This blog I’m writing is all about improving your path to health and performance excellence.
Have you thought to yourself…”I really want to improve my health”? Not just for the sake of performance, but to improve your quality of life. Imagine sleeping better, recovering better, being in a better mood, and having energy levels off the chart.
That’s what I have sought out after the past decade and today I’ll share with you 10 habits of mine that I do on a weekly basis to optimize my health, performance, and recovery. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, these habits are the keys to unlocking your full potential.
- Embracing the cold: boosting your metabolism and recovery
- Training with friends & having accountability
- Harnessing morning sunlight for energy
- Performance benefits of heat exposure
- Elevate endurance and fat burn
- Daily stretching for peak performance
- The power of breathe and mediation
- Your performance secret weapon
- Why you should consider delaying your caffeine in the mornings
- The no-alcohol approach
Want to take full ownership of your health? Join our program now for the support and guidance you need to optimize your performance and transform your life!
Cold exposure isn’t just a gimmick.
Embracing the Cold: Boosting Your Metabolism & Recovery | Cold Exposure
Cold exposure is something we start our morning with three days a week and it’s not just because it’s popular. Cold immersion is a powerful tool for optimizing your health and performance.
We get 11 minutes a week (3 to 4 minutes) each session first thing in the morning and the benefits are off the charts:
- Increase energy and focus
- Build resilience and grit
- Enhancing your mood
Increasing energy and focus
Deliberate cold exposure causes a huge increase in epinephrine (adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (non adrenaline) in both the brain and the body. There are a few things that happen:
- Your liver panics and it floods the bloodstream with cold shock proteins. These proteins will search the body for free radical oxidation and quadruple the rate of protein synthesis. Woah.
- You have a major peripheral vasospasm. It drives oxygen into the core and forces oxygen to the brain
Those neurochemicals make you feel alert and ready to go! This is because all of the blood rushes to your core. The cold causes the levels to stay elevated for awhile after the exposure which increases your energy and focus.
“How cold does it need to be?”Everyone
Some people are more cold adapted than others. So (-40°) might be tolerable for you but (-60°) might be all that I can manage. The temperature that you won’t is the one that makes you ask yourself…
…why the heck am I doing this?! This SUCKS!
Well, when you start asking yourself those questions, that’s essentially when dopamine is released. And dopamine is powerful for:
- elevating your mood
- enhancing focus and attention
- goal directed behavior
So that’s what you are going for. To be miserable for a few minutes :P.
However, the colder the temperature studies show the less time you have to spend being emerged (full body and up to your neck)*
*I personally have to leave my toes and hands out because it hurts my feet and hands too much. But every minute I splash water on my head and also put my hands and feet back into the water for about 10 seconds.
White Fat To Brown Fat: Improving Metabolism
When your body is cold your body has to work harder to increase body temperature, which in turn burns more calories.
But there is something greater that actually happens when you begin to shiver.
White fat (energy storage) is the fat the people don’t want on their body because some of us have a little more than we want.
When you shiver (because you are so cold) is a part of the process of white fat being broken down into brown fat.
Brown fat can be turned into mitochondria aka can be used as “fuel” during your workout.
You see, in order to lose fat 2 things have to happen.
- You have to get the fat broken down to where you can actually use it (white fat to brown fat)
- You use THAT fat as energy in your workouts
Optimizing Recovery & Reducing Inflammation
Cold exposure is great for your recovery. However when you decide to decide to take a dip matters.
If your goal is strength, hypertrophy and physical adaptation taking an ice bath (cold immersion) after your workout can actually short cycle your growth.
It’s better wait 6-8 hours after your training session if your goals are strength, power, and improved endurance.
In example of when it would be okay to take and ice bath right after a training session is in a competition or an event where you don’t care about “gaining” but rather recovering as fast as possible.
If you want a protocol to follow after your workout you could soak in a hot epsom salt bath or hot shower and work on optimizing your post workout nutrition.
Training With Friends & Accountability
This photo is taken from my garage. Where I train and I work out with these group of men each day.
For those of you that don’t know, I am a sports performance coach in Nashville and after my workout in the morning with the guys I go into town and the train athletes, executives, and people who just want to improve their health and wellness.
But starting my morning off with these men has been the greatest thing for me. For years, and by years I mean a decade as a trainer I worked out alone.
My day looked like:
- 6 am – 1 pm work with clients
- 1 pm – 3/4 pm lunch and workout
- 4pm – 7/8/9 pm more clients
I did this for a decade. Which as you can see I had little time to myself or any life balance. When I met Katie, is when my dream of having a family and creating an online community actually began coming to life. Check out the full story of how K Squared Fitness and this online platform was born here.
It’s a fun read actually, you’ll learn quickly how I actually got fired from my first training job!
