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
Sunday, July 23. 2017
There are so many rating systems that it can be confusing or misleading. And when it comes to off-trail wilderness hiking, which we did a lot of in the Outer Hebrides, you really need a guide who knows the terrain to estimate what sorts of challenges you can handle. In less wilderness areas, of course, we all get a kick out of doing off-trail explorations on our own. Not always a good idea.
Many difficulty- rating systems are based on altitude changes, steepness of grade, length, agility-requirements, and risks (eg weather, cliffs, boulder fields, etc.). Other rating systems are based on technical difficulty alone.
I'll pick one example: the famous and popular Tuckerman Ravine trail up New Hampshire's Mount Washington. Alltrails rates it as Hard on their Easy/Moderate/Hard system. But what does that really mean? 9 year-olds prance up it with daypacks. What it means is that there is a substantial altitude change, variable weather (foolishly-unprepared people have died of exposure up there but it would be difficult to be that stupid), and high rocky steps at times, but it is a relatively easy hike if you are in good health and cardio condition. It's a 7-hr hike up to Lion's Head and back down - what Europeans call "hill-walking." In the European system, the Tuck hike probably would be rated in the 2 range on their 1-5 rating system.
Several of our Hebrides hikes would be rated Hard (if you sometimes have to be on your hands and knees grasping rocks and heather to get up the steeps) in some US systems, but all were around level 2-2.3 in the Euro system. I like that Euro system which takes into account your fitness level and the hike's challenges.
In my view, though, those Euro ratings - "Easy" to "Expedition-Level" - do underestimate the challenges. The Euro level 2 to 2.3 range is plenty for me. On level 3, I suspect that I would be a slowpoke in a group. People do not like to have to wait for the slowpokes. On straight steep uphills, off-trail, with unstable footing, I need a minute to catch my breath every 20-30 steps. I call that "admiring the scenery" or "taking a picture."
Since we're talking about hill-walking - all-terrain hiking - and not technical mountaineering, we are mostly talking about stamina and cardio conditioning. Strength is not a major factor but mental and physical stamina are.
Trailmaster posts about two common American rating systems in Choosing a Difficulty Level for Your Hike is a Key to Wise Hike Planning
Here's another piece about different rating systems for hikes and mountain bikers: TRAIL DIFFICULTY RATINGS SIGNS
And yet another to rate hikes you have taken: Hike Evaluation Calculator
Photo is from the popular hill walk/climb, Breakneck Ridge Trail in the very pleasant village of Cold Spring, NY. It's a 6-mile hill walk but the first mile involves lots of scrambling and a 2000-foot altitude change which is why some people rate it at a rather high - too high - 3 because anybody in decent shape can do it.
Friday, July 21. 2017
Labeled as "boot camp" and "toning" for women, it's really just progressive calisthenic routines and is just as good for men, and for any age. Calisthenics don't care about gender. These sorts of cali routines combine cardio, so doing this sort of program for several weeks covers both, while keeping your muscles in use and building stamina and agility.
Doing it daily in a group, or with a group of pals, works best but anybody ought to be able to follow this path which begins fairly easy, about an hour daily, and ramps up in challenge but not in time spent.
For each week, you would do the routine 5 days. It doesn't require a gym or any special equipment besides hand weights. If you start now, you should be "well-toned" and fit by Labor Day: Get Toned Fast
Right here and now I issue a challenge to some of our guy readers who are sarcastic or dismissive about structured fitness to give this a 6-week try at 5 days per week, and then get back to me with a report. Nothing to lose, and no need to tell anybody it's a girl program. Mr. Bliss is doing it with me, before work each morning, as a summer break from his usual gym routine.
When I first encountered this program, I had to check out what they meant by some of the terms on Youtube. Try the Turkish Get-Up. I'd advise against the crunches. Do V-ups instead.
Thursday, July 20. 2017
What most people want from fitness, probably only second to looking good/feeling good, is Stamina.
I like that word better than "endurance" which sounds painful and tedious, while "stamina" connotes an energetic or even joyful get-up-and-go attitude while including the ability to keep going when the going gets tough, pushing the point of fatigue further out while taking some pleasure or satisfaction in a strenuous or stressful life.
The older we get, or the heavier we get, the more difficult it becomes to maintain or build physical stamina. Unfortunately, it requires psychological stamina (ie, the talent to seek or invent, engage, and push through difficult challenges and opportunities. The most common adaptation for those lacking that talent is old-fashioned self-discipline) to build or maintain physical stamina. As the experts say, the day you "don't feel like" exercising is the day your body and mind need it most.
"I don't feel like it ..." is one of the most insidious, anti-life, anti-energy phrases ever invented. Why not try "I wish I hadn't been born on this planet with this annoying gravity and all these interesting and difficult things to do"? Unless they are clinically depressed, there is no cure for low-energy or relaxation-oriented people for whom inactivity or passive activity is the default setting or the desired state. Indolent is just the way they are made. Some people are naturally vigorous, some indolent, and most somewhere in-between. It's a Bell Curve of a partly-genetic and partly-cultural personality trait and it is quite obvious in what people do when given the choice.
