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
Friday, September 21. 2018
Correlation does not indicate causation, but it's something to consider anyway. There are many reasons to pursue physical fitness.
Wednesday, September 19. 2018
Of all three delights, right now hunting partridge and woodcock in the North Woods of New Hampshire (around Pittsfield) and Maine is my favorite.
You need to be in good shape to do that, and you need a good dog too. I remember one October when we worried that a somewhat overweight cousin would drop dead busting brush in a Maine swamp. Turned pale, could not go on after 7 hours. Forget roads or trails. Wilderness. Hated to let him rest but we figured that to get his corpse out of there we'd have to quarter him like a moose and pack his remains 4 miles out to a dirt road.
He survived, but never re-upped. I love tramping through the swamps and brush and hills of northern Maine. Damn good workout. If you fire three shots in 7 hours, it's good. If you down a bird or two, even better. It's not shopping.
Like Michigan and Minnesota, our North Woods in New England are wonderfully wild.
For fall and winter outdoor fun, first get rid of that fat. It holds you back to a depressing extent. Anybody can easily lose 10 lbs/month by eating rationally and sparingly. If you have excess fat, remember the rule: Whenever you feel hungry, it means that you are beginning to burn fat - not that you need food. Three meals/day is crazy for people with fat. 3 snacks is plenty.
For grouse hunting, mountain hiking, and skiing, you need to work the heck out of your lower body if you want to keep up with the others. Focus on deads and squats, and lower body endurance exercises. Lots of wall-sits for skiers, because that is half of skiing.
We have friends who ski all winter in their 80s. They keep themselves in great shape for it. Working out and eating sparingly year-round. I want to end up like them. Vigorous, wiry, and energetic.
Wednesday, September 12. 2018
Fitness people often refer to "metcon" workouts. These fall into our Calisthenics category, provided the Calisthenics hours are high intensity with only several seconds of rest time.
Why term it "metabolic conditioning"? It sounds cool and technical, and it does stress and thus ramp up all metabolic systems and puts every muscle in the body to work including the heart.
Most typical calisthenics classes (Cross-train cardio classes, Athletic Conditioning classes, HIIT, HICT aka High-intensity circuit training, AMRAP, TABITA, Crossfit, etc) have goals of building energy and cardio endurance instead of pure strength, with agility, speed, muscle-toning, and general athleticism as side benefits.
If a newbie wanted to "get back in shape" with a simple program, I would recommend 4- 6 of such classes/week before doing anything else if they could handle it. For 99% of people, classes will push you harder than anything you do on your own. For the first few months you will struggle and perform terribly. Endurance builds gradually. If you begin a bit chubby, the classes will be a strong motivator for nutritional rationality because extra fat makes all calisthenics more difficult than they already are.
Although we are believers in weight training twice-weekly for a number of reasons, we see many people in excellent shape whose only fitness work is a near- daily high-intensity calisthenics/metcon class.
For newbies who can not handle a 50-60 minute calisthenics class, spend a couple of months doing ordinary "cardio" to get moving. Then add in the calisthenics, and finally the powerlifts because at that point your body will be prepared to face them.
Wednesday, September 5. 2018
Yes, to a degree, but it's an uphill battle. Sarcopenia is an effect of ageing. Combined with a non-vigorous life, muscle and bone loss is natural decline.
Over 50 or 60, many trainers would make a goal of simply maintaining what you have, but more aggressive trainers like to find out how far "mature" individuals can take their strength efforts.
As with all aspects of fitness, "use it or lose it" applies. I would be in the category of those who advise people not to give up on strength-building in later adulthood. Advancement is much slower than when 30, and you will not build much visible muscle, but you can be stronger anyway.
The trick is heavy weights and low reps (ie 8 or less). We're talking men and women. High reps are better than doing nothing, but they are not strength-building.
One piece of advice: Over 50 or 60, two days/week of powerlifting is enough.
