5 Ways Sleep Helps You Be A Better Athlete


Featured guest post by Tuck—a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.

Doctors recommend you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, but more than 35 percent of Americans do not get a good night’s sleep, according to the CDC.

One study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine that looked at sleep for athletes hypothesized that it is because sleep is placed on a low priority level and that athletes have a lack of awareness of how sleep helps to optimize athletic performance.

It doesn’t help that we live in a world that expects us to be on and available at all times.

What you, as an athlete, might not realize is that sleep could be the most vital part of your exercise routine. Here are five ways that sleep helps your exercise be effective.

Repair Muscles

Getting deep sleep during your REM cycle helps your muscles to repair themselves after you work out. The proteins in your muscles degrade when you work out, but your anabolic hormones help to restore your muscles while you sleep.  It’s been found that if you don’t get enough sleep, those proteins are more likely to continue degrading, and your catabolic hormones are more likely to help them do so.

Build Muscle Tone

As you get older, building muscle becomes more challenging. The number of growth hormones that are produced decreases by two to three times its former rate. It also gets harder to sleep as you get older, which compounds the issue. If you’re above the age of 30 and trying to build muscle mass, you’ll want to aim for a long nap (90 minutes) during the day to help with muscle growth.

Perform Better

Getting a good night’s sleep will also help you to perform better at whatever task you set your mind to.

A 2011 study of basketball players found that after 5 to 7 weeks of getting a full night’s sleep, players saw significant improvements in their athletic performance and reaction time.

The players’ free throws and three-pointers were more successful by 9 percent, and their sprint times improved by 0.7 seconds. They also had a more accurate, positive perception of themselves

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A study in PLOS One found that lack of sleep can add an inch to your waist, slow down your metabolism and lead you to a higher body mass index. It can also lead to a higher risk of obesity and hypertension.

Sleeping poorly can also lead to overeating, and eating foods that are not conducive to building muscle. It also makes it harder for you to lose that weight.

Fight Disease

Sleep deprivation may raise the levels of inflammation in your coronary arteries, leading to a higher risk of heart disease.

If you find yourself unable to sleep regularly, there may be an underlying cause, such as snoring, which may be a symptom of a disorder. If you are concerned that there might be an underlying cause, talk to your doctor about possibly completing a sleep study.

Never Let Go by Dan John

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Fit knowts is a book summary service dedicated to health and fitness—we find the golden nuggets of information within great health and fitness books and deliver them to you in five easy-to-read pages, or about 15 to 20 minutes of audio.

Today we’re going to take a look at Never Let Go by Dan John. As always, our summaries are available at fitknowts.com as 5-page PDFs or audio summaries of 20 minutes or less.

Never Let Go is actually a compilation of articles that Dan John had previously written for Testosterone Muscle Magazine and they've been reprinted as a single book. It's a fantastic book and the subtitle is, A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, And Learning. It's just under 400 pages and it details everything that Dan has learned over his years as a strength athlete and coach. He is a thrower by trade and has competed at all levels of Olympic lifting as well as Highland Games and the Weight Pentathlon. The five key insights we’ll be looking at are GPP, which is general physical preparedness, Systematic Education, Physical Capital, The Litvinov, and the One-Lift-a-Day Program. The last two are a couple of programs that Dan describes in his book that we thought you might be interested in, just as some examples. There are several of them listed in the book, but these two examples stand out.

What is Never Let Go about? Dan’s philosophy says, “The body is one piece and all training is complementary.” To that he adds, “There are three kinds of strength training: putting weight overhead, picking it up off the ground, and carrying it for time or distance.” This is Dan's style, he's very direct and simple and everything's laid out. If you think about it that way, it pretty much sums everything up. This gives you an example of what the writing is like in Never Let Go and what Dan’s style is like.


