My Morning Routine

For the past several weeks there has been a running theme interwoven throughout my blog posts.  That theme has been practice, Daily Personal Practice (DPP), to be precise.

I’ve gotten several questions about the details of my own DPP since I refer to it several times in my writing.  So I figured I would pull back the curtains and give you a more detailed glimpse into my Morning Routine of DPP in this post.

My AM Daily Personal Practice

I usually wake up between 5:45 and 6 am every day.  I grab a quick shower ending it with several minutes of cold water to help wake me up and boost T-levels.  Then I head downstairs and start making coffee.  While the coffee is brewing I squeeze 1/4 of a lemon into a tall glass of room temperature water and drink it down.  I keep a bag of quartered lemons in my refrigerator so I can just grab one every morning without worrying about having to cut them up.  The lemon infused water is great for re-hydrating the body after sleeping and cleansing the liver first thing in the morning.

I’ve got my coffee now.  Some days I go with my personal blend of Warrior Coffee, other days I just add half and half and start training.

5 minutes of joint mobility (more if I really need it) to get warmed up and start the blood flowing.  Then a quick, one minute breathing exercise to fire up my energy levels

Active Standing

My main morning practice is 40 minutes of Zhan Zhuang, standing meditation.  I call what I do in the mornings, Active Standing, to distinguish it from the Relaxed Standing I told you about previously.  The focus of this exercise is to really work intent (yi) in order to cultivate that curious, yet highly elusive body quality of motion in stillness.

This training is combined with several other Internal Power conditioning exercises such as winding, spiraling, and breath training.  Some of these exercises come from the Yi Jin Jing (Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic), others were taught to me by Dan Harden, or from Yiquan.  The purpose of these exercises is to condition the tendons, fascia, and other connective tissue in the body to be strong, flexible, and elastic in order to develop relaxed whole-body power and be able to spread load (force) throughout the body (more on this later!).

Shaolin Yi Jin Jing

 

Depending on my time constraints for the morning, I sometimes add in more dynamic work to wrap up the session or call it quits and get ready for work.  I’ll be posting another article on my weekly workouts soon as this post just covers my AM training.

AM Supplement Cocktail

After my early morning training I take my AM supplements.  Here is the list of what I currently take every morning:

I also tend to defer my breakfast, the breaking of my night-time fast, until much later in the day.  Usually I’ll have my first meal of the day around noon, sometimes 1 pm.  Refer to my free nutrition program to find out why – Ninja Nutrition Manifesto <<====

 

Best Way to Program Your Training

One of the most oft asked questions I get from people, from both the online and offline worlds, is about their weekly workout schedule:

“How should I program my workouts?”

“How many days per week should I train?”

“Is it wrong or bad to train 2 days in a row?”

“How much rest should I have between workouts?”

“Is there one best way to program my training?”

results

While there certainly is no ONE best way to program training, there definitely are some models that are more effective than others.

Periodization

There are many different ways to program workouts, in fact there’s an entire branch of sports science dedicated to it called Periodization.  Periodization is basically a fancy term for organizing and scheduling training in terms of structural units. These units are divided up into, training session, microcycle, mesocycle, macrocycle, and multiyear cycle. Periodization is a highly effective way to organize training for athletics, but what about for martial arts?

One of the challenges in programming training for the martial artist is that there is no such thing as an off-season for a warrior. We don’t need to train with the intention of “peaking” for a particular event as we do not know when our skills will be called upon, if ever.  Additionally, our training requirements are a little bit different than the average athlete, even a combat athlete. We must consistently train for multifaceted development of all-around fitness and conditioning rather than training specific strength qualities individually on a cycle-by-cycle basis. As a warrior, we need to be in a constant state of preparedness, ready for whatever real life may throw at us.

So How Should We Program?

For general fitness, I usually recommend doing a full body workout 3 times a week. This way it allows for plenty of recovery time.  This is because all of your progress and gains happen when you are resting – not training.  The harder you train, the harder you must recover.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that if you do not have a solid recovery strategy in place you will never maximize your results.

On the “rest” days make sure you are staying active.  Do mobility work, yoga, walking/running/hiking/swimming, budo training, etc…

Another way to program your training is to alter the intensity from one day to the next so that there are no “off” days, but since you are cycling intensity, rest is built in. For example:

Day 1 – Moderate (strength)

Day 2 – High (met con)

Day 3 – No (mobility)

Day 4 – Low (yoga/budo/etc)

Here are a few basic sample templates for you:

Full Body

Day 1 Full Body Workout
Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Full Body Workout
Day 4 Rest
Day 5 Full Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest

Upper Lower Full Split

Day 1 Lower Body Workout
Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Upper Body Workout
Day 4 Rest
Day 5 Full Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest

 

The Upper Lower Split

Day 1 Upper Body Workout
Day 2 Lower Body Workout
Day 3 Rest
Day 4 Upper Body Workout
Day 5 Lower Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest

 

Changing Intensity*

Day 1 Full Body Workout (Strength Focus)
Day 2 Full Body Workout (Conditioning Focus)
Day 3 Mobility
Day 4 Yoga / Martial Arts

* Repeat days 1 – 4

As I mentioned above, there are many different ways to program your weekly workouts.  The example templates are not meant to be all inclusive, by any means.  They are just some of the ways I have found work best for me and my students.

My Ninja Missions Program utilizes the Changing Intensity method of cycling in the combat conditioning workouts with sword flow drills, mobility, flexibility, and breathing exercise.

Ninja Mission Cover

Got questions?  Let me know!

Have a different method?  Post your own examples below!

 

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Maybe you’ve got this whole practice thing wrong…

We all know that practice is absolutely essential to the development of any skill.  But how should we practice?  What qualities should our practice have to make sure it is both effective (increasing skill) and efficient (making the best use of time)?  How long should we practice, how often? [Read more...]

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For some reason people seem to use the terms principles,techniques, and internal power interchangeably within the context of martial arts practice.  Because of this mistake, they then tend to get confused between them.  While they are all obviously related, each term is separate and distinct and should not be interchangeable with one another. [Read more...]

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The Warrior’s Way

Quotation-Morihei-Ueshiba

Daily training is absolutely essential for the warrior.  It must be firmly ingrained into your routine until doing your practice becomes as natural as brushing your teeth or taking a shower.  No thought or debate is required, you simply just do it every day, sometimes twice a day.  It must become habitual. [Read more...]

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The Alpha Protects

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How to REALLY Relax

I know what you’re thinking. You already know how to really relax.  I mean, all you have to do is sit down on the couch with your feet up, the remote in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, right?  Or maybe sitting on the beach chilling out listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, like I am at the moment…

But there is a much deeper level of whole body relaxation achievable through the conscious action of your mind and breath.  This is accomplished through the Yiquan process of relaxed standing, otherwise known as Health Standing.  Before we get into the particulars of the exercise, you need to know how to stand. [Read more...]