Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Be Your Own Gym!

I live less than 10 minutes from a health club. Plus being retired I can go whenever I want. Still the idea of having to gather up my workout clothes, get in the car, drive to the gym, change my clothes, exercise, shower, change back into my street clothes and drive back home seems like such a waste of time. Especially when I know that I have everything here at home to be my own gym. Besides the time spent going back in forth could be better spent doing my H.I.T Program. More on this in a later post.

Sure I know what you're thinking. The guys to cheap to pay for a gym membership. Well I am fugal but I really don't need a health club to build functional strength. Don't get me wrong gym and health clubs are great! Plenty of equipment, professional advice and people to interact and motivate. But I'd like to offer you an alternative. Be your own gym.

Now just want do I mean "Be your own gym.". Well for starters you have everything you need to get a great workout at home. Remember the last post when I told you are a Joe Weider muscle building program I followed fifty plus years ago? Well besides doing the usual jumping jacks and pushups, his instructors had us doing a variety of exercises using a wooden kitchen chair a beach towel and a broom handle. That's right you probably have all these things in your home, know need to order the latest "Thigh  Master" from QVC.

Most of the functional strength exercises only require your own body weight, not some fancy and expensive machine that will probably end up as a clothes rack or a Goodwill donation.

I have an added bonus. I live right behind an elementary school. So when schools out I can go over and do incline pushups on the bike rack or pullups on the jungle gym.

See you don't need a health club you have your own gym, your body, a few everyday home items and the great outdoors. Now what's your excuse?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Baby Step Your Way To Functional Fitness

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a physical fitness program is doing too much. You know how it is you finally decided to start a fitness program. You bought the latest exercise togs, shoes, Fit Bit or other type of monitor. Maybe you bought a gym membership or hired a personal trainer. You've written down your goals and stocked up on all the right supplements and protein shakes.

So all primed and brimming over with enthusiasm you start your first workout! Pumping out as many reps with as much weight as possible or running a couple extra laps. You get home gulp a protein shake feeling tired but pretty good.

The next morning it's a different story. You wake up and your whole body is screaming in pain! Everything hurts! You're stiff and sore in places you didn't even know you had. So you swallow some pain killer, take a sick and go back to bed. The next day feeling a little better, but you skip your workout, vowing to get back at it tomorrow. But tomorrow comes and you skip the workout again. Maybe you finally get back to your workouts or maybe like a lot of people just quit.

Many, many years ago about 54 years to be exact. My younger brother and I signed up for an eight week body building course promoted by Joe Wieder. We brought a cheap set of weights and some protein mix and waited for the course to arrive figuring we look like Charles Atlas (Yes I know that was another program.) in no time.

Each week you received a specific set of exercises demonstrated by a world famous body builder. You can imagine our surprise when we opened the first weeks program. Instead of lifting weights and tearing up phone books. We did a series of simple bending and stretching exercises! What! Well as Joe Wieder explained you need to prepare your body before you hit the weights. These simple exercises would get progressively harder until finally in the eighth week you finally grabbed the iron, But even then starting with light weights.

A little disappointed but having faith in Joe we went thru the entire program. By the eighth week we were ready and made amazing progress! After about six weeks on the weight and following Joe dietary guidelines which was pretty solid advice even by today's standard I gain about twenty pounds and had great definition! This program and the sound advice started me on a lifetime of physical fitness.

The lesson here is pretty simple. You can't run until you can walk and you start walking with baby steps! So take it easy start slow. Build a foundation of strength and condition your body by progressively increasing the types of exercises, reps and duration. Sure you'll still be a little sore but that's okay. If you start with baby steps your body will thank you, the chances of quiting are less and the results in eight or ten weeks will amaze you. So baby steps your way to functional strength.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Never Too Old To Build Muscle?

Yesterday I wrote that you are never too old to build muscles. Now let me give you some more reasons why it's important to build muscles/strength.
 I'll use a great example:

Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981. A long-nosed .22 caliber bullet, fired from a pistol, ricocheted off the Presidential limo and entered Reagan's chest, under his left arm. The bullet was of the exploding type, but it did not explode. The main threat to Reagan's life was from blood loss and a collapsed lung. He lost 1/2 of his blood. Despite the seriousness of his wound he walked out of the hospital 12 days later.

