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core strengthening exercises

Why does the core section come up in almost any conversation about fitness? The core, or midsection, is the body’s fulcrum and is crucial to stability, proper lifting technique and power transfer. A strong, flexible core improves movement, prevents injuries, and contributes to athletic performance.

What is your “core”? The core is much more than six pack abs, it’s all the muscles throughout the abdominals, lower back, and hips. This grouping of muscles connects the upper and lower body and cannot be understated in its importance.

Due to the critical role the core plays, it’s wise to strengthen it as part of a workout regimen. Focus on strengthening the core aids athletes and office workers alike. Here are some guidelines and techniques to help you get started.

The Best Exercises for the Core

Plank: The classic plank exercise provides massive benefits for core reinforcement, but should be performed properly. When settling into a plank tight abdominal muscles and aligned shoulders above the elbows are a must. Proper form should also maintain body alignment, with a neutral neck and spine, while looking down at the floor. Tucking shoulders down and back, and making floor contact with only toes, forearms, and hands complete the plank’s points of performance.

DON’T: Look around and compromise your head and neck position.
DO: Stay strong through the spine, with no sagging torso.

core strengthening exercises

Squats: In a standing position, start with knees, hips, and toes pointing forward. Without allowing your chest to dip forward, lower your buttocks until your hip crease is below the top of your knees. Pushing the knees out and screwing feet into the ground can provide additional stability. Always keep the abdominal muscles pulled in and maintain alignment in your spine.

DON’T: Drop too quickly with little to no control.
DO: Reach full depth without losing tension.

Tips on Core Strengthening for Specific Activities

Special Techniques for Runners

Foregoing core strengthening is a common mistake made by runners. Weak core muscles can lead to injuries because of their inability to adequately support the stomach, back, and hips. Without proper support, runners are asking for sub-par race performances and potential injury implications. By regularly performing the previously described plank and squat exercises, runners can prehab their bodies.

core strengthening exercises

Advice for cyclists

Cycling is another sport that commonly focuses on strong leg muscles and cardio, but not core strength. Holding center mass over the bike frame and retaining spine alignment is the best way to avoid fatigue in the midsection. Cultivating posture through core strengthening is essential. Less slouching from a strong core will pay dividends in reduced fatigue.

Any Athlete can Benefit

Regardless of which sport or activity you enjoy, core strength has benefits for all athletes:

These tips and techniques on strengthening your core should help you place proper focus on this area, which will impact fitness levels throughout your body. Remember however that any vigorous workout, including one for the core should be matched with proper recovery methods to avoid injury and improve strength adaptation.

plyometric exercises

Plyometrics are a great way to kick your workouts up a notch. By adding in an element of explosiveness to your exercises, you can improve your speed, power, and strength. Similar to HIIT training, plyometrics require a lot of energy. But, they are also a fun alternative to typical strength training movements.  

In this article we’re going to cover everything you need to know about plyometric training: what it is, the benefits, and how you can integrate it into your routine to get fitter than ever before.

What is Plyometric Training?

Plyometrics describes a type of training that focuses on explosive exercises, with the intent to improve an athlete’s strength, power and speed. Some examples of plyometric exercises include squat jumps, plyo pushups, and jumping rope. Essentially, a plyometric exercise is any exercise that requires a production of force and a transference of power. But what does this mean exactly?

In exercise science, strength refers to your ability to generate a sufficient internal force in your connective tissues and muscles to overcome the resistance of an external force, changing its velocity. This typically may involve the resistance of a weight, but it can also involve the resistance of your own body weight through gravity (ie. box jumps).

plyometric exercises

Power is the ability to exert force and overcome resistance, in the shortest amount of time. The difference between strength and power is the component of time. Practicing exercises that require explosive power improves your speed, by priming your body to generate force more efficiently.

Benefits of Plyometric Exercises

Simply put, plyometric exercises make you faster and stronger. This is ideal in sport specific training. For example, practicing plyometric box jumps will improve your sprint speed if you play football, and chest throws with a medicine ball will help you power your punch if you’re a boxer. As supported by Human Kinetics, plyometric exercises can help improve your performance in any sport, across the board.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that in a 12-week intervention on volleyball players, practicing plyometric exercises significantly improved their general performance, speed, endurance, power and muscular strength; compared to the control.

