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Category Archives: Fitness

About Plateauing

One of the easiest ways to overcome a plateau is to change your workout. That’s pretty straight forward. By adding variety to your workout, your break the routine that your body is used to and you will start to see progress again. This doesn’t have to be a dramatic full on revamp of your entire work out, but adding a few new moves or replacing some moves with others, will keep your muscles confused and keep them working. If you perform your workouts in steady sets and reps, then try switching over to interval training for some of them. Interval training consists of you working out really hard for a period of time, and then going less hard for a short time, and then back to going hard again. For a runner, this would be running as hard as you can for a good minute or two, and then jogging or walking for three to four minutes. The variation will shock your body back into making those gains you want.

But if interval training isn’t your thing, then switching the moves you are doing will be what you want to focus on. Constantly doing the same type of curl or squat or lift with the same weight may earn you some gains to begin with. But once you plateau, you are going to need to start kicking things up a notch. Start adding more weight tot your sets. Or start performing a different move that will work the same muscles that you are trying to focus on. The internet is full of plenty of resources on what moves work what muscles. Even switching from dumbbells to kettlebells (which I recommend) is another great way to break away from your comfort zone and start making progress toward your fitness goals.

Better Guard Passing

1. Be Knowledgeable of all Guard Positions

Even though there are some common principals to passing any guard an understanding of each type (i.e. closed guard, spider guard, half guard, butterfly guard, etc.) will help in ultimately being able to pass someone’s guard. The more you understand about each type of guard the more you’ll be effective in knowing what the guard player will be looking to achieve in their offense.

2. Control the Legs and Kill the Hips

A universal and fundamental truth about passing any guard is knowing how to control the legs and kill the hips of a guard player. Once someone is able to fundamentally wrap their head around this principal the sooner they’ll start passing guards. Controlling the legs is sometimes in the form of redirecting or pinning the legs to name a couple. Killing the hips simply means immobilizing the hips so that the guard player is limited in their movement. This can be done in numerous ways such using your elbows to limit lateral motion or using your hands to push the hips to the floor, for example.

3. Standing vs. Kneeling Passing Styles

Generally speaking guard passers can be divided in to two categories, standing or kneeling guard passers. Players naturally gravitate toward being one or the other. Each passing style has it pros and cons. Generally speaking standing passers are less likely to get submitted, however are more likely to get swept. Where as kneeling passers are more likely to get submitted, but are less likely to get swept.

4. Know your Preference

Depending on your style of jiu jitsu some like to close the distance and have a smashing style passing game. Where as others prefer a more distant and fast pace style passing game. Traditional old school jiu jitsu players typically prefer to stay close when they pass the guard. The “new” style of passing has seen players using distant type passing such as the example with a long step pass

5. Be Relentless

One of the most important factors in passing any guard is being relentless! Passing guard is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish in jiu jitsu. Rarely do you get the pass off of your first attempt. Not only be relentless in your guard passing on the mat, but in your thirst to learn about guards and guard passing off the mat (i.e. videos, seminars, etc.).

Deceptive Strength

There is a certain allure and glamour that comes with the huge muscles, but anyone who doesn’t have the muscles but has great strength seems to be doing everything fake. Metal bending feats are doctored, phonebook rips are cheated, nothing that a small person with strength does seems to hold merit.

But this was not always the case; there were as many 160-170 lbs strongmen as there were 200+ lbs strongmen. Maxick, credited as one of the best muscle controllers to have ever lived, weighed a measly 143 lbs soaking wet, but he could hold Tromp Van Diggelen in his outstretched palm, a man who was 215 lbs at the time. Of course, some people have in fact cheated with what are meant to be incredible strength feats, which raises the antenna of skeptics the world over. But there is a certain allure that comes with someone who holds immense strength in a small body.

Muscles are a symbol of strength, and every magazine you see that advocates strength training or exercise shows men with humongous muscles on their bodies. But is such muscle functional, or strong? Sig Klein was credited with saying, “Train for shape, the strength will come”. This was intended for the people who trained arms and upper body with little regard for other body parts. Nevertheless, some people who train every muscle in the body for aesthetics never realize the true strength that they can achieve.

Bruce Lee is a great example of deceptive strength; the power to kick 300 lbs punching bags to the ceiling in a 145 lbs body is admirable. This is true deceptive strength that can’t be faked, and this is the strength that most old time strongmen held; they didn’t need to have extravagant muscle to have stellar strength, and in some cases they were hindered by having too much muscle. Gymnasts are incredibly strong and powerful people, but they don’t have the kind of physiques one might expect them to have with their strength. That’s because there are more components to strength than muscle size, and the old time strongmen knew this. They trained tendons, ligaments, muscle control, and things that people today didn’t know were trainable. Their methods aren’t secrets, but they are buried under the vanity of industry.