I am on board with the Maggie's Fitness Doctrine that strength is foundational, but that strength is just a tool for building functional physical conditioning to apply to the average active and athletic American life. (Average Americans, unlike Europeans, are prone to engage in sports and/or challenging exercise.) Decent strength makes general conditioning exercises - cardio and calisthenics - more possible, more forceful, more energetic, and more enjoyable. Strength itself is great for schlepping stuff, but the general conditioning reward of strength is to be able to be more fully-engaged in all the cool things life offers - including physical chores, adventures, sex, and sports.
This is why I believe that a couple of half-hours of cardio HIIT, and a couple of hours of intense calis, are the best plan for building stamina for life for ordinary people. For beginners, get those muscles woken up with weight-training, hard and and grooving, and then move on to the challenging moving that really applies to living this brief and precious life to the fullest.
My personal test to assess people, including myself, on the Vigor-Indolence Scale is below the fold -
Continue reading "Stamina and Psychological Stamina"
Wednesday, July 12. 2017
On Wednesdays we usually focus on general conditioning (fitness for life) and rarely on training for specific athletic endeavors. That's for a reason.
However, tough hiking is just an extreme variant of walking. A question might be "If you had three months to prep for a ten-day backpacking hike in Denali, or the Bob Marshall, or the White Mountains, or, like us, mountains in the Highlands, what would you do?"
I should modify that a bit. "What would you do, assuming you had a day job and little free time on weekends?"
I asked an exercise expert friend, a competitive athlete who can do several reps of 300-lb deads, that question. She said, given just an hour daily, the emphasis should be on lower body endurance and intense cardio. She said she would do two days/week of the usual powerlifts, but replace her other exercise routines with an hour of stairmaster with a 20-lb weight vest, and an hour of calisthenics with a 5-10-lb weight vest. She correctly observed that hill/mountain hiking is not mostly about strength but is about stamina, agility, and endurance. A person can be very strong without good endurance (and vice-versa). She said an hour of intervals on the bike would be fine, but an hour walking on treadmill with a 20-30 -lb weight vest at a high incline would be better for the purpose.
She also said that, from her experience, daily 7-hour mountain hiking with packs over 10 days can not really be duplicated in normal life. Best approach, when actually doing the trip, would be two to three days on, alternating with one lighter day for recovery. In fact, that is roughly what our guide had planned for our mixed group - two days hard, then one day lighter, and so on. By day 6, I felt eager to tackle anything. Pumped up and ready to go. Too soon, it was time to go home.
Wednesday, July 5. 2017
The saddest part of the story is how quickly training gains are lost during periods without regular (meaning 3+ days/wk) strenuous activity. There is measurable decline in cardio functioning and muscle strength in weeks, and training gains can be lost in a few months. Use it or lose it. That is just how it is after age 30 or 35.
Physical fitness, like mental fitness, is a life-style choice.
A single "bout" doesn't mean very much, since most of us who pursue fitness spend 4 or 5 hours per week. Still, the brain effects are interesting.
Sunday, July 2. 2017
Friday, June 30. 2017
Except for Blueberries. There is no reason to even think about this topic unless you want to lose weight, or unless the physiology is interesting to you. Fruit is a fine dessert because its main nutritional ingredient is sugars. Especially Fructose. There is nothing "healthy" about fruit or fruit juice.
Fructose is metabolized in a different way than is Glucose.
The very short story is this: All sugars are not created equal. Fructose is metabolized into fat. Glucose in moderate amounts is turned into glycogen for energy. Table sugar is Sucrose, which is metabolized first into its components of Glucose and Fructose.
Corn syrup, the most common commercial sweetener, contains Glucose and Fructose. Thus eating a fruit, or drinking fruit juice, is equivalent to drinking a Coke other than the virtue signaling. No common sweeteners contain pure Glucose.
Children are best off drinking milk or water.
Wednesday, June 28. 2017
Getting stronger entails breaking down muscle so it can regrow stronger and it seems as if the eccentric motion does a better job of that than the concentric although the latter tends to be where we feel we are working hardest. In the simplest example, when you do a barbell squat the squatting requires eccentric contraction for your quads and glutes, and the stand-up is concentric for them. Vice versa for the hamstrings. That's why your trainer may demand that, in a curl or bench press, for examples, you lower the weight to a count of 5 or 10 instead of letting gravity do more of the work. Some people call that "negative" training, or just say "control it down."
Strength training offers a fun chance to brush up on your human anatomy. While most powerlifts engage the entire body to some extent (which is why they are efficient strength-training tools, like the deadlift), generally most of the work is done by specific muscle groups. Let's consider the bench press, which is designed to not be a full-body exertion but instead to isolate upper body muscles - chest, upper back, shoulders, and arms. The concentric and eccentric contractions of the bench are explained well here. You can see why your biceps get pumped during bench even though pecs and triceps do the lifting - the control down is an eccentric move for the triceps and pecs but concentric/stabilizing for the biceps. After all, you can't drop that barbell.
The only place I can think of where you let gravity do most of the work is in the deadlift where the control-down is less important. You can almost let the bar drop.
How to pack on muscle with eccentric exercise - Eccentric training has lots of perks—and it’s easy to work it into your routine.
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.
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