Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Get A Clue

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

When I go to the gym I have a chance to observe what’s going on around me while resting between lifts. I won’t comment on some of the stupid stuff I see people do that makes me scratch my head (I’m talking to you with the 5 pound dumbbells flapping your arms like chicken wings), but rather the clueless people I see wandering around the gym. First, if you are getting to the gym that is a good start.  Once you are there you should have an idea of what are going to be doing there. For many people its simple, 30-60 minutes on some type of cardio equipment such as a treadmill, pat yourself on the back and go home. Others I see using some type of strength training equipment, be it a circuit machine, dumbbells, or a barbell. This is where you see two types of clueless people.

The first type is the new person to the gym. They are unsure on how to use the equipment or do a lift, kind of look at it, maybe fiddle around with it a little bit, and some reason never seem to want to ask for help but rather “figure it out on their own.” My advice is if you don’t know how to use or do something, ask someone. Hopefully the staff may know how, but not always, or ask someone that you jusy saw using it, they may not always know either. But you can save yourself a lot of grief by just asking.

The second type is usually male teenagers. They will travel in a small pack, 2-3 of them, stop and stare at something, debate about if they should do it, then either do the exercise or move on to the next spot in the gym and repeat the debate procedure. For some strange reason the debate appears to be centered around how many different variations of a bench press can they perform that day. This group doesn’t really know why they are in the gym, besides wanting to work their chest and biceps. My advice to this group is when you go to the gym, before even stepping into the gym, you should know what you are doing for a workout. This includes reps, sets, amount of weight to be used, etc. Going to the gym and making it up as you go along is not a productive way to spend your time.

So have a clue when going to the gym, know what you are going to do and how to do it.

Tracy Anderson Must Be Stopped

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Tracy Anderson is personal fitness trainer and founder of the Tracy Anderson Method. Her workout routine is what I would spastic movements. Jump around frail your arms and legs, and charge people lots of money to do her method. Her claim to fame is having famous clients such as Madonna (who has since dropped Tracy)  and Gwyneth Paltrow, who has been diagnosed with osteopenia.

If anyone with even a basic knowledge of exercise and diet listens to Anderson they quickly come to the conclusion she doesn’t know what she is talking about. How would one come to such a conclusion? Easy when she says things such as:

  • Women shouldn’t life more then 3 pounds to avoid getting bulky
  • Using the treadmill without varying your routine (as in jump around in it as if you were having a seizure) will make you bulky
  • Prescribing diets that range in the 800 calories range

Brain St. Pierre has a nice blog post going a little more into Tracy Anderson and her health thoughts.

Now if Anderson was just following her own advice, I wouldn’t mind as much. The problem is Anderson is marketing her program and too many women follow her looking to get into shape. Doesn’t help with Anderson stating she has helped women lose 9 inches in 10 workouts (starvation is good for losing weight, especially muscle). I won’t say anything about these ladies, they are trying to get into shape and think they found the magic way to do so. I place the blame on Anderson.

Ladies, if you want to get into shape, here are some basic tips:

  • Eat real food, veggies, lean meat, some fruit and some nuts. Avoid sugar and even consider avoiding grains. Eat enough to support your activity level. Plenty of places on the Internet that can give you advice. I would suggest the Nutrition forum at the Crossfit site for asking advice.
  • Do some resistance training, i.e. lift some weights. Unless you have some really strange medical condition you will not get bulky.
  • Do some short, high intensity cardio work. Think high intensity type of training. 2 or 3 different exercises done at high rate for a short period of time.
  • Get plenty of sleep

I usually suggest people check out “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson, great introduction to health. Robb Wolf has “The Paleo Solution” coming out this fall, should be a good introduction book too.

Thoughts from the Gym

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The following are some of my thoughts and observations from hanging around the gym. Nothing I write here should be considered professional advice but rather just my rambling opinion.

  1. After many hours of watching people attempt it, you can’t do a proper squat in a Smith Machine.
  2. Have a plan when going to the gym.
  3. It’s a squat rack, not a rack for holding the barbell so you can do arm curls.
  4. Ask yourself from time to time, “what is the exact purpose of the exercise I am doing”? If you don’t know the answer to the question, stop doing the exercise.
  5. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, then 30 on a bike, then 20 on the elliptical machine, what the hell do you think you are doing? Working different muscles isn’t the answer.
  6. If you aren’t getting your thighs to at least parallel when squatting, don’t fool yourself on how much you can squat .
  7. Along those same lines, unless you have a specific for not doing so, full range of motion when doing resistance exercises. Doesn’t matter if it is a push-up or a dead lift, full range of motion.
  8. If using a barbell, put the weights back where they belong after you are finished lifting. Your mom isn’t here to clean up after you and if you are trying to impress people with how much you are doing quarter-squats with, we aren’t impressed.
  9. Don’t mock other people in the gym. If someone is doing an exercise that you know 100% is wrong, then offer advice. If they refuse then shrug your shoulders and go away.