Deceptive strength is what strength trainers should aim for as a training ideal; train for strength and function, and your physique will develop on its own. Dedicate yourself to the methods that these old time strongmen had; their lack of science or technology is a not a lack of knowledge, and their strength feats are a testament to that. Even if you observe the sculpture Farnese Hercules, you see that the ancient cultures who revered strength didn’t imbue Hercules with muscles fit for a cloud, but he nevertheless exuded strength in each ounce of his being. Deceptive strength is the way of the ancients, and is the image of true strength.

Kettlebell Workout

The weight of the kettlebell is offset from the handle, making it a challenge to use. This makes you have to work harder from you grip to your core to perfrom some kettlebell moves. This added effort is not a characteristic of dumbbells and adds to the usefullness of the kettlebell in workouts. A dumbell can be picked up and moved about with ease, but a kettlebell has to be manipulated and gripped right to use. This added effort is a great bonus to any fitness buffs routine. Once you figure out the way to handle a kettlebell, the workout majic really starts to begin.

From arms to shoulders, from backs to legs, and from hearts metabolism, a kettlebell workout can be used to perform so many different exercises. They can be used to perform squats, curls, pressess and more. By adding an explosive lift to any of the moves with a kettlebell, you can seriously increase your instantaneous power. Any power lifter would benefit greatly from a routine with kettlebells. The cardio workout that is obtained by swinging, lifting, and jerking around one of these handled cannonballs, will have your heart pumping in no time. You will be able to run harder and longer, exert more effort for longer, and be all around a fitter person by adding some kettlebell moves to your routine. There are also full on kettlebell prgrams that you can utilize to completely change up your workout.

I know that you can get a good workout from standard workout programs, but a kettlebell program can be a way to make that workout great. By changing all of your normal weight training exercises over to a kettlebell exercise, you can jump start a new surge of muscle building and toning. Getting you off of that plateau you may be stuck on, and getting back to getting the body that you have always wanted. If you want to get results, you have to try a kettlebell workout. Once you do, you will be hooked, and they will stay a major part of your routine. Keep working hard, and don’t give up!

Digital Nomads

There’s nothing that I would do to replace this mobile lifestyle, but one thing that’s not emphasised in lifestyle design literature is how unhealthy it can become (if you let it). Not to mention the difficulty with sometimes finding healthy food (I’ll mention this in another post), but also how hard it can be in finding a decent gym close to you, without you having to cross physical, sociocultural and language barriers to finally get there. But there’s no real excuse for at least putting effort into keeping fit when travelling.

Well, I got a solution for you constant travellers! And no, it’s not another piece of useless gym equipment that you’re going to throw away in mum’s garage and let it gather cob webs. It’s your own body. That’s right, I said it – you’re own body. If you’ve heard of the term callisthenics then you’ll be familiar with what I’m talking about. This is a basically a fancy way of utilising bodyweight resistance exercises, replacing those unwieldy and cumbersome dumbbells that we’re all to familiar with.

Examples of calisthenic exercises include:

Push-ups
Sit-ups
Tricep dips
Squats
Lunges

Most of you will be familiar with these ones, especially if you’ve got recurring nightmares of high school Physical Education classes… But we won’t get into that…

OK, so you’re probably asking at this point, “what’s a good routine that I can do in minimal time?” – very lifehacker type of question. Here it is below:

1) 20 push-ups
2) 20 squats
3) 20 tricep dips
4) 20 lunges

Do this set 3 times, 3 days per week and that’ll keep you set for keeping fit enough to be generally accepted by society. Also watch your diet folks. Diet is 80 percent of the battle, and the more you exercise, the more crucial a good diet is to feeding your body what it needs to perform and function at it’s best.

As a motivational tool – I recommend doing this routine with a training partner, i.e. your fellow traveller in most cases. Time who can finish first to make it more fun. You’ll be surprised how competitive you can be as you both go for glory. In no time, you’ll get that six pack that attracts the opposite sex and makes you the envy of everyone else.

Bodyweight Training

I thought how hard could it be? First time I did it I managed 60 of these bodybuilders and thought about never doing them again. But, there was no way that was going to happen I was on my own mission to do 100 in 10 minutes and accomplished it.

What made me want to know more about these and the fact that the author of the book left out the feared 8 counts out of the workout section because how brutal they are. I liked that. If he left it out because he hated them I wanted to do them.

