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How does one achieve a legendary body?
It all starts with making healthier choices and creating better habits.
There are tons of ideas out there on how to get in the best shape—and perhaps we make getting and staying in shape much more complicated than it should be. Using scientific evidence, let’s explore how to create a new routine: what to include in it, what a work-out recovery ideally looks like, and the right nutrition and supplement support that can help one achieve greater strength in mind and body.
Creating a Routine
In order for one to achieve a legendary body, there needs to be a commitment to a routine that serves this goal. This commitment creates the healthy habits, which will ultimately become part of one’s lifestyle. The first step to successfully creating a routine is to identify any barriers/excuses that you currently have that is preventing you from reaching your goals. As Yoda so eloquently says, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
In his book, The Power of Habit, author, Charles Duhigg, explores the science behind how our habits are formed and why we do what we do. He speaks of habits as having a three-part process:
- The cue, which tells your brain to let the behavior occur
- The routine, which is the actual behavior
- The reward, which happens as a result of the given behavior.
We can use the profound power of habit, to reach our health goals (and for other goals in our lives!).
Here’s how: with every action we take, our brains generate different electrochemical impulses, which travel through what are called “neural pathways.” Habits are formed when the same “neural pathway” is triggered time and time again—our brains become comfortable taking the same pathway. When we take a new action, a new neural pathway is formed, and when we do this frequently, our brains become comfortable, thus forming a new habit. We all have developed habits; in regard to health, fitness, and nutrition, the question is, are they serving you? If not, how do we change them?
If we want to create new habits in order to get the legendary body and health we’ve always wanted, here are some steps to take:
- Identify your current habits. This offers insights into the areas which you would like to improve.
- Trust in the power of your neural pathways. It might be challenging at first to get out of your comfort zone and normal routine but rest assured, the new neural pathway you are developing will become stronger—and so will you, once you get that exercise and nutrition routine down.
- Replace old habits with new ones. The brain will be searching for something to replace the old habits.
- Set yourself up for success by being logistical and considering your personal preferences. Determine whether it motivates you more to exercise at the gym or at home. Are you a morning person or would you do better during the day? Prepare healthy foods in advance so when you are busy you won’t revert to making unhealthy food choices.
- Link new habits to positive habits you already have. For instance, if you brush your teeth or shower first thing every morning, get in your new habit of working out before doing this. But if you watch TV every day when you get home from work, replace the tv with exercise when you first get home.
- Start now! Know that research shows it takes 21 days for a new neural pathway to become solidified into a habit. With this in mind, commit to your new habit day by day, knowing that it will get easier with time.
Now that we know how to create a new routine, what does a legendary body routine involve?
The New Way to Exercise
Have you heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)? If you are interested in burning fat and building muscle look no further than HIIT. In scientific studies, it beats traditional cardio (a type of steady-state exercise), and it doesn’t take as long (which is especially a plus for those of us who state time as a barrier to exercise).
HIIT is a type of exercise in which one performs short bouts of high-intensity (think 90% of one’s potential energy, a.k.a. “bursts”) followed by even shorter recovery periods (walking or light jogging). This sequence is repeated and typically done for 20-30 minutes. The type of exercise performed during the high-intensity phase can differ from sprints to doing faster reps of a particular movement.
If you are interested in weight loss, studies show that HIIT programs produce more fat loss (helping to burn more fat over the duration of the day!) than steady-state exercise. It has also been concluded that HIIT workouts help build more muscle, as steady-state workouts break muscle down (thus requiring longer recovery periods, which people don’t always account for.) Furthermore, HIIT has been shown to improve metabolic function.
According to Dr. Axe, “HIIT workouts have the ability to transform your body and physical abilities due to their effect on at least three important systems within the body:
- Your cardiovascular health and endurance
- Your body’s ability to use oxygen
- Your hormone levels.
Research has shown that resistance-based (weight-bearing activities) interval training improves blood flow and blood vessel dilation. There is also evidence that HIIT improves VO2max (also called “max oxygen uptake” and refers to how well the body uses oxygen), which is considered one of the best measurements of cardiovascular endurance. HIIT also has an effect on post-exercise oxygen uptake, EPOC, which is when the body increases oxygen use post exercise.
This helps the body go into a recovery phase following the HIIT workout. This higher level of oxygen is necessary to restore hormone levels, refuel glucose stores, and repair muscle and tissue. After HIIT, the body also requires more energy so fat stores in the body break down and are released into the bloodstream, they become oxidized and are used as fuel; this explains why fat loss occurs the remainder of the day post HIIT. Better yet, while simultaneously burning fat, the body also produces growth hormones known as IGF-1 during HIIT, which results in the building of lean muscle mass.
Is this workout for you? Studies show that this workout is generally safe and can improve to exercise commitment since it only takes a short time to do. Particularly if you are middle-aged and lead a sedentary lifestyle, the bursts of HIIT can be shocking to the body. If you are not in the best shape, start out slow and work your way up.
Recovery is Important
With the focus so often being on doing exercise, it can be easy to look at the importance of recovery. If you are looking to build muscle and feel strong in your body, recovery is necessary. Muscle growth occurs when you are resting, and mostly happens while you sleep. Taking at least one day off, and for most people, two days off will give your body adequate recovery time.
