YOU CAN’T SPELL INVESTMENT WITHOUT “VEST”

The following is a short convo I had with a friend recently:

Girl: So I started exercising at home and it’s been going really well.
ME: Oh yeah?

Girl: Yeah. I starting out not even being able to squat now I can do it 30 times without breaking a sweat.
ME: Awesome!

Girl: Yeah. That’s also the problem. It now takes forever for me to feel challenged. I have to do way more reps to feel the same effect that I did when I was just starting out. It’s getting boring.
ME Sounds like it’s time you made an investment. It’s time for the vest.

If you workout at home, this is probably (unless you are super creative) something you have experienced as well. Ie, you get good, you have to start doing a lot of reps, and things get boring.

This is a common reason why many people discontinue with an exercise routine.

If we want to keep things sexy and new, however, we have to learn how to make things challenging and more intense. This requires an investment (both in time and money).

The first investment (after people hey have stalled) that I usually recommend is purchasing a weighted vest.

FAQ

Why use weighted vests?

  1. We need to add resistance and intensity if we want to keep progressing. Vests allow us to do this.
  2. They are also very safe. The weight is super close to our body and we do not have to worry about balancing a weight on our shoulders or in our hands.
  3. They take up little space. Thus, they are easy to transport.
  4. They are relatively cheap.

 

Who are they for?

People who are mobile enough to do basic movements and have a fair amount of strength in lower body exercises (ie, can do 20 or so reps for full squats, lunges, step ups, etc.)
How do you use them?

The 20 is great for running and jumping (fast!) and adding resistance to hard-to-do movements (such as pistols). The 60 is great for making lifts maximal (such as pushups and chinups) and for long walks (note: the heavy weight can bother some people’s traps). And the 40 is a great mix of both. This is my favorite.

The coolest thing is that I can put on all 3 of these vests (for a total of 120 lbs) if I need to go really heavy.

Note: I am at a different level than you. Gage your own strength before you purchase.

 

I am female. Will they squish my boobs?

My fiance doesn’t feel any discomfort with the #20, but everyone is different.

Here is a more comfortable (cheaper but less snazzy) version.

 

What is the alternative?

You can put weights in a backpack and snug it up real tight. Still, it might be easier just to buy the vest.

 

What do they cost?

As of 11/1/2012, ZFO vests on ebay.com cost:

#20 – $56.00
#40 – $60.00 ( best deal)
#60 – $90.00

 

 

PLANKING GONE WILD

You’ve no doubt done planks (also called bridges) or seen someone rocking these as they are nearly ubiquitous in the “core conditioning” world.

They are a great tool due to the fact that pretty much any level can do them. Their strength, however, is also their weakness  as they can become  very easy to master (and with mastery comes slow results).

Some people (like my mom) can easily pull off a 1 minute plank without any training. With training, she could probably work up to a 3- 5 minute plank.

This is good for an endurance exercise, but what strength? And what about muscle growth?

Our abs are just like any other muscle. The bigger they are, the more they will show (in spite of how much fat we carry). To achieve this we must provide the right stimulus. Planking between 20 to 60 seconds for 3 – 5 sets will generally do it.

To achieve that, however, we need to make the plank more wild.

Here’s how:

1. MAKE IT A RKC PLANK

This is a more advanced version that produces much more ab (rectus abdominus + obligues) and glute activation than the standard version. The video is HERE, but it basically breaks down to this:

  • Move your feet and elbows into a more narrow stance
  • Move your elbows further away from yourself
  • Squeeze your butt and legs

2. ADD MORE RESISTANCE

While using the RKC form, add external weight or remove a limb from the equation and go 1 arm or 1 leg (or both) to up the intensity. If your abs are not crying the next day, you may be superhuman.

 

Final Word

Remember, sore abs are good abs. This is a good indicator that they are damaged. If let to recover, they will come back bigger (and thus, more visible) than before.

The days of endless crunches and hour long ab workouts are over.

All we need to do is make the planks more intense…

TURNING ON THE MACHINE (AND THE ART OF ACTIVATION)

Our body is machine.

Just like a car, it runs on fuel, needs maintenance once in a while or else it breaks down, and has a set speed it can achieve. It also has buttons that you can push (like cruise control) that help make the trip easier and more efficient.

