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How to Use Failure to Your Advantage

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We’ve all had a bad race — or one where we finished just off the podium — and come into the final stretch already feeling defeated. Most of us can admit to shedding a tear or two in frustration as a result. After all, we can’t win every single race. When it comes to dealing with failure like a boss, Simon Marshall, PhD, and co-author of the recently released sports psychology book “The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion,” offers some words of wisdom.

TAKE TIME TO GRIEVE

It’s not that you should smile and move on after your race didn’t go according to plan, Marshall says. It’s completely reasonable to take time to wallow. “When it just happened, it’s very raw, and the worst thing to hear is ‘there are plenty of other races,’ that kind of thing,” he says. “Understand your feelings, and don’t judge yourself for them.” If you feel like you let yourself down, explore that — with a sports psychologist, a friend or in a journal. “You can be in a funk, you can have some time to grieve that perceived failure,” he adds. So wallow away — then, get over it.

DON’T IMMEDIATELY TRY TO FIX THINGS

It’s our tendency to start planning our next race, or deconstruct what went wrong in this race, when we have a bad day. Taking a minute to jot down notes for things like gut issues with sports drinks, or a pain in your pinky toe is absolutely fine, but don’t let failure cloud your perception of your training and next races on the calendar. Think of it like being a little tipsy after a party: It’s not the time to call your ex, just like post-race isn’t time to completely overhaul your training or sign up for a race the next day. Take some time until you can be objective about your training and calendar before making changes.

READ MORE > YOU RAN YOUR GOAL RACE, NOW WHAT?

DEFINE WHAT “FAILURE” MEANS FOR YOU

“We have a lot of different voices about what failure is, and we need to figure out where they’re coming from,” Marshall says. That might mean we’ve grown up with a parent who told us second place was the first loser or maybe it’s from just missing that Boston Marathon qualifier by seconds. Maybe we used to finish on the podium at every race, and now, we’re finishing outside the top 10. The problem with any of these versions of failure is simple: We can’t control what the other people are doing any given day. Marshall reminds clients that their competitors are outside of the realm of control and because of this, setting goals like “podium in my age group” are unfairly weighted, depending on the strength of the field.

NOW, REDEFINE IT

“You had a bad run. That doesn’t mean that you as a person are a failure,” Marshall says. We tend to internalize outward failures, and that damages our psyche and sporting career. Marshall measures success with a simple question: Did you go out there and race to the best of your ability on that given day? This doesn’t mean hitting your PR, it means giving your all, which may not be PR level that day. It’s a lot more fun to consider all of your races successful than it is to consider all but a select few as failures, right?

READ MORE > WHAT’S A PR? AND WHY YOU NEED ONE

FORCE YOURSELF TO CHILL

Marshall has a client who he actually forces to ‘fail.’ He sends her to races and instructs her to start a minute or so back from the pack — i.e she waits 60 seconds after the race start of a 10K — and then to start and finish as hard as she can. This way, he’s removed her expectations about winning (and, really, her ability to do so), and she can be freer in her run, taking risks and relearning the joy of simply racing and passing through other people in the field. So, if you find you can’t enjoy the competition because you go crazy at the prospect of failing or you’re freaking out about not making it to the podium, consider starting from the back and not allowing yourself the chance to win, just to remember the feeling of simply “racing.”

EMBRACE MINDFULNESS

Whether you succeed or fail, the biggest thing you’re probably not doing is taking the time post-race to really feel those feelings and embrace that race day, rather than planning what’s next. “As humans, we’re seekers,” Marshall says. “No sooner is something over, we’re looking over the horizon at what’s next, how we can go better, go faster. But we need to wallow in our successes and our failures. That’s what mindfulness means: looking at what you’ve accomplished, and taking the time to appreciate it and enjoy it.”

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8 Reasons to Try Indoor Rowing

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As outdoor workouts become relegated to the weekend and your body requires a reprieve from repeated long rides or runs, a fresh training method could become a welcome change to your training schedule. Enter: indoor rowing.

As the heir apparent to the reigning king of group fitness classes, indoor cycling, indoor rowing is poised to become the country’s newest workout obsession, as rowing studios continue to pop up throughout the country.

If you’re looking to supplement your training regime, consider this full-body workout. Here are eight reasons you should try indoor rowing:

1. It Burns a High Amount of Calories

Harvard Medical School states that a 155-pound person rowing at a vigorous pace can burn more than 600 calories per hour. This is on par with mountain and BMX biking.

