Friends Can Impact Your Fitness Success

erik ledin friendsThink of your five closest friends. What jobs do these people have? Are they happy with their lives? Are they in committed relationships? What are their favorite things to do? Are they healthy? Do they exercise?

Our closest friends have a huge impact on our lives. We are social beings and it is easy to fall into behaviors in groups, like going out to eat with friends frequently or grabbing a drink after work a couple nights a week. Your friends will also influence what kind and how much work you put into your body and physique.

For example, if your friends go to the gym that is something you can do together to socialize. Additionally, you can talk about easy or hard parts of a workout and encourage each other to be consistent or even challenge each other to perform better.

It is important to keep an eye on your friend’s habits, because they are yours too. Do your friends engage in behaviors that help them remain fit, lean and strong or do they abuse their bodies with a lot of sugar and sedentary behavior? Do you see your friends encouraging and raising the bar for you physically or lowering the bar?

These are all important questions to consider as you take a look at your friends and how they influence your life. Some would say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about who those five people are and what that says about your lifestyle choices, health, and happiness. If you’re not happy with what you see, reconsider your relationships and always surround yourself with healthy, happy, active people.

The Science Of The Weightlifting Warm Up

erik ledin warm upHere’s a question I get all the time: Is there one single good way to warm up for weightlifting, or does it not really matter? While the answer is somewhat complicated, in general I would say yes, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about warming up.

I’m going to describe a theoretical warm up–see if it sounds like you. After some stretches, you get on the bike or treadmill and do five to ten minutes of cardio to get your heart rate up. Then you do a high number of light weight reps (20 reps with just the bar, 15 with a couple waits, 10 with a couple more weights, etc.) before moving on to your work sets. Is this okay? Sure, I guess. Is it what I would recommend? No. Why? I’ll tell you.

Let’s stop for a moment to think about what the purpose of a warm up is, in regards to weightlifting. In this context, the warm up serves two functions:

  1. A neuromuscular rehearsal of the upcoming lift.
  2. An exercise which gets your body used to heavier and heavier loads.

Remember, the more motor units you recruit/activate in a warm up, the more force production will be possible when it’s time for work sets. But high rep warm ups get in your way and prevent maximum strength performance in two ways. First, they cause residual fatigue. Second, they produce lactic acid, reducing the pH of your blood  (increasing acidity) and impairing motor unit recruitment. So while light weight high reps provide a rehearsal for the lift you’re about to do, they tire you out quickly and reduce your maximal strength. What you really want to do is recruit/activate as many motor units as quickly as possible, and the best way to go about doing that is actually heavy weight low rep sets.

What does this look like? Well, say you’re benching 250 pounds. You’d start with 5 reps of 95 pounds, then five reps of 135 pounds, then 3 reps of 185 pounds, then one 225-pound rep, and then start your work set. This way, you accomplish the two purposes of warm ups while simultaneously avoiding the drawbacks of high-rep sets.

If you’re interested in going in this direction, I recommend taking it one step further and using this simple trick: instead of that last 225-pound single rep, try a single that’s even heavier than your work sets. So again, if you’re benching 250 pounds, try a single rep of 275 next time to potentiate your nervous system. Then, when you come back down to 250, you’ll find you have more motor units activated and you’ll be stronger throughout the work sets.

Staying Motivated

erik ledin motivationWhat is motivation? How do you keep it up?

Take a second to think about this. What motivates you? Why are you doing this? The strict dieting, the constant saying no to off plan meals, the rough workouts (Bulgarian Squats, anyone?)…

Obviously, you must be doing all of this for a reason, that reason being that you want to get in better shape, look better, feel better, etc. This reason never changes, so why does motivation occasionally diminish? Is it due to lack of progress? In some cases sure, but look back to when you started this journey. I’m sure you look and feel quite different now, and I’m sure you a lot stronger as well. So it can’t really be due to a lack of progress now can it?

When it comes down to it, motivation can actually be a relatively easy thing to maintain. All you have to do is grab a hold onto WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. And by hold onto, I mean keep it at the front of your brain. Let it drive you. Constantly remind yourself how important your goal is to you, the more often the better.

Here’s a quote that helps me stay motivated when I’m trying to achieve my goals:

“Your level of motivation is basically the habit of positivity and that habit, like all others is created by repetition, in this case, repetition of thought.”

Determination isn’t something you’re born with. It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been in the past, how much you’ve stuck to or strayed from your previous goals. Determination is a habit that anyone and everyone can develop. It takes practice and it takes repetition. Push yourself to think every day, and I mean think deeply, about how you used to look and feel, how you look and feel now, and how you want to look and feel in the future. Do this, and there isn’t anything you can’t achieve.