Even if you’re just training for fun, plyometrics should still have a place in your routine. Plyometrics can drastically improve your cardiovascular health, torch calories, and strengthen muscles. A 2014 study found that in a group of participants doing plyometric training, they decreased their body fat percentage by 16.4 percent and gained 2.1 percent of muscle after the 12-week program.

Top 5 Plyometric Exercises

Here are 5 of the best plyometric exercises to get started with today:

plyometric exercises
  1. Box jumps
  2. Reverse lunge knee-ups
  3. Burpees
  4. Clapping push-ups
  5. Tuck jumps

Plyometrics are an ideal addition to your workout routine if you’re looking to maximize your power, speed, and strength. As with any workout routine, don’t forget to incorporate muscle recovery protocols to ensure your body stays healthy and is ready to go for every training session. Marc Pro is a recovery tool used by elite and everyday athletes that’s proven to speed post-workout recovery and get you back to feeling your best.

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Core Exercises for Ab Like CrossFit Games Athlete Noah Ohlsen

bulgarian split squat

The Bulgarian split squat is an exercise that is highly regarded by many athletes and fitness experts. When it comes to building upper leg strength, it doesn’t get much better than this.

According to Barbend.com, this exercise targets the quads (Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Rectus Femoris, Tibialis Anterior), hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus), and glutes (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius). It also engages your core and helps improve stability. Unlike a back squat that can put a lot of strain on the lower back, the Bulgarian split squat puts emphasis on the legs, which means your lower back won’t take as much of the heat.

What is a Bulgarian Split Squat?

This movement is a single leg squat variation where the rear leg is elevated while the lead leg remains on the ground. The position allows you to go lower than a traditional squat, which is a plus for hip mobility. Since the Bulgarian split squat is a single leg movement, it can help you fix training imbalances. By correcting these imbalances, you can prevent injuries and move more efficiently, ultimately leading to better performance.

Bulgarian Split Squat Using a TRX Band

Andy Potts shares how he does a Bulgarian split squat using his TRX. However, you can use another unstable object, such as a gym ball, to incorporate an added challenge. If you’re new to the movement, you can start out by using a more stable surface, such as a chair or bench.

Setting up the TRX Band

Setting up trx band for split squat
  1. Attach the TRX Band to a structure overhead so that it hangs a few inches from the ground.
  2. Thread the handles twice through each other and then leg them hang.
  3. Bring one leg back, putting your foot through the handle (this step is easiest to do with your knees on the ground).
  4. Keep some tension on the TRX band, not a lot of stress, but you don’t want the band to go slack either- it should stay on your foot.

Doing the Squat

  1. While still on the ground, bring your lead leg forward in front of your body.
  2. At this point, the rear knee is on the ground and the leading knee is in front of the body.
  3. As you raise up from the ground, make sure your leading knee doesn’t go too far in front of the ball of your foot.
  4. Keep your hips square and your lead foot in line with your hip as you rise.
  5. Optional: Andy likes to add in a knee extension at the end of the movement.
  6. Always keep a big chest and arms slack at the sides.
  7. Go down slowly and explode up.

If you feel like using just your bodyweight is too easy, try adding in some weights. Keep your arms at your sides though, don’t curl the weights up.

The Bulgarian split squat is a useful exercise for many types of athletes. Incorporating a TRX band helps elevate your results and get even more benefit from the movement since your body has to use more muscles to stabilize. Also, make sure to recover after your workout so you can stay healthy and maximize your training results. Marc Pro is an easy and effective way to recover faster and keep your body fresh.

In this video, pro triathlete Andy Potts demonstrates how to complete the Bulgarian split squat.

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How to do the Pistol Squat

how to do burpees

The infamous burpee. You hate to love them and you love to hate them.

Burpees are a simple movement, but don’t let that fool you, they are incredibly difficult. Just a few burpees will get you winded, quickly raise your heart rate, and work your entire body. However, what makes burpees so difficult is also why they are such a great exercise. Not only do you get the benefits of cardio, you also develop strength and plyometric explosiveness. Since burpees only use the weight of your body, you can also do them almost anywhere, which is just another reason they are so wonderful. With all the benefits burpees have to offer, it’s safe to say they are here to stay.   

