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
Wednesday, June 21. 2017
Middle-aged and older people suffer from the heartbreak of Apoptosis. In this case, age-related demise of muscle cells. Only strength-building can help us stay ahead of the curve of physical decay as long as possible.
So we're talking only about strength-building exercises here: Squats, Presses (ie bench and overhead), and Deadlifts: Why Gyms Don't Teach the Only Exercises You Need
Rippetoe makes the essential point, but most people would add pull-ups/chin-ups, dumbbell rows, and maybe dips to complete the list. That's enough to keep anybody busy for 2-3 hrs/week, since none of these heavy things should pushed to the limit more than once/week by the ordinary person over 40.
What about "curls for the girls"? Non-essential. Optional, for vanity (ie to impress the girls).
What's on your list of essentials for strength-building and/or strength-maintenance?
Saturday, June 17. 2017
Warm-ups were stretches and jogs around the parking lot. For the real thing, sprints around the parking lot, lunge and presses around the lot, kettlebell swings, pushups on the grass, jumping jacks, hopscotch (really - it's an adult agility drill), Farmers Walks, jumping squats (ass literally to the grass), planks on the grass, burpees of course - calisthenics are much more fun outdoors. Just ask anybody who went through boot camp...
No rest breaks so you keep the heart rate continuously as high as possible. Darn thing pounds through your shirt in a scary but reassuring way.
Mrs. BD seems to appreciate the effects of the addition of tough calis on my attitude, energy, and physique. She wants a vigorous strong man with high energy regardless of age. She claims only old men sit around and read during daylight. Weights are essential for strength, but an hour of uninterrupted calis are great for body and soul. Good for strength maintenance and vitality, not to mention the cardio aspect. One hour is good enough. I am a believer in the three-legged stool of fitness but if I had to choose one, I'd choose hard calis 4 or 5 days/week.
If you have a sport you love, have a Coke and do it after a workout. You will have power, but a serene, controlled power.
Wednesday, June 14. 2017
My Wednesday morning calisthenics teacher varies the program each week for our group of 30-40 guys and gals of all ages - 30-70. Keeps it interesting. Today, this was the one hour program (you can google the names if you don't know what some of those things are):
The game was to start from the top and to do the number of reps corresponding to the number on the list. But not that simple, because after each time you got down to a new exercise on the list, you had to go back to #1 and work down to the next new one. Thus, by the end, you did about 13 Man Makers. Is that clear?
Then, after the 12 Burpee Box Jumps, you had to simply go backwards up the list to end with one final Man Maker if you had time. Everybody at his own pace.
Good workout, fun in a sick sort of way. She had to correct my Wall Walk form. Nver did it before - it's a bitch. Also, no way can I touch my toes in V-ups, but I did my best. I had to lower the box one notch for my box jumps - my legs were just too fatigued at that point to get up very high. In short, I did the best I could, with hopes to improve over time.
Sweat? Are you kidding? I used only 5 lb dumbells this time, but heavy kettlebell. Next time, lighter kettlebell too.
Tomorrow, back to powerlifting where you at least get a chance to breathe.
Sunday, June 11. 2017
Inexpensive Heart Conditioning: Walking, Brisk Walking, Jogging, Climbing, Running, Sprinting - and Hiking
"Cardio" is obviously mainly about general vigor - heart conditioning plus muscle maintenance (rather than muscle-strengthening) and general endurance. Ordinary walking, as opposed to Strolling, hardly meets the minimal standard for "exercise" because it is non-exertional except for the elderly or the overweight. (Housework, strolling, gardening are too low-intensity to call exercise at all.) For most people, "walking" means a speed under 3.4 mph. "Brisk walking" or "Fast Walking" is any speed between around 3.5 mph and the point at which you have to break into a jog or a run (somewhere over 4 mph for most people).
More maybe-interesting info below the fold -
Continue reading "Inexpensive Heart Conditioning: Walking, Brisk Walking, Jogging, Climbing, Running, Sprinting - and Hiking"
Saturday, June 10. 2017
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 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. at least.
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?