These buttons (or switches), in our own machine, dictate how well we are able to move and often mean the difference between pain and non-pain.

If we can turn on these buttons, we can turn back on the machine.

With this, we’ll be [once again] cruising.

 

THE 3 BUTTONS

  1. The glutes (booty)
  2. The scapulae (shoulder blades)
  3. The vmos (inner part of thigh next to knee)

In almost all people, these areas of the body will be turned OFF. When left off, other areas of our body will need to be turned ON to compensate. With time and practice, these buttons (or switches) that are always on will eventually fail. Just like you can only leave a light on so long before it burns out, the same is so of the muscles and joints we use.

If we can learn to turn on other areas of our body, however, we will be able to give these “overused, always on” ones a break. With this, we can prevent and/or fix dysfunctions (and the pain that follows.).

THE GLUTES.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body (as well as one of the strongest). Sadly, however, in a lot of us it has become inactive. Due to large amounts of sitting, the glutes have shut OFF while the hip flexors have been [chronically] switched ON.

In order to correct this imbalance and get our glutes back in the ballgame, we first have to shut off the hip flexors.

This is how it goes for a lot of muscle and joint relationships. First find the tight, overactive, and weak area and shut it off by stretching and lengthening it. Then, and only then, activate (through focus and repetition) the area you want to turn on.

Step 1: Hip Flexor Stretching

 

Step 2: Glute Activation

 

THE SCAPULAE.

In Warmup or Die,  I briefly went over stability-mobility continuum and how in order for our shoulders to be healthy and do their job (mobility), then our shoulder blades have to first do their job (stability).

Another way to think of this shoulder – scapula relationship is to imagine trying to jump or run in a sand pit. Our mobility will be severely lacking because the surface is just not stable enough for us to produce any real movement.

So in order to be mobile, we need stability. When that stability is lacking in the scapula, the shoulder is more likely to pinch and rub against structures (which leads to weakness and pain).

And just like we lose connection with our butt because the hip flexors are always on, we lose connection with our shoulder blades because the muscles that contribute to thoracic flexion (ie computer posture) never get a break.

So first, we must turn off the “poor posture” muscles. For this, we look towards doing the opposite movement.

Step 1: Thoracic Extension.

 

Step 2: Activate Scapulae

 

THE VMOS.

The VMO (or Vastus Medialis Obliques) is a small “tear drop” thigh muscle located right inside the knee. It plays an important role in correct patellar tracking and prevention of patellofemoral joint syndrome (pain below the knee).

When it’s OFF and the muscles on the outside of the leg are ON, the knee tends to get pulled out of its little home. When this happens, so does grinding, clicks, and pain.

The solution, once again, is to ease the tension of the outside leg muscles (by lengthening) and using activation techniques to get the vmo back in the ballgame.

Step 1: IT Band/ Quad Foam Rolling

 

Step 2: VMO Activation

 

SOME TIPS

So with flipping the switch on those 3 muscles, you’ll be well on your way to Beast Mode (as well as cleaning up some pain and dysfunction in the process). If you are still having a tough time with this, here are some ideas and tips that may help:

– This turning ON and OFF of muscles and joints – while you can do this in one session – will not stay like this.  It will take daily practice, preferably twice a day for weeks before you can get your glutes or your scapulae to stay ON.

– You know a muscle is activated and working when you can feel it (if you are doing high reps, you should be able to feel the rush of blood to that area).

– Glutes are an athletes best friend as they are used for almost every big movement. Become friends with deadlifts, squats, pressing, and sprinting.

– It is possible to have chronically ON glutes and scapulae that can cause their own problems. Only athletes, however, will have to worry about this.

– Research and read about the intricate details of the stretching, mobility, and activation drills you will be doing. Watching videos is a part of learning but you may gloss over something important (like flexing your glutes during all hip flexor stretches).

– VMO strengthening isn’t sexy by any means. Here is a fun exercise though.

MOBILITY: WHERE IT BEGINS

This may go without saying, but first and foremost, it begins in the mind. We have to want it and we have to prove it to ourselves that it’s what we actually want (with an investment).

