind of silly, but when I felt fueled and energetic throughout that very hot and sweaty July day, it was worth it.

The foundations of good nutrition for athletes and competitors is something I’ve written about a lot – in two best-selling books and in a myriad of articles all over the internet.

You’ve got to consider some special circumstances and make adjustments to your normal routine if you want to avoid bonking, bloating, and other performance-killers.

While the strategies here are aimed CrossFit-style competitions, the general rules can be applied to most performance-based sports.

Keep in mind that these are basics, and your biochemistry or the demands of your sport (ex: weigh-ins for weightlifting) may require adjustments.

CrossFit Competition Nutrition Rules of Thumb

Don’t carb load.

There’s no need to carb-load the day before your competition. If you’ve done some light training or taken the day off, you should be pretty well topped up energy-wise. This also assumes that on a regular basis, you’re eating a post-workout of protein and carbs after hard training sessions, so you’re adequately recovered going into your competition.

Stuffing yourself with carbs the day before only floods your bloodstream with sugar, which causes your insulin to spike and means your body has to store that excess somewhere. Since you’re smart and you regularly refuel after workouts, your muscle will already be topped up with glycogen.

Think of your muscle glycogen storage capacity like a gas tank. If you try to put more gas in your tank, the tank itself doesn’t get bigger to accommodate; the gas overflows.

Significantly bumping up your carb intake can also cause some water retention, leaving you feeling bloated and heavy.

Eat normal meals the day before your CrossFit competition.

(Need some help understanding how to structure meals on normal training days? Click here.)

Stay hydrated.

This one would seem obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many athletes overlook hydration in their CrossFit competition day plans.

Even slight dehydration can significantly ding your performance and impact things like decision-making and mental clarity. Of course, hydration doesn’t just start the morning of your competition, so you’ll want to be mindful of what you drink in the days leading up to your event.

How much water does one need? There’s no one exact formula, and the guideline of half your bodyweight in ounces per day is just that, a basic guide.

You may need more  – or sometimes less – depending on your body chemistry, how sweaty you are, the amount of veggies and fruit you eat, the weather, intensity of your workouts, and so on.

Since CrossFit competitions don’t require athletes to make a weight class, there shouldn’t be a concern with staying well hydrated leading up to the event. (Stay tuned for another post about weight-dependent sports like Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, etc.)

Even amongst athletes who do consume enough fluid, electrolytes are often lacking. Click To Tweet

If you’re constantly drinking water and your urine is very light yellow or nearly clear, your tissues may still not be well hydrated.

Including electrolytes in your water means you’ll retain enough water to stay hydrated and preserve muscle function instead of just running to the bathroom every 45 minutes to pee.

Do you suffer from muscle cramps, particularly during strenuous efforts? It could be a sign of low electrolyte levels.

My favorite electrolyte replacement is Elete, but you can find tablets like Nuun or even salt tablets in most retail sports stores.

Another good option: coconut water plus a couple pinches of sea salt. Why the salt? Despite its rich potassium content, coconut water is pretty darn low in sodium.

Between events, sip on water with some electrolytes added. Don’t gorge yourself with water since your stomach tends to empty slower during intense periods of exercise which can make you bloated and uncomfortable.

Eat a full breakfast.

This one’s important since pre-competition nerves can make people feel like not eating, but performance tends to suffer on a quick breakfast of protein shakes, coffee, or worse, nothing at all.

While I’m not a fan of skipping sleep to eat breakfast, on CrossFit competition day, you may be better off getting up a bit earlier than usual to make sure you get a meal in you.

Most competitions will have at least two workouts – three or more being typical – and generally, everything kicks off in the morning. That may mean waking up early to drive there. If so, think about prepping breakfast the night before.

Eat something you're familiar with for breakfast that's easy to digest on competition day. Click To Tweet

Stay away from anything with a ton of fiber – not the time to be chowing on a breakfast salad – and be sure you’re eating something with protein, carbs, and fat. Examples might be a few eggs with bacon and sweet potato hash, oatmeal with coconut milk or chopped nuts and some fruit, etc.

Of course, you’ll want to plan for 2 to 3 hours of lead time to allow your breakfast to digest, so plan accordingly.

Focus on protein and carbs during the event.

