Beating the Winter Blues

Beating Back Winter Blues With Heavy Metal

If there is anything I have learned, it’s the time between Halloween and New Years Eve can be a devastating time of the year for many people. The stress of the Holidays, the sugary sweets, the financial burden of buying others presents and especially the lack of vitamin D from sunlight- all of which can lead to negative emotional and physical states. I’ve always joked that if only we could skip the Holidays, there would be no need for New Years Resolutions because most of those resolutions are to fix what went wrong during the holidays. So, let this year be different. “How?”, you ask. Well, let me suggest that between now and the New Years, you make an effort to train your body like you’ve never done before. We will call this “heavy metal therapy”. The reason for that is because this holidays we are going to use the iron, (weights) in a way that drives us into the New Year with incredible momentum, strength and endurance.

Now, for this heavy metal therapy to be effective, it is important to remember that old habits must be broken. It was old habits that got us in the predicament we are now, therefore, we are going to start off by skipping the treadmill altogether. In fact, all of our cardio is going to be interval training with body weight or weights. We are going to focus instead on big, heavy lifts that stimulate muscle growth, burn fat and cause our bodies to produce more hormones that keep up feeling young and healthy. The main lifts we are going to incorporate to our weekly training us as follows:

-Deadlifts (rack pulls if you lower back doesn’t allow deadlifts)
-Bench press (seated machine or hammer strength press if shoulder injuries are present)
-Squat (leg press is lower back has problems)
-Pull ups (assisted if necessary)
-Dumbbell shoulder press

These movements incorporate many muscle groups to execute the lift properly. This will elevate your metabolism and begin to train

So here’s the plan; we are going to do each of these exercises twice a week throughout the winter months. The rep range is going to be between 5 and 8 reps (after proper warm up). Each repetition should feel somewhat heavy. You get to pick whatever accessory exercises you like, such as bicep curls, leg extensions, planks and shoulder later raise, but the focus is going to be these Big Lifts. Each workout should consist of 5 sets of these main exercises. Be sure to hit each twice a week for throughout winter, allowing the extra Holiday food to fuel your strength gains. Also, try to track the progression in weights week after week. You should find yourself mastering these lifts the more you do them and also begin to notice significant strength gains and hypertrophy in your muscles. Finish off every workout with 15 minutes of interval training(30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) with the following:

-farmers walks
-burpees
-jump rope
-push up to plank movements
-medicine ball clean and jerks.
-kettle bell swings

Last, try to get as much sunlight as possible so that your body can manufacture Vitamin D. Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, is a very real thing that occurs when people suffer a lack of Vitamin D in their diets as well as lack of sunlight during the winter months. Too little Vitamin D can cause a variety of issues including, depression, compromised immune function, joint pain, asthma, decreased cognition and even increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. I personally supplement 5,000 IU of Vitamin D an K2 daily during the winter to ensure my body is operating properly. If you live in an area that still receives direct sunlight during the winter, get outside!

So there it is- an out of the box, heavy metal recipe to beat back the winter blues. Let’s change what the Holidays mean for our bodies this year. It doesn’t have to be a winter of discontent to quote Charles Dickens. Rather, it can be a time when you really learn about your body and what it is capable of doing. Your New Years Resolutions don’t need to be actions to repair yourself from the Holidays, but rather to propel your new self into the New Year. Happy Holidays from my family to yours!   We are eternally grateful for you and family. From our family to yours,
Happy, Healthy, Heavy Holidays!

Finding a Great Partner

The Importance of a Good Partner

            Humans are social creatures. We exist and persist for, and because of, each other. We frequent health clubs, bars, restaurants and movie theaters so that we may feed off of the energy of others. Being around others reminds us that we are alive. It’s the elixir of vitality—human connection. But while great benefits occur from being around others, the inevitable problems that arise from such encounters lead us to believe that on some things, “we must go it alone.” Let me suggest that instead of going it alone, you seek out a partner to take with you on your journey. I believe there is incredible power and fulfillment in having another person by your side for most undertakings. A special relationship with another person is incredibly beneficial when it comes to physical training. Let me explain…

As a health club owner, I’ve clocked thousands of workouts by myself. Some have been incredible, but most paled in comparison to when I was training with a partner. Two people dedicated to one common goal, expanding each others physical potential and establishing routines that revitalize the body, can accomplish much more than one person on their own. In my opinion, having a partner to push you, be honest with you, motivate you and help you overcome the pain of resistance in the gym (and in life) is so important to fulfilling your potential. I’ve had some incredible training partners in my life. My father was my first. We still train together when possible. My best friend Chris is another. Our mutual love for the iron began after a painful breakup. My ex’s best friend happened to be his girlfriend at the time. I walked out of the room after being dumped, Chris saw my face, and I said with an angry look, “Tomorrow we are doing squats together.” This was 11th grade. I squatted 315 pounds for reps out of sheer anger and adrenaline. A friendship was forged for life. We both own fitness companies today.

Currently, my training partner is my wife Holly. We have been together over 12 years, but it’s only been the last two years that we started working out with each other instead of doing our own routines. Like many women, she was intimidated by lifting heavy weights and preferred to “sweat it out” doing cardio. However, after our second child was born, Holly dedicated herself to not only getting her pre-baby body back, but surpassing it. I can tell you confidently, that after grueling workout sessions, heavy weight (315 pound deadlifts) and simple diet modifications, she has accomplished her goal. She’s been absolutely incredible through this process, pushing herself to new levels, but also pushing me to get stronger and more flexible. I have ankylosing spondylitis, leaving partial fusion throughout my whole spine. Despite that, with my partner’s help I have been able to move more freely and with less pain that anytime in the last 10 years. I attribute this to having a partner that has my best interest at heart. I suspect she attributes her successes to the same. She’s the best partner I’ve had in life and in the gym.

I believe strongly in the mastermind principle—where two or more like-minded people get together regularly and plan out future actions in the spirit of perfect harmony. It’s truly amazing what mankind has achieved through cooperation. More than that, I believe that true fulfillment comes through having a great partner in various aspects of life. A great partner can really help you to become better, give you compassion and understanding when needed and help you to overcome obstacles in the weight room and in life. My advice here is to look at the various areas of your life and see where a partner can really help you to grow and become more. Find someone you can be in harmony with and go deep. Gold and diamonds are found at great depths. The same is true with a partner. Their value comes from going deep with them. Commit to them and make sure they are committed to you and your goals. Find yourself a partner for life.

In health,

Sean