Getting older doesn't mean giving up muscle strength. Not only can adults fight the battle of strength and muscle loss that comes with age, but the Golden Years can be a time to get stronger, say experts at the University of Michigan Health System
Simple test asked 50 to 80-year-olds to sit on the floor and stand up with as little support as possible
Building Stronger Bones
Can You Regain Muscle Mass After Age 60?
Weight training is the only type of exercise that can substantially slow, and even reverse, the declines in muscle mass, bone density, and strength that were once considered inevitable consequences of aging.
Wednesday, August 29. 2018
Is giving up on fitness a sign of giving up on a vigorous life? I don't know. Could be.
Last year we had a 100 push-up/day challenge which many readers found illuminating and even inspiring.
Readers know we love calisthenics as a way of bringing together your gains from other exercises into physical activities that require some strength, plenty of endurance, athleticism, and a good share of cardio fitness.
Jumping is one darn good calisthenic. Done right, jump rope is close to zero impact. Jacks are slightly more impact, but minimal. All toes. Harmless to joints.
This morning I watched a bit of a fitness class which I was glad I didn't take today. The warm-up was 5 minutes jump rope - free-style. After a 10-second rest, 20 push-ups. 10-second rest, then 3 minutes of jacks. Sheesh. Then one more time around. All ages and all genders in there including a 75 year-old lawyer I sort-of know.
That was the warm-up. I've taken that class (it's outdoors mostly) plenty of times, but I've never seen the boss push the crowd so hard in a warm-up. About 1/3 of the folks needed little breaks to complete these things.
So here's the fitness challenge:
In one month, can you get to 5 minutes of jump rope or 3 minutes of jacks? Continuous.
If you are in good condition, this is not difficult but for most of us civilians it is highly challenging. I noticed a guy the other day who did 20 minutes of jump rope, mixing up all the variations to avoid boredom, seemingly effortlessly. Wonderful. My jump rope routines are only 1 minute each. I do variations. I want to up my duration and call it calis or cardio, whatever.
How to approach that goal if it is beyond you (and me)? Do the thing 10X/day for as long as you can. Remember, calis require no rest days. Gradually reduce the number of times/day while increasing the duration of each event. Stick with singles on the rope unless you can do variations. Singles are the least stressful. Same with jumping jacks: if you can mix in star jumps, go for it.
Want to see some impressive jumping? This guy is fit.
Monday, August 27. 2018
This post is a bit repetitive, but worth repeating as people begin to plan their post-Labor Day life routines.
It is prompted by a link sent by one of my sisters: FORGET SWIMMING LAPS FOR DAYS- A SHORT, SHARP POOL WORKOUT CAN TRUMP SPINNING AND RUNNING FOR RESULTS. HERE’S HOW TO NAIL A WATER WORKOUT
For general conditioning/fitness, we recommend that 1/3 of your exercise time be spent on pure cardio conditioning. That entails two 20-30 minute sessions of HIIT and a one-hour "long slow" session (eg jogging). What formats? Best to mix them up: Rowing, running, swimming, elliptical. Reason to mix them up is because repetition increases efficiency so reduces effectiveness.
That's enough pure cardio for anybody who is not in training for races. Remember, with our plan, you also have about 2 hrs of calisthenics/week which are good cardiac stressors too.
To summarize the Maggie's Conditioning Program:
1. 2 hrs of power lifting and accessory weight training (for power, muscle, and bone strength)
Wednesday, August 22. 2018
It is floor to standing with a weight in your hand. Since I posted a photo of a Turkish Get Up yesterday, a bit more on this full-body calisthenic:
Tuesday, August 21. 2018
I hate to imagine what my life would be like if I only did what "I feel like doing." Worst case? Living in retirement or on welfare as a TV addict or internet or heroin addict - but then I would hate myself for laziness and passivity. I am already a book addict. It's sort of moot for me, because I have never known the meaning of "relax and take it easy." Probably never will. I was made for work.
What does "motivation" mean? I don't know. I do know what desire means, and what fear means. Desire for results, and fear of decay, affect me but so does the simple physical need to be active. My genius trainer always says "The hardest exercise of all is dragging your lazy ass to the gym every morning."