Burpees are a staple in the fitness world, so it’s worth taking the time to learn how to do them right. CrossFit Games athlete Noah Ohlsen walks you through how to do burpees, common mistakes to avoid, and how you can recover from this strenuous movement.

How to do Burpees Correctly

Noah likes to break his burpee coaching tips down into three simple steps.

Step 1: The first step is to get your body flat on the ground, stomach down. You can accomplish that any way you want. Noah recommends bending down into a squat position, bringing your hands forward to the ground, jump your feet back, and then chest to the floor.

Step 2: Push your chest off the ground and arch your back. Catapult your feet towards your hands by popping your hips. The goal is to get your feet as close to your hands as possible, doing so will keep your legs in a straighter position for when you execute the next step.

Step 3: Stand up. Then, simultaneously jump up and clap overhead.

Common Burpee Mistakes

burpees

Most mistakes happen during Step 2 of the burpee progression. Often times, people won’t jump their feet close enough to their hands, causing themselves to get into a compromised position. This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure and tension on your knees. Plus, the closer you can jump your feet to your hands, the easier it makes Step 3 when you go to stand, jump, and clap.

Muscle Recovery from Burpees

Burpees will likely leave you sore and tired, which is why it’s important to recover your muscles after doing burpees. Noah finds that his upper body, especially his chest and triceps, get the most sore from all the pressing and clapping overhead. To quickly recover, Noah uses Marc Pro, placing one pad on his outer chest and the other pad from the same lead wire on his triceps. He repeats that on his opposing arm and flushes out all the soreness and brings nourishment into the area. One of the benefits of Marc Pro is its versatility. No matter where you get sore or fatigued, you can use Marc Pro to quickly recover.

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back squatOnce you’ve mastered the basics of the air squat, try taking your squat to the next level by incorporating the back squat.

What Are Back Squats Good For?

The back squat is basically an air squat with added weight. It’s Crossfit Games Athlete Ben Smith’s favorite exercise for building strength. Back squats allow your body to work harder and develop greater strength. Squats are widely known to be great at building lower body strength, but they can actually improve your upper body strength as well. When squats are done properly, they produce an environment within the body that promotes muscle building. Squats also increase mobility and prime the body for real life applications.

How to Back Squat

Proper back squat form is critical for staying injury free and getting the most benefit from the movement. It’s important to choose a weight that feels heavy, but still allows you to move consistently and maintain good form.

Materials Required:

Back Squat Steps:

  1. Place barbell with weights onto the squat rack
  2. Bring your body under the bar
  3. Rest barbell over your traps and shoulders
  4. Make sure hands are even on each side of the bar
  5. Keep your feet in the same position as they would be for an air squat
  6. Brace your midline and keep your chest up
  7. Take a big breath and fill your stomach with air
  8. Unrack the bar
  9. Take a step back away from the rack
  10. Take another big breath and hold
  11. Stay nice and tight
  12. Bend knees and use the same range of motion as you would in an air squat to drop down into the bottom squat position
  13. Exhale as you push up out of the bottom back squat position
  14. Repeat for multiple reps

After completing back squats or any training exercise, it’s important to allow your body to recover. During exercise, your muscles break down. During the recovery process, they rebuild and get stronger. Recovery also allows helps prevent injuries, perform at your best, and reach your goals. Marc Pro is the recovery tool of choice for over 100 pro teams and countless elite athletes. Discover why Marc Pro is so effective for recovery.

pistol squatThe pistol squat is a great exercise to build single leg strength, develop balance, and promote flexibility. Best of all, no equipment is required so it’s a movement you can do at the gym, home, or while traveling. Emily Bridgers shows how to do a pistol squat and shares three tips for those who are just learning.

