First off, this post will focus primarily on the physical aspect of fitness. With that said, the quality of your mind is dictated in many ways by the state of your body so if you intend to optimize your mind you’ll need to get your body into gear. Stay tuned for follow on posts focusing on cognition and healthy mindset!
For many of us, working out is close to habitual: we grab our gym bag, warm-up, knock out our strength training, run, or intervals, and call it a day. Maybe your routine looks something like this, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, our workout routines often seem to be on autopilot, for better or worse.
Take a moment to step back, reflect, and determine if there are any parts of your routine that can be altered or upgraded to improve athletic performance. A small change might lead you to see greater results than anticipated, and, of course, have your fitness goals in mind when reading these suggestions.
Though everybody is different and each individual has their own physical fitness goals we recommend functional fitness as the starting point for a workout regime. Its purpose is to make you as ready as possible for whatever the world may throw your way. Unless you have a reason to get more specific (i.e. you want to compete in bodybuilding, jiu-jitsu, etc.) we believe that functional workouts should be the core of a good fitness program.
Functional training is training that strengthens you in ways that will benefit you outside of the gym as it mimics movements needed in everyday activity. Functional workouts usually consist of compound exercises such as squats, pushups, lunges, and deadlifts, all of which simultaneously include different muscle groups. We’re training the body to work and move more efficiently as one unit.
These types of exercises can largely be accomplished with only a few pieces of equipment (Kettlebells, Pull up bars, and dumbbells are your friends) and a good attitude! With that said, it's never a bad idea to find a great gym that allows you to turn your brain off and just go. We love Barry’s, CrossFit, and Orange Theory when we’re looking for a high-intensity workout.
Finally, you’ve got to keep things exciting and mix up your workouts! Challenge yourself every now and again with a long run. Mix yoga into your schedule on your rest days. Try jiu-jitsu. Play pickup basketball. If 80% of your workouts are functional fitness, the other 20% should be varied and fun. The more you vary your workouts the fitter, healthier, and happier you’ll be!
While working out shouldn’t be stressful, having hard data on how you’re working out and how much progress you’re making can be a great motivator. Tracking works for both short and long-term usage. Start by tracking single workouts—was your mile time a little faster or did you get more reps in today? Then over time, you can see what improvements you were able to maintain and what you still need to work on.
With the abundance of tracking wearables in the market today, you can find one as simple or as complex as your heart desires. We’re partial to composition notebooks;)
Moderate Hydration: It’s easy to get dehydrated when working out as our muscles produce heat and we sweat, losing fluids. It is recommended that you drink between 20 and 40 ounces of water per hour during a workout. And keep in mind that overhydration is also harmful, so don’t drink too much water before working out as this could lead to bloating, nausea, and generally bad times.
Healthy Fuel: Start the day off strong with a breakfast full of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Keep it going with a wholesome meal 3 to 4 hours before you hit the gym, and remember that complex carbs like vegetables break down slowly in our bodies, giving us a steady supply of energy while preventing crashes that can come from simple carbs like high-fructose corn syrup.
Finally, any time from immediately after to 3 hours post-workout, eat plenty of protein and complex carbs to replenish your body; generally, something along the lines of a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is recommended.
Diets: If you want to try a diet with stricter goals, there are many scientifically proven diets—the paleo diet, the vegan diet, the keto diet, intermittent fasting, etc. Give one of these a try and see how your body feels. We’ll go in-depth on these in follow-on posts!
No matter how great your diet is, sometimes you need the help of supplements to provide your body with all the necessary macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep you as healthy as possible to perform at your best. Daily multivitamins with Vitamins A, C, D, E as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc can be a great addition as well as supplements specifically catered towards athletic performance.
Personally, we’ve found that the combination of Fish Oil, Vitamin D, and VRB Work keeps us sharp and on top of our game throughout the day. VRB Work contains natural ingredients including Organic hemp Seed Oil, CBD Isolate, Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea, L-Tyrosine, Vitamin B Complex, and more, all of which contribute to improved mood, natural energy, and mental clarity. We may be partial, but we love it;)
Fully respect your rest days. Give your body the time it needs to recover and replenish energy. We have a Recovery 101 Guide with more details on how to build a proper recovery plan that works for you. Check it out here.
Working out is fun, but let’s be smart about it. Thinking of how we approach our training, nutrition, and rest to maximize our abilities will allow us to not only reach our potential but push past it and set even higher goals. It’s time to Do Work.