Three days a week the guys come over to the garage, we follow K2 Competitor and we get after it.
For years I thought I was pushing myself, and I was. But there are are a few ways you can get more out of your workouts:
- Train with a small group of like minded athletes.
- Follow a program that has a good sense of community and the community and coaches can help support you.
We’ve talked about this often, but the best program is going to be the one you do with high compliance.
Join our thriving community to surround yourself with like minded-individuals, get the guidance and expert coaching coaching you need. it’s time to elevate your health and performance — take the first step and join us now!
Rise & Shine: Harnessing Sunlight For Energy
Morning sunlight, without glasses, can set the tone for an energetic day. We’ll delve into the science behind this practice and guide you on how to incorporate into your daily routine. Get ready to embrace the suns natural power.
Every morning I intentionally get direct sunlight exposure and get sunlight in my eyes. It’s essential for both mental and physical health. According to Dr. Andrew Huberman it’s one of the most important things we should do to promote metabolic well being, promote a positive function of your hormone system and getting your mental health on the right track.
He even refers to it as non negotiable 365 days out of the year.
“Getting 5-10 minutes every morning upon waking does two things. It triggers the time released cortisol, a healthy level cortisol into your system, which acts as a wake up signal and will promote wakefulness and the ability to focus through the day. It also starts a timer for the onset of melatonin.”
That in itself will begin to help you regulate your sleep.
Use the this time to:
- have breakfast
Read all the reasons why you should get sunlight here on Dr. Hubermans article.
Get 5-10 minutes of direct sunlight exposure every day without sunglasses to regulate cortisol and sleep better by setting your bodies circadian clock.
Heat Your Way To Excellence: Performance Benefits Of Heat Exposure
Heat exposure might sound intense, but it offers remarkable benefits for your cardiovascular health and muscle relaxation. We’ll talk about how just five, 20 minute sessions can make a big difference.
We talked about cold immersion, let’s discuss the benefits of heat exposure. First off just like with the ice bath the same applies to heat.
How hot is too hot? It’s whatever you are able to tolerate safely. As you get more heat adapted you can increase your frequency and or length of time in the sauna.
But why would you want too? Here are three reasons why you should consider making heat exposure a part of your weekly lifestyle.
- Cardiovascular Health
- Improved Mood
- General Health
Heat triggers some of the same mechanisms in your brain as if you were to physically doing some cardio. While in the sauna (80-100°C) or (176-212°F) your heart rate and blood flow increase, and your blood vessels will open up or (vasodilate) because your body is working to cool it off.
Ice bath = body heats up
Heat exposure = body cools down
Getting heat exposure an hour a week but not all at once is the recommendation for best health practices.
Review this article to see how you can improve your growth hormone production too.
Get 5-20 minutes of heat exposure 2-3 days a week or as often as 7 to improve your mood and improved stress response.
Zone 2 Cardio Masters: Elevating Endurance & Ability To Burn Fat
Have you ever done workouts that just make you feel good? That’s what zone 2 cardio is. The intention (performance wise) for zone 2 cardio is to build you aerobic base and reap these other benefits:
- improve performance by delaying the onset fatigue
- weight management
- mental clarity
- improve recovery and many more
If you are asking yourself “what is zone 2 cardio” is, it’s essentially 180-your age.
I’m 33, so 180-33 =147 which is an estimate for my zone 2 heart rate range is 147. I talk about in great detail the different heart rate training zones in this blog.
We recommend our athletes to get 150-180 minutes of zone 2 cardio a week and my favorite way to do that personally by what I call “engine work.”
When we are getting our athletes to begin improving their aerobic base we like to keep things as simple as possible.
For example you might do this a 3 days a week
- week 1 – 30 minutes of zone 2 of your choice (run, bike, row, swim, ski, etc)
- week 2 – 35 minutes
- week 3 – 40 minutes*
Of maybe even progress the volume accumulation slower because sometimes especially if you begin to run and you haven’t for awhile, your achilles can begin to act up.
Ready to unlock your endurance and improve your bodies ability to use fat as fuel? Join our K2 Engine program now and harness the power of zone 2 cardio and varied interval training. Elevate your fitness, go harder for longer in tough workouts and optimize your health. Join us and build your engine today by clicking here!
Flexibility Matters: Daily Stretching For Peak Performance
Stretching has been a learned practice for me. I didn’t always enjoy doing it, and quite frankly it’s because I was SO tight.
I didn’t stretch growing up, despite playing sports for hours on hours a day.
Oh to be young again haha.
Stretching came later in life when I started competing in life and my mobility was actually limiting me from being able to perform certain movements.
