One Ab Exercise to Rule Them All

by Michael Plank

 

At this point, most everyone knows that it’s good to have strong abs. They protect your spine, make you an efficient athlete, provide a solid platform for other strength work, and they look cool. But where to start? There are literally millions of articles on how to train your abs. Should you do crunches? Sit-ups? Leg lifts? Bicycle crunches? It depends. It depends on what you like, what you’re willing to do, and what you want to accomplish. But if your goal is to make your abs strong, there is one clear winner in our opinion: the Hollow.

There is nothing we’ve come across that beats the Hollow position and variations for building incredible core strength. Here’s how to add it into your routine…

Begin by finding a variation from the video that you can hold for 20 seconds (If the bent hollow is too challenging, start with a plank off your elbows, or off your hands, or leaning on a table, or leaning on a wall). Then, 2-5 days each week, do a Tabata of static holds. That is, whichever variation you’ve chosen, hold that position for as many seconds as possible in a 20-second interval, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 7 more times for a total of 4 minutes. (To make it easier, use an online Tabata timer like this one.)

Once that gets easy, move to the next variation. When you can do a Tabata of full hollow holds, drop back to bent hollow holds and start holding the position for as long as possible. Once you are able to hold the variation for 2 minutes, move to the next variation. An unbroken 2-minute full hollow hold reflects elite levels of core strength! This is just a few sentences, but it represents months, or even years of strength training!

(Note: There are a lot of ways to do gymnastics movements that are almost correct, but not quite. Details matter here. It’s much more effective to do a perfect variation that’s “easier” than a sloppy version of a more advanced variation.)

Whatever your physical goals are, whether aesthetic or performance, a stronger set of core muscles will help. And best of all, the hollow variations don’t need any equipment at all and you don’t need more than a few minutes to work on them!

Meet Client Success Manager Kerri!

by Kerri Dalaba

A little over a year ago I made the decision to walk through the doors of UPCF for my No Sweat Intro. I was never one to truly care about how much exercise I got or what I was eating until I was in my later college years. In high school, I was the girl that quit basketball to join the bowling team (sorry, Mom). Who wouldn’t want to eat cheese fries and play a sport at the same time? Fast forward a few years from there, I got into running because I was inspired by Kik who had just done a half marathon with some of her friends. I was amazed by them, which led me to be able to say I did one too. I’ll never forget when Kik saw me near the finish and rodeup beside me on her bike to help get me across that line with other friends and family waiting for me.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I started weight training. I worked closely with a personal trainer (who I will always credit for showing me what weight training can do for you) and I was in the best shape of my life. But then life threw some curveballs.

In 2020, I moved back to the area after living in Latham for a few years. I’m originally from Fort Edward and had always thought it was so awesome to see UPCF, a thriving business, in my hometown. I knew of some people who had previously been members and of course knew the wonderful Kik (who you all know and love). After failed attempts at workouts from home (during another curveball called Covid) and being tired of the way I was feeling, I knew I needed to do something about it.

I had my No Sweat Intro with Michael in October of 2020. He helped give me an idea of what UPCF was like and he also wanted to know my Why for walking through the doors. I knew right away that this was a place that cared. They care about your goals. They care about your safety. They care if you had a bad day. They care about YOU. I cannot thank the amazing staff enough for what they have taught me. I truly believe my mental health is the strongest it has ever been. The rollercoaster of hating myself once the weekend was over and comparing myself to how I once looked in the past all needed to end.

Are some days harder to motivate myself to workout? You bet. But as soon as I walk through those doors, am I happier? You bet. I am not one to flaunt confidence, but I am definitely more confident and prouder of myself than I have ever been. It’s not the daily battle of what the scale says anymore. It is now shifting to wanting to be able to do “that movement” or “that weight.” I now fully understand that life is always going to get in the way of goals you have, but how you react – creating habits and finding somewhere and something that you love – will make all the difference. I’m so inspired by the other members and the coaches and I truly feel like I have become a better person since joining. And THAT is what keeps me coming back…oh and getting stronger is also freaking cool too.