Tuesday, June 6. 2017
Here's my chance to elicit opinions from readers about hiking gear.
I'll limit the discussion to footwear for relatively rugged lengthy day hikes on uneven, sometimes wet, sometimes rocky, steep, or unstable ground with no more weight on your back than a full daypack (in other words, not real backpacking but not ordinary walking either. Something that would be good for our 9-mile urban hikes too). And I will stipulate that merino wool or wicking synthetic socks, with or without liner socks, are important for this sort of thing to prevent blisters. One blister or hot spot can ruin an outing - or a week.
I'm thinking of footwear that would be good for scrambling up Tuckerman's Ravine, for woodsy hikes through hill and dale, and for boggy spots. So I think we're in the realm of what they call "Light Hiking" or "medium duty" waterproof boots with good arch and ankle support, without the weight of those monster boots designed for mountain hikes with a 40 lb pack on your back - or 60 lbs of fresh elk meat.
I've done a lot of hiking in running shoes and it's not ideal but it is blister-free. I have also done a lot of backwoods all-day hunting in things like wellies, LL Bean Maine boots, and heavy snow boots. Those things are not great for distances - at least for me, they become fatiguing to wear after a couple of hours. I guess I am more experienced with the Hunting Boot category (though I don't know why they are different from the hiking boot category except that hunting boots are higher and often insulated - here's a good hunting boot) and with the steel-toed Work Boot category than I am with the Hiking Boot category. I have worn out many pairs of Work Boots at the farm.
In my research I have seen the yuuuge variety of offerings in the general category of Hiking Boots. Capitalism with competition certainly offers us endless choices in things and they all seem to be very good. These range from heavy-duty sneakers with heavy treads to slightly lightened, or ordinary, heavy-duty mountaineering backpacking boots. Some are higher, some lower, some softer, some harder. Some leather, some suede, some synthetics. Some insulated, most not. Hard leather boots need 20-40 miles of breaking in, others not so much. Waterproof usually has some Gore-Tex in it. Gore-Tex was one heck of an invention.
Well, maybe it makes sense to have a couple of different boots for different hiking purposes but I like the idea of a versatile boot which is well-broken-in, and I have no plans to do any mountaineering with a 40-lb. pack. I have not "done" the Presidential Range, but I would like to have done the Presidential Range just so I could say I did it.
What is your experience and what are your preferences?
Photo above is a Merrell Capra boot. A few random examples of pretty good boots below the fold -
Continue reading "Hiking Footwear"
Thursday, June 1. 2017
Now Maggie has assigned me to try out some of my new gym's 6 am athleticism classes. Despite being in much better shape and stronger than I was 2 years ago, this turned out to be a serious challenge. One hour of mixed calisthenics with NO RESTING. The no resting to catch your breath was the killer. Also, I hit the wall with the number of Burpees with push-ups and jumps. The hour included 50 total mixed sorts of burpees, and at some point I could no longer get my knees up under me. Failure. I was not the only one having a little trouble with that, but almost the only one. I struggled with all of the sit-ups too. Proof that I am not yet as fit as I need to be - it was a good test. My only ego-supporting thought was that lots of middle-aged guys would have a very tough time completing this class at all.
There were about 40 people in the class, a third men - regular guys, not lifters. All except one guy had some grey-hairs and one was a fit 75 year-old who beat me in one of the 300-meter rows. The gals aged about 35-65, all very gung-ho. Not all were svelte but they were strong and agile women who certainly exercised often, probably almost daily. Horrible thumping music but I understand why. The trainer wanted us to exercise to the beat but I could not keep that pace most of the time. All weights were 5-10 lb dumbells - no heavies but it was the reps that got you.
Details below the fold -
Continue reading "The sacrifices I make for our readers - Trying out athleticism classes"
Monday, May 29. 2017
The Crossfit Games are like the Olympics of general fitness. Contestants have to be generalists, not specialists. Each year, they vary the events. For example, for 2017 there will be no barbells, just sandbags instead. It's a race, too. Speed, endurance, strength, power. Pure Sparta.
