Sunday, June 27, 2010

Having Fun With Body Weight Training

(Double Click the video to watch fully on YouTube, Sorry about my blog cutting half of it off!)

It's so important to get some play time into your adult life! I can't stress that enough, or maybe I should use a different word than stress when talking about play! After all avoiding stress is the big point of playing isn't it? Now I know that you're all very, very busy people ... shucks aren't we all!? Some of you find it tough just to fit your workout into your busy day of work and family life let alone find some time for yourself to just get out and play. So why not try and look at your workout as something fun rather than work? Why not try to integrate some play into your fitness routine?

Stay with me here, I'm by no means saying that you should take your workouts easy ... that would defeat the purpose of always giving it your best or steadily progressing. What I am saying is try and get creative, this is especially easy to do with your body weight training! Grab a friend and head down to the local park and try to out do each other on the number of push up/pull up reps you can each get! Or how about turning it into a game of who can do the most advanced pull up or push up technique. For example, wide grip chins beat regular chin up ... or divebomber push up beats Hindu push up! There are a ton of options with friends around and it can be one heck of a workout when you're pushing to out perform one another ... a little friendly competition in the name of fun!

What if you train alone? Easy! Set some challenges for yourself, like trying to get the most amount of push ups you can pump out in one min , then rest for 2 mins and try to reach that same number of reps or exceed it on each set you do! Or if you so happen to find yourself back at a local park or jungle gym (Is my love of body weight training in the outdoors showing just a little too much right here?) try to cross all the monkey bars and throw a pull up in between each and try to go back and forth as many times as you can! Heck today on my walk down town I passed under one of those make shift construction scaffolding's and what would would you know, there were about 8 bars lined up perfect for doing chin ups. That's right I did ... I busted out a ladder set of chins on each bar starting at 1 chin up on the first bar, 2 on the second, all the way to 8 on the last bar! Yes, I get weird looks some times when I'm out but hey it's all in the name of fun and fitness ... besides we're talking about play here, and I don't care what look I get ... I'm having fun!

Now maybe running around the down town streets busting out pull ups and hand stands isn't your style, but I'm sure you can find something that does make you happy! So try some new things, work towards a new goal, get together with friends and have healthy competitions ... it doesn't matter as long as your working hard, and having a ton of fun! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get moving ... with a smile on your face!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ancient Training Methods For Great Results!

Our world is full of new "fitness experts" coming out with new fitness machines (to gain a quick buck) that do nothing for you but act as an expensive coat hanger. And how about all those diet pills claiming to give you that wash board stomach you've always wanted, but are really so dangerous/ineffective you might as well go drink a concoction of cleaners you find under your sink! Yet we've been lead to believe that if we don't purchase this diet pill, or make payments for this confusing pulley system, we'll be stuck broken down and out of shape for life! So what is a person to do? Even if you're looking to get into the best shape of your life, switch up your workout routine, or just get moving again ... in my humble opinion it is always best to look to our past for answers!

Lets start with this, we've been evolving for 2 million years, cavemen were fit, well muscles, had low body fat percentages, and great bone density! So forget all that crap about diet pills, home gym systems, and any other infomercial garbage. The first step is to adopt a caveman diet consisting of meats/animal products, veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds and healthy fats! Cut out the grains, processed foods and other garbage and you're body will change for the better. As I said we've been evolving on foods like this for 2 million years, we've only been farming for 10 thousand ... something has got to give right there!

Secondly, take a look at body weight training. It's a skill that lasts you a life time and costs you nothing to use! On top of that body weight exercises can be done anywhere at any time with little to no equipment except for you and the ground beneath your feet. On top of that it's a time tested superior option for strength and conditioning. This can be seen by it's use through history by every single physical force from the Spartans, with their world wide reputation for being one of the most physically dominant armies to ever live, to Hindu Wrestlers that dominated wrestling during the 19th century! The Spartans were seen on many occasions preparing for battle with what their enemies thought was just a ritual dance of some kind, but was actually early calisthenics consisting of exercises such as burpees and joint mobility. Hindu wrestlers are well known for their use of body weight training as the centre for their wrestling conditioning, making use of Hindu Push ups or Hindu Squats in very high reps, sometimes into the thousands! You don't need to be a wrestler or part of a great army to reap the benefits of body weight conditioning, even if you're a busy mom with 3 kids I would urge you to learn at least the very basics.

