Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Training vs Working Out

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post to diminish one or the other. Quite the contrary.

But knowing your intent at the gym can improve your results exponentially.

-Working out-

If life has been hectic or stressful and/or your time is limited, you just need to workout. If this is the case, find a modality you enjoy but will still provide you with what you need (Strength, plyos, conditioning). You can work in some variety if you like, but generally speaking you should leave each workout feeling better than when you started and it should be fun. 

Or maybe you’re an athlete who is in-season, in which case you should still be getting in your workouts but they can be extremely efficient and simple. 

Either way, continuing to get in the gym is still a big win. The habit alone will benefit you when the time comes to ramp up your training, and your body will respond far better to a more advanced program down the road. 

-Training-

If you are working on a program more specific to an event, sport, weight loss, muscle gain, etc – You should consider yourself training. This requires more intent. 

You need to understand the intent of your training – What are your goals? Are your workouts specifically geared to improve those goals? Or do your workouts incorporate a little too much of everything? Training should be more focused.

One mistake we see a lot is people who would consider themselves “training” doing the same routine for far too long. If you’ve been doing the same routine for a long time but would consider yourself training, we’d recommend taking a deeper look into where your deficits are and how you can adjust to improve those. Remember, plateau’s are when we adapt too well to our current stimulus, you may need to change up the stimulus.

Or the effort. If you are in training, your effort level is extremely important. That doesn’t mean full-send or nothing, it could mean learning pace discipline, or lowering the weight to improve your movement quality.

Questions about how to improve either? Hit us up! Are you in training or enjoying your workouts these days?

RevoMT Late Cancellation & No-Show Policy

Here at RevoMT we are invested in your results and want you and all of our members to have the best experience possible. In an effort to hold our members accountable and committed to your goals, we have had to implement a late-cancel and no-show policy to ensure that we can accommodate everyone looking to take our classes.

Booking

  • All reservations must be made through our scheduling app, Zen Planner Member. If you are having issues with your Zen Planner account, please contact memberships@revomt.com.
  • You may schedule your class appointments up to 8 hours in advance, after which the schedule will be locked.
    • If you’re looking to get into a class with open availability within the 8 hour window, please contact the gym phone @ (406) 219-6283 and a staff member can manually enter you for class.
    • You may also email memberships@revomt.com.
  • If a class does indicate that the roster is full, please do not show up without a reservation as we cannot guarantee a slot.
  • For the time being, you must make you reservation and/or cancel your reservation via the app prior to the 8 hour window.
    • We must enforce this rule due to the early morning classes being booked out and consistent no-shows.
  • RevoMT must have a valid credit card, phone number, and email on file for your Zen Planner account to work.
    • All waivers and contracts must be signed prior to signing up for classes.

Waitlist

  • If classes are full you may add your name to the waitlist. Of course, if someone cancels their reservation within the 8 hour window, you will then be added to the class.
  • If you are added to a class reservation off of the waitlist, you will receive an email notification requesting that you confirm your appointment within 45 minutes.
  • Note: If you choose to add your name to the waitlist, please treat this like an appointment until it is clear that you did not get in. If your name is added to the class list off of the waitlist, it is not Revo’s responsibility if you no-show for your reservation.

Cancellations

We get it, life happens. Maybe the kids are sick or you got stuck with an irregular meeting on your schedule and you have to miss your workout. Total bummer and we get it – Here’s how to cancel.