After that (and where the exercise journey begins), is moving. More specifically, the ability (and capability) to move well.

Most of us, however, cannot move very well. And sadly, this has become a very large reason why we have come to hate exercise.

When we cannot move functionally and we dive into an exercise program, we feel it. Tight joints become painful joints become weak joints become “I just want to go home because I am not good at this and it hurts!”

There used to be a time, however, when exercise was easy and it didn’t feel like exercise.

Remember? It was when we were kids (when everything back then was easy).

As we became adults, however, our lives become more segmented and imbalanced. We now sit in chairs for 8+ hours a day and we now work jobs that have us repeating the same movement(s) over and over.

In short, we stopped doing certain movements and activating certain muscles (and certainly stopped playing). With this inactivity, our muscles become weak and our joints stiff and immobile.

If we want exercise to be fun again, for us to feel good, and for us to be the strongest versions of our ourselves, we have to address this tightness.

Now I am not talking about warming up on a treadmill. This won’t fix the problem. I am talking about selecting mobility exercises that will address the areas (ankles, hips, t-spine, shoulder) of our body that are messed up.

THIS IS WHERE IT BEGINS.

Before we go to zumba class. Before we weight lift. Before we go for a run.

Mobility, mobility, mobility

 WOD

MOBILITYWOD.COM

This is the best, most approachable resource on the web for understanding and applying mobility exercises. I have a man crush on the guy who runs it (Kelly Starret) and you will probably have one soon as well. 300 + videos and still going strong.

YOUTUBE.COM

Simply type in “Mobility exercise” + Whatever joint you need more flexibilty with and you will be well on your way.

These 2 will be all you need.

All that is left now is action…

————–

 More…

– Try one new mobility exercise a day (5 minutes to watch/learn and 5 minutes to apply). Your body will thank you.

–  Haven’t exercised in awhile or way out of shape? Your exercise is simply mobility.

– I admit it, mobility isn’t the funnest thing there is. Most times, I am anxious to get the workout started. To satisfy both my instant and delayed gratification, I work this “2 birds, 1 stone” approach:

  1. Do mobility work for the joints that I plan to work first in my workout (5 -10 min for upper body joints).
  2. Do singles in a lift (such as military press), ramping up weight with each set to warm up my nervous system.
  3. Between singles, I do mobility work on the other half that I didn’t work (in this case, ankles-hips- glute activation)
  4. By the time I have reached “heavy weight” status for my lift, my mobility is also done and I am ready to begin the session.

Playing the Happiness Game

We all play it.

We may not talk about it, but our actions talk louder than our mouths ever could: We buy, eat, act, believe, … all in the name of  happiness.

Makes sense then that we want to pay attention to both what delivers it (different for everyone) and what prevents it (almost the same for everyone).

It’s the latter that trips most people up, and it’s the latter that these series of posts focuses on.

It all starts with a couple terms (or pieces). Understand these and we will be well on our way to “mastering the game”.

THE 3 PIECES

These are the definitions from Body By Science. While not everyone will agree with them, a large majority of wise and studied people will.

Health: Absence of disease (and to a lesser extent, pain and injury – both physical and mental)
Fitness: Capability to meet challenges that exist.
Exercise: Movement that improves both Health and Fitness.

So, as you can see, exercise is one of our tools in obtaining both health and fitness. We don’t need ton of it, but we will need some of it.

A problem occurs when we think we need a lot of it and/or when we start equating fitness to health.

We think if we start running 10 miles, we’ll become healthier [and happier]. We think if we get 6 pack abs, we’ll get healthier [and happier]. We think if we do anything better in the weight room, health [and happiness] will follow.

Not only is this bogus, but if we solely chase fitness, our health will die.

And when health goes, so does fitness.

It makes sense then to combine the definitions of Health and Fitness.

Capability to meet challenges that exist while in the absence of disease, pain, and injury.

This should be our goal.

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that this is hard to do. Not because there is work involved, but because we can seldom stop just after a little work.

We are continually being pushed to do more, to become stronger and faster, and to become leaner and meaner. With this, it’s easy for ourselves to push ourselves right into pain and injuries and, for some, worse things such as disease.

