Saturday, February 26, 2011

An 11 Year Old Girl That Could Probably Beat You Up.

For people who think lifting weights stunts growth and young kids should not be engaged in resistance training... here is a video of an 11 year old girl who is probably stronger than you:

Thats 132lbs. She only weighs 99lbs. I am pretty sure "Fitness" just tried to kill itself. Sprint. Kill. Eat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Six Pack Abs! How to Get Them and Why They Are Terrible For You. Part 1.5.

Flex your abs. Right now, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, flex your abs as hard as you can. What happened? What did your upper body do? Did it cave over a litte? What about your lower body? Did your lower back get a little looser and your pelvis tilt up in the front slightly? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you have some sort of dysfunction going on in your abs. It's not your fault. Everyone told you to do sit-ups. To do crunches. You read that article about some actress that does 15 trillion crunches a second. Or you are doing P90X or the 300 workout or some other stupid thing with some juiced out maniac/CGI muscle-guy-cartoon on the cover.

Before I drop some anatomy on you, lets go to common sense first. Think of the position you are in when you do a crunch or a sit-up or any conventional ab exercise. Your are on the floor basically forcing yourself into a contorted mess that is genetically programmed in us to be a sign of weakness.

Think very hard of any other time in life you would be in these positions. Here, I can come up with a couple:

-Lying on the ground, getting mauled by a bear
-Lying on the ground, getting eaten by a lion
-You had too much too drink and wake up wrapped around a toilet
-Someone just punched you in the stomach
-You are freezing to death and attempting to keep warm
-Oh yea, how about this... you were like this the entire time you were a baby

These examples took me 10 seconds to think up. The point is, spend most of your training in these positions and you are just getting ready to fail miserably in a situation where something terrible is happening to you. It's sprint, kill, eat. Not fall down, curl up, and get murdered.

Now, in order to understand what you are actually supposed to do with these muscles, you need to understand how they are supposed to function. Not function in terms of gettin' "bro-ed" up with your boys but function in regards being a better human. Lets keep it as simple as possible:

Rectus Abdominals (including pelvic floor muscles): The elusive "six-pack" muscles. Remember when I told you to flex your abs? Odds are, these were the only ones that did anything. The textbook definition of what these are supposed to do is trunk flexion, a.k.a. the sit-up motion. If your trunk is actively in flexion then antagonist (opposite) musculature must be in extension. The opposite musculature in this case are the muscles that keep your spine in a natural alignment. In other words, you have to force your lumbar, thoracic, sacral, and cervical spinal muscles into extension. In case you don't know what that means, it looks like this:

P90X put 50lbs on his deadlift... it's also going to put him in a wheelchair. In all fairness, I have no idea if this kid did P90X. I am sure he does plenty of crunches... on a bosu ball... for max reps... 8 times a day.

I know what you are thinking, "But, brah, how do I work my abs and look good with my shirt off?" Your abs need to work as a means to stabilize your spine. So, pretty much anything you do laying on the floor is out. Now its time to get creative. Here are some of my favorites performed by yours truly:

Front Squat Holds:

A few seconds will do... because any longer and you will lose the ability to fight your bowels from violently evacuating your body. As you can see, the spine is kept neutral and the body is in a natural position (not in P90X bro-guy roll around together position). Plus, stuff like this is much more badass than the average "core" exercises. Here is another one:

Blast Strap Fallouts (Warning: you will be very sore for a very, very long time):

Ok, technically, there is back extension at the beginning of the exercise. The reason this is awesome is because, when your abs are working during this movement, the spine is neutral and the abs are braced, not flexed. Imagine at the complete extension of the movement, that I drive my right knee forwards... it would look a whole lot like someone sprinting as fast as they could.

Obliques (internal/external and some of the glute complex to some extent): Those pesky love handles. People work these to death and nothing ever changes. Maybe because they are being worked the wrong way. The obliques function to counteract the pull of gravity on the body. Wow... think about that for a second. For anyone trying to get stronger/run faster/jump higher/relieve back pain, the obliques sound awfully important don't they? These muscles were meant to be very strong. If you think they weren't, think about how much weight you could hold and perform a side-bend exercise with. 50lbs? 100lbs? 200lbs? Maybe more? These need to be trained like a midget on steroids: hard and heavy.