President Reagan recover from a near fatal gunshot wound and lost of blood, an injury that could of killed a younger man. Aside from having great doctors and the best possible care Reagan was remarkably fit for a man 70 years old.

Reagan's lifestyle could be called vigorous. Riding horseback, cutting brush and chopping wood on his ranch. As president he converted one of the White House bedrooms into a gym. After his recovery from the gunshot wound he started a weight training program. The results according to his doctors was a gain of 1 3/4" of muscle! Pretty good for a 70 year old man recovering from a gunshot wound.

So let me ask you. "What is your excuse?"

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Too Old To Build Muscle?

One of the comments I hear from friends and people I meet is that "I'm too old to build muscle." They use this as an excuse not to exercise. Some even go so far as to say "At my age why bother?".

Well research has shown that there's really no age that's too old. A study in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging showed that resistance training just twice a week  for two months dramatically improved the muscle strength and mobility in both men and women between the ages of 77 and 97.

Yeah you heard right building muscle at the age of 97! So what's your excuse? Resistance or strength exercises can greatly improve your life in a very short period of time. This means everything from getting out of your recliner or car, climbing stairs and yes saving yourself in an emergency.

So again what's your excuse?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Find Your Passions!

There's a lot written lately about finding your passion. Something you love doing, that motivates you, that gets your blood racing. However for me I need more than just one passion. Maybe it's because I'm retired and have fortunately have extra money to pursue my passions.

Or maybe it's because I get bored easily. Whatever, I find having several interests keeps me involved and active and I believe keeps the old brain cells functioning. I give you one example. I always love Jaguars. Fifty years ago my brother and I pooled our money and bought our first car. It was a 1958 Jaguar Mark II. We bought it for $500.00 and currently a nicely restored version sells for 35K.

Here's a picture of my son and I next to my baby.

It was a fantastic car very fast with leather seats and real wood trim and different from all the other cars on the streets. It was also a real babe magnet. Unfortunately it was prone to breaking down and broke down just as we were going into the service, so we sold the car. Since then I have always wanted another Jag. Finally fifty years later on my 70th birthday I did! I can't tell you how much I enjoy this car. Now fifty years seems a long time to wait, but I pursued my passion by reading and watching movies and You Tube videos about Jags. I attended car shows and from time to time visited Jaguar dealerships. It became a hobby, a passion and I became something of an expert on all things Jaguar. Just seeing my Jag in the driveway gives me a thrill and definitely gets the blood pumping.

But the Jag is just one of my passions. I also love fishing. Just sitting on the shore of my favorite lake on a quiet summer morning is one of life's little joys. Another passion is woodcarving. When I sit and carve little figures and animals time seems to stand still. I'm also lucky that I can share my passion for woodcarving by teaching at the local senior center. Once a week about 15 men & women gather and carve. We tell jokes, complain about the gov't and our latest aliments and generally have a great time.

Of course one of my passions is writing this blog and sharing things that are important to me and I hope informative to my readers.
So my point is passions can be what motivates us, keeps us young and involved and also expands our horizons.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Should You Exercise When You Are Sick?

So you woke up with a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Is this an excuse to skip your morning exercise? Can you exercise when felling ill? Well the short answer is it depends on the following.

1. Do you have a fever?
2. Are you vomiting?
3. Severe muscle aches?

If you have any of the three then yes you should skip exercising until you free better. Especially if you go to a gym. The last thing you want is to pass your cold around. Exercising when you are truly sick with flu like symptoms can cause more bad than good.

However if your feeling a little under the weather than working out can have the benefits of keeping you on schedule and not breaking your routine. We all know how easy it is to take a break from exercising and how hard it is to get back in the groove. So don't let the sniffles and a cough keep you from working out, just follow these guidelines.

1. Instead of going to the gym. Stay home and do some body weight exercises.
2. If going to the gym take a decongestant and be sure to wipe down all the equipment you touch.
3. Scale back your exercises. Use lower weights and reps and shorten you workout routine.