  • You must cancel your appointment 8 hours in advance if you are using the the Zen Planner App.
    • Text messages to coaches, emails, or direct messages via social media will not be considered official cancellations. We cannot promise these communication modalities will be seen on time.
    • HOWEVER – If something comes up and you must cancel or switch you appointment, you can simply text or call the gym phone @ (406) 219-6283 and a staff member on duty will gladly remove your appointment. This policy is strictly for accountability & ensuring all members can attend the times they’d prefer.
    • It is smoother for you to simply text the gym phone to cancel your appointment rather than try to do it over the app. If you cancel within the 8 hour window, your session for that day is burned and the system may not allow you to book another one later in the week.
  • If your class reservation is canceled within the 8 hour window your account will be subject to a late/no-show fee.
    • If your cancellation is due to an emergency, of course we get it. Please contact us at memberships@revomt.com and we can refund you the fee and get you all sorted out.
    • If you are participating in our classes with a punch card, you will lose one of your punches with a no-show.
    • If you are a semi-private member or a RevoFit member, you may lose one of your class attendances for that week. You may contact the gym and see if you can attend at another time but it must be done manually by our staff.

If you are experiencing any issues with your Zen Planner Scheduling App or your RevoMT Membership, please contact us immediately so we can help you get more comfortable with the process. Our policies aren’t meant to be a further nuisance, they are designed to hold our members accountable and ensure everyone has an opportunity to schedule their desired class times. 

Thank you for understanding and, as always, happy workouts and we look forward to seeing you at the facility!

Appropriate Intensity and Volume in the Gym

Why “More” Isn’t Always “Better”

Chances are that, if you’re reading this, you probably do not struggle with showing up for the gym. You do the damn work. You train often, and you train hard.

You have gym discipline.

At least, you have half of it.

You “do the hard stuff, even when you don’t feel like it… especially when you don’t feel like it”.

But, chances are that, if you’re reading this, you likely struggle with the other half of gym discipline: “sticking to the program, and not overdoing it when you feel good”.

While the vast majority of folks struggle with the first half of discipline (showing up consistently), many otherwise mature athletes struggle with the latter half: 

Stick to the program

Follow the prescribed volume and intensity.

Prioritize recovery, rest, and make sure to live your life outside of the gym.

Stay the hell home on your (super necessary) rest day!

Listen: we get it. It’s so tempting to do more on days that we feel motivated and fired up. It’s so tempting to do just a couple more sets, a couple more exercises, or to push just a little harder than your program has prescribed for the day. It can be so tempting when you leave the gym feeling good to go home and lace up the running shoes for Workout #2. 

These are the exact moments where gym discipline is absolutely paramount.

You might be thinking to yourself, “What’s the harm in doing a little extra? Isn’t that the whole point? That’s how the best of the best differentiate themselves from the rest: doing more.”

And you’d be right. Kind of. Let’s talk about it.

What Separates The Best From The Rest

Whether it was through coaches past or sports media, we’ve all heard how all the Kobe Bryant’s of the world got so damn good. They show up early, and they stay late. They work harder and longer than any of their competitors. They grind. Following their examples, it would make some sense to assume that – “the more work that I work, and the harder I work, the better results I’ll get. The more I put into it, the more I get out of it.” 

But this can be a misguided and criminally misunderstood concept, especially amongst strength and endurance athletes. You see, Kobe Bryant wasn’t working himself to the bone, day-in, day-out. He just practiced more than anyone else on the planet. He wasn’t destroying his body in the gym, or doing countless suicide sprints. He was shooting free throws and practicing flawless layups. Over, and over, and over. He wasn’t working out. He was practicing. That’s what made a world of difference between him and the rest of the NBA. We refer to that kind of work as skillwork. In sport, skillwork is wildly important but it likely isn’t significantly impacting an athletes body or ability to recover.

Work in the gym has a different intent – Apply enough stress to elicit adaptation. For active folks like us, that requires harder work than your average gym goer. That also means recovery discipline.

Additionally, the highest-paid athletes in the world invest millions of dollars into recovery: nutrition, massage, hot and cold therapy, and no doubt some pharmaceutical assistance.

So if you truly want to improve skills and techniques, you need to practice, not beat your body to a pulp. You need to lean more into recovery inside and outside of the gym, and you need to apply appropriate intensities.

