Well, it wasn't exactly the most of pleasant and restful of nights for me last night, to say the least. Started off well enough actually, a few brewskies, part of what seems to be a good flick - - you know - - a typical Sunday night for most folks.
And what made it better was a great workout before the evening - - done in searingly hot and humid weather as usual, and with a few new exercises to boot. I've been concentrating on hanging leg raises these days (great, great exercise, and one which I detail in Fast and Furious Fitness extensively: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/4-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book), and I did an interesting variation of this exercise yesterday.
For those that don't know (and you should!) - - the hanging leg raise is by far one of the BEST exercises you can do for your core, and the variation that I did involves pulling your legs up to your chest while you hang prone on the bar. It's supposed to be an easy variant - - in theory, that is - - in practice, do them the right way, and they're anything BUT easy.
Anyway, I went to bed a happy camper, and woke up around 5 A.M. or so, thirsty.
Ok, no big deal, happens a lot, and off I trundled off to the bedside table to grab some H20. . .
Well - - I really should say that I STARTED making my way over to said table - - and - - BAM! OUCH!
I suddenly discovered I was unable to stand on my right leg - - unable to put any pressure at all on that leg - - and the left leg funnily enough was normal - - no problems on that leg.
But it's the pain I remember MOST vividly - - OUCH! It's not often that I scream out loud with pain, but merely standing on my right leg was causing me to do so (and if my neighbors woke up due to this - - and are reading this - - mea culpa, but at the same time, the pain was of a kind I'd never experienced before!).
It wouldn't go away no matter what I did, though it seemed to subside somewhat when I sat down in a certain position.
And finally, after much pummeling, screaming and "thumbing" deep into where the pain was coming from (the side of the inner right thigh), the pain died away - - somewhat.
I finally popped off to bed around 6:30 or so, and when I woke up, the leg seemed fairly normal - - at least compared to the night before when I could barely walk on it.
And my thoughts upon waking up were: - I CAN walk on it now - - but I CANNOT lift my leg off the floor without support - - so SOMETHING'S happened for sure.
Turns out I've got an "abductor muscle pull (or slight tear - - not sure which)" - - the muscle that runs along the SIDE of the thigh - - the inner thigh - - not the groin, but the part of the inner thighs which touch together when you bring your knees together.
Drat - - I don't need this, I thought. Lots and lots of walking to do in the next few days, and I sure don't need to be hobbling around while I do it!
Anyway, I decided to test the leg out with some simple walking on level ground and climbing a few flights of stairs, and strangely enough, I can do that without too much pain (or very little pain, actually). But try and lift the leg off the floor by itself - - and - - OUCH!
As to why this happened to an extremely active and conditioned person such as me (at least, conditioned in the things I do)?
Well, for one, I've been exhausted for the past few weeks (hectic, hectic, you know how that goes!) - - and perhaps this is one way my body is telling me to back off a bit?
Maybe - - but more importantly, I think the reason is the variant of the exercise I did. I know I was feeling a bit funny when I was drawing my legs up to my chest - - and holding - - the other afternoon, but I did not think much of it at the time.
Uh oh, mistake #2 right there (I'm sure you can guess #1?). . .
And the reason that I'm telling you this is simply to drive home the fact that you should - - ALWAYS - - LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - - no matter how good of shape you might be in, or think you might be in. Something I keep emphasizing in all my books and writing, but something that we tend to ignore - - yours truly at times as well.
Anyway, I guess I'll be taking a break today from my climb - - or if I do it, I'll be sure and take it easy today. Definitely no leg raises for the next week or so - - the nagging case of elbow tendonitis I'm dealing with is annoying but nothing to worry about - - but this could get a lot worse if I don't do the right things for it.
Sitting around is never the right thing to do, of course, and that isn't what I'm going to do. That is also why I went for a brisk walk on level ground this morning (along with a few stairs) just to "test" the leg out and see what sort of shape its in - - and so far, so good. I bet I'll be making a full recovery in a few days - - touchwood, of course!!
So, that's the update from here. If you work out today - - make it a great one - - and remember to listen to your body as well!
