We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, June 28. 2022
Sunday, June 26. 2022
Who has time to hike 10-12 miles over hill and dale, with a pack, without either a vacation or a dedicated Saturday?
From the Harvard Med. School Letter: Age and muscle loss
Also depressiong: Age and Bone Loss
Sunday, June 19. 2022
Wednesday, June 15. 2022
The muscle groups challenged with lunges are similar to those of squats, but best to incorporate both in a conditioning program.
Here's why to use lunges.
Below is good technique, but lunges in place:
Tuesday, June 7. 2022
Wednesday, June 1. 2022
Saturday, May 28. 2022
"Diet and exercise." Those are the usual suggestions.
Fact is that, with exceptions for situations with hours of vigorous activity daily (eg military basic training), a daily routine of stressful exertion of every sort is for building or maintaining functionality for most people but not for fat loss. It doesn't work.
Building strength is another matter. As readers know, for general fitness we like a combination of heavy weight training, "Cardio" of the HIIT type plus some endurance cardio, and calisthenics. That covers all of the basics.
How Hard Should I Work Out? To lose weight? That's not a thing. For general fitness, a hard hour 6 days/week is good.
When does walking become a form of endurance (light-moderate "cardio") exercise? That depends on speed and incline. However challenging hiking might be (hills, rocks, etc.) it is still mostly a recreational and visual experience. Even for mountain hiking, most of us need to slow down.
As a rule of thumb, walking is not exercise unless there is sweat and a little shortness of breath. Some people say that if you can have a conversation, it is not exercise. Makes sense.
Thursday, May 26. 2022
Weight-gain is important for scrawny or physically-undeveloped people who are looking to gain muscle and physical power. The classic 150-lb weakling male who wants to develop might need to gain 10 lbs with a balanced exercise program including weights and a robust diet. Same goes for a weakling stringbean gal.
Whether part of a fitness goal is weight gain or weight loss, a nutritional diary, I believe, is the essential, basic aid. If you record everything you put in your oatmeal-hole, including portion size, while weighing yourself every month, you will get a good idea of how you're moving towards your goals.
For weight gain goals with a 5-6-day per week exercise program including weights, I'd like to see about a 1 lb gain per month for a while. Unless you want to gain fat, a pound/month is plenty. If you can't do that, you need to up your intake. That can be difficult for some people who have to force themselves to eat more than they really want.
For getting rid of excess fat, a reasonable goal is 2 lbs/month with or without exercise. I can't tell you what percentage of American medical problems are related to being overweight, but it could be half of it, from arthritis to breast cancer. Hard exercise doesn't do much for weight loss but it's a good thing for life anyway.
In either case, a detailed diary can help you navigate towards your goal. People are often surprised by how much, or how little, they consume in a day.
This is not a recommendation for an obsessive lifetime plan, just to try for a few months.
Wednesday, May 25. 2022
"Metcon" workouts (metabolic conditioning) are not about strength-building or weight loss. They are about building vigor and endurance. A combination of HIIT Cardio and calisthenics, usually.
They are far better, and more fun, done in a group in a gym. Not 20 minutes, more like an hour with a 5-minute warm-up and 5 minutes stretching at the end.
Friday, May 13. 2022
It requires intensity to properly stress the heart muscle. Like weight-lifting, the intensity is what demands muscle strengthening and improved vasculature. This does not take much time out of your workout schedule. Heart rate is a good measure of exercise intensity. Here's how to know your cardio stress level. (It might not exactly apply if you are taking blood pressure meds that limit heart rate.) Or you can go by how you feel - if you are winded by a one-minute sprint and need 30-60 seconds to catch your breath, you probably got your heart rate up.
Here's a good 10-minute cardio workout, with jump rope. He calls it Beginner but it is pretty good:
Sunday, May 8. 2022
Thursday, May 5. 2022
At Maggie's Farm, perhaps we discuss weight training more than the other aspects of fitness. That might be because weight training requires more technique to get it right.
However, it seems to me that daily Calisthenics would be the thing to do if you had to pick one thing. Why is that?
A cali routine puts every muscle to work. It doesn't build big strength much, but that's another topic. A cali routine involves lots of HIIT cardio. A calis routine works on balance, and general athleticism. And, unlike heavy weights, an hour of calis does not require any special recovery time so it can be done daily.
It is more fun to do these in groups or couples, and it is more fun to rotate from one thing to another. It doesn't matter what level you work as long as you push it. One hour goes by fast.
Here are some of the things we do:
Warm-up (5-7 minutes): Jumping jacks, jump rope, high-knee running in place, etc.
Push-ups (any sort)
If not heavily sweating, nothing is happening. Add on a 10-minute treadmill walk to cool down. You do not want to put a horse up wet...