Okay this is the big one for CrossFit competition nutrition.

Since most competitions are typically multi-event / multi-workout with breaks in between heats, you’ll want something to eat between those events.

This is where planning – or lack of it – can make or break the performance.

First common mistake: Eating or drinking something that came in your swag bag, mooching off a friend’s food, etc.

Never eat or drink something on competition day you haven't tested in training. Click To Tweet

It may contain an ingredient that upsets your stomach, leaving you running for the bathroom or bloating your belly.

Second common mistake: Timing nutrients wrong.

Fatty meats, slow-digesting foods, casein-based protein powders, and big doses of fat all take longer to digest than is appropriate on competition day.

Why? Fats slow down the emptying of your stomach. If you’re between events or heats and you’ve got a little recovery time, you want that nutrition to go to your muscle as fast as possible. Skip the fatty foods between events.

Certain protein powder, like casein, also digest more slowly. Time is of the essence, so choose a protein powder that’s whey- or egg-white based instead. If you want to eat something instead, opt for egg whites, lean meats, etc.

Protein examples:

  • Whey protein powder
  • Lean meat
  • Egg whites
  • Recovery-type protein powder (typically a whey + carb mix)
  • Protein bar with little fat

Between events, eat or drink proteins and carbs that are easy to digest.

For carbs, stick to something with a high glucose content. Why? Glucose replenishes muscle glycogen most directly.

If you want to drink something, stick to things like coconut water or a fruit juice like pineapple which is high in glucose. You can also mix that into your protein powder.

Other ideas to mix into a drink: Vitargo, dextrose, or a recovery protein powder. If you opt for the recovery protein powder, just check the ratio of carbs to protein. You want something close to 2:1 carbs:protein. If it’s far off from that, adjust by adding carbs.

Prefer something more solid? Try baby food squeeze packets (look for ones with pureed sweet potato or banana as a main ingredient), white rice, or plantain paired with a little bit of lean protein like chicken breast or egg white. Or, have a few bites of your favorite protein bar.

Carb examples:

  • Coconut water
  • Fruit juice (ex: pineapple)
  • Vitargo
  • Dextrose
  • Recovery-type protein powder (typically a whey + carb mix)
  • Baby food fruit packets
  • White rice
  • Potato

Avoid eating tons of fiber between events.

Don’t count on competition coordinators to have food vendors; some don’t, and you might be left with no options if you don’t pack your own stuff. Bring a cooler!

After your workouts, let your body calm down a little before trying to force food or drink while you’re still breathing hard, sweating, etc. Your body will still be in a sympathetic state and not super receptive to food anyway.

When the competition is over, you may want to do a simple post-workout recovery shake or eat some easy-to-digest protein plus carbs. Once the next meal time rolls around, eat normally and perhaps add a bit more carbohydrate than you might otherwise.

Summing Up These CrossFit Competition Nutrition Tips

  • Eat normally leading up to your CrossFit competition.
  • Pay attention to hydration ahead of time, and consider adding an electrolyte replacement.
  • Have breakfast the morning of the competition.
  • Between events, eat or drink easy-to-digest protein and carbs. Avoid fats.
  • After your competition, have a post-workout meal / snack. Then, eat the next full meal that comes after.

It’s my hope that by paying attention to these basic CrossFit competition nutrition tips, you’ll avoid common pitfalls and perform your best!

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CrossFit Competition Nutrition Tips | StephGaudreau.com

Questions or comments about these basic CrossFit competition nutrition tips? Leave them in the comments below.

Photos courtesy of Claudette Wilkins

3 Ways to Flip the Fitness Industry the Bird

It’s about damn time that you flip the fitness industry the bird, and I’m giving you three strategies for doing it.

3 Ways to Flip the Fitness Industry the Bird | StephGaudreau.com

This post started as a little Insta-rant, and has blossomed into a bit of a manifesto, but I digress. Let’s start at the beginning.

Words matter.

Yeah, actions do matter, but words are powerful and they are streaming past your eyes and into your mind every single second of the day.

