PILLAR #3 - BUILD A HIGH PERFORMING BODY
I'm busy, don't want to workout all the time but still want to stay in shape. How can I do that?
That's what this pillar will help you to answer.
Along with understanding why you should always pay attention to your body in order to maximize your daily energy and productivity.
The first place we need to start is with a massive pet peeve I have. It's when people come up to me and say the following...
"I don't have time to workout."
Honestly, I get it. We are all busy. We all have lots of things to do. I can see why people find it hard to make time to get into a fitness routine.
The mistake comes in thinking that going to the gym will take away our time from doing other tasks.
In reality though, working out will UPGRADE our ability to have more energy, confidence and focus in the hours we do work.
This added focus and energy will allow us to get more done in the same amount of time then we could previously.
The statement should then really become, "I don't have time to NOT workout."
Getting into the momentum of having a good fitness routine will keep your confidence and energy high almost all the time. The best part is, you don't need to actually spend that long to get good results too.
HOW FITNESS UPGRADES YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
Tim Ferriss wrote in his book, The Four Hour Body, about an occasion where a group of entrepreneurs were assembled on Richard Bransons private island to brainstorm growth options for his Virgin Unite project.
Branson was asked the question, "how do you stay more productive"? He leaned back, thought about it, then said "work out."
Sounds awesome, but how does it work? Let's dive into it.
Working out is one of the single greatest mood enhancers you can do.
I can be having the worst day. Maybe I'm low on energy, maybe I got rejected from a proposal, maybe I failed at something and am feeling low on confidence.
We all have these moments, but going to the gym and having an awesome workout immediately flips my mood around, almost without fail. Why does that happen?
- When we workout, our body releases two powerful hormones.
- BDNF (Brain derived neutrophic factor) and beta endorphin's.
- “BDNF is like Miracle-Gro for your brain.” That’s how Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey describes brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It is a powerful protein that stimulates production of new brain cells and strengthens existing ones.
- Beta Endorphins - These are the guys that make you feel super awesome after a workout. They are essentially released as a painkiller by your body to alleviate some of the pain associated with physical exercise. These are the mood changers though, the one that put you in a really positive place and ramp up your confidence.
These two represent a pretty powerful one, two combo when they hit us.
The best way to get them is via exercise.
When you're more confident and more focused, your less likely to procrastinate and less likely to let fear get in the way of you doing something.
Working out once will release these temporarily, but working out routinely will have these firing all the time and keep us in a far more confident and productive state.
It's why fitness is a keystone habit of high performers and should be one of yours too.
Aside from so many other positive effects it has on us, it's a must to maintain our moods and energy in a highly elevated state.
Almost every successful entrepreneur and startup founder I've ever talked to takes their fitness routine seriously for this exact reason.
Tim Ferris's book is an encyclopedia on this subject, check it out below if you have not.
START EACH DAY WITH DYNAMIC STRETCHES
Even though we physically wake up in the morning, our bodies and muscles need a good jolt as they haven't really moved much in awhile.
One of the first things you should do in the morning is a serious of dynamic stretches to give your body that kickstart.
It's also just a great way to alleviate day to day muscle soreness all together.
To make it easy on you, here is the exact routine I do each morning. Feel free to print it out to reference it when you can. (Link to a PDF copy is below).
It hits basically every muscle group, only takes 10 minutes and makes a big difference towards your day ahead. When you feel tight and sore all day, everything just tends to suck more so lets avoid that.
A WORKOUT ROUTINE FOR THE BUSY
I've been into the fitness world for years now.
Becoming a personal trainer, I've taught bootcamps, devoured books on the subject and been to a number of conferences. I've tried every type of workout there is, so let me tell you what works and what doesn't.
I used to be guilty of working out for hours upon hours each week. However when it comes to fitness, quality over quantity holds true so let's get into how to do it in the shortest amount of time while still getting great results.
You have just over ten thousand minutes given to you each week.
If we take out about 3000 of those minutes for sleep (assuming 7-8 hours of sleep each night) you still have 7000 minutes left of which you can spend.
Can you spare 90 of those 7000 minutes?
That's all you really need if we do things properly.
Remember our friends of BDNF and beta-endorphins above? Well, we can activate those in as little as 10 minutes, the key is to do a routine with HIGH intensity.
Your objective should be to get in, give the workout everything you got and then get out.
The higher we can crank up the intensity of the effort we put in (while still being smart on our own limits), the greater the response in beta-endorphins as pictured above.
Specific exercises are also known to give a much higher hormone response as they call a greater demand from a wide variety of muscles when doing them.