I’m so excited to be able to do a little more for a place I love. Interacting with you members and coaches are some of the best parts of my day!

10 Tips for Improving in 2022

by Aimee Wojtowecz

Everyone thinks the trick to getting started is motivation. But what is motivation? Motivation is having the self-discipline to do the things we know are good for us right? 

So how do we get more self-discipline? We all want more. Is there a self-discipline tree out there we can go rip a few leaves off of? Just imagine how much easier life would be if eating right wasn’t such a struggle or a trip to the gym wasn’t a fight with yourself! Thankfully self-discipline is a trait that anyone can master. You don’t have to be born with the ability. In fact, by following a few simple tips, you can start improving your self-discipline skills almost immediately. Here’s how:

  • Understand What’s Particularly Tempting

We all have something we want to improve. Whether we can’t say no to the salty snacks or wind up staying up too late night after night, we’re looking at the same solution: self-discipline. By knowing what our triggers are, we can come up with ideasto overcome them.

  • Change Your Environment

Once you know what tempts you, the simple solution is to remove the trigger from your environment. Easier said than done right? Start with just one thing, “this week I’m not buying that bag of potato chips when I go grocery shopping”. If they never make it to your environment they can’t be there to tempt you. 

  • Set a Goal

Without a goal, how can you plan any changes? Ask what you’re trying to change. What does your new future look like for you? Make an action plan to take you there. Seek extra help if necessary! 

  • Practice

Self-discipline doesn’t happen overnight. The only way you’re going to learn it is to practice it. Look at the plan you just created. What steps does it require? Push yourself to act on those steps, daily. If daily is too much, start with weekly, or monthly. Baby steps at first, and then get better over time.

  • Break Things Down into Smaller Habits

Change is more natural to make when the steps are kept small and very simple. Break things down to their smallest components. What’s something small you can do today to help you build the habit of self-discipline? Start with just 5 minutes. 

  • Pay Attention to Your Body

Your physical health will always affect your willpower, so taking care of the basics, such as getting enough sleep and exercising regularly will help you to have better self-discipline.

  • Gain a New Perspective

The moment you start thinking you have no self-discipline, or that your willpower is a finite resource, you start limiting yourself. By changing your inner dialogue, you’re more likely to have success. Remind yourself often: “I’ve got this.” 

  • What’s Plan B?

When going into a difficult situation where you know self-discipline will be challenged, create a backup plan. Know before you begin just what you’re going to do if things don’t go exactly as you’d like them to. Implement as needed.

  • Use Rewards

When you succeed in your goals, don’t be afraid to allow yourself a small reward! As human beings, we’re wired to work our best when we know we’re going to get something out of the experience we want. 

  • Know How to Move On

Something you wished you’d done differently? Forgive yourself and then keep going. You’re not a robot. Things come up and there are hiccups and setbacks. It’s what you do next that matters most.

If all of this sounds great but still overwhelming, join our upcoming Nutrition Challenge! Over 28 days we lead you through a series of habits that are purposely designed to fit into your lifestyle, PLUS you get the accountability and support of your coach and other challenge members. #strongertogether

Sign up>>>>HERE

Failure vs Feedback

by Michael Plank

Imagine that it’s 40,000 years ago. You and your friends grab your spears and journey out of your caves to hunt and gather and feed your small band of humans. Along the way, you stop to pick some berries. You set down your spear and step a little deeper into the bushes, picking ripe, juicy berries as you go. All of a sudden you hear a growl and look up to lock eyes with a saber-toothed cat. It starts to walk menacingly toward you and you pick up a rock and shout and throw the rock and hit the cat square between the eyes… but it keeps coming.

Now… do you hang your head in shame? Do you kick the dust and start thinking about what a dumb idea it was to use a rock? About what an unworthy idiot you are who can’t do anything right? Do you think that you might as well just give up since you failed so miserably to scare away the predator?

OR…

Do you say to yourself, “F! That didn’t work!” and then look around for your spear, or your friends, or some cover, or anything else?

If you imagined yourself making it out of that situation, I’m guessing you went with Option 2.