Intensity in the Gym

Lifting intensity can be simply defined as “one’s proximity to muscular failure during a given exercise”. A general rule of thumb that I personally like to assign is “two in the tank”. For example, if I were to do an exercise for 10 repetitions, I would select a weight that, gun to my head, I could only do for 12 repetitions. 

Generally, two reps shy of failure for most of your strength/hypertrophy is perfectly sufficient to elicit most if not all of the positive adaptations we’re looking for, and any advantages that might come with training to true failure (“I couldn’t do another rep to save my life”) come with a much higher recovery cost. Strength gains can absolutely be made with intensities much lower than 2 Reps In Reserve (RIR), and for newer lifters, hypertrophy will come much easier as well.

Volume in the Gym

Volume, put simply, is “the amount of work one is doing within a training period”. It’s the number of sets times reps within a given training day, week, month, etc.

In my own training and coaching experience, and based on the scientific literature I’ve consumed, 10-20 sets per muscle group per week is ideal for most lifters. 

Some more advanced trainees may benefit from slightly higher weekly volume, but the odds that you, the reader, fall into this category is, frankly, slim. That is how steroids and hormones work: They don’t inherently make you huge, they help you rush the recovery process and train hard again the next day.

So if you find yourself tempted to do “just a couple extra sets” for a particular muscle group that you want to grow, remember this: exceeding your ideal training volume might not only yield diminishing returns, but may actually inhibit and prevent the growth and progress for that particular muscle.

In short, stick to the goddamn program, and be patient.

Why Stretching Your Hamstrings May Be Reinforcing Pain Instead of Helping It

This past weekend was the 15th annual Missoula Marathon – a race that has earned the title of one of the top marathons in the country. I want to extend a huge congratulations to all our friends and family in our community who participated in and finished the full or half marathon. It’s always amazing to see everyone’s hard work pay off.

If you participated and found yourself with lower back, hip, knee, or even ankle pain, it might be linked to over-stretching your hamstrings!

One mistake we see very frequently with athletes is overstretching their hamstrings. What if I told you that your hamstrings are tight because of your posture? The ticket to making them feel and function better is to actually “activate” them and reorient your hips so that your hamstrings can actually get some slack.

You should probably stop stretching your hamstrings.

Hamstrings play an integral role in movement mechanics, far more than just helping bend your knees. They attach in the back of your pelvis and play an important role in extending your hip, helping you drive your thigh bone back to propel yourself forward (think walking/sprinting). They also assist in rotating the leg inwards and outwards.

Potentially most importantly, your hamstrings serve as stabilizers for your hips. When they stop doing their job effectively (which can be due to a number of factors), your pelvis will dip forward at the top and lengthen your hamstrings further making them feel tight. This can increase flexion and curvature of your spine, which can cause compression and pain in your lower back region. This is called Pelvic Anterior Tilt. If you’ve been to a physical therapist about your lower back or even lower extremities, odds are you’ve already been exposed to this concept.

Often as a result of an extended spine position, your ribs will lift forward, putting your diaphragm in a poor position for breathing. This can lead to pain or postural issues in your shoulders, upper back, neck and even jaw. Believe it or not, stretching your hamstrings could be increasing your risk of headaches!

This photo helps demonstrate the importance of keeping a better balance of lengthening and shortening your muscles to help hold your skeleton in a more advantageous position.

The ticket to making them feel and function better is to actually “activate” them and reorient your hips so that your hamstrings can actually get some slack.

You should probably stop stretching your hamstrings.

Hamstrings play an integral role in movement mechanics, far more than just helping bend your knees. They attach in the back of your pelvis and play an important role in extending your hip, helping you drive your thigh bone back to propel yourself forward (think walking/sprinting). They also assist in rotating the leg inwards and outwards.

Potentially most importantly, your hamstrings serve as stabilizers for your hips. When they stop doing their job effectively (which can be due to a number of factors), your pelvis will dip forward at the top and lengthen your hamstrings further making them feel tight. This can increase flexion and curvature of your spine, which can cause compression and pain in your lower back region. This is called Pelvic Anterior Tilt. If you’ve been to a physical therapist about your lower back or even lower extremities, odds are you’ve already been exposed to this concept.