If we can learn what the warning signs are, however, and what the prescriptions are for these, then we can prevent a lot of the grief that comes from pushing too hard.

Here are the questions we need answered:

What are the indicators of Health?
Realistically, how Fit should we be?
How should we Exercise to maximize both health and fitness?

These are the pieces we are playing with.

Understand these and the game will be ours.

4 REASONS PEOPLE FAIL WITHOUT A GYM

For a lot of people, learning how to exercise without a gym is there only shot at becoming and staying fit (and maybe healthy too). Still, there are a lot who fail at this.

Some give it a go and can’t get it to work while many others never start.

Here are the 4 reasons I believe why:

1) They have not committed and made an investment. This investment could come in the form of buying equipment, paying someone to show them the ropes, or time spent researching.

2) They are too distracted. Training @ home requires focus and discipline (most of the time). To build this initial habit, treat it like a job. This usually means no facebook or texting until the work is complete.

3) They are too extroverted. Some people simply need the social interaction and thrive off the competition. Recruiting a training partner or group of people to train with will be a must. Posting status updates and videos to the web might work as well.

4) They let passive barriers bury them. Having to remove and store our weights (as well as move furniture) each time we workout is a hassle. Because of this, having a space dedicated to exercise is essential. It doesn’t have to be big by any means, it just has to exist.

 What do you think?

I don’t really buy that people are too lazy or that they don’t care. I think people that might get labeled that are just ones that haven’t learned the tricks on how to make it easier, funner, more accessable and do-able.

I was lucky enough to learn it at young age (before I had to grow up).

If I hadn’t, I might be in the same boat…

OUR HIPS DON’T LIE (APT VS PPT)


Shakira was right.

The hips cannot tell a lie.

In fact, when it comes to health and performance, it may be our hips that will reveal to us the biggest truths.

Our hips, the ultimate soothsayers, tell us 2 things:

  1. Where our strengths and weaknesses lie.
  2. Where (and to what degree) we are predisposed for injuries and pain.

We know dysfunctions rarely happen by themselves (ie we hurt in multiple spots) and no where is this more apparent than with our hips (pelvises).

The 2 primary flavors of pelvises are Anteriorly Rotated and Posteriorly Rotated.

 

While it may not look as extreme as the picture above, you can bet your butt you lean towards one or the other.

So what’s going on here? And why the frick should we care?

ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT (OR APT)

APT is characterized by having a huge arch in the lower back. This occurs more in 1) those that sit a lot and 2) those that fail to train their butts and abs in the gym.

The picture to the right shows how the “arch” is created.

Guys and gals have this indiscriminately, but it is the ladies that mistake this condition for having “booty power”.  In realty, it is the arch that creates that pronounced effect despite the butt being dead asleep.

To grasp this concept a little more, here is a short explanation of what’s going on:

POSTERIOR PELVIC TILT (OR PPT)

PPT is the opposite. The arch has now been replaced by a flat back, so much so that it may be creating a hunchback appearance up top. Once again, this can happen based on how we sit and how we train.

Athletes (like in my case) may be more predisposed to this due to emphasis on developing (and shortening) the hamstrings and abs.

Again, here’s a video:

THE SOLUTION

Our goal, no matter where our pelvis lies now, is getting back to neutral.

This is what that entails:

  1. Find what is tight and loosen it.
  2. Find what is loose and tighten it.

Now, like I said above, we might not be all that bad. For myself, I look like I have ideal posture but I have all the effects of PPT. Some may even have effects of both.

This is what’s certain: If you have a tight muscle then the opposing muscle group more-than-likely is always going to be loose and long.  This is how the above pelvic conditions are created.

These relationships will be the main players:

  • Hamstrings — Quads
  • Glutes — Hip flexors
  • Back extensors — Abdominals

For your homework, look at your pelvis from the side in the mirror.

From this, you’ll know what you’ll need…

Note: I’ve had both conditions. In my experience, APT is far worse. I have pulled muscles in my back from benching, hamstrings from sprinting, and had hip pain so bad I could barely bend.

The 4 Indicators of Health (Or Disease)

What is healthy?

