Tag Archives: exercise

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

The title lists a very simple equation, and yet the solution seems to evade so many people. Let me write it out again:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

It’s not to say that Hard Work is more important than Nutrition – I just happened to list them alphabetically. The opposite is probably true that proper nutrition will benefit you more long-term than hard work if you could only pick one. By Hard Work, I mean strenuous, physically-exerting exercise. And by Proper Nutrition, I mean eating foods that are actually good for the body (that’s a dissertation in itself) and getting proper sleep and hydration.

I often run into people that I haven’t seen in awhile, and they typically remark how much thinner and more fit I look. Of course, they want to know what I’ve been doing to achieve my level of fitness. When I tell them about my workouts and changed eating habits, their peaked interest usually dwindles. It amazes me that practical living and hard work are a major turnoff to people. I mean, when you see how hard people will work to live in a certain community or get to a certain position at work, it’s obvious that hard work is not a foreign concept to them; and they seem to have enough common sense that they would seriously evaluate the food their body intakes.

Let me reiterate:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

There are no quick fixes or magic potions that will turn you from a lump of dough to a fit, vibrant person. It will take hard, strenuous work. I have stated it before, but I am a strong advocate of working out with kettlebells and bodyweight exercise.

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The benefits are clear:

  1. You will get strong
  2. You don’t need much space
  3. You don’t need to go to a gym
  4. You don’t need to make much of a financial commitment
  5. You can accomplish a lot of hard work in a fairly short period of time

It will take some effort to research the foods you eat, read the labels, understand what ingredients/foods/medicines are good or bad for you, make well-informed food purchases, plan and prepare nutritious meals, etc.

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Again, the benefits are clear:

  1. If you are overweight, you will lose weight
  2. You will be healthier with a stronger immune system
  3. You will have more natural energy (this will fit perfectly into your strenuous workouts)
  4. You will be likely live longer
  5. You will maintain the weight your body was designed to support and your joints will thank you profusely for that

The solution to true fitness couldn’t really be this simple, could it? If you read most of the trendy health and fitness magazines, then to them, the answer is no. There’s always a new gimmick workout or diet (or even diet pill). There’s a huge industry devoted to the millions of people who keep futilely chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

If you truly want to live a longer, healthier life where…

  • You are physically strong
  • You are able to run and play with your kids (or grandkids)
  • You wear normal clothing sizes
  • You get sick less often
  • You won’t need an untimely knee replacement
  • You won’t increase your risk of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Then review the formula 1 more time:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

Decide today to be equally committed to both components of the solution, and you will be the better for it. Don’t expect many others to join you, but hey, you are living your life in your body. Only you can directly change and affect you.

‘Off Day’ Workout

Awhile back, I discussed critiquing your own form to detect flaws in order to improve and reduce risk of injury. Here’s a brief workout I completed doing 1-arm and 2-arm swings with a kettlebell as well as some pushups.

As I edited the video, there were several flaws that were evident. Probably the one that jumped out the most to me was how my knees dip down on my pushups, and as a result, my entire body is not pushing up as 1 ramrod straight unit.

Anyway, this should give you a little insight in how little space you need to be able to complete the workout.

The best part of this video is (1) you don’t have to hear a word or noise from me, and (2) you can watch my wife wash dishes at landspeed record in the background!

Enjoy and comment, if you will.

Garage Workouts

Lest ye think I only work out with kettlebells, yesterday’s workout included sandbag single arm presses, sandbag zercher squats, barbell bench press, rowing, static dumbbell holds, and more!

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That’s me on the right completing a sandbag press with a 35-lb sandbag. The weight isn’t the challenge as much as the grip and balance of the bag.

Kettlebell Swing Basics

In my previous post, I mentioned capturing your form on video for self critique. I spent a few hours this weekend shooting some video of myself doing a 2-hand kettlebell swing and then put together a video that highlights the key things to remember when swinging a kettlebell.

Enjoy, if you can survive the 8 minutes of me droning on and on!

Critique Your Form

When working out, one way to avoid unneccessary injury is to execute correct form. Whether you are doing deadlifts, running, swinging a kettlebell, pushups, pullups, etc., there is a science behind every exercise movement and an exact, correct way to do it. There are thousands of videos on the web with people demonstrating exercise form (some correct and some not so much). Whether you have a personal instructor or are using web content, the hard part is taking what you’ve seen and replicating that with the exact same form.

Anyone who works out hard and very intensely for an extended duration faces the challenge of fatigue and as a correlating result: slipping form. As your body fatigues and your form begins to slip, your potential for injury is really increases. My mentor and coach Mark always says, “Train hard, train smart!” Both are equally important: hard generates results, and smart keeps you injury-free and able to keep working out, which is pretty important.

Let’s move on to what the title of the blog post is actually about. It is critically important to evaluate your form from time-to-time. Over time, as you learn and ‘master’ a particular routine or exercise, it is easy to fall into the mindset that you will continue to always do that routine or exercise with good form. It is common to pick up bad habits form-wise without realizing it. I understand that not everyone has access to a qualified trainer who can point out and correct flaws in their form. While that is obviously ideal, there are alternatives.

