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.
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Sunday, February 26. 2017
However, this is not really using the powder as a supplement. I's just using it as breakfast with 25-30 gms of protein. Otherwise, my breakfast would be just two mugs of coffee.
Most trainers tell weight-lifters to have a dose of protein after heavy lifting. It sounds logical, but nutrition is a field packed with superstition and magical thinking. Other forms of exercise do not require a shot of protein because they do not produce muscle fiber damage.
Powders as supplement would, I think, entail maybe twice-daily use in addition to normal balanced meals. Since I can't get on board with three normal balanced meals, I probably should do a second dose of powder protein to make sure I have enough daily protein.
Or maybe it's all magical marketing: Protein Powder and the Promise of Transformation
What's your view?
Saturday, February 25. 2017
With calis, it's all about the circuits or what I call the circus in which you are the performing animal.
Don't forget to breathe during tough calisthenics - and everything else! We find the best way to remember to breathe during exercise is to make sure to exhale and the inhale will take care of itself. Coaches and trainers should say "Exhale," not "breathe." Oxygen is very good stuff for aerobic organisms.
Thursday, February 23. 2017
Our dogma is that general Fitness for Life (as compared with more specific exercise goals) entails a balance of strength-training, calisthenics for muscle-use, agility, balance, and endurance, and some cardio intervals for heart strength and endurance. Plus decent nutrition to support the program goals.
Contrary to some biases and misconceptions, strength training is not mainly for muscle-head gym rats. It's for everybody's fitness if they don't do a manual labor job. It fights the deterioration of age.
Even people whose work entails plenty of lifting can benefit from strength training. If you do not learn the correct ways to exert your body, you can easily injure it or wear it out. Weight training teaches how to move things safely.
There are three basic categories of lifting: Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting.
Pure Bodybuilding focuses on muscle definition and appearance. Bodybuilding emphasizes individual muscle development over functional groups. General, functional strength training usually needs to include some more isolated muscle groups to work towards larger muscle groups, but does not focus on muscle definition.
Powerlifting is about developing power (defined as strength X speed). The fundamentals are squats, bench, deads, overhead press. Perhaps pull-ups.
Olympic tends to be a more technical sport. It is totally cool, but it's not for me.
General strength fitness training for ordinary people is a hybrid approach borrowing from all three types, but always including Powerlifting (which takes a lot of time with the necessary rest minute between sets). For example, a week's worth of my strength training often includes some sets of most of these: bench, deads, barbell squats, pull-downs, pull-ups, rows, press-downs, dips, curls, overhead press, hamstring curls, inclined bench press, sometimes leg press. Mrs. BD does some Olympic lifts too (amazing to me) but my shoulder can't handle them.
From the article:
Tuesday, February 21. 2017
If you are in bad shape, you will not be able to do many, or even one. That feels pathetic and unmanly to most guys. I recall that my Dad had the habit of morning pull-ups and push-ups well into his mid-70s before work (worked until 76). He kept that part of his Basic Training going. He was naturally wiry and strong anyway.
Only the fittest women can do any because they have less native upper body strength and tend to have a higher fat/muscle ratio. Many middle-aged guys find their paltry pull-up counts to be deeply humiliating, and rightly so. Weakness is shameful for most guys, even more so than ignorance, for evolutionary reasons. In fitness training, humiliation and failure are always on the agenda. That builds character, victory does not.
One good test to assess your pull-up potential is to jump up to a bar and see how long you can hang with your chin at bar level. That is, in fact, a good strengthening exercise in itself for beginners. Count the seconds that you can hang up there before slowly collapsing.
Chin-ups and pull-ups test primarily back muscles, and secondarily arms and core. Three sets/wk is plenty. The technique is not to muscle one's way up with your arms, but to lift your chin to the bar by driving your elbows down with full power.