Landmine Side-Bends:

The same thing can be done with a barbell, heavy dumbbells, dogs, entire sides of beef that you will eat all of immediately after you finish the exercises, just about anything. The key is to keep it heavy and do sets until it feels like someone injected concrete mix into your sides and lit your forearms on fire.

Now the MOST important aspect of your core. The one nobody trains.

The Back: (erector spinae complex, multifidus, and all kinds of other stuff that should be insanely/badassly strong in every human being but is not). These are the key to everything core-related. If your back is weak and feeble then you, as a person, are weak and feeble. Stop doing "Supermans" and start doing these:


Good Mornings:

Not the best form on the GMs but I did it and I am now stronger for it.

Key to these exercises: 1. Go Heavy- progressively work to heavier and heavier weights. If your form is good (neutral spine) and your programming is smart then it is IMPOSSIBLE to hurt yourself. 2- Again, keep a neutral spine, don't be lazy, be strong.

How do you put it all together? How about the deadlift.

Muscles worked when deadlifting heavy... oh yea, all of them:

Yes. This entire post was leading up to how awesome deadlifting is for you.

Want to know why people really do traditional ab exercises for countless reps over and over and over? Because they are easy. Anything that is easy is not good for you. EVER. Easy makes you fat. Easy makes you weak. The above mentioned exercises are very stressful and will make it hard for you to walk without crying for several days after you do them. You will eventually get used to doing these various acts of badassery but only after you've gotten all of the sadassery out of your system.

Now, re-do the test from the beginning of the post. Contract your abs again but, not into flexion. Contract your abs and brace while keeping the arch in your back. There. That was a step in the right direction.

Just some things to think about and consider in your own training to reach your own goals. Hopefully, this rant opened someones eyes and caused you to think outside the box a little bit. I'll probably get one more part out of this topic dealing with dieting. Not dieting like eating less or eating crap like "fruit" . More like dieting while eating like a meat-fueled, human muscle museum with exhibits on the history of being a badass. Between now and then, be sure to pick up something heavy. Sprint. Kill. Eat... and don't do sit-ups anymore.

Six Pack Abs! How to Get Them and Why They are Terrible for You. Part 1.

Nothing feeds the Fitness Monster more than the relentless journey most of the teenage to twenty-something year old population have embarked upon; gettin' ripped, brah!

So... when the chicks ask them how they got those awesome six packs, they can say: "Yea, me and my boy did countless numbers of weird body contortions on the floor together... shirtless... in awkwardly matching hot-pant style athletic shorts... and for some reason, we completed all of our sets in complete silence."

In their defense, they are all ripped up, right? Out of curiosity, I checked out the P90x diet plan. I am sitting here at 275lbs and about 18% bodyfat (checked via ultra-sound in a clinical physiology lab) and that diet plan told me to only eat 1,800 calories a day and keep my serving of protein to 3oz per meal. Also, it told me to only have 1 serving of carbohydrates a day for the first "Fat Shredder" phase of the diet. If I followed this advice, not only would I get shredded, I'd get dead. This is ridiculous. So, here is a brief summary of P90X: Roll around violently on the floor for 10-20 minutes a day, borderline starve yourself, don't eat any carbohydrates, and in 90 days your insulin sensitivity will be so out of whack, the next time you see a box of cereal, you will go into a diabetic coma.

Diets like this put your body into a ketogenic state. Ketogenic is just fancy-talk for tricking your body into thinking you are starving to death so it eats up every available energy source you have stored away. Once the carbs are all gone, all thats left are fats and when they are all gone, protein. A process called gluconeogenesis converts fats and protein into keytone bodies that are carbohydrate-like and can be used as energy. But, you might think, if you are using protein for energy, how can you build muscle like all those d-bags say they do on the P90x commercial? You can't. Everybody has abs. Some people have more fat blocking the view than others. If you are starving, and your body eats all your fat as a means of simply surviving in a fasted state, you will magically have abs. You will also magically be closer to death. If the claims are true, and these "high intensity workouts" are burning 1,000 calories, which they very well could be, then that would only leave 800 calories to get through the rest of your day. Most literature suggests that you need 1200 calories just to make sure all of your bodies systems are working properly. That number is assuming you lay down all day and don't participate in shirtless Ab Ripper X sessions with your bro.

