Maintenance

We have this idea that if we’re not moving forward or progressing, we’re losing. However, maintaining a level of physical ability, weight, endurance etc., over time is equally as impressive as constant gains. Maintaining implies that you’re doing all the right things to not move backwards and start regressing or losing skills/abilities.

Thinking that maintaining is bad can be troublesome. Imagine you’ve worked towards a goal, almost reach it and then failed. Many people will then throw it all out the window and severely backtrack. Fast forward a few months later and they’re on the train again trying to get better. Classic yo-yo behavior.

If we think mainitnence is okay, we can think, I made it this far, let me hang on to it while I have these crazy things happening and then I can get bak to it once I have motivation/time/resources. If you’re stuck deadlifting a PR, remember, it’s still an impressive thing that you’re holding on to the ability, maintenance is good!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Use It

If you’ve been working out for a while, I hope you’ve gotten a chance to use your fitness. Whether it’s going for a long walk on vacation, signing up for a triathlon, taking on a big hike or mulching the garden yourself this year, you need to have a challenge to use your fitness.

Don’t workout just to workout. Have fun, use your new skills, body awareness and endurance to have fun. You might just surprise yourself that you can do something you thought you couldn’t. Remember, we workout to enhance our life outside of the gym, not to live in the gym.

This weekend, get outside, do something challenging, scary, productive or fun. Use your body, be physical and enjoy that accomplished feeling afterwards.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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It's Hot

It’s been a hot week in the gym, especially if you’re an evening session person. The gym bakes in the sun all day and by 4 or 5 pm it’s quite toasty in there. Be sure to drink more water, take an extra break if you need to and know that you’re not losing all your fitness if your performance suffers a bit on hot days. The good news is that we love to adapt. By exposing yourself to some hot environments your body will make some changes to make you work in the heat more efficiently.

Why is working out in the heat so much different? Simple put, it's difficult for our bodies to regulate temperature. To dissipate heat, our blood vessels vasodilate, or expand, sending more blood to the surface of our skin so it can leave our body. Along with that, we utilize sweating and the sweat evaporates off our skin. Very humid conditions makes this process difficult because of all the water molecules in the air.

A few things happen when we become more adapted to train in the heat. Increased sweat rate and decreased electrolyte concentration in sweat are two key factors. Along with blood plasma volume expansion, lower heart rate during exercise and a decreased cost of metabolic work (i.e., you operate more efficiently).

When top-performers are looking to heat adapt for a specific event, they usually need about 7-10 days to totally adapt and operate more efficiently in hot environments. The big changes come within the first few exposures.

What does this mean for you? Well, it means you first 3-5 workouts on hot and humid days are going to be tough. The good news is, even if you’re someone who historically doesn’t do well in the heat, you will adapt if you give your body the chance. It will get better. It’s about managing the exposure and know that you may need to back off the first few times. It’s good for your body to be able to work at a wide range of temperatures. Instead of always sticking to the AC in your room, car, office and gym, getting a little bit of heat exposure may be a good thing.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Training Age

Did you know that you have a training age? It’s how long you have been consistently training. My training age is 15 years. I started working out in my driveway with my uncle during the summer when I was 15. After that, I did some body building (because that was all there was back then) then eventually joined a formal strength and conditioning program with a coach and never looked back (except that year that I didn’t step into a gym, but that’s a story for another day).

Your training age dictates how you will progress and what you can do in order to progress. Someone with a low training age will develop strength and athleticism regardless of what the training is. Any sort of stimulus is good when you have a young training age. Our bodies love to adapt. This is a chance to get a lot of quality reps in, under maximum load, to groove the proper movement patterns.

As your training age grows, you'll have a more difficult time building strength, muscle or endurance. Your body doesn’t like to adapt like it did when your training age was younger. Training will need to become more formalized to ensure proper progression and management of stress. You’ll need to spend more time at high percentage lifts and manage your training volume.

