How low can you go?
Barbell rows… it’s what a brotha know.
-Chuck D (probably)
Friday, Coach J here from Anyman Fitness – and welcome to the latest edition of The N.W.A. Newsletter.
Each Friday’s N.W.A. Newsletter will have 3 parts:
- A Nutritional Tip to help make your diet healthier and easier to stick to.
- A Workout Tip to help make your training sessions more effective and fun.
- An Attitude/Mindset tip to help you strengthen your greatest asset – your mental toughness.
I will also give you my single favorite piece of social media content from AF over the past week and link to it on either Instagram or Twitter.
Without any further ado… let’s get started, shall we?
N.W.A. Nutrition Tip Of The Week:
With Halloween on Sunday, it’s normal to have a bit of anxiety around your diet at this time of the year.
The Fall is slowly turning into the Winter. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the air is getting cooler.
But if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s the idea that if you eat something, you need to “make up” for it with exercise.
I’m specifically talking about images like this one:
Let’s face the facts.
Most of us don’t have a naturally healthy relationship with food.
Our relationship with food is an ongoing process; it’s something we will need to regularly monitor and adjust in order to get lean and stay lean for life.
Much of how we view dieting comes from our own struggles and experiences with our own weight.
Our mental framework often is derived from our childhood, teenage years and experiences.
Often, it takes time to unravel the conditioning that’s been done to you.
I’ve experienced this first hand.
When I was younger, my mother was obsessive about forcing me and my sister to eat only healthy foods.
We seldom had treats in the house – those were only purchased if Dad took us to the store.
While on the surface this sounds like a good idea for parents, it messed me up mentally.
It’s important to teach our children about nutrition, sure, but the most important part of your responsibility is to be sure your kids understand balance and the proper lens with which to view your diet.
Our kids should be taught what foods are “every day foods”, what foods are “every once in awhile” foods, and what foods are “rarely or never” foods.
One of the biggest reasons I gained 75 pounds from 20-30 years old is because the minute I was out of my parents’ house, I acted like a crackhead who had just been let off the leash with my diet.
Suddenly, I could purchase and eat what I wanted.
And what a 19 year old wants to eat is universally NOT healthy…
When you see infographics telling you “one Snickers equals this many burpees – DON’T EAT THEM”, it starts to warp your mindset.
You start to see certain foods as “good” and other foods as “bad”.
You’ll start to feel guilty when you eat those “bad” foods, and that can cause you additional stress.
Stress is one of the biggest diet killers – staying level headed and even keeled will always help make dieting as painless as possible.
Look… Halloween happens once per year.
If you want to have a few fun sized candy bars, go for it!
It’s all good – it’s literally one, single night – so indulge a bit and don’t stress it!
You don’t need to do cardio to run it off, perform 100 burpees as penance, or do anything else silly.
In fact, I don’t want you to do any of those things.
Instead, I’d prefer if you slowly ate your treats, savored every second of it, and felt satisfied and content afterwards.
And no “punishment workouts”, either.
Your health isn’t the result of one, single choice.
It’s the cumulation of hundreds and thousands of choices over time.
And if your gym has one of these obnoxious signs in the lobby, you have my permission to eat your Snicker’s bar right in front of it, take a selfie on social, and call the gym out.
In fact, they probably deserve it for posting something so lame in their business.
You can have a cookie (or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or a Snickers, etc).
Just don’t eat all the cookies, and you’ll be fine.
N.W.A. Training Tip Of The Week:
One of the most important aspects to building strength and muscle is the ‘mind-muscle connection’.
Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about this often.
And yet, it’s an aspect to training very few people understand and utilize properly.
When you first start lifting weights, usually you’re concerned with putting more weight on the bar.
This is only natural.
You’ve only started and you don’t have a lot of experience.
As such, you might be a little bit embarrassed about how much you’re lifting.
Plus, you know strength correlates with muscle, right?
The stronger you are, the more muscle you have, and therefore, you pour your energy into adding 5 or more pounds at every session.
While getting stronger is always a solid idea, doing so at the expense of your form is a terrible idea.
If you’re adding 5 pounds at every session, eventually those sets are going to get extremely difficult.
A MAJOR mistake I see many new lifters make is increasing the weight as much as humanly possible, even if form is off and the reps were shaky or wobbly.
If you’re a powerlifter, you have one goal: To move the maximum amount of weight through space.
Because everything is based around strength and moving max poundage, you see things like arched backs for bench presses and lifters doing everything they can to decrease the bar path to make the exercise easier.
This only makes sense.
Shorter bar path = less distance moved = less energy/strength required for each rep.
Focusing everything you can on making the work *easier* for you will give you a better chance of winning your competitions.
Contrast this to being a bodybuilder (and if you’re training to be healthy and build muscle mass, you ARE a bodybuilder – at least recreationally).
If you are a bodybuilder, your goal is NOT to move the most weight you possibly can for each exercise.
Instead, you are using the weights as a tool to help create the proper stimulus so your body naturally builds lean body mass.
One of the biggest factors of muscle growth is metabolic stress – aka “the pump”.
The pump is the feeling your arms might explode right out of your skin after a grueling arms day.
It’s that swollen feeling of the blood coursing through your veins post-workout.