I got on a little bit of a rant so I am going to make this in 2 parts. Part 2 will consist of why everything those guys do in that video is stupid and will list exercises that aren't stupid. Not only will they not be stupid, they will make you a more efficient human being in regards to the movement patterns involved in how our musculature is supposed to function. Also, I might even put in some dieting stuff that won't:
1. make you feel terrible while you exercise and/or function in daily life and,
2. kill you eventually.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and don't forget to sprint after something, kill it, and eat it today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

75 Year Old Man Kills Fitness

This guy isn't doing water aerobics. He isn't letting his age dictate how "fit" he can be. This guy is named Ron. He is deadlifting 440lbs for 2 reps. The world record for his age and weight is only 402.5lbs. This is what I am talking about.

Ron's got the idea... and I bet he isn't one of the 85% of people on Earth that suffer from lower back pain. Oh yea, Ron also squats 500lbs.

Sprint. Kill. Eat.

Why "Fitness" Needs To Die...

Fitness. If this word doesn't give you an impending sense of doom then you need to pay attention. If the first thing you think of when you see or hear that word is someone lightly jogging while holding a pair of 1.5lb pink rubber coated dumbbells or doing their 1500th sit-up for the day then the icy cold fingers of "Fitness" are firmly wrapped around you.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that everyone should be fat and no one should ever exercise. In fact, I am saying completely the opposite. I think everyone should work and exercise very hard to reduce the obesity epidemic that is making it almost impossible to walk through a Wal-Mart without bumping into everyone. For health purposes, everyone needs to exercise. A body in motion stays in motion... unless it stops. Then, it gets fat and dies.

What I am trying to get across is that the fad that is "Fitness" has created copious amounts of terrible information. This information is not only not beneficial to whatever your personal health goals may be but, it could also be making it harder to reach them. Even worse, the information may be sending you backwards, away from your goals.

In order to understand why fitness is terrible now, you have to understand how awesome it was when the word was first being thrown around. Fitness, in the classical definition, used to mean the preparedness of Olympic athletes to win medals. Weightlifters from the Old Eastern Block countries, China, Bulgaria, and pretty much every other country that crushes the United States in strength related sports, would constantly be trying to increase their fitness levels. A test of fitness would often include things such as lifting maximal weights, throwing barbells as far as possible, and other various forms of bad-assery that don't ever cross the mind of the average fitness enthusiast. Now-a-days, this is fitness:

Damn. Humans were not meant to be this way. We weren't meant for insane amounts of random exercises thrown together. We weren't meant to diet. We were meant to be in shape and work very hard to get and stay that way. Think about how people used to live. Think of a caveman. He didn't spend hours at a time doing calisthenics in his cave. He was too busy sprinting after animals, using every ounce of force and strength he could muster to kill said animals, and then he ate them. Training toward your goals should be structured in a similar way.

So much emphasis is placed on being "fit" and "tone" these days. Girls want to be skinny as rails so they don't eat and don't lift weights because they don't want to get "bulky." Guys want to be "ripped" so they follow aimless programs they read in muscle magazines and buy supplements that don't do anything but make their pee turn neon-glow-in-the-dark yellow. Sport-Specific training has turned into countless hours of mindless sit-ups because everyone knows having abs makes you a good athlete... and crunches will give you abs if you do 50 billion of them twice a day. False. Fitness lies.

So, onto the point of this blog: To expel fitness myths. To give advice that will actually help people reach their physical goals, whatever they may be. To convince people that there is more to life than the never ending journey to be chiseled out of granite. Rather, it is more in out nature to be violently chopped out of wood. Stop tapping away and put the hammer down. Pick up an axe and start swinging like hell.
Sprint. Kill. Eat.