Brain Training – Practice Thinking Outside of the Box

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past week is how to expand my mental capacity. It’s unfair that some people are innately more intelligent than others and that some people are born with higher intelligence quotients (IQs) than others. What does IQ matter anyways? It’s just a number. There are a myriad of scholars who are against IQ testing, which could be why IQ has never been used as a standard or test. Then I started to read some studies done with IQs. At first, all the studies seemed to be pedantic, boring, and obvious. Then I took a deeper look within. In communities where the general population is of lower-class, the average IQ tends to be much lower than the average IQ of the higher-class. Well, duh! More money means more education! But then, I got to thinking that maybe IQ is not something someone is born with, but something you could train. Some studies have even shown that playing brain training games actually helps your cognitive memory. I mean, yeah it’s highly unlikely that one could train their IQ and increase it 20-50 points, but maybe one can increase it slightly and pass it along from generation to generation. Well, how do we train our brains? Let’s take a lot of what intelligent people can do. One thing that they can do with ease is to think outside of the box. Let’s start with that.

How to practice thinking outside of the box:

  1. Experience a new culture. Travel to another country and immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture. You would have to learn everything from the beginning. The way the people think, the manner their community operates, and the feelings people have will be completely different than that of your own. Learn to think why they feel that. When you’re able to do this, you gain perspective and train your brain to think in ways you would never have before.
  2. Can’t travel? Then do something way out of the ordinary. Find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Read a book in a genre that you’ve never read from before. Spend time where you would have never spent otherwise. If you like to stay at home during the week, find an opportunity to go out to somewhere new. It could be anything from a bar to a dance club or a library or a gym. Step outside of your comfort zone. When we do something uncomfortable, we’re confusing our brain and teaching it in a way to think differently.
  3. Learn to play an instrument! Already know how? Then learn to draw! Or learn to dance, to sing, or to write. Exercise that creativity, nurture it, develop it!
  4. Walk backwards all day (if you can). I’m not too sure about this one, but I think it might help! Ha ha. Can you jump rope? Can you jump rope backwards? Learn to do both. By training your brain and body things that may feel awkward or abnormal, we’re actually training our brain.
  5. Most importantly, be open to new ideas. The more close-minded you are, the less you’ll ever think outside of the box. This doesn’t mean you have to agree and adopt another person’s idea. Yes, that idea could be pointless. But, try to follow their thought process and why they would think they way they do.

Work Out Program

A lot of people are completely clueless when it comes to workouts, with reason. It can be an immensely daunting task to work out. What do you do? How do you do it? Where do you start? Well, there’s an infinite number of possibilities in developing a work out program. It really does not matter which program you follow as long as you work out. However, I’d suggest you build a routine that balances your entire body. I am posting my routine. You can adjust/modify this program to better fit your needs. This routine caters towards those people who are starting to work out.

Let’s begin with stating that there are three primary components of working out: weight training (muscle building/maintaining), aerobic exercise (cardio), and stretching. A good balance of all three is optimal, but many people prefer to lean towards only one.

  1. Weight Training – First, decide what do you want from your body? Do you want build muscle mass? Or maybe you’d like to tone up. I think the general consensus is that males want to build muscle and females want to tone up. But, my recommendation to both is to build muscle mass first. Now, you don’t need to build a whole lot, but when you’re doing other exercises in the future, having a good base amount of muscle will make most activities much easier. Either way, you’re going to have to lift weights. The difference in the lifting exercises depends on the number of repetitions you lift. To build muscle mass, you want choose a weight so you can do 3 sets of 8-10 lifts, where the last 2-3 lifts are challenging, but not impossible. Please be cautious because if you lift too heavy of a weight, you can damage (rip, tear, etc.) your muscles. This will put you back a couple of weeks to months because you’ll need ample time for muscle recovery. To become more tone, you want to choose a weight so you can do 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, where the last 2-3 lifts may be slightly challenging.
  2. Aerobic Exercise – I am an advocate of a cardio program called high intensity interval training or HIIT (HIT). Studies have shown that the body burns more fat doing HIIT than doing the typical cardio program. The idea behind HIIT is to “trick” your heart. Basically, you exercise at 80% – 95% of your maximum potential for an allotted time to get your heart beating fast, then you drop to 50% – 70% of your potential for that same allotted time so that you can reduce your heart rate again, then repeat. This is more beneficial than the traditional jog for an extended period of time.
  3. Stretching – I suggest that you stretch at the end of your work out every day. It is not good to stretch your muscles before your work outs because you can pull or strain your muscle. The whole point of stretching is to relax your muscles after they’ve been expanded and contracted from your work out. Do not confuse stretching with warming up though! It is crucial to warm up your muscles before your work outs.

Okay, so what does this all mean? Well, here is my weekly workout routine:

  • Monday – Weight Training (Arms (biceps and triceps) and Shoulders) – your weight training should be anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stretch.
  • Tuesday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, three sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%) – This only takes 13 minutes, but you can do more if you want quicker results! Stretch.
  • Wednesday – Weight Training (Chest and Back). Stretch.
  • Thursday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, four sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%). Stretch.
  • Friday – Weight Training (Legs and Gluts). Stretch.
  • Saturday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, five sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%). Stretch.
  • Sunday – Rest or Light Cardio or Stretching

I’ll give a more detailed breakdown of my weight training next time so you can follow my routine step by step.

For those extreme people who want to lose weight quicker or want a six pack, follow this plan:

  • Monday – Weight Training (Arms (biceps and triceps) and Shoulders), 15 minute intensive ab work out, 35 minute jog at approximately 60% OR HIIT. Stretch.
  • Tuesday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, five sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%). Stretch.
  • Wednesday – Weight Training (Chest and Back), 15 minute intensive ab work out, 35 minute jog at approximately 60% OR HIIT. Stretch.
  • Thursday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, six sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%). Stretch.
  • Friday – Weight Training (Legs and Gluts), 15 minute intensive ab work out, 35 minute jog at approximately 60% OR HIIT. Stretch.
  • Saturday – HIIT (Warm up 3 minutes with a light jog ~60% pace, seven sets of: sprint at 90% for 1 minute, jog at 60% for 1 minute, cool down with a 3 minute jog at 50%, walk off for 1 minute at 20%). Stretch.
  • Sunday – Jog for 30 minutes at 60%. Stretch.