Seems like a wild and crazy event. Some highlights from 2016 -
Tuesday, May 23. 2017
If you did something like this 4-5X/wk, with nothing else, your cardio fitness and physique would definitely improve after 6 months, but your strength and muscle only slightly.
At 6 am, the class was packed (about 40 people) with about half men, half women. Quite a few grey hairs in there, at least a quarter but it's hard to tell with the women because no women seem to go grey around here - it must be the water. I'd say ages 30-75. They say "All levels welcome." My trainer thinks those classes are BS, but I thought it seemed like an excellent and varied workout, high intensity with no lowering of heart rate and blood pressure and only light hand weights. The only rests I saw were on a 15 second count, or planks.
There were many sorts of body shapes in there (but no serious fatties, and no muscle-heads) and many levels of fitness but all did their damndest to keep up the pace set by the trainer. Here's what I saw from my jump-roping view:
They began with about 5 minutes of stretches, and warm-ups with things like sumos and slow jogging in place.
Then most of the routines were about 30 seconds each and some were repeated in a circuit: Air squats, jumping jacks, straight-arm planks, push-ups, high-knee jogging in place, step-ups, calf-raises, mountain climbers, jumping burpees, air squats with overhead press hand weights, sit-ups, supermans, air squats with forward hand weights, heavy ball floor slams, heavy ball throw and catch, fast standing twists with heavy ball, wall sits, lunges with hand weights, kettlebell swings, kettlebell walks and kettlebell shrugs.
I thought it was a fine, pretty intense hour of cardio-calis and I think I will find a way to fit that into my schedule, altho 6 am is late for me, because mixing cardio and calis is time-efficient and the group is motivating. Plus the classes are free for gym members. Yes, you could do it all on your own - but probably wouldn't.
Nobody walked out of that gym room with a sprightly step - all beaten up good. That's a good sign. If it were easy, that would be bad. I would have been dripping and dragging too. Well, I was anyway after doing my own routine. Good way to begin the day with a good head and a peaceful soul.
Sunday, May 21. 2017
It's a mystery to me why, since I began a serious exercise program almost exactly two years ago, grey hairs are growing out brown, and my hair is thicker. So testifies my Sicilian barber of 20 years. My body has changed in many desirable ways - less fat, more muscle, cut abdomen (somewhat), better posture, tougher all over - but I do not exercise my hair at all and use no Rogaine, no hair dye.
Could it just be diet? I have tried to up my protein intake and go very easy on carbs except maybe in restaurants. I love mashed taters. Or potato chips which I also love. I tend to avoid vegetables unless in a Thai concoction, or unless cooked in garlic and oil. Or in bacon. Tomato is not a vegetable. I also tend to avoid fruit unless in a banana or strawberry protein smoothie because I do not like sweet things very much and, when I want some, it is never satisfying and makes me feel uncomfortable. I have always preferred savory to sweet. Generally-speaking, my program has lowered my appetite quite a bit so I focus on protein because I am told to. I do like a steak sandwich.
One case is just an anecdote, so it means nothing. I do wonder, though. Hair is mostly genetic but this change is odd.
Wednesday, May 17. 2017
We are convinced that a balanced fitness program is the best route for ordinary people who just want to stay Fit For Life, with all-round functional fitness being the goal. Some readers disagree with our view, but that's ok. We're happy to hear your opinions because fitness remains a field with more questions than answers, every body is different, and everybody is an expert.
Readers know that our idea of "balanced" entails a mix of cardio, calisthenics, and strength-building/strength-maintenance while getting into fighting shape with enough protein and neither too much nor too little fat on your bones.
Some athletes, and many exercisers, tend to focus on just one of the three categories. That is unbalanced. Pure cardio exercisers (treadmill jockeys, runners, bikers, swimmers) tend to be weak in muscle and bone. Many guys who just lift can't run or hike up hills 15 miles or negotiate a ladder drill. And so forth.
One sensible way to structure a balanced 5 day/wk program is to put a 30- min HIIT (anaerobic) cardio day after a weights day, and a 45-60 min endurance (aerobic, aka "fat-burning") cardio day for the day after the second weight day. Then fit in a calisthenics/plyometric day somewhere else. That schedule allows 48+hr recovery from the strength days because the cardio doesn't interfere with muscle recovery, while heavy calis can. That's our under-5 hr/wk fitness program. Every high school and college should offer, or require, something like that.
