Strength training the ultimate supplement for entrepreneurs

There are many views on how you should live and prioritize your life as an entrepreneur. Some find the only way is to dedicate 25 hours of your day towards your company or goal. If you aren’t working all hours of the day, then maybe your competitors are and they are getting ahead. Eating, sleeping, being able to see the sky – useless – you lazy slob!

While this might work for some, primarily robots, computers and others who has the luxury of not being alive, it’s probably not the best way forward most of the time. There can be times where you need to do this because of tight deadlines and in those cases you should of course be willing to put in the work. But if it is your default state then I’ll try my skills as fortune teller and say that it won’t be for long.

One of the hard things with entrepreneurship is not getting recognition for your work. You can work your ass off for days on end without anything to show the outside world. Or perhaps you do have something to show the outside world, but getting traction can then be hit or miss. In other words your work/reward relationship is very non-linear. Over long periods of time this can be very frustrating. Getting acknowledgement for our work is a very basic and natural urge.

But as I have written before and will elaborate more on in the future you should not derive all your identity from one source. Meaning that if you get all your sense of identity from being an entrepreneur then your mood, sense of worth and general well-being is pretty much tied to the highly unpredictable rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship. You should of course be very proud of your accomplishments but if you are only “The entrepreneur” then you are very one-dimensional and may be more negatively impacted by adversity.

What you need is a way to spend your time that is more linear in terms of work/reward. You could of course always turn to drinking. Generally the more you drink the more drunk you get and the more days in a row you drink the more miserable you feel – all very linear. But perhaps an activity where the work/reward curve goes in the opposite direction will be more appropriate.

There are numerous way to go about this, but my personal recommendation would go towards strength training. You get to work with your body, you get to work with your mind, you get to work with your hands, you get to meet people who are not neck deep in the world of entrepreneurship.

Strength training is very linear in terms of work/reward. You can even put all your knowledge about 80/20 analysis etc. to good use both in terms of the training itself and nutrition. You’ll get a good break from whatever your endeavor is and may even find that during your workout you come up with solutions to problems you haven’t been able to solve or new business ideas.

A side effect of getting stronger and in better shape may even be more successful meetings as you standing more proud and erect before any person, will alter his or her perception of you. This may seem shallow but never underestimate the subtle cues of body language.

In other words the only real downside to strength training is really the time you need to allocate for it. And allocate it you should. Otherwise you’ll be very prone to postpone in the beginning and find ways in which working can be seen as more important. But 1-2 hours 2-3 times a week should be manageable for most – even the most prolific and busy entrepreneurs. It might be the best investment you’ll ever do.

Drinking water vs absorbing water

Most people probably drink too little water. They kill their thirst with some sort of bottled or canned alternative containing either none or lots of calories. Steering somewhat clear of that discussion I will focus on the ones who actually do turn to water whenever they feel thirsty and only uses the bottled and canned alternatives as a treat once in a while.

Once you find yourself in the latter group, you’re golden right? Not quite – but if you feel you’ve already done all you need to – then do not read on – but if you’re interested in one little missing piece of the puzzle, then please; read on.

There are somewhat differing views as to how much water we actually need each day. Of course this also heavily depends on who you are and what you do. Luckily our body is pretty well suited to telling us when we are thirsty – if then only we remember to answer this calling with the right substance – meaning water. But adding to this, a little tip is that you can also monitor the color of your pee as this is a pretty good indicator of your current water levels in the body. It should be almost clear – the more yellow it is the more you’re in need of water. Of course your morning urine will almost always be yellow – but from there it should be pretty close to clear.

But even this advice will not necessarily keep you in the sweet spot – because you can also have too much water – then you start excreting all the nice vitamins in your body – which by no means is the goal. I was in this group. I drank lots of water and had always done so. But my frequent trips to the toilet left me questioning whether I actually absorbed any of this water or it just sort of had a fast-track route through me.