- overhead squats and snatches
- front squat from wrist pain
- deadlifts and back pain due to lack of hamstring length and a weak core
- handstand push ups and a weak lock out from having poor overhead mobility
Oh…just to name a few 😛
And I didn’t like not being able to do something. But let me tell you something…
…stretching at first was to improve my mobility so I could perform these exercises pain free or get into a better position. Quickly turned into:
- a dedicated time to be grounded
- a time of prayer
- a time to relax and focus on my breathing and slowing down
Stretching has become something I really enjoy.
So much so, that now that I lead daily mobility classes to help others move pain free, restore range of motion and create strength.
Find a stretching/mobility routine that allows you to be consistent. Whether that be:
- 10 minutes a day or 5.
- stretching your major muscle groups for 30 seconds
- or a “rule” that I like…for every hour I sit, I must stretch for twice as long.
If I sit for 6 hours in a work day, I must stretch at least 12 minutes. And that’s essentially what lead me to length of the mobility classes I teach.
A time duration that is small enough to where it could be done everyday.
Best Type Of Stretching
There is a few different “styles” of stretching.
- Static stretching
- Dynamic (but that’s not what we are referring to, that’s more for a pre workout”
- PNF stretching
- Pails & Rails ( my favorite and what I have found to be the most successful)
Static stretching feels good. You get into a position of restriction and you stretch the muscle for 30 seconds to 2 minutes*
*one thing I like to do is box breathing when I stretch. It works like this:
- take a 3-5 second inhale
- hold my breathe for 3-5 seconds
- exhale for 3-5 seconds and this is when I get deeper into the stretch
Then repeat that process for the duration of your stretch and at the end of your 2 minutes you will be into a much deeper position.
Here is the way to improve your mobility…you just spent time in a passive stretch, known as static stretching.
To have improved mobility, stability and strength you want to use the technique “pails and rails.” And that protocol looks like this:
- 2 minutes of static stretching with box breathing to get into your deepest end range of motion
- Then when your 2 minutes is up, you begin your “pail” which is known as progressive angular isometric loading. Yep. It’s where you are contracting your muscles for 5-20 seconds (don’t worry I’m going to show you a video).
- After contracting you then want to “rail” which is regressive angular blah blah blah. Which is when you work on strengthening your end range of motion
Now what I just showed you is mobility training.
That’s different than just stretching. I actually work up a sweat when doing mobility training, because I’m strengthening my end range of motion.
So here’s what I do:
Stretch for 2 times the amount of time you sit in a day and 3 days a week do 15 minutes of mobility training.
Mind & Body Harmony: The Power Of Breathe & Mediation
There are three questions I ask every client I see before we start our training session.
- How are you feeling physically?
- How are you feeling mentally?
- How are you feeling emotionally?
I ask these questions because exercise is a form of stress. And if your body feels good but you have had a super stressful day…
…well you need to have a lower intensity training day.
You can’t come into the gym or your workout and expect your body to perform at it’s highest potential.
We’re going to share with you intentional breath work and mediation techniques we like to use to help reduce stress, enhance focus and improve overall well-being.
Deep breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand fully and exhale slowly through your mouth.
When teaching this we like to tell our athletes to put their hand on their stomach to feel your belly rise and fall. This teaches you breathe from your diaphragm (belly) and not from your chest.
Box breathing: This is the technique I was referring to earlier when we talked about stretching. You:
- inhale for a count of 4
- hold your breathe for a count of 4
- exhale for a count of 4
- and then hold your breathe (empty) for a count of 4
If 4 seconds is too long, try for 2 seconds and build up your capacity. I actually do this in bed to help me fall asleep or anytime I need to reset my stress levels for the day.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana): this one always felt a little funky to me but I believe it teaches me to be extremely intentional with my breathe. You use your thumb and ring finger to alternate closing one nostril while inhaling with the open nostril.
Alternating which nostril is open and closed helps bring my focus to solely my breathing (so I don’t forget which nostril is supposed to be open or closed haha).
As much as I love exercise, using all of these science back “hacks, it’s just as important to spend time outside of the gym.
With people you love and doing things you enjoy. However, here are a few more little things we like to incorporate when we talk about health.
Walking Mediation: Just about after each large meal I go for a ten minute walk with no devices. I enjoy conversation with whomever I’m with and unplug. Walking after a meal also helps digestion. Take in the breeze, the air, and the birds chirping.
Mindful Mediation: I like to sit in a comfortable position with my eyes closed (preferably in the sun or near running water), and I take note of my thoughts and just think through them. I let the thoughts come to me and then I spend time in prayer and gratefulness.
Sleep: Your Performance Secret Weapon
I probably don’t need to list out the benefits of sleep because you know you should be sleeping more. Butttt since I know my mom reads my articles why not.