Just stop for a second and think about the words bombarding you on an average day from the health and fitness marketing space:

  • Skinny _____ (insert recipe name here)
  • Detox diets
  • Cleanses (because you must be dirty)
  • How to “control” cravings
  • Shrink your _____ (insert body part here)
  • Quick fixes
  • Slim down (because size, and not quality of life / health is most important)
  • No pain, no gain

I could go on, but you get the point.

These messages – and a majority of what’s directed at us as women – are crafted from a place of fear.

Fear that we aren’t enough, we’re broken, and there’s something wrong with us.

The illusion is that if we could just fix the parts we don’t like, we’ll be happy. (Spoiler: If you finally manage to lose those ten pounds, you won’t magically find happiness.)

Everything marketed to you is done in a way that causes you to act out of fear:

Fear of failure.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of isolation.

Women have been bullied, intimidated, and shamed into trying to fix their bodies for years. Click To Tweet

Since I’m not one who just likes to complain about what’s wrong, I’m offering you up three strategies for being a more conscious consumer of media and the messages these industries are feeding you.

3 Ways to Flip the Fitness Industry the Bird

1) Be present.

This one sounds so simple, but it’s not easy. The key is to develop awareness about the messages you actively and passively consume.

Even if you do this for just one day, you’ll be shocked – and appalled – with what’s marketed your way by the fitness industry.

How often does the language of dieting and minimizing and “you-aren’t-enough-ness” come your way?

These industries exist on the premise of psychological manipulation and subliminal messages that, unfortunately, make their way into your subconscious mind without you even realizing it. I first learned about these trance states my friend, hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton, and it’s the way everything from casinos to TV commercials work.

The first step is to simply be aware and awake. Are these messages motivating you from a place of fear or a place of love?

 2) Opt out.

Once you’ve developed some awareness, it’s time to do something about it and opt OUT.

I can’t recommend this one enough: Get rid of cable and stop watching TV.

Shocking? (Maybe.)

Impossible? (No.)

In 2007, I got rid of my cable subscription and my TV.

Yes, I still watch programs and documentaries –  recently we invested in an LCD projector and a Netflix subscription – but I’m seeing nowhere near the advertisements that I was via mainstream networks.

Now that I’ve been desensitized to it, whenever I go visit my parents and the TV is running, I cannot believe the shit that I see. It horrifies me.

Not ready to bring your boob tube to the local thrift shop?

Start opting out of email newsletters and unfollowing accounts on social media that aren’t serving you. Stop buying fitness & diet magazines.

Take a cue from the recent #UnfollowFriday movement, and make some changes. Are there accounts and personalities online that make you feel less than? Get rid of them.

3) Find your people.

Once you’ve done the step above, it’s time to get really keyed in to the people and brands that are helping you in a positive way.

Be judicious with who you follow in the fitness industry. Click To Tweet

Do they motivate you from a place of genuine self-love?

There are lots of voices who are doing it right.

Creating an online support network matters, but even more important than that, find people in real life that share your core values.

The internet is both a wonderful and a terrible thing: It connects us across distances – hello, I met my husband on Twitter (true story) – but it allows us to wallow behind a screen, desperately unable to find real human connection.

Your act of meeting a friend for coffee or joining a local running group is exactly the thing the diet and fitness industry don’t want. It’s through time spent in person with people that lift you up, when you truly disconnect from the messages that marketers bombard you with, that you strengthen your core values and resolve from a place of love instead of a place of fear.

To Summarize…

The fitness industry (and let’s be honest, the diet industry too) operates on the premise of fear and manipulation to keep you stuck in the endless cycle of spending.

Exit the loop by first becoming aware.

Then, opt out of what isn’t serving you.

Finally, develop stronger connections – online but more importantly, in person– with people, groups, and brands that resonate with your core values.

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Questions or comments about these 3 Ways to Flip the Fitness Industry the Bird? Leave them below, and join the conversation.

5 Ways to Get Better Sleep

If you’re looking improve the quality of your shut-eye time, I’m sharing five ways to get better sleep in this post.

5 Ways to Get Better Sleep | StephGaudreau.com

Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep better?

This excerpt was taken from an original article posted on my other blog last year:

If you struggle to get to sleep, you’re hardly alone. It’s estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. (source) That’s a pretty sobering statistic, considering that for many people, lack of shut-eye is a completely fixable problem.