As far as I'm concerned, pull-ups can be viewed as either weight-training or as calisthenics. It's a body weight, multi-muscle group stress and, if 15 reps gets easy, just put on a weight vest to keep it challenging. Here's how to Do More Than One Stinking Pull-Up
Are kipping pull-ups cheating? It depends. Certainly anybody would prefer to do more dead-hang pull-ups if they could. They are hard. All exercise is agonizing, though, if done right. No pain, no gain.
Saturday, February 18. 2017
I regret any times I have linked those sorts of things because everybody's starting point is different and natural strength and body type vary enormously across people. For example, shorter guys with shorter arms can lift much better than taller guys. While I feel it is essential to have exercise goals to avoid going through the motions, the only reasonable short-term goals are to be stronger and fitter than you were a month ago.
I think it is fun to make 4-month fitness goals, but they should be based on where you are, and not somebody else's (except your trainer's, if you use one).
Look, nobody reading Maggie's (I think) is a Lifter-lifter. They are fitness lifters like me. This is reasonable: How Strong Should I Be For My Age, Size, Height, Weight & Gender?
Friday, February 17. 2017
I like a walking stick - a fallen branch broken to length - when taking a tramp without a firearm. It just feels good. Fact is that a walking stick or hiking poles put you almost on three or four legs, and also lessen the wear and tear on middle-aged joints. Especially on hills.
I thought they were nurdy until I saw everybody using them (except us) during our hiking trip in the Dolomites. My Mom always used them after her knees went sour.
We have a hiking trip coming up in a while to the Hebrides and Outer Hebrides (quite similar to Johnson and Boswell's), and their main recommendations are rain gear, hiking poles, day-pack, and waterproof hiking boots. Leave the sun screen at home. I assume they provide the whiskey. The hiking part will be about 7 hrs/day, with fishing boat lifts between islands. Spartan B&Bs with Highland "cuisine." Hmmmm.
It's gloomy and nasty up there in Trump's maternal homeland (Stornaway), and it's easy to understand why so many of them jumped on boats in Glasgow and Liverpool to come to America where the livin' is easy and there ain't no Lairds.
BTW, if you are new to the delightful Boswell, I recommend all of his stuff. In many ways, he was more interesting and amusing than Dr. Johnson who was pedantic - but who could also slide the knife deftly into somebody's pretensions. Johnson knew everything.
Pic is LL Bean telescoping poles.
Thursday, February 16. 2017
Strength + Calisthenics + Cardio = A balanced diet of exercise for all ages
We need strength training (weight training) to prevent muscle atrophy, to build muscle and bone, to maintain our best functionality, and so we can do Calisthenics and play sports with force. Also, to look good. Looking good does matter in life.
We need Calisthenics (which includes sports) to make full use of all of our muscles, to maintain athleticism, endurance, sexuality, general vigor, and mental happiness
We need some high-intensity Cardio to build or maintain endurance and heart strength
- A person can be very strong but have terrible cardio endurance and terrible agility; runners can have great aerobic cardio endurance but be weak in bone and muscle and unable to handle an hour of intense calis because they have mistakenly aerobically-trained exclusively. The aerobic cardio fitness fad of recent decades was/is greatly overrated. It was over-sold and it damaged a lot of joints. Anyway, the three components are interdependent and overlap to varying degrees: lunges are strength + calis, jump rope and jumping jacks are calis+ cardio, all weight training provides brief but intense cardio stress, etc.
- As a footnote, but not a trivial one, I usually add proper nutrition because a demanding fitness program requires it. The 5-hr/wk program we espouse for general Fitness For Life (approx 2 hrs of weights, approx 1 hr of Calis, and approx 1 hr of cardio (2 half-hr sessions of cardio intervals) demands more protein and maybe more carbs than the ordinary sedentary person needs to survive. If your fitness requires weight gain for bone and muscle development, obviously more protein, fats, and carbs. If your fitness requires fat loss, obviously less carbs. Hard exercise can never eliminate excess fat but it can inspire nutritional sanity.
Wednesday, February 15. 2017
Good goals for me would be just to get from the Novice to the Int. level for my age. That should be more than sufficient for general fitness but 10 pull-ups is pie in the sky for me now so maybe fully Novice is good enough. I had no idea of how weak I had become when I began my exercise program, because I was fully-functional and never challenged.