The answer to my title question is "No - never." That's because it is so hard and stressful compared with, say, yard and garden work, or going for a scenic hike. I just want to get it done with and then to begin my day in a good state of mind. Once I get in the gym, though, there is some perverse satisfaction in pushing myself and testing my will, and good satisfaction after completing a hard hour. Being driven by a slave-master helps a lot too. Endorphins are over-rated, but an atmosphere where everybody is busting their ass is inspirational.
As all of our readers know well, discipline, determination, and delayed gratification are darn important in making a decent life. It does feel good to me to be in better shape than I was in 20 years ago, but it's taken 3 years to get here with much further to go.
Trying to turn back that clock, baby - it's only semi-delusional.
Photo: Those people are doing Turkish Get-ups. It's a tricky calisthenic.
Friday, August 17. 2018
It's Summertime. People like to get outdoors early to run, bike, or swim in the sea for an hour or so. It feels great, but, other than wholesome recreation and mental health, what is it good for? I will try to discuss these things.
Our posts about what I term Phys Ed are meant to be about general conditioning for relatively-healthy people of any age rather than training for specific activities. That's why we recommend 1/3 weights, 1/3 "Cardio," and 1/3 calisthenics. With that said, I'll review some general ideas and misconceptions (expecting arguments from readers). People use the term "Cardio" for many things, but we intend it to mean training of the heart muscle.
1. "Long Slow" exercise, often termed Cardio, is not Cardiac Training. Swimming a mile, jogging 3-5 miles, biking for a few hours, doing 45 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill doing Long Slow do not elevate your heart rate enough to challenge your heart. Ideally, you want to stress your heart because that is what Cardio is meant for. Intensity is more important than time from the heart's standpoint, same as with weight training.
That doesn't mean that those activities are a useless component of general fitness, just that they do not build cardiac strength. If you can run or jog 3-5 miles, you might not be fully fit but you are better than most slobs.
To strengthen your heart and increase your Cardiac Output, you have to push your heart muscle in the same way that you push other muscles with weights and resistance. That means basically heart rate stress. If you can work your way up to maintaining 80% of your max heart rate for 30 or 40 minutes, I'd say that is very good indeed. How to determine that is at the end of this somewhat lengthy post -
Still, we feel it's a better idea and more efficient to do HIIT cardio training which pushes your heart to as close to 100% for brief periods - 30-60 seconds followed by a slow recovery of 3X the sprints. 20-30 minutes of that once or twice a week is good. This can be on the road, elliptical, rower, in the pool, or on the treadmill or stair machine. Max effort, max sweat.
More below the fold -
Continue reading ""Cardio" exercise, endurance training, and "fat-burning""
Thursday, August 16. 2018
A birthday this week, and I am one year stronger, one year more agile, one year more energetic, one year looking fitter.
Calis are for your athleticism. The below may not sound grueling, but it is more exhausting than weight-training days if you minimize rest time. I do two hours of calis weekly, 1 calis class and 1 on my own. This was the mix I've been doing on my own recently:
Elliptical warm-up, 3 mins
Each circuit below 2-3 times, overall takes me about 1 hr with 1-min breaks between rounds -
Dead ball floor slams
Kettle bell lunges
Farmer's Walk - heavy kettles
And finish up with a round of heavy ball wall slams
Friday, August 10. 2018
It's a bit late in the year up here for this post, but beach wear is basically underwear. It exposes a person's condition.
We've pointed out that it would take about 2-3 hours moving speedily on a treadmill, elliptical, or stair machine to burn the calories in your breakfast bagel. But it doesn't work like that.
Our bodies preferentially burn glycogen (stored sugar, from carbs) for exertion. It takes over 40 minutes of higher intensity (eg running and the like) exertion to begin meaningful fat-burning.
It's true than a daily hour of some exercise (other than walking or slow pool laps) ups your metabolism for a while, but it's not really significant.
It's a downer for people, but the truth is that exercise is about fitness, while fat loss is nutritional unless you have 3 hrs.day to work out hard (probably not a good idea for people over age 35).