My high school did require weights, sprints, and calisthenic drills for everybody for an hour after lunch, followed by your daily sport afterwards. They rightly figured that adolescent boys needed it, and the coaches were like drill sergeants. Mens sana in corpore sano. I think only elite private high schools require things like that now. It's a shame because all kids should have the chance to learn about fitness routines.
Answers to FAQs about the Maggie's recommendations are below the fold -
Continue reading "The Maggie's Doctrine: Balance in physical fitness for ordinary people of all shapes and ages"
Wednesday, May 10. 2017
It's "settled science" that we can do cardio, calisthenics, and isolated muscle high-rep weights (eg curls, body-weight exercises, calf-lifts, pull-downs, heavy hands, sports) daily with no recovery problem, especially under age 65 or 70.
For power lifts with serious weight, it's a matter of some dispute. Every gal and guy wants to build strength as a component of his/her fitness aspirations, and everybody has an opinion about it of course, but there is no dispute that only weights build bone, ligament, and muscle strength. Everybody likes strength training - it is terribly challenging to mind, soul, and body but IT IS BRIEF.
Having read all I can, and discussing the topic with my docs (who are committed exercisers) and my genius trainer, I think doing powerlifts twice weekly (half one day, the other half of them the other) is just barely enough for the over-45 year-old group. Three days/wk of weight training might be optimal for strength, but then where would you find morning time for your cardio and calis? We need a balanced routine to build or maintain General Fitness for Life. We are talking strength here, not Body-Building which I feel is a dumb but harmless sport.
Younger people can handle more lifting than older, but younger people often work longer hours than the middle-aged so have a harder time finding time. They have kids to feed and to take to school in the morning.
Tuesday, May 9. 2017
I tend to disagree with his "moderate exercise" theme, but it all depends on your goals and level of motivation. You can't build strength, or speed, with moderate exercise but maybe most people don't aim to do either but just stay normal-fit. I'd kinda like to be extra-fit for my age, or at least "well-preserved," and I am getting there.
Thursday, May 4. 2017
Every person has his (or her) own ideas - and goals - about fitness. Here's another question for our readers: Let's say you're an over-40 or over-50 or over-60 year old guy or gal who has put in the time and discipline for two years to get back in good shape after the child-rearing years of self-neglect and over-working to save for tuitions, etc., etc.
You've done your weights, cardio, and calis religiously. Worked hard at fitness 6 days/wk, suffered, strained, sweated, and endured aches and pains especially when you didn't feel like doing anything but reading a book. You tried to eat enough protein to rebuild muscle. You found time to do it all even when you felt you had no time or energy.
Now you are trim and light on your feet, the belly is gone, you have muscles you haven't had since you were 21 or maybe never had, you look pretty acceptable nude (even if not an underwear model), you have a military posture, your sex drive is up, you can pound out 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical or sprints on the track, you can jump and lift stuff and you don't get fatigued at the end of the day. You have settled into a routine of eating right and sleeping right, and your body and mind now have gotten into the habit of demanding some effortful physical work every day to feel fully alive. In other words, your animal self likes what you have achieved because you have done justice to one of God's gifts to you.
You are a happy middle-aged Spartan, ready for whatever life brings. While you can always improve regardless of age, you feel sort-of ready to lay off the aggressive daily boot camp effort and aim for smaller gradual improvement but primarily for maintenance of your fitness because, after all, apoptosis is the enemy. I just call it entropy.
For example, I do not feel a desire to run any 10K races anymore (but I could), or deadlift twice my weight (but I would like to and I am getting there), but I think I am reluctantly concluding that we can't ramp it down much because, with each year of age, we are swimming upstream against a stronger current. Regardless of what we do to keep body and mind youthfully vigorous, sooner or later the current will win and sweep us out to the cosmic sea.
I'd like the opinions of readers on this.