My sleep habits weren’t always great. I routinely got less than 6 hours in bed, ended the evening by falling asleep in front of the television, and slept in a room that had lots of ambient light.

The thing is, if you asked me if I was doing okay on 6 or less hours of sleep, I’d have sworn I was fine.

A Quick Look at the Science

2006 study comparing total sleep deprivation with sleep restriction concluded that the group that was chronically moderately sleep restricted – 6 hours or 4 hours sleep a night – performed just as poorly on cognitive tests as subjects who stayed awake for 48 hours straight.

Even more telling, the group that got 6 hours of sleep thought they were doing okay, though their cognitive tests showed they weren’t. Even though you might “feel fine,” you’re likely impaired when it comes to tasks involving thinking, reasoning, problem solving and more.

Chronically sleeping less than 6 hours is as bad as pulling an all-nighter. Click To Tweet
I was also training hard on fewer than 6 hours of sleep, which was hurting my physical performance, too. Click here to read more about trading sleep for training time, and listen to Dr. Parsley explain how sleep affects performance.

Somewhere between 7 to 8.5 hours of sleep is optimal depending on your personal requirements, but suffice to say many of us could stand to get more.

Five Ways to Get Better Sleep

1) Lock down a sleep routine.

It’s ironic that bedtime routines are standard for children, but when it comes to using them as adults, many of us don’t. We got to bed at erratic times and don’t build habits that signal to our bodies that it’s time to wind down.

Habits and routines are extremely personal, and what works for me may not work for you, so you may need to do a little experimentation. My general rule is to start my bedtime routine about an hour before I want to turn the lights out.

Suggestions to try include:

  • Putting away the dishes or preparing your lunch for the next day
  • Setting out tomorrow’s clothes or packing your gym bag
  • Having a bath or shower
  • Taking magnesium or other supplements
  • Reading a few pages from your favorite book

The point is to build the same sequence that culminates in sleep, and repeat it every night.

Also important is going to bed – and waking – at roughly the same time each day.

2) Avoid nighttime blue light.

This one’s big.

Nighttime exposure to light, especially the blue wavelengths that mimic sunlight, is very disruptive to melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping to put you to sleep – and keep you asleep. Unfortunately, backlit electronic devices that are so prevalent in our modern world, and they’re oozing with blue light.

Staring at your phone while lying in bed is not helping your sleep problems. Click To Tweet

Televisions, computers, tablets and phones are always close by, and they’re negatively impacting your sleep. Daytime exposure to blue wavelengths is important because it helps maintain the “awake” part of our circadian rhythms. However, reducing or avoiding blue light once the sun goes down is one key to better sleep.

Here are some things you can do to cut down on the amount of nighttime blue light your eyes get:

  • Install the free program f.lux on your computer. It dims your screen and turns it yellow / orange as dusk turns to darkness outside. It’s not available on most phones – and certainly not on your television – so if you can’t avoid those screens 100%, there’s another option…
  • Wear amber glasses or blublockers. They may look nerdy, but these orange-lens glasses function to block much of the blue light coming from your screens. At $10 a pair for the generic kind, that’s a pretty inexpensive solution to help you fall asleep faster. I prefer these gamer glasses from Gunnar – the Intercept style – because they look pretty cool, and they’re comfortable for hours of wear.
  • Eliminate light sources in your bedroom, such as digital alarm clocks, electronic devices with glowing power lights, and light coming through your windows. Blackout curtains are a must.
  • Use salt lamps for a soft light source that doesn’t throw blue light and isn’t dangerous like candles.

3) Take magnesium before bed.

Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays are role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It’s important for muscle function, electrolyte balance, cellular energy production and more. It’s also quite calming so it’s great to take before bedtime.

Nutrient-dense dietary sources rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, sea vegetables and nuts. Worth noting, some minerals such as calcium compete with magnesium for absorption, so if you’re taking it internally, avoid calcium-rich foods at the same time. If you’re training  hard, you may struggle to get enough magnesium from diet alone.

There are several popular and safe ways to use magnesium, among them Epsom salt baths, topical magnesium oil and supplements such as PurePharma M3 (use code SEPALEO to save 10%) and Natural Calm.

