Fitness with Max Wettstein

10 ways to Hack Your Fitness

We used to call `em fitness tips but now the latest trend is to call them fitness hacks, and I desire to be a trend follower. I suppose there is something more to a hack: If something is going to be a labeled a hack then it had better be some sort of game-changing, time-saving short cut. It should be so significant, in fact, that it should almost feel like you’re cheating. Well, I can’t promise you anything quite that mind-blowing here, but I have compiled a pretty worthy list of my favorite fitness hacks, which will definitely save you time and get you results. While those who know me know I am an advocate of making fitness part of a holistic lifestyle, and that I am not into trendy, fad diets or one-size-fits-all approaches, there is nothing wrong with optimizing or streamlining your training to maximize exercise value. Training smarter and not just harder should always be a welcome strategy.

Of course, there really are no shortcuts or miracles, but there are some hacks. Some of them are so simple they should be common sense, while others hopefully are new ideas to you.

In no particular order:

01 Train using full-body, functional movements.

Skip the isolation exercises unless you’re rehabbing an injury or bringing up a weak body part. Isolation exercises should be left to bodybuilders, physique athletes and fitness models who are paid to look perfect and symmetrical. While you no doubt want to look good, your primary goals should be mobility, health, longevity and perhaps athletic performance. Full-body, functional exercises that synergistically involve multiple muscle groups accomplish all these goals in the shortest amount of time. These include burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, planks and box-jumps. It’s amazing what a nice physique these movements will produce inherently.

02 Train at high intensity most of the time.

High intensity training maximizes your exercise value, giving you the most bang for your buck, in the least amount of time. It also triggers a lot of post-exercise, metabolism-boosting, pro-hormone affects, lasting hours afterwards. You can increase your intensity level by reducing your rest duration between sets, using circuit-training principles where you alternate antagonistic muscle groups, increase load, increase reps or any combination of the aforementioned. If you desire to reach failure levels, then you must follow with a brief resting interval, usually performed using a 1:3 working-to-resting interval ratio, also known as high intensity interval training (HIIT).

03 Adopt an adaptable and flexible training mindset.

This open-minded mentality needs to reach across all aspects of your training because that is what uber-busy, successful people do. They always have a back-up plan and can call the workout audible at a moment’s notice. Had a morning yoga session planned but now the surf is going off- Go surfing. Had a morning workout planned but now the wife says you have to take the kids to school or the boss calls a meeting? Shift training to lunch or after work. Had chest-day planned and all the bench presses are taken? Do dumbbell press-es or push-ups. Gym is closed? Train outdoors wit-h just your bodyweight. All this means you always should have a set of workout clothes with you. Keep them in your car and/or your office. Opportunities abound to fit in random, bonus workouts, especially if you’re a runner. The unexpected benefit of this type of type of training mentality is you never get stuck in a plateau-inducing, complacent, routine rut. Some call this the training principle of muscle confusion.

04 Build accountability into your fitness.

This is a topic I covered before that is absolutely critical to every successful training or weight-loss plan. There are many ways to create workout accountability in your life. The number one way is to hire a trainer. Once you’re forking out money every month, you’re not going to waste it, and that is what trainers do best: Hold you accountable! Think about it: How much work would you get done if you didn’t have a boss holding you accountable? Oth-er more simple ways are to buy a home scale and weigh yourself weekly if not daily to at least track trends before they get out of hand. A more fun way is to join a sports competition team or meet-up where you have teammates counting on you to show up. Another way is to shamelessly declare your fitness goal on your social media feeds so all 5,000 of your trolling “friends” will be sure to offer their encouragement. Enter a race, perhaps? At the ve-ry least, schedule your workout into your digital calendar the night before via your smartphone!

