Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Average Guy's Guide #3

We've all seen those infomercials that say 10 minutes a day is all it takes to get fab abs. Well 10 minutes a day is enough for somethings, but it aint going to get you fab abs. More Importantly, which six pack would you really rather have, Abs that require more maintainance than Joan Rivers face, or the one from the Micro-brewery across town? If you're like me, the beer wins every time. So, if not abs, what is it we're really trying to get out of exercise? Strength, plain and simple. IF they are still kicking, look at your father and grandfather, what could they use more; the areobic capacity to run a 5k, or the stength and flexibilty to do squats and push-ups?

The first routine I wrote was to do pushups, situps, and deep knee bends , twice a week. Mastering your own bodyweight is the safest form of strength training. You can build a reasonable amount of muscle and metobolic conditioning using just body weight. Most guys however get really bored, really quickly, doing calesthenics. This is why barbells in one form or another have been around for so long. There is something about lifting weights that just appeals to most guys. At a bare minimum you will need a bar, about two hundred pounds of weights that fit on the bar, a sledge hammer, and an old tire to make use of the advice in the remainder of this series. These can be picked up dirt cheap at yard sales, flea markets, and used sporting good stores. I routinely see full Olympic sets on sale for $99. Dumbells such as the bowflex select tech 1090's or PowerBlock's are also a good option if you are willing and able to spend the money. A nice thing to have is some type of stand or rack to hold the bar while you change weights and to allow for heavier squating and pressing. The stand is not required for this series, just nice to have. A bench you can use with the stands is also a nicety. You don't have to do bench press', but for those of you out there who are stuggeling with push ups, moving to bench press' where you can use a lighter weight and work up may be a reasonalbe approach. Also, at a certain point doing 10-15 bench press' may be more appealing than doing 30 to 50 push ups. Again, the bench and stand are not required.

The first implement of destruction we are going to use other than our body is the venerable sledge hammer. Do your pushups, situps, and deep knee bends. Then, go outside, get an old tire, one that has been deflated and taken off the wheel, and for one minute swing (get a timer if needed) the hammer from the same shoulder and pound the tire. Rest 30 secondes, change shoulders and swing the hammer for another minute. Rest for one minute. Now grab your hammer like a shovel, the heavy part being the blade, and leading with your right hand closest to the weight, "shovel" for one minute, rest 30 seconds and repeat with the left hand closest to the weight. Hit the showers and grab a proten shake, you've earned it.

What to do if you don't have a sledge hammer, or room to use one. For the time being a single 15 lb dumbell can be a substitute for the hammer. Using both hands do a wood chop motion. and Dumbell swings for the shovel.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Average Guy's Guide #2

Lets start off this time with some house keeping items. I am not a bodybuilder. I have no real interest in bodybuilding. I respect what bodybuilders do, but have no desire to do it. Neither I, nor any of the men I know have any desire to shave every part of our bodies except our heads, put on bikini bottoms, and parade around on stage. In my pantheon Phil Pfister, current Worlds Strongest Man Champ, rates way above Jay Cutler, Current Body Building Champ. After all, what we are trying to accomplish here is to be healthy, strong, men.
For the ladies out there, I am writing this from a male perspective, but it applies to you as well. Muscle is muscle, and the women out there can be healthy, strong, women. is the best site bar none, on the web for women. Not that I don't want the women folk reading this, its just that Krista lays it out woman to woman in a way I never could.
I'm not going to quote endless scientific studies to support what I'm writing. Science is fine, but it has its limitations as well. Contrary to popular belief, there were many strong and healthy men before exercising became all sciencey. In fact I'm willing to bet that we can draw a strong positive coorelation between research into diet and exercise and the "obesity epidemic".

Next on our list of things to add into the program is this: Eat Breakfast Everyday. Your body will thank you. I'm going to give you a couple of sample breakfast menus here, but by no means should this be viewed as a complete list of acceptable breakfasts.

Breakfast 1
Meat (bacon, steak etc)
Fresh Fruit

Protein Powder
Whole Milk
Fresh Fruit

Peanut Butter
Fresh Fruit
Cottage cheese

For those of you who prefer juice, thats fine, I prefer to eat my fruit rather than drink it, but hey, thats me. Just make sure that you're drinking 100% juice, organic is best. Any added sugars or any corn syrup or High Fructose Corn syrup, turn and ok, (but not great), drink into junk food. The oatmeal should not be instant or flavored. Go for the plain old fashioned oats. If you must sweeten it add real honey or 100% real maple syrup. Supermarket pancake syrup is evil, if you have it in the house, throw it out. For the protein powder I like Designer Whey. It just tastes best to me. You may like another brand. Don't buy the meal replacement shake powder, get either whey or a whey blend protein powder. Use Whole milk, preferably organic, grass fed is best. For those who can't tolerate cows milk, use hemp milk, or almond milk. Use butter, real butter, not some butter flavored spread. For the Toast, go with sprouted or sourdough. Alvarado St Bakery is ok, Food for Life Ezekiel Bread is better. I can find both in my local chain super markets in the frozen section. White bread is not real food, if its in the house, throw it out. Don't even keep it for the kids.