Surprisingly you may even feel better after a workout than you did before. Exercising can open up your airways and get the blood flowing. The best advice I can give is to listen to your body. If you are well enough to go to work you're well enough to exercise. Just take it easy for a couple of days.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The One Exercise That Does It All!

Is there one exercise that does it all? One exercise that impacts all the major muscles, increases strength, endurance & flexibility. I'm talking about pushups! I know, I can hear the groans from here! Memories of gym class or boot camp (Drop and give me 50!). But wait you need to change how you look at pushups.

1. There exercise all major muscle groups. Biceps, triceps, back and chest gets the biggest workout, but legs also get some benefit.

2. Pushups build endurance.

3. Pushups build flexibility.

4. There are countless varieties of pushups so your are never bored doing the same thing over and over.

5. Because there are so many varieties almost everyone can do them.

6. There's no cost, no gym membership, no special equipment. You can even do them in your PJ's!

Let's begin! Let's assume you haven't done a pushup in years and at 60-70 or 80 years old doubt if you can even do 1 pushup and get back up off the floor. Well no worries! I have the perfect "pushup" for you!

Wall pushups! Simply face a wall, step back about two feet or whatever feels comfortable and place your hands about shoulder width apart and at shoulder height. Slowly lower your body to the wall and push back to standing position. Do as many as you can comfortably and slowly gradually increasing reps until you can do 50. After reaching that goal you should be ready to try some floor pushups.

Again go at your own pace! You can even change hand positions as you gain strength. Try moving hands farther apart or closer together. Each positions target muscle groups differently. The cool thing about wall pushups is you can do the where there's a wall. Even when you're out for a walk. Use the trunk of a big tree. At work use the wall in your office or the bathroom.

Now you have no excuses!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Building Functional Strength: Take a Hike!

Building functional strength by walking? Are you serious? I thought I'd be doing pushups and bench presses not walking! But wait a minute grasshopper. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Walking can build functional strength! First of all remember we are not trying to build great biceps. We ARE working to build functional strength and all around fitness. To me all around fitness is a combination of strength, endurance, reflexes and balance. Walking incorporates and develops all these qualities.

Your first line of defense is being able to get away from an immediate threat. Walking is the beginning of developing the endurance and mobility necessary to move and move fast! Walking IS a body weight exercise. Your entire body is supporting you when you walk. Walking is probably the easy and safest exercise. I also think it's important to walk outdoors weather permiting. You have heard all the advice about using the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from your destination and basically walk when ever you can.

As with any exercises start slow and gradually increase the distance.  Get yourself a good pair of walking/cross training shoes. Wear a pedometer, Fitbit or download and app on your smart phone. For me I just add ten minutes a week to my walk. But whatever works for you just "Do It"!

Once you have build up to one mile and a pace of twenty minutes try increasing your pace. I recommend the old try and true "Scouts Pace". Basically you walk 100 steps or paces and slow jog 100 then repeat until you have reached your daily distance. Whether you want to eventually start to run instead of walk go ahead. But again go slow. Try for five days of walking, gradually increasing the time/distance and increasing your pace. If balance and/or dogs are a concern take along a walking stick, which by the way is an excellent defensive weapon. More on this later.

As you continue with your program your notice your balance improving and an increase in endurance. Your leg muscles will show some definition, your stomach will slim and tighten and if you use a walking stick/cane your upper body will strengthen. all in all a pretty good start and you did it all just by walking!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Building Functional Physical Strength

Hopefully I have convinced you in my previous posts that building functional physical strength is a vital to you welfare, well being and peace of mind. Not just for you but for your loved ones. At the risk of repeating myself I'll give one more example of why building functional physical is important.

Let's compare two men that I have known for sometime. Both are in their late seventies or early eighties. Both are married. However one is overweight and shuffles around with the help of a cane and has multiple health problems including diabetes mainly associated with his weight and inactivity. He also has an arsenal of guns and knives and brags about how he could defend himself. But the truth is there's no way he could defend himself or his family. Let's say there's a fire in his house. By the time he managed to get out of his chair or bed it would probably be too late to save himself and/or his wife who is also semi invalid. The same would be true if an intruder broke into his house. So in his case all the guns and knives in the world won't protect him if he lacks the functional strength to move fast enough to get out of danger or defend himself.

