Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Daily Warm-up for Old Bastards

I tend to design the best warm-ups when I'm sick or injured. After another round of back pain followed by a pulled Latissimus dorsi and/or Serratus posterior muscle, not sure which is hurt, I have changed my starting routine. The logic is that if I can do a warm-up while I'm sick or hurt then I never have an excuse not to do it. As you can imagine this takes some creativity.

While I'm not yet an old bastard, I do sometimes feel like one. There are mornings where stiffness and ache threaten to ruin my plans. The truth is that when we get older we need more time to get the engine going so mobility becomes a bigger priority. They have a saying in Crossfit, "The shorter the workout, the longer the warm-up." Such logic applies to this cause. In this case the workout is your wake-up, that step into daily life.

All you need to do this warm-up is a piece of PVC pipe about 5 feet long and maybe 3 or 4 inches wide. This length/size/weight will allow you to do basic exercises like the overhead press, bench, squat and bent over row. Multi-joint exercises are preferred but don't be afraid to put curls in there. Just remember the most important rule: This is a warm-up. This is not a workout. This is not a shock exercise. The reason for using a PVC pipe instead of a weight bar is that it cannot be upgraded or plated. Stay light to get warm.

In addition to the PVC exercises you can also throw in one or two bodyweight exercises but with one qualifier: You must know your limits. If 50 reps worth of air squats causes you soreness the next day, then you can't use that exercise. Try PVC deadlifts instead. So here is the next rule: Your exercises must add up to 300 with a 50 rep minimum. In other words you can do 100 lat raises, 100 lunges, 50 air squats and 50 back extensions. Or you can try 100 bent over rows, 100 bench presses, 50 overhead and 50 box squats. There are a multitude of variations but I do find that this one works best: 100+100+50+50=300.

The magic number is 300. The exercises are up to you but you must stick with the PVC pipe, strick form and 300 reps. Why? If you do 500 it becomes a workout. If you use more weight it becomes a workout. If you misread your own limits it becomes workout. You want to be able to do this every day. There should never be a time when you are too sore or too tired or too sick to manage 300 reps. In addition I like to follow it with a short walk or run. I'm talking about 1 to 3 miles but no more.

My goal was to create something very basic, flexible and easy to follow. We all want to slow the process that turns us into old bastards. It's going to happen but we can fight it every step of the way.

Disclaimer: Alex is not a licensed fitness expert. He is just a crazy fucker who writes books, rides bikes and lifts weights. If you follow his advice then doom on you!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stop Training & Start Having Fun

You know that instant when you get over yourself and start enjoy the moment? That finally happened to me. Two years ago I was an active runner competing in a race series and obsessing about beating my competition. I chose races based on how well I might place. How ridiculous is that? I was constantly suffering from injuries incurred during training and I was killing myself during the events. After one year I was beat down by my own efforts. I had missed the point entirely.

This time around I decided to stop training and start having fun. Instead of methodically building up to a race, I will sign up spontaneously. Instead of pushing myself to get faster, I will run at an agreeable pace. This is an attempt to stop the crash and burn cycle that has plagued all of my athletic endeavors. So far it appears to be working.

At the 2015 Trick or Trot 5k in Englewood (My Favorite Race), I threw all those unrealistic expectations in the garbage. In the spirit of Halloween I dressed up as The Punish Her. Nothing will make you smile faster than a tutu. I showed up early, posed for pictures and greeted friends. When the race started I took up a casual pace and just enjoyed the experience. It was about great trails, lots of smiles and physical activity in that awesome Florida weather. This is what it should be like. All of my runs will focus on fun from now on.