General Physical Preparedness

Let's jump into GPP. General physical preparedness, Dan describes as his base level or his foundational base layer of training. Where this comes into play is that he described that a few years ago he had woken up pretty much out of shape. He'd lost his GPP, his general physical preparedness. He could still throw pretty far but from the example, his cardio wasn't great and even throwing pretty far, he had noticed a dip in his competitive results, he no longer had that endurance in competition to go for a whole day or a weekend.

GPP is a great insight because it's determining what your base foundation level of fitness is, your general physical preparedness and for all of us it will be different. For example, with running, maybe it's your pace time or your 5K time. For lifting, it could be your deadlift and how your heart rate is measured with your max deadlift, things of that nature. This is a great insight to test yourself on or to find that baseline for yourself, your general physical preparedness.


Systematic Education

Adding to GPP and in the same kind of realm is systematic education. For Dan, what systematic education is about is that there's no way to know if something is working unless you have experience and you're building on your knowledge systematically. The example that he gives is that when you rely on your previous years of experience, you're able to approach new training ideas in a systematic way in breaking it down and deciding if that new thing works or not.

What the author actually does is, he has one or two workouts that he reverts back to, one or two workouts that he can do basically in his sleep that he knows inside and out that he knows gets him certain results. From that baseline of those one or two workouts, he hits that foundation layer, or that GPP, and then adds in the new thing such as working with TRX straps or any kind of new machine or training program, then he will see how much it's actually working. When you have that control, that systematic education of your previous experience and knowing what those results are, that's when you can add in that new thing to see if it actually works.


Physical Capital

Next, we have physical capital and physical capital is a great insight and it’s one that we quite love. Your physical capital is the sum of all of your training, nutrition, and recovery tools. The recovery tool is probably the one that gets dropped off the map most often.

What Dan is alluding to is, that like a bank account, we can deposit and contribute to training, nutrition, and recovery everyday, he breaks it down into three really simple things. If you can make a deposit into that account each day, your physical capital is going to grow, right? You're working with those assets to give them more value over time. The same thing happens if you neglect them—they are going to depreciate and some very quickly. Actually, if you don’t contribute to them every day, all three of them – training, nutrition, and recovery – will depreciate and your physical capital will be on the decline as well. It's similar to his position, in the beginning, three ways to train: picking up weight off the ground, lifting it overhead or carrying it for time or distance. Focus on those three things and you'll be able to increase that capital every single day and, over time, your physical capital is going to appreciate significantly.



One of the last two key points - The Litvinov and the One-Lift-a-Day Program have to do with two programs mentioned in the book. The first is the Litvinov, which is named after Sergey Litvinov who was a world champion hammer thrower in the 80s. This is effectively a workout for, as Dan describes, anyone who wants to get faster, leaner, and more muscular. Those are three characteristics that a lot of people tend to look for in any kind of program.

What happened was that Sergey Litvinov arrived at the World Championships in that condition—faster, leaner and more muscular—and won a gold medal. He beat out an American thrower, John Powell. Powell observed that in not adapting his training program in that training cycle, he was not as successful in competition, other throwers were doing something different and that's when he discovered the program of Sergey Litvinov and that the condition that Litvinov came to the World Championships in was very different than that of Powell's—he wanted to emulate that of course.

Dan writes, “If you're interested in becoming leaner, faster, and more muscular, the Litvinov is the workout for you.” It's a truly simple workout that combines lifting with running. You're going to lift and then you're going to run. You can do any big lift, Dan mentions cleans, clean and presses, clean and jerks, deadlifts, front squats, overhead squats, or snatches, for example. Any big or any compounding movement for 8 reps and then immediately run 400 meters. You are going to repeat this three times and then go home. That's what he says. Repeat it three times and don't do anything else. Probably some recovery or some mobility work would be fine, but that's the workout.

As always, any kind of program that we mention here should involve a consultation with a medical professional and be something that you're ready to do. Don't go out there doing a workout that you're not ready to do and that you haven't been medically cleared for.