How to do a Pistol Squat

  1. In a standing position, lift one foot off the ground and bring it out in front of your body
  2. Squat down with the leg that is still on the ground while the leg in the air continues to stay in front.
  3. During the squat, make sure your knee tracks right in front of your toes. Don’t let your knee cave in, this can lead to injury and make the movement less effective.
  4. Keep the weight of your body in your heel on the way down
  5. Push through your whole foot to stand up

Tips for Pistol Squat Beginners

Since the pistol squat requires a lot of leg strength, flexibility, and balance, many people aren’t able to complete the movement on their first try. These three tips from Emily Bridgers can help beginners develop their pistol squat.

Use an Object:

Instead of completing a full squat and bringing your butt down to the ground, you can use an object like a stool or bench and squat to that until you are able to go all the way down.

Grab a Counter Balance:

Grab a 5 or 10 pound plate. Hold it out in front of your body and then go down into a squat. This will make the movement a lot easier.

Build Momentum:

Get into a candle stick pose with your toes pointed to the ceiling. Roll forward onto one leg using that momentum and push up to stand. The momentum created will allow you to complete the movement without having to use quite as much strength.

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Hit a Training Plateau? 3 Ways to Break Through it

triathlon recoveryAn Ironman race is the most grueling and intense type of triathlon. Once you finish an Ironman, your body is exhausted, muscles are damaged, and a ton of toxins are present throughout your body. Heather Jackson shares six techniques she uses for triathlon recovery to bring her body back to homeostasis.

“After a big race, the number one thing I’m focused on is my recovery.”

Post Triathlon Recovery Essentials

After a big Ironman event, Heather Jackson uses these 6 techniques to get her body back to normal.

1. Hydrate

Adequate hydration after the triathlon is over is just as important as hydrating properly before and during the event. Water is essential for many functions throughout the body, including regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, transporting nutrients, and helping blood circulation, so it’s important to makes sure you get enough of this nutrient. Dehydration has some serious side effects such as muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, and fast heartbeats.

2. Sleep

Research has shown that a good night’s sleep leads to numerous benefits, including better performance for athletes. Ironman races create a lot of physical damage in the body. Sleep allows your body and brain to repair and heal itself. After a tough event, it may be a good idea to get a couple extra hours of sleep.

3. Salt Baths

Epsom salt baths are used for muscle aches, improving circulation, increasing nutrient absorption, and relieving joint pain. But, the list doesn’t end there. Epsom salt baths have a ton of other benefits too, including eliminating the body of toxins and other harmful substances.

4. Foam Rolling

Using a foam roller will help break down and release the fascia. During intense physical activity, the fascia interlocks and binds to the muscles and nerves. This restricts your muscles ability to move properly and may lead to pain.

5. Marc Pro

Heather Jackson uses her Marc Pro for a fast and full post triathlon recovery. Marc Pro uses unique technology that creates a non-fatiguing muscle contraction, which is the key facilitator for the recovery process. Since Marc Pro doesn’t cause any fatigue, after an Ironman event Heather will even sleep with it on.

6. Relax

Finishing a big race like an Ironman takes its toll mentally and physically. Take some time to just relax and give your body and mind a break.

power snatchA power snatch involves taking the bar from the ground position to an overhead position as efficiently as possible, with as much weight as possible. This movement is a staple in the Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting worlds. Crossfit Games athlete Emily Bridgers demonstrates how to do a power snatch and shares some tips for improving yours.

How to Power Snatch

Setup:

  1. Position feet so they are in line with your hips
  2. Grab the bar wide and make sure your body is tight
  3. Keep your back flat
  4. Load hamstrings

After you get set up for the power snatch, it’s time to complete the movement. Visuals for both the setup and movement steps can be seen in the video below.

Movement Steps:

  1. Pull the bar off the ground, moving it smoothly past the knees. Don’t yank the bar or use a rigid motion, the goal is to keep it smooth until the bar has crossed over the knees.
  2. After a smooth pull past the knees, it’s time to get fast and aggressive. In this step, you want to pull and launch the bar vertically from the top of the knees to the hip pocket (or slightly below depending on the person).
  3. Using high elbows, pull the bar up to the mid chest or sternum.
  4. When you feel the bar go “weightless” after pulling it up high, launch the bar overhead and drop fast underneath the bar.
  5. Catch the bar from underneath.
  6. Stand up straight to finish the power snatch movement.

