The High Performance Journal

4 Minute Fridays: Why You Shouldn't Start Your Workouts With Cardio, A 5 Minute Hack To Lower Stress, And One Exercise To Create A Rock Solid Core

4 minute fridays Sep 15, 2023

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A while ago I wrote to you that I had let myself go after my second child. My waistline expanded and, while I wasn't at an unhealthy weight, I was below a standard I had set for my body.

Of course, this was to be expected. I wasn't sleeping and life had gotten more complicated with our beautiful new baby girl in our lives. Knowing this did not make things better though.

So I set out the intention and wrote to you that I was going to get back to where I needed to be and I'm happy to say that it worked. I've got my body back to a level I was proud of.

Although, my plan of transformation was different this time around.

Usually, I'd set some sort of deadline to create urgency towards hitting the goal. This time I didn't care how long it took as long as what I was doing was sustainable.

This meant not getting down on myself for not dropping any weight some weeks. This meant that my diet was less than perfect but flexible enough to live life.

My mindset was to make small changes over the course of time and not rush the process. I told myself that I didn't need to be perfect. I just needed to be consistent & persistent.

Now I'm 7 lbs less than what I weighed and it took me 13 weeks to get here. Most people would say that's too long to lose such a small amount of weight.

What they don't understand is that I'm not after speed. I'm after long term sustainability.

How much different would your goals look like if you adopted the same mentality? It's something to think about.

Important note: If you have 15 lbs or less to lose it's best to take it slow.
If you have 20 lbs or more to lose you can speed it up, which is why I created Lean Body 90.
Where you're starting from matters when it comes to getting lean. Just wanted to make sure I clarified this.

That being said...


Here is your 4 Minute Friday:

1. Why you shouldn't start your workouts with cardio

You should never start your workouts with a long cardio session unless you're trying to get better at cardio.

I see a lot of people in the gym who are trying to build muscle warming up with 20 or sometimes 30-minute jogs on the treadmill.

What they don't realize is that they are making themselves weaker for the thing they're trying to improve.

A 2016 study showed that participants who performed a 20-minute cardio session prior to lifting weights experienced a significant decrease in their workout performance.

A meta-analysis of 21 studies confirmed that the more days per week you do cardio, and the longer your cardio sessions are, the harder it will be to build muscle and strength.

This is because the body adapts to the stresses you place upon it. If you do too much cardio it will adapt by trying to eat muscle.

This isn't to say that cardio is bad at all. Zone 2 and HIIT are great for longevity but only when done intelligently.

If you're wondering what to do before a workout instead of cardio use a dynamic warm-up instead. I wrote about how to get a great warm-up in 6 minutes here.

2. The 5 minute hack to decrease stress

Here's the situation:

You're feeling an enormous amount of stress building up in your body. It feels overwhelming but you still need to perform at your job. You know you can't make good decisions in a stressed-out state. So what do you do?

Take a few minutes and do a "Psychological Sigh".

Popularized by Andrew Huberman, the physiological sigh or cyclic sighing can be done anywhere and costs nothing.

When you're feeling rattled, take two sharp inhales of breath through your nose and follow that with an extended exhale through the mouth physically sighing while you're doing it.


Why this works:

When you breathe in your diaphragm and other muscles move in a way where the chest expands. This leaves more room for your heart. In response, your heart expands a bit causing the blood within it to slow slightly.

When you breathe out everything contracts, including your heart. Your blood speeds up and your heart slows.

The first step to taking back control of your nervous system is through your breath.

Here's a video by Andrew Huberman explaining how it works:

3. One exercise to build a rock solid core

When most people train the core they think of sit-ups or crunches. They rarely think of isometrics.

Isometric exercises are any type of exercise that holds the body in one position. The muscles are contracted but do not change length as you hold the position.

This is why I'm doing more Hollow Body Holds.

It's an isometric core exercise that strengthens your abs while stabilizing your spine. This exercise helps you build muscle as well as endurance in your core musculature.


How to do Hollow Body Holds:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your arms overhead. Straighten your legs with your feet together and your toes pointed.
  2. Brace your core by pushing out your stomach and squeezing your glutes.
  3. Slowly raise your feet, legs, and shoulders off of the ground and flatten your lower back against the floor. Start with 3 holds lasting around 15–30 seconds each.

Here's a video on how to do them:


Client of the week - Will Van Der Veer, 52 year old entrepreneur

Will is the co-founder of the Integrative Psychiatry Institute.

Before working together he struggled with gaining muscle, low energy & high stress levels.

In 6 months we gained 16.2 lbs, built muscle, increased energy, improved his blood markers, and developed habits to help him manage his stress.

Our strategy:
· Strength Training using progressive overload
· Going from keto to using carbs for performance
· Switching up fasting in the morning to fasting at night
· Daily walks in nature

Also, his testosterone levels are up and he's feeling more confident in his body than ever before.

If you're an entrepreneur who wants to be confident in your body and increase energy in a way that fits your busy life click here for a strategy call.

One Quote to Finish Your Week Strong

"It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop"
– Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Let's be real here: We're all going to face adversity in our lives.

Everyone is going through something no one knows about.

It's not the adversity itself that matters but how you react to it and how it changes you. It can make you embittered or it can make you a stronger person.

The choice you need to make is how you perceive it.

Perception is power. Use it to your advantage.

- Dan

Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

1. Are you an entrepreneur who wants to get lean, boost energy, and get in your best shape in a way that fits your busy lifestyle? Apply for private one-on-one coaching here.​

2. If you’re still looking to get lean, I’d recommend starting with an affordable course:

→ The Lean Body 90 System: Transform your body with the Lean Body 90 system. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I use to help my clients become lean and energetic in 90 days in only 90 minutes a week. Join 1000+ students here.

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