Nutrition to Support a Legendary Body
When it comes to health and wellness, it is important to look at all our lifestyle factors. Nutrition plays a large role in our body’s ability to function optimally – effecting how we perform in our workouts and also in how well we recover.
Eating sugar, fast foods, and hydrogenated oils all cause inflammation in the body, which slows down recovery. Focus on eating healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Some good sources of omega-3s are wild fish, grass-fed beef, and walnuts. Taking a fish oil supplement is also an efficient and beneficial way to boost your omega-3. Also include avocados and coconut oil, which provide beneficial and healthy fats that have anti-inflammatory properties.
In order to build muscle and recover, the body needs adequate protein. Dr. Axe suggests taking your body weight in pounds and to get that many grams of protein a day, or at least half of that if you are aiming to build muscle.
While carbohydrates can be helpful in supplying the body with a quick acting energy source, loading up on them can contribute to excess weight. It is best to use carbohydrates before your workouts, during the times your body needs the extra energy- otherwise, your body will store the fat.
Oh, and let’s not forget to hydrate! In holistic health, it is recommended to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Even very mild dehydration can cause impaired cognitive performance, fatigue, and overall physical and mental well-being. Eating fruits and vegetables and consuming a little sea salt can help you stay hydrated and ensure that your electrolytes are balanced.
Supplements to Support a Legendary Body
A well-respected substance that has been highly revered for thousands of years, is Shilajit, an Ayurvedic medicine known as a rejuvenator of the body. So, what is it? Once plant matter 50 million years ago, it is compressed from the mountains and consumed by microbes, resulting in the tar-like substance that is called Shilajit.
It has been praised for its anti-aging effects, and current research shows us that the ancients knew what they were talking about. Shilajit helps boost the body’s energy, and actually increases the function of mitochondria (which supply our energy by converting oxygen and nutrients to ATP- the substance that powers our cells).
It also has strong anti-oxidant properties and protects the body from aging and aiding in repair. Studies also show that it promotes brain health, and can be protective from neurodegenerative diseases. It has been shown to regulate the hormones and improve immunity, support skeletal health, and supports cardiovascular function.
In Ayurveda it is respected as an adaptogen, meaning that it has overall balancing effects on the body. In fact, over 3,000 years ago it was mentioned in an ancient Sanskrit text, known as “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness.”
Did you know that shilajit has proven effective for enhancing athletic performance? It helps burn fat, while also increases lean muscle mass. Shilajit is high in minerals, vitamins and amino acids, which all aid in muscle building. Due to its effectiveness, shilajit is often used as an alternative to popular protein drugs, of which have negative health implications. This herb can help you reach your goals of muscle building without compromising your health.
Crafted specifically to enhance workout performance, this formula combines powerful pre-workout supplements that work synergistically. It contains Polyrhachis Ant Extract, which is an ancient Chinese tonic that has a reputation for providing instant energy—containing absorbable ATP, which can directly fuel your cells.
Cistanche, s an herb that is added to help deliver driving force to your workout. It is considered a Yang Jing herb, which relates its ability to enhance bedroom performance and stamina. Yang energy is considered important for exercise performance.
Along with the performance-enhancing herbs, Maral Root is included in the Hercules Formula to support recovery. It has a long history in Russia with helping athletes recover. It contains plant steroids, which are believed to help build lean muscle mass, along with increased endurance.
Rhodiola is another herb added to aid with increased endurance. This herb is considered an adaptogen and helps to combat stress.
Cordyceps is also in the formula and acts as a remedy for fatigue and used as an overall rejuvenative. The final herb of the formula is Shilajit. As indicated above, this is a powerful herb that works directly on the mitochondira, supplying the body with energy. It also helps integrate the herbs in the formula, so that they work synergistically.
It is recommended to take this formula 15 minutes before working out. This helps prepare the body and will ensure you start your workout feeling like you’ve got the power of Hercules!
Axe, Dr. Josh. “How to Eat to Gain Muscle.” Dr. Axe, 29 Nov. 2017, draxe.com/eat-gain-muscle/.
Babcock, Jillian. “HIIT Workouts Beat Conventional Cardio.” Dr. Axe, 4 Nov. 2017, draxe.com/hiit-workouts/.
Bergland, Christopher. “7 Habits for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 13 Feb. 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201302/7-habits-healthy-mind-in-healthy-body.
Boldt, Ethan. “Do’s and Don’ts of Muscle Recovery.” Dr. Axe, 31 July 2017, draxe.com/muscle-recovery/.
Duhigg, Charles. “The Neuroscience of Habits: How They Form and How to Change Them [Excerpt].” Scientific American, 27 Apr. 2012, www.scientificamerican.com/article/power-of-habit-excerpt/.
“Habits: How They Form And How To Break Them.” NPR, NPR, 5 Mar. 2012, www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them.
Joe. “How to Stay Hydrated in 4 Steps.” Dr. Axe, 26 June 2017, draxe.com/how-to-stay-hydrated/.
Martinez-Huenchullan, S F, et al. “Differential metabolic effects of constant moderate versus high intensity interval training in high-Fat fed mice: possible role of muscle adiponectin.” Physiological reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29446245.
Olea, M A, et al. “[Effects of high intensity interval training on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects].” Revista medica de Chile., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29424402.
The Power of Habits – Fitness.Com, www.fitness.com/articles/280/the_power_of_habits.php.
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