It’s been many years and I still do them and it is still a feat to accomplish 100 in under 10 minutes. My best was 600 in 1 hour and 100 in under 15 minutes wearing a 40 lb weight vest.

These are tough workouts and the exercise will work your body pretty complete. I have combined 8 counts with bodyweight squats and also used a combo using bodybuilders and a jump rope, both are amazing fat burning and strength building workouts.

If you just managed 50 of these beast the average man would not be average anyone who is a little skeptical drop down for some right now and see how many you can get in 1 minute or 2 minutes I think you will be surprised.

The only down fall is that most people will never do them as a regular part of their workout, and the reason is they are very demanding. You can be like everyone else and do everyone else s workouts; you know the workouts designed by the average man for the average man.

Cultivate Your Energy

1. Movement- When it comes to cultivating your energy, you need to move your body. Moving your body will increase blood circulation and improve blood flow to your brain. Whether you are doing exercise, joining a dancing class or playing outside, moving your body on a daily basis is crucial to making sure you have enough energy.

2. Eat nourishing foods- It’s no secret that packaged, processed, and some canned foods are packed with sugar, sodium and other culprits that make you feel sluggish, tired, anxious, drained, and downright awful. To avoid headaches and feeling ill, simply eat healthy foods that nourish your body and soul. Eat fun and nutritious foods like Nuts, leafy greens, eggs, beans and organic fruits. These foods are all packed with nutrients that boost your energy on a daily basis.

3. Daily ritual- Whether you like to pray or meditate, start your day off with a daily ritual that trains your mind. Close your eyes and visualize your self being full of energy and vitality. Imagine how you will feel after a workout or taking some kind of class that involves body movement. Simply take 10-30 minutes to focus on cultivating your physical energy on a daily basis. Once you train your mind to see what is possible, it will be very easy for you to cultivate your energy on a consistent basis.

4. Yoga/Breathing- Get more in touch with your body and breathe through Yoga. Whether you do Bikram yoga, Hatha yoga, Kundalini yoga, or any other type of yoga, they all can help you cultivate your energy. Yoga has the ability to improve circulation, increase metabolism, lower cholesterol, enhance breathing and endurance. All the benefits that yoga provides have the power to improve energy.

5. Essential Oils- Just like you take supplements for nutrition; you can take Doterra essential oils for your mind, body and soul. While there are many essential oils that promote vitality and well-being, there is one that is absolutely perfect for helping you with your energy levels. This particular essential oil is known as Wild Orange. Wild Orange essential oil is perfect for promoting energy, uplifting spirits, promoting calmness and giving a sense of joy. Not only that, but wild orange is also anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, to name a few of the many benefits that it provides.

Jump Rope Workouts

Don’t feel that you are missing out due to the fact that you can’t do these tricks– as pointed out before; basic skipping exercises are just as effective as the more showy moves.

In order of difficulty, here are the five best jumping rope exercises for beginners…

• Two-footed double jumps

For this workout, you keep your feet with each other and allow yourself an extra “mini jump” between rope turns. This allows you to swing the rope a little bit more slowly and gives you opportunity to master skipping at a moderate pace. In your mind count “one and two”– the “and” being your mini jump in between turns. Once you have mastered this standard workout, it’s time to move on.

• Two-footed jumps

Spin the rope a little faster and you won’t have time for your mini jump so now it’s time to drop it and do one jump each turn. Again, keep your feet with each other and stay on the balls of your feet. Keep low to the ground and only just clear the rope. The jump should come from your ankles rather than your knees and remember to keep your shoulders down and arms relaxed.

• Two-footed side to side jumps

Rather than just bouncing up and down on your feet, begin to shift your weight a little from side to side. You’ll still come down on both feet but your weight will land more on one foot. Push your hips from side to side as you shift your weight.

• Boxers’ skip

Ready to look like a pro? From side to side jumps, lift your non-weight-bearing foot and tap your heel a little on the ground in front of you. In aerobics, this is called a heel dig. Do a single double-footed jump in between heel digs so your feet go left heel, both feet, right heel, both feet. As soon as you feel confident, drop the double footed jump and go for alternating heels.

• Knee ups

Lastly, switch over from heel digs to knee lifts. It’s basically the same step but you are lifting your knee up so your heel is clear of the floor. Start with low knee lifts and work toward pulling your thigh up to parallel to the floor. Use the same left, both, right rhythm you used before then slowly wean yourself off the double footed jump till you have the ability to do alternating high knee ups.

Increasing Physical Activity

1. Do a reality check: Be completely honest with yourself about how fit you are. Start off slowly. Many people bite off more than they can chew in the beginning, which leads to frustration, making it more likely that you’ll stop before making real progress. Pick something you like so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Keep a record of your progress so you can see how far you’ve come.