The One-Lift-a-Day Program

Our last one here, the One-Lift-a-Day Program. Dan describes this program as the program that has caused more days off of school and work than any other program. Effectively, people get extremely sore doing this and it's very simple and in line with everything that Dan is about in Never Let Go. The One-Lift-a-Day Program consists of picking one lift each day and doing that lift for the entire workout, and every subsequent week you're cutting your volume in half.

How that might look is, for instance, week 1 you have 7 sets of 5 – this is one lift so let’s say it is squats. You do seven sets of 5 squats for week 1, that’s it. Week 2, you have 6 sets of 3, in week 3 you have 3 sets that are dropping down in reps—a 5, 3, 2. Your first set is 5 reps, the second set is 3 reps, the third set is 2 reps, and then week 4 is off. You're cutting the volume by half with each successive week.

What Dan says is that you're also cutting the B.S. out of working out. You're getting in and out of the gym relatively quickly and also doing something that's really effective. That is the One-Lift-a-Day Program. As he mentioned it's the program that he has seen cause the most days off from work or school than any other workout, good luck!

Okay, team, the book is Never Let Go by Dan John and our five key insights were GPP, systematic education, physical capital, The Litvinov and the One-Lift-A-Day Program. As always, you can subscribe at fitknowts.com to get unlimited access to our library of summaries or you can sign up for a monthly subscription. Have an awesome day.


The Perfect Stride by Thomas Reckmann


Today we’re going to take a look at The Perfect Stride by Thomas Reckmann. This is a great book about stride technique and running economy for all of you runners out there. The five key insights we’ll be looking at are running economy, VO2 max, performance factors, running stride, and triggers.


Running Economy

Reckmann advocates that running can be improved just like any other skill. He uses examples like tennis and golf where people will hire a tennis pro or a golf pro to help with their technique – their hitting technique, club swing, tennis swing and such, to improve their performance. And the funny thing is, we have so many runners in the world, running has become so much more popular over the past 30 to 40 years, but very few people will invest in improving their stride technique to have a better run and better performance. A lot of people run for the enjoyment of running but, at the same time, just small tweaks in stride and in running the economy can make a big difference in how you feel as you run—the process of running can feel less belaboured and more joyful.

Running economy is effectively getting the most out of your stride. The example that Reckmann uses is Kenyan long-distance runners. For a long time, it was believed that the Kenyan runners had an advantage in the oxygen they could consume – the VO2 max, their maximum oxygen capacity while running (with more oxygen capacity you don't get tired as quickly). The research actually revealed that it's their running the economy, the efficiency of stride that makes Kenyan runners so proficient. Your running economy is, effectively, how much you're getting out of each stride and it makes sense, right? It's just like a car, how much are you getting per tank of gas?

The Perfect Stride is well-photographed and it's a great book in the sense that you get a lot of keys and cues from the images. Basically, improving your running economy starts with a more efficient running stride. Just the idea of running economy is really interesting—it’s maxing out what you can do in each stride as opposed to just looking at your general fitness.

Fitness, on one hand, is being able to take in that oxygen, but then what do you do with it? Is your stride kind of sloppy? Is it more side to side or up and down than forward moving? This insight here, running economy, is a very big one and it is pretty much what The Perfect Stride is all about, maxing out that efficient stride within your run, whether that’s sprinting or long distance.


VO2 Max

VO2 max is really your maximum oxygen capacity, as previously mentioned. Intervals are a great way to improve VO2 max  because when you’re running intervals, you’re able to max out, right? You can go a lot faster in a shorter period of time than you would be able to maintain that pace over a long period of time and that faster pace forces your whole body to adapt to that demand. That's why intervals are so effective for improving your VO2 max. However, VO2 max, again, is only one part of running economy; it's the combination of VO2 max and your running stride that make a more effective running economy.