A couple of years ago my second friend was told by his doctor that if he didn't lose weight and improve his health he would be on insulin because he was pre diabetic. To his credit he decide  to change his diet and start walking now he walks four miles a day and eats right, The payoff is he's now longer pre diabetic and is able in an emergency would probably save himself and his wife.

We all make decisions in our lives that can take us in different directions. Deciding to build your physical strength is a decision that not only can save your live, but improve the quality of your life.

So let's begin! Remember the only one you are competing against is you! The first step is to get your doctors okay. Once you have done that the next is to write a series of goals and reasons to start a strength building program. Write down what motivates/inspires you. Put these goals somewhere where you can see them. It's up to you whether you show them to anyone or keep them to yourself. The important thing is to write them down!

In my next posts I'll break down suggested exercises and ways to gradually increase strength.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Physical Strength Is Important: Functional Strength

In my last post I mentioned why physical strength is not only important, but critical because without a strong, fit body it's impossible to reach your full potential and defend yourself and love ones in an emergency. Now let's break physical strength down.

We've all seen body builders and/or elite athletics and marvel at their muscles and strength. Most of us are not interested or have the time to build huge muscles and thankfully this is not what were talking about when we talk about "Functional Strength".

Functional Strength is the ability to perform. Wikipedia defines Functional Strength as the ability to perform daily tasks. Being able to run away from danger would be one example of Functional Strength.

I'm not talking about setting any records, just being able to run 100 yards or more at a pace that would carry you away from danger.

Have the strength to pull yourself up and or lift a person out of a burning car or house, lifting debris off a person are important Functional Strength to have.

It doesn't matter what your age or sex is. Everyone can build strength through simple exercises that they can do at home or even at the office without any expensive equipment. In future posts I'll go into detail in these exercises.

Stay Tune!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Importance of Physical Strength

Physical strength is the core from which all other physical, mental and yes spiritual attributes come from! Now I know that's a pretty strong statement and many today would argue that physical strength is passe', a thing of the past and not needed in our modern world. Some would even goes so far as to claim that physical strength is akin to domination over another person, bullying and the domain of thick neck, no brain testosterone fuel muscle bound twenty year olds. In the age of the metro male being physically strong is just not cool. Really! I think not and here's why.

First here's my definition of what I mean by physically strong. For the record I'm 70 yrs plus and no I can't perform like I did when I was twenty-five I'm still strong and fit. This come from a life time of working out, lifting tons of weight, doing thousands of pushups, pullups and squats. This has built a core or foundation of strength which now in my golden years allows me to truly enjoy and active life style. In fact even though my face may show my age. The body looks like it belongs to a fit thirty year old.

My definition of being physically strong is very simple. It is being strong enough to save your life.

Everyday we read or hear about someone faced with a life threatening emergency. A fire, car crash, mugging, buried in an avalanche or God forbid a terrorist attack.

Being physically strong could make the difference in surviving or dying.

1. Being able to run fast enough to get out of danger. When was the last time you really ran fast? One of the best ways to avoid a life threatening situation is to get out of the danger zone fast. You should be able to sprint at least 100 yards.

2. Being able to pull yourself up. How many push ups/pull ups can you do? Having the strength to pull/lift yourself out of danger is a critical strength to have.

3. Being able to defend yourself. If you can't run from danger. (Which is always your first option.) Being able to put up a good fight could save your life. Knowing some basic self defense moves and having the strength to protect yourself and your love ones could make the difference between life and death.

So they you have it. Short, sweet and simple but loaded with a lot of important principles.

Beyond having enough strength to save yourself and others come other benefits.

1. You project a strong and confident bearing.

2. You have more confidence in all your interactions.

3. Men and women are attracted to a strong person.

4. You build a foundation of strength that will pay big benefits as you get older.

I hope I gave you some good reasons why even in the 21st Century physical strength is important for both men and women. Today is Super Bowl Sunday and as we watch young, strong and athletically gifted young men batter each other remember that you to owe it to yourself and your love ones to be strong.