Anyway, I will never be a serious lifter. Just a middle-aged general fitness lifter. Glad I got ahead of the downward curve. Well, not ahead of it but at least before it became hopeless. I did nail 2 reps of my personal record deadlift this morning, and feel proud about that. (Hey, make sure you poop well before lifting or you could have a little problem.)
I made trainer feel good about himself, too. Loves to see his clients persist and succeed. Onward and upward.
Studying late at night for a Chem exam, resisting a donut, keeping climbing when your legs say "No," doing one more bench rep when your arms say "I can't", saying "Hi" to a pretty girl who is too good for you, giving your exasperating guitar practice one more half hour, bucking up for one more damn intimidating job interview, getting through a pile of paperwork. A doctor once told me that the toughest person he knew was a agoraphobic and social phobic who by sheer willpower forced herself to leave her house and re-enter society despite her terror.
Everybody wants to fight against his own limitations, fears, flaws, and weaknesses, and nobody wants to feel mentally or physically weak.
When I consider mental toughness I think of warriors facing a wall of spears or machine guns, but in our (or my) pampered and decadent American life we often have to go out of our way to seek out character tests and character challenges. We can easily avoid most of them if we wish to, but our life is diminished by it.
I think shame, self-disgust, and self-disappointment are some of the unpleasant consequences of confronting some of our weaknesses and limitations. It is failure, and we know it.
My genius trainer and I were discussing the topic a while ago. I told him that part of his added value to me was lending his mental strength to me. When my arms say "No," and he says "Two more - you can do it" - I do it. Alone, I "couldn't." That's my mental weakness. So we can gain strength from relationship. That's part of why marriage is so valuable. Friends, too.
He said that group exercise training works well not so much because of the competition but because of the combined spirit of effort, the esprit de corps. Of course, that group effect is an essential part of military training too. He says the reason most people fail in fitness programs is for lack of spirit and determination, not muscle.
I suppose good habits of toughness and perseverance can be nurtured from within from practice and from without with support and cheerleading. My mental toughness is not good enough to make me happy with myself, and probably never will be.
Here's a Grit Quiz. Not sure if such personality traits are measurable really, or whether they are even traits. Sometimes I have plenty of grit, sometimes very little.
What's your view on the subject?
Friday, February 10. 2017
He couldn't find any problems with me. He said my body fat was down to "athlete," that my fitness and endurance were far above average for my age and markedly improved from 2 years ago, that my heart was perfect, that my physique looked excellent for my age (Daddy Belly totally gone), that I should try to gain 5 more lbs by eating more (same thing my trainer keeps bugging me about but I don't like to eat much - I like to consume just enough to stop feeling hungry). Other than that, it was "Keep doing whatever you are doing."
He had me cut my BP meds in half. He wanted me to stay on the lipitor because my triglycerides had improved dramtically even though I was on the lipitor before, and were now perfect (I don't believe in that triglyceride stuff, but I want him to be happy).
He went over the details of my exercise program and told me that it was similar to his with a balance of weights, calis, and a little cardio, about 5hrs/wk total. He is fit as hell, 55 but looks like a powerful and athletic 40. However, he has been doing his program for many years. We estimate that I lost around 8 lbs. of pudge and gained about 10 lbs. of lean muscle in 2 years.
So it's been good for me from the medical angle, but that is not why I do it. I do it to maintain Fitness for Life. Any medical bonus is welcome.
(Also, he has some interesting ideas about the traumatic arthritis in my right shoulder. Wants me to see his pal at HSS if I feel like it. Just for fun, I got a tetanus booster, a Shingles vaccine, and a Pneumonia vaccine.)
This might be inspiring - I hope so. Have readers had a similar experience?
Tuesday, February 7. 2017
Regular elbow or straight-arm planks are good uses of "rest" periods between weight-lifting, too. Planks are not really cosmetic, for creating visible 6-packs. You will never do that. They are core-strengtheners, which means torso. A sturdy torso is one's core.