There are some examples in the book of ways to improve your VO2 max—interval training is one—and it even has benchmarks that you could aim for if you were doing a VO2 max test. 


Performance Factors

Essentially, all athletic performances are based on a combination of fitness, strength, and technique; these are our performance factors. It makes make sense. When we look at performance factors, everything comes down to fitness, strength, and technique for any sport – tennis, basketball, or soccer. Well, running is no different. It's like a pyramid with all three sides that make it as strong as it can be. What Reckmann is getting at with performance factors is looking at the technique side of the pyramid.

With running, we tend to focus on the strength and the fitness. We train the VO2 max side of it, getting more mileage and being able to maybe adapt your pace so that 5K or 10K run is now a couple of minutes faster. That’s a fitness factor.

Then you have strength, the legs. With any new runner, those first few miles, or after you’ve taken a break from running, you’re really going to feel it in the strength of the legs, we tend to focus on as well.

But that third side of the pyramid is what often gets overlooked and kind of falls off the map. If we only focus on technique just as much as we do the fitness and strength sides of it, our running economy would improve that much more. The book actually has a few chapters specifically on exercises you can do to improve your technique.


Running Stride

Reckmann defines a good running technique as having, “...nothing to do with whether it looks good or not. The key is to keep energy consumption as low as possible and to achieve that, you should run so that you take advantage of both gravity and the muscles’ stored energy.” That's what we're looking at with our running stride. You want to take advantage of gravity and the stored energy effectively coming from the Achilles tendon up through the calf, through the posterior chain into the glutes, and propelling us forward.

There are a few key points here with running stride: the hips should be angled upward and forward, the shoulders should be lowered and relaxed and the feet should land underneath the body and work actively on the ground. It's three points. Each area is covered in the book separately with exercises you can do to improve each part. For example, you might already have hips that are angled upward and in the right position, but it is more about relaxing the shoulders down and keeping the chest up.



Last but not least, we have triggers, and this is a great concept that relates directly to running stride. A trigger is just a thought that you might have – it can also be a physical trigger like a bracelet or something like that – but it’s really a trigger to bring you back into focusing on those aspects of your running stride, the hips, the shoulders, and feet moving actively on the ground. It could just be a thought and it can be one word. It's unique to yourself, but it could be ‘up’—while you're running, you think ‘up,’ and that's your trigger to keep your hips up.

It's a great tip that works effectively with The Perfect Stride because it allows you to refocus on the stride itself and it’s also unique to you. What is it that you need to work on? Are your feet working actively on the ground, or the hips or the shoulders, and then find the trigger where, as you’re going through your run, you think, “Oh, wait! I haven’t been doing that, I haven’t been actively working on my stride, so my running economy is probably taking a dip.” Once that’s triggered, you can use the focus to bring you back into working on your stride and improving your running economy.

Alright team, that's it for today. Again, the book is The Perfect Stride, the author is Thomas Reckmann, and we encourage you to pick it up and give it a read. Our summaries are available at fitknowts.com as 5-page PDFs or audio summaries of 20 minutes or less.

Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack

Today we’re discussing one of the books from the fit knowts Mindfulness Collection: Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack. This book examines the fact that we train our bodies all the time – we go to the gym, we practice, we work on these physical skills – and just as we need a physical gym to train those skills, we also need a mind gym, an area and a place to build the mental toughness and the mental capacity that brings about excellence on and off the field. This philosophy is what Mind Gym is all about.

The position of author Gary Mack is that once you reach a certain level of competency in your sport or career, developing mental skills becomes just as, or even more, important than physical skills. Any elite athlete can attest to this and it's really a great book for young athletes and anyone who coaches young athletes. Today we're going to focus on five key insights presented by the author and how to use them. Let’s dive in!

