A Tale of Two Days

On Monday, I had a big day of fitness. Alex asked me to jump in with his Open Workout, which is a online qualifier for fitness competitions. This 15 minute workout was a scorcher. It was really hard and left me on the floor.

After lunch, and a nap, I was feeling pretty good. I did deadlifts and push ups for the second workout of the day. Then, Monday night, I hoped in with someone’s finisher and did a bunch of double unders with the jump rope.

It was a big day of fitness.

When I got home Monday night I checked my watch to see how many steps I accumulated throughout the day. Less than 6000. On a typical day, I get between 12-15k.

I felt that it was quite ironic that on the day I worked out the most and trained hard, I barely moved for the rest of the day. Fast forward to Wednesday. I didn’t work out, but I helped set up a wedding venue. I moved tables, chairs and tools, I swept, walked far to get things and at the end of the day, 17,000 steps.

I’m not saying that one day was more productive than the other. I’m saying its interesting that we think the gym is the secret to our health, but we need to make sure we’re moving outside of the gym as well. Only hitting the gym isn’t enough. You need to move more throughout the day!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Nutrition Program First Meeting

Thursday night at 7pm we’re having our first meeting about the nutrition program. It will last 30 minutes.

If you’re curious what it’s all about and haven’t started yet, you’re welcome to join and hop in on the program, we’re only a few days into it!

We’ll meet on a different day next week TBD.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Walking Speed

Over the weekend, I saw an article about a new study just published about walking speed. It turns out that slower walking speeds are signs of faster aging. The researchers concluded that slow walking speeds can predict problems decades before old age.

Slow walkers showed other signs of aging as well. Their lungs, teeth and immune system were in worse condition than the faster walkers. Even brain scans showed that slow walkers had older-looking brains.

This study has some great findings and takeaways. Similar to the Sit and Rise study, this predictive study can get people to make changes before it’s too late.

Want to improve your walking speed? Walk more. That’s the most boring answer, but most people don’t want to do it for some strange reason! It’s easy, free and you can actually do it anywhere.

Besides walking more to speed up your gait, hit the gym, build strength, stability and balance. The combination of cardiovascular health from walking and the benefits you get for your muscles/tendons/ligaments/bones from strength training is sure to build confidence and improve you walking speed.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Warm Up Breathing

Here’s the snarky line we’ve heard 1000 times, “Why do I need to breath? I’ve been doing it all day!”

That response is exactly why we do the breathing in the warm up. Although we breath all day and all night, very rarely do we breath with intent or focus on what we’re doing. In the warm up, we want you to focus on mechanically sounds breaths, notice where you’re feeling it and use it as a chance to kick start the warm up process by revving up your lungs.

It’s a chance to focus on what you’re about to do and get your mindset right. If you walked into the gym and didn’t feel like working out, give those 5 breaths your all, I mean your absolute best for 30 seconds and it could change your outlook or get you more excited to train. Don’t skip it just because you can’t slow down for 1 minute, that’s the exact reason you need it.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Slow it Down and Stay Clam

The other day, I went for a big weight and I found myself getting hyped up. I was angry that the weight was sitting on the floor and I needed to pick it up. Worst rep of the day. I rushed, forgot smooth technique, squeezed too hard and pushed too fast. It felt bad and I knew I rushed, I knew I didn’t stay cool.

The next set, I walked up to the bar slowly, did my normal right hand grabs first, then the left hand, shimmy my feet to the proper width, big breath and go!

What I like most about weightlifting is that you have to be calm and focused to perform the lift with the most efficient form, which is also the safest form, which also means you’ll be able to handle the most load. Let me be clear, by weightlifting, I mean the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch, Olympic-style weightlifting movements. If you try to attack the bar, and outmuscle the weight, it won’t work. If you rush your set up, it won’t work. You need to be like a professional baseball player, grabbing the bar the same way rep after rep after rep.

You might not be cleaning any barbell off the floor, but the same mindset works. Be calm, focus on what you’re doing, don’t rush to get it over with and start each and every rep the same way. Exercising like its practice will get you more involved with your body, understand movements better and leave you feeling more accomplished than a mindless sweat-fest. Slow down and notice what’s going on.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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One Leg SLDL Tip

The one leg SLDL, or stiff leg deadlift, is a nemesis to many gym goers. It's a challenging hamstrings exercise that requires a rock solid hinge, balance, control and stability. Today, I have one easy tip for you to remember next time they come up in your workout.

Bend your knee!

The name is slightly misleading, stiff leg deadlift, however, even with a knee bend, our leg should be more straight than when we pick a barbell off the floor with two feet planted. Most of the time when someone is having a hard time keeping their balance on this movement, their leg is too straight, not allowing the knee to bend at all.