Wednesday, April 26. 2017
I am not referring to Battle Ropes, although I do like those as part of a calisthenics circuit. I am talking about heavy jump ropes.
Readers know I have become a fan of jump rope for calisthenics/cardio exercise. Unlike some of my fellow exercisers, I can not do a solid series of double-unders yet but I can do Running Man at length. During a set, I try to alternate Running Man with ordinary singles. I generally use an RX Smart Gear "Buff" 3.4 oz. rope, which is not a light speed rope.
I decided to try a 1 lb. rope last week for a few 45-second sets, aiming for 60 seconds. That is not weighted handles: it's the rope itself that weighs a pound. If you can jump rope at all, you can use this monster and it kicks your ass once you get it moving.
I did not expect it to take as much out of my entire body as it does. A man-killer. It was the first time in two years that I actually found myself sitting on a bench after a set of anything. That is shameful but, dammit, I just found myself sitting.
Give it a try sometime, for the fun of it. Like a set of burpees with jumps, you know that if you survive it you probably will not die of a heart attack, that day anyway.
Monday, April 24. 2017
My opinion: That is not a strength-building workout but it isn't a bad simple calisthenic workout for those who must exercise on their living room floor and have no access to fun calisthenic toys like kettlebells, heavy balls, pull-up bars, jump ropes, floor ladders, step-up boxes, etc.
Still, I'd say that that circuit repeated for 45 minutes would be an ok calisthenic workout. 9 minutes is nothing. Calis do not build strength but they certainly help maintain vigor. In other words, 45 minutes of that is a heck of a lot better than sitting on your ass.
We stand by our recommendations: Resistance + Calis + Cardio for overall fitness for life.
Thursday, April 20. 2017
From The Ultimate Guide to Sets and Reps for Strength Training, I think these are pretty good common-sense guidelines for the powerlifts, based on your goals. For powerlifts, however, I would not ever go over 10 reps per set. Instead, up the weight or the sets. Too many muscle twinges can happen with higher rep powerlifts, I believe. Higher reps for small or isolated muscles are fine, eg tricep push-downs, calf lifts, curls.
Exercisers need to know their max, approximately, for their powerlifts. For example, if I can deadlift 300 lbs for one or two reps, my 80% intensity is 240 lbs. What I do with powerlifts (not saying it's the best thing to do) is a warm-up set of 10 at 50%, then 4 working sets which gradually work up to about 80%. Just for fun, about once a month I will see if I can increase my max for 1 or 2 reps but I don't count that as a working set.
Tuesday, April 18. 2017
It's the recovery from the controlled damage and stress which produces the improvement.
All forms of personal growth require high stress to produce improvement, whether physical, mental, or emotional.
The purpose of intense physical exertion itself is to break you down, to damage muscles, to stress tendons, ligaments, bones, and neuromuscular connections to the point that they are forced to adapt. That is why only very difficult and unpleasant physical demands get results.
Building strength and power is meant to wreck your body and to blow your mind, but in a careful, controlled way.
We have all had the experience of feeling like a deadlift barbell is glued to the floor. Then somebody else, or your own head, says "You can do this, just get it off the floor" and suddenly "giving it your all" shifts and the meaning of "your all" expands into new territory.
With exercise, we should gain muscle weight. Unless we're fat, we should put on solid weight.
After an hour or so of power lifting, we recommend 48 hrs. with just an hour of Active Recovery before another day's power lifting. Passive Recovery is just decent sleep and adequate protein intake (over 80 gms/day). Active Recovery gets the blood moving, includes activities which require minimal recovery time, like calisthenics, cardio intervals, speed walking, etc. - just no heavy weights.
It all works together that way, at least for the middle-aged, in 5 or so hours of structured exercise - which is less time than most people waste watching TV and movies:
Continue reading "Exercise doesn't make you stronger "
Wednesday, April 12. 2017
You can use Trap (Hex) bars for squats or deadlifts.
I have used them a few times but the change disrupts my accustomed form. The idea (which makes sense) is that the centering of weight, the more natural grip, and the kindness to a sore lower back permit you to pile more weight on the bar, thus stressing your body more.
