Sunday, April 28, 2013

Iron Addiction

For a lot, I daresay a majority, of strength trainers, the amount of the iron is then end and the means. The more iron thrown around, the better the movement is. Without a doubt, that's the number one measure of progression; the only measure of progression that counts. Look how most of refer to geting strong or working out...

You wanna get strong? Lift big, heavy shit!

I pick heavy things up, and I put them down.

Excuse me, I'm off to pump some iron now...

Meanwhile, I read and hear things like, "can you really get strong on BW- only? How much strength can you get with BW-only? No matter how much geek, know-nothings like me preach, we always come back to that same default iron addiction. The iron will make us strong.

Let's play a game. Let's say that you made your way over to my blog and found a post where I claimed to do, say, 15 push-ups with 87 lbs of weight on my back. What would you think? Maybe impressed? If I came across that, I'd think it was impressive too. Then again, let's say my hands were elevated with two boxes. 

Is it still as impressive? No need to feel like an asshole by saying, "No". The fact is that the exericse has been set up to be easier. By doing hands-elevated push-ups, the push-up is easier, even with the weight tossed on board. nitpicking form isn't the point, however. I'm just drawing a point that popped into my mind the other day.

Most of us agree that weight that you throw, or can throw, onto an exericse isn't the sole measure of how good it is. That's a cornerstone to BW-strength training. Since the weight can't be increased easily, the progression comes from manipulation of the form of the basic BW exercises. I talked about this with a friend a while back. If weight alone made an exercise easier or harder, then there would be no doubt that weight-based training was completely and uttlerly superior to BW by every possible measure.

Not everyone agrees.

Here's the thought that I had: If a lot of weight can be used for the exercise, doen't that mean that the movement itself is actually easy? After all, if it was hard, there wouldn't be a need to throw a lot of extra weight into it to make it hard in the first place. If you think about the "big lifts", the lifts where people throw iron into the triple digit territory, have movements that really aren't that hard. Most of the time, the weight is kept close to the body, uses more of the biggest and most powerful muscles to move the weight, or require bracing the body against an immovable object while the body pushes or pulls the weight. Apply any of this and watch the poundage capable of being lifted in the movement soar!

That's not to say that there's anything necessarily wrong with these exercises. I'm just going out of my way to demonstrate how the weight moved isn't the test of an exercise's worth. A recurring theme of this blog is doing more with less. I don't always have the luxury of a well-equipped gym. Still, I get strong and I do it by making the most of what I have. Besides, the more accustomed you are to working with less, the more likely you are to get challenged more consistently.

Let's go to the other end of the heavy iron pile and take the kitten weights. Even I think that 8 lbs dumbbells are kind of a joke. How could they make for a brutal exercise?

Pinch one between your feet while doing an L-sit.  That's how!

If you're out there, in the trenches of the real world, isolated from the robo-globo-gyms, thinking that you're screwed because you can't find 600 lbs of iron and a squat cage to work, you need get your head working. Strength doesn't come from a materialistic-like craze for more and more iron. You can get it from modifications in an exercise, or a new exercise all-together. Strength doesn't only come from, and isn't proven by, lifting prowess in one movement any more than it comes from the weight you push while doing it either.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Work Out

Henry and I at the Highland Games in Tampa... Or what I've been doing instead of blogging lately

"I already have a hot body.  I don't need to work out." 
"I know you work out to relieve stress but..."
"Man, you can seriously fucking move!"

It's intriguing to me to listen to others in my life ruminate over why I am so serious and diligent about making sure that a day doesn't pass by without some sort of physical training.  Particularly interesting are the people who show marginal interest in working out offer the theories that I find most amusing.  I've heard those three lines from three different people and by far, the third one was the most satisfying and conclusive answer as to why train in the first place.

While a good strength training session can be cathartic and I don't mind looking good in a tight fitting shirt, both explanations are just outside of the ten-ring as to why I enjoy working out so much.  The mini-me in the sunglasses provides the best answer:  because movement is fun!   Modern adults hopelessly miss the mark when they think that comfort and not-moving is the way to be happy.  This trend must have started up a century ago when we started looking for ways to eradicate manual labor from our lives.  It made sense back then since we had spent the last couple of Milena literally working ourselves to death.  Viewed from that fact, taking to desk jobs must have seemed like a form of salvation. 