Monday, May 2. 2022
(A reminder about Powerlifts: These are mostly full-body, or multi-muscle group/compound exertions: Bench Press, Deadlifts, Barbell Squats, Rows (dumbell, TRX, seated, barbell - whatever), Military Press, and pull-ups or pulldowns.) Depending on general health and taking into account past injuries, these are sturdiness basics regardless of age or sex. Ordinary people should not push their powerlifts two or three days in a row because recovery is needed. For a good discussion about powerlifts.
So-called Accessory Weight Exercises are good time- fillers, and do not need the sorts of recovery that the powerlifts do. Here's a partial list:
Curls of any sort
Do any of our readers do Accessory Weights and, if so, what?
Wednesday, April 20. 2022
My husband loaded trucks at a lumber yard for three years in his teens. Sports too, of course, but he is sure that that labor made him a sturdier adult. Hard manual labor is what growing boys are made for. This might not apply to women, though.
In adulthood, however, if women want to avoid osteopenia the simplest and most natural approach is to lift heavy. Cardio does nothing for bone maintenance.
Monday, April 18. 2022
Ever had DOMS (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness)?
It's not a disease, just a normally-abnormal thing that gets better in a few days. Stiffness, soreness, mild swelling beginning about 24-30 hrs. after the exertions.
I've only had it several times over the years, and I know why I have it right now in my calves and quads. It's because I requested 30 minutes of our hour for calisthenics from my trainer on Saturday morning, and he had me doing things I've rarely done. It was hard, but a great workout.
As an experiment, I tried stretching and walking it off for 50 minutes this morning. It didn't seem to do much, but better than sitting, maybe.
Our D-Day post yesterday described 8-hour/day calisthenics for Airborne training (including running). "I thought I was in good shape, but I wasn't." Good grief, that's always the case.
Thursday, March 24. 2022
Tuesday, March 15. 2022
In my current program, I only do deads once weekly and barbell squats once weekly. Plus all of the other strength stuff of course.
It's not advice, but for my deads I do a 15-rep warm-up and then 5 sets increasing weight and lowering reps to 4. It is feeling more to me like maintenance.
Saturday, March 12. 2022
A reader sent us the link: Why You Should Not Be Running
Running as "exercise" was a fad in the 70s. There are many ways to improve endurance short of running marathons, or even 3-mile morning runs.
Being able to hike 10 miles is a good thing in life. Makes life fun and interesting. But if your interest is in cardiac fitness, HIIT is the way to go.
Is it worth swimming laps, doing treadmill or elliptical lengths, etc? Certainly, but only as a minor component of fitness. That's my opinion.
Wednesday, March 9. 2022
Rippetoe speaks mainly to men, but I think his strength-training advice applies just as well to women. His focus on strong=big, however, is only for guys who want to get "big." Most guys who pursue general fitness have no major desire to look conspicuously jacked, and women can't do it if they try. When it comes to appearance alone, it seems to me as if men and women want to look athletic.
When it comes to general fitness for life, muscle hypertrophy is unimportant although some amount of muscle growth will occur with any balanced fitness program. (As our readers know, our recommendations are 1/3 HIIT cardio, 1/3 mixed calisthenics, and 1/3 stressful weights for strength. This is a recipe for looking, and being, in athletic shape.)
Two pieces from Rippetoe:
Monday, March 7. 2022
That loss is almost entirely about nutrition. The reason to include exercise, or fitness training, is to minimize muscle loss while getting rid of the fat burden.
Wednesday, March 2. 2022
Thursday, February 24. 2022
The study is not great, but it does help to highlight the importance of eccentric motion with weights.
That is the with-gravity motion that follows the lift or push. It can be almost an isometric stress and, with weight, stress is good so resisting gravity both ways makes better use of your time. Slower is better.
Build strength with only three seconds of weight lifting per day? Get stronger in only three seconds per day? New research shows that it is possible. I don't buy it, but eccentric motion matters.
Wednesday, January 26. 2022
That might not apply to 8 hours on the Appalachian Trail or a day job as a lumberjack, but it is certainly true for me with my 1-hr daily exercises. The more consistently I exercise, the less interest I have in food and the smaller the portions I can handle. This effect is most pronounced with demanding cardio and calisthenic exercise, not much with strength exercise or with sports. There is a theory that the effect has something to do with Peptide YY.
Nobody wants to eat anything after a hour of tough cardio exercise and that suppressive effect tends to last 24 hrs.
Maybe it makes some genetic sense. If you need to move yourself vigorously and frequently, the less fat you have on you the better you can avoid becoming part of a Tiger Dinner Party. Hunger is an interesting instinct and only recently has it been studied biochemically. One thing we know for certain is that subjective hunger or attraction to food is not a signal for a need for nourishment for most adults in a food-rich environment.
Overweight people seem to have the strongest subjective hunger, and sedentary people tend to have stronger appetites. Cause or effect? Chicken or egg?
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