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Progressive Overload

Yes, the term ‘Progressive Overload’ is a fundamental principle in any form of physical training, but can it relate to life? For those unfamiliar with the term, progressive overload is the placing of higher than normal demands on the human body over a specific period. The rationale is that the body has adapted to a particular stimulus, and needs a new ‘challenge’ to progress. Can this relate to life too?

Now you may be thinking, ‘What is he on about!’, but hear me out. The basic principle of progressive overload is about being better, no matter what we are talking about. So should we try to implement this in our lives? So the idea is no matter what task, strive to be 1% better every day. Now the question is are you ready to implement progressive overload in your life?

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

The Sunday Stoic Shoutout #3

The weekly Sunday post on what is worth checking out in regards books, podcasts and much more!

Stay Stoic,

The Stoic Strength Coach

Book of the week

Podcast Episode of the week

Article of the week

The Morning Routine

Tweet of the week

Instagram of the week

The Morning Routine

Morning routines? – what are they, are they needed, some may say yes, others no. However, today, I will talk about my routine so you may get some ideas if you are contemplating beginning one yourself. This is not to say you should follow this exact routine, the critical thing is to do whatever sets you up for the day ahead.

In regards to waking up, I try to get up between 6-7am each morning as I feel I have wasted the morning if I get up any later than that. Usually, this is followed by the making of morning coffee along with a quick clean of the kitchen. This idea was proposed by James Clear in his fantastic book ‘Atomic Habits.’ James suggests that try to follow a habit directly after another (the cleaning of the kitchen after making the coffee). This is followed by sitting in a reading corner, located in our room. We did not have this corner before lockdown, but this time at home has really opened our eyes to the importance of having one.

Now the routine really begins, it starts off usually with a guided meditation using the 10% Happier app. It is an excellent app as it has various levels and times which can suit every individual. This is followed by listening and reading the daily stoic podcast and book. These are both by Ryan Holiday and would definitely recommend if you are interested in stoicism (like myself). These are only a few minutes long and are great with your morning coffee! The final part of my morning routine is 20 minutes of reading. This typically various from texts in stoicism such as Meditations, Letters from a Stoic, etc. to other non-fiction books that I may be currently reading.

In total, the routine takes about 45 minutes as I like to take my time, but this can be easily cut down to 30 minutes. At the moment, this routine is going well as I am currently based at home, but when work returns, I may have to adjust it. I hope this gives you some ideas in regards to what you could potentially do in your morning routine and feel free to let me know what your morning routine involves in the comments below!

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

The Stoic Shoutout #2

The weekly Sunday post on what is worth checking out in regards books, podcasts and much more!

Book of the week

Podcast Episode of the week

Article of the week

https://www.inc.com/benjamin-p-hardy/how-to-train-your-brain-to-get-what-you-want-in-60.html

Tweet of the week

Instagram of the week

Essentialism – What is it all about?

You may or may not have heard of the term ‘Essentialism,’ a term popularised by Greg McKeown in his excellent book ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.’ The idea behind the book is to focus on only the essential aspects of your life and being more selective with our time. You may think that now may not be the best time to think of this, but it may well be the best time before the hustle and bustle of post-COVID kicks in.

“If you do not prioritize your life someone else will” – Greg McKeown

The book is broken down into four sections (Essence, Explore, Eliminate, Execute), which helps us understand how to implement essentialism in our lives. Greg explains that the current world “we live in where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.” People struggle with implementing essentialism way of life as they keep holding on to the belief that everything is important. Which makes your wonder, do you hold everything in your life at equal importance? Maybe worth thinking about when you are stuck in the office at 10 pm doing ‘important work’ with your family at home waiting for you.

The point Greg is making is that you cannot have it all, you can’t be the ‘yes man’ to everything, even if you really wanted to. He leaves the readers with one final point.

“Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, what is essential?”

“Eliminate everything else.”

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Want to read more from the blog?

Is social media a positive or negative influence?

Now, this post will open a can of worms, which can lead to many discussions, but ultimately the question boils down to ‘Are you using social media to your advantage to enhance your life’ or are you using to get away from life for a bit. Furthermore, before I go any further, I would like to say that I believe there is a place for social media in our personal and professional lives, but it is how you use it the tricky part.

An excellent book by Cal Newport called ‘Digital Minimalism’ has opened my eyes in regards to this topic. Cal pointed out that the average modern user spends around 2 hours per day on social media, and other related messaging services. This idea of zoning out and mindless swiping being the main culprit.

“Humans are not wired to be constantly wired” – Cal Newport

Cal recommends a digital declutter – a 30-day detox off social media (all optional technologies), and try to reconnect with other activities and behaviors which one would find satisfying and meaningful. After 30 days, he recommends gradually implementing some of these optional technologies back into your every day and determine if it brings you value.