The types of magnesium in each are slightly different. PurePharma M3 contains magnesium taurinate and gluconate while Natural Calm has magnesium citrate. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate.

I personally find magnesium citrate to be harsher on my digestive system. (It causes the colon to retain water and too much causes diarrhea.) Though magnesium supplementation is considered very safe, always check with your physician before taking it.

It’s best to take your magnesium about 30 minutes before sleep.

4) Quantify your sleep.

It’s sometimes hard to know if the quality of your sleep is actually good. How much do you toss and turn? Do you really get the deep sleep you think you’re getting?

Instead of guessing, you may want to track or quantify your sleep.

There are many options for doing this, but the most popular and accessible are sleep apps like Sleep Cycle or the Night Shift app native to Apple’s latest iOS update (for iPhone 6).

I used Sleep Cycle for a long time until I decided that sleeping with my phone next to my bed was something I wanted to stop doing. (I had the bad habit of rolling over in the morning and looking at my phone for the first half hour of the day.)

If you’re new to sleep quantification, an app like Sleep Cycle is a good place to start though. While not foolproof, it can give you a good sense of your sleep patterns, and you can enter relevant data that may have affected your sleep such as what you ate, if you trained that day, and the supplements you took.

Recently, we invested in Sense which takes sleep quantification to the next level and includes a more sensitive sensor. It also collects information about the room such as temperature, humidity, and sound levels. But the best part is that I’m able to sleep with my phone out in the living room and still get data about my sleep.

5) Dig in deeper.

So often, it’s easy to overlook key factors that could be preventing you from getting better sleep simply because they don’t appear to be sleep-related. That’s when digging in deeper and taking a look beyond the sheets is of huge value.

My friend Shawn Stevenson – creator of The Model Health Show podcast and trusted voice in the wellness space – just published a book called Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success that’ll help you poke around under the hood.

5 Ways to Get Better Sleep

 

It’s full of practical tips and things you can implement right now to improve your sleep quality and feel more rested including some stuff that might not be so obvious. And, it’s got a 14-day plan for helping you bring all the pieces together for your more restful night ever.

I highly recommend picking up a copy!

Wrapping It Up…

A healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is the best foundation for getting the hormones responsible for circadian rhythm and sleep in check. If you’re still struggling to fall asleep, try implementing the suggestions in this article – and in Sleep Smarter – before turning to pharmaceutical intervention.

Of course, there are several others things you can try to improve your sleep such as avoiding caffeine after noon time, eating a protein-rich breakfast, getting morning exposure to sunlight, and avoiding alcohol at night. If you continue to suffer from sleep issues, seek the help of a physician or health professional.

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Have a question about getting better sleep? Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!

I Am Enough: A Tale of Two Women

I Am Enough | stephgaudreau.com

I am enough.

But I wasn’t always convinced of that.

Let me share with you a tale of two women:

On the left was me in 2011. I’d just finished the Tahoe City Xterra race and a season of off-road triathlon. Prior to that I spent 8 years racing mountain bikes – much of it in the endurance domain of 6+ hours – and running long distances.

What you might see is a woman who looks trim and confident and loves her body – but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I obsessed about my body, and I never felt small enough, even though this was the lowest weight of my adult life at about 58kg (128 pounds).

It was never enough. I was never enough.

I used competition to validate how I felt about myself and always pushed myself to do longer and harder events in order to prove my worth. I medicated myself off the stress response I got from punishing my body. It was exhausting.

What you don’t see in that photo is how weak I was, how much back pain I had, the terrible saddle sores I dealt with, the pain of a failing relationship, and how I constantly put myself down.

Funny how we tend to think that just because someone looks a certain way, their life must be friggin’ great. 

It took a few years but gradually I started to change a lot of things about my life.

I started really eating to nourish myself. I started strength training – I was introduced to it by CrossFit – and focusing on what my body could DO rather than how it looked or how much I weighed. I left my relationship. I eventually left a career that was safe but didn’t fulfill me. I read a lot and worked with some amazing coaches. I scoured the Internet for quality information about mindset and nutrition and fitness to conduct this experiment of one.

And you know what? I eventually found peace, and I started loving me for me.

It didn’t happen overnight but it did happen. It’s not perfect. I still have my moments, but life is infinitely more gratifying. 

