Well, it's been a while since the last email - - the summer is raging on here, hot, humid and - - well - - H..O..T!! So hot that the hill walk seems like I'm doing it in a sauna, albeit a "natural" one. . .PHEW!
Anyway, seems the heat is getting to some people's brains, and today's email is about one of the most STUPID, bar none, statements I've heard in the recent past (and going by the jokerishness going on during the past month or so, that is saying something - - but more on that later).
This morning, I was talking to a lady who I met a few days ago. We were talking "business" (read into that what you choose to, hehe) - - but after we were done, the conversation shifted on to other topics, and we soon started chatting about fitness.
Now, this lady isn't hard on the eyes to be honest, and that's putting it lightly. Great figure, no extra flab, etc etc - - as you might expect from a competitive swimmers, which this lady used to be in her younger days.
(Side note: Swimming is one of the very best exercises there is, despite the fact it doesn't do much for the legs - - goes against a lot of what I've said about leg training being the #1 priority, but swimming is one of the very few, if not the ONLY exercise which actually delivers a lot of the same fitness benefits that you get via other tough exercises - - but again, more on this later).
And so it wasn't a surprise that we got talking about fitness, starting with swimming, at which this woman appears to be FAR better than me - - and good on her for that.
"I knew it", I said. "You look like you love sports - - but I didn't know you liked swimming as well".
The usual giggle, giggle, and thank you, and we continued.
"I guess you go to the gym nowadays, since you don't swim competitively any longer", I said, more as an afterthought than anything else.
"Yeah, I do"
And so, we started talking about the various exercises she did at the gym, most of them being ones I wouldn't personally do, but hey, to each his - - or her - - own. And it wasn't all bad stuff to be honest, stationery biking, treadmill, etc - - not the best by a long shot, but if it works for her, hey...
"What about the Stairmaster", I broke in, as we were discussing the benefits of the treadmill. "I'm sure you use that, and..."
"Oh no", she said, looking a tad bit concerned. "Climbing stairs is bad for your knees, you know".
I shook my head. I was sure I had not heard her correctly.
She repeated what she said, and I shook my head again, this time in pure disbelief.
"Bad for you? Stairs are BAD for your knees???"
"Yes. My personal trainer, and the one before that said so".
"Ah", I responded, still trying to deal with this once-competitive swimmer imparting this bit of sage (not) wisdom.
But as the shock abated, I realized it wasn't her fault - - it was more her personal trainer's fault for spouting rubbish that has no basis whatsoever - - and whats sad is that 99.99% of trainers you'll see in the gym today are just as, if not MORE, clueless about what WORKS - - and what doesn't.
(Or should we say as opposed to hard work and "sweating it out" as a couch potato is to a brisk walk?)
And I looked at her legs, and it made more sense. She has "swimmer's legs" for sure - - slender, lissom- - legs that wouldn't look out of place in a fashion contest - - but at the same time, legs that don't scream STRENGTH - - and RUGGED POWER.
I then tried to convince the lady that she was being fed a crock, but though she listened politely, I got the feeling I might as well be banging my head against a brick wall.
Anyway, shortly after we exchanged pleasantries and departed, and that particular story ends there - - but that is where THIS email starts, to be honest.
I chose this topic to write about because there are LOADS of folks out there who believe that stairs are the worst thing you can do to your knees, when the truth is the exact opposite.
Look, fellas (and gals), training your legs is the NUMBER ONE, I repeat, NUMBER ONE priority in any sort of fitness endavour. I don't care if your training to be in the army, or sports, or martial arts - - or if your the blob that has just got off the couch for the first time in his life - - leg training is by far the most important thing to focus on, followed closely by hip, core and back work.
And there is nothing that quite hits the legs, back and core like a long, steep step of stairs climbed rapidly and repeatedly.
Well, because this exercise taxes the thighs - - which are by far the largest muscles in your body, and the muscles which really cause GROWTH - - and fat loss - - and release of HGH (human growth hormone) in liberal amounts all over your body.
Squats and rope jumping do it as well, but nothing really gets the heart rate up as efficiently as climbing stairs. And anyone that has experienced the heart pounding, "blood roaring in ears" feeling after a tough climb up a bunch of stairs knows what I mean.
As for it being bad on the knees, well, I haven't experienced any problems from my daily climbs up the hill. And neither do the thousands of people ascending the steep stairs leading up the mountain near where I live on a daily basis (both old and young) seem to complain about bad knees - - if anything, they seem to be enjoying far better overall health and strength than their counterparts on the machines in the gyms.
You'll hear some folks complain about "flexion" of the knees - - well, all I can say is that Nature gave us knees for a PURPOSE - - and your using your knees for exactly the same purpose that they were intended for when you climb stairs.
Your knees were NOT intended to stay "straight" on a machine while you "isolate" your muscles - - NO WAY, Jose!
And at this point, you might hear some say "Pooh! Swimming gets one fit as a fiddle, but swimmers don't have the sort of legs you mention - - what gives?"
Fair enough - - but google any competitive swimmers's routine, and you'll see that exercise on land is a priority for them - - especially LEG work.
Swimming is a sport where the legs don't get that much work - - the upper body does the bulk of the hard work - - but does this mean strong legs don't help a swimmer?
Again, no way, Jose - - them "frog kicks" and "dolphin kicks" will be that much more powerful with a pair of strong and sturdy legs as the "motor" behind the movement!
And if that still hasn't convinced you, take a gander at Fast and Furious Fitness where I detail how my daily hill climb has helped me get into the VERY BEST shape of my life - - at the age of 33, at that - - and if THAT doesn't convince you, then nothing will.
Or, well, wait a minute.
A hard climb up a hill in searing hot weather might - - especially if that hill has STAIRS on the way up.
But then again, that would mean HARD work.
Something that 99.9999999% of all "personal trainers" (UGH!) are opposed to. And something that most modern day trainees seem not to think much of either, preferring to "blast" out reps of whatever exercise they are doing on the latest useless machine in the gym while "ogling the babes".
And if you're the kind that fits into the above category - - well, no problems from my end, my friend - - but I wish you best of luck with the knee problems YOU WILL have if you continue using the machines and do no other work for your legs.
And if you are in the tiny minority? The "Fast and Furious Fitnes" minority, if I might say so?
Well, there's nothing to say in that case - - except a (virtual) shake of the hand, and pat on sweaty back - - and back to the workout, as it were!
Well, that's it for today. If you hear a personal trainer spout more nonsense like this, smack him as hard as you can before running - - that'll be your "good deed for the day"!
P.S.: - I speak about Fast and Furious Fitness in this note, and you can grab your copy right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/4-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book. This is NOT for the 99.999999% I just mentioned - - but if you don't fit into that category - - well - - there's no better read for you. Again, that link is http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/4-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book . . . rush on over, and grab your copy NOW.