Fear of Failure

No matter what you do in life, there will be times when you will experience pressure. In competition, pressure happens all the time, but the fear of failure is specific because it's the point at which pressure becomes negative instead of positive. It may seem counterintuitive, but pressure can actually propel you to a high level of performance. That last minute buzzer beater, hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th, all of those are pressure moments. However, they represent positive pressure that leads to a great performance, which is much different than the negative feeling produced by the fear of failure.

Of course, the fear of failure is one of the catalysts of poor performance. So how do we avoid that fear of failure? Pressure, in and of itself, is not a reflection of who you are as a person. You are not a failure if, in that moment, things don't work out. The truth is, fear of failure really only occurs in your mind when you define a situation as pressure-inducing instead of focusing on the positive of the moment to perform at the highest level. You may begin to second-guess yourself and say, ‘Oh, I might mess up.’ We're trying to avoid that as much as possible, and throughout Mind Gym, there are exercises that will help sharpen your focus so you can transform those pressure situations into a positive experience.

The Kaizen Concept

A Japanese principle, Kaizen is used in both sports and business with the goal of constant daily learning and improvement. For example, when you watch fit knowts TV, you are practicing Kaizen. The concept of Kaizen is really about consistency, which is another skill that prevents us from performing poorly because when we perform consistently, being able to hit peak performance is that much easier. To improve with Kaizen, it's really important for athletes to recognize both their strengths and their weaknesses. If you’re really great at one thing and not so good at another, you’ll need to consistently work on that weakness to turn it into a strength.

One example that Gary Mack uses in Mind Gym is Hank Aaron, one of the greatest hitters of all time in Major League Baseball. Hank Aaron spent an entire summer hitting changeups because it was a pitch that he wasn't great at hitting, yet he was actually able to turn that into a strength. It was the consistency, the Kaizen, looking at that weakness and mastering it to turn it into a strength. Mack highlights first-hand experiences of athletes, emphasizing not only the theoretical but also the practical applications of how these athletes have overcome barriers and hit peak performance using the mental toughness techniques discussed in in Mind Gym.

Set SMART Goals

We all have goals, but being close to the new year, we see resolutions and goals set that tend to fall by the wayside. The reason we lose sight of our goals is they lack focus. SMART goals are a way of setting goals in such a way that they become more achievable. SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. You probably have heard about SMART goals before and for those of you who are personal trainers, this concept is one of the foundations of goal setting for clients.

If we go back to that Hank Aaron example, the goal wasn't to become a better hitter, it was to get better at hitting changeups – that’s specific. He worked on it over the course of one season to really hone in on this skill and really elevate this part of his game – the goal was measurable. Achievable? Sure, we’re talking about one pitch. With enough consistency and Kaizen, of course it would be achievable, right? If I want to bat .800, that's never happened before in baseball, it will never happen because it's not that kind of game and it's not an achievable statistic to aim for. But being able to get better at hitting a changeup, that's something that we can aim for. You could even get more specific than that by saying, I want to have a certain average hitting changeups. Maybe it's an improvement of 100 batting average points on the off-speed pitch. Hank Aaron's goal was specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive in that span of one or two seasons or over a summer.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is an interesting principle that basically describes what happens when our conscious state isn't matching up with what's really going on in the present moment of competition. An example that Gary Mack uses is actually one from golf, from 1999 at the British Open. An excerpt from the book states, “Jean Van de Velde was ahead, leading the 1999 British Open by three shots and with only one hole to go, many would have played it safe.” The issue here was that Van de Velde had been playing aggressively the whole tournament and had been doing really well. At the time, he was actually 150-1 underdog leading the tournament on the final day, having played aggressively all week. So what did he do? He played aggressively, he had been doing it all week. Unfortunately, this resulted in him hitting a triple bogey on the last hole and then losing in the play-off.