Once you crack 12 or 13 years, things begin to change again. You start to get away with more days off and less frequent maximum effort lifts. You’ll hang on to strength because you’ve been adapting to it for a long time. You’ve made positive changes. Increasing strength or endurance takes a specialized approach at this point. Doing the minimum will allow you to maintain, but concentrated effort will be required to see a deadlift PR.

Strength and conditioning is a lifetime pursuit. The principles will stay the same, but the way you adapt will continue to evolve. Just be sure to stick with something long enough to earn a training age.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Correlating with Tech

Every hour more people come into the gym and a lot of them are wearing Fitbits, Apple Watches and you name it. This wearable technology has spread into our everyday lives and hopefully made people aware that they need to move, spend time exercising at high intensities and get enough deep sleep.

While I see the benefit of these devices, I want people to avoid the dependance trap of them. You shouldn’t have to track your sleep to know if you got a good night’s worth or not. These watches are great because they can correlate you to what your normal is, what is too little and what is too much.

Hannah has been wearing a tracking watch for 6 months now. Her watch tracks her heart rate all day and provides a resting heart rate every morning. When she is starting to feel sluggish, or her body is beat up from hard workouts in the gym, we know that her resting heart rate has probably been rising for the last few days. The same thing happens when she stays up late a couple nights in a row. After several months, we use the watch to confirm what we think is happening, instead of relying on it to tell us what to do.

This wearable tech is great and I hope more and more people wear it and get moving more. I’m urging people to avoid dependence on this technology. Use it as a tool to learn how to listen to your body. It’s a skill that needs to be honed over many years. Developing that skill will keep you training safely for a long time. You should know when to push and when to back off, the watch isn’t always right.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Body Armor

Legendary strength coach, Dan John, used to talk about body armor training. He was talking in the context of contact sports. You would want to build up a rugged body that can handle the brutality of the sport so you could perform well and come away uninjured.

Specifically, he was talking about kettlebell complexes, sled variations, crawling, carrying heavy objects and barbell movements. In everyday life, building armor is more important than you think. Building muscle, or armor can be the difference maker between a minor fall and a major one. Stack your chances on getting away from a car accident, bailing on a bike or handling a freak accident.

We can learn from extreme situations and distill the important information down to what really matters or what will help the average person. You may have heard, Alex fell through the ceiling a couple weeks back. A misstep while on the storage platform caused him to drop 10 feet to the ground below. He walked away unscathed and I can’t stop thinking that if he didn’t train the way he did it would have ended in a much different situation.

You don’t need to pile on slabs of muscle like Alex. Remember, we’re learning from the extreme. He has lots of muscle that he's trained hard for. He also took a 10 foot fall like nothing. Doing some squats, deadlifts and push ups a couple times a week will probably be enough to make you more resilient. Getting strong and building some lean body mass (aka muscle) may be the difference maker between a minor fall and a major one.


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach



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How to Balance

In every intro session we do, the people mention that they have poor balance. I have yet to meet the person who comes in and claims they have excellent balance while exercising, walking or performing daily activities. The trick with balance is in order for it to improve, you need to put yourself in situations where you may be wobbly or off balance.

The key is practice. It’s motor control, or have good control of your body and how it moves through space. Other factors that help are: improving joint stability, increasing core strength, learning how to stabilizing (i.e., finding tension throughout your body when lifting something).


My favorite balance drills are walking with funny patterns. Walk heel to toe, walk with high knees, go sideways, backwards, with weights and a combination of all of them with added in pauses and step backs. Start easy, keep a wall nearby. As you improve, inch away from the wall. Once you start walking a little faster, it’s time to throw some tricks into the mix. Work the agility ladder. Work on funky feet patterns without tripping up on the ladder.

Chances are you once told me you’re bad at balancing. What are you doing to get better at it?

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

HOLIDAY HOURS

CLOSED - THURSDAY 7/4

OPEN - 9am-12pm FRIDAY 7/5

COMMUNITY WORKOUT - SATURDAY 7/6 at 8am

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Is This Necessary?

“Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘is this necessary?’”

