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Peak Performance

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success

By Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

Peak Performance Book Overview

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It gives extremely helpful and clear examples, backed by science, on how and why the top performances across all fields are who they are and why they were able to get there. There are countless practical elements you can implement into your daily life to shift your life towards your true potential and peak performance.

I am going to outline a few key points covered in the book. But this is not an exhausted list. I highly recommend you read this book, or at least download it and listen to it as an audio book. Use this list to get your mind thinking, and then dive in and really pull out the information you need to apply to your life as you read through it. Read this book only when you can give your full attention to it. You’ll learn how important that is in this book. But for now, take my word on it. You need to be fully engaged during this reading or listening so you don’t miss a thing. If you do one thing for yourself this year, it should be reading this book.

Overall key concept is the equation of growth. How do we make gains?

Stress + Rest = Adaptation (growth) This equation is true for everything from fitness to art to being a mathematician.

Rest is the most overlooked concept in performance. It’s the one part most of us miss or cannibalize by our daily actions. This becomes very problematic because without adequate rest, the stress that has been placed on us (like workouts) won’t turn into adaptation and gains. As a result, this renders that work literally worthless. And what’s more, we don’t only miss the gains from that current work; we also set ourselves up for injury or burnout in the future. Again, this is true for gaining fitness, knowledge or any other skill in life.

  • “Elite athletes don’t sleep because they are elite, they are elite because they sleep.”

  • “It takes more guts to rest then it does to keep working harder.”

  • “What separates the best from the rest?.... Rest.”

  • “Sleep is the most important thing I do.” -3 time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae

Stress can be Positive. Not all stress is bad; in fact, we need stress to make gains or progress in all areas of life, not just fitness. A little doubt and uncertainly about whether or not you will be able to do something, like a hard workout, is a good thing. It signifies that a growth opportunity has emerged. The little voice that says, “I can’t possibly do this” is actually a sign that you are on the right track. It is your mind trying to pull you back to the familiar path that represents your comfort zone. Just manageable challenges are about venturing off that path.

In every field, when coming to differentiating top performance, experience was not the critical variable.

  • What makes someone an expert? The amount of deliberate practice they put into his or her given field. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

  • What makes perfect practice? Seeking out just manageable challenges. But more then that, it is giving 100% focus (body and mind) within every practice.

This means, multitasking is not possible. Thinking you are effectively multitasking is nothing more then effective delusional thinking. Trying to multitask can cannibalize as much as 40% of your productive time. It can feel like you are getting twice as much done, but in reality you’re getting only almost half as much done. Mindset is everything. The lens in which you view the world affects everything in your life. The book discusses a scientific study that compared hormonal responses using shakes that were drank by participants. One group was told it was nutritious and the other group was told it was full of ice cream and sugar. Those who thought it was non-nutritious had an extremely different hormonal response released in their body. Come to find out, both groups got the same shake. By simply telling yourself something is bad for you, your body will react differently.

This is a very important concept when we think about stress and challenges in our life. If we think something is bad, we will effectively make it bad. If we think on it positively, we will grow from it.

  • “Attitude follows behavior.” If you set up an effective routine, your mindset will follow, which then enhances your performance and production.

Two of my favorite quotes fall in line here as well:

  • “Energy flows where our focus goes.”

  • “Change your story, change your life.”

Whatever area we focus on is where we will pour our energy into. We must make sure you are focused on the right things. And whatever story we tell ourselves, good or bad, we will believe and follow suit. If you tell yourself your life is harder then others, you just can't catch a break, or other stories like the world is out to get you, then your putting the blame on others and giving them your power. But once we take responsibility for everything in our life, and realize we created the life we have and it's no bodies fault but ours. Then we find we also have the power to change our life and make it the way we want it to be. If you want to perform at a higher level, you have to tell yourself daily that you can. Sure there are things in life we can't control, but we can always control how we react to them. My wife and I couldn't control her getting cancer, but we could certainly control how we would let it affect our lives. We could either let it consume us and be a very negative thing, or we could make it one of the most positive events of our lives. I can honestly tell you it's one of the best things that ever happen to us. Failures and negative circumstances are more often then not the biggest opportunities for growth, but only if your mind is focused on them correctly.