What really happened here was that Van de Velde said to himself, ‘I've played aggressive and I've been successful, that's what I need to do in this moment.’ Realistically, he should have played it safe. He had a lead that he could protect and we may never know what would’ve happened had he played it safe. What were the risks in that situation? What was the assessment there? Playing it safe might have resulted in an outcome that would have been more in his favor. Effectively, what he was thinking wasn't matching up with playing it safe. In reality, he was thinking, ‘I have to be more aggressive. I've been aggressive this whole time, why stop now?’ But in that exact situation, what were the odds that aggression was actually going to pay off versus playing it safe?

Cognitive dissonance is really important when we're talking about performance, it's really about evaluating the situation and recognizing, what can I do to be successful in this situation, not necessarily what I did last time but what I can do right now. So in Van de Velde’s situation, he wasn't comfortable playing it safe even though that was probably what the situation realistically called for. That’s another great example of where mental toughness could take over in that situation to say hold on, calm it down, take a step back, and let's recognize what the situation calls for so I can enable peak performance.

Inner Excellence

The last major concept discussed in Mind Gym is inner excellence – what can you say about your excellence in terms of athletics and performance and just in general, everyday life? Inner excellence is something that we all certainly strive for. In Mind Gym, Gary Mack talks about 10 qualities of inner excellence: dreaming, responsibility, optimism, emotional control, character, commitment, openness, self-confidence, the adversity threshold, and persistence/patience.

We’ll start with dreaming. We all have to be dreamers for sure. Nelson Mandela said, “There's no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” In terms of inner excellence, dreaming is definitely a quality that needs to be present. Nearly every professional athlete or anyone at a certain level in their career will tell you that they first dreamed of being there.

As far as responsibility, it goes without saying is that we are responsible for our own actions. In terms of inner excellence, it's about showing up every day, that consistency, that Kaizen. That is what you are responsible for. Responsibility is surely a part of attaining inner excellence and becoming your own MVP.

Optimism, again, anyone who’s played at an elite level will understand that you just have to be optimistic about it. Realistically, the odds are usually against you. If you think about making any pro league or fitness goals or coaching and winning a championship or showing up to every single workout, something's going to come up, but you have to be optimistic that you're going to eventually reach your destination.

Emotional control is another big one. This can also be referred to as mental toughness in the sense that staying level-headed, remaining calm, and keeping control of emotions is very important. Letting your emotions get the best of you in situations typically won’t lead to high performance. Of course, there will be moments, but how do we reflect on those moments of perhaps losing control and not make them commonplace?

Character, not just individual strength of character, but also  character in terms of helping others. When it comes to being a team player, inner excellence cannot be attained without strong character. It's pretty straightforward. We all have to be givers of our talents as well as anything that we have to offer of value.

Commitment happens day in and day out. This means being committed to your SMART goals and your Kaizen, commitment to consistency.

Openness is manifested as a willingness to take criticism, to take coaching, to take to take help when you need it. Openness is actually almost one of the hidden components in this list of 10 - It's something that can get overlooked easily especially because sometimes our journeys to inner excellence can feel quite like a solo effort, but without that openness, it'll be much more difficult.

Self-confidence means we have to be able to hear that openness but also understand that we can achieve these goals, we can do it with the consistency, and we can understand situations where we need to adapt. Self-confidence is really about understanding situations and knowing that you're prepared for them. In terms of Mind Gym, that means doing the work, the mental toughness exercises to be prepared so when the time comes, you can turn pressure into a positive experience instead of a negative one.

The adversity threshold that Gary Mack talks about in Mind Gym is a certain threshold of adversity that we have to be able to withstand. There is no easy path to obtaining inner excellence or peak performance. We have to understand that adversity is going to come in waves and that there's a threshold where you must maintain your self-confidence, keep that pressure positive, maintain the consistency, set the SMART goals, work through the exercises and you'll be able to fight off that adversity for that time. Doing this will better prepare you for the  next set of adversities.