Best Exercises for hormone release:
With weights (gym needed):
- Front Squats or Back Squats
- Kettle-bell Swings
- Pull-ups or chin-ups
- Barbell bench press
- Barbell Rows
Bodyweight (no gym required):
- Interval sprints
- Stair runs
- Fast paced sport (soccer, hockey etc)
- Pull-ups or chin-ups
- Pushups (especially Plyo pushups)
- Jumping Squats
Doing heavy deadlifts or squats, or sprints is exhausting but we are rewarded for our efforts, in more then just a shrinking waist line and greater strength.
Pulling from the list above, we could create a sample 90 minute workout routine for the week.
1. Deadlifts 2. Wide Grip Bench Press 3. Barbell Rows
1. Interval sprints or stair runs
1. Front Squats 2. Back Squats 3. Pull-ups and chin-ups
1. Kettle-bell swings
1. Interval sprints or stair runs
The idea is to show that by doing the right things, with the right intensity, it doesn't take a lot of time to get the effects we're looking for.
I personally work out for 3 hours or 180 minutes each week as I can fit it into my routine.
However, if all you did was the 90 minute weekly workout above, you would be in far better shape than most and get the mental benefits to boost your productivity as well.
TACTICS TO ENHANCE YOUR WORKOUT
Practice Mindfulness in your workout:
It's one thing to physically show up to the gym. It's another to be fully mentally present while you're there.
Everyone does the first, but far fewer do the second.
I always bring my phone to the gym and for years would regularly check it in my workout. I'd finish a set, an email or text would come in and would quickly take a peak to see what was going on.
My planned 30 second rest would become 2 or 3 minutes.
Mentally, I would completely lose focus, which lowers the intensity of the workout and then I'd have to get back into it.
Rinse and repeat every single time I checked my notifications. Everybody does this...
Here are 5 quick tactics to make sure you stay 100% focused and get the most out of our time in the gym. If we're not trying to do that, why are we there?
5 TACTICS TO STAY FOCUSED IN A WORKOUT
- 1. Remove Distractions: Put your phone in airplane mode and put on a long playlist or inspiring podcast. The idea here is something that you can throw on without worry about changing tracks or anything that draws your attention back to your phone. Having to go back in to pick a new song can lead us down the black-hole of emails and texts. I've done it many times...
- 2. Don't rush into the workout: Take the time needed to properly stretch and warm-up to not only prepare your body for the workout but your mind as well.
- 3. Focus on your breath: Have you ever been told how to breathe in a workout? Breathing correctly really grounds you and prepares your mind to focus. Do at least one powerful breath before each set. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds and exhale powerfully through the mouth. While performing your reps always exhale on exertion (lifting the weight) and inhale when you bring it back down.
- 4. Posture: The more un-focused you get in your workout the more noticeable it becomes in your posture. Don't slouch. Before each set, stand up tall and roll your shoulders back to reset your posture.
- 5. Tempo: Are you mindful or how long you lift the weights for, or just try to get it done as quickly as possible? Here is a really powerful technique that can change your workouts alone. Use a rep tempo of 3-0-2. This means on the eccentric phase (returning to start position) you would take 3 seconds. On the concentric phase (the lift) you would take 2 seconds to complete it.
For Example, A squat with this tempo would look like this:
3 seconds count to lower the weight (squat down)
0-second pause at the bottom
2 seconds to lift the weight back up
Meal Plan To Save Time And Get Better Results
Do this if you want to take out a lot of the thinking about what to eat each day.
Pick about 3 meals for each time of the day that you eat (breakfast, lunch, dinner etc).
Track these in an excel spreadsheet that records what the meal is, how to make it and when to eat them. For example, I write down 3 lower carb meals for breakfast, 3 for lunch, then 3 higher carb meals for dinner.
In total I have 9 recipes written down in this excel spreadsheet then I just rotate through them during the week.
It saves me an incredible amount of time as I always know what I'm going to eat and when I'm going to eat it. I also know I'll get great results as I've targeted what's in each meal to match the hormones I want to activate for that time of day (as we discussed in the last pillar).
It's boring but highly effective and used by many high performers. On weekends feel free to break from this and indulge in more special meals for lunch or dinner.
YOUR ACTION STEPS
- Schedule workout time in each week and make it non-negotiable. You only need 90 minutes.
- Start your day each morning with dynamic stretches to get your blood flowing.
- Be mindful and focused while you workout. Focus 100% on the workout to get in and get out quick with the best results.
- Create a few standard meals that you can rotate through each day to save yourself time and energy that you can put towards other things.
- To take this to the next level, create meals for each time of the day that match the nutritional makeup we want to stimulate the write hormones as discussed in Pillar 2.
You're over halfway there! We've completed the core foundational pillars on will now be moving into advanced tactics for getting focused and planning your day for max results. Get ready to dive into some psychology and behavioral science.
Leave comments below on any questions, topics or discussions you may have about this module. Or if there is anything you would like to see added. I will respond to everyone :)