Often as a result of an extended spine position, your ribs will lift forward, putting your diaphragm in a poor position for breathing. This can lead to pain or postural issues in your shoulders, upper back, neck and even jaw. Believe it or not, stretching your hamstrings could be increasing your risk of headaches!

This photo helps demonstrate the importance of keeping a better balance of lengthening and shortening your muscles to help hold your skeleton in a more advantageous position. 

As you can see, it makes sense that when the hamstring is lengthened it can feel tight, often leading athletes intuitively to stretch them more. All we’re doing during that stretch cycle is convincing your brain that it’s okay for that hamstring to lengthen even further, diminishing the muscle’s ability to do its job and help stabilize the pelvis.

If your hamstrings do feel really tight, it’s likely your quads and hip flexors are the muscles that are in a shortened position and probably need some lengthening. This makes sense given how much most people sit each day. 

Steps You Can Take

Stretching can be an effective short term fix, particularly for your quads and hip flexors. But there are studies that suggest we’re not very capable of making long term changes to the physical length of our muscle tissue through passive stretching.

Instead, here are three different ways to address your hamstrings in your workouts to get to work on those pesky tight hamstring and any surrounding aches and pains.

Step 1: Improve Your Positioning

Your posture plays a huge role in muscle function and your ability to control your skeleton in an optimal way. More specifically, how you breathe can dramatically affect your posture and muscular function. This breathing exercise can help you adjust your hip position in relation to your ribs, improving your posture driven by your diaphragm and reestablishing some very important core muscles.

This is an exercise we learned from The Postural Restoration Institute called 90-90 breathing and it can help improve that breathing function and pelvis positioning. You’ll notice in this exercise, we’re actually trying to give your hamstrings some engagement so that your body can use them to pull your hips back into a better position. This works in conjunction with some deep core muscles and your diaphragm to move your pelvis back into a more neutral position, which should in turn give you both better hamstring engagement and provide them with more slack so that they don’t feel as tight.

Check out this video on how to perform 90-90 Breathing to start repositioning your hips and ribs.

You can test the efficacy of this exercise yourself. Try lying flat on your back and lifting one leg at a time, keeping it straight and raising it towards the ceiling until your hamstrings stop your progress. If they stop before you reach 90 degrees, perform this exercise twice for 8-10 breaths at a time. Then retest. 

If your leg goes past 90 degrees, that would suggest they’re too loose and you probably need some strengthening to improve your hamstring function. We’ll address that in step 2.

Step 2: Resistance Training

In my opinion, strength training most muscle tissues through a full range of motion with proper form and appropriate load is a far better option for restoring mobility and function than stretching.

For the hamstrings, you’ll want to address their different functions in different ways so that you can improve their function and mitigate injury risk. Improving hamstring function through proper compound lifts is probably most important. This means making sure that you are performing variations of squats and deadlifts consistently in your strength programs. I recommend keeping both bilateral (two feet) and unilateral (single leg) variations in your workouts consistently over the course of the week. 

Locking in your form and improving your squats and deadlifts should be your first priority in the strength realm before adding in a variety of accessory lifts because your brain needs to learn how to integrate your larger muscle groups in the movement patterns so they can all work together more efficiently.

Accessory work to address other hamstring functions individually is also important, but more so for the health and integrity of the tissue. As you add in accessory work, think about separating knee flexion and hip extension and addressing each of those individually. 

Knee flexion is pretty simple because it’s still a single joint movement, so you should be able to cycle through different versions of leg curls and get an appropriate response. We perform them here at Revo with swiss balls, floor sliders, bands, and ankle attachments to weights. If you’re in a larger gym, leg curl machines can be a great option. 

