Maxwell Strength & Conditioning Blog

Enjoy a peek at the world through Steve's eyes as he delivers sermons on everything from training to peace of mind.

 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Morning Routine

Steve's Morning Routine is available in our instant download video library! Download it now and watch Steve perform his daily practice
Up in the morning with the rising sun.

This is my daily morning procedure. I've been doing this, or similar, since I was a very young man. While it's varied in aspects over the years, the following comprises the essential practices I've used most of my life.

A man's robust health is his finest asset and this is to be fostered and protected. Without stellar health, physical activities lose thrall. A materially rich man, laid up in a nursing home, will offer his fortune, every time, to regain his youthful male vigor. It is upon this sense of loss the purveyors of quack medicine enrich their pockets. Don't let it be you, flat on your back, in a platinum sickbed.

Upon Waking

Wake up every morning without an alarm.

Go to bed at a reasonable time so you don't need any alarm to wake up.

Before sleeping, visualize the exact time you wish to awaken -- it's very possible to do this. It's jarring to be roused by an alarm and this jarring at such a sensitive transition (from an unconscious-to-conscious state) can set you off for the day in a wrongly negative mindset. If you must use an alarm, get a gentle version alarm with a gong or chime, or even with a light that slowly becomes brighter. These alarms are out there and worth the money. I also like my fitbit device with the vibration alarm.

Once awake

Give a prayer of thanks to whatever higher power you believe in: nature, personal God, Creator, your own higher mind. Generate feelings of gratitude for that which you already have. Affirm to the best part of yourself that whatever the day will bring, you will accept only the good stuff, and you yourself will be a conduit for goodness and beauty.

Gentle neck and eye movements to prepare for the day.

Take the morning RHR.

I use my iPhone for this with a nifty HR monitor called Instant Heart Rate. The morning RHR can be a useful measure of recovery: if it's elevated, then your system is stressed i.e., you haven't recovered from the previous day's stressors. You need to figure out your daily average. Days where it's elevated, take it easy.

When taking the pulse reading, it's crucial to not to think about the day's upcoming demands and activities, and the mental agitation will drive up the heart rate, which will further agitate the mind. Which leads us to another caveat: the HR feedback is only one measure among several, and must be taken with a grain of salt. It is not infallible, and if the HR reading is high, you must then do an honest assessment of how you are feeling. If you feel pretty good, and the previous day wasn't especially stressful, it may be a trick of the lower mind trying to spook you into complacency.

Finally, just relax and concentrate on slowing your breathing down and take the reading without fuss.

If you need to use the toilet first, get up as smoothly as you can and get back to horizontal in bed, resting for 5-minutes without thinking too much, before taking the reading.

After the HR, while still In bed, scan the body for any sign of tension or pain, starting with the top of the head and scanning downward to the feet. If you sense tension, inhale, holding the breath, then deliberately creating even more tension; then, release every bit of tension with a sigh. But don't add any drama or emotion eg loud sighs or moaning; keep it detached and fairly mechanical. Continue in this way until you feel tension-free. Sweep the entire body. Stretching, tensing, and breathing into all of the muscles and connective tissues. This should be efficient and take but a few minutes.

Bathroom

Get up and go to the bathroom. Use a tongue scraper (available at most health food stores) and scrape the coating off of the tongue.

Rinse your sinuses with warm salted water. Test the water on the inside of the wrist. Make sure it's not too hot or too cold. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Use a squirt bottle made for the purpose or a neti pot to rinse the nasal passages and sinus. This is very important. You can get sinus rinse bottles at any local pharmacy.

Take about a teaspoon of sesame oil into the mouth and swish for 5-20 minutes. Squirt the oil between the teeth and gums. Really work the muscles of the face and tongue. This is fantastic for the gums and teeth plus it'll keep your face very youthful.Then brush the teeth with a natural tooth paste. I use a neem and cinnamon tooth powder. Rinse the mouth with warm water.

Massage your scalp vigorously. Really give it a going over. I use a little plastic scalp massager with nubs. This stimulates the scalp and prevents hair loss. Its good for the entire nervous system.

Shave with hot water. Use the very best razor. Shave the entire face, even the forehead, cheeks, and under the eyes. This scrapes off a layer of dead skin cells, kind of like dermabrasion. I shave only every two to three days. Use a hot wash cloth to really moisten the skin. Apply the hot cloth multiple times before attempting to shave. Make sure that the whiskers are thoroughly moistened and soft before applying shaving cream or shaving oil. Rinse the face well with a moist hot cloth, then a cold cloth.

Take a water treatment. If you're going to train first, then shower after you work up a perspiration. Turn the shower warm and scrub the skin with a loofa or coarse cloth. Don't use commercial shampoos and soaps. The skin is self-cleansing. You don't need over-chemicalized products to clean yourself. Nor do you need to shampoo your hair every day. Once per week is enough.