Researching a bit on this lead me to a somewhat controversial mineral; salt. Lots of people almost swear that this kills you as fast as saturated fat did some years back. They will scan through all ingredients in everything they buy looking for this big read flashing sign saying “RADIOACTIVE” or “salt” as they sometimes spell it. Of course this is not the way to do it – just as well as only eating food covered in salt isn’t. As with anything – moderation is king!

Your body needs salt especially in regards to the topic of this post – absorption of water. Salt plays a vital role in your cells absorption of water. And why is this important – the important part must be just drinking the water, then the rest takes care of itself. Well not quite. As mentioned earlier if you aren’t absorbing the water it just sort of runs through you without actually doing any good – or as much good as it’s supposed to.

For your cells and your muscles to work properly they need the water, but not just running past them – they need it to enter. This is where salt comes into play [reference].

But then how should you go about having the right amount of salt to absorb the water? Is it a matter of putting more salt on your meals?

In my experience this doesn’t quite solve the problem. It is as if you need rather large quantities of salt on your food to get around this issue and to be fair you probably do not drink all your water around your meals. And now you can probably see where we are going…

Adding salt to the water itself. But if you’ve ever heard good ol’ advice on how to make people puke you will probably connect the dots and look like a big question mark. Saltwater is very efficient at making people puke if they have eaten something they shouldn’t – but the amount and quality of salt is key here.

You shouldn’t add kilos of ordinary table salt to a small glass of water and call it a day – or you may – because you’ll be feeling very bad afterwards if you manage to drink it. What you should be doing is buy some quality salt and only adding very little to your water. My go-to type is himalayan salt like this: Himalayan Crystal Salt – Dark Pink but no need to buy it of the internet you can probably find it in your local shop. If it looks something like this – then you’re probably golden. Billede 09-08-15 15.02.07

I add a small pinch between two fingers to my can of 2 litres – which equates to 8-10 small pieces. It doesn’t taste like salt at all and I am very adverse to the taste of saltwater, so I wouldn’t be able to drink it if it did.

After doing this my frequent trips to the toilet has stopped. I do not drink as much water but feel better. My body seems to actually make good use of the water instead of just being a fancy water fountain that carries the water from the tap to the toilet. If you can recognise any of the symptoms then try it yourself.

Intermittent fasting and meal/macro periodization

As I have written many times before, I am a long time follower of intermittent fasting(IF). So long that I have even forgot when I actually started, but probably like 6 years ago. My take on IF is a 16/8 approach – 16 hours without any calories and only black coffee, tea and water, and then the 8 hour feeding window. I therefore eat my first meal at 11am and the last one at around 18-19pm. There are a lot of wild claims behind IF, but my main reason for sticking with it is that it really fits both my goal, my schedule and my appetite. In short it just works for me.

There are however a few areas where this approach is backed by science. First of all, when you wake after a long night’s sleep your body is generally in “fat-burning-mode”. In order for the body to get out of this mode all you need is some carbohydrates(carbs) – but this is not really what I or any other human being looking to stay lean wants. You can start your day with a meal consisting of only protein and fat to counter this “problem” or you can, as I have skip breakfast altogether and thereby your keep you body in “fat-burning-mode” for longer.

Taking this a step further my first meal at around 11am does not really include any carbs either. As long as I do not have to compete in sprinting or anything else where I need to perform at my best (in which case all this goes out the window – but I’ll cover this in a post about both meal, training and psychology leading up to competition) I do not need any carbs at around 11am in the morning. All the physical activity the next hours will be done primarily by my fingers and my brain anyway – the protein and fat will fuel that just fine.

Then moving on to my second meal at around 3pm. This will be the first time of day where I eat any significant amount of carbs as this meal will fuel my training, being either track & field sprinting or strength training. The carbs in this meal is to fuel my performance, but there are however exceptions. In my case I have a leisure/light running session on saturdays for instance. This is around 3 miles in relaxing tempo. Those days I would switch and have the running first – in order to burn fat, and then have the meal afterwards to fill up glycogen and help recover. In other words my carbs are very much ingested for two reasons:

  1. Before an intense workout where the goal is not to burn fat but to perform at my best.
  2. After workout to fill up glycogen and help recover.