The reason doctors and everybody else talks about nutrition and exercise for fat loss is sort-of to fool people into getting moving and less sedentary because sedentary, regardless of body fat, isn't healthy. In fact, it correlates highly with early cardiac morbidity regardless of body fat %.
Sedentary can be defined, roughly, as less than an hour/day of sweat-producing exertion. Let's face reality: other than walks, most Western people prefer a sedentary, no-heavy-lifting comfortable life, and most do not wish to feel deprived of their appetites in these places where delicious things are in abundance. I get that, to each his/her own. We all have people we care about, though, who we'd like to stick around for a while.
With proper nutrition, anybody can lose 8-12 lbs/month easily, with or without exercise. In fact, with difficult exercise (ie heavy weights) it can be a bit harder to lose weight due to the nutritional requirements for muscle repair.
The youth have it easy. It can be difficult for the young (under 30 or 35) to gain weight even if they want to. To gain good athletic weight, the youth have to eat big and work out hard with weights.
Wednesday, August 8. 2018
The point of "finishers" at the end of your hour of cardio, calis, or weights is to ensure that you finish having exhausted your strength and energy completely. These two finishers are total body exertions.
- Since we aren't musclemen, we use kettlebells for Farmer's Walks, as heavy as possible. Chest up, shoulders set back, and walk around with them. Squeeze the handles hard. Grip is the weak link with this so they are forearm exercises - but everything else too. Often, a quick reset permits going further. I am up to 28 kilo kettlebells now, which is nothing great but better than a year ago for one-minute walks.
- Around 3 sets of Kettlebell Swings are on our list of biweekly calisthenics. Correct form is essential for benefit. The swing is exerted by a hip thrust of your "power zone." Arms should do no lifting - they are just hooks for the weight. After one or beginning swings, get the bell up to near eye level, with the weight trying to pull you forward a bit. Never lean back - let the weight try to pull you forward.
High-rep, light-weight swings (one-minute sets like in a cardio class) are aerobic cardio/calis. Medium-weight, lower-rep kettlebells (like 20 reps/set) are more for power and tend to go anaerobic. High-weight, lower-rep (eg 10) kettlebell swings are pure power-builders. Do them all, mix and match. About Kettlebell Swings.
Friday, August 3. 2018
Since our physical fitness posts here are oriented towards building and maintaining general functional fitness and athleticism, we tend not to get into the weeds of strength-building.
For general conditioning, we view strength (weights) as about a third of the program. 2 days/week, with heavy powerlifts etc. However, the strength component is crucial even if 2 hrs/week will not produce an Arnold physique.
Speaking of physiques, we are genetically programmed for a body type (even if we cover that up with layers of fat). Certain body types were built for running, some for lifting up dead mastodons and elephants, etc. One aspect of that is our muscle cells. We are born with a life-long number of them, and a predetermined distribution of Type 1 And Type ll muscle cells which in part determine where our athletic potentials might be. Strength-building can build up the fibers inside those cells when subjected to serious demand. At the same time, a significant part of muscle bulk is blood supply.
But getting to the point, the rapid improvement in strength during the first 6-10 months of lifting is attributable to neuromuscular development and efficiency. That's the first step in strength conditioning, and when progress is most gratifying.
After that initial phase, progress slows and that is when the real slogging begins.
A reader sent in this technical essay on neuromuscular training: Neuromuscular Efficiency (NME). A little basic Bio helps.
Wednesday, August 1. 2018
It's not either-or. Low-rep (1-5) high weight is for strength. High-rep (8-12) with lower weight is for muscle endurance, but we would never suggest more than 10 reps for any powerlift set.
A typical powerlift sequence is a warm up set with very light weight, then 4-5 working sets advancing to your day's target. For example, lately I have been doing, say, with deadlift (most important exercise, I feel), warm-up set of 5 at about 100, 5 reps at 155, 5 reps at about 180, 1 rep at 200 and another rep around 225. Like I say, I am not a big strong guy. Everybody is different. My one-rep max is probably 245, but I don;t know for sure. My goal is 300.
