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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Do Planks Daily

1. Mental Clarity and Focus

Yes! You will become mentally stronger as you add planks to your daily routine. It’s hard to hold a plank and think about a lot of other things. The pain from holding your body off the ground takes 100 percent of your mental attention. This allows you to clear your head of unwanted thoughts, stress from work, what to cook for dinner, and the list goes on. Even if you held a plank for 1 min every day, that’s 352 minutes of mental therapy a year.

2. Lengthen your Muscles

Since most people find themselves sitting for prolong periods of time due to work or lifestyle, the plank is a great exercise to lengthen your muscles from sitting. Tight hip flexors, rounded shoulders, and low back problems are all linked to sitting too much. Holding a plank will put your body in a position that extends the hips, promotes shoulder stability, and it can produce a stronger lower back. These reasons are more than enough to add planks to your life daily.

3. Location, Location, Location

While the plank can be done by anyone, it can also be done anywhere. There are no limitations and this allows you to be free. In the office, at the park, out in nature, at the gym, in your garage, or wherever you choose. I recall doing a plank on the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh. By the way, it landed me a commercial. Take your plank wherever you go!

Stay Properly Hydrated

Simply put, 60-70% of your body is nothing but WATER – and this includes muscles, tendons, digestive system, everything.

You are constantly losing water through dehydration, sweating (especially if you train hard) and other bodily functions – and you need to make sure you replace the water lost on a regular basis, else your body just won’t function at an optimal level, regardless of how well you treat it otherwise.

Lack of water can affect you in many different ways. When it comes to training, a dehydrated person will never be able to achieve the same results as he would with proper hydration.

Symptoms of dehydration include sluggishness, not being able to recover well enough from your workouts, persistent headaches and much more. The exact symptoms will vary from individual to individual, but the root cause remains the same.

Despite the barrage of sports drinks, “post workout” recovery drinks etc out there, pure water is still and by far is the very best choice to stay well hydrated.

I recommend (as most medical experts do) drinking AT LEAST 8 glasses of pure water a day. This is simple enough to do, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do it. And if your training hard, or are otherwise exposed to hot, humid (or other taxing) conditions, then you may need more – maybe 10 glasses of water a day as a minimum.

Other than water, green tea is something I highly recommend. When I was in China, this was an essential part of my “diet” – I NEVER started a workout without drinking green tea before.

In fact, there were many days I did not get a decent meal throughout the workday (wasn’t that easily accomplished apparently in the factory I worked at); and was tired and cranky when I got home – NOT the ideal way to start a tough workout immediately afterwards.

But, a glass or two of green tea later, and I was raring to go – and got great results as well. Green tea has numerous health benefits which I will talk about in a later post, but for now, let’s just say it’s an instant and immensely healthy “pick me up” – so if your not drinking some green tea during YOUR daily routine, start doing so now.

Other forms of herbal tea are also great – jasmine tea, white tea, oolong, and black tea – but my personal favorite remains green tea.

Just make sure your getting high quality green tea, preferably from China or someplace where the culture mandates drinking it on a regular basis. And always use tea leaves, as opposed to tea bags – tea bags contain crushed tea, which is bad for you.

And avoid colas, coffee, sodas, and any “soft drinks” with sugar in them. These are not good for you, dehydrate you, and have no positive benefits whatsoever – so if you must have then, have them in moderation, and make sure to drink enough water to compensate for the dehydration these will incur.