The last point leads to my final meal of the day; dinner. This is probably highest in carbs of all meals or close to similar with second meal of the day. This could usually be 180g(before being cooked) of rice. If you are active and needs to perform in any high intensity sport, you need carbs. So dinner is usually where I’ll have most of them, it is also most often right after either sprint or strength training where I’ll have “earned” my carbs.

Periodization of meals or macro’s is not as important as having your diet dialed in, in the first place. But once you are comfortable with how much you need this might be a good second step. It sure has helped me be lean for the last 6 years year round. Whether you want to combine it with IF or not is entirely up to you, it works either way. It just takes advantage of the natural changing of hormones in your body throughout the day into account.

How to do cold showers

Turn on the cold water – duh!

Nahh – this is not going to be some long explanation of why cold showers is a good idea and not some crazy way to make them easy. It’s just going to be a few easy points on how to make them more bearable and therefore enabling you to stay a bit longer under the cold fountain of iron forging hell that cold showers can feel like.

Optimally you would have a nice ice bath to lower yourself into, but if you are somewhat normal you probably do not have that option. The layman edition of cold showers include such advanced remedies as this long exhausting list:

  • Shower
  • Cold water

So I do not expect to have lost anyone so far.

As with anything that is labelled beneficial or optimal from food to training programs, it is not as much about finding the optimal food or program but what works optimal for exactly your situation. As this blogs mantra “keep it simple” underlines – we are looking to get as much bang for the buck as possible – not trying to coach elite Olympic athletes into shaving of hundreds of a second.

So how to approach the cold shower? First of; it is not supposed to be easy. You can ease into it by starting warm and gradually going colder, but eventually you should just find yourself standing under the cold water as it gently caresses, or as you would probably describe it; sharply stings and freezes your body.

Cold showers are as much an exercise in toughness and mental strength as a way to improve your health. Suck it up!

But there are a few key points to make them more bearable. If you keep your face and your hands outside of the water you will last way longer. This may be a problem if you have a very fancy shower that totally covers your body, but if you live somewhat ordinarily with the water coming either directly down from the top or at an angle from the wall, you will have options to try this out. I have a shower where the water comes at an angle and I usually switch between having it hit my chest and down and the upper part of my back and down. Not having my face and hands directly in the stream of cold water greatly increases the amount of time I am able to spend underneath it. And as the “goal” of cold showers is lowering body temperature, then this is not even “cheating” or taking anything away from that.

The other key point is keeping track of your breath and relaxing. If you tense up entirely and start almost hyperventilating even before hitting the water, you are not going to last many seconds underneath it. Take some deep breaths and try to relax. I really think meditation has helped me with this part, but I can help myself by focusing on some thought or maybe even just a point on the wall and then just sticking with it almost “ignoring” the cold water on my body.

Try to tell yourself that it is okay, rather than fill your body with fear of this all-conquering force trying to freeze you to death. You are going to be okay and you can anytime you want abort mission.

If you try these to little tricks I am sure that your cold showers will last longer. Not promising that they will be pleasant or that you will go from having hated them to loving them – but it should enhance the effect of them by enabling you to stay under for longer. Good luck!

Reduce pre-workout supplement sleep problems

How do you get to sleep normally while taking pre-workout supplements? Some people do not experience any problems, but for a lot of people preworkout supplements messes with their sleep. The easy way to avoid this of course is to just skip the pre-workout altogether, but I know from my own experience how tough this can be. Because pre-workout supplements actually works, you CAN feel a difference. I learned to go without them, but this post will focus more on what you can do if you cannot live without your pre-workout.

If you are having trouble sleeping while taking pre-workout supplements, then first of all realize that you are compromising your sleep and as far as sleep concerns you are starting from a dug out hole. But know that you take your pre-workout, what can you do to optimize your sleep and perhaps counteract some of the negatives from the pre-workout.