How about a little external resistance? Tired of using those machines at the gym or just want to try something a little different than the regular bar bell or dumbbell? Why not pick up a Kettlebell (its origins date so far back they're unknown) so popular through Russia with their military and Olympic athletes to develope superior cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance. Or perhaps you could try a Macebell, used again for countless centuries by Hindu Wrestlers to develop brute strength and a steel strong torso! Kettlebells can provide a dynamic element to your training blending both cardio and strength training into one workout while promoting active recovery. The Macebell is excellent for shoulder mobility, core strength, and high levels of muscular endurance. The Macebell can also double as a sledgehammer for sledgehammer work! Each tool requires a certain level of technique, skill, and fitness level to begin using them (again why I say learn to move your own body weight first!) so make sure to get a certified trained professional to teach you how to use both.

I'm sure all this is sounding pretty good right now, or maybe a little sensational. So lets look at two standout examples of what training using techniques from the past could do for you!

Eugen Sandow (pictured above), a strong man of the early 19th century built what is still considered one of the most astonishing, sought after physiques without the use of a bow flex, supplements, or even steroids! Not only was Sandow a sight to behold, he had the strength to match being able to press 269lbs in one hand! Did I mention he was only 5'7 and about 180lbs. Sandow built his body using old tried and true methods, heavy lifting, barbell training with basic lifts, kettlebell work, and a clean diet! Or how about Indian wrestling legend, The Great Gama. The worlds greatest wrestler of all time, undefeated in over 5000 matches, defeating most opponents in just minutes, and standing 5'7, weighing 225lbs of thick muscle and power. Gama built his impressive physique through years of body weight training, mace swinging, and wrestling practice, he was even said to have done 10,000 Hindu push ups each day! Again, no fancy machines, no fad diet, just a whole lot of functional body weight training and hard work!

Outstanding results have always come from a solid foundation in body weight conditioning, lifting heavy, and some high intensity training. It can be seen through out history, and history doesn't lie. Sometimes its a good thing to take a step back (in time) to take two (or more) steps forward!

The video link posted below is an excellent body weight and Macebell conditioning circuit using techniques such as the ones talked about in this post. Try it for yourself!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

10 Easy Ways To Live A Little More Jungle Fit

With all this talk all the time about lifting heavy, eating primal/paleo, running sprints, and body weight training things can get pretty serious in this blog from time to time. So lets just step back from all that in depth talk, take a big breath , and look at the life style of being Jungle Fit! After all Jungle Fit is not just a workout program, but a way of life. It's about eating how we're designed to eat, moving how we're designed to move for a better quality of life and enjoying that life to the fullest. Living Jungle Fit is an investment into your long term health and wellness, there is no short cut when it comes to your well being and why should there be when we're talking about some thing as precious as your health and body?

If you're looking to make the move and start living Jungle Fit, or you're already training with me ... then here are 10 steps to really make it a little bit more of a life style than just a training program!

1. Walk ... A LOT! : Walking, it's what we're designed to do. It's our primary mode of transportation, and a great stress reliever. Go for some hikes, takenightly walks with a loved one, or walk when ever possible where ever you go. Make time to walk, make a point of it when you have time off from work or family responsibilities. I bet you'll feel better!

2. Take A Nap: What the heck does napping have to do with Jungle Fit? Simple, it's like re-charging your batteries. Taking a nap will help you think a little clearer during the day, give you a little more energy,and besides we all love to sleep! Listen to your body, if you're tired during the day you're either over training, not eating right, or not getting enough sleep. Or a combo of all three! So nap to re-charge, even if it's only for 5 min your body will thank you.

3. Get Outside And Play: Break free from that work desk and drone like hum of your computer/T.V.! Take your dog for a walk or play Frisbee with him,or join an outdoor sports club, what ever you enjoy! We're meant to have fun and play, it's time to use our bodies for enjoyment after all that exercise (not that exercise isn't enjoyable for some). Not to mention the sun has the great gift of vitamin D!

4. BBQ: What could be more caveman than cooking meat on the BBQ? Ribs, steak, chicken, pork, veggies. I don't care what type of meat, BBQ makes everything better! Besides, even the Flinstones eat ribs.

5. Workout Outside: Again, it's all about being in the great outdoors. Get outside and train on one of the local jungle gyms, use large rocks as weights, run sprints on the beach, or use tree branches as pull up bars. One things for sure, you'll feel a whole lot more like a caveman using your surroundings in such a primal way!

6. Carry Your Groceries Home: I do this every week. We may not have to hunt our food and carry it home any more but why not get a little taste of what it's like? Head to your grocery store and buy up a good 2-3 bags of groceries and carry them home, I promise your traps will thank you in the morning!