Kettlebell Training

Before we dive too deep into an explanation of how to set the most effective tempo for strength gains, it’s important to get an understanding of how tempo is measured in these cases. There are various tempos, so it’s important to know what the numbers really mean. In the case of 1010, the first number defines the amount of time spent in the eccentric phase, or the “relaxing” phase of the exercise. The 0 indicates the amount of time spent pausing after the relaxation phase. The third digit signifies the length of time spent in the concentric phase, or the phase in which the muscle being exercised is flexed. The final digit signifies the amount of time spent pausing after the concentric phase. To help visualize this, in a pushup, the eccentric phase is bending your arms and lowering yourself toward the ground, and the concentric phase is pushing yourself back up. So, at a 1010 tempo, one second is spent going down, then one second is spent going up, with no pauses before or after either of these motions. For a 4010 tempo, 4 seconds are spent bending the arms and going down toward the ground, and one is spent pushing up. For exercises that demand explosiveness and fast flexing, the tempo may include an “X” instead of a number. This is commonly seen in the Olympics where X0X0 tempo lifts are commonly performed; explosive eccentric and concentric phases, with no pauses before or after either. For hypertrophy exercises and attempts at mass gain, the most effective and commonly used tempo is 40X0.

When taking tempo into consideration, changes can be made to the amount of time your muscles are spending under tension. Time Under Tension, or TUT, is a measure of how long a muscle, or group of muscles, is under the weight of the load. When it comes to strength training and maximizing muscle mass, more TUT is necessary. For strength training with kettlebells, 40-70 seconds of TUT is the optimal time period, anything shorter than this would result in lesser hypertrophic gains. Basic math can be done to see the difference in Time Under Tension between tempo and non-tempo training. Taking a look at the real-world variance in the different tempos that are used is a good way to paint a picture for why it’s so important to include tempo training into your kettlebell workouts for strength gains. For a typical 1010 kettlebell overhead press for example, a single rep will take approximately one second to push and one second to relax, making the total length of the rep 2 seconds. Over the course of about 12 reps per set, this equates to 24 seconds of TUT. However, if you are adhering to tempo training, the length of a single rep will change. If switching to a 40X0 tempo kettlebell press, the flex will be immediate and there will be no pause at the apex before dropping the weight back down and relaxing for 4 seconds. When the kettlebell returns to the resting position, there is no pause and it is immediately lifted for the next rep. The total time for this rep is about 5 seconds, with a total of 60 seconds of TUT for a set of 12 reps. When taking tempo into account, the same weight, reps and sets can be used to achieve better strength training results. This is why tempo training is so important for real mass and strength gains. If you’re only taking into account reps and sets and disregarding the time taken to complete each of these, you will be missing out on making large strength and mass gains in your kettlebell workout.

When your goals are to increase strength and mass, many people often increase the weight of the kettlebell that they are using and make adjustments to sets and reps to maximize muscle gains. Although this is an effective way to increase strength, it’s important to note that tempo can also be altered to get the most out of each rep. Although it may take more concentration, tempo training is one of the most effective ways to successfully reach your strength training goals with kettlebells.

Recovery Spin

I started away from the house and left the sub division and onto the bike path. As I made my way down I climbed landscaping boulders and rolled over small snow hills that are left over from winter… oh wait, it’s still winter! Anyway, I was having a great time on the bike, as recovery days should be. I made my way over the bridge that crosses a section of the lake I live by and proceeded to leave the bike path for pedestrians walking their dogs and themselves. Occasionally I would hit a nice rock garden that the fat bike would completely absorb.

Up ahead I notice a significant snow hill at the end of a parking lot, it was in the shade so I figured I would give it a go, and it ended up being awesome! I made it up two snow peaks and back down to the parking lot. As I approached the other end of the parking lot I noticed another snow pile, this time out in the open and in the sun, I inspected the back side to make sure there was not a big drop off. I still had a funny feeling about it but proceeded to gain speed on my second approach, this was steeper and I was going to need a little more speed to get over the top. Not doing the math, warmer temps, snow pile in the sun equals soft snow, I ended up sinking in near the top and going over the handlebars! I am sure a few people in their cars passing by got a great laugh!

I continued on to Lake Michigan and then on the way back home I found a new two track that was recently made and had some cool wooden planks in place to get over a marshy section. This was a great new experience, not sure I want to try and cross the railroad bridge over the river…