-Marcus Aurelius

When stress starts to take over, I follow the advice of the stoics and try to simplify my life and be deliberate. Asking yourself this question serves as a reminder that not all things need to frustrate or fluster you. We often have more time and freedom than we think. Being stressed out or angry is one thing, the way you react to those moods is another.

There’s a lot of extra fluff throughout our day. Let’s focus on the things that we care about, the things that make us better and happier and more productive, not the unessential.

If you find yourself flustered today, reflect on if it’s necessary.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Another Short Week

There are two ways to go about handling a shortened training week. Both are good. It isn’t about one way against the other. It’s about figuring out what’s going to work best for you in your current situation.

The obvious way is to stick with your plan as best you can. Try to get all your normal training days in, but maybe you take the 4th of July off to give yourself an off day. Maybe you stay up late one night and opt for more sleep instead of rolling out of bed to hit the gym early.

The other option is to back off a bit. You probably have a day or two off from work, hopefully we’ll have some nice weather and it’s the 4th of July! Giving your body a break from training is productive. It likes recovering just as much as it likes training hard and pushing it. Pack up the car, head on a road trip or head to the beach. Don’t worry about your strength training but be physical: play games, walk more, occasionally stretch. Integrate gym things into your everyday life.

What you don’t want to do is fall into the summer trap. Taking a full week off can do this. You head on vacation, recharge and come home next week to a busy schedule and the priority of the gym keeps getting demoted. If you feel like you’re slipping, get back on ASAP. The longer it lingers, the harder it will be to overcome.

Let’s start July off on the right foot.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

PS: Fourth of July Hours:

CLOSED - Thursday July 4

OPEN 9-12am - Friday July 5

COMMUNITY WORKOUT - Saturday July 6 @ 8am

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Most Important Turns

Recently on a podcast, former chess prodigy and world campion in Jiu Jitsu, Josh Waitzkin described what the 3 most important turns are when on a ski run. Waitzkin now spends his time helping top performers and decision makers to operate at full capacity. This question was one that a high level skier friend asked him when teaching Josh how to ski.

The most important turns are the last 3 before you get on the lift. Not the first 3 at the top or in the middle of the run when you’re going to maximum speed, the last 3 just before you shuffle into the lift line. Most people get lazy here, Josh explains. The run is almost done, the turns you take at the bottom usually aren’t as sound technique-wise.

Lazy technique creates bad habits and can set you up for injury. To build on that, Josh claimed that after those lazy turns, you get on the lift and sit down and your body is unconsciously remembering what the most recent turns felt like. If you focus, turn into the line with good technique, there’s some skill in there your brain will remember.

The lesson, don’t mail it in at the end. Keep working diligently till you’re finished so you don’t create any bad habits and you give your brain good information to adapt to.


Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Efficiency vs Discomfort

Strength training is about challenging positions. Here is the optimum position, i.e., the one that is the safest, but also where we can display the most effective usage of force. Us coaches try to figure out the appropriate stimulus to make it so you’re challenged. We don’t want it to be impossible, and we don’t want it to be too easy.

Our bodies are incredible at adapting. Because of that, we can fall into a trap of efficiency. Our bodies don’t want to spend unnecessary fuel to accomplish something. It wants to hang on what it can while completing the task. It’s why HIIT is such an effective method, it’s difficult to do efficiently and easy to find that zone of discomfort.

Runners fall into this trap a lot. People want to run faster, but do their standard run a couple times a week at their normal pace, never pushing or digging into that discomfort. That’s required to get faster for a race. If you operate too efficiently, you’ll have no reason to adapt or make changes. That’s why we need to push the limits every now and then.

Easy training is good too. Maybe just as important. Every now and then though, I encourage you to dig deep and push it hard when you’re on the bike, pushing the sled, on your run, or finishing your workout with some medicine ball slams.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Get Your Reps In

Yesterday on Instagram, James Clear author of Atomic Habits posted a quote that said:

Your first first blog post will be bad, but your 1000th will be great.

Your first workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong.

Your first meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused.

Put in your reps.

When we’re bad at something, we don’t want to stick with it. The easier path is to quit and chalk it up as not for us. It devastates me when this happens at the gym. People decide it’s not for them but they just haven’t stuck with it long enough.

