The Year In Review

It’s December 31st; New Years Eve.  In a few short hours, 2011 will have passed, and we’ll move on to 2012.  I’ve spent a few days reflecting on 2011, and considering some of the many possibilities that 2012 seems to have.  There are quite a few things that I’d like to get done, even if the Mayans prediction cuts 10 days off of a ‘full’ year.  Damn them.

As I think about it, I’d say that 2011 turned out to be a really good year for me, both on the blog and in the ‘real world’.  Sure it had the ups and downs that you’d expect, but I can honestly say It’s been a good year.  I hope that you experienced the same good fortunate that I have.

On the blog, I’ve enjoyed a steady rise in readership, which I’m quite grateful for.  There have been several people who share my posts and link to my site on a regular basis, and I’m excited to reach a broader audience, and I appreciate each e-mail and comment that I receive.  Linkers, e-mailers, and commenters; Thank You!

I considered following the fitness trend of creating a ‘Top #___’ list of posts for the year, but I’d rather not just provide links to some old posts.  If you’re really that interested, you can find those on your own.  Instead, I’d like to share some of my most common ideas throughout the year.  How about we keep it to 5, shall we?

Numbers one and two are closely related, and I’d have to say that they go hand in hand.  That would have to be focusing your training on compound lifts and going heavy.  You know what they say about compound lifts and going heavy, right?  They go together like a horse and carriage.  This I tell you brother, “You can’t have one without the other.”  Isn’t that what ol’ Blue Eyes was talking about?

Sure, we can find hundreds of situations when adding additional load just for the sake of it is inappropriate and dangerous, but based on the situations that I observe and discuss with people, an overwhelming fault that people make is choosing the wrong exercises and the wrong load.  3RM barbell curls is not what ‘Go heavy’ means, and air squatting for 5 minutes isn’t what ‘Use compound movements’ means.  I discussed it a little bit in THIS well-received post, if you’re interested.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Gee, Harold, can you create a list of awesometastic exercises that you think work well for these compound lifts and strength training?”  Since you asked so politely, of course I can!

  • Deadlifts (Conventional, Sumo, Trap Bar)
  • Chin-Ups (Assorted Grips)
  • Push-Ups (Hands on Ground, Hands in suspension trainer, feet in suspension trainer)
  • Squats (Front squat and back squat)
  • Overhead Press (Barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, small child…just kidding.)
  • Inverted Rows (Barbell, Suspension trainer)
  • Split Squats (Goblet, Suitcase, Barbell)
  • Reverse Lunge (Same as above)
  • Core Stability (Paloff Press, Body Saw, etc.)
  • Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust

If you’re using exercises like those in your program, I don’t think you’re going to have many issues getting strong or looking good.  That is of course, unless you’re doing something else wrong.  My oh my, what could that be?!

Rest and recovery.  There’s an old adage that I’m about to butcher, that says that you don’t grow in the gym, you grow outside of the gym.  While this applies to hypertrophy, the concepts useful for recovery are applicable for a variety of goals.  Sitting on your butt when you’re not in the gym may not be the best idea, but spending all of your time running around isn’t going to let you recover as well as you need to.  Neither is a poor diet.  If your goal is weight loss, post workout burritos at Moe’s may not be the best idea for you, even if that’s what my training partner and I did today.  Conversely, if you’re ‘struggling’ to gain weight, but you think that eating 3 eggs is “eating all the time”, or that “[You] only had a bagel for breakfast”, then maybe you should join Julian and I next week.  Those are some nutrient dence hand-held calorie bombs!

(Julian and I box squatted, took sumo deadlift singles, barbell reverse lunged (He did step ups), and did a Prowler sprint/Farmers Walk medley.  Then played two hand touch football for 20 minutes just for the hell of it.  We sure earned our Moe’s.)

When I think of recovery, two words immediately pop into my head.  Those two are rest and recovery, but I think that Nutrition and Nighty-Night rhyme a little better.  Eating a clean diet, composed mostly of organic, unprocessed whole foods, is going to be beneficial for you.  Eat yourself full on plants and animals, and make sure you sleep.  They say that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight.  Sure, we can make an exception to that rule tonight, but it’s true.

Considering just exercise selection and load, nutritional habits, and rest & recovery, we could have endless conversations about the variables that exist.  They are nearly infinite, but I think that the most important variable we can address is your attitude.  Psychology is extremely important, and while most people understand that, I think we greatly underestimate the role that our psychological state has on our overall well-being.  The mind is a very powerful thing, and I think the idea of ‘controlling’ our brain undermines the power that it has.  Instead, we should seek to better understand the interplay between our psychological health and our physical health.  In a world that has presented so many opportunities for happiness, we’re quick to find reasons not to be happy.  We complain about what isn’t perfect, instead of appreciating the good things that have happened. Can you tell I’m a glass half-full guy?  Changing your attitude or outlook on a situation can be difficult, but I have a powerful place to start: Smile more.  Yes, smile more.  It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s extremely powerful.

To keep the body in good health is a duty…

otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

– Buddha

Let me wrap up the past 365 days with one final sentiment in picture form.  Consider what it means to you as 2012 approaches.  I’ll provide a ‘response’ picture in a New Years Day post tomorrow morning.  I wish you and your loved ones a healthy and happy New Year, and I’d like to warmly remind you to go pick up some heavy shit tomorrow, eat real food, get some sleep, and smile more.  Thanks for being part of this process, and we’ll talk next year.

3 Replies to “The Year In Review”

  1. I loooove this post!!!!! 😀

    Amazing. I am currently working on gaining muscle so focusing on the compound moves and heavy weights!

    I would love to email you sometime 🙂 I’m off to bed to get rest and recovery but you might get an email from me sooner or later 😉

    1. Thanks Meg! I tried to combine my favorite topics of the year in to one finale post! Shoot me an e-mail when you get a chance so we can talk, and good job getting to bed early to recover from those compound movements and heavy weights!

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