I’m in the middle of what may be my only vacation week of the year, but I’m doing my best to not let it feel like a vacation; I’m still working, training hard, and doing my best to learn. This morning I listened to a free teleseminar from SportsRehabExpert.com featuring Sue Falsone, and they just released the second episode in the series, an interview with Ron Hruska. Sue’s interview blew my mind, and I spent a good deal of time perusing Pavel Kolar’s website learning about Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. If you click through those links, be prepared to have your mind blown. If you’re not as nerdy as me, then here’s some more material for you:
Exercise is Medicine. Usually, I’d expound the numerous benefits of exercising, and how YOU probably need to do more of it. Hell, I fell that even I need to be more active, but that’s for another post. Today, I’d like to discuss the psychological benefits of exercise. After spending half an hour removing pomegranate seeds from 3 of those delicious fruits, loosing an important book, and spending 20 minutes in the freezing rain to inflate a car tire, I headed off to the gym in a less-than-great mood. With last night’s semi-atrocious training session weighing in my mind, I wasn’t excited to be there, and less excited to talk to people. However, as I got my workout under way, I began to feel better and better. You see, there are a number of brain chemicals released during exercise that reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Of these, beta-endorphins provide the most powerful effect, and can lead to what is often referred to as “the runner’s high.” (On a side note, I’ve never had a runner’s high, but I’ll frequently have a kettlebell swing high. Go me!) As my workout progressed, I felt better and better, and by the time I left the gym I was back to my chipper old self. Isn’t it amazing that simply being active and exerting yourself can make you feel better? It’s as if your body wants you to be active. Let me repeat, your body wants you to be active. Read that as: Get off your butt and go do something! You’ll reap physical and psychological benefits, and have this cool chemical floating around your brain:
Yea, try saying THAT 5 times fast! Now, let’s move on to two insanely cool things I found early today that immediately were added to my exercise-gear wish list. I tend to be somewhat of a gear whore, in everything I’m interested in: I like playing with new golf clubs, I can spend hours playing with new drumsticks or cymbals, and I like to find cool toys for the weight room. Today I found an 80lb medicine ball and a 140lb weighted vest. I’ve never even thought of those implements as that heavy, so it’s pretty cool. Weighted vests make it very easy to progress body weight exercises for the upper body, such as chin-ups and push-ups, but they tend to max out, or you need to wear multiple versions. I’m not sure many people can do a chin-up wearing an extra 140lbs, so I doubt that vest will ever be too easy to use. As for the medicine ball, it may only be good for overhead throws, because I doubt anybody other than Thor would be able to use it for slams or wall work. It would just be cool to have. Unfortunately, those items aren’t very likely for me to have, but they’d be cool once the basics were taken care of. (Note to self: Create an equipment wish list as a post.)
And now, here it is: The best exercise tip ever. It may even be the simplest exercise tip ever, but it may be one that you’ve never thought of, or you don’t like to hear. Ready?
Get strong in the basic compound movements.
Hopefully, that isn’t really anything new for you. If it is, you may be saying to yourself, “What the hell are the basic lifts?” Well, those would be the Deadlift, Squat, Chin-Up, Press, Row, and Push-Up. All of these should be done with a barbell, and standing (bent over row, standing overhead press.) These 6 lifts should be the basis of any program, regardless of specifics. If you spend 90% of your time getting strong with these lifts, you’re going to make much better progress then the frat boy who’s doing cable flys on chest day to pump up his pecs. Ladies, this goes for you too; enough weak girls doing kick-backs with pink dumbbells.
You want a simple workout? Go with a push/pull split. One day, Squat, Press, and do your Push-Ups. The next time you lift, Deadlift, Chin-up, and Row. Add in some direct core training between sets, and you’ve got a simple program, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Do it right, and do it heavy. You’ll thank me, and you’ll thank yourself for working hard.
To close, I’d like to leave you with this hilarious video from Iron Sport Gym. It’s a response to the latest Planet Fitness ad, which pokes fun at bodybuilders, and more or less encourages you to try a little bit, but not that hard. I’m not at all a fan of the typical training style of body builders, but I can appreciate their dedication to the activity, and they’re usually healthier than their sedentary counterparts. I’ve included the Iron Sport Gym video, as well as the original ad from Planet Fitness. Watch both, and let me know which environment seems like it’s more conducive to success. There’s a difference between training and workout out. Please do the former, and not the latter.