I’m equally as impressed with people who have stuck it out this long. There are a lot of yellow name tags on the wall. That means those people were able to get through the confusing, difficult and frustrating parts and are now looking back at 4 years of solid training.

Sticking with something that long is impressive. It gets your reps in and sure way to see improvement. Make sure you can get through the difficult parts where you feel like you aren’t making any progress. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this blog. I was never able to stick with it and I realized, the only way I’ll be pleased with the outcome is if I get a lot of reps in. That’s why I do this everyday, getting in the reps and playing the long game. What are you playing the long game in?

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Find It

Yesterday we talked about how technology is starting to alter our skeletons. Sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true. Our environment, or where and how we spend time, plays an enormous role in how our health and well being.

If we look back in time, humans lived a much different lives than we do now. We were hunter-gathers who spent the day foraging and roaming. About 10,000 years ago we figured out the whole agriculture thing and no longer roamed, but instead did back breaking work around the farm to grow food and care for the land.

The other day, during my 60 minute sled march through my yard, known as mowing the lawn, I paused to think that here is free fitness that no one takes advantage of any more. It got me thinking, where else in our day have we transcended doing the actual work? Seriously, lawn care companies haven’t been around for that long. For a while, everyone probably mowed their own lawn and they probably had to push the mower too.


Now, this isn’t a rally to get you to start push mowing your lawn. Instead, I want you to think, where in my day can I find some physical activity? Can you carry a basket around the grocery store instead of pushing a cart? Can you opt for the stairs instead of the elevator? Can you walk to your destination even though it’s over a mile away?

Before, there were no other options, people needed to do these things. I would argue they were probably better off because of it. As the world continues to change, we need these artificial (like a gym) activities to get our bodies the movement they crave.

It’s clear to see the direction this is headed. You don’t need to start haying your own field by hand, but sprinkling a little more physical activity in your life will surely pay off.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Subject to Our Environment

It’s easy to forget all the things around us contribute to our health and how we live. Last week, Australian researchers published a paper about the “horns,” or bone spurs young people are developing on the back of their heads from prolonged cell phone use. Humans are adaptable. In the gym, we create a stimulus and your body changes to overcome it. Our environment outside of the gym is playing a big role too.

Technology is shaping our brains and now maybe even altering our skeleton. Technology isn’t going anywhere, we must modify our environment to help ourselves not become overrun with technological woes. App limits, no phones before bed and trying to walk more should be top priorities for us all.

We all want to live better, healthier lives. In order to do that, we’re going to need to keep a serious eye on the rectangle that you’re reading this from now. The phone is becoming more and more addictive, to the point of alternating our skeleton. We need parameters or guidelines in our live to make sure we’re not overdoing it.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Summer

Time for nice weather, late sunsets and stuffing our social calendar. Hopefully you’re headed on a vacation or two. All of that means time away from the gym. I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be okay. You’re going to survive a week’s long vacation without access to a gym. I would be as bold to say that it may even benefit you.

Taking some time off lifting lets your muscles recover. Sure, you’ll feel a little out of sync, maybe even weaker your first session back, but after you get that out of the way, it’ll benefit your fitness. You won’t be starting from scratch again. Your body knows how to do these exercises and knows how much weight it can handle. It won’t all disappear without you really trying to give it all up.

Careful how much slack you do give yourself. While some time off won’t hurt, letting that time off or skipping the gym every Saturday morning instead of just that one when you were out of town will add up. Each time you skip a session you could make, it gets easier to skip the next one. Keep that in mind as the perfect weather starts to roll in (hopefully!).

I’m ready for a great summer, both in the gym and out in the real world. Let’s make sure we hang on to our fitness and challenge ourselves but let’s get outside the gym as well. Try something new, do active things outside, walk more, go to the beach, go on a hike, just keep moving and try to have fun.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach'



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Power

Improving power output, in regards to fitness, is about how quickly we can produce force. We see expressions of power all the time: a fast, crisp deadlift from the floor, jumping to a box, side tossing a medicine ball and shouldering a d-ball all express power.