Have you tried it?
Wednesday, April 5. 2017
We post here frequently about the components of general fitness and physical training goals: strength, athleticism, power, endurance, etc. The variety of exercises that we recommend are stressing and training neuro-muscular and cardiac systems.
However, while we are stressing and challenging our bodies in all of the ways needed for balanced fitness, we are also training our metabolic energy systems for higher capactiy and efficiency. There is no need to know anything about it, but it is interesting.
It's basic high school biology. Animals (and plants) use ATP as an energy source for cellular functioning. ATP is generated and regenerated in the mitochondria.
However, our resting ATP batteries store very little reserve energy so 5- 20 seconds of high intensity, maximum anaerobic effort (eg 20-second sprints and HIIT sprints, or a set of heavy deadlifts) require instant regeneration of ATP. That's our "emergency" Phosphagen System. After depleted, it takes a couple of minutes to restore itself which is why you rest between deadlift sets or walk ("active recovery") between sprints. The Phosphagen system is trained by stressing it, but it has its limits.
After 10-20 seconds of high intensity, our cells turn to splitting sugar (mainly derived from carbs unless you have a Coke before exercise) - Glycolysis - to produce more ATP. This energy system, also requiring no oxygen, can keep us going for up to 2 minutes of intense effort. Like the Phosphagen system, Glycolysis is trained by short bursts of high intensity exertions of any sort.
A body can't live long, though, without oxygen. Both of the above are anaerobic (oxygen-independent) systems and neither can be sustained for very long without rest and oxygen to restore them. Aerobic exertion (using oxygen to burn sugars and fats - the Aerobic System -) can slowly but almost endlessly produce enough energy to maintain us during less intense activity in which we maintain a pretty good oxygen balance (or at rest, for that matter). Aerobic energy systems are trained and stressed by, say, 1-hour endurance exercises which keep the heart rate continuously well-above a walking heart rate, eg continuous calisthenics, and non-sprinting exercises like swimming speedy but not sprinting laps, treadmill intervals but not HIIT intervals, jogging, and similar exercises when you can breathe uncomfortably but effectively-enough to keep going.
Can aerobic exercise count as "cardio" exercise? Sort-of, maybe. It depends on where you keep your heart rate. High-intensity, high heart-rate bursts are the best heart-stressors and if it doesn't kill you it will make it stronger. Endurance is a different matter. Is normal walking "exercise"? Basically, no. It's just basic functioning unless it's fast and over 5 miles. "Cardio" means heart rate significantly elevated above walking.
Aerobic metabolism is highly efficient, which is why it takes 3 hours on an elliptical to burn the calories (270) in one plain bagel. It is why you can not lose weight by exercising unless you are fast- hiking 8 hrs/day on minimal caloric intake for a week or two. The average sedentary person (meaning under 5-10,000 "steps" daily with no other stressful exercise) probably needs less than 2000 calories per day to maintain their status quo. Remarkably, in the USA, it is not unusual for one single cheap meal to provide that much energy. In all of human history, remarkable indeed. Caloric abundance has a downside, thus the "overweight crisis" especially among our American poor.
A balanced fitness program (resistance, calisthenics, cardio, and endurance) ends up stressing all 3 energy systems without your having to think about it at all. That is just one of the many reasons why we endorse balanced fitness exercise programs instead of a single path (such as all weights, or all aerobics).
Good summary of exercise and energy systems here.
Wednesday, March 29. 2017
We're working on a new game: Pistols. It's like a one-legged squat. Try it from your chair. It's not easy and you might have to begin from a higher perch and work your way lower. You will see what it feels like for elderly people to get up from a chair without using their arms.
The gal in the vid has short legs so she uses a stool for her foot to get the 90 degree knee angle. It stresses lots of accessory leg and core muscles because of the balance challenge. One foot must be solidly-planted, one in the air. We're adding this to our calis repertoire, and I am going to get out of chairs one-legged from now on. Just think of how many times/day you get up from a chair. Why not use it as a good exercise?
Sorry for the horrible music.
Friday, March 24. 2017
"Athleticism" is a measure of physical functionality or functionalities, but everybody's graph has a different shape.
