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Pushing the Limits

How to train your mind, body and soul for challenging expeditions

Checking off bucket list items is rewarding, especially when bucket list items test your inner and outer strength. For many people, bucket list goals include running a marathon or trekking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim... but what’s the truth behind making these mementos a reality?

We asked Dr. Adam Loiacono about prepping your body for pushing the limits and how to successfully accomplish such physical desires.

First off, Dr. Loiacono is all about preventing serious injury. The former Director of Rehabilitation for the Phoenix Suns now runs Loiacono Performance Therapy, offering concierge, in-home services that help people optimize performance and enhance longevity.

Dr. Loiacono says to prep for marathons or serious hiking endeavors, you must commit to the hard work. It takes several months to safely prepare your body for immense physical stress. Consistency and gradual increases in training volume are key.

There’s a science behind pushing your limits, to which Dr. Loiacono references “flow state.” As described by best-selling author Steve Kotler, flow state is a highly focused and immersive mental state in which an individual's skill level matches the challenge of the task. When we achieve flow state, we can achieve incredible feats and push ourselves beyond unimaginable limits.

Ok, cool, but what if you’re not a pro runner or hiking enthusiast... is conquering flow state a reality?

To that, Dr. Loiacono says absolutely.

“The human body is incredibly adaptable and will grow with the stress it endures. I have witnessed athletes overcome huge challenges. People have limitless potential,” he says.

But pushing beyond our limits requires physical, mental, and emotional stress. Sure, that stress leads to growth, but we must appropriately provide the right amount of stress with the right amount of recovery to grow our strength.

Balance stress and recovery well, and you’ll achieve growth.

Balance them incorrectly, and you’ll get injured.

For newbies seeking a physical challenge, Dr. Loiacono suggests approaching your endeavor like it’s a retirement plan. To achieve a retirement savings goal, we make regular deposits, leverage the interest rates, and eventually our small deposits turn into large gains.

The same is true for human growth and accomplishments.

Make your daily deposits by doing the work now, compound the small wins over time, and eventually you’ll achieve that goal.

Here are four steps people should take before biting the bullet and doing something physically out of the norm.

1.    Understand your purpose. Enduring difficult physical challenges will make you tired, sore, and probably question why you wanted this in the first place. If you have a clear purpose, that motivation will push you forward.

2.    Know what you’re signing up for. Get fully educated on the challenge itself and the training it requires.

3.    Grab a partner. Research shows those who participate in physical activities in a group versus solo often achieve greater results.

4.    Have a training plan and celebrate the small wins as you go.

Let’s say you’re considering a big hiking venture. According to Dr. Loiacono, you should practice the following.

1.    Such expeditions require good leg strength. Include step up variations, split squat variations, and single leg squats within your training regime.

2.    Train under the exact conditions. Get outside and train with the exact shoes, clothes, backpack, and equipment you intend hiking in.

3.    Locate a nearby hill and do complete conditioning sessions to train your ankles, knees, and low back.

4.    Improve your cardiovascular system with non-impact activities like biking or swimming.

Navigating Fatigue

Dr. Loiacono says fatigue is broken into 3 areas: mental, central, and peripheral. Mentally, we give up because the activity is too hard. Centrally, our cardiovascular system may hit their limits. Peripherally, our muscles may be too tired. Prepare appropriately, fuel adequately, and hydrate effectively to overcome exhaustion.

  • Dr. Adam Loiacono, Concierge In-Home Performance Therapy

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