In this special guest post written by Charles R. Poliquin, the world-famous strength coach shares 8 tips you can use every day for better energy, recovery, and mental health.
Hey, I’m Charles R. Poliquin, and I’m the Strength Sensei. I’ve trained over 800 Olympic athletes and worked with champions in 24 different sports. Throughout my entire career, I’ve studied the best approaches to health, fitness, and building strength. To be an athlete on the world stage, it takes physical gifts and excellent training. But the truly elite athletes who compete for medals and championships go beyond just the physical part and work on intangibles like energy level, recovery, sleep, and mental health.
These are 8 of my best tips you can use every day to improve on those intangibles. These are for anyone, and they don’t take much time or require a lot of physical effort. Whatever you do, I bet these tips could help you do it better.
Start with Sun
Caffeine is the default way for most people to start their engines in the morning, but something as simple as the morning sunrise is often overlooked. Getting natural sunlight before the start of your day has a wide range of health benefits, including endorphin responses in your brain that help boost mood and energy levels.
Write Down What You’re Thankful For
I highly recommend gratitude journaling. Major universities keep releasing studies showing that it leads to increased happiness and productivity. Forget about your conceptions of what journals and diaries are supposed to be, and try taking a few minutes each day to write down what you’re thankful for. What are you fortunate to have or know? Thinking consciously about the positives in your life gives you better perspective and has been scientifically-proven to lead to improved mental health.
Being grateful goes hand-in-hand with being generous and helping others. In 2017, a neurological study from the University of Zurich found that generosity changed the activity in people’s brains in a way that increased feelings of happiness. This was true even if the generous act was small. Just remember that generosity goes well beyond money, and anyone can do it. Take the time to help or listen to a friend in need. Go out of your way to help a stranger or neighbor. Put in some unexpected effort for someone else. You’ll both feel better.
Block Blue Light
We take in a ton of unnatural blue light from all our screens every day—tv’s, mobile phones, you name it. When you get all that blue light at night, your body doesn’t get the message that you need to go to sleep. Wearing blue light blockers at night leads to better sleep quality, which is critical for mental and physical health.
Wake & Steak
I put on a 5-day hypertrophy camp to train people on the best ways to build muscle mass and train more effectively. When people ask about diet tips, I tell them to try the meat & nuts breakfast. Nothing is better for maximizing energy and mental focus. My ideal breakfast is steak, macadamia nuts, and berries.
Light Therapy for Added Gains
I started using red light therapy with my athletes at the Strength Sensei training center in Colorado Springs and it felt like I was gaining an unfair advantage. I use a full-body Joovv system because it’s natural, noninvasive, there are no drugs or side effects involved, and there’s a lot of scientific research backing it up. Every one of my athletes says they’re more driven to train after they do a 10-15 minute Joovv session. Athletes who’ve been injured are rehabbing 2-3 times faster than normal when they use red light therapy. For pure strength training, it’s helping athletes get stronger and be able to recover from workouts faster. It’s really an ideal tool for a strength coach and it’s quickly become a go-to for me.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
This edible mushroom is a true superfood with more health benefits than I can list. It’s been found to improve brain function and cognitive ability, and even improve Alzheimer’s symptoms. You can get it as an extract, but one of my favorite ways to consume it is through Four Sigmatic’s elixir packets.
Recharge & Recover
I’ve talked and written about how important sleep is. It’s when our bodies recover and recharge; we can’t cheat ourselves and expect to be healthy long-term. Supplement companies and tired consumers tend to focus on the yang: adding stimulants to rev us up for a few hours and get us through a groggy day. I rely on Yin Reserve and the recovery benefits of good sleep. I think healthy sleep may be the single most important factor for overall health.