And last but not least, persistence and patience. Nothing can be attained without persistence and patience and it's a lifetime journey. None of us achieve anything in a short period of time in terms of inner excellence and peak performance. Persistence and patience, like openness, are almost one of those hidden gems in this list of 10 qualities of inner excellence. When you look at it, the other nine principles hinge on persistence and patience. Most people want results right away but it takes persistence and patience to work at what you want every day and get results.

We’ve gone over a few key insights from the book: fear of failure, Kaizen, SMART goals, cognitive dissonance, and inner excellence. Alright team, go out and read Mind Gym by Gary Mack.

Our summaries are available at fitknowts.com as 5-page PDFs or audio summaries of 20 minutes or less.

Perform Your Best When It Matters Most

Do you feel as though you do not have the level of success that you should have? You are not alone, this is a common concern for many people. The good news is that there are a few simple techniques you can start using right now that will help you feel at the top of your game and help you realize that you are worthy of whatever dreams that you may have. How is this possible? With the three principles of Julie Bell’s Performance Intelligence Coaching! These three principles include: making your mind powerful, controlling your mind, and understanding that you have a choice in every situation.

How to Increase Performance Intelligence

According to Julie Bell, in her book Performance Intelligence at Work, the three principles that are listed above are the starting blocks for getting your mind into the game, so to speak. You need to:

  1. Have a target
  2. Have confidence in the decision, and
  3. Focus on what you need to do in order to succeed

How Do You Know What Changes to Make?

In order to first make any decision that is going to change your level of success, you must listen to yourself. Listen to your own mind, those thoughts that you may not have been giving a voice to that are going to tell you just what you should be doing—these are your interpersonal thoughts and are often the goals and choices that your mind wishes you had made. Your mind is that powerful!

How Can You Control your Mind?

We have all second-guessed ourselves in the past, thus the idea of having control over your mind is often thought to be harder than you realize. In order to perform at your optimal level, you must realize that your mind may sometimes seem like it is playing tricks on you, however, there are a few things that you can do to gain clarity:

  1. Find facts that support your decision that will have you moving forward with a decision
  2. Combine physical activity with the evaluation process to help change your state
  3. Do not be intimidated by any change that you are making

Do you Really have a Choice?

Yes! You have a choice no matter what the decision is that you are making! The choices you make are your own, so you need to focus on performance intelligence. Julie Bell utilizes performance intelligence training in order to help a person to change their mindset—to go from thinking that things just happen to you, to learning that you can make changes in your life for the better. 

If you find yourself in this scenario, a place where you believe that you don't have a choice to make a change, it is advised by Julie that you acknowledge that every thought you have is going to make you either more confident or more doubtful. You must find the thoughts that tap into your personal strengths, skills and talents in order to reach your true potential—this is something that many leaders throughout the world have realized. Understanding your own mind, finding strengths that you must work with and then learning your optimal methods for getting what you want, are the paths to finding true success.

Learn more from Julie Bell in Performance Intelligence at Work by subscribing to our Plus Plan here.

Resolve to Have a Champion Mindset

With New Years’ right around the corner, what type of resolutions do you have? Are there certain habits that you are hoping to kick, or maybe pick up? This is the time of year in which adopting a Champion Mindset is going to be one of the best ways to get what you want out of life, in the best possible way. Rather than relying on resolutions that you may or may not stick to, why not invest in a new outlook?

What is the Champion Mindset?

One of the biggest questions to answer is, just what is the Champion Mindset? This is the principle that is found in The Way of the Champion by Jerry Lynch, and it is one book that you need to read before 2018 gets here! Ultimately, a champion mindset is meant to help a person, whether they be an athlete, coach, trainer or weekend warrior, practice the daily habits that are those of a champion.

What are the Qualities of a Champion?