Rinse the body with warm to hot water, then turn the water to as cold as it comes out of the faucet. Winter will be colder than summer. Vigorously rub and knead the body while under the cold stream. Control your breathing. Avoid panic breathing or or holding the breath. Massage fatty areas of the waist, sides and lower back. Get the head and face under the stream. I literally talk to my body and make affirmations while doing this. It's a form of subconscious programming.

Turn the water back to hot. Warm up for a bit and turn back to cold. Make sure to get every body part under there. If a certain joint hurts or is achy, place that area under the cold stream for extra time.

Do three to five alternating rinses. Always finish with cold.

Note: If you are too sensitive for the cold water treatment, then it's not advised. It is not good to shock the system. You can try various modifications, such as standing in several inches of warm water while you turn the overhead shower to cold, or you can even just rub yourself all over with a cold wet washcloth, even standing in warm water to the ankles. Challenge yourself and temper the skin.

Step out of the shower and use a very coarse towel to briskly dry off. Use it like a shoe shine cloth and really buff the skin until it glows. Go over every inch of the skin. Start with the extremities and work toward the heart. Don't forget the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. Don't use a soft towel. You can make any towel coarse by taking the wet towels out of the washer and leaving them hang dry.

Don't spare the towel.

You can always do the the alternating hot and cold shower routine after the workout. Shower no more than once per day. If you sweat later in the day, use a warm wet wash cloth and wipe down the skin. Then use a cold cloth. Dry off vigorously with a coarse towel. If the weather is warm, then always opt to air dry, that is, walk around the room naked and admire yourself...and hopefully be admired.

Never use soap on the skin. Shun chemical anti-perspirants. If you stink, then clean up the diet and the thoughts. I recommend simple deodorant products, like Weleda, Uncle Harry's or Tom's of Maine roll-on stick. Shaving the armpits minimizes any odor. I shave both chest and underarms. The bacteria proliferate on the surface area of the hair and help cause odor. Once the hair is gone, the bacteria are minimized. I can get several days out of my t-shirts before they have any odor using this method. I use my girl friend as my barometer, as women have a keener sense of smell.

Vigorous dry brushing to stimulate the skin -- air drying recommended.

Morning Exercise

After the water treatment, if the ambient temperature permits, take an air bath. Expose every square inch of the skin to air. Walk around naked while you perform morning chores. If you must, wear a light, loose pair of shorts.

This is a good time to do the joint mobility drills. If the body feels cold, use breathing and some mobility drills to warm up. Once you are dressed, this is a good time to go outdoors and take a walk while practicing breathing exercises. Add some yoga stretches into the mix.

Meditation / Contemplation

This is a good time to enter a meditative state before venturing out into the world and the day's activities. I like to read Science of Mind affirmations and do visualizations. Meditating on the breath is also calming and centering.

I generate feelings of gratitude and thankfulness for what I have right now. I focus on that which I want, rather than what I don't want.

Breakfast

Do not eat anything until you have a bowel movement. Do drink 1-2 glasses of room temperature water, add fresh lemon if you like. The early morning hours from 03:00 to 10:00 are the time the body is occupied with eliminating the previous day's metabolic waste and toxins. A large breakfast, full of proteins and mixed macronutrients, is a filthy habit, as it totally disrupts the body's ability to clean house.

Many people are dependent on stimulating beverages, like coffee, which irritate the bowels, thus causing a movement. If you are dependent on coffee, perhaps switch to a milder stimulant, like yerba mate. Just drinking water first thing will often help trigger the bowels to move.

After -- and only after -- a bowel elimination do I eat. The best breakfast food is light, easy to digest. It's a good time for fresh fruit. I used to add yogurt, but lately I've been sticking to fresh fruit.

Now, I'm ready for the day.

People often assume they haven't enough time for a routine like this. I say that people waste time with too many other unimportant things. Modern man is out of sync with the natural rhythms of the universe. People work too hard at meaningless tasks, stay up too late, arise too late, and go on filling each day with foolish activities.

Everywhere I go, I see my fellow humans, my brothers, overworking and toiling at jobs they don't particularly like. Slaves to materialistic impulse. Too much time spent in a feverish attempt to add more to their lives, meanwhile neglecting their most important asset: the best part of themselves, which is already there.

In Strength and Health!

Steve


Ask Coach!

Q: Steve, I know that you have advised caution when doing the KB snatch. What are your thoughts on the DB snatch? It seems like a very different exercise from the KB in its mechanics. Is it a safer way to do a snatch?

A: The dumbbell snatch is even worse.

The snatch in general is just... there's no advantage to it... that you can't get much better -- safer -- doing other exercises.

What other exercises?

Well, what are you trying to accomplish with the snatch in the first place?

What do you think you're doing by throwing a weight over your head?

What are you trying to accomplish? What do you think the purported benefits will bring -- and what do you think the consequences are going to be?

Think in years -- or decades even.

What are you trying to get from this? Explosiveness?

Not so.

The way to get more explosive is to get stronger. Increase general strength, and you'll become more explosive. Here's the thing: if you wish to get stronger, using momentum-based exercises is NOT the best approach.

While it requires strength to throw a KB or DB over your head, it's NOT the best way to develop strength.


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