If looking good and building muscle is important to you, always try to get a pump during your workouts.
When you’re just trying to lift the most weight, your workouts may be difficult but your main focus is on trying to be intense enough to move the weight while maintaining your form.
You aren’t actually working on contracting and stretching your muscles with each rep – and that is what truly causes wicked pumps like you wouldn’t believe.
Each time you perform a set, think to yourself, “What muscle(s) am I working with this set?”
Then, focus intently on stretching and contracting those muscles through the duration of your set.
For good measure, give a hard 1-2 second contraction at the peak of your movement.
After a few sets of focused effort in this fashion, you’ll be amazed at the difference in how you feel.
Once upon a time, I thought being as strong as humanly possible was the only way to gain muscle.
After a few years of experience under my belt, I realized how wrong I was.
Training with the proper mind-muscle connection will take your workouts to the next level.
You’ll be healthier, more muscular, less sore, and your results will surprise you.
The best arms at the gym I train at belong to a 35 year old guy.
He uses 20 pound dumbbells to curl, and his arms are 20″ big (seriously, dude is jacked).
He sits in a chair so he’s not swinging backwards trying to lift the weight with his back.
And he goes nice and slooooooooow, flexing hard at the top of the peak with every repetition.
It’s a thing of beauty watching him curl.
And his results are 100x better than the bro’s next to him, trying to half-rep the 50 pound dumbbells just to look cool for lifting “heavy weights”.
No one outside the gym will know the weight you used while you were in the gym.
Train smarter, not harder my friend.
N.W.A. Attitude/Mindset Tip Of The Week:
Last week, I became the head coach of my daughter’s basketball team.
It’s the first basketball team she’s played on.
I was stoked she wanted to play basketball – it was my favorite sport growing up and I was praying one of my kids would want to follow in my footsteps.
Plus, up to that point the only sport my girls have played has been gymnastics, and I know nothing about gymnastics.
In Week 1, I sat in the stands and watched Ava’s first game.
The league is co-ed and consists of 3rd and 4th graders.
It was clear before the tip-off the other team had some good players on their team.
It also became clear whoever picked our team… didn’t pick too wisely.
We were outmatched and outmanned. 3 of our 5 players were playing their first game ever (including my daughter).
We lost 28-0. We didn’t hit the rim once the entire game. We only managed 2-3 shots the entire game, too.
I won’t lie – I was frustrated.
But then, the wildest thing happened…
My girl came running over to me post-game with a HUGE smile on her face and said, “That was so much fun, Daddy! I can’t wait until next week!”
I was so shocked…
They just got torched. They didn’t even hit the rim! Heck, they usually had the ball stolen from them the second it got over half court (it’s a no-pressing league).
And she thought it was fun?
I was positive this would be her last game ever… shows you what I know!
After the game, we found out the coach quit and didn’t want to coach any longer.
Considering how much fun Ava had, I didn’t want them to cancel the season.
So I did what I had to do – I took over the reigns as the Coach of the Titans.
I figured it couldn’t get any worse, and at least this way Ava can keep playing the game she’s enjoying so much.
This was also a great opportunity to change my perspective as a parent.
Here I am, worried Ava’s hopes and dreams were just crushed, and instead, she had the time of her life.
She didn’t care the score was 28-0.
She didn’t care she had zero points, zero rebounds, and didn’t shoot the ball once.
She had a great time!
She got to run around and learn a bit about a new sport.
I needed to change my own mindset before our next game, and I also needed to show the team a few things to help stop the bleeding as well…
After a short practice the following week, we played again.
I showed them a few basic plays and where to stand on defense.
This time we *only* lost 18-0.
And we even hit the rim twice!
There were lots of smiles and high fives from the players.
A few of them even said, “Hey, Jason, LOOK! We did better than last week!”
Granted, we still didn’t score a point, but the players were right.
We DID do better.
We had more energy, we played better defense, and we rebounded better.
If we can figure out how to mix in a few buckets, who knows, maybe we’ll actually be competitive one of these weeks.
We don’t need to have a scoreboard for everything.
Too much of us put unnecessary pressure on ourselves or our children – and for what?
Looking back at game one, I feel a bit silly I was frustrated watching.
I was worried about the score, and totally missed the fact that Ava was smiling and having the time of her life.
How silly of me.
There’s more to life than wins and losses.
Sometimes, I think we should all take a step back and try to see things through the lens of a child.
Often, playing the game *IS* the point.
No matter what the final score might say.
Here’s me and my girl, post-game.
As you can see from my sweaty t-shirt, I was working just as hard coaching as the kids who were playing! 🙂
One Favorite Social Media Post Of The Week:
Don’t waste too much time on politics.
Identify as a “gym bro” instead of a political ideology.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Anyman Fitness N.W.A. Newsletter.
I’ll be back next week.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Considering it’s Halloween and this is a gangster-rap themed newsletter, I would feel remiss if I didn’t give you the link to one of the strangest rap songs of all time.
The Geto Boys were well known for “horrorcore” – which combines hardcore gangster rap and gross, gore/horror-movie themed lyrics.
Their song “Chuckie” terrified me as a kid.
I’m warning you… these lyrics aren’t just unsafe for work… these lyrics aren’t safe for anyone at any time, or anyplace.