Physical restoration – during deep sleep, this is when our bodies repair and regenerate tissues, including both muscles and our bones. You hear me say often, “train hard, and recover harder.” Sleep is one of those practices to take serious.
Cognitive function – A ton of problem solving, memory and creativity takes place while sleeping.
Mood regulation – Adequate sleep helps to regulate your mood. It helps to reduce the risk of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Immune system support – sleep is powerful for helping your body defend against illness and infections. Lack of sleep = weakened immune system.
Hormone balance, stress reduction, skin health are a few more to name.
How To Get Better Sleep
Getting better sleep is all about habits and routines, however there are some “tricks” that I have developed over the years that have been later confirmed by Dr. Andrew Huberman.
So, here are my top tips to get better sleep:
- Getting better sleep starts with getting sunlight in your eyes the first 30-60 minutes of waking up and again later in the day, watching the sunset.
“On bright cloudless days: view morning and afternoon sun for 10 minutes, cloudy days: 20 minutes, very overcast days:30-60 minutes. If you live somewhere with very minimal sunlight, consider an artificial daytime simulator source.
Don’t wear sunglasses for this practice, but contacts and eyeglasses are fine. No, do not look directly at the sun or any bright light. That being said, you can’t wear a brimmed hat, sunglasses and remain in the shade and expect to wake up your circadian clock.”
- Wake up at the same time each day and when you feel tired at night, go to bed.
Your mind and your body begins to develop patterns and it knows what is coming next. Ideally every evening looks the same so your body knows that sleep is coming next.
- Avoid caffeine within 8-10 hours of your bedtime.
- Avoid bright overhead lights before bed (we turn overhead lights off at 7:00pm) and use low lit lights like lamps. Viewing bright lights messes with your circadian rhythm especially between hours of 10 pm and 4 am.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep, check out this NSDR video (non sleep deep rest) protocol.
- Huberman tells us to consider taking:
– 145mg threonate
– 50mg apigenin
-100 – 400mg of theanine
I personally taker a supplement called ZMA, that has zinc, magnesium and b6. You can find that here.
- An hour before bed drop the temperature of your home and make it as dark as possible. Your core body temperature needs to drop 1-3 degree to go to sleep and stay asleep.
Side note: when we talked about cold immersion your “external shell” is very cold, but your CORE temperature is on fire to heat your body up. The opposite is true for when you have heat exposure to a hot bath or hot shower before bed, your body is working hard to COOL your body*
However, as we talked about heat exposure often elevates your heart rate. And sometimes getting your heart rate too high (especially if you are de-conditioned) your body will difficult time going to sleep because of the elevated heart rate.
- Alcohol messes with your sleep. We will talk more about the benefits of getting rid of alcohol below.
- Don’t scroll on your phone in bed. Consider having your bedroom a “no phone zone.” If you use your phone for your alarm, consider finding an alternative like this alarm clock.
What’s great about that alarm clock is 30 minutes before it’s your wake time, the light turns on verrrry subtle and gradually gets brighter (replicating the sun) as it gets closer to your wake time.
Caffeine Strategically: Enhancing Alertness & Performance
Your morning caffeine ritual may need a tweak. We’ll talk about the benefits of delaying caffeine intake could potentially help avoid your afternoon crash.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. Basically the longer you are awake adenosine builds up in your bloodstream, and it makes you feel fatigued.
Caffeine essentially blocks the adenosine receptor, but when caffeine wears off the adenosine that’s still around binds to that receptor and you crash and you feel really sleepy.
So what do you do?
Don’t ingest caffeine for the first 90 minutes of your day so that the adenosine and the and the adenosine receptor interactions can take place and dissipate.
What’s best is to use those first 90 minutes to view sunlight and get some exercise (maybe even ice bath or cold shower) to promote positive energy for your day.
Optimal Hydration & Recovery: The No-Alcohol Approach
Alcohol could be a roadblock in your fitness goals. This is a topic I am not an expert in, I personally do not drink for other reasons outside of performance enhancement so my studies on this have been limited.
I would encourage you to watch/listen to this podcast where Andrew Huberman discusses all things about alcohol and the effects it has on your body.
In the pursuit of peak health and excellence, we discussed 10 power habits that promote optimal health.
From embracing the power of cold exposure to mastering Zone 2 cardio, optimizing sleep, and harnessing the morning sunlight, each habit is a key to unlocking one's full potential.
We explore the science behind these practices and provide actionable steps to incorporate them into your daily routine. Additionally, we delve into the benefits of intentional breathwork and meditation, caffeine timing, and abstaining from alcohol. Heat exposure, daily stretching, and the importance of flexibility round out this comprehensive guide.
Join us in this journey of empowerment and take full ownership of your health and performance.