As an alternative, you can record yourself via video. Go back and watch that video (even in slow motion). While you may not be able to notice every little nuance in your form, it is quite likely that you will notice any bad habits that you have picked up. For example, you may notice that your body is not perfectly ramrod straight when doing something as simple as pushups – perhaps your knees are dipping, maybe your butt is too high, etc. Consider pro golfers. Even the best golfers in the world develop issues / hitches with their swing that they either self-evaluate or use a swing coach to correct in order to return to world class form.

Lastly, don’t forget to practice exact and correct form. The more you practice the right form, the more ingrained in your mind the form will be. As your workout progresses, and your body fatigues, your mind will rely on the correct form that you have time and time again stamped into it.

Double the Effort, Double the Misery, Double the Results!!!

Today’s lesson in humility consisted of 12 sets of 10 double clean and press and 10 double kettlebell swings (2 35lb kettlebells).

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To add to the misery, we added 100 pushups the end.

A workout like this is a surefire way to gain strength, become more lean and trim, and improve conditioning!

Commitment

The 2nd round of the NFL playoffs is about halfway complete.

One thing that is evident as the playoffs have begun and continue to the Super Bowl, the teams and players comprising the playoff contenders are committed to the perfecting of their craft and the pursuit of excellence.

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Granted, these men are partially motivated by multi-million dollar contacts, but the playoffs (of any sport really) bring out that extra level of commitment and competitive spirit.

The lesson to be gained is this: whatever your goals may be… getting stronger, losing weight, breaking through a certain plateau, eating healthier, etc., approach that goal with the same perseverance exemplified by these NFL players and coaches. Relentlessly pursue the things that you want to achieve.

Start the New Year Off STRONG!

Although my eating habits over the past few days were a little out of character in terms of health and nutrition, I controlled myself to the point of where I don’t feel a need to make any rash New Year’s resolutions.

Notwithstanding, I do have a personal goal of accomplishing more physically in 2013 than I did in 2012. 2012 was a year of transformation for me, including dramatic weight loss and some strength gains and metabolic conditioning. Now that I am relatively at a weight that I want to maintain and can manage, I plan to more aggressively increase my overall strength.

As an aside, Strong First is a great website that is dedicated to the strength building. The premise of this site is that as you become stronger (with a focus solely on that – hence strong first), the more fit you will become. Interesting food for thought as most people who are trying to go from unfit to fit strictly focus on weight loss and not actually increasing their strength.

In 2012, I experienced the most significant weight loss when I strictly counted every calorie that I consumed for a period of 100 straight days. I used an app on my phone called My Fitness Pal. While I honestly don’t aspire to track my caloric intake for the entirety of 2013, I am planning on continuing to use this app to track my caloric intake for the first week of each month. Don’t forget to stick to what has helped you achieve success!

Today’s first concentrated workout of the new year will include the following:

  • 30 burpees (with a pushup) – for a warmup
  • 100 kettlebell swings (likely with a 53 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell goblet squats (35 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell clean and press (35 lb kb)
  • 100 kettlebell snatches (35 lb kb)

Not sure yet on how I will break them down set-wise, but that is today’s goal.

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With workouts of these nature, the reality is that it is more of a test of the the mind and will than the body itself. Training your body to push past what your mind tells you it can or cannot do has incredible rewards and will help you push past barriers or limitations.

For 2013, I am committed to getting stronger while continuing to stick to the basics that were the foundation of my transformational 2012. What will you commit to in 2013?

My New Walking Pal

I am not usually in the habit of taking multiple brisk walks a day (yes, there is a limit to my desire to work out). That all changed a few days ago after we ‘rescued’ Layla from the West Chester (Pa) SPCA.

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Every morning and night, Layla tries to drag me through our village at breakneck speed… so not only do I get in some extra walking, I also get a decent strength workout keeping her at bay.

On a side note, the workers at the SPCA were really nice and helpful, and we were glad to bring Layla home to become part of our family. Like my friend Mark says, adopt a dog in need instead of buying from a ‘puppy mill’.

Midweek Workout

It was refreshing to get an afternoon workout in today. All you need to complete it is a kettlebell and something to jump onto. Here is what we did:

WARMUP
– stretch
– 10 sets of 10 2-handed kettlebell swings with focus on form and proper breathing
– 30 pushups followed by 5 sets of 7 pushups with 15 second rest intervals

WORKOUT
– 7 sets of…
–> 5 slow grinding goblet squats (you could use either a kettlebell or a dumbbell)
–> 10 box jumps where you fully extend to a standing position at the top, then complete an air squat, and then step back down.

You could complete this individually, or with a partner… switching every time both are complete.

For the kettlebell swings, I used a 16kg kettlebell. For the goblet squats, I used a 12kg kettlebell, and the box jump is approximately 24″.

It is important to note that the workout focused on controlled movement and not bouncing up and down on the knee joints (your knees will thank you for that, and the goal is strength building NOT max reps). This workout should thoroughly smoke your legs and core.

Remember, don’t forget to stretch when you are done… Bretzels and press-ups are good for that.

If you happen to try this workout, post here and let me know what you think.