As we age, power output, not strength is the first thing to decline. We want to keep the ability to move quickly and rapidly, producing force over time. It will help us keep power up and aid in maintaining strength.

Put a little extra pepper on those medicine ball slams or shotputs. Try to move the bar quickly when standing up from a squat and be explosive on those swings. We can do dedicated power training, things like olympic lift variations or dynamic effort loading protocols, however, we can also try to improve our power output by being deliberate during strength work. Move that bar!

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Tension with Your Feet

During our movement assessment with new clients, we look at how they move and what sorts of movement habits they've developed. Besides watching, it’s an opportunity for us coaches to provide cues and see if we can clean up the movement.

There is one cue that seems to make things click for people. It’s screwing your feet into the ground. Even the most die-hard fitness enthusiast is unaware of this simple cue and how much it can impact their movement patterns. 

Hopefully, if you’ve been training at GAIN for while, this is a boring reminder of something you always do. When we screw our foot outward, or heels towards each other, without letting them move, we effect the whole lower body system. I create a stable foot arch, my knee caps rotate away from each other, creating a stable knee, and my hips rotate outward, providing you with the optimum position to create tension and therefore, move.

Your squat may look great while being unaware of this. I would challenge you to think that it could feel a lot better if there were more tension. The more tension we create, the more stable we are and the more force we’ll be able to produce.

Justin Miner

@porstmouthcoach

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Rhythm

You ever have one of those days where everything clicked? Time flies by, you’re feeling good, not distracted and ready to make stuff happen. I call that using momentum or having rhythm.

Running is about rhythm. Having the rhythm to move over the ground in a smooth and fluid way. Hiking is the same. You get lost in one foot in front of the other. Focused on the task of reaching the destination. Your breathing matters, where you’re looking matters, the sounds around you and feel of the woods and your state of mind create the rhythm.  I try to create the rhythm I feel while running or hiking or camping during my normal day. 

For me, its a blend of having a schedule, but also having flexibility so I can do what I have momentum to do - trying to not lose the rhythm. If my day is too rigid, I can't find the the groove. I feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions. Instead of focusing on what I’m doing, I focus on what I need to be prepared for next. Often at the expense of what I should be focused on.

The opposite happens too. With too much flexibility, I may try to come up with the most fun or most productive thing, only to spend the time I have planning it and never pulling the trigger. In other words, unable to find the rhythm.

How do you find rhythm in your day? Are you a scheduler or a free-wheeler? What activities help you find rhythm or get in the groove? Which ones throw it off? Let me know! 

Justin Miner 

@portsmouthcoach

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Slow it Down

I spent last week off the grid. Where I was, there's no cell service. That removed the temptation of scrolling through and seeing what was happening in the world. After a couple of days I adjusted to not having the rectangle in my pocket provide all answers and fill in down time. 

There’s always a task to do when backpacking. Whether it’s gathering wood to burn, setting up camp, drying out wet hiking clothes or filtering water, there’s always something to do. I would get lost in these tasks. There wasn't much else to worry about and no phone to provide distraction. 

Reintroduction to normal, 21st century life is tough. As soon as you turn your phone back on, you’re hit with the wave of distractions and angst that comes with the territory of having that phone. I’ve written before about how I need to slow down, concentrate on what I’m doing instead of jumping to the next thing. That week of backpacking was a nice reminder to slow down, do what you’re doing well and stop letting distractions run your day.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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Do Your Actions Match Your Goals?

In order to work towards a goal we must take action. If we don’t change our daily habits we will remain the same. It is important to understand that these actions must match what we’re trying to accomplish. 

If weight loss if our goal we shouldn’t be eating a lot of fried and greasy foods. If we want to improve out health we shouldn’t be smoking cigarettes. This idea is simple, but serves as a good reminder.

To create a lasting change we must understand what actions move us toward or away from our goals. Then we can find ways to implement these actions consistenly into our daily lives.  

Taylor Reuillard

@tailored_strength

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