To truly understand what adopting a champion mindset is going to mean, you must understand the qualities that make up a champion. According to Jerry Lynch these include:

  1. Having Self-Awareness: This not only includes knowing what your own strengths and weaknesses are, but also knowing those who oppose you. You need to have self-awareness of who you are on a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional level. You must remain dedicated, always “staying the course” even when there is uncertainty or you have people who are against you—this will be easier once you are truly self-aware.
  2. You must understand and implement into your life the way of strategic positioning: This refers to knowing when you need to make changes for a specific situation or for life in general. In this quality, the most important thing to remember is that preparation is key to gaining your best strategic position.
  3. Have a competitive advantage: This means that you will stare fear in the eyes and emerge safely on the other side, whether this is in sport or in life. Along with this you will learn that fatigue is a part of the game, and you are going to fail at times, but every failure is a learning opportunity. In addition, you must practice the competitive virtues of the heart as defined by Jerry Lynch as compassion, modesty, persistence, courage, yielding, fortitude, belief, sacrifice, and respect.
  4. Learn team unity and leadership: In the end, you will find that a cohesive team attitude is the only way to win, whether that be in professional or personal relationships, on the field or off, we have to pick each other up.

Use The Way of the Champion to help define your habits for the New Year. Adopt a Champion Mindset to know yourself better—in exhibiting the qualities of a champion in every endeavour, you can bet you will get what you want out of 2018, and isn't that what resolutions are all about?

Get access to more key insights from Jerry Lynch in The Way of The Champion by signing up for our Plus Plan here.

Are You Reading Efficiently?

Living in the Information Age means that, well, there is information everywhere!  Staying on top of everything that you need to read is often a challenge.  Whether it be for school, work, or professional development, many of us need to not only find the time to read, but sometimes we need to do it in a timely fashion.  The question then isn't how much are you reading, but, instead, are you reading efficiently to get the most out of the material?

Our infographic below provides great tips for improving your reading efficiency.  At fit knowts we incorporate efficiency principles into every one of our carefully curated summaries, so that you can learn from the best, in less time.


Improve Your Physical Literacy With Functional Training

If you ran, jumped, climbed, rolled – played – a lot as a child, though it didn’t look like a studious endeavour, you were in fact improving your literacy, your physical literacy that is.  Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments.  Literacy is a fitting term because it denotes a level of competency and, similar to reading, once these physical skills are developed, to a certain extent, they tend to stay with you, think of riding a bike for example.

You can think of your movement patterns as the vocabulary of your physical library, while we all learned the basics in our early years – squat, walk, run, jump – to improve our physical literacy as adults it is necessary to expand our vocabulary once the basics have been mastered. The benefits of improving your physical literacy include: the ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement (ex. coaches and trainers), the ability to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, creatively and strategically across a wide range of health-related physical activities (ex. athletes at any level), and the ability to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of your whole self, others and the environment (ex. wellness enthusiasts).

But, how do you further develop your physical literacy as an adult? What kind of activities or exercises help? That’s where functional training enters the picture.  Functional training trains movement, not muscles, it is in effect purposeful training, training for sports and for life.  Through exercises such as single-leg split squats, kettlebell swings, pull-ups, medicine ball throws, and agility ladder drills, it is possible to expand the vocabulary of your physical library.

In New Functional Training for Sports, author Michael Boyle provides the recipe for an effective functional training program.  As an expert in strength and conditioning, functional training and general fitness with years of experience working with athletes at all levels, including professional athletes and Olympians, Michael provides key insights for those seeking to strengthen the foundation of their physical literacy.

Already fancy yourself a pro? Take our quiz below to test your knowledge of the most and least functional exercises frequently found in training programs.


Learn more from Michael Boyle in the June edition of our newsletter, subscribe here to get your free copy!


Boyle, Michael. New Functional Training for Sports. Human Kinetics, 2016.

International Physical Literacy Association. https://www.physical-literacy.org.uk/

Physical and Health Education Canada. "What is Physical Literacy?" http://www.phecanada.ca/programs/physical-literacy/what-physical-literacy

Active for Life. "An Introduction to Physical Literacy" http://activeforlife.com/rbc-physical-literacy/