For hip extension exercises, your form will be really important to ensure you’re not using parts of your lower back, calves, or even your quads/hip flexors as a compensation for poor positioning. Good examples of exercises for hip extension can be different variations of bridges, reverse lunges, Romanian deadlifts, kickbacks, and hip lifts. We’re very big advocates for hip lifts because you can still add a lot of load to the lift (your hamstrings are STRONG!) while keeping your injury risk low.

For both knee flexion and hip extension, there is one very important form note to make. You have to make sure to keep your ribcage stacked over your hips. What I mean by this is make sure you do not extend your lower back (excessive arch) resulting in your ribs sticking out. Picture lumbar support pads in cars or office chairs. Those are NOT HELPING. When you are in that position, your nervous system will struggle to find and use your hamstrings. You must keep your ribs down and your abs engaged or else you will continue to struggle to find your hamstrings and may reinforce movement patterns that can lead to lower back pain.

Which is just another reason why making sure you work those obliques and transverse abdominal muscles is so important. They help keep your ribs in place which should lead to better hip position – thus better hamstring engagement. So keep up with those side planks and bear crawls!

Step 3: Sprint!

The final step to not only great hamstring function but incredible overall fitness markers: go out and sprint! Sprinting should be considered a basic human function but once most people graduate from youth sports it is disregarded.

Hamstrings play a huge role in sprinting and keeping sprints in your programming will not only help restore better hip extension and stride efficiency for runners, but it will certainly help restore hamstrings of steel.

If you haven’t sprinted in awhile, you will need to work back up to it. So the first step is to add plyometrics to your routine. Then, I recommend adding in short bursts of sprints up a moderate incline hill. This can be easier on your knees, just make sure to walk back down. As you build resilience and work capacity, you can make your intervals longer and transition to a track for true sprint workouts.

Putting It Together

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to properly restore your hamstring function on your own. A second set of eyes can be really helpful because often we’re competing with compensatory muscles firing and it can be very difficult to discern those yourself. And if you’re looking to build up to sprinting, there’s appropriate steps you’ll want to take before getting to those. 

We can help! Reach out today and whether you’re in Missoula or finding us through other means we can help get you back on track and moving better than ever in AND out of the gym.

The Right Kinds of Goals Guarantee Your Success

New Year’s resolutions fail 80% of the time, with the majority of resolutions dropped by the end of February. The data regarding crash dieting is even more discouraging. Some studies suggest that up to 95% of people who lose a fast ~20 pounds gain the weight back within a year.

The majority of people do not succeed at achieving their goals or resolutions. But it is not that people are lazy or uncommitted. We all have things we want to work on; self improvement or health oriented changes we’d like to make. The biggest mistake we see people make with goal-setting is a lack of actionable steps. Without concise actionable steps to take, commitment to the goal is almost impossible outside of just stressing about it. 

Step one to setting a goal or resolution that you can achieve is to ask yourself this question: Am I truly ready, willing, and able to make this change now?

Does achieving this goal excite you? Are you dying to get going? Act on that motivation now. Motivation can be a fleeting feeling. Taking action immediately can start a positive feedback loop that boosts your chances of success.

Outcomes, Process, and Behaviors

We set goals because we desire a specific outcome. But participation does not guarantee accomplishment. Make sure you’re setting goals that are trackable and actionable.

We like a tiered approach with goals, specifically outlining a desired outcome and then outlining smaller, process oriented goals that aid in yielding success. We also try to recognize certain behaviors that may be limiting our ability to achieve our larger goals and correct those first.

An Outcome Goal is usually the finish line. It is any goal that has the ultimate desired outcome as the target. People almost always start with outcome goals, but struggle to turn these to action steps they can stick to. Yet, there’s one big problem with outcome goals: Often we can’t control the outcome.

For example:

“My goal is to get below X bodyfat in 2020.”

Or

“I want to deadlift 3x my bodyweight.”

