What A Workout Does to Your Brain

This post originally appeared on the Crew blog

I distinctly remember the sunrises during my senior year of high school. While my classmates were sleeping, I was on the roads racking up miles with my cross country team to avoid the Florida heat. We would hit the showers then shuffle off to class. At the time, I thought this was absolute torture. Getting up early in the morning was bad enough, but exercising on top of that?

That type of activity wouldn’t be anything new at Naperville High School in Naperville, IL. The school was profiled in the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain. Naperville encourages students to attend physical education classes and offers early morning options so they can get a workout in before the first bell. As one would expect, the students have a lower obesity rate, but they’re also seeing benefits in the classroom.

To improve mental performance, many individuals resort to hard work and repetition. In turns out, they might be missing out on one of the most powerful brain boosters in the world – exercise.

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Four Pieces of Training Advice That Work

When I was working 6-8 hours straight with clients, I thought I was doing well.

I had a pretty high resign rate meaning that well over half of my clients were continuing to work with me month after month. We were having fun! We would laugh, they would sweat, I would get paid. Seems like everyone got what they wanted.

Almost.

I’d say that maybe 60% of my clients were making progress towards their goal. That’s not great when you’re paying $100+ an hour for a workout.

Truth be told, I could have done better. Looking back now, there are several things I would have changed to increase their chance of success. I want to share those items with you now. Whether you’re at the peak of your fitness or just getting started, I think improving your health is simpler than you might imagine.

Going back, here are the four items I would emphasize for someone looking to get in shape.

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PUSH: A Fitness Tracker That Measures Power and Strength

Fitness trackers have come a long way in the past several years, and they’re only going to continue to improve. PUSH, a new tracker about to hit the market for purchase, is promising to measure things like peak power output and velocity while you lift. Whereas other trackers are geared towards the general public, this seems like the first one pointed to athletes.

Seems pretty similar to Atlas, a crowd-funded device I reviewed previously. However, PUSH could be in your hands a lot sooner. They’re starting to ship in August according to their site.

Intangible Benefits (Why Success Isn’t Always Obvious)

Last November, I decided to sign-up for Scrawny to Brawny, a year-long coaching program for anyone wanting to gain weight and change their physique.

Fast forward ten months later, I’ve gained a total of three to five pounds.

While that might not be the case study they’re going to plaster on the advertisement for the program, I still consider this past year a huge success. Let me explain why.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Using Protein Powder

Walk into any gym nowadays, and you’re just as likely to hear the rattling of a shaker bottle as the clanking of weights. Powders, bars and other supplements have become so ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to imagine not following up a great workout with a shake of some sort (and sometimes even mid-workout). Protein powder is, in many ways, leading the supplement charge. Created by various sources — from whey to soy to pea — and popping up everywhere you look — from GNC’s to neighborhood grocery stores — the popular supplement has cemented its place in our minds and in our diets.

With the help of Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition, I helped to create this beginner’s guide for DailyBurn. You can check out the full article here.

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The Power of Posture (And How to Improve Your Own)

Posture is immensely powerful in shaping how others perceive you in business situations, during presentations, and throughout our daily lives. I had a great time breaking down the science behind power postures and how to use them to your advantage in this post in the Crew blog. Read the full post here.

The Best Protein Powder for You

Protein powder is one of the most common supplements in the world. Hell, people buy huge tubs of it when they start their fitness craze at the beginning of the year only for the tub to sit there and rot for the other 364 days. With protein powder being so popular, the supplement shelves are filled with practically a million brands all promising bigger and better results. In general, the supplement industry is highly unregulated and full of crap.

With the help of Brian St. Pierre, I created a cheat sheet for protein powders that was published over on DailyBurn. We detailed the seven most common protein variations and some pros and cons of each. You can read the full post here.

Something I should’ve known but just found out when writing this piece: Hemp protein is actually made out of the same plant as marijuana (albeit with none of the active ingredient, THC).

Revisiting My Morning Routine

Awhile back, I published a blog post on building a routine for the perfect morning. The piece was titled “Rock the First Hour of Your Day” and included some habits like preparing the night before, eating a solid meal, avoiding the snooze button, and prioritizing the items on your to-do list.

Since I now work from home as part of Automattic, my morning routine (and in fact, my entire day) has become a bit more lax. The fact is that it really doesn’t matter what time I wake up in the morning as I can work whenever I want throughout the day. I still practice many of the habits in the post mentioned above, but my mindset has changed quite a bit over the last few months as I’ve been working on perfecting my morning routine in light of the lax time demand. I thought it would be cool to document some of the things I’ve experimented with and where I’ve seen the best results/biggest improvements.

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5 Exercise Progressions to Build Strength

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” or so the saying goes. And in the weight room, this mantra is often translated to “When the lift gets easier, add more weight.” For most gym junkies, increasing weight is the go-to method for upping the difficulty of an exercise. This makes sense for the most part. When your buddies want to estimate your gym prowess, they normally ask how much you can lift on the bench press or the squat. Rarely, does someone ask how many single-leg squats you can do or if you can stand on a stability ball and do a set of squats.

Weight isn’t the only thing that matters in the gym. I had a great time outlining different progressions methods with help from Rob Sulaver on DailyBurn. You can read the entire piece here.