What constitutes as a slight bend? About 10-20 degrees is all you need. This ensures you’ll load the hamstrings, creating more tension which will allow you to stand up quickly and maintain balance. Give it a shot!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Brace Like You're Meditating

After the first month of training, clients will have this realization that they haven’t been using their core, or bracing, as much as they should be. They know how to, but it takes a lot of practice and awareness to keep doing it rep after rep after rep.

I compared it to meditation the other day, focus on your breath, when you lose it, realize you lost it and come back to it. Get organized, brace, move, readjust. Play around with how much tension and pressure feels right for the exercise you’re doing.

Training the awareness of movement and how it feels is equally as important as the physical benefits you get from training. When you’re doing an exercise, really focus on it, where do you feel it, how does it feel, have your created enough pressure or tension? When you forget what you’re supposed to be focused on, notice it and get back.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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More Time

For the past two weeks, I’ve been helping Taylor improve his hip mobility in hopes of alleviating his chronic back pain. We’re doing a lot of the movements and exercises you’re familiar with. The biggest difference for Taylor is spending more time doing the mobilizations.

Many of us (including him and me) fall victim to doing a stretch for 20 or 30 seconds and hoping that will reap the benefits of a longer hold. That will help with maintenance, sure, but besides helping to restore baseline, it isn’t going to make a big change.

Taylor’s now focusing on doing a drill for 3-5 minutes, he’s breathing, contracting, relaxing and trying to move from the correct spot and feel what’s tight. This added time is the missing link for many to improve mobility. Improving your range of motion is a big task. It’s also not just about muscles, but joints, fascia, your brain and nervous system. Giving his body the time to relax and get comfortable in a shape is a game changer.

When the mobility work comes up in your program, do yourself a favor and give it more than 20 seconds, the longer you can last, the better.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Fall Lifestyle and Nutrition Program

We’re holding an informational meeting tonight at 7pm. We’re going to discuss the Fall Lifestyle and Nutrition Program that kicks off in one week. If you can’t make it, here are the bullet points.

  • 45 day program focusing on consistency, planning ahead and cooking a lot of your own food.

  • Starts Mon. Oct 14 ends Wed. Nov 27 (first day “off” will be Thanksgiving).

  • You’ll have a food list to guide nutritional choices.

  • Must exercise for 10 minutes minimum everyday.

  • Third category, optional, meditation, sleep, hydration or mobility.

  • To track, you’ll have a scoresheet to keep honest and making sure you’re sticking with it.

Hope you can make it tonight!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Too Much Information

I’ve been reading Stillness is the Key, by Ryan Holiday this week. Holiday is one of my favorite authors and his blog turned me into a reader many years ago. His new book, focuses on slowing down, being deliberate, and creating time to pause, think, reflect and stay present.

We’re all blasted with news alerts, texts, calls and social media all day. If you’re not precise about having quiet time, you’ll never get it. We have so much information coming at us all the time. The news is on all day, we’re bombarded with information on Instagram, we can get lost down a YouTube hole and the answer to any question takes us less than 5 seconds to type

I’ll leave you with the quote that started a chapter:

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” - Herbert Simon

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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High or Low

The coaches and I have been having good discussions about high intensity training. Specifically, whether or not high intensity training is the best solution to improve health for the average person. In this context, high intensity means training with heart rate percentages near your maximum.

What we keep coming back to, is that many people need more low intensity training before cranking it up. I think high intensity training is great and that intervals are an invaluable tool, but are we missing the boat if we’re loading up on high heart rate work without spending time in lower heart rate zones?

As a coach, I get it, telling someone to do a 45 minute Airbike cruise at a low intensity is a hard sell. Now, if you’ve been on an Airbike, you know it’s not usually a low intensity affair - but a lot of the time you spend in the gym is. From your warm up, to strength exercises and sometimes during the accessory movements. When we program a workout or training session for you, we try to ramp up the intensity as you go, trying to cover a variety of work at a wide range of heart rates.

That time in the gym may not be enough though, especially if long term health is your goal. I urge you to walk more, go on leisurely bike rides, and maybe come in for an extra day and hop on the rowing machine for 30 minutes. The high intensity training is sexy, it leaves you gasping for air, sweaty and feeling accomplished. Those are all great things, and let me be clear, I don’t think that’s bad. However, do you get any exercise that doesn’t leave you huffing and puffing and laying on the floor? If you don’t, it might be time to add in something long, slow and easy once or twice a week.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Fall Nutrition Program

For the past two years, we’ve held a gym-wide Whole 30 during the month of October. Many of you learned a lot doing this difficult dietary challenge. It requires tedious preparation, planning and deviating from social norms. For some of you, it’s a worthwhile challenge, but for most, it’s simply too difficult and the failure rate is high.