Fatigue is more complicated then a protective central governor that only shuts us down when we approach our limits. We constantly weigh our perception of effort associated with an activity, i.e. how hard something feels versus our motivations to do that activity. When perception of effort is greater then motivation we ease up or slow down until the two are balanced.If we aren’t rested or we wait until late in the day when our mind is fatigued, we can’t possibly put out as great an effort as when we are fresh and our motivation is higher and our perception is clearer.

  • If we aren’t rested or we wait until late in the day when our mind is fatigued, we can’t possibly put out as great an effort as when we are fresh and our motivation is higher and our perception is clearer.

Why do some people give up when faced with challenges? They have a fixed mindset; they think they either had it or they didn’t, they either think they are smart or stupid. They didn’t think they could change it, as opposed to those who have a growth mindset. These people believe that with hard work they can change the outcome. They will push themselves harder, and understand failure is part of growth.

Another big concept in the book is Mindfulness- the key to being able to distinguish between good and bad stress. If we haven’t strengthened this ability, our body will be hijacked and good stress causes us to react like it is bad stress, sending our body into a fight or flight situation. If you haven’t considered mindfulness mediation, you need to now. It’s very simple and this chapter lays it out. It will change your life.

Creativity! This goes along with mindfulness or learning how to turn thinking off so that our subconscious can dissect information. Our subconscious is much better, or we could say smarter, than we are when we try to consciously think deeply about things. The best creativity will happen when we aren’t trying to solve a problem. This happens during rest or sleep! Step away from effortful thinking.

Taking a Break: Science shows that no more than 2 hours should be spent working hard on one task at a time. (In terms of endurance training, that’s not always going to be the case, but for most of our workouts we stay within this time line.) The key is that we have breaks between hard bouts of focus or effort. In workouts, we do that with rest intervals. In life, this should look like short walks, doing the dishes, or just something that has nothing to do with what you’re working on. Step away. 60-90 minutes is shown to be the best range for productivities when working hard on one task.

  • A 10-minute nap was more effective to productivity and awareness than ingesting 150 mg of caffeine. Close the door of your office, go to your car, or find a quiet place you can simple close your eyes and not think. Reboot your mind.

  • “Sitting is the new smoking.” Sitting over long bouts can undue the potential gains from training. Get up and walk for at least 2 minutes every two hours.

In conclusion, if you’re not completely focused on the task at hand or if you’re trying to multitask during your task, you’re wasting up to 40% of your productivity. You need look no further for that next step in performance than simply fully engaging yourself in each workout all year long. You don’t need the latest and greatest tech gear or bike. You need full engagement. It’s not enough to just check the box of getting a workout done. A green box doesn’t mean you were fully engaged and gained as much as you could have from the workout. If this sounds like it will take your joy out of training, then you need to revisit your goals and make sure they are clear. If you truly want to make it to the next level that seems almost out of reach, then you must be fully engaged. If you just want to enjoy being active, and results don’t matter that much to you, then you might be fine with not maximizing each workout.

If you’re not resting adequately, you are stunting your growth and creativity. Simply, your greatest training weapon is when you’re not training. You must sleep well every night. This is a life skill; it shouldn’t even be an option not to sleep enough.

  • Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you distracted during workouts?

  • Are you watching a movie during trainer rides? Doing other work? Checking email or Facebook?

  • Remember if you’re multitasking, you’re wasting up to 40% of your productivity. You would be better served to do a workout for only 25 minutes with zero distractions and full engagement than you would be to multitask your way through a full 60 minutes.

  • Are you bringing a fresh and focused mind into workouts?

  • Did you wait until the end of the day when your mind is tired and your workouts will be sub-par? Remember that all the mental decisions you had to make all day will wear you down and make your workouts feel harder, subsequently reducing your output.

  • Am I getting enough quality sleep each night?

  • Do you go to sleep when you begin to get tired?

  • Do you wake up rested?

  • Are you turning off all blue light (phones, TV’s, iPads) several hours before bedtime?

  • Remember, blue light throws your circadian rhythm off by over 6 time zones!

  • Are you taking mini breaks every 2 hours?

  • Get out and walk in nature

  • Look at nature if you can’t get out in it.

  • Does your mind race all day long and when you try to sleep?

  • If so, have you tried mindful meditation?

  • What is your purpose?

  • What are you doing that is for something greater than yourself?

“The best performers are not consistently great. They are great at being consistent.”

  • Set up a more effective routine, and then stick to it day in and day out!

Purchase hard copy here on amazon:

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