You can of course start by trying different types of pre-workout to see if any of them has less negative effect on your sleep. I have detailed my experiences with different types here(which may be where you came from) Trouble sleeping because of pre-workout supplements?. Further more experience with the minimum dose you need in order to feel the effect of the supplement, this may be less than what is actually recommended on the supplement itself.

Studies has shown that coffee after just 1 pm can affect your sleep. As most pre-workout supplements are way stronger than a cup of coffee, this may be something to have in mind. Can you train earlier or perhaps ingest your pre-workout earlier to avoid problems?

Then work on your sleep hygiene. As you are compromised on some areas, work to improve on others. Good sleep hygiene includes the following:

  • Pitch black room
  • Absolute silence
  • Cold or at least not too hot
  • Go to sleep and wake up same time everyday
  • Avoid light from pc’s, mobile devices, tv’s etc. before bedtime
  • Shower before bed
  • Trigger point massage
  • Read fiction before falling asleep

One of the problems during summer is you need to have your windows open to keep the temperature down, which potentially gives problems with light and noise. First pitch black room – is literally pitch black. If you can’t get pitch black with curtains, consider using a night mask – that helped me. To cancel out most of the noise from having open windows, I sleep with earplugs as well.

Your body likes regularities. You probably get hungry just about the same times everyday(of course determined by what you eat), and the same goes for sleep. If you get into a good pattern of going to sleep and waking up the same time everyday, then both falling asleep and getting up will be a lot easier.

If you have to work in front of your computer at night, then install f.lux. But really consider skipping all devices an hour before going to sleep and have as little light as possible as this automatically provokes tiredness.

The shower before bed can really help, but should you go with hot or cold? My experience is that if you shower at least an hour before going to bed, the cold shower can work. But if you shower just before going to bed I would go for the hot shower, since the cooling of the body afterwards again provokes tiredness.

As Kelly Starrett said somewhere; “How do you feel like after getting a massage; like hitting somebody?” And of course not, you are relaxed and tired. You can replicate some of this yourself. Get a tennis ball or anything similar, lay on the floor and roll around on it; on your back, thighs, standing on it and massage the underside of your feet etc. You are not aiming to do any specific changes, just roll around for 5-10 minutes, this may help you relax.

Lastly, if you read in bed before falling asleep, which I would strongly encourage, then keep your reading to something that won’t give you to much to think about. Which means this is not the time to read your business books, Feymans lectures on physics or any of the sort. Read fiction or anything you can consume without having to think too much about the content afterwards. You are aiming to calm your mind, not fuel it with ideas.

These were some tips on how you might reduce your sleep problems when taking pre-workout supplements. They really helped me, so I hope they can do the same for you. Feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments.

Minimum effective dose in training

If you are a professional athlete that lives of your training, this article is not for you. If you on the other hand have a lot of things going in your life but still prioritize your training, then this sure is for you.

Minimum effective dose is an expression primarily used in medicine. It’s kind of self-explanatory, but as I am gonna use it in regards to training, a few notes on what it actually means might be helpful.

To explain what it is, we might look at what it is not. Minimum effective dose does not imply; if X is minimum effective dose, then 2 times X must be 2 times more effective or more effective at all, for that matter. It refers to the minimum required dose, that produces the wanted result.

Now why is this relevant? The popular way of training now-a-days seems to carry the message: “You can always do more”, “Push harder”. Motivational posters are flooding social media with messages that imply something in the line of: “If you’re not killing yourself in the gym, then you are not working hard enough.”

This message is absolutely fine for those athletes that have training as their main goal or train as a means to reach a certain goal. They should by all means try to outwork their competition. But if your main priorities lays outside the gym, then start thinking of minimum effective dose.

I have been guilty of this. First I had a very hard time switching from training splits 6 days a week to 2-3 times a week of fullbody. I realized that my priorities had switched, they no longer resided inside the gym. I still loved to train, but I was not going to let my training keep me from having fun with my, at the time, girlfriend, friends, my motorcycle, wakeboarding etc. etc. They all had to co-exist, which meant cutting back on training. I think I was around 21 at this point and had been training for 7 years.

