Monday morning can be difficult but it always presents a new opportunity to start fresh. You can change how you feel physically by taking a small step today towards a goal. Monday is a day to practice staying with yourself. Being present, being aware of yourself in your surroundings. Stop reflecting on the resistance that’s pushing in around you. Quiet the external thoughts that bombard you while you workout. Feel whatever your body wants you to feel. Allowing yourself to feel the momentary physical awareness will quiet your mind from the chatter going on around you and let you be open enough to progress forward. It’s a physical revelation. And when you start trusting your deepest feelings, whether or not you can explain them, you start trusting your body to do what it was designed to do. Before getting to this point, I wouldn’t let myself do something unless I knew I could explain it. Now the explanation can come later.
1. Relax into yourself. Trust your body not to lead you astray.
2. Stay with your experience; whatever you are feeling–tightness, pinching, opening–stay with that feeling and acknowledge it as temporary.
3. Feel the joy of your ability to experience. Many people in this world don’t have the ability to experience physically what you can.
4. Surround yourself with this joyful thing, this experience. Know that you are loved by this joyful thing, this gift of physical experience. Love it back, in the moment.
5. Relax into yourself, because you know you are this joyful thing. You are this physical gift.
The best training secret an athlete can give you is that in their most successful moments, they have absolutely no control over their body. Their body is simply following through on the training they have gone through, strengthening their quick twitch muscle fibers. They let their emotions take over and their body simply follows suit. So one of the best things you can do is training is to practice
Ever wonder why you can’t change certain parts of your body when you exercise? It may be a lack of body awareness. Research shows that lack of body awareness creates an inability to engage muscle, and this awareness is an important tool in progress changes in your body. If there’s a certain part of your body that is especially challenging and just won’t budge, it may be because you are not activating the muscles that encompass it properly.
1) Start With Pressure; Notice where your body contacts the earth. For example, in this bow pose, my foot is in contact and is supporting my entire (5’10!) frame. That’s a lot of strength in that little foots. It’s all because I am applying pressure evenly across the four corners of my foot, and I am able to do this because I am cognizant of the muscular contractions in my foot.
2) Change Your Posture; Until you feel the proper activation, keep moving your body to a different position. For example, on my body, my left abdominal wall is weaker than my right, so I need a different angle to properly engage all my obliques and anterior abs. If I change the angle I am working in while engaging my left side, I get the same work done as my right.
3) Engage Your Multifidus; Remember those tiny muscles that support your spine I spoke of so lovingly last week? Yep, they’re integral in allowing you to engage all your muscles eloquently. Instead of over using the major muscle groups and getting bigger and bulkier because you lack the foundational strength of the multifidus, try working on pelvic tiles and engagement FIRST before you do any other exercise. I start my day with my multifidus pelvic tilts and ab exercises, then move on to other exercises that engage the larger muscle groups.
Ever hear me talk about your Lumber Multifidus muscle? Often ignored by personal trainers, this muscle is essential in establishing a solid foundation of support for your lumbar spine, allowing you to progress your training to a higher level sans injury. Let’s talk about why it’s so important and how you can strengthen this integral stabilizer:
1) Without them, our spine would have problems!
The multifidus muscles help to take pressure off the vertebral discs so that our body weight can be well distributed along the spine. Additionally, the superficial muscle group keeps our spine straight while the deep muscle group contributes significantly to the stability of our spine. These two groups of multifidus muscles are recruited during many actions in our daily living, which includes bending backward, sideways and even turning our body to the sides. Studies have shown that the multifidus muscles get activated before any action is carried out so to protect our spine from injury.
2) The key is training your body to breathe while engaging your multifidus!
One of the reasons so many people have lumbar back pain is a result of not taking full breaths using their diaphram muscle in their lower abdomen. So often we take short quick breaths using our upper back and neck muscles because this is the most efficient way to get oxygen to our heart quickly. But when not in quick need, it’s important to contract that diaphram so that the multifidus learns it should be engaged all the time. Taking long sustained breaths in and out retrains your body to use your diaphram rather than your upper neck and shoulder muscles to breathe. You can imagine the tightness and pathology you may sustain by breathing from your neck, shoulders and back rather than from your deep abdomen–The upper extremity muscles get tighter and more bulky (theoretically causing lactic acid buildup and reduced oxygenation). This can result in a compression of the cervical spine and a weakness in the lumber multifidus.
3) Key exercises for keeping this muscle strong:
I know, I know… Apps are the next “It” thing if you are in business. But I am proposing that you NOT carry your cell phone everywhere you go. And hey, especially when you are exercising. Because, if anything, exercise is your hour to yourself everyday. And it should be peaceful and quiet and you shouldn’t have emails buzzing and text messages being sent and you shouldn’t be looking at yet another florescent screen just to follow an exercise routine. No, I’m thinking all you need is your eyes, your ears, your heart, your arms and legs to carry out the most physical part of your day. Forget technology, get in touch with something even more intelligent and complex–your body.
So I’m developing a CoreFit Deck that you can take with you. Get the first of these workouts here and print out so you can just grab them and go to the gym. In fact, why not just take a few in your gym back so all you have to do is follow the pictures and do the routine. Simple. And it won’t even show up on your data usage.
You probably already know that a strong core is key to riding better. And with the weather warming up, this is the best time to prep for your long rides. You may be surprised, but there’s more to your core than just abs and doing crunches won’t do the trick. Too many cyclists forget muscles that riding neglects–glutes, back, hips and obliques.