The interwebz is filled with about a zillion people who are not afraid to answer this question for you.  They claim Paleo is the only way to go or that msg/apartame will give you cancer or that if you ain’t eating raw you’ll die a early death or whatever (there is a lot).

By now, you probably know the validity of these statements depend on context (ie, a persons individual genetics and environment) and that these statements, while true for others, might not be necessarily true for you.

So how do we know if they are true for us? And how do we know if exercise program ABC or Diet XYZ is causing us unhealth?

We don’t have to wait until we are diseased or in pain to know.

Here are the 4 indicators:

  • Libido/ Sexual Health. Scientifically, our purpose on this earth is to reproduce. When you no longer have the drive or the ability to do this, be worried. For males, the best indicator of this is morning wood (get it more often then you don’t) and for females, a regular, consistent menstrual cycle. Many lean females and female athletes tend to lose their menstrual cycle. This begs the question, “Should ladies really aspire to be as lean as the ideals the media portrays?”
  • Good Poops / Digestive Health. Our immune system is really just a bunch of bugs in our gut. When the bad bugs outnumber the good ones, bad poops happens (Constipation /Irregular /Hard /Small / Rank and Greasy).  With bad poops tends to come bad skin (another indicator) as well. Aim for at least 1 “full body” poop a day.
  • Energy / Metabolic Health. Our energy (or metabolism), produced mainly by our thyroid, is what runs the show. When it is running optimally, it is actually hard to gain weight. But when it is abnormally low, it then becomes easy. As does chronic fatigue, mental sluggishness, and inability to stay warm. Depending on lifestyle and genetic factors, our bodies process certain foods differently. Because of this, there is no set diet for you or I, just the diet(s) that leave us with the most energy.
  • Self Talk/ Mental Health. How do you talk to yourself/ view yourself – positive or negative light? How do you view others – positive or negative light? Often with negativity comes the release of fight or flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In the short term, these are beneficial (such as for a workout). In the long term, they are destructive (such as is the case with Meth or Cocaine users). Since we are around people all the time, it would behoove us to start viewing ourselves and others in a more favorable light lest we suffer the disease-causing effects of chronic cortisol.

You know something is up in your environment when one or more of these preceding indicators are off. Most often, it is because of lack of sleep or that we are taking our body further than it wants to go (like with overdieting and overexercising).

With future posts, I will answer your questions regarding these more thoroughly (so ask away).

THE 4 KEYS TO WINNING RACES (WITHOUT RUNNING)

She was ahead of me for 99.9% of the race.

It was a 5k and despite only having one run under my belt in the past 6 months, I was sitting in second place and 1 minute behind her at the half-way point.

I am not really a competitive person but I felt the urge to win. Not because I wanted to be put up on an altar, but so I could have a platform to say this:

We don’t have to run to be a great runner.

So with that fuel,  I passed her 50 feet before the finish line.

It wasn’t a stellar time by any means (21:36), but I have done this before. I have purposely chose not to train in the conventional way and placed high in races (best time in 5k is 19 flat).

I don’t train this way to be different.

I train this way because conventional distant training will beat you up. With enough miles, running eats up your muscle and testosterone while paving the way for muscle imbalances and inflammation (from cortisol release).

For many people, running is antagonistic to their goals (of looking awesome and being strong).

Still, however, it has its place. For some, it supplies a “high” like no other, and for others, their sport or job relies on it.

This is for them.

HOW TO BECOME A GREAT RUNNER

1. THE MIND COMES FIRST

Anyone who has ever ran will know how big a part the mind plays. Usually, when people slow down (or never get going in the first place) it is the mind that fails first.

The thing is, the mind will tell us some crazy stuff in an effort to get us a quit and the only way to silence the sewage that it will be producing is to learn how to coach yourselves. This mainly entails what we should say to ourselves and how we should think about what we are experiencing. There are plenty of psychology books out there that can help you with this and I will be dropping my own flavor some time in the Fall.

2. TRAIN THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

I said it once and I’ll say it again: We Do Not Have To Run To Get In Shape.

I’ll make it easy on you and summarize that link in one sentence: Instead of running, do other things that make breathing tougher.