On the right is me just a couple weeks ago. I weigh about 70kg (154 pounds)…yes, over 25 pounds more.

I routinely put my bodyweight+ over my head. I love my work. I’m not laser-focused on what I look like.

I am enough. 

One of the reasons I created the Women’s Strength Summit is to share with you the women that helped me, and if this post resonates with you, I hope you’ll join us starting March 1.

Click here to grab your free ticket to the online event, and I’ll see you there along with 30+ female experts who have a ton to share about how to strengthen not only your body, but your mind and your spirit as well.

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Mind Your Own Barbell

Mind Your Own Bar | StephGaudreau.com

Oh the barbell.

Easiest way to feel great – or horrible – about yourself. 

The solution: mind your own barbell. 

This is something I’ve struggled with / worked on a LOT as an athlete, so please don’t think I’m getting all preachy here. It’s something that competitive, athletic people often deal with, myself included. 

When you’re pushing your limits, training hard, and entering into competitions, you inevitably, usually, at some point will stop and compare yourself to others. It’s human nature. 

Why is she stronger? Why is he faster? Why haven’t I hit a PR in this workout when everyone else did? See what I mean?

As hard as it is, MYOB(ar).

You’re comparing your performance to someone who’s not you, and a person’s unique mix of circumstances cannot be replicated by you, even if you following the same programming, work out at the same gym, compete in the same weight class, etc. 

Your age, years of experience, proportions of different muscle fiber types, ability to recover, diet, sleep, life stress, ability to deal with volume and intensity, are ALL different. Even your ability NOW compared to your ability last month, last year, or five years ago may be different. 

So what’s the best way to MYOB? Start keeping a log of YOUR progress. Your best lifts. Your training plan. Your mood. How you feel. It’s the best data you’ve got. 

Does this mean you can’t be motivated by others around you? Hell no. It just means to stop and think clearly about stuff when you want to beat yourself up for not measuring up to others.

What do you think about minding your own barbell? Leave your comments below!

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes?

Are You Making These Top 3 Training Mistakes? | StephGadureau.comAre you making these top 3 strength training mistakes?

I asked three of my strong lady friends—Jen Sinkler, Diane Fu and Melissa Hartwig—to chime in with the three errors they see people (specifically women) make when they set out to move some weights in the gym.

Last week I posted about strength training as one of the keys to sustainable fat loss, and it sparked some great conversation across social media.

Many people said that they’re interested in basic strength training but they don’t know how to get started.

[Side note: If you’re looking for a top-notch powerlifting program that focuses on the squat, bench press, and deadlift, I want to tell you about Unapologetically Powerful. It’s a new program from powerlifting badasses Jen Sinkler and Jen Blake, and it’s designed to get you silly-strong and—if you’re so—ready to jump into your first meet.

The Jens have spent hours developing this resource, and it’s incredible. I’ve had a chance to go through their demo videos myself and apply them to my training. The cues are spot on, and I’ve every confidence they’ll help you get strongrrrrrrr (as Jen S says).]

 

Okay, on to the Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comJen Sinkler — Unapologetically Powerful, powerlifter, & gym owner

1. Not getting proper instruction at the outset. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard women say that they stuck to the cardio section of the gym because they found free weights section to be intimidating, and I get that!

Even once you’re sold on the benefits of resistance training, it can be difficult to know what to do with the equipment. While some lifts are pretty straightforward, most have layers of cueing involved that both help keep you safe and maximize the effectiveness of the lift by recruiting the right muscle groups in the right sequence. Always, but especially when you’re just getting started, it can be invaluable to seek the guidance of an expert.

Either join a group fitness class where the instructors are well-qualified and attentive, or consider purchasing even a few private or semi-private sessions with a personal trainer to hammer home form for some of the main movement categories (such as squat, press, upper-body push, and upper-body pull, plus rotation and anti-rotation).

2. Not using progressive overload. I admit it, I’m a jock. All of my best friends are jocks, constantly pushing themselves and each other. Inevitably, everything turns into a contest, including how much weight they can lift, and it can occasionally get out of hand. With that personality type, reigning in the urge to give it their all, all the time, is the name of the game. With many others, the opposite is true: Rather than exploring their limits, I see people reaching for the same weights week in and week out. The problem with that strategy is that the body is too smart for that — it adapts to the demands you place upon it, and thus your progress stalls out.

