Harness the energy of your gym or favorite group workout with these five strategies.

Working out at home isn’t always easy despite its convenience.

Many people are motivated by the energy of a group class or the in-person presence of a killer coach. You could be tight on space or lacking familiar equipment. Maybe you stand somewhere in the middle. Or maybe you absolutely love the efficiency of working out at home.

Those who are intrinsically motivated thrive in solo situations and don’t need the external influence of others to push through a tough workout. The benefits associated with working out are naturally satisfying regardless of the environment.

In the vast majority, however, lie those of us who are extrinsically motivated. We absolutely need someone there pushing us. These types of people are driven by recognition or praise, and without it, desire and intensity can fizzle out. In situations like these, trying to keep the intensity high can leave you feeling like a deflated balloon.

Here are some strategies to help you maintain all physiological aspects of a group atmosphere to keep you stimulated for peak performance:

Set a Clock

While this may seem obvious, there are many interpretations when it comes to setting a timer. You can set a clock to time the entire amount of work being done. For example, on a running clock, perform four rounds of a 400-meter run and 25 burpees. Another way to use the clock is a strategy known as “every minute on the minute” (EMOM). For example, back-squat for five reps at the top of every minute for 10 minutes. Considered an EMOM10, this keeps your heart rate elevated while giving you adequate time to recover.

Pro Tip: If the intent of your session is to go to muscular failure, then resting two to three minutes would be a more appropriate technique in that specific situation.

Add in Combination Movements

While muscle isolation is helpful, combination movements (meaning more than one muscle group in action at a time) are ideal for elevating your heart rate and increasing intensity. You may already perform these movements in your training without even realizing it. Here’s the short list: rows, triceps dips, lunges, squats, push presses, deadlifts. From a physical therapy perspective, I love these movements because they are functional. They permeate into everyday activities like getting out of a chair. You will notice an immediate difference in intensity by sprinkling more of these into your routine.


Going on a run? Incorporate intervals. These are short bursts of speed followed by less intense low-level heart rate activity. For example, sprint 200 meters and then run at a normal conversational pace for 400 meters. Perform these intervals over a 3-mile cumulative distance. This type of training is known as measured intervals.

Another rendition of this would be working as hard as you can for as long as you can followed by an untimed recovery break— for example, max reps of biceps curls with a resistance band followed by rest until muscular fatigue has subsided or a max distance sprint (run, row, bike) followed by a slower recovery pace. This type of training is known as varied intervals.If using this strategy in a strength-training workout such as the above example, you can take a complete rest break. When using varied intervals for running, biking or rowing, you can either reduce your speed by 75 percent until you return to your recovery heart rate or stop completely for recovery.

Add in Plyometric Exercises

Plyometrictraining is excellent for building intensity as well as protecting you against injury and improving power output. Any form of jumping can build a greater intensity in your workout, Think: box jumps, jumping lunges, jumping squats. Take these movements you’re already familiar with and add in a power component to your session to get more bang for your buck.

With any jumping movement within a workout, protecting your joints and controlling your landing is imperative. Repetitive jumping with poor mechanics can cause breakdown at the hip, knee and ankle. Pick a challenge that makes sense for your fitness level. Maybe that means a lower box or a squat jump instead of a jumping lunge. Listen to your body and work on improving eccentric control (the jumping down) at easier variations in order to continue advancing in your workouts.

Community Leader Boards

Another fantastic way to keep the intensity high in your workouts is to join a digital community or pay for a subscription that offers a leaderboard where you can compare scores while interacting with other members. It’s not exactly the same as high-fives and fist bumps in the gym, but it mimics the environment many of us need to thrive. Some programs are all-encompassing, requiring you to use their equipment (hello, Peloton). Other programming subscriptions offer interactive communities using the equipment you already own. 

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eating healthyHey, folks. If you’ve ever wondered if watching what you eat is really worth it, you’ll want to check out today’s post. PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power is here answering your questions about managing macros, weighing the pros and cons of meal prep, and the value of paying more for your food. We love getting your questions, so keep them coming in the comments below or head over to our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group.

Debbie asked:

“I don’t know what to eat anymore. I was following a strict macro split of 56% fat, 28% protein, and 16% carbs, but I’m worried that my protein is too high. My goals are to maintain my weight, build muscle, and control my blood sugar since I am pre-diabetic. I know higher protein isn’t good for diabetes as it converts to glucose and then you get an insulin dump and gain weight. Can you point me in the right direction?”

Feels stressful doesn’t it? All the measuring, weighting, counting, and adding — just to get your macros to line up and reach some magical equation that you’ve decided will make everything work out perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, I love that you’re committed to doing what you can to prevent diabetes and reverse your current diagnosis (I wish more people followed your lead here), but I have a hunch it’s sort of ruling your life right now. And it doesn’t have to.

There’s so much great information out there. Unfortunately, that makes it easy to get overwhelmed. Personally, I’ve always hated the fussy factor. That’s why my philosophy is “keep it simple.”