05 Use supplements.

I am well aware, thanks to all my Encinitas’ hipster friends, that nothing beats eating organic, locally sourced, sustainable, non-GMO, unprocessed whole foods, but for those rare occasions when we don’t have access to or time to prepare them, supplements can conveniently fill in the gaps! I know the supplement industry can be shady, is unregulated, and costly, but it is worthwhile to have some trusted brands of protein or MRP powders and bars always on hand. Ready-to-eat and no refrigeration required, or they shake-up in seconds, either providing you instantly the fuel you need to train or the nutrients you need to recover. What’s more, the top shelf brands nowadays are so good many of them are more nutrient dense than their whole-food counterparts. Plus, with a trusted bar always on hand, you’re less likely to make a bad snack choice when food options are limited.

06 Maximize your daily fat-burning window by performing cardio in a fasting state, before breakfast.

If fat burning or weight loss is your primary fitness goal, then know that the most ideal, naturally occurring window of opportunity to maximize your chances is when you first wake up after fasting all night (because you were sleeping). At this critical moment upon waking you are currently burning mostly stored fat for fuel, your stomach is empty and your blood sugar is stabilized. The stage is now set to access and burn even more stored fat by training aerobic-cardio while in this fasting state. To mobilize and access yet even more stored fat, you can consume a serving of caffeine via black coffee, tea or a pre-workout supplement. (Caffeine unlocks and mobilizes fat-stores.) Note: If you are concerned about catabolizing muscle tissue for energy then you can also consume either one scoop (20 grams) of whey protein powder mixed with water or eat a teaspoon of coconut or MCT oil along with your black coffee or tea. The MCT (medium chained triglyceride) fat found in coconut burns like a carbohydrate but without triggering insulin or disturbing blood-sugar balance. To be clear, if your primary training goal is athletic performance or building muscle, then training before consuming a balanced breakfast may not be ideal as your energy levels will not be topped off.

07 Get smart with your smartphone.

Gadgets can be good. Download a workout application on your smartphone or wear a fitness bracelet for immediate physiological feedback. Immediate performance and completion data feedback, such as how many calories you’re burning, your heart rate, distance traveled or elevation gained, is very rewarding and empowering. It can serve as a catalyst to propel you to the next level or workout, track trends/progress and serve as another accountability tool. Fitness bracelets and their associated downloadable smartphone apps do all this and more, plus they can suggest workouts and provide detailed exercise guidance via photos and videos. It’s like having your own virtual trainer everywhere you go while automatically updating your workout log, only for hardly any cost! I should know, I helped create one.

08 Multi-task. Let your ADD diagnosis work for you.

Need to make some phone calls? Put on your Bluetooth headset and talk while you walk. Have to take your kids to their practice? Train with them or train while they train. That’s what I do. Wife or girlfriend has you pinned down for a lunch date? Take a rain check on lunch and make it a fitness date instead: Go for a run, hike or bike ride together. Listen,
Cosmo says if you agree to do a yoga class with your chick, you will be her hero for the week. Need to listen to some podcasts or audio books for work research? Again, put on your Bluetooth headset and listen while you work out. Have a progressive, hipster boss? See if he’ll invest in a treadmill desk or standing desk for your office space; you’ll be less likely to fall asleep without a chair and be twice
as productive.

09 Make it FUN. Perhaps the biggest hack of all.

If you can find a way to make your workout the highlight of your day–literally your dopamine-boosting drug of choice–you will then discover that you miraculously possess endless amounts of energy to give to exercise. You won’t want to quit. The best way to do this to find a sport or activity you love and then do it at all costs. My wife and I are only half way joking when I say she thinks she’s a pro beach volleyball player and I think I’m a pro surfer … at age 45! The fitness magic happens only once it becomes literally addicting. Veteran world class athletes call this feeling, this state of mind, FLOW.

10 Use positive self-talk and affirmations daily—or go get hypnotized.

Instruct yourself daily (without judgment) that you are “fit and strong” and that you are “a powerful, fit warrior,” or something to this effect. Repeat this out loud to yourself several times daily. If you have the motive and the means, visit a sports psychologist to experience the sincere power of suggestion (hypnosis) and learn about self?fulfilling prophecy to instill within you that you are becoming the confident, fit athlete you desire to be. You think I’m kidding? I couldn’t be more serious. You also have to hack into your mind. Ask yourself this: If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will? Get radical with your fitness and realize your full potential. The time is now.