So, it’s important to capitalize on the principle of progressive overload, where you very gradually increase the weight you use from session to session. That way you’re constantly making progress! That said, progress isn’t linear, and you won’t be able to add weight every single time until infinity.

When you get to the point you can’t add more weight, that’s when you change the repetition scheme (say you drop from 8 to 10 reps to 5 to 6) until your body adapts to that and you need to change it again. Generally speaking, you work from higher to lower reps, then start over with a higher rep scheme again with the brand new weight you can do for that many reps.

3. Not finding a training style they enjoy. Just as there are many different types of yoga (anywhere from sweaty, fast-paced power yoga to yin yoga, which is slow and still) and endurance events (from obstacle courses to 5Ks to ultramarathons), there are many different types of resistance training.

There’s powerlifting, which focuses on the barbell squat, bench press, and deadlift; there’s Olympic lifting, which homes in on the barbell snatch and the clean and jerk; calisthenics, which uses bodyweight only; various styles of kettlebell training, some of which focus on strength and others more on efficiency; the sport of strongman, which includes a number of timed challenges using various equipment; CrossFit, which combines a number of modalities from gymnastics to Olympic lifting; and various bootcamp-style classes that employ dumbbells only, just to name a few.

Here’s the thing I think a lot of people miss: you don’t have to do anything you don’t enjoy. More to the point, you probably won’t stick with a regimen if you don’t enjoy yourself — so it’s well worth your time to explore which training styles you like best. Take a class, drop in for a session, take a workshop. Make the pursuit of better fitness one of the grand experiments of your life, and that life will be a longer and more robust one.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comMelissa Hartwig — Whole30, RKC kettlebell certified

1. Assuming heavy weights are for guys only. You’re not limited to the little pink dumbbells just because you’re a woman, and lifting heavy weights with a strength-focus won’t make you big and bulky like a professional bodybuilder. There are many benefits to picking up heavy stuff, including building strong, healthy bones; developing functional fitness that will serve you well in your everyday life (think helping a friend carry a couch, or picking your tantruming toddler up off the floor); and increasing muscle mass (and your metabolism).

2. Not learning from a qualified trainer. If you’re going to strength train, you need to learn proper form, and you can’t do that by watching Instagram videos. Seek out an experienced, qualified trainer to teach you to perform the movements effectively and safely, and teach you how to work them into an overall training routinte to suit your goals and context.

3. Testing, not training. It’s fun to pull 1-rep maxes and go up in weight every time you set foot in the gym. But strenth training isn’t just about setting PRs; it’s about building functional strength that stays with you and keeps you healthy (at the gym and in real life). This means doing the sometimes boring, not-so-sexy stuff like assistance exercises, mobility work, and technique work at lighter weight. You’ve got to pay to play, and all that training will really pay off when the time is right to test your new capacity.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comDiane Fu — FuBarbell, olympic weightlifting coach

1. Not lifting heavy or often enough – Spending time in 85%+ range for weights and getting accustomed to heavy loads and frequently

2. Undereating – Not having enough resources to recover

3. Diffusing effort – Not focusing on the basic movements like Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, and Olympic lifts and too much on other ancillary exercises/conditioning

Time to get strong!

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Are You Making These Top 3 Training Mistakes? | StephGadureau.com

Photo: Fresh Burst Photography

Questions for these ladies or me about strength training mistakes? Leave a comment below!

Will You Bend or Break?

Will You Bend or Break? | StephGaudreau.com

“Notice that the stiffest tree is the most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

-Bruce Lee

So many times, we want to change our circumstances.

Life’s unfair. Random bad things happen.

If only we could change what’s happening to us, we’d somehow magically be happy. Wrong. 

What if the secret is in our response to those shitty situations, how we choose to reply.

Are we the stiff-branched tree, or are we the willow?

Notice that the willow’s success lies not in its ability to control the wind, but its inherent qualities. 

Be the willow. On the shore of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand, 2015.

Want more mindset tips? Grab my Gratitude 5-Day Guide…it’s free! Click on the image below to get yours.

Gratitude 5-Day | StephGaudreau.com