But so often, that’s not what we do when we’re in regular, every day situations. When we try something and it doesn’t work, instead of saying “Huh. That didn’t work. Let me try something else.” We apply deep judgment to the fact that a thing didn’t work, and then we tell ourselves stories about what that means about who we are as people.

But there’s no failure. Not in the judgment-laden, shame-inducing way we think about it. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that that kind of failure exists, but only in our minds.

There’s no failure. There’s only feedback. So especially as we close out a year that we started full of hopes and expectations and goals, if what you tried didn’t work, acknowledge it, dust yourself off, and try something else in 2022.

Set Yourself Up for Success

by Michael Plank

 

It’s just about that time of year!

“New Year, New You.”

“It’s YOUR year.”

“THIS year will be different.”

We’ve been in this game for awhile now and have worked with literally hundreds of people on goals and resolutions over the last six years. Here’s the bad news right up front: roughly 80% of New Year’s Resolutions don’t last more than 6 weeks. But the good news is that it’s not that hard to be in the 20% that make it beyond that! Here’s how to do it:

1) PICK A RESOLUTION

One. Not two. Not five. Not nine. Pick one resolution. I’ve been in the lots-of-resolutions camp and started many January 1sts with 15 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of mobility, 4 meals that were all prepped and pre-packed, 5 minutes of journaling, a strenuous workout, prayer, scripture reading, more journaling before bed, and 8 hours of sleep. Guess how long that lasts? (I’ll give you a hint – you’ve got an 80% chance of being right). If the goal of a resolution is to make your life better, set yourself up for success by making it easy to focus. Pick one thing and it’ll be way easier to stay on track and not get overwhelmed by your new 14-step, 2-hour routine. One thing.

2) PICK THE BEST DOABLE OPTION

Avoid the Best Theoretical Option. Here’s what I mean: If you want to get more control over your in 2021, the Best Theoretical Option might be to work out 5 days a week, do 1-on-1 nutrition coaching, hire a house cleaner, hire an organizer, and start reading about personal finance and productivity. Great. But that’s a lot. You know what’s not a lot? Making your bed. But will coming home to a made bed at the end of the day move you one step closer to feeling like your life is under control? Yes. And would you actually be willing to spend 30 seconds in the morning do it? You probably would. Don’t pick the best thing that you could do (the Best Theoretical Option). Pick the best thing that you actually would do (the Best Doable Option). Remember that the goal is to move the needle, not to wake up on January 1st to a perfect life.

3) GET HELP

Get a friend who has a similar approach to progress (not necessarily a similar goal). Get an accountability buddy. Find social media groups for people doing what you’re doing. Read books, listen to podcasts. Best of all, hire a professional – someone who specializes in what you want to accomplish. For physical health, find a coach. For mental health, find a therapist. For spiritual health, find a clergy person or advisor. Or hire a guitar teacher, or writing coach! The point is to find someone who knows how to help people improve in the area that you are pursuing.

Remember that perfection is a myth. The route to real, lasting change is slow, maybe, but it’s steady. Ending 2022 a single step beyond where you are right now is progress that counts and is worth making. Progress is the magic.

Here’s to a 2022 that’s chock full of it!

Consistency is Key

by Michael Plank

There is a whole lot in this world that we can get nearly immediately. Results from fitness and nutrition aren’t one of those things. At least not if we want them to be results that are sustainable long-term without making us miserable human beings. But because there’s so much that we can get right now, it can be frustrating to wait for the results we work so hard for.

And so all the time we are tempted by intensity: 4 weeks to a bigger deadlift, 30-day detox, 90-day sprints, etc., etc. And look, we run a CrossFit gym. Intensity does have its place. But for long-term results, intensity isn’t the key. Consistency is the key. Sporadic intensity leads to yo-yo progress and frustrating. If you’re going to be intense with something, be intense with your consistency.

Lift weights, prioritize protein, veggies, and fruits, drink water, sleep, walk, stretch, put your phone down for a bit each day.

Then just keep doing that. It might be slow, it might be boring, but it works. And it works super well.