I probably do 8-10 30-60-second planks of various types weekly, usually as part of supersets. Not much, but it fills the time. I do plenty of other calis that make demands on core, but all exercise stresses the core because...it's the core.
Friday, January 27. 2017
Use it or lose it. Strength and power diminish measurably after two weeks, cardio fitness after one week without stress. The older you are, the quicker the loss.
Wednesday, January 18. 2017
Exercise physiologists generally agree that moving heavy weight is the most important route to physical fitness.
Wednesday, January 11. 2017
I use "calisthenics" as an umbrella term for exercise which is not heavy weights (except kettlebells) and is not pure cardio. These are exercises which involve bursts of intense cardio combined with muscle use so they contribute to agility, muscle "toning" and "maintenance", power, speed, endurance, coordination, balance - all good things except strength-building.
A good thing about these calis is that they are varied and fun even when they hurt. If it doesn't hurt, you aren't challenging yourself enough. Muscle pain is your friend and ally.
We suggest a total of 1 1/2 to 2 hrs/wk of calis in a 5/hr/week fitness program. There is no need to do them for an hour at a time. Lots of people will do a session of 40 mins of weights and then 20 mins of calisthenics to loosen up. The 2 hours includes 30-second to one-minute rests between sets to catch your breath without lowering your heart rate very much.
We suggest repeating three circuits of each pairing or triplet (3X3 or 2X3) with each individual item to take around 30 to 60 seconds with little to no rest between items in a set so each pairing or triplet takes under ten minutes to complete and recover. Thus about 3-5 circuits in an hour depending on your vigor and fitness. It should take your pulse and/or respiratory rate up to an hour to return to normal after an hour of calisthenics. Your metabolic rate will remain increased for a couple of hours.
Begin with a 5-min cardio warm-up, then some sumos, side stretches, band walks, etc to wake up your body. Below the fold is my list of double and triplet circuits to try. I use each of them every two weeks. Give it a try - you will feel good.
If I were forced to do one part of the Fitness Triad, I would do calis.
nb: Advise no more than one squat routine/day, or burpees and mountain-climbers on the same day. You can do all the planks you want, and mix them up.
Routines below the fold -
Continue reading "Calisthenic Routines - A pretty good basic list which I use"
Tuesday, January 10. 2017
For examples close to home, Mrs. BD had a bum knee, a meniscus repair, but still achy and unstable knee. Could hardly do body-weight leg exercises. After a year of carefully-graded and cautious leg strengthening, she is now pain-free with full mobility and is doing squats, lunges, and deadlifts.
In my case, a traumatic arthritis in one shoulder prevents me from overhead presses and push-ups. There is a knife-like pain which forces the effort to fail and collapse. It's too bad, because those are two excellent compound exercises but there are plenty of work-arounds for shoulder strength with slightly difference force vectors which are pain-free and so probably will not do any further damage to the joint - things like cable rows, lateral raises, and Farmer Walks.
Thus there are work-arounds for almost every frailty so a frailty is not an excuse to become frail.
Friday, January 6. 2017
A friend spent the holidays down in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (TN) and reports that he has never seen so many fat lethargic people, and has never seen so many people avidly demolish such volumes of food. "They eat like they're starving," he said, "They live from meal to meal to snack to meal, but they are 50-150 lbs overweight". I said I had heard that Disney is the same.
"Disgusting" just to watch the way they consume food. He said "Down there, there's a gun shop and a food franchise for fatties on every block, and not a gym to be found. The opposite of up here." Yeah, he does like guns and knives as I do, but he is fit as a fiddle too from lifting weights.
Anyway, time constraint is one of the many common excuses (along with It's boring, It's too difficult, My ____ hurts, It's just vanity, It's just vanity and I'm already married, I can't lose weight, I'm too old, I hate gyms, etc etc) for people who say they'd like to get strong and fit but never move a muscle to do it. Hey, I get it. Sloth feels good, sort-of, in some ways, but it is a mortal sin. However, I can attest that deadlifts and barbell squats are far from boring, but it is almost all painful or should be. Good pain, good stress, and good deprivation are under-rated today.