The problem is sometimes real life happens. There are many factors out of your control. Your job could become more demanding. Or maybe you get sick and have to take time away from activities. You could get hurt or find out you have a thyroid disorder.

Both of the example goals also lack any call to action. They lack trackable metrics that you could look at daily and say “I took another step toward my goal.”

Once you have your desired outcome, shift your focus to things you can control: Behaviors

For example:

“I’m going to eat to 80% full.”

Or

“I’ll make appointments for at least three workouts a week.”

There’s nothing wrong with desired outcomes. In fact, they’re perfect starting points. But we also want to pick goals that give us the best chance at positive change. You may not be able to guarantee an outcome, but you can control what you do.

Once we understand what it is we want, we can work backwards to strategize behavioral and process oriented goals to give you the power to make change.

Behavioral goals center around a behavior we can focus on and improve. They will help you create new habits that set you up for long term success and ultimately achieve larger goals. These are often some of the best goals to start with. Some easy examples may involve using a daily planner, improving workout consistency, sleep ritual and habits, or even improving a relationship by sticking to a weekly date night or no-screens night (Put down your damn phone!). 

Here’s some tips to help fine-tune your process goals:

  • Be specific – Go to bed earlier is vague and doesn’t give you a specific task to adhere to. Instead, choose something that will help going to bed earlier. No electronics after 8 pm or brushing my teeth by 9:30 pm is not only a specific goal, but helps build out your sleep ritual.
  • Stick with it – Don’t add more until you feel you have close to a 100% success rate. Remember, DO NOT QUIT just because you miss a day here or there. Everyday is a new slate. All or nothing mindsets kill goals/resolutions more than almost any other variable.
  • Think it through – Be detail oriented. 

“I will get better at meal prepping” actually means “I will change how I grocery shop, learn to use a slow/pressure cooker, learn new recipes, eat more protein and plan my meals for a week.”

That can be daunting. Instead, scale things back and focus on one thing at a time with the intention of improving the big picture.

Lastly, process goals help us work backwards from the intended outcome. Move on to process goals once you’re confident that your behaviors aren’t roadblocks. Process goals are generally smaller tasks to accomplish that help you achieve your larger outcome goals.

For example, maybe you want to get jacked or super lean – Your workout plan and consistency would both be important parts of the process. Your process goal might be to not miss a workout or to schedule every workout for the week or month.

On a related note, our environment shapes us as much as we shape our environment. Sometimes part of the process is reshaping our environment to set us up for success. Clean out your fridge, surround yourself with goal-oriented people, etc. 

Most importantly, the task is done or it isn’t. There’s no gray area.

Here’s some tips for picking valuable process goals:

  • Make goals trackable – There must be clear and trackable elements to your process goals so you can gauge your success. If a goal is too vague, your results will suffer. You must be able to say “I did or did not do X today.”
  • “Trim the fat” – Don’t dance around the issues, be honest with yourself. Pick something that will directly lead to accomplishing the big picture goal. Scaling back should not be procrastinating. Go after what you want!
  • The Mental Side – Mindset goals work too, and you can turn them into process goals by adding an action. Some people hate eating in the morning but need to get more nutrients daily. Hating breakfast is a story that you can change. Work to reframe your mindset regarding breakfast by finding options you like and look forward to. Creating a positive correlation is a VERY strong tool.
  • Add don’t subtract – This is related to nutrition, but we like the idea of adding instead of subtracting. If I were to say “No more ice cream” you’ll spend too much time thinking about the ice cream you can’t have. Instead, add a goal like “I’ll get all the recommended vegetable servings everyday” and see if you even want the ice cream anymore. You may surprise yourself with the results.

We’re Here to Help

It’s important to understand we’re not trying to diminish the outcomes you desire. We’re trying to help you take action and work towards your goals. I’ve seen a lot of people interpret this information as outcome goals are bad or stupid and that’s not true. We all have aspirations and goals, and fortune favors the bold. Be bold and take action. Feeling lost or not sure where to start? That’s what we’re here for. We’re not here to hand you the outcome, you still have to earn it. But we can help! Hit us up today and let’s get the ball rolling.