Tips to Improve your Power Snatch

Beyond competing in the Crossfit Games, Emily Bridgers is also a head coach at Crossfit Terminus. She has trained many athletes over the years to do movements like the power snatch. Here are some tips from Emily herself to keep in mind while doing a power snatch.

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Mastering the Ring Muscle Up with Scott Panchik

training plateauYou hit a training plateau, so now what? Plateaus can happen to anyone. They arise for many different reasons but luckily there are easy ways to break out of them. Crossfit Games athlete Scott Panchik shares common reasons for hitting a training plateau and gives 3 tips to help you overcome it.

How to Get Over Your Training Plateau

1. Recovery

The number one thing that may be contributing to your training plateau is insufficient recovery. During training, muscle tissue is broken down. It’s during the recovery process that the tissue rebuilds, your body becomes stronger, and gains and improvements are made. If you consistently don’t allow your body to recover, gains and improvements suffer. Scott recommends looking at the past two months of your training and asking yourself the following questions:

If these are problems that you’re dealing with, there’s a good chance you may be overtraining. The best way to solve the problem of overtraining is to add in more recovery techniques to your training routine. Once you’re adequately hydrated, nourished, and rested, try incorporating recovery methods. Marc Pro is the most effective tool for recovery and used by some of the world’s most elite athletes. Marc Pro’s unique technology creates non-fatiguing muscles contractions (which is the key facilitator for all stages of the recovery process) so the device can be used for as long as needed to ensure a full and fast recovery.

2. Evaluate your Training Routine

Athletes may hit a training plateau if their training regimen isn’t changing enough. If you haven’t varied your workouts in a while, that could be the reason for getting stuck in a plateau.  To break out of the training plateau, try finding a program that’s constantly varied. Scott recommends incorporating different coaching tips from various resources, such as YouTube, coaches in your gym, or online programs. There’s a lot of information and ideas out there, which makes it easy if you need to change things up to overcome a training plateau.

3. Vary your Movements

Incorporating different movements is another way to get out of a training plateau. If you’re an endurance athlete, try introducing more weightlifting exercises. If your routine consists mostly of weightlifting, try adding more endurance exercises like swimming, biking, or running. Constantly varying your movements will not only help break a training plateau, it will also make you a well-rounded athlete.

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With hang squat cleans, we’re always thinking about dropping fast underneath the bar. As you get more advanced at the movement, this can become a bad habit. Athletes will often drop before they reach a full extension and get a full pull on the bar. Emily Bridgers shares the basic steps of the hang squat clean and describes how dropping too fast can hinder your effectiveness.

Steps of the Hang Squat Cleanhang squat clean

When doing a hang squat clean, Emily suggests following these steps:

  1. Pull the bar to the hip
  2. Lower the bar, going as low at the top of the knees
  3. Drive bar back into the hip
  4. Pull bar up to your chest, keeping your elbows tight to the body
  5. Drop and squat underneath the bar
  6. Stand up and press out of the lower position

Dropping the Bar Too Fast

When you drop too fast, the barbell has a longer distance before if makes contact with your shoulders. If you feel the bar crashing down on your shoulders or have trouble standing up out of the clean, it’s a good sign that you may be dropping too fast. As you start to progress and add more weight, continuing to drop too fast will cause a large amount of weight to crash down on your shoulders and will likely leave you pinned in the hole.

With every exercise, including hang squat cleans, it’s important to use proper form and technique. This will not only allow your movement to be more effective and help develop the right muscles, it will also help prevent injuries. Many injuries happen when an athlete’s mechanics are compromised, they overcompensate in other areas and the chance of injury increases. One way to promote good biomechanics is by incorporating Marc Pro into your fitness routine. Marc Pro is proven to enhance recovery which provides many benefits such as improved performance, injury prevention, and use of proper biomechanics. Learn more about how Marc Pro can help you here: www.marcpro.com

kipping pull upMany people attach a stigma to kipping pull ups for causing injuries. Like most exercises, doing the movement incorrectly or jumping in too quickly may lead to an injury. However, there is a correct way to go about kipping pull ups that won’t leave you injured or sidelined.