Let's address the time issue (really a rationalization because if you stop by your local gym there are plenty of folks there at 5 am before work). Yes, it is good to use a gym. People with home gyms almost never use them - plus having other people around is inspiring and fun.
And let's say that a fitness program includes the Conditioning Triad - Resistance, Cardio, and Calisthenics...Plus proper nutrition commensurate with level of exertion and weight gain or weight loss goals as desired). That takes care of Strength, Endurance, Power, Energy, Explosive Strength, Heart strength, and General Athleticism. Added bonus: We now know it's good for the brain too. Yeah, Fitness For Life and the only known Elixir of Youth.
Less than 5 hrs/wk for Conditioning for the average non-athlete citizen, male or female, over 15 years old:
- 20-30 minutes of hard, sweaty, painful cardio intervals (HIIT), twice a week. The intervals need to be anaerobic. If you want to do more to up your metabolism, fine - but it's the hard intervals that do it and your calis contain tons of cardio stress too - and long aerobic cardio is a waste of time from a fitness standpoint. If over 80 years old, a few miles of aerobic walking is better than nothing.
That's less time than the average person wastes watching TV or movies and farting into the sofa. After one year of it, you can look and feel 3-4 years younger. After 2 years, 8 years younger. It's not about virtue, it's about feeling good and energetic. Or don't bother. Life is short anyway.
Thursday, January 5. 2017
Guys over 40, regardless of weight issues, commonly have more trouble due to muscle disuse and decay. The US military considers 20 pull-ups or chin-ups to be a perfect score for that exercise. Few Generals can do that, but I bet Mattis can.
Like all of the Big Functional Exercises, a pull-up stresses many muscle groups. Pull-ups stress upper-body muscles from hands to abs, but the greatest stress is on back muscles - the lats.
To do a pull-up correctly, you do not focus on using your arms but you focus on driving your elbows down. It's not primarily a biceps exercise except secondarily.
To work towards doing some pull-ups if you can't, here's how:
- work on raising the weights on seated pull-downs
and perhaps most important, Hangs. If you can't hang on, you can't pull yourself up. To work on hanging, you hop up to the bar with an overhand or underhand grip with your elbows down at your sides or as close to that as possible. Suspend yourself as long as you can. Your muscles will slowly (or quickly) give way, but keep suspended as they collapse.
One or two sets of three of those weekly will help you move forward towards the goal of doing just one lousy pull-up with chin above the bar. I do three sets of hangs/wk and three sets of either jumpers or band-assisted weekly. If I can get to 10 pull-ups again, I will be proud of my achievement but I doubt that I will get there. When I was young I could do 15 or more.
Tuesday, January 3. 2017
Same applies to weight-loss plans: it hurts. Indulgence is briefly rewarding, pain and deprivation are painful. Good pain, but pain.
It turns out that resisting the deterioration of age requires stress and pain - mental and/or physical. It is no surprise to me that much-maligned "stress" is what can keep us physically and mental fit until something inevitably cuts us down: How to Become a ‘Superager’
Interesting that the brain deteriorates also with lack of physical stress. Who knew? Up here in Yankeeland, many of us still view "leisure" and "relaxation" with Puritan suspicion, and the notion of retirement the same. Maybe we are right to seek challenge, discomfort, and stress and to avoid leisure and passive recreation. Learn piano, or a language. Get a hard job. Lift heavy weights. Let's all get deep into life this year to try to slow down Time. I will.
Monday, December 26. 2016
The Farmer's Walk is a toughening exercise, not so much a strength-building exercise. It is only a true strength-building exercise for your grip - ie your forearms. However, done correctly with chest out, head up, for as long as you can, it challenges your entire body from calves to neck.
Three sets of Farmer's Walks to near-failure weekly, as part of your calisthenics program, will improve your posture and overall toughness.