You now may tell yourself – ‘I’m not on it that long, it is only a few minutes a day’ so I do not need to detox. These devices have been built to be addictive and time-consuming, so you may be on it longer than you think. Could you be doing something else with your valuable time?

 So, you really need to ask yourself are you really only on it for ‘a few minutes’ or longer.

More of your time = More money in their pocket 

The point is, social media is not the problem; it is how you use it.

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Want to read more from the blog?

The Stoic Shout out #1

This post is the first of many on what is definitely worth checking out in regards S&C content!

Stay Stoic,

The Stoic Strength Coach

Book of the week

Podcast Episode of the week

Article of the week

https://fulltimeperformance.co.uk/blog/f/injuries-within-youth-football–marc-mulligan

Tweet of the week

Instagram of the week

Core training – Are we making it too complicated?

Core training or trunk training is utilized by all, from athletic individuals to general populations, but are we creating more work for ourselves when we program it?

Nevertheless, why do we program for the core in the first place?

The core has been outlined as the kinetic link between the upper and lower body, which coincides which the idea of it aiding in sporting performance (1). Performance enhancement is one side of the coin, with injury reduction being the other. Now before we go any further, the idea of ‘Injury Prevention’ is not plausible. As practitioners, we have to accept the fact that our athletes/clients may get injured at some stage. The key is to try to reduce such injuries, so they occur less and less often hence the word ‘injury reduction’.  The use of core training has been outlined as a method to address weakness in the trunk region, increasing core stability, thus reducing recurring lower back pain (LBP). So you could argue that the use of such modalities does enhance performance as it allows one to perform at their maximum, reducing the risk of injury.

Core training or trunk training is utilized by all, from athletic individuals to general populations, but are we creating more work for ourselves when we program it?

Number one, I am a firm believer in the isometric based training, which uses exercises such as the front plank and the Pallof press instead of exercises which require repetitive flexion such as the sit-up or crunch. Lots of academic work by Stuart McGill has outlined this, and I would recommend reading into his work on this area (2). The rationale of using such exercises is to promote stability in the area and not mobility (which occurs through repetitive flexion); therefore, it would be deemed wise to use isometric based exercises such as the deadbug or front plank. Mike Boyle, in his fantastic book Functional Training for Sports, outlined that core training is about motion prevention and not motion creation (3)

Now since we have covered which type of exercise to perform, we need to talk about where. Well, the core is from nipple to knee and all around, so it is essential you target all; therefore, you must focus on the front (anterior), side (lateral), and the back (posterior). With this in mind, one must ensure they are programming at least one of each in order to keep the core training balanced. Now let us get on to the programming side of things – the fun bit. In regards to programming, keep it simple stupid (KISS) – meaning start easy and gradually build up. We recommend the following training guidelines:

Exercise 1 – Deadbug (anterior)

Exercise 2 – Side plank (left and right – lateral)

Exercise 3 – Glute bridge (posterior)

Frequency (Twice per week)

Week 1 – 3 sets of 20sec

Week 2 – 3 sets of 30sec

Week 3 – 3 sets of 40sec

Week 4 – 3 sets of 20sec – change/increase exercise difficulty and repeat process.

I hope this was helpful and stay stoic,

Stoic Strength Coach.

References

  1. Willardson, J. (2014). Developing the Core: NSCA-National Strength & Conditioning Association.
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stuart_Mcgill
  3. Boyle, M. (2016). New functional training for sports. Human Kinetics.

And so the journey begins…

Here I am, writing my first blog, never thought I would, but here we are! Might as well get through the formalities before getting onto the good stuff. I am an accredited strength and conditioning coach who has worked in the fitness/sporting sector for about 15 years. Coaching experience has ranged from my native sports of Gaelic football and hurling back home in Ireland, to elite-level strength and conditioning for track and field and football (soccer) in the UK. Having learned a lot on this coaching journey since coming to the UK, this leads us nicely onto the rationale for this blog.

Not only having a deep interest in strength and conditioning, but I have also developed an interest in areas such as minimalism and stoicism. These have greatly help me in my everyday work, and I wish to pass that onto you. So the objective of this blog is to talk about everything strength and conditioning from book reviews and academic journal articles, which may help with your work to talking about areas such as stoicism, meditation, and minimalism and how you can apply it to your life.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I am still learning a lot of this and by no means an expert (glad I cleared that one up!). Therefore, many of the areas we talk about here are still quite new to me, so we will be learning together! I suppose let’s get on with the show, and enjoy the ride!

“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished” – Marcus Aurelius