Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Count reps or not?

August 13, 2019

Clearly, the goal is to improve over the years. More accurately, the goal is to improve the number of perfect-form reps over the years.

There are pros and cons to counting reps.

Pros

Counting reps (along with recording the number of reps performed) gives concrete evidence of whether there is improvement.

Cons

There is an enormous temptation to sacrifice form for that extra rep. Instead of focusing on movement and mind-body connection, the focus is on a mostly meaningless number.

Bottom Line

For many workouts the number of reps you can perform will remain the same. There will even be times where the number of reps decreases. But, if the effort is put in, over the long arc of time the number of perfect-form reps will slowly rise. That is all you can ask. That is success.

Best way to exercise: Mind-body connection? Empty the mind? Grease the groove?

June 9, 2019

Which of these is the best way to exercise:

  1. Mind-body connection. Be mindful of the body while exercising. Where there is tightness, send mental commands to relax and let go.
  2. Empty the mind. Get the mind out of the movement and allow the body to move without interference from the mind.
  3. Grease the groove. Perform the movement over and over to master the movement. It doesn’t really matter what the mind thinks about.

Which way is best? I suspect each is best suited for certain exercises. While statically stretching it might be best to focus the mind on identifying tightness and then using the mind to command those tight muscles to relax. While doing a golf swing it might be best to empty the mind. While walking it probably doesn’t matter what the mind thinks about.

Be like a 3-year-old child

May 3, 2019

Observe a 3-year-old child. He/she has a completely relaxed body and mind. No concerns, no responsibilities, no stresses. Every moment is new and fresh and explored with curiosity. Movement is free and flowing. Today while exercising I used my mind to put me into the mindset of a 3-year-old. Oh, my, what a wonderful, joyous exercise session.

Crunches are bad … here’s why

December 25, 2018

I spend most of my day hunched over a computer. That’s bad. It’s causing my spine to curve like a C, which is the wrong way for the spine to be curved.

The spine should be curved the other direction.

Crunches are bad because with every rep the abs are pounding on the spine to flatten out. But the spine should not be flat. The spine should be arched.

No more crunches for me.

In fact, no more exercises that pound the spine into flatness, which means no more upside-down leg press, no more flyes with legs up on the bench, etc. And certainly, no exercise that curl forward.

Two secrets to proper weightlifting technique

December 17, 2018

Secret #1: Curl your toes up. That will ensure your weight is on the middle of your foot (actually, on the front end of the heels).

Secret #2: Chest out, shoulders back. If you focus on keeping the chest out and shoulders back, it will naturally ensure your hips rise properly when lifting the weight off the floor and it will ensure your form is correct when squatting.

Here is the path to the Fountain of Youth

September 15, 2018

Constant change in both food intake and body stimuli is a key to the Fountain of Youth, I think. Intense, infrequent jolts to the body.

The body adapts shockingly fast. Jolt the body one day and the next day that jolt is far less effective. Everyday must be dramatically different from the last.

Here are the foods and body stimuli that I use to jolt my body.

Foods

  1. Blueberry sauce: get one of those large packages of frozen wild blueberries from Costco (I think it’s got about 10 cups of blueberries in it). Make a simple blueberry sauce with half the package and eat it over the course of a day. So, 5 cups of blueberries are consumed in one day. Wow! What a jolt of energy and mental focus that provides.
  2. Green drinks: get a bunch of greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc.), put them in a blender with a bit of water, and make a green drink. Do this at breakfast, again at lunch, and again at dinner. Plant-based is awesome.
  3. Soup: steam a bunch of carrots, celery, and beets (or some other in-season vegetables) and then pulverize them into a soup. Consume at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  4. Fresh orange juice: squeeze 4 oranges to make a wonderful glass of fresh orange juice. Do this at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  5. 500 calorie day: eat just green salads all day; use fresh lemon and/or balsamic vinegar for seasoning.
  6. Supplements: I used to take supplements every day. What a mistake that was. Now I take a multi, omega 6, and B12 supplement just once a week to jolt my body.
  7. Caffeine: The benefits of caffeine (increased alertness and energy) accrue only on day one. The next day the benefits drop precipitously. So, caffeine (e.g., black tea, green tea, coffee) should be taken infrequently (once a week, or every other week).

Body Stimulus

  1. Donate blood: once a quarter donate blood to the Red Cross. The loss of blood forces the body to generate new blood, which is a massive stimulus to the body.
  2. Cold shower: take a cold shower and/or ice bath. Again, this is a massive stimulus to the body.
  3. Long walks: go for a long walk, at least 1 hour in duration.
  4. Leg exercise: the leg muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body; an intense stimulation of the legs will jolt the entire body (and mind). Among other things, I do a static leg press. I have gotten up to doing a 1700-pound static leg press (strongmen do over 3000 pounds). This is a huge jolt to my entire system.
  5. Stretching and foam rolling: an intense, infrequent session of stretching and foam rolling will jolt the body and mind.
  6. Deadlift: lifting heavy weights is a great stimulus of both the body and mind.

Stop stretching

January 14, 2018

I hear this advice all the time: Do stretching. Get flexible.

That is bad advice.

Your muscles are like springs. Kind of like the springs in your car. Do you want loose springs in your car? Of course not. You want firm springs.

When you bend down to pick up an object, you want tight hamstrings (ham-springs) to firmly move you back up to the standing position.

The back is not designed to bend or twist. It is designed to stop motion and hold your torso stiff. Stop doing crunches, sit-ups, bends, and twists. They will ultimately harm your back.

Reading, exercising, and life

October 30, 2017

I sometimes read some words and pronounce “I read it” even if I didn’t fully understand what I read. Sadly, the goal is to get through the words, with some minimal understanding. The goal is not to thoroughly understand it.

I sometimes do an exercise and pronounce “I did it” even if I didn’t fully feel the movement and the muscles that were used. Sadly, the goal is to get through the exercise, with some minimal sensory feeling. The goal is not to thoroughly feel the movement and the muscles.

The years are passing by quickly. I wonder if, unconsciously, my goal is to get through life, with some minimal awareness. I hope not.

The best exercise and the best diet

August 17, 2017

Question: What is the best exercise?

Answer: The one you’ll do. That is, the one containing movements that you enjoy doing and can sustain doing over the months and years.

Question: What is the best diet?

Answer: The one you’ll do. That is, the one containing foods that you enjoy eating and can sustain doing over the months and years.

Movement is the holy grail of health

August 13, 2017

Sitting is a disease. Movement is the holy grail of health.

Blood flow is the life force that heals our body and removes the waste. No juice cleanse or apple cider vinegar or lemon water will compensate for inactivity. You don’t need 50 different food items, from 12 different countries, or a rare plant or berry from some remote island or jungle. That’s just another example of our desire to find things that do the work for us, passively. Thinking that we can just eat a superfood and that will make up for inactivity, when we know that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy bodyfat level is the real key to long term health.

I take a brisk 10 minute walk after each meal. Research suggests this improves digestion and reduces blood sugars, much better than a single 30 minute walk daily. Science is telling us that consistency is more important than intensity, and frequency is more important than quantity. Getting up an walking around very hour is better than exercising once at the end of the day.

— Stan Efferding

This is an excellent video by Stan Efferding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqjPuhlfO5w&list=PL8JNg3nrHrLTyntHlHg9ng2RchpWGM5zs&index=21