Archive for October, 2007

Here’s a Good Exercise… Tree Removal

October 29, 2007

So we had this tree that was growing too close to the house and needed to be removed. Yesterday the weather was just right and their wasn’t much else going on, so I figured it was the perfect time.

Out to the yard with my trusty chainsaw. Notch the tree, and hope it falls away from the house. This almost didn’t go as planned. I started my workout by giving the tree a healthy shove to keep it from coming back on the house. Yes I strength train and am probably stronger than average, but, I can’t take any credit for my strength being the real reason the tree dropped perfectly. Remember when I said the weather was just right? Well that really mean there was a good breeze from the right direction – away from the house. We’ll call it wind 95%, me 5% on that one.

So for the next hour I cut the tree up, drug the branches and hauled the logs in a wheel borrow. Fancy? No. Was the workout done at a place that had a spa or juice bar? No. Was it a better work out than I could get at any club? Certainly. It worked the muscles that are integral to functional fitness. (“functional fitness”, aside from “core” is probably the most overused, overhyped word in training today). In this case the workout is felt in a lot of little muscles that are never hit in the club on any machine, but are used in real life to do stuff outside or around the house. This is the type of workout we need more of.

Low Cost Equipment

October 24, 2007

If you do need to acquire some equipment for working out, use Craigslist or your local newspaper to find exercise equipment that others are selling. You will be able to find everything from a top dollar exercise machine, to weights and treadmills. You will be able to buy them for pennies on the dollar. Don’t get caught by the giant chain that says “why buy new, when slightly used will do, except when the prices are this good” What the person probably meant is – “why buy new, when slightly used will do, except when our profit margins are this good”.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Cardio… Or So They Think

October 3, 2007

One thing I’ve seen over the recent past again and again is the hyping of a particular way of training as improving all aspects of fitness. This is most common in techniques aimed at strength trainees. For example I’ve seen numerous accounts of advertising copy stating that Kettle bells, Hindu squats and Tabata workouts have relegated cardio as a thing of the past we’re told. It’s claimed by some that simply doing kettle bell workouts negates the need for running or other forms of cardio.

While high rep kettle bell workouts certainly do get you breathing hard and will improve cardio fitness, that doesn’t mean you can run any better or longer. Here is why. A kettle bell workout is non-specific to running. You can double your ability in kettle bells and not increase your running ability at all. Running on a treadmill is very similar to running outside or on a track, but ask anyone that trained exclusively on a treadmill how it prepared them for actually running. They will tell you that running on the ground is very different from running on the treadmill, different muscles got fatigued etc. If a treadmill doesn’t prepare you for running on the ground, what makes you buy that kettle bell training will?

I believe the answer has to do with how your average lifting enthusiast is wired. Lifters like brief intense activities. That’s what lifting is. Feel free to point out that some lifters spend three hours in the gym so I’m off my rocker to call that brief. The fact of the matter is that those three hours are spent doing brief intense activities broken up with bouts of waiting for it to be time to do the next brief intense activity. Most lifters loathe long low to moderate level activities such as cardio. That is why lifting in this manner or that manner is pushed as a viable substitute for cardio. The magazine publishers know their audience.