I wanted to do another nutrition group this fall, using foundational principles of healthy eating: cooking your own food, planning meals ahead, limiting processed foods with too many ingredients and too much sugar. It needed to be more sustainable and much more approachable than the Whole 30.

Starting on October 14th, we’re going to have our own nutrition program lasting 45 days, ending on Thanksgiving. The light at the end of the tunnel will keep you motivated to make tough choices through October and November. While I do think the Whole 30 is too big of a task for most, the principles are sound, so we created a menu to help make all your food choices. It’s Whole 30-ish in a sense, that it’s about eating whole foods, planning, cooking and being consistent for a long time. I wanted to create some wiggle room, so more of you would be willing to give it a shot.

We’re allowing one glass of wine per day, rice, and aren’t going to be as strict with things like butter or cooking oil. This menu is adapted from the Whole Life Challenge, which essentially works people up to doing a Whole 30. You’ll still have to stay away from cake and donuts and ice cream and French fries, but this less aggressive challenge will keep you consistent through all 45 days.

In addition to the nutrition component, you’re going to exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. Yes, every single day for 45 days. Before you stop reading, going for a 10 minute walk is exercise, a type that we’d all benefit from more of. You’re also going to pick a third category, sleep, meditation or mobility, and work on that with terms that you define.

We’re going to be using a scorecard to make a game out of it. Each week, like we did with the Whole 30, you’ll hand in your scorecards to me for some added accountability.

If you’re interested, on Monday October 7th at 7pm, I’m holding an informational meeting to show the menu, the scorecards and answer any questions that you may have. If you’ve been thinking its time to lock it in before the holidays, this is for you!


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Post Habit Challenge Thoughts

I ended up getting a lot of out the habit challenge. At the end of August, I wasn’t sure what I would pick, I had two weeks of a honeymoon to kick off the challenge, so I knew I needed something that was doable anytime, anywhere and didn’t require any equipment. One night while falling asleep, it dawned on me that this is my chance to force myself to get better at push ups.

As I’ve written before, I suck at push ups. Shoulder issues limited me from doing them for years. Once my shoulder issues cleared up, I stayed away from them because I hadn’t done any for years. It was no longer in my training repertoire.

I started the challenge off hot, I got my push ups in the first 15 days. On day 16, the first time I did an in-gym workout, I forgot to do them. I missed 3 other times as well. I did a good job tracking to begin with and then around the 20th I stopped using my tracking app called Done.

Even though I messed up 4 times, I want you to remember that I kept going! So many times when someone breaks a hot streak, they call it all off. We all need to do a better job of cutting ourselves some slack in order to make progress, ditch that perfectionism.

My take aways: I need to keep doing push ups! They made my posture feel better, my shoulders craved the movement and I got a lot better at them! Doing 100 push ups within a workout was not possible for me in August, I did that twice during the month of September. I’m really happy, and honestly, a little surprised at how much they progressed.

I hope you learned a thing or two in your habit challenge. It was really just a warm up for our Fall Program that will be announced soon!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach



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Move with Intent

Here’s a rule of thumb you can universally apply to most exercises: lower under control, move up with speed. I call this moving with intent. It’s about controlling one part of the movement, and making sure to turn everything on by moving fast on the other.

Here are a few examples:

  • Bodyweight squat - lower down for 2-3 seconds, come up really fast. Squeeze your butt at the top!

  • Bench press - lower down under control, maintaining tension on the bar and not letting your elbows flair out, push the bar up with as much speed as you can!

  • One leg SLDL - lower under control to maintain your balance, snap back to the top by driving the leg that’s in the air back to the floor.

Not only will this give us better training effects, but you’ll find new strength from producing more velocity. There’s a time and place for only slow movements and a time for pure explosiveness. If we live in the middle though, we’re sure to check most of the boxes off. Move with some intent this week and you prepare to hit the gym!


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach



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Keep it Simple

There’s so much variety in strength and conditioning and in the fitness world. We’re told to keep our muscles guessing (whatever that means) and constantly change what we’re doing so we never hit a plateau. There’s something to be said about variety for variety’s sake, but there’s a difference between rotating exercises and randomly picking them.

The best way to keep progress going, over a long period of time, is keeping it simple. The answer is probably doing more squats, more lunges, more inverted rows, more carrying kettlebells and more ankle and hip and thoracic spine mobility.