Many fitness people do a week of high rep every month or two. "Lower weight" is around 60-70% of your one rep max. "Higher weight" is around 80-90% of your one rep max.
As always, there are exceptions, mainly for accessory exercises. For example, for curls or tricep cable push-downs, 10-20 is fine to keep those things "toned".
My take on heavy weights: Pull-ups are heavy weight. Push-ups are just calisthenics. If you can do 20 pullups bravo to you and put some weights on you to be more efficient. I won't do barbell bench or barbell squats without trainer or partner. Without those, I'll do dumbbell bench and kettlebell lunges or squats instead. If no weight station is free, I'll do kettlebell deadlifts or trap bar instead of regular. It's all good as long as it is HARD and makes you want to cry or spout 4-letter words.
Since I only do half of my powerlifts one day, and half of them another day (not ideal for strength but ok for fitness), I fill in my weights hours with accessory lifts to get a full workout. But to be more precise, I also do pullups twice/wk and one day of dumbell bench and another day barbell bench because I want to focus on those right now. There's only so much time to fit in weights, calis, and plain cardio. If a week had 8 days, I'd do another day of weights. It doesn't fatigue you like calis, but it kicks your ass and kicks your mind.
Wednesday, July 25. 2018
For general fitness/conditioning, probably not necessary and especially not if you do 2 hours of calis or calis classes weekly along with your 2-3 hrs/wk of mostly powerlift work.
What are typical accessory weight exercises? Things like curls, calf raises, cable pulls and pushes of all sorts, leg press, lateral raises, leg curls, and many gym machine activities which target specific muscle groups.
Typical compound-movement powerlift work (deadlift, rows, pullups, barbell squat, military press, bench press, maybe dumbbell lunges) strengthen pretty much all skeletal muscles - and your core too- and are more functional than isolated muscle exercises. (Most people do not do Olympic lifts but if you want to try them, go for it. With a coach, please.).
There are a few exceptions. 1.Beginners often need accessory exercises for a few months before moving forward 2. Some accessory exercises can help ramp up your powerlifts. For example, I work on overhand curls and kettlebell Farmer's walks for my grip strength because that can be a limiting factor for my deadlifts. I have weak forearms. 3. Another exception is for bodybuilders who choose to focus on developing good-looking specific muscles. (That's not really about functional fitness, though - more about looking great naked.)
We stand by our Fitness For Life recommendations for women and men of any age: 2-3 hours of mostly heavy weights, 2-3 hrs of calisthenics without heavy weights, about two half-hours of HIIT cardio, 1 hr of endurance cardio (replaceable with a 5-6 hr hike, bike ride, etc). Not counting hikes, a total of 6-7 hrs/week is sufficient - but no less than 2 hrs of real lifts with some accessories if needed to complete the hour)
Sunday, July 22. 2018
Probably 50 years old, petite but not skinny, cute face, tight body. Perhaps a bit of facial youtherizing. Out of the corner of my eye while I was going through my jump-rope routines I watched her place a high box under the bar, jump up onto the bar and proceed to perform 12 chin-ups. I thought she would never finish. After a rest and some water, two more times. She is doing fitness-maintenance.
No visible muscles, just toned. Watching her proved several things to me that I knew anyway: Regular non-athlete women can develop good upper-body strength, people can be very strong and fit without notable muscle, and I suck at pull-ups as I do at many life challenges.
Watching three skinny wiry guys, my roofers these 2 weeks, carrying two packages of 80 lb. shingles (each) on their shoulders up high ladders. That is not just strength, it is balance and agility too. In other words, athleticism. Worthy of admiration and envy.
If nothing else, God and nature and life teaches humility every day. Like it's their job. Maybe it is. Sometimes I wonder whether humility is a psycho-vitamin which, like Vit D from sunshine, we obtain from investing in life challenges. On the other hand, no rewards, however modest, from our efforts are dispiriting instead of healthily humbling. That is a drag for sure.
Thursday, July 19. 2018
Can you crack a coconut between your thighs?