2. Set a fitness goal and make a plan: Want to run a 5K but you’ve never run before? Maybe you want to move from a 5K to a 10K. Would you love to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded? Wherever you’re starting from, be sure to start with a plan. Create realistic goals and reward yourself (without food!) when you reach them. Speak with someone who has experience doing what you want to do for pointers. Try to schedule your workouts as you would any other appointment.

3. Recruit a buddy: You’re less likely to bail on a workout if you know a friend is waiting for you. Seek out a friend who has a “you can do it” attitude; that positive energy is contagious and will keep you going after the initial excitement of starting something new wears off. An activity partner is also good for any emotional support you may need along the way. If you need to meet with a coworker, walk over to their desk instead of sending an email, or suggest taking a walk outside instead of sitting in a conference room.

4. Fuel your body: Physical activity burns calories so you may find you’re hungrier once you start moving more. Pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals. Choose whole foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Balanced eating will keep your energy stores full and help build muscle. Water is also a type of fuel. Your body doesn’t work as efficiently if it’s dehydrated so aim for at least 8 cups of water each day, before, during, and after your physical activity.

5. Don’t give up: Some days will be easier than others. Life gets in the way sometimes and you may miss a workout because you’re sick or because you simply need a break. The key to continuing your success is to not throw in the towel if you miss a few days. Everyone misses days, but people who stick with their routines don’t let those missed days derail their overall success. Progress is made slowly over time, so pick up wherever you left off and keep up the great work!

Building a Garage Gym

  • A quality gym at home is amazing… and possible. Thanks to some innovative companies and some stiff competition in the fitness industry, outfitting a genuine gym at home is more affordable than ever. Matter of fact, for not a lot more money than you would spend on junk equipment at a chain sporting goods store, you can get your hands on commercial-grade equipment that will probably outlive us all.
  • Where to start? Let me give a few suggestions based on my own personal experience with my garage gym along with some good information I’ve picked up on the web.
  • Of course the best equipment to start with will vary from person to person slightly, but I think that there are some essential pieces to consider right out of the gate.
  • 45 lb. Olympic Barbell.
    • Olympic Plates: Bumper-plates are great, but typically more expensive than standard steel plates. It also depends on what your lifting goals are. Buy as a set to save some money. You’ll want at least one pair of each 45 lb, 25 lb, 10 lb and 5 lbs. You may also consider 2½ lb plates.
    • Power Rack (Squat Rack): This will set you back a little. It will likely be your biggest expense in creating a gym. A rack allows you to safely lift without a spotter. Squats, bench press, clean, shoulder press… you name it, you can do it in a power rack. It should also have a pull up bar. Be sure and compare the ceiling height with the rack height. Especially important for older homes with 8′ ceilings.
    • Weight Bench: This is something you’ll probably want early on as well. Just a flat weight bench for starters. You can spend a little more and get an adjustable bench. I have an entire post comparing weight benches here.
    • Dumbbells: Do what I do, buy dumbbells as you need them. Spreads out the spending a little bit.
  • Jump rope: Jumping rope is just amazing. I’ve bought and then turned around and sold a couple pieces of cardio equipment in the last couple years. Can’t beat a $5 jump rope for true cardio. However, if you’re really big into using commercial gym type cardio equipment, like the Life Fitness or Precor bikes, ellipticals and treadmills, it is worth mentioning that these companies have alternative models of their commercial stuff for a bit less money… but they are still way more reliable and sturdy machines than the box sporting good store stuff.
  • So if you have a barbell, some plates and dumbbells, and get a power rack and bench, I’d think you’d be in a great position to get some awesome workout sessions started. Here are some things I think you’ll eventually want to pick up. I have added a lot of this to my original set up as well.
    • Medicine Balls of varying weights
    • Kettlebells of varying weights
    • Some form of plate and dumbbell storage.
    • Dip Station: Rogue racks have an add-on station called the Matador. Very solid.
    • Plyo box(es) (also can be used for dips).
    • Resistance bands: Many racks have band pegs for these.
    • Adjustable bench if you only purchased a flat bench initially.
    • Large mirror (if you’re into that).
    • Punching bag
    • Fan! It gets hot everywhere at some point. Get a good fan. Spend $75 on a high speed metal fan. They’re loud, but they work.
    • Flooring: Dense, rubber flooring is great for your joints and your equipment.
    • Programmable wall clock.
  • Dry Erase board. I personally track all my workouts in a book, but having a dry erase is nice for tracking records and other random notes, reminders, perhaps even motivational affirmations or whatever =)