Do me a favor: Do not resolve to get fit after the new year. If serious, you will work on it today. The problem with fitness is that it takes effort so there is always a good excuse for postponing.
Wednesday, December 21. 2016
For the calisthenic component of your fitness program, though, you can throw in a few sets of lunges to make your legs burn for 24 hrs. (That is not lactate burn, it is good muscle-damage, micro-tear burn/ache). I do 3 sets of walking lunges, with or without hand weights, weekly. Even though it counts as calisthenics, I think it toughens up the legs even though it is more endurance than strength. Good pain!
Readers are tired of my preaching that calisthenics are a necessary fitness component but I will persist. Contra Rippetoe, we preach a balance of approximately 1/3 weights, 1/3 cardio intervals, and 1/3 calis (including what I term "heavy" calis like Farmer's Walk, pull-ups, push-ups, heavy ball slams, lunges with weights, weighted planks, etc) - while agreeing that real weight training is the most important and effective fitness component.
Monday, December 12. 2016
If you can do them, you don't really need to do any other strength exercises. All you do is increase the reps up to near ten, and/or the weight. For middle-age and older, we think 4-5 sets of 10 or fewer reps while steadily increasing the max weight, and each exercise once-weekly is enough unless you are a competitive athlete. I mostly do 5 sets with the first being a warm-up weight and the final being my max of 6-8 reps if I can do it. (Over ten reps is always a bad idea unless for small muscles (eg calf, forearm, isolated triceps, leg machines.)
I consider the Big Seven strength exercises for guys and gals of any age to be the following:
1. Squats (with body weight, goblet, ideally barbell, or whatever you are able to do. I now do back barbell squats to sitting low. Sheesh, what a bitch that is.)
Not one of these requires a gym machine. Gym machines can be of use to get yourself to a level where you can perform the Big 5 or 6 or 7. Gym machines are also excellent for warm-ups (eg pull-downs, leg extensions, leg press, press downs, etc). That's mainly what I use them for, but most active people have developed some joint problems over time so the machines can be less-good substitutes for the Big Ones as needed. (I have one wrecked shoulder, but lots of people in my gym have a wrecked knee or two or some sort of back injury, fake knees or hips - or something. A bunch of cripples!).
These are just strength exercises, of course, for muscle-preservation and improvement as the clock ticks but they stress the heck out of your heart too, which is supposed to be good. Some cardio and some calisthenics need to be part of a balanced program with also, ideally, a sport or two for fun, social fun, and as the reward.
Feeling over the hill is a mental problem. We had a guy here who was still lifting 3 days before he croaked at 95. Dead, but dead in pretty good shape for his age. Can't ask for more than that.
Wednesday, December 7. 2016
There are no set strength or endurance goals that fit everybody. Reasonable strength goals for general fitness - not for great power - vary by body type, neuro-muscular constitution, age, sex, talent, etc.
I know a gal, much younger than me, who can deadlift 300 comfortably. She is a school teacher.
My trainer and I, after 18 months, have decided that realistic goals for me are to bench my body weight (which is 165 lbs now - up ten lbs of muscle and sinew in the past 8 months as my boss predicted and required, while my waist is down to where it was 15 years ago - from 37" to 35"), barbell squat my body weight a few times, deadlift 200 a few times, and do maybe 5 pull-ups. Have you done a pull-up lately? I remember when I could do ten or more. Never again, for certain. I can not do military press, alas, due to shoulder damage.
That is realistic, not ambitious and I am certain many readers are much stronger. After reaching those strength goals, it will be mostly about maintaining, preventing decay and deterioration. Sure, I'd like to be stronger, but I wouldn't mind being taller, more handsome, and smarter too. Regarding endurance goals - that's a different topic.
So yes, those are relatively modest goals for many but I have an ectomorphic runner's build, some grey hair, and I am about fitness and conditioning anyway, not body-building.
How are our friends doing with their efforts? Do you have goals? Goals are necessary in every endeavor, I feel.
Sunday, December 4. 2016
Wednesday, November 30. 2016
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