It makes sense to divide conditioning efforts into anatomical categories like Lower Body: Legs/Lower back; Upper body: Chest/Upper Back/Arms; and Core, even though most exercises use some of everything.
It is obvious that legs with strength and endurance provide and maintain basic functionality for men and women regardless of age, so let's use Legs/Lower body as an example for applying the Maggie's 3-category fitness model (resistance, calis, and cardio).
What can we do, in each of our exercise categories, to push our lower bodies towards further strength and endurance? Basic lower body-related routines are below.
Rule #1: IF IT ISN'T HARD, IT ISN'T EXERCISE. Our deplorable inner lazy-ass quitter is our enemy in life.
Heavy resistance for lower body strength:
Lower body-oriented Calisthenics for muscle application and agility (many or most of these are included in typical cardio/calis gym classes)
High Step-ups (with or without kettlebell)
Mostly lower-body Cardio and HIIT Cardio for endurance:
Longer Jogs and short sprints. Nothing long enough to promote arthritis. 20-30 minutes with jogs + sprints is enough. It's the sprints that build endurance anyway.
There are many other things and variations to do but we try to keep it simple.
Saturday, July 14. 2018
As I have confessed, I am a small-boned (now 5'11", once 6', 165 lb) late-middle aged guy who imagines he is still 25, without the genes for a mighty physique, with the genes for a dad bod - ie sloppy gut tendency effectively-resisted, but blessed with the genes or temperament for perseverance. I'll share my fitness goals for the next 5-6 months:
- Dead around 275-300 one rep
For some, those might be modest goals, but not for me.
What are your 6 month fitness goals?
Thursday, July 12. 2018
Leave your ego at the door. Two good guys discuss weight lifting, whisky, and the confidence that comes from physical fitness. (h/t, reader)
Wednesday, July 11. 2018
There is a darn good reason why people avoid heavy lifting, whether they are cardio fitness nuts or just people looking for work. Heavy lifting is stressful, unpleasant - other than facing the challenge.
Many people avoid stress, some to the point of avoiding life itself. The thing is, painful stress, whether emotional, physical, or intellectual, is what builds strength and effectiveness for life.
If you lift enough, at some point that 60 lb. bag of cement mix will feel light as a feather. Same goes for all other stressors.
Friday, July 6. 2018
Why do people with any fat stores ever feel hungry, or eat anything at all, considering they may have 1-5 month's worth of energy stored as fat? (We term the hunger experienced by overweight people "False Hunger," because it is.) Except in the truly malnourished or extremely fit, low body-fat athletes, hunger is rarely a signal of an energy deficit or of any nutritional need.
Think about it. Even normal-weight (neither overweight nor underweight) people carry 8-10 weeks of energy stored in fat if they can only access it.
You can consider appetite in the pudgy or overweight, not to mention the obese, to be a design flaw based on the hunting and gathering, and, earlier, just plain gathering condition of human existence, same as the other great apes who only become overweight in captivity. Agriculture and food abundance, along with sedentary life, exposed the design flaw for people who overnourish themselves. Of course, physical inadequacy is another side effect.
Here are a few issues (below) -
Continue reading "Why do overweight people ever feel hunger?"
Thursday, July 5. 2018
Whether you are doing an hour of weights, calis, or HIIT cardio, I think most of us ordinary exercisers reach the point in a given effort when something says "OK, I'm done," but a better voice says (in my case) "Don't be a pussy - push through and do more." I find that self-insults work well for me, as do either insults or encouragement from others.
Distance runners talk about hitting "the wall," but persisting through the wall and finding more energy on the other side. These experiences are both mental and physiological, having to do with the energy sources your muscles or your heart are using and the amount of power your body can enlist.
Yesterday I did elliptical semi-HIIT, semi-long slow on the elliptical (because Wimbledon) on TV. When I do this on elliptical (always using arms too to make it full-body) I do 30-second sprints with 60-second slows, or for variety, I will keep a steady RPM pace while upping the resistance from 1 to 10, increasing every minute and then dropping back down the same way.
