I’ve always had an affinity to Men’s Journal. The at some point in college I was browsing the magazine section at Barnes and Noble and it just hit me: this is the magazine for me. I’ve always written in a journal, I’ve always kept notes of adventures I’d been on and ones I wanted to take. And gear, well most men enjoy having and knowing the best stuff to have.
I got my first pair of TOMS in Saugatuck, Michigan in the summer of 2013. We were visiting Katie’s aunt and uncle in the cutest little town on the Lake Michigan. It’s a boating town and when I saw this nautical pair of TOMS I decided to pull the trigger. They’re beat up pretty good these days but I just wore them on a walk to the park yesterday.
As I said, I’ve always kept a journal. I’ve played with a few different brands but I keep coming back to Moleskine notebooks. My favorite is the softcover 5 x 8 1/4″ because it pairs perfectly with my iPad mini and fits in my Fort Wilderness cache. Its string binding allows me to open it flat which means I can use both pages to lay out my entire week – now I can get serious work done.
Men’s Journal, TOMS, and Moleskine notebooks are just a few of the things I really love. For me design and ethos matter. I get a feeling when I see these products. I gravitate to them. The content, the mission, the values, the functionality. When I need things they always deliver. From when I pick them up, put them on, or open them up to when I finish my work, I cannot wait to return.
My list goes on. And my list matters. It matters because stories matter to me and on some level they matter to you. I believe we are wired to be a part of a story and here on Earth we are trying to figure out our role in that story. I’m not trying to convince you that these products or companies are superior to any others and I’m certainly not trying to promote having lots of “stuff” or being picky about trending or high-end brands.
Many people will look at the calendar today and say “Friday the 13th!” But I see the beginning of the 12 Days of Fitness! Since many of us are leading up to Christmas, those of us in the health and fitness world put together workouts that lead up to December 25th. And to get in 12 days, that means we start today on the 13th!
Here’s how this works. Start with Day 1 and do the exercise. Tomorrow you’ll do Day 2 and (as the song says) also do Day 1. Each day you’ll do the exercise plus all of the exercises from previous days. By Christmas Day you’ll have a nice 30 minute workout put together and hopefully a streak of 12 days of workouts.
Sing it with me: “On the first day of Fitness my trainer gave to me…”
1st day: 1-minute jumping jacks
2nd day: 2 minutes of side shuffle and skips
3rd day: 3 plank walk-ups on each side
4th day: 4 reverse lunges on each side
5th day: 5 sets of squats
6th day: 6 side lunges
7th day: 7 push-ups
8th day: 8 hip hinges
9th day: 9 burpees
10th day: 10×10 jump ropes
11th day: mountain climbers
12th day: 12 reps of the Faithful Four (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, reverse lunges)
Now the exercise build on themselves but as you get to the middle days, don’t forget to get a good warm-up in. Have fun with this! This will just be an add-on to your normal workout or it may be a jump start to your workout routine for 2020.
Let me know if you have any questions and as always, Happy Training!
Pick up something heavy. Carry it a distance. Repeat. Kind of primitive, right? That’s a very good thing.
TRX row. Kettlebell row. Rowing machine. There’s a lot of ways to pull. Find an exercise that is a nice opposite of the push we just did.
Today we move north, from lower body to upper body exercises. When I say you need to push something, you’re probably thinking of a push-up or a chest press. Good, those are right! But let’s expand our options a little.
I’m reading a good book called Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe that makes the case that the shoulder press (with a barbell) is often superior to the bench press for strength training. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but the point I want to make is that there are many great ways to push. Think of your everyday activities. What are the things you do at work, around the house, in the yard, for friends and neighbors that requires pushing?
Some examples for you to experiment:
- bench press (flat, incline, decline, barbell, dumbbell)
- TRX chest press
- Triceps push downs
- kettlebell shoulder press
- Landmine shoulder press
- TRX atomic push-ups
As we establish the categories of movements, pushing exercises are essential. Often it’s helpful to do them in conjunction with their opposites… pulling! That’s what we’ll cover tomorrow.
Disclaimer: this exercise is safe for most individuals but at the same time has one of the biggest potentials for injury so please do not attempt this if you have a known back injury, history of injury, or even apprehension. Contact me and I’ll discuss your next step.
Imagine someone standing immediately to your side and taking an imaginary rod and putting it through one hip so it comes out the opposite side. The hip hinge is executed by “hinging” around that rod as you bend forward and then stand upright.
Walking is an activity of daily living and in the gym, one of the best ways to train that movement for the long term and the immediate strength is lunges. Today I’m introducing reverse lunges. Stand tall in front of a mirror and take a shallow step backwards – that’s our start for 6-8 reps. Now we’ll work towards full range of motion. First I’ll say you never touch that back knee on the ground, but inches short is our goal. Work up to that depth, meaning you may start with a half-lunge. When you do this movement you’ll notice balance becoming an issue. This is great work for your knees, ankles, and hips to stabilize. Between your balance and your depth of the reverse lunge, there’s a lot of progressions to work on here. I put you in front of a mirror so you can always ensure a tall spine: keep eye contact with yourself in the mirror.
Your first set should be a warm-up: tell your body what you want it to do. Then do three sets of 6-10 of each side.
The most fundamental exercise that prepares us for life is the squat. It’s requires our biggest muscles so it’s not only efficient but strategic. We stand and sit all day. The squat also requires a straight torso so it trains a healthy spine. Every training plan should incorporate the squat as the first strength movement. Now which version of the squat should we introduce?
I’m going to call this the dumbbell squat. Holding One light dumbbells in Each hand, look straight forward with your shoulders back and your chest out, keep your heels flat on the ground and lower your backside as low as you can to 90 degrees at the knees and stand back up. The DBs shouldn’t track forward or backwards, you should always be able to keep eye contact with yourself in the mirror, and your heels need to stay flat. If you’re tight in the hamstrings you may not be able to get to 90 degrees and thighs parallel to the ground – work up to this.
Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions of these DB squats on three non-consecutive days each week. There are many other variations of squats for another chapter. For today, happy squatting!
Sometimes clients suggest a proficiency in one sport or exercise should correlate to another, and I have to tell them about the specificity principle. An example: I will be competing in triathlon next summer and my weakest leg is the swim. This off-season I’ll be getting in the pool to work on my technique, endurance, and confidence. And the only way to get better at swimming is… swimming! Sure, if I run and bike and lift weights the swim will go better. My cardiovascular and muscular systems will be stronger, but don’t forget about the principle of specificity: only swimming will make swimming better.
With exercise training, the Specificity Principle says a particular muscle or movement is only improved by working that same muscle or movement. So you may be asking what ‘specifics’ should we be working?
That’s what the next six chapters will be about: specifics. See you tomorrow.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I want to remind you that health and fitness is a lifestyle decision, a long-term play as opposed to a group of exercises. Training is something we do with purpose and a game plan. We can execute the game plan because we know it leads to our intended goal. And the process to reach that goal is best suited to a lifestyle rather than a task list.
I have learned as a trainer to fully educate potential clients on the lifestyle requirement of health. I often use playing a musical instrument as an example. You cannot expect to get better at the instrument if you practice one or two times per week. Proficiency requires a lifestyle. You don’t get better at push-ups read or talking about push-ups: you need to put in the work.
Before you push-back on the lifestyle of fitness, know that I’m not suggesting people become gym rats or start a home gym. What I’m proposing is realistic expectations of what it takes to build the human body into a healthier version of its current state. Anything less than a dedicated and strategic lifestyle is setting yourself up for failure.