Genius Trainer and I were watching some NCAA reruns on TV while I was resting between deadlift sets, and we talked about the role of "quickness" in basketball. We separated the dancelike but predatory quicksilver moves in elite basketball players from speed, which is an entirely different quality, and proceeded to break down athleticism into components (some more valuable for some endeavors, some for others) during other between-set rests as we worked the weight up for 5 sets.
We came up with quite a few: power (= strengthXspeed), pure strength, speed (running speed), agility (rapid precision of bodily position. balance, and posture), quickness (of instant movement, acceleration/deceleration and directional changes), explosiveness (power bursts), situational awareness (mental), overall physical endurance, stability, mobility, flexibility, and all kinds of eye-hand and other sorts of coordination talents which are difficult to put into words.
I don't watch basketball but I used to enjoy playing it quite a bit in high school because it took a lot of movement and total concentration, despite basically sucking at it. Like everything in life, you can train all of these things but biology is foundational and you can't shine sh-t.
Elite basketball players, it seems to me, have the largest collection of athletic components.
Thursday, March 23. 2017
I only have two kettlebell exercises in my miscellaneous assortment of Calisthenic circuits: Swings and Farmer Walks. Sometimes I do walking swings and sometimes stationary.
I keep the weight to a level when I can keep good swing technique with sets of 10-15. It is more demanding than it looks. As in any exercise, technique is key to avoid injury and for best gain. For Farmer Walks, I use the heaviest I can hang on to for a minute or two while maintaining strong posture.
Some Kettlebell exercises
Do y'all use them in your calisthenic routines?
Tuesday, March 21. 2017
Stairmaster intervals provide possibly the most efficient and intense cardio exercise. Your heart rate jumps up to max immediately.
You can do 30 seconds of high-speed anaerobic intervals then slow down for 60 seconds, and repeat at the speeds that work for you. If you can do two steps at a time on the higher speeds, so much the better. Another approach which I am using now is to do 3-minute stairs at the highest speed I can handle for that long, then get off and do a one-minute plank and another minute to breathe, then back on. Thus a 20-min cardio work-out which also beats the hell out of your quads.
What is it good for? It's for intense cardio training, lower body endurance, core stress. It doesn't build strength per se the way squats and deadlifts do, but it does work for lower body "toning" at the least.
Because it is very low-impact, about the same as walking, it is also a cardio recommendation for people with bad knees, hips, and lower back.
(Readers know that we believe that two 20-30 minute cardio stress sessions weekly is enough cardio, if combined with the other weight and calisthenics routines.)
Five hours or less per week of weights, calis, and cardio is all it takes for general Fitness for Life. Then throw in some sports or hiking or yoga or golf or swims or whatever for fun, plus some Cokes or beers as rewards, and you've been a darn good steward of your body, which is your most important real estate. Anybody can find time for that. Just avoid any distance running or you will regret it.
Monday, March 13. 2017
Exercisers generally want their barbell squats (or even their air squats and goblet squats) to get the butt as close to the floor as possible (ass to the grass). That is, lower than parallel (the photo shows a great example - that little gal is stronger than I am or will ever be but, in a half-hearted defense, shorter people have an easier time with squats because the range of motion is shorter. Same goes for bench press with smaller people - shorter levers).
Everybody needs squats unless there is a medical problem.
I am working on lowering by using gradually-lower box squats and lightening the weights. It is always too easy for me to find my sticking point after a few reps and then I lighten the weight.
Why bother going below parallel? Because it's another tough challenge to take on, and because it stresses all of the muscles involved in squatting even further. Stresses willpower too and we all need to strengthen that. That article doesn't even cover all of the accessory muscles involved in balance and core stability. Total body stress including your heart which pounds like it is at the edge but what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger, I hope...and you could do worse than croak on the gym floor.
I am thinking that I ought to do lighter-weight deep squats once a week, and my usual almost-parallel squats once a week. I have weak quads even after 2 years of this, relatively-speaking. I know we have a few powerful squatters at Maggie's, though.
Keep those knees out!
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