For myself, this means lift heavy(ish) weight with little rest in-between and/or for high reps. The demand that this will put on our cardiovascular system will be much higher than a 1 – 3 mile run ever could produce (Don’t believe? Test it with a heart rate monitor).

Still, however, this will not be enough. For most people, they will first have to work inside-out. They will need to clean up inflammation (from a combination of sleeping more and slightly better eating) and they will to need to clear up any deficiencies. The big deficiency that will wreak havoc on our breathing (which I have personally experienced many times) is that of the magnesium deficiency (read about that here).

Other than that, if you want your system primed to go, try supplementing with caffeine/coffee. Any stimulant will activate the fight-or-flight mechanism and in doing so, open up the air passages.

One last thing, please learn how to breathe. Mouth should be wide, movement should be seen in stomach and not chest, and you should literally sound like an air machine. Below is a video of me running a hill last year with a 60 lb vest on.

 

3. DEVELOP THE POSTERIOR CHAIN

Most runners already have decent quads and calves, but their posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) tend to be lacking.

This posterior chain, when developed, is what allows us to go fast. When it’s not, however, than it can be tough to “get up and go” no matter how much juice we put in to it.

If you look at the picture at the top of this post, note the difference in our form. We were both running as fast as we can, but she is still in “quad mode”.  Her back leg is bent and there is no push from her backside. Now look at me. My back leg is almost fully extended and I am getting a huge push from the all-mighty gluteus maximus and glorious hamstrings.

This is how animals such as cheetahs and tigers cover a lot of ground in such a short amount of time and this is how we should finish races.

To be able to do this, we must make sure we are doing not only doing glute activation exercises (discussed here) but utilizing loaded squats, deadlifts, and lunges in our program as well.

4. WORK ON YOUR SPRINT FORM

Remember when I said we wouldn’t have to run?  I lied. The truth is, we have to run a little (but it’s not as far as you think).

If we can improve our 50 meter dash time, than we can improve our 1 mile (and longer) run time as well. This is because all races (yes, even marathons) have some aspect of the race that we have to (or at least should) sprint. In fact, most runs look like this: Run fast, cruise, and then ran as fast as our body allows. The shorter the race, the more we will be relying on this.

Now I am not saying we should run the whole race like a sprinter (it’s very energy costly ), but we should at least learn how. And if you are new to running, this should be your first stop.

While I am a hardly a sprint coach and would rather direct you to youtube, here are some pointers:

  • Be on the balls (the toes) of your feet and lean forward.
  • Hands should be like closed scissors.
  • The more we get pump our arms (elbow joint close to 90 degrees), the more power we can generate with our legs

When you start off, you are going to look ugly. That’s just how it is.

I see so many people refuse to sprint, not because it’s hard but more-so because they care what other people think.

If you are able to drop that thinking, with time and diligence, you’ll nail it.

HOW TO USE THIS

If your track and weight room are very close, here is what’s optimal:

  1. Drink some coffee or another pre-workout before hand.
  2. Start with dynamic warmup emphasizing skips, bounds, and form running. (15 minutes)
  3. 20-30 m acceleration starts (10 or so) and/or vertical jump maxes.
  4. Deadlifts. (5 sets of very heavy weight should work)
  5. High intensity interval training. (no more than 15 minutes)
  6. Go home, carb up (to replace lost glycogen), and maybe pop some ZMA.

When I was serious about training, this is what I did. Now it is more lax and I don’t feel the need to combine weight lifting with cardio. Whatever the case, this is how I do “the impossible” (stay strong and run long distances fast) and I do not see why it wouldn’t work for you.

HOW TO REHAB A TORN HAMSTRING

Having torn (also called “pulled”) each of my hamstrings twice ( =4 total) already in my short life, I consider myself a sort of connoisseur of “fine hamstrings tears” .

Being so, this what I know:

  1. Don’t stretch
  2. Don’t ice
  3. Don’t use anti-inflammatories

All 3 of these will extend the healing process and may sideline you for up to a month (as I was with my first one).

Here’s why:

When we tear a hamstring (or another muscle), our body initiates the inflammatory process to start healing and rebuilding the muscle. The swelling and redness we often see is a part of this. We have, however, come to think this is “bad“, so we use ice and ibuprofen to “cut down on the inflammation“. If we substitute Healing for Inflammation we can see just how dumb this is.