Stress & Recovery – There’s more to it than you think

Missoulians are an active bunch. We balance outdoor activities, busy jobs, and family life. Even if you only checked off a few of those criteria, it’s safe to say if you live here you like to stay on the move and feel your best doing so. 

Whether you’re looking to improve at trail running, backcountry skiing, hunting or just stay a step ahead of the kids, we all know there are steps we can take to enhance performance. 

Improving at anything requires the right dose of stress. Exercise, diet, and recovery methods are all stimuli we can apply to elicit a change or adaptation. For us to achieve the adaptation we’re hoping for, managing positive and negative stress is the most important part of the process. More on positive and negative stress in a moment.

Even if you don’t spend a lot of time on the trail or at the gym, we can agree that stress management is the key to a happy and fulfilling lifestyle. We would all like to improve every day. That requires the right balance of stress. But too much bad stress can really pile up if it goes unmanaged.

Why Stress Matters

Our daily lives are full of both positive and negative stressors. Finances, exercising, a busy week at work, juggling multiple schedules at home can all add up. Our body doesn’t know the difference between an argument with a loved one and bad news from a boss. The hormonal responses are generally the same. And they’re cumulative. 

Imagine every stress or stimuli you encounter is a trip to the bank. Positive stressors or stimuli are a withdrawal; we need positive stressors in our lives to improve. If we never did anything hard, we’d never get better at anything. 

Too many withdrawals, however, can lead to a deficit, and no one likes being in debt. Similarly, too much stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Just a few of the things that happen to our bodies when we remain stressed for too long include: 

  • Poor blood sugar management and insulin resistance.
  • Depression and sleep disruption.
  • Decreased thyroid hormone output and reduced metabolism.
  • Altered sex hormone activity.
  • Amino acid loss from muscles.

What does this mean for you?

Basically, it means that you could theoretically be doing all kinds of things right. You could be exercising hard and eating relatively well and still not get the results you’re hoping for. Being stressed out could be making you gain unwanted body fat and lose sleep. Stress could also be making you lose muscle and unable to control your mood.

Turn it around

To really learn to destress, it helps to understand exactly what’s happening. When our lives require heightened senses or performance, we automatically switch to a sympathetic state. This is our fight or flight mode. Maybe you’re giving a a big presentation at work, competing in a race, or had a relatively intense workout. Those are positive good stressors – the things in life that make us better than we were before. 

But to balance the stress response, positive or negative, we need to be able to get parasympathetic. The parasympathetic state is our rest and digest mode. There’s a lot of reading out there on the autonomic system and sympathetic/parasympathetic mode, but the main idea is we need a healthy balance of both and our ability to get parasympathetic allows our body and hormones to rest and reset.

Healthy nutrition and getting enough sleep (almost everybody needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night) are a good start, but if you’re working and playing hard you need to take extra steps to allow your body and mind to keep up and excel. Most studies agree that you need a minimum of 30 minutes a day of parasympathetic activity to really help balance your stress responses. 

Two of the best options are flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy ( or REST) and sauna sessions. 

Studies suggest that float REST can be an extremely beneficial tool in addition to, or even in place of, many other stress management tools or activities. Floating allows our muscles to relax, some of which we don’t even realize are always at work. Once our body is able to fully relax, hormonal signals that are only achieved when we are fully parasympathetic take place. Studies have shown that sensory deprivation can accelerate this process and is extremely effective in aiding rest and recovery. 

Saunas have been a staple in many cultures for hundreds of years as a stress relief tool, but recently infrared saunas have been studied to aid in treating ailments such as chronic arthritis, and autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Early studies are very positive and are now looking into long term benefits. 