What I of course found out, was that this shift in frequency not only allowed me more time to do the things that I loved but it did not affect my body composition all that much after all. A well planned fullbody program can be just as effective, at least for non-competition athletes.

Fast forward to today. I have been training fullbody for now 7-8 years. I have started my own company which by all means are my top priority. But what I found was that, as I am very much guilty of the “kill it in the gym”-mentality, my fullbody routines has grown, and grown, and grown cramming as many exhausting heavy basic exercises in there as I could. Sure this do produce results – but they started leaving traces on my energy-levels the day after, thereby negatively affecting my ability to give 100% towards my main priority; my company. This was unacceptable.

The whole point of my fullbody routines was that; 2-3 times a week I go to the gym, hit it hard and go home. Doing some HIIT after the routine if needed – but the whole point was that I didn’t need to go run some alternating days etc. I of course could if I wanted, but the basic methodology was that I did not NEED to.

So when my routine had come to the point where it drained my energy the day after, it had come to far. I started cutting back on exercises only leaving the ones that gave the most “bang-for-the buck”, then cutting back on sets – generally just approaching my entire routine with “what is minimum effective dose to keep the physical appearance that I want”. Not: “where can I do more”, but; “where can I do less and produce close to the same results”.

This made a giant shift in my energy-levels – exactly the result I wanted. And sure enough I can still maintain the appearance that I want. This of course also has a lot to do with me having paid my dues in the gym for 14-15 years – both in the aspect of muscle mass, but also in me knowing my body.

But it is my belief that, pushed by the endless slogans of the fitness industry, a lot of people has taking their training too far, giving it too much control over their lives, even though it deep down is not their main goal or priority. You can always do more, you can always push harder – but if you do not reserve your energy for your main priorities, then you are just pushing yourself towards exhaustion, overtraining and injuries.

Try to take a step back and look at what 20% of your efforts produce the 80% of results.

Correct use of pre workout supplements, habits and sleep

There is an increasing focus on supplements, not just in the fitness industry but across all genres and levels of working out. You have got to give credit to the marketers of these supplement manufactures. They have made it mainstream for even girls to use supplements as part of their daily workout scheme. They are successfully pushing the mantra, that in order to be fit you have to add all these supplements to your workout regimen. But in the midst of all this supplementation, are we missing some important points, only to make the companies happier by buying more of their stuff, totally missing the key word “supplements”  – I was.

There are lots of products to focus on, but for this piece I will concentrate on pre workout supplements. I will by no means say that they lack effect – if only they did, then the problem would not be as profound. Lots and lots of these really offer a potent effect and make a real impact on your focus and energy-levels. They CAN have their rightful place.

But it starts to be a problem, when you cannot train without having one of these pre workout drinks. If all your workouts are fueled by these. You will probably, like I did, tell yourself, “why risks not having a great workout”; and thereby justify your repeated use.

Pre workout supplements are great for when you feel tired, are in need of that extra energy and really needs to perform. But it should NOT be your default.

I had this habit of 45 minutes prior to my workout, I would stop working and mix a pre workout shake. Then I would read t-nation or any other training/fitness site for 20-30 minutes with some high energy music in the background – all in order to get myself into the right mood and mindset for working out. This was, and is highly effective – but I would even do this on days where I was not tired at all. Mix pre workout, music, read – go. It had become part of a habit and ritual.

Apart from increasing the amount I spent on pre workout supplements, it also kept giving me problems with sleep. As I have written in a prior article, pre workout supplements can very well mess with your sleep patterns. And judging by the amount of people who read that one, it seems to be a quite widespread problem. One very, very obvious solution to this problem – that I for a very long time totally missed – is to not take the pre workout supplements in the first place. Use them when needed, but avoid having them as the default.

Take a step back, look at your use of supplements and reconsider your use, with total awareness. You can be in a period of high workload and therefore in need of the extra energy, but then remember to back of once the load is gone. We humans are very habitual, be aware of it and make conscious choices instead.