So instead, let it be.

Rest, eat a better diet, and decrease stress (this means less exercise), and you’ll recover 2 -3x faster.

This difference will be weeks.

PREVENTION

All of my hamstring tears have come doing sprints @ top speed. And all of them have come when I was dehydrated and at the end of a high-volume session. So my words for prevention: Bring a water jug to the track to help stay hydrated. I know this, but each time I forget it bad stuff happens.

“Dehydration reduces blood flow  to muscles and decreases muscle elasticity or flexibility and endurance,  thereby resulting in muscle weakness and cramps, which increase your risk of  muscle injuries such as a hamstring strain.”

WHY CHASING 6 PACK ABS MAY MAKE YOU FATTER

why 6 pack abs will make you fatter

Fitness is the easy part.

Not sacrificing your health in the process — that’s harder.

It’s often this sacrifice that makes many of the goals we set unsustainable and short-lived (such as trying to get unnaturally lean and/or vigorous “running everyday” type training).

When we go against our health and own well-being by chasing crazy ideals (often set by the media), we pay the price.

The thing is, though, no one is going to tell us to stop chasing 6 pack abs or world records in Crossfit (and no one should). What we should be talking, however, is all the dangerous roads that people take to achieve those end outcomes.

What we should be discussing is….

WHAT’S REALISTIC?

“For everything you have lost, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are no shortcuts in life and this especially true for our own health and fitness.

We like to think there is a pill we can take or that we if do an extreme 4, 8, or 12 week diet & exercise program that we can achieve our super hero body, but it just doesn’t work like that.

Change – both mentally and physically – is slow.

We know that, but we don’t really want to acknowledge it.

When the pills and the diets and the extreme workouts do manage to work, it is short-lived. Short-lived because our metabolism is wrecked and our hormones are shot and the overall stress load we have put ourselves is just too much to be able to recover from.

Those images you see of models in magazines and even body builders at the day of their show, that’s not real. They are water depleted, mega-tanned, pumped up, and only a couple days away from re-gaining back multiple pounds.

This is just how it is: Easy come, easy go.

Sure, there are body builders, models, and other freaky deeky athletes that do it right. For them, it is real and that’s how they look and perform almost all the time.

This elite group shares one common thread: Change slowly.

For them, there are no start-and-stop diets ( just a diet that they continually stick with). And
for them, there is no sudden burst of activity followed by months of Seinfeld on the couch (just a way of moving that they enjoy and fits in with their lifestyle).

Progress is slow but so is regress. [Note: And when regress is slow, you can do more normal human stuff like eat ice cream and not have to worry about it.]

I can honestly say I am now apart of this group, however, it was not always like this.

Truth is, Cara and I have done the whole “get fit quick” scheme.

The results? We got fit but it didn’t stick.

There is a reason we are not this lean anymore.

There is a reason we are not this lean anymore.

Not only didn’t it stick, but we both had to work smarter afterwards to regain the health we lost.

You see, when you are mentally fuzzy and your libido is non-existent and your constantly constipated and your even neurotic about every little calorie you consume, that’s what it means to lose health.

And that’s what many of us sacrifice in an attempt to get 6 pack abs or any other goal that is deemed extreme.

Now, I am not saying that you cannot get (and keep) a 6 pack. I’m just saying your time-frame and the amount of work you think will be involved is unrealistic.

Truth is, it will not be quick. Nor will it be easy. And if it is either of those, it will not be sustainable.

Same goes for our athletic performance (e.g going from the couch to training 5 times a week is recipe for pain and injury).

Kapeesh?

K. Good. Getting back on track.

I started this post with the idea I was going to answer this question: “Realistically, how fit should we be?”

This late in the ballgame, I am still unsure.

What I am sure about, however, is this:

  1. Your quest for fitness shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of your health.
  2. If you commit to slow change, you could prevent the above from happening.
  3. If your persist onward towards fast, radical change, you’ll get burned out (and probably end up fatter than before).

In the end, the body always beats the mind.

Don’t put things on it that it can’t handle or doesn’t want.

We never win.