Getting Under the Bar

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Back in my teens and early 20’s I used to lift weights. By lifting weights I mean I did bench press and arm curls. Never bothered with squats, dead lifts, or other types of lifts. So you can say I never really lifted weights. Now I’m 45 and doing lifting, presses, squats, dead lifts, bench press, more squats, etc. Why at 45 do something like this?

The why in a nutshell is I want to improve my strength, which means I want to get stronger. I’m not looking to be a powerlifter or do any type of competition, this is to address in area of my fitness where I’ve noticed a weakness (no pun intended). So I went and got a copy of Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore, read through it, and decided to hit it. Here are some observations.

First, not in my 20’s anymore (duh). Currently I can’t bench press as much as I did 20+ years ago. No big surprise, muscles ain’t going to stay big and strong by themselves. Nor is my recovery time as good as it used to be. I knew this one just from simple injuries like spraining an ankle. My body needs more time to recover.

Second, like all goals I need to keep mine realistic. This goes right in hand with my first observation. As Mark Rippetoe said:

“Testosterone levels peak in our mid-twenties, hold relatively steady for another decade, and then begin to fall like women’s clothes at the kinds of parties we don’t get invited to any more.”

My strength will go up, just not as fast as it would have in my 20’s. This means I’ve been tweaking my programming. I’ll still be increasing the weights on the lifts every workout, just not as much as I was hoping to increase them.

Last reason is I want to make sure I’m functional into my old age. My son will argue I’m already old but I can still kick his butt. As we get older we do tend to get weaker. I can handle losing how much I can max for a squat, but as long as I can still squat with weight on my back then life should be doing pretty good.

So for now I’ll keep following the principles outlined in Starting Strength, maybe later after linear progression has stopped I’ll look at going to the 5-3-1 program. Plus I’ll still keep up my Crossfit style High Intensity Interval Training. You are never too old to start.

The One Hundred Day Burpee Challenge

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Instead of making a resolution to start off the new year, lets do it with a challenge. And what could be a better challenge than the One Hundred Day Burpee Challenge? Right, pretty much anything. Therefore it is the perfect challenge to start the new year off with. So on January 1, 2010, kick off the challenge.

If you don’t what the One Hundred Day Burpee Challenge is exactly, here is a run down. Day on (1/1/10) you do 1 burpee, Day 2 (1/2/10) is 2 burpees, Day 3 (1/3/10) is 3 burpees, and keep going till you get to day 100 (4/10/10) where you are now at 100 burpees. So on 1/1/2010, 3-2-1 Go!


Q: What’s a burpee?
A: Wikipedia has a write-up on the burpee. You can also check out this video or this one on YouTube.

Q: I can’t do 100 of those evil things!
A: I’m willing to bet you can do one. Start with one and on day 2 do one, and then one more. Look at it as doing 1 burpee and build upon that. The proper mental approach will help you make it through this.

Q: On a given day, do I have to do all the burpees at once?
A; No, you just have to do that given number for the day. Using day 50 again, if you need to break it down into blocks of 10 with a rest in between, then that is what you do. The goal is getting all the burpees done for that day.

Q: What if I miss a day?
A: You poor fool… You still have to do the burpees. Lets say you missed doing the burpees on day 50, on day 51 you have to do those burpees (51) and the ones you missed (50). That should be a good incentive not to miss a day

Missing From The Healthcare Debate

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Is really addressing the health issue in this country. Want to bring costs down? Address that issue for starters. For example, the leading causes of death in the United States from 2006:

Heart disease: 631,636
Cancer: 559,888
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 137,119
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,583
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 121,599
Diabetes: 72,449
lzheimer’s disease: 72,432
Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,326
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 45,344
Septicemia: 34,234

Start looking at how many of those have a personal factor in them, i.e. how diet and exercise plays a role in preventing these deaths. Then think about the health issues many of these cause and the long term costs of dealing with those. Pretty huge numbers.

The American diet is pathetic. We eat too much sugar, too much processed foods, the wrong types of fat, and overeat. Then look at our exercise level, also really bad. People in general don’t get near enough exercise.

What can we do about this? Very little. One could argue that if we are going to tax tobacco due to its health risks we should do the same for foods that are bad for us. I’m not a fan of taxes myself. I rather see the cost burden shifted back to the individual, with a tax credit for purchasing your own insurance if you want too. Let people start seeing the total cost of health and maybe they might make some changes in their lifestyle. I tend to doubt it but one can hope.