My advice is to ditch the food scale (as well as grains, sugars, and industrialized oils) and focus on eating real foods in the form of vegetables, low sugar fruits, animal proteins, and healthy fats. Start with a protein-forward breakfast like eggs and bacon and eat when you’re hungry, not when your macro-tracking app says you need to squeeze in ten more grams of protein.

Stay on track no matter where you are! Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Eating Out

Sure, some people thrive on adding up their macros. They get a sense of control out of knowing exactly how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates they’re consuming. But if it’s causing you more stress, you’re actually working against your goals of inhibiting an insulin response.

Both physical and emotional stresshttps://www.cnn.com/2020/08/05/business/grocery-prices-rising/index.html‘>2 with meat prices jumping as high as 20%, eggs increasing 10%, and fresh veggies going up 4%.Buy the organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised versions and those costs will be even higher.

So, is it worth it? I’ll break it down for you.

I have clients that only buy organic. I also have clients that, for financial reasons, have to go the conventional route. The thing is, in general, when you buy organic (or grass-fed beef in this case), you’re limiting your exposure to synthetic additives. Other than that, there’s no conclusive evidence that eating this way is better or healthier for you.

But we’re not really talking about nutrition here. We’re talking about produce covered in pesticides and fertilizers. Factory-farmed animals housed in poor conditions and fed grains pumped full of antibiotics. The main issue here is the impact these foods have on your overall health – not to mention the health of our planet.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578804/‘>1

The bottom line: your liver prefers smart fats like avocado oil, butter, lard, fatty fish, and olive oil over industrial seed oils.

Reduce Refined Carb Intake

The real danger of refined carbs is that they tend to be nutrient-poor. They’re basically just pure starch (or sugar). All the energy, none of the micronutrients required to metabolize that energy.

Your liver works hard to convert carbs into glucose that your body can use. When you don’t use the glucose in your blood, it gets stored in the liver and skeletal muscle as glycogen, and if you have excess after that, it gets stored as body fat. With refined carbs, it’s easy to get there.

Studies show that carb overfeeding, especially with fructose, can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,http://www.springerlink.com/content/w307w62037125v33/‘>3

Here’s where dosage matters. The more you drink in a given allotment of time, the higher the liver burden. Your liver doesn’t metabolize ethanol all at once. It’s an ongoing physical process. It takes time, and glutathione. Glutathione is also a physical material. You need more substrate, like glycine and cysteine, to produce it. Without enough glutathione (and there’s never enough if you drink too much), your liver will incur damage and develop fat.

If you’re going to drink, do so sparingly, choose healthier drinks, and practice good hangover prevention hygiene. High linoleic acid intake, for example, mixes terribly with alcohol; a much better choice is something saturated like beef fat or cocoa butter.

Stop Overeating, and Lose Weight

The number one risk factor for getting a fatty liver with impaired function is gaining excess body fat. Don’t get fat. If you are fat, lose it. Losing weight is the number one risk factor for losing a fatty liver.

Figure out what type of diet helps you eat normal amounts, and then go follow that diet. For most of my readers, it’s a low-carb Primal or keto approach. For others, it’s full-on carnivore. And yes, there are some for whom a moderate or even high carb diet works best. Whatever satiates you is the one that will improve your liver function.

Overeating fat especially can be bad, because the extra fat doesn’t need to waste any extra steps becoming available to your liver.

Practice Time-restricted Eating

In mice fed a typical soybean oil-fructose-based lab diet, the “high-fat” kind that reliably plumps up their livers, switching to a shortened eating window eliminates the metabolic fallout. They don’t get fat, they don’t get insulin resistant, and, most importantly, they don’t get fatty or dysfunctional liver.https://journals.lww.com/ejanaesthesiology/Fulltext/2009/12000/Hepatocellular_integrity_after_parenteral.17.aspx‘>5 Amazing how that works.

Fish oil isn’t the only option. In fact, eating actual seafood is ideal because in addition to the omega-3s it also provides micronutrients and macronutrients that enhance liver function. If you’re not a fish eater, supplements can fill in the gaps.

Eat Yolks and Other Choline Sources

Choline protects against fatty liver by providing the backbone for VLDL—the particle the liver uses to transport fat out  into the body. Without adequate choline, you can’t make enough VLDL for transport and the fat tends to accumulate in the liver.

Egg yolks are the best source of choline.

Take NAC

In patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, taking NAC every day for three months improved liver enzyme levels and overall liver function.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21288612/‘>7

Whey boosts glutathione levels and provides methionine, which the body can convert to choline when deficient.

Try Vanilla Coconut Primal Fuel, made with whey protein

Regularly Deplete Your Liver Glycogen

De novo lipogenesis, or the creation of fat from carbohydrate, is a hallmark of fatty liver disease.https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3316‘>9 A few of my favorite ways to deplete glycogen:

  • Train hard. I like HIIT, higher volume lifting, and sprints. Or my personal favorite: Ultimate Frisbee. Not all at once.
  • Fast. Fasting is a reliable way to burn through available liver glycogen.
  • Reduce carbs. Going low-carb or keto is a reliable, if slightly slower way to burn through your liver glycogen.

Get Good, Regular Sleep

Certain molecules responsible for clearing liver fat operate according to a circadian schedule.

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