P.S. : - This email isn't to encourage anyone with a thigh or elbow injury to go out and climb hills or do pull-ups - - remember, everyone is DIFFERENT - - and you should ALWAYS seek medical advice for any injury you might have! That said, some MILD activity "just to get the blood flowing" is usually always a good ideas as well. . .
Judging from the reader feedback I've gotten so far, a LOT of you seem to enjoy my posts describing my workouts (and sometimes, life in general) in Southern China, and for those of you that enjoy that sort of thing, this note will be right up your alley.
For those that don't - - well, you might want to read it anyway - - if just for yet another reminder to avoid doing "bunny curls" at the gym, and so forth, hehe.
Anyway, I've been noticing a strange guy wheedling around the park on one of those "one wheeled cycles" that seem to be the rage for some people these days (though for the life of me I can't figure out why).
This guy looks like the epitome of the "roid crazed" bodybuilder I talk so much about - - shirt stretched tight over "puffed up (to the max)" pecs, huge arms, a broad upper back and legs that. . . well, legs that look rather like chicken legs compared to the rest of his "physique".
(and given that the bulk of the work they get is holding him up on the motorized tool he so proudly struts around on, music playing to the max, that isn't surprising, is it?)
Anyway, this dude whizzes around the local park quite a bit, and I've noticed him often after returning from my daily climb, usually just before I start part #2 of my workout. And a couple of days back, this dude stopped right by the monkey bars (where I was working out) and parked himself on a bench nearby, flexing his "massive" biceps as he did so, hoping to catch the passerby's attention with every pose he struck.
And catch their attention he did - - though not for the reasons he'd want. With his sunglasses, shaved head, massive upper body and stork like legs and music that blared nonstop through his phone - - and of course, his "one wheeled cycle", he WAS the center of attraction, but again, not for the reasons he'd want.
I mean, it was one of the ONLY times where I can remember breaking down laughing during a workout - - but more on that later.
Anyway, I noticed the dude "sizing" me up from a distance, and he was soon at the monkey bars, music in tow, preparing to do a set of pull-ups.
He grabbed the bars, and hung for a second or so, or what seemed like it.
And then, he proceeded to emit a set of curious sounds.
"UGGH! GRR!! MMMPPFFF" (all this before the actual pull-ups, mind you).
And then, he "jumped" up to the monkey bars, chest flopping around as he did so, and held himself there for a minute, furiously grunting and moaning as if he was trying to lift King Kong on his back.
(and just so you know, the sunglasses stayed on while he was "exercising").
Down a few inches, and up again. Down, and up. Down, and up. And then I heard a loud thud, as the "man mountain" fell down to the ground, much like the figurative ton of bricks, and furiously started flexing his biceps, and wiping imaginary sweat off his brow.
(and that, my friend, is saying a lot considering that the humidity levels here are over 90% - - not to mention the actual temperatures themselves - - I seem to start to drip with sweat even after a mild walk - - let alone a vigorous workout!)
Actually, I'm exaggerating when I say a "few inches". Those "massive arms" could barely go up and down more than TWO inches, if that, and that was the extent of his pull-ups before he moved on to the dipping bars.
The strange grunts emanated from him again, and he jumped up to the "top" position of the dip, and furiously held himself there, contorting his face, looking every bit like a gorilla that has bitten off more than it can chew.
But he never did a single dip.
A few seconds later, the contortions were replaced by a wide grin, and the dude starts to "pedal" on the dipping bars, moving his legs slowly around, much like a dowager slowly cycling through the neighborhood market.
No - - I'm NOT kidding you - - that was his version of the "dip", and it was at that point that I burst out laughing - - hey, some things are too much for even yours truly to ignore, and laughter is good for health anyway!
After that he looked around, grinned at all the onlookers snickering behind him, and made his way down the path again, ruffling his "hair" (though he had none), and ogling all the women as he did so.
Sanity returned to the place for a while - - or at least until he showed up again - - but that's a different story altogether!
Anyway, now that you guys have choked on your morning coffee (or evening brew of choice, hehe), here's something else I saw. Something that might inspire you - - at least, it did me.