2. Rowing Removes Muscular Failings

“Endurance runners and cyclists tend to have many muscular deficiencies that lead to repetitive stress injuries,” says Richard Butler, a UCanRow2 Concept2 indoor rowing coach at Mecka Fitness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He believes rowing can offset this propensity. “When we row, we use more than 86% of our muscles. [It’s] tough to have deficient muscles using that many muscles.”

3. Rowing Circumvents Compensation

“While running and cycling, it is also very easy to become quad-dominant (overusing your anterior muscles),” says Dustin Hogue, interval studio director of Studio Three in Chicago. “Rowing counteracts this by engaging the posterior muscles of your body: the hamstrings, glutes and back. This helps avoid compensations.”

4. It Burns Fat

In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, which compared fat oxidation in rowing to cycling across a range of variables — including exercise intensity, mode and recruited muscle mass — rowing beat out cycling. This was specifically due to the greater recruitment of larger muscle mass on the ergometer.

5. It’s a Two-For-One Workout

Rowing works both the upper and lower extremities in synchronicity. “It’s one of the true full-body workouts,” says Butler. He says when done properly, in one continuous movement, athletes use their back, arms, legs and core.

READ MORE > SPINNING 101 AND THE ANATOMY OF A SPIN BIKE [INFOGRAPHIC]

6. There’s a Meditative Component

According to UCanRow2, an organization with a mission to bring rowing to people across the U.S., rowing indoors keeps the mind centered and helps relieve stress as you get into a rhythm with each stroke.  

7. Classes Teach You Proper Technique

Most people have either never rowed or row with incorrect, gawky posture — curtailing rowing’s proper returns. But participating in indoor rowing classes diminishes the inelegance and instructors help you perfect your position. “That awkward feeling of not knowing how to do a move is minimized,” says Butler.

8. It Decreases the Risk of Injuries

For those who recently suffered an injury and feel a little apprehensive getting back into high-impact sports (like running), but feel ready to get back into cardiovascular shape, rowing is a favorable alternative. “Running causes a great deal of stress on the leg joints, so rowing is perfect for avoiding injury while endurance training,” says Butler.

As with any group fitness class, rowing classes vary by studio and instructor. “A typical rowing class at Studio Three pairs bursts of short, anaerobic exercises, with active recovery periods and weighted resistance training,” says Hogue. “Athletes perform a series, or distance or timed pushes on the rower along with multi-joint strength movements off of the rower.” At ROWFit by Mecka Fitness, Butler teaches authentic, crew rowing techniques to increase endurance and train all major muscles. At the popular Row House NYC in New York City instructors encourage participants to row in sync with each other, simulating a real crew team.  

Whatever class you choose, all indoor rowing classes focus on providing low-impact, high-energy workouts, helping you elevate your heart rate and building strength as a complement to any endurance training regime.    

If you’re interested in indoor rowing, you can find a certified instructor at UCanRow2 and even become certified yourself.  

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Daily Deliberate Practice

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Anders Ericsson has written an excellent book PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Ericsson’s research contributed to the common recited 10,000 rule.

If you’re not familiar with it, Malcolm Gladwell interpreted Ericsson’s research and suggested people need to accumulate 10,000 hours to become an expert.

Ericsson, however, says,

“[T]he key thing that people have misinterpreted is that it’s not just a matter of accumulating hours. If you’re doing your job, and you’re just doing more and more of the same, you’re not actually going to get better.” (source)

Ericsson instead says the missed element is something he calls “deliberate practice.” As fitness experts, this idea should resonate with you.

Imagine a client who wanted to get healthy and strong, but they kept repeating the same exercises done incorrectly. If they reached 10,000 hours without hurting themselves, would they really have improved? They may even be in a worse position long term.

Ericsson says, “Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal” (p. 15).

An Interview with Anders Ericsson

Check out this interview with Ericsson below:

6 Tips for Incorporating Deliberate Practice Into Your Business

As you think about how deliberate practice might apply to your business, we wanted to share a few tips:

Incorporate practice into daily work life – The first step in applying deliberate practice into your business is to schedule it into your daily work life. You’ll never make progress if you don’t set aside regular time. Get out of your comfort zone – If you only practice what you’ve always practiced, you’ll never grow. That’s true when you exercise and it’s true in your business. If one of your clients only wanted to exercise their biceps, you’d firmly explain that’s not a smart way to exercise. Seek immediate feedback – A core component of deliberate practice is seeking immediate feedback. That might mean seeking out a business mentor or taking an online course where you have access to an expert for a new business tactic. Don’t keep practice something that you can’t get feedback on and don’t know if you’re doing correctly. Learn from others, particularly experts – The best way to become an expert is to learn from one. That might mean reading a book like PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, taking a seminar, going to a conference, or seeking a new certification. Our digital world provides us hundreds of ways we can learn from experts. Build mental representations – “A mental representation is a mental structure that corresponds to an object, an idea, a collection of information, or anything else, concrete or abstract, that the brain is thinking about.” (source). Many people use this form of learning in school but stopped using it as they transitioned into the business world. It can be a tremendous tool in your deliberate practice. Focus – Deliberate practice requires your full attention, so set aside a specific amount of time and remove distractions. If you’re new to this idea, read more about the Pomodoro Technique.