Either option is a fantastic choice to help you relax and reset. Other options include long walks outdoors, meditation, tea, and finding some nice relaxing company and downtime. Unfortunately, screen time doesn’t count. Our tech acts as a stimulant for our system, so that discounts the TV and phone time. 

If performance is important to you in any aspect of life, you need to put in the effort to refuel and be ready for each day. You can only improve your ceiling if your foundation is solid. At least 30 minutes a day to help get parasympathetic can help you improve your overall quality of life. 

Need to help getting parasympathetic? Check out Enlyten Lab for the highest quality float and sauna experience. www.enlytenlab.com
Looking for advice or guidance in the fitness and/or nutrition realm? Come see us at RevoMT Performance Center. We’re here to help you achieve your goals in and outside of the gym.

Sleep 101: Is Sleep Your Limiting Factor?

Rest and recovery are integral pieces to the puzzle that puts together our wellness. Whether our goals are performance, weight loss, muscle gain, or anything else, sleep needs to be a top priority.

Did you know that sleep helps regulate and control our metabolism? 

  • Lack of sleep messes up our hormonal regulation of hunger: Less sleep can cause a rise in our hunger hormone (Ghrelin) and a dip in our satiety hormone (Leptin).
  • Lack of sleep causes a drastic rise in our stress hormone (Cortisol). 
  • Studies also suggest that   if you are losing weight but not sleeping enough, at least half of that weight is lean mass tissue (mostly muscle) instead of fat. Although the number on the scale might be going down, you’re actually hurting fat loss goals in the long term because lean mass helps consume fat and keep it off.

4 Signs Your Sleep Habits Aren’t Working For You

  1. You’re unhappy – While we sleep, we produce fresh neurotransmitters and regulate hormone production. Interference with this causes impaired emotion regulation, heightened stress, low mood, and possible increase in depression.
  2. You’re getting sick a lot – When you don’t sleep enough, T-cell production goes down and inflammation goes up, increasing our vulnerability to viruses and bacteria as well as increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation related illnesses.
  3. You’re struggling with your weight – Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat as it can disrupt appetite regulation and cause you to feel hungrier. Worse, excess body fat can reduce sleep quality.
  4. Your workouts feel too hard – Sleep is an opportunity to refresh neurotransmitter levels and remove energy draining metabolites. Lack of sleep drains strength, energy, and endurance capacity and creates a reduced desire to move/exercise.
  5. Foggy Head – A lot of us don’t even realize we’re not firing on all cylinders mentally, but a lack of sleep has severe repercussions to our productivity, creativity, and overall alertness. What we experience and learn during the day is cemented to memory and recall ability while we’re in a deep sleep. This rings true for motor learning (Movement) as much as other types of learning or memory retention.

Here’s some tips to improve your sleep!

  1. Exercise uses up stored energy but helps healthy hormone production to regulate metabolic system and deeper sleep states.
  2. Eat a medium sized dinner or small snack a few hours before bed – Make sure this meal contains healthy amounts of protein, fat, and carbs to stay satiated through the night. Otherwise you may wake up hungry and not even realize it. Furthermore, carbs help release serotonin which can improve sleep quality.
  3. Limit fluid before bed – Get hydrated during the day, and wind it down as the evening goes on. Nobody likes going to the bathroom multiple times a night in the cold!
  4. Go the *%#& to bed! – According to multiple sleep experts, every hour of sleep before midnight can count as much as 2x more than every hour after.
  5. Turn off electronics 60 minutes before bed – The light put out by electronics can mess with our natural sleep process and the production of melatonin.

Final Thoughts 

Unless you have an infant in the house, a good night’s sleep is in your control! No excuses.

We hear a lot of reasons (Excuses) why people aren’t getting enough sleep, and outside of having an infant in the house, most of them can be addressed. A good night’s sleep is usually completely within your control. It requires you to take responsibility for your habits, circadian rhythm, and environment. Have more questions? Reach out to us here at RevoMT to learn more about sleep habits and rituals, nutrition, and a healthy active lifestyle!