Whether you’re a total beginner or an advanced gym rat, these movements are staples in a good strength and conditioning program. Complicated workouts and training sessions can be fun, and might be necessary sometimes, but hammering the basics consistently is the superior way to train.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Habit Check In

How are you doing on the September Habit Challenge? I hope you haven’t abandon your task due to disinterest. You need to stay committed to make real changes. We have 5 days left to go, and even if you’ve been off the wagon for the past few days, I urge you to lock it down for the rest of the month.

I’ve slipped up a couple more times on my push ups. Ironically, it’s usually when I do a workout at the gym. I never incorporate them into my workout, which I need to. It’s always surprising how difficult they feel after missing a day of doing them, I didn’t expect that.

Whether you checked your box everyday or not, I hope you learned something about yourself and how much commitment it takes to make changes. We have something cooking now that’s going to continue the good habits training for you all the way to Thanksgiving. Keep an eye out for details.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Low and Slow

In fitness we like talking about hard efforts, HIIT training and sweaty workouts. We often neglect, perhaps because it isn’t as sexy, low intensity training. This is the total opposite of the hard hitting, lay on the floor type of fitness we’re often exposed to.

Low intensity training isn’t about burning the most calories, or even having the most time efficient workout. It’s about slowing down, breathing well and moving more. The example that I bring up everyday, that everyone needs to do more of, is walking. But it can also be an easy 20 minutes on the rower or ski machine, or a casual bike ride.

Lower intensity works on your endurance and is good for you heart. It can help you recover in-between bouts at the gym and shouldn’t make you sore. If you’re a gym rat always trying to add more in, try adding 60 minutes of low intensity work, like an easy run to your weekly sessions. If you’re a gym beginner and you want to build some healthy living momentum, prioritize talking a walk everyday.

In a world where we’re always looks for the next best thing, slowing down and doing some low intensity work might be just what you need.


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Floor Time

Getting up and down from the floor is an often cited longevity test. Put simply, you should be able to get yourself from a seated position on the floor to standing, without using your hands. This is a monumental task. Passing not only says you have some good hip mobility, knee stability and ankle mobility, but that you’re less of a fall risk, or if you do fall, you can get yourself back up. 

What can you do to improve this? Spend some time on the floor! It’s uncomfortable, and maybe a little awkward, however, it will show you tight spots, and teach you how to find comfortable position over time. Take a meeting on the floor or your next phone call or spend the next episode of your favorite TV show trying to sit on the ground. It makes a big difference. 

The other things we can do are in-gym. We can master single leg exercises, like splits and reverse lunges. We see those shapes and movements when we’re making a ground to standing transition. Which, is the other exercise you can work on - Turkish Get Ups. These are literal practice of getting from laying to standing with a kettlebell in your hand. 

I like this as a “health screen” for yourself. If you want to be strong and independent, you need to be able to get up from the floor. Spend a little less time in a chair and a little more time on the floor and it will make a world of difference! 

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Stretch More!

There’s a crisis. Too many people are unaware of the drastic changes some daily stretching can do for you. As a society, we have become allergic to stretching, and I’m not sure why. Walk into any gym on the planet, and you’ll be faced with dozens of people who hate stretching, warming up and cooling down.

I want to break this formal barrier. You can stretch anywhere. In fact, it’s probably better if you did it away from the gym. It’s another chance for some movement, and connection with your body. An opportunity to break up the sitting, check in with yourself and feel better.

The benefits are so obvious, I can think of a reason you shouldn’t give yourself some love and do some daily stretching, breathing or mobility work. Get on it!


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Goals and Rules

We all suffer from this thing called perfectionism. When we want to do something, we want to go all in or bust. Sometimes, this works great. More often however, it leads to a quick failure and abandonment of the goal. At the nutrition chat last night, Briana made a really good point, rules are things you follow, goals are things you aim for.

We all think that goals are rules for us that cannot be broken, and if we break them, game over. If we shift our mindset though, and realize goals are what we’re striving for, and that a little bit of failure is okay, we’d be much better off. The same could be said about the goals we choose, I think we can do a better job of setting the bar lower.

What I mean, is choosing specific goals that are actually do-able for you. Goals are tricky because we don’t want it to be too easy. If we hit the mark easily every time, is that too easy of a goal? Maybe, but that will build momentum and allow us to take on more challenging goals.

In closing, maybe you should have an easy goal and a stretch goal. Or maybe you just need to set the bar a little lower in order to build some momentum for other, loftier goals down the road. Don’t forget there’s 10 days left in the September Habit Challenge. If you got off to a rocky start, there’s still a chance to work on improving yourself over the next 10 days.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach



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