7. Go Camping: I mean real camping, not the trailer park camp ground. Head out on a trip with some friends and build a fire, go swimming in a lake and cook food over an open flame. Nothing beats the feeling of "roughing it" in the wilderness and sleeping in a tent. There is a little something in all of us that is deeply attracted to camping in the wild.

8. Have Sex Often: Not that I have to tell you that, and not that most of you don't try at every opportunity. Sex is great for our love lives, it opens up the flow of communication, relives stress, and can be a mini workout depending on the length It's something were obviously designed to do, we all love it and want more of it! So please (responsibly!) have more sex with someone you love, have it often and enjoy ... I think it's a safe bet to say our caveman ancestors did or you wouldn't be here today!

9. Cut Out The Grains: Cavemen didn't eat them, we're not designed to eat them, you're body will change for the better without them! It's that simple.

10. Run Sprints: I love them, it's my favourite workout of the week. I love, love, love (did I say love yet) running sprints! The feeling of the wind zooming past my face, the feel of the grass between my toes, and moving so fast (well as fast as my 5"7 frame will take me) I feel like I'm The Flash! They're great for lowing your body fat, reving up your metabolism, working every muscle in your body, and you'll know what it felt like for cavemen to chase down a large animal on a hunt! Learn how to sprint, start with about 5-6 sprints of 50 merters each and work up to doing 10 - 20 sprints in total.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How We're Meant To Move Pt#3: Moving Very Slow

Most of the time when we think of fitness and human movement we think of people running fast or lifting heavy weights. While those are at the forefront of fitness and health (aside from a stellar paleo/primal diet) there's still a third modality we have yet to explore ... moving slowly for long periods of time. I doubt the thought of a long walk across town or a slow hike through the woods pops into your head when thinking about your health/fitness. So what does moving slowly have to do with our health, how we're designed to move, and your fitness. Once again we'll start at the beginning with our ever present caveman ancestors.

As we know, cavemen lived quite the brutal life. Day to day heavy lifting to build shelter, fight off enemies, and carry home kills would have been common place. They would also need to move very very fast from time to time to chase a kill, escape danger, or fight. However, the majority of their time would have been spent moving rather slowly. When not hunting, they would have been searching for other sources of food such as plants and fruits, this would require long walks daily. What about entertainment? A long walk through the woods or a swim in a near by lake would have been more than ideal! Last but not least, what happens when our caveman friend made a kill, it could have been miles from home and I doubt they had mini vans back then! Not only would they have stalked (more slow walking), chased (sprinting) and killed this animal, he would now need to carry it home (heavy lifting, and slow movement). I'm sure you see now where slow movement would have came into play.

Now that we're covered the back ground on slow movement lets talk about how it affects us today. The average North American only takes 5000 steps per day. That's it! It seems shocking, but why should it when we have cars and buses to take us everywhere? Why walk to the store when I can have food delivered to my house, why shop at the mall when I can order everything online and have it brought to my door step? Most people work jobs that require little to no physical movement other than typing at their computer desk or swiveling in their chair to grab the stapler. So is it any wonder why 5000 steps a day is the average?

For most of us the only physical activity we get is actually going to the gym. No wonder so many people hate their time at the local gym! We're cooped up all day long inside in front of a computer, and the only "play" time we get is in the gym under florescent lights, cold colours, and clanking metal. I say (and you can feel it in your gut) it's time to get out!

Take a tip from our caveman ancestors and get outside whenever you can. Try to walk more often, walk to work, talk a stroll at night with a loved one or pet. On weekends make time to get outside and take a hike, walk around down town and take a look at local shops or land marks. Or try a new outdoor activity, take a canoe ride or try kayaking, both are excellent upper body workouts. Many people find the act of walking to be almost therapeutic, loosening up their hips and knees, giving them time to think and enjoy their surroundings. So in a sense moving slowly is also very good for both the mind and body due to its natural stress reliving powers. Just look at how many people instantly say "I'm going for a walk!" when upset. Walking gives us time to be alone with our thoughts, and physical activity when thinking goes hand in hand with higher brain function!

As you can see, the benefits for moving slow in nature are vast. It's easy to see why we're designed to move slowly, as cavemen it helped us travel, hunt, and conserve our much needed energy. In modern times, it is a great stress reliever, physically therapeutic, and (in my opinion) still the best mode of transportation with in time constraints. So when you're all done your workouts, or on the days in between, get outside and get moving ... slowly.