We’d love to talk more and provide more tangible tips on how to grow your fitness business. Enter your info below to schedule a demo with our expert team!

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11 Exercises for Your Best Back Workout

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Many people focus on building their “mirror muscles” (think: chest, shoulders, arms, and abs). But to create a well-rounded physique, you don’t want to skimp on back workouts to sculpt the other side of your body, too.

Whether you’re wearing a bathing suit, a tank top, or a backless dress, a well-built back shows the world you’ve got it where it counts. Physically and aesthetically, there’s no substitute for a strong, muscular back, which is why you should include back workouts into your regularly scheduled routine. To help you get started, here are some of the best back exercises found on Beachbody On Demand.

The Back Muscles

Across the rugged topography of your back are over a dozen different muscles. Some of them — like the trees minor — stabilize movement at your shoulder girdle; others — including the erector spine — extend your spine, helping to keep you upright.

But the primary focus of back workouts are usually the two largest muscle groups in your back: the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles.

Trapezius Anatomy

This is a kite-shaped muscle which extends from the back of your neck, to your shoulder blades, and down to your mid-back. Your traps are responsible for moving your shoulder blades upwards (as in a shrugging movement) and inwards (as in a rowing movement). When they’re well developed, the traps keep your posture in check and give your mid-back depth and detail.

Many people, guys especially, focus exclusively on the upper portion of this muscle — the bands of muscle that give gymnasts and football players that thick-necked look. But that can be a mistake, says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun. “When improperly trained, the traps can round your shoulders, which causes a postural dysfunction and a higher likelihood of injury.” Solve the problem by focusing on mid-and-lower trap exercises instead, using movements that emphasize retracting the shoulder blades.

Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy

Often shortened to “lats,” this fan-shaped muscle originates at your mid and lower back and attaches to your upper arms. It pulls your arms downwards and behind your body, (as in a pull-up movement), and directly backward (as in a rowing movement). The lats are your primary “pulling” muscles, and when they’re developed, they give you that unmistakeable “V” shape when your visible from behind.

The lats, Braun explains, are often underdeveloped and tight. Strengthening and stretching the muscle is key for good posture and full mobility — particularly in the shoulder joint, he says.

How do you exercise your back?

Most back movements are variations on rowing (pulling your own bodyweight or an object toward your torso), or chinning (pulling your bodyweight upward and over a bar or other stationary object). That’s the case with the 11 back exercises below, all culled from Beachbody On Demand’s huge selection of fitness programs. Together, they’ll work all the back muscles — large and small — to ensure complete functional and athletic back development. And the best part is that you can do them all at home! All you need is some dumbbells, a resistance band, and a pull-up bar (or a door attachment).

11 of the Best Exercises for Back Workouts

 

1. Balance row pistol squat

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Chisel Balance

Benefits: This move is an intense, total-body challenge. It works the traps, lats, and scapular retractors in the upper body, and the glutes, hamstrings, and quads in the lower body, all while testing your balance.

Stand holding two medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Lift your right foot slightly off the floor. Keeping your back flat and your shoulders pulled back, hinge forward extending your right leg behind you. Let your arms hang straight down. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the weights up to the outside of your ribs while keeping your elbows close to your sides. Lower the weights back down and return to the standing position. Try not to let your right foot touch the ground. Keeping your knees close together, extend your right leg forward. Bending at your hip and knee, squat as deeply as possible on your left leg. Return to standing and repeat. Do equal reps on both sides.

2. Dumbbell reverse grip row

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Total Body Chisel

Benefits: This move can help improve posture by challenging the upper and lower back simultaneously.

• Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding two medium to heavy dumbbells in front of your body, palms facing forward.

• With your shoulder blades pulled back, hinge forward at the hips until your upper body forms about a 45 degree angle to the floor.

• Keeping your palms turned forward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows, pulling the weights up toward your ribcage.

• Reverse the move and repeat.

3. Renegade Row

Appears in: SHIFT SHOP – Strength :25

Benefits: Challenge your upper back and lats while you also work your core and shoulder stabilizers.

• Assume a push-up position with your hands just outside your shoulder-width, gripping two light dumbbells. Your feet should be in line with your hands.

