Winter Training

For those of us who live in areas where winter will be dark, cold, rainy/snowy this is a great time of year to up the intensity of our training programs. Its not all about locking yourself in your garage and working out 6 hours per day. The winter weather, particularly snow, can offer ample opportunities for conditioning as well; after all, Rocky did it to train for his fight with Drago.

Let’s face it; it is much easier to get outside in the summer when the sun is shining, the days last longer and the weather is warm. As a matter of fact, it may be a challenge at this time of year to get yourself to the gym and work out. The winter, on the other hand, is cold, wet and the sun sets at like 4:30. This often makes it easier to get into a great rythym for training, as well as pushing our game to the next level in terms of conditioning. For those who go through a bit of depression during the winter time, ratcheting up the intensity of your workouts can help overcome that.  I realize that a lot of bodybuilders use this period to “bulk up” adding muscle at the same time adding fat which they will “cut” before summer. I don’t subscribe to this theory. What I am talking about is using available time to lift harder, heavier, jump rope, hit the heavy bag, condition, condition, condition! Using this method we can come out in the spring stronger, faster,more agile and looking great!

Here are some simple ways to up your game this winter:

1) Lift heavy: This goes without saying. Spend some more time with the iron, maybe even an extra day. Decide and act on a specific goal that you would like to achieve over the winter and do it. This could be something as simple as adding in an extra shoulder exercise daily. Its your call. Since I train 6 days per week anyway I usually like to lengthen the duration of my individual weightlifting sessions. I also add in training whenever I can. I took a cue from Cade Courtley and I often do pullups everytime I enter or leave my bedroom. This can be switched up as well to pushups, situps, squats or anything that you want to challenge yourself with; it is extremely versatile.

2) Getting outdoors during the winter also provides fantastic training opportunities. If you live in an area with snow or close to snow there are several excellent sports that you can add in to your routine. First, just consider going for a walk in your locale while there is snow on the ground. Go walk several miles or several hours. Walking through somewhat deep snow adds a considerable amount of exertion; I guarantee that you will be starving afterwards. If you have small children put them on a sled and pull them during your walk. If you live in the mountains or near by, adding in snow shoeing or cross country skiing periodically is a great way to up the ante on your program. Maybe these are things that you have never done before and you can use it as a challenge for yourself as well. If you don’t often go into the woods or nature take the time to prepare seriously, nature is a beautiful thing but it must be respected as well.

3) Do some extra conditioning this winter. If the weather is crappy outside and you want to condition inside there is a tried and true, inexpensive method of conditioning that is among the best; jumping rope. Boxers train with it because it works so well. You can get a decent jump rope for next to nothing. I would recommend getting real rope. I have tried several synthetic jump ropes and I keep coming back to the old standard rope with wood handles; nothing else works as well for me. Jumping rope for a while will get your heart rate up and give you that burn in your lungs that you get from a good run. Sandbag workouts are another excellent form of conditioning.

4) It is important to take care of ourselves all year round but the winter months will afford us some more time to devote to self care. Stretching is important. I do a deep stretching program in the morning and in the evening before bed as well as a warm up before working out. Sounds excessive but I wouldn’t have it any other way, my flexibility is great and at 41 I still workout like crazy with a minimal amount of injuries. The older you get the more you need to focus on flexibility and stretching if you want to continue to push yourself in your workouts.  In addition to the stretching program its great to go get a massage periodically as well as a sauna and anything else that relaxes you. Foam rollers can work as well if a massage is not in your budget right now.

5) Increase your focus on specific body parts. Our bodies develop in different ways, some part develop faster than others. Pick those parts that need extra work and hit it like mad. You can also focus on those parts that are specific to a sport or combat art that you do. I like to really focus on neck bridges and forearm development at this time. Stretching and maintaining flexibility is also vitally important here too, particularly for kicking and grappling.

6) Try something new. If you are looking for a new weightlifting program I highly suggest Victory Pride’s, “Body of a Spartan” This is the program that I have been using for some time now. Not only is it a great program for your body but it is also good for your emotional health. This program will get the testosterone pumping!

