Friday, April 3, 2009

What Don't You Need to Get in Shape

It's important to keep reading, researching and learning about things. One thing that I've started to notice when I read people who are (or appear to be) more knowledgable than I am about fitness and strength training is how much of the training experience that we take for granted as needed really isn't necessary. Often times, it might even be detrimental in some ways. It's generally assumed that when you train, you need to dress up in a gym outfit and go to a gym to do your strength training. The purpose of this blog from the start is to prove and demonstrate that you don't need weights to get strong. So, in the spirit of establishing what we can do without if necessary, here are some things that I think that you may not need either when you're training.

1. SHOES This thought crash landed in my head a few weeks ago when I checked out T-Nation's latest articles. Henry Clay wrote a great article about barefoot training that really got me thinking that we might be weakening our feet, and in turn, our whole body by wearing shoes when we train. Yes, wearing shoes in some instances is necessary. Often times I have to train where I work and I wouldnt' dare walk around barefoot where I work. After finishing this article, I was convinced that he was correct. One thing that I've been working on lately is my Pistols. I came to the realization that I should be able to do these in rep counts far higher than I'm doing right now. I realized how important using my feet in the exercise really were. After reading Clay's article, I realize why Pavel wears Chucks while demonstrating these in "The Naked Warrior."

Oh, and if you care to see how much we could do with our feet but don't, then just consider Jessica Cox. She's a motivational speaker who was born without arms. Instead, she uses her feet as her hands. She can do everything from combing her hair and cooking to driving a car and flying an airplane with her legs and feet. What's also interesting to note is she has some pretty good leg and glute development. I think that says something about the importance of having strong feet in relation to the rest of your lower body.

Here's the T-Nation article:

2. THE BUILDING Should we really be working out indoors? Yeah, I work out indoors pretty frequently, more than I work out outdoors. I typically prefer it because I can manipulate my environment indoors a little easier than I can outside. Still, I realize that I don't need to work out indoors. I don't need to be in my gym to get in great shape. If anything, it's probably better to train outdoors than it is indoors. The air is much cleaner outside than inside. A building could easily be seen as a trap for all of the pollution from the outside world. Dust, pollen, pollution, etc all gets caught inside and unless cleaned regularly, stays there.

Another issuse that's been popping up is America's chronic Vitamin D deficiency. This causes serious weakness in the bones. It's also been suggested that strength trainers need more Vitamin D than the average person since they place above-average strain on thier bones when they're training. Some have suggested Vitamin D supplementation. I think that's totally unnecessary since it's well-known that your body will produce all the Vitamin D that it needs... provided that you get exposed to the sun. You're not going to get that if you're in a building.

3. CLIMATE CONTROL I'm just stunned by how soft some people are. They refuse to work out if it's too hot or too cold. This goes hand-in-hand as to why they like to work out indoors. That way, it's a nice, steady 60-70 degrees all of the time. It's too bad because there are advantages to working out in both hot and cold conditions (within reason, of course).

I'm guessing that more people hate the cold than they hate heat and refuse to exit their comfy gym due to below-freezing temperatures. They also think that training in the heat helps them lose weight. You know, burning calories must be easier when it's hot. Heat...burn...get it? I've got news for those thinkers though: that's wrong. You lose WATER WEIGHT in heat, not fat. If you want an climate that promotes calorie burn, then you need to train in the cold. Anyone who spends any amount of time outside will tell you that you'll fry through calories faster because your body has to work just to keep its temperature up. 40% of your heat comes from muscles expending energy. So, your muscles will work harder to just to keep warm in addition to the work that your doing. Plus, the only way you're going to feel warm in the cold is to keep moving. That certainly never hurt any efforts to lose weight.

On the other side of the weather extreme, I think that heat has it's benefits too. I firmly believe that a really good, hard sweat is great for cleaning out the skin. Trust me, my job is smelly and when I sweat during a workout, I can really smell the filth coming out of my pores! It's also a good test of mental strength. It takes serious effort to work out in 90 degree, 90% humidity weather. Then, there's that Vitamin D issue again.

The whole point of this blog is to make sure that you don't get stuck on what you need to work out. Liberate yourself from the notion that you need all kinds of stuff get get into great shape and exceed goals that you set for yourself.

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