Take a multi-vitamin and fish oil. For vitamins, Centrum or the store brand equivalent will do. For fish oil find one that says concentrated, store brand is fine for the most part.

Eat protein with every meal. This includes eggs, beef, poultry, fish, shellfish, pork, mutton, lamb, veal, game and cottage cheese. You should have a serving of protein about the size of your hand with every meal. You can substitute protein powder for a serving at one meal. Do not worry about the fat in the meat, it is good for you. So enjoy the Rib-eye or pork chop with gusto.

Eat a salad every at least every other day, and do not use Iceberg lettuce. Romaine, fine; Arugula, fine, Spinach fine, Spring Mix fine, Iceberg - skip it. Don't be afraid to dress your salad. I like olive oil, toasted pumpkin seeds, and real blue cheese, or gorgonzola crumbles on mine. Skip the fat free stuff, it tastes bad and the junk in there to cover for the fat they took out, is mostly just sugar.

Next time I talk more about exercise.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Average Guys Guide Part1

The Average Guys Guide to Being Healthy, Not Fat, Strong Enough to do Manly Things, and Not Going Crazy in the Process

Most of the fitness books out there for men stink if you're over 40 . They all assume we are 20 something's who want bulging biceps and six pack abs to impress the girls so we can get dates with some shallow bimbo and boff her brains out. To make matters worse they all have these work out plans that assume we have nothing better to do then spend all our free time in the gym. Not to mention we have access to a gym or have all this great equipment at our disposal. On the other hand most guys I know, have wives, kids, houses, errands to run, yard work, and other stuff to do that constitutes real life. I've talked with many of these guys, and am one myself. The general consensus is that our wives would be far more impressed by us volunteering to do the dishes then if we achieved a 300lb bench press or developed 18" biceps. While boinking some young chic might cross our minds from time to time, the real woman we want to make happy is our wife. I talked to my wife, and several other women who are wives or SO's, and their responses were refreshingly simple. They wanted their men to be healthy, not too fat, but not cover models either, and strong enough to do husbandly things around the house with out hurting themselves or being sore for days. Basically what they really wanted was for us to take care of ourselves so we would be there for the long haul. I was also surprised to learn that their idea of "not too fat" was incredibly forgiving. So I talked to a few of the guys I know, and they all said that those were reasonable goals. Several of them had bought this book or that book, but all the books were about building "big guns" and six pack abs, had unreasonable time commitments, diets that were either to complex, or too restrictive, and generally geared to a younger crowd. Mostly they had just plain given up trying to find a livable solution.

At this point I need to make the following disclaimer, I am not a doctor, so none of what I am about to write in this or subsequent installment should be taken or used as medical advice. If you are under the care of a doctor, always clear any eating or exercise plan with them first.

So, lets get started.

Step One, if you smoke, stop. No further explanation should be required. Get help if you need it, but just make up your mind and quit.

Two; stop eating junk food. You're not a teenager so stop eating like one. Lets face it, Twinkies, ho-ho's, oreos, soda's and french fries have no redeeming value. Instead of going to a fast food joint, go to a deli and get a real sandwich and some fruit or a salad. If you like blue cheese or mayo that's fine. Just skip the fake, fat free stuff. I'm going to recommend you buy one book. Jonny Bowden's 150-Healthiest-Foods . If 80 pct of your diet come from the foods in this book, you're ahead of the game.

Three; push ups, sit ups, and deep knee bends. Cardio? Bah! skip it. Twice a week, like say Tuesday and Saturday, do as many push ups, sit ups and deep knee bends as you can for one set each. Do them slowly and smoothly. Take only enough time in between exercises to catch your breath. In the beginning it might take 2 minutes, but after a few weeks you should be down to a minute or less. That's it. That's all the exercises you need, and if you are just starting out this will be sufficient for several weeks. If you can't do at least 10 regular push ups, then do as many as you can then do them on your knees. Until you can do 30 reps of each, don't worry about adding any exercises. Eventually you will need a set of adjustable dumbbells, or a barbell set, but no need for any thing else. For right now however, bodyweight will be enough. I'll be adding in a few exercises as we go, but this is where it starts.

Four; go to sleep. Get at least seven hours a night. If that means you miss Letterman, too bad, now say good night.

That'll wrap up the first installment of this project. They say you get 80 percent of your return on the first 20 percent of your efforts. The above is the first 10 percent.

Journey To Mecca

York, Pennsylvania, a place near and dear to every strength trainer, home of "The Barbell", and the weightlifting hall of fame Many of the ideas about training I've developed over the years owe a great deal to the Bob Hoffman legacy, and the fact that I grew up reading "Strength and Health" not "Muscle and Fitness" or any of the other Weider magazines. It makes me kind of misty inside lamenting the lack of leadership in todays fitness world. Joe Weider de-throned Hoffman, but Weider's days and empire are crumbling fast. Bodybuilding has become a freak show. Oly Weightlifting and power-lifting are niche players. Physical culture is homeless. We live in a time of a multitude iof guru's, but no real leaders. All of those voices speaking in authority drown each other out in a cacophonous roar. Perhaps its no coincidence that the rise in obesity is taking place in a time without leadership in the world of strength and health.