Our kids tell us a different story.   Confine a child to a chair and watch how pissy they become. They can't stand sitting.  It must be why I use sitting in a corner as punishment with kids for over a decade with remarkable results.   Note how they effortlessly squat as though they had been taught by _____ (insert your favorite fitness guru).   Did they learn that from someone?  Or, is it instinct that we suppressed through years of sitting down way too much?    They're happier squatting ass-to-grass. 

They don't do this just to relieve stress; they do it just because they're happier moving.   Their fresh, new bodies aren't yet degenerated by institutionalised laziness and they don't look at lots of movement as excessive or try to avoid it.  They need it.  Little do we realize that so do we as adults. 

Movement isn't simply cathartic.  It can also be sexy.  People far smarter with me with larger budgets of other people's money to waste figured out that most men are attracted to a certain ratio of hips-to-waist-to-shoulder measurements in women.  What they couldn't understand was why the ratio was exaggerate past perfect why men found it more attractive.  It should have been too much to have such a small waist with big hips... until they realized it wasn't how they looked.  It was how they looked when they moved that turned on men so much. 

You knew something like this was coming...
On a much simpler note, too many of us guys have bedded that seriously hot woman only to find out that they figured that since they were so damn smoking, they didn't have to do anything other than lay there and get screwed.  Or, think about the stripper with no dance moves.   On the less raunchy side of things, I've seen ugly ass men down in South America pick up hot women simply because they could dance so well.  It isn't simply enough to be good looking.  Humans are attracted to how a body moves.

Of course it happened at Bodytribe...This is a seriously cool (and hot) move!
So, we need to be move to be happy and life is happier overall when we move better.  It still doesn't explain why and where some sort of regimen of strength training ties into this need.  That's an easy answer though:  it helps us move better, especially as we get older... or at least it should.  That institutionalized laziness that pervades too much of Western Civilization renders many human bodies a complete wreck by the time age 30 rolls around (maybe that's why, without my knowledge, 30 became old by the time I hit that age).   There's no excuse for it either.  The fact that I move better now at 32 than I did at 27 might be a small accomplishment but still one that I hold some good regard.  I attribute this to the fact that know more about getting strong now than I did 5 years ago as well as being better at doing it.  That's why I find that third statement so satisfying

Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, we judge a lot of our being regarding our ability to move.  Ultimately, the better we move, the better our lives are.  Anything that accentuates that is good and worth pursuing. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Because I can't always use gun fire at what irritates me: Shooting My Mouth Off III

So, the kid's asleep, the wife went shopping, and I've decided to end my month-long blog drought by crawiling out from underneath the rock that I've been hiding underneath...and do another of my bitch-and moan entries...

-Stop with the biceps pics!  For over 40 years we've been subjected to zombie-like hoards of meatheads trying desperately trying to get Arnold's biceps and documenting every step of the way with pics. The trend has only gotten worse with the advent of cell phones with cameras. Now, every bathroom with a mirror has turned into a posing stage for men desperately trying to out-douchebag the ultimate douchebag  . Didn't we used to use bathooms to take a shit?
So true...

-ESPN 99 must have run clean out re-runs of World's Strongest Man, World Series of Poker and dogdeball tournaments. So, they Show the Crossfit Games. My exposure to Crossfit was marginal up until I saw it at a bar in Massachusetts and now I think I get it. Crossfit is what you when you do a lot of really good exercises with extremely shitty form as fast as possible... and pay too much money per month to someone to "teach" you how to do this.

There really isn't much to farmers walking to screw up and yet CF finds a way...

-Can we replace "functional" with practical?

-Which exercise releases growth hormone naturally? Please don't bombard me with answers. I won't believe them anyway, even if you have a scientific study from the University of Bangledesh that says you're right. If HGH is something that helps you recover from intense exercise, keeps you young, and repairs your cells, then I'd bet HUGE money that the answer is actually... SLEEP!

-If you think women with muscle definition look like men, then you probably don't look much like a man yourself.

-This shit's getting out of hand! If you're posting pics of yourself working out, wear a pair of pants that don't show off your package! 

-Why is it so incomprehensibly hard for some fools to pick out workout music?   Why do you need to ask for suggestions from everyone else?  This is about as difficult as masturbation material on the internet:  find something that arouses you and get to work!   It doesn't matter if it's death metal, classical music, movie soundtracks or gay nightclub fare.  It it accentuates your desire to move with intensity, then it's good workout music!

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, I'll get back to writing something memorable.  In the meantime, feel free to spout off about the things in our sub-culture that really annoy you too!

This guy never gets old!