7) Discipline. Finally, this is a great time to focus on self discipline and challenging one’s self outside of the weight room as well. This is also time where I  check in with my motivation. I like to go through Victor Pride’s, “30 Days of Discipline” as well. If you are just learning about masculinity, being alpha or motivation then this program is an absolute must; go get it now and start right away, it will change your life. If you have been doing this for a while then this is a great refresher course; I use it several times per year just to check in, almost all of these things are now daily habits for me but it is good to refresh and rebuild. Setting a time apart to intensely focus on acquiring greater self discipline is immensely valuable. This program will help any man do that. Being as we are nearing the end of the year, it is an awesome practice to do the 30 day program and then work on your goals for 2015 after that, you will be in a completely new state of mind, totally motivated.

8)Earn it. Finally, with Christmas and New Years coming up, there is a lot of eating that will be taking place. I like to enjoy myself during the holidays and take part in all of the festivities. In order to do that, I make myself earn it first. For instance, on Thanksgiving day I added in extra HIIT training in addition to my regular workout. As a matter of fact I will probably do that every day of Christmas week. Nothing in life is free, including eating tasty food. The “conventional wisdom” is that you eat like a pig and then make up for it by working out like crazy the day after. I prefer to do the working out beforehand. This way I not only train my body but also strengthen my self discipline; if I don’t earn it beforehand then I don’t eat it.

Please comment and let me know what you do for winter training.

Why Should I be a Minimalist?

One of my business mentors is a former boss of mine, who incidentally helps me out by working for me 3 days per week now. I remember his office, it was clean and basic yet tastefully decorated in a very manly way. One year he held a Christmas party at his house and I noticed that his home was the same way; very basic, clean lines, well kept and very masculine. You will notice a pattern forming here. There is an old saying, “A sound mind in a sound body”, I would also add a new saying, ” a sound mind in a sound environment.”. The bottom line is that successful men are not slobs. Take the movies as one example:  the powerful sit in offices that are well taken care of free of clutter and unnecessary junk.

There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that the rich and successful live below their means. Read that again; the rich and successful live below their means. This means that a successful man will be a minimalist because he does not purchase unnecessary junk. He purchases only those things that contribute to his greater good. When he does purchase something, he purchases something of value. He purchases things that will assist him in his quest to be a better man. He does not buy useless toys for the sake of buying or having.  This also means that he will value his time greatly. He will not clutter his time with unnecessary junk either. Everything he does will have a purpose, even his leisure time.

The second reason is an offspring of the first. In order to have a clear mind, free of mental clutter, our external environment must also be free of clutter. Having outward clutter in homes, offices, vehicles and in dress are both the cause and effect of a struggling mind. It is a cause because it is very difficult to unclutter useless thoughts and emotions from our own mind while being in a space that is clutered and dirty. Clutter in our spaces and in our dress is also an outward sign of our inner disposition. This is one reason why it is so important to dress well. It is either a vicious cycle of depression or it can be an upward cycle of clarity and inner peace. That is our call to make. This is one of the reasons that the military is so focused on uniform appearance, cleanliness and discipline.

We are not isolated creatures. Our surroundings affect our mindset and our mindset will affect our surroundings. The main thing that we need to do is to take control of the situation around us, one of the by products of practicing assertive masculinity. When people enter our space, be it our office, home, vehicle or all of the above, they are coming into our world, a small kingdom so to speak. A man must own those things that are his.  If you have peace in your surroundings it will help you to have peace in your soul. If you have peace in your soul it will affect your surroundings. One of the best exercises to do is to remove clutter, donate the stuff that you don’t use anymore, then start to surround yourself with books. Of course you will need to read them too, but the act of having neatly arranged books surrounding you will affect your mindset tremendously. If you have a room that is a study or a home office this is even better. After dinner, retire to the den for a while and pick a book off the shelf and read. Expand your comfort zone by also purchasing books that are not directly in your realm of interests. If you love history, buy a book on basic physics, if you are a science guy pick up a book about philosophy. By doing this daily you will acquire vast amounts of knowledge in a very short period of time! Just as we can see in the mirror the physical aspects of ourselves that we would like to change, we ust be honest with ourselves as far as the intellectual weaknesses that we need to overcome. Only by knowing what we need to change can we attack that aspect and improve ourselves.

Being a minimalist is necessary to focus in on our goals, and finding our purpose in life. Once we have established these things, being a minimalist will help us to focus only on those things that are necessary to achieve these things. We will recognize the clutter trying to intrude on our lives for exactly that they are; a waste of time.