Having competed in six Crossfit Games, Scott Panchik has done his fair share of kipping pull ups. Being a head coach at CrossFit Mentality, he’s also taught many of his athletes how to work towards a kipping pull up. Now, he’s sharing his knowledge with us.

Kipping Pull Ups: Where Do I Begin?

1. Strict Movement

One thing that is essential for any individual is to develop a strict movement before attempting any type of dynamic movement. If your goal is to get a kipping pull up, Scott recommends working on an overhand pull up.

2. Positioning

While developing the pull up, your hand positioning on the bar should simulate the same position you’re in while pressing the barbell.

3. Engage the Right Muscles

In a strict or kipping pull up, your entire body weight is pulling down on your shoulders. This is a lot of load for your shoulders so it’s important to make sure the right muscles are engaged to prevent any shoulder damage or strain. During the movement, engage your lats and biceps while actively pulling with your arms. A good indicator that you’re not engaged in the right places is if your shoulders are sore the following day.

Scott’s Rule for Kipping Pull Ups

A rule that Scott has in his gym is that you need to be able to complete 10 strict pull ups before adding in any type of dynamic movement, such as kipping pull ups. This helps keep his athletes safe, healthy, and able to continue to do what they love.

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Proper Squat Form with Ben Smith

snatch techniqueBen Smith, 9x Crossfit Games Athlete, taught himself how to snatch over the years by watching YouTube videos from athletes like Mike Burgener. Now, he has his own knowledge to share for improving your snatch technique.

One of the most common mistakes people make while snatching is launching the barbell with their hips. Often times, people will start out with a good position but as they pull the bar up, their back overextends, and their hips are pushed forward, breaking their good position and launching the barbell away from their body.

Snatch Technique Drill: “Hang Snatch, High Pull”

The “hang snatch, high pull” drill has helped tremendously with Ben’s snatch technique. It’s a great way to practice keeping the bar close and translating power into the barbell through the middle of the pull.

In this video, Ben Smith demonstrates the “hang snatch, high pull”. A few tips to keep in mind are:

Practicing this drill can help improve your snatch technique and efficiency. Try doing a few reps until you get you are able to perform the movement smoothly and with the correct positioning.

Incorrect positioning and improper biomechanics can occur when our bodies attempt to compensate for something that is off. For example, overextending your back often arises when there’s an area in the body that is tight, overused, or injured. In order to keep your body injury free, promote good biomechanics, and improve efficiency in workouts, it’s important to dedicate some time to focus on recovery efforts. Marc Pro is designed to provide the easiest and most effective recovery to those who want to stay healthy and get to the next level.  Learn more about Marc Pro here: www.marcpro.com

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Mastering the Handstand Walk with Emily Bridgers

Learning the handstand walk can be tough. Crossfit Games athlete and head coach at Crossfit Terminus, Emily Bridgers, shares her steps for mastering the handstand walk.

handstand walk3-Step Progression for the Handstand Walk

Step 1: Practice on a Wall

The first step towards mastering the handstand walk is being able to hold a handstand against a wall for at least one minute. While doing this, make sure you don’t change shape. When doing a handstand, the goal is to keep a perfectly straight line. You want to avoid breaking position with any angles through your shoulders or back.

Step 2: Free Standing Handstands

Once you have the wall handstand dialed in, it’s time to start practicing free standing handstands. This will help you gain awareness of your body. Try holding the position for as long as possible. Moving your hands forward or backward will help you get familiar with knowing which direction your body is falling and how to balance it. The goal is to stay in the handstand position for as long as you can.

Step 3: Grab a Partner

Now it’s time to grab a partner. This person is really just there for support and to help guide your walk. During the handstand walk, grip the ground with your fingertips. While learning, be sure to stay as tight as possible throughout your entire body. If you notice that you’re starting to collapse and lose your shape, go ahead and come down. Don’t let your partner do all of the work, they’re mostly just there for balance. Once you feel comfortable doing the handstand walk with support from your partner, the next step is to try doing it on your own.