After 35 minutes of low-resistance 30-second sprints, I was done. Or thought I was. I called myself a wimp, took a minute slow on level 1, and then got right back in the game to complete the hour going up and down the resistance levels. I have similar experiences in my calis classes.
On the other hand, we all have real limits and it is amusing and educational to confront them in regular life and in physical exertion. Well, depressing too. All we have to do is to check whether it is a real limit or a mental determination speed bump.
On my 5th set of deads this morning (increasing weight and decreasing reps for each set) I found I could not get 3 reps at 245. Genius trainer said "Quick, reset your grip and go again." I think I engaged all my will and force but the goddam thing felt glued to the floor. With a minute's rest, I could have done the third, but that's not the way it works. For you strong guys and gals, this would not be too difficult but I am not you. A fit, skinny, no-bulk gal I know does 3 reps of 300. She is only 35, though.
I think it was a true physical limit at that point in my dead routine, because I engage everything so as not to disappoint my trainer's expectations and demands. However, for that moment, I am fairly confident that I was done. Sucks to disappoint a mentor.
When I think about it, I most frequently encounter genuine limits in jump rope and in pull-ups. Also, the sprints on the combat bike. Even the f-word just doesn't help at all.
I wonder how our readers feel when things go from manageable to tough to hard to painful to walls to breakthoughs to actually confronting real limitations.
Sunday, July 1. 2018
Pic is my medicine ball on our Cape Cod driveway. Garbage cans out - a decorative touch.
If you have invested time, money, sweat, and tears into a fitness regimen, it is depressing to learn that your level of conditioning will deteriorate measurably within 7-10 days if all you do is walk around for hours. Many people go for morning jogs but there are plenty of other morning calisthenics that can be done anywhere.
I have done it all, in hotel gyms, in the sandy driveway on Cape Cod, and elsewhere all over the place. Even in Maine. A light protein and banana shake after. There is no more invigorating way to begin an active day outdoors.
One observation: We Americans are fitness nuts by comparison to the rest of the world. It's cultural and, to some extent, class-related We (frequently) overweight Americans try to stay fit and vigorous until something strikes us down. In Europe, not much. In Asia, very little. How often do you see gyms or street runners in those places? An exception might be Switzerland, where I am told gyms are sprouting up on every corner in every town. Especially in Zurich, or course, because Zurich is like a mini-NYC but without the charm.
For a business meeting, a business speech, or a job interview, there is nothing like an hour of calis to prepare.
A few ideas below the fold -
Continue reading "Staying Fit on Vacation"
Use it or lose it. Strength and power diminish measurably after 7-10 days, cardio fitness after one week without stressing your heart hard. The older you are, the quicker the loss.
Tuesday, June 26. 2018
They say "Curls for Girls" and "Sun's Out, Guns Out" because, for guys, strong arms are a sign of vigor, health, and fitness to females, and of dominance to males. For gals, toned beats flabby all the time as a sign of health. It's primitive, but physicality matters because we are animals.
Biceps (and brachialis) are a bit more about vanity than functionality, but we want all of our skeletal muscles to be firm and fit. Triceps are much more functional, but what the heck. Good to be strong all over.
I tend to do one or two sets/week of curls more as "maintenance" than as strength-building. Can't do everything in the allotted time, and curls are "accessory." Furthermore, all upper body exertions stress arms so there is no real need to mess with them.
My point here is to mix overhand curls (whether dumbells, straight bar, or crooked bar) with the usual underhand grip. The overhand grip stresses the heck out of your forearms, so it's a good mix.
Grip (ie, forearm strength) tends to be the weak link in many exertions (ie, deadlifts). Another good forearm stressor is max-heavy Farmer's Walks (squeeze those kettlebell handles like your life depended on it). We like functional multi-muscle group exercises, and that darn Farmer'sWalk stresses everything from legs to forearms and everything in between.
Tip for curls - lower you arms to a count of 3 or 4. Don't just let gravity do it. The "negative" is as important as the pull. That applies to most weight work.
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