• Lift the dumbbell in your right hand off the floor, bringing your hand to the outside of your ribs while keeping your right elbow close to your side. Resist rotation of the body.

• Lower the right dumbbell to the floor and repeat with your left arm, alternating sides.

4. Alternating row and lunge

Appears in: Autumn’s BOD Exclusives – Kill Cupcake

Benefits: This move works multiple parts of the upper back (lats, traps, and scapular retractors) with light weights, challenging the muscle fibers responsible for endurance.

• Stand holding two medium to light dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in toward your body.

• Take a big step forward with your left leg, bending it to assume a deep lunge position, keeping your right leg straight.

• Bend forward at your hip, attempting to lay your torso on top of your left thigh. Let your arms hang straight down to the sides of your left leg.

• Bring the dumbbell in your right hand up to the outside of your ribs while keeping your elbow close to your side.

• Reverse the move and repeat with your left arm, alternating sides.

5. EZ bar row

Appears in: Body Beast – Build: Back/Bis

Benefits: This move challenges the large muscles of the upper back to move a heavy load, while the lower back stabilizes and protects the spine.

• Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding an EZ bar in front of your body with a wide grip, palms facing forward.

• Keeping your lower back in its natural arch and your shoulder blades pulled back, hinge forward at the hips until your upper body forms about a 45 degree angle to the floor, and the bar is near your knees.

• Squeeze your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows, pulling the bar up until it contacts your lower abdomen.

• Reverse the move and repeat.

6. Chin-up

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Iso Speed Hammer

Benefits: This classic move is great to way to widen and shape your lats, creating that wide V-shape in your upper back.

• Take an underhand grip on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Lower yourself until your arms straight, and repeat.

• Too tough? Use a chin-up assist band to make it easier.

7. Core crunch chin-up

Appears in: P90X2 – Chest, Back, and Balance

Benefits: After you’ve master the classic chin-up, try this variation to strengthen and shape your lats, while also challenging your abs and hip flexors.

• Take an underhand grip on a pull-up bar with about 12 inches between your hands.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight, simultaneously pulling your knees up to the bar.

• Lower your knees, straighten your arms, and repeat.

• Too tough? Use a chin-up assist band to make it easier.

8. Track star pull-up

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Deluxe Resistance

Benefits: This variation of a standard pull-up widens and shapes the lats, creating a V-taper in your back, while also challenging your abs and obliques.

• Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Lower yourself until your arms straight.

• Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right knee as high as possible as you twist your hips to the left.

• Repeat with your left leg. That’s one rep.

• Too tough? Use a pull-up assist band to make it easier.

9. Close-grip oblique twist

Appears in: INSANITY: THE ASYLUM Volume 2 – Back & 6 Pack

Benefits: This move widens and shapes the lats and it adds an isometric challenge for the upper back and a challenge to obliques and core.

• Take an overhand on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Holding the top position of the pullup, lift your knees toward your chest as high as possible.

• Keeping your knees drawn up and squeezed together, contract the obliques on your right side, as if trying to touch the outside of your right hip to your right elbow.

• Repeat on your left side.

• Lower your knees, straighten your arms, return to the starting position, and repeat.

10. Lunge twist pull

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Resistance 2 (as “Punch Pull”)

Benefits: This move works your lats and upper traps in conjunction with your lateral and rear deltoids. The lunge movement also fires up the muscles in your lower body.

• Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a medium-weight dumbbell in your right hand at shoulder height.

• Pivot to the left on the balls of your feet, bend both knees into a lunge, and punch toward your left foot on the floor with your right hand.

• As you return to the standing position, place your left hand on the dumbbell and forcefully drive your right elbow backward, pivoting and rotating your torso to the right.

• Repeat on your left side, and do equal reps on both sides.

11. Superman lat pull

Appears in: THE 20s – Megan: Pyreshape

Benefits: Using a resistance band, this move strengthens your entire back, from your waistline to the back of your neck.

• Holding a light resistance band, lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead, chest and arms lifted off the floor, and palms facing down. This is your starting position.

• Keeping both arms straight, trace a half-circle with your right arm, extending it directly out to the side and down toward your right thigh. Your left arm should remain straight overhead.

• Reverse the move, slowly returning to the starting position.

• Repeat with your left arm, and do equal reps on both sides.

How do you build a better back?

To ensure that you get the most out of your back workouts, it’s essential to consider not just what you do in the gym, but what you do outside of it as well. That includes stress management, sleep, stretching, and diet. When you’re doing challenging back workouts (or any strength workouts), you need to keep an eye on your protein and calorie intake, making sure you eat enough to help your muscles grow and repair. For more information on pre- and post-workout supplements, the Beachbody Performance line is a great place to start.

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