With any fitness routine, it’s important to allocate time and effort towards recovery. Many athletes don’t realize just how important recovery really is. Recovery allows our bodies to rebuild and grow stronger so that we can train consistently, give 100% at each workout, and prevent overuse injuries. Marc Pro is designed to provide athletes with the most effective tool for recovery. With the use of active recovery techniques, Marc Pro brings fresh blood and nourishment into the area and flushes out the waste. Learn more about how Marc Pro can help you.

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travel fitness tipsIt’s easy to throw nutrition and training out the window while traveling. Taking a break every now and then is fine, but for those who want to maintain their fitness while traveling or for those who travel consistently, it’s important to find ways to stay healthy no matter where you are. Brian Mackenzie shares his 3 fitness tips to help keep you healthy while traveling.

3 Travel Fitness Tips from Brian Mackenzie

Blood Flow is Key

Being stagnant in tight airplane seats or crammed in a car for hours doesn’t lend itself to healthy circulation throughout the body. If you can get good blood flow throughout the entire body, you’ll feel like you didn’t just fly or drive for hours on end. Brian recommends using a Marc Pro to anyone who travels.

Nutrition Tips

Nutrition is a huge component of staying healthy. Brian likes to choose high quality foods to fuel him through the day. He eats a lot of veggies and clean meats (from humanely raised animals) and avoids breads and pastas. While traveling, it can be hard to find healthy options. Typically, Brian doesn’t eat airline or airport food. Although, there are a few airports that offer some decent options, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

If airport food is out, how does Brian fuel himself while traveling? One of his go-to options is Laird Hamilton’s Superfood. It’s easy to carry and contains butter, coconut oil, and red palm oil. There’s also Instafuel, which combines these butters and oils with a high quality instant coffee. All you need to do is add hot water. Brian will use this even on flights up to 10 hours. Once he arrives at his destination, he will try to find a Whole Foods or farmer’s market that has high quality food sources.

Balancing Workouts with Stress Levels

Traveling can be stressful, especially if you have a new time zone to get used to. It’s important to pay attention to your stress levels and then determine how much training you should do. When Brian travels his workouts depend on the quality of sleep he’s had, how well he has been able to stick with a wholesome diet, and how his body is feeling.

Whether you’re traveling or not, it’s important to learn how to keep stress levels low and understand that if your stress levels are high, it may be a good idea to take a break from training. Putting stress on top of stress can be damaging to the body. While we may be able to pull it off for some time, eventually we hit a road block. Our immune system can only handle so much before we break down and become sick. Brian knows that when he feels drained and angry, those are signs that he’s done too much. If you’re getting sick all the time, your immune system is weak. It’s important to learn how to boost your immune system back up and pay more attention to your stress levels.

Brian’s Travel Workout Routine

Brian bases his training off his stress levels. Since traveling tends to put stress on our bodies, he typically does a small lifting session or a shorter 30-minute run. Doing a shorter training session allows you to get in just enough training and still keeps your body in a good, lower stress state.

How happy are you with your climbing performance? Like many things, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to cycling. Climbing hills will perpetually be tough, but H24 Cycling team rider Matt Chatlaong has some tips to help you become a better, faster climber.

5 Cycling Tips to Improve your Climbcycling tips

1.Find Some Hills

If you want to be a better climber, you have to spend some time on the hills. Try finding a long, extended hill, preferably one that lends itself to a 15-30 minute ride. Practice going hard, while incorporating some of the other tips below.

2. Be Light

The less weight you have to carry uphill, the better. Try to be as lean as possible. Doing so can provide a huge benefit while climbing hills.

3. Change Positions

Spend time in and out of the saddle. This will help break up the monotony of a long climb and also help you put down a hard effort near the end.

4. Break up the Pace

Instead of pedaling at a constant speed, try breaking up the pace. During a climb, stand up and attack throughout. Using interval-style training can help improve endurance and allow you to progress faster.

5. Experiment with Cadences

Try climbing at higher cadences and see how that feels. Our natural instinct is to pedal at low cadences and smash gears up big climbs. However, that is going to wear you out. Over the course of a 15-20 minute effort or over the course of multiple efforts, try to spin a little more and see if that works better for you.

Being physically prepared for a tough climb is crucial. But, don’t forget about the mental aspect that’s required as well. Preparing your mind for difficult situations will help you overcome obstacles and push through when you hit the wall.

 

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