A couple of afternoons ago, I was completing my daily stretches at the top of the hill, when a couple of ladies came over by me, one dressed in semi-formal office wear, and the other dressed smartly in a tank top, shorts and sports shoes. Green sports shoes, if I recall correctly. . .
I was going through my daily stretches - - the sort I described a few emails ago (visit http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/blog/item/172-reader-q-and-as for more details on the exact stretch) - - and the lady (the one in the sports attire) started her own routine.
And it was a simple enough routine, yet the ease with which this lady did it literally FLUMMOXED me - - and I mean every word of that sentence.
She stretched the way I mention in the above link - - but she did it while throwing her leg at least five inches or so above head height, and doing so as casually as you might pop a can of beer, for example.
And the stretches she did after that - - well, let me just say that I attempted to follow along and despite my many years of experience in this field, and a fit body, I fell flat on my arse the first time I attempted to do what she did.
"Ta Hen Chuang (Mandarin Chinese for "you are very strong")", I found myself saying, as the two ladies giggled at the foreigner trying to do what they were doing, and not really succeeding, to say the least.
"Bu Shi. Yi Dian Dian", giggled the sports "girl" (Not really. Just a little).
A little, my rear end, I thought, as she then walked over to a wall nearby and every so casually walked backwards down it, ending in a perfect gymnastic bridge.
And THEN - - she walked away from the wall - - BACKWARDS and on all fours, at that, so she was in the bridge position without any support - - and then she placed her entire weight on her forehead, much like what is done in a wrestler's bridge.
(For those that are wondering, the "bridge" is a fantastic exercise for the back, and I talk about it in Fast and Furious Fitness).
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture here. Can we say SUPER FIT!!!?
Now, judging by this description, you might think this lady looks like the Chinese version of Jane Fonda - - and I wouldn't blame you for thinking that way - - but amazingly enough, she DOESN'T.
She was NOT one of the "toned and lean" sorts you hear about so often - - and neither did she have "rippling muscles" (or muscles that showed at all, for that matter).
Oh, that's fine, some of you might say. She's probably young and flexible, and...
Hold on, hold on. Hold "yer horses" as they say - - this lady was - - get this - - 35 years of age, and the mother of a four year old child!
And again, she looked normal - - in fact, some might even say she had a bit of extra "padding" in the wrong areas - - but the things she can do with her own body would put many a trained gymnast (and certainly our pal on the one wheeled cycle) to shame within a matter of minutes.
I got to talking to her a bit, and though my very limited Chinese prevented anything in the way of advanced communication, I did learn that she grew up working in the fields. Hard, manual labor from an young age and an interest in sports led to the inevitable, and today, she doesn't even need a warm up before jumping into a serious stretch (well, not much of a warmup, at any rate).
So that's the other "story" - - always best to showcase both sides of the coin, hehe. I'm sure those of you that work out in gyms have similar stories to share - - and if you do - - well - - send 'em over, and I'll try and publish as many of them here as I can.
As for who to emulate - - well, I don't think that one needs to be addressed, to be honest!
All for now - - Stay tuned for more "blasts from the present" (if I might use the term, hehe) in terms of the madness (as well as some amazingly GOOD stuff) I see going on around me as I slog through my daily workout routine.
Hasta la vista - - and if you work out today - - make it the BEST one - - and avoid "them" one wheeled motorized cycles while exercising, hehe.
P.S.: - Our facebook page is a wonderful way to stay up to date with "what is going on at Fast and Furious HQ's" - - https://www.facebook.com/fastandfuriousfitness
More of the usual foolishness at the local park today as I prepared to commence my daily slog up the hill. I was already sweating before I started - - it's THAT hot and humid here. Sort of like a blanket of "heat and humidity" (and of course the ever present smog/pollution, hehe) wrapped around you as you exercise intensely. . .
Anyway, I passed the chinning bar on the way to the hill, and I saw a fine young (not) gentleman literally "frogging" his way up to multiple reps on the pull-up bar.
What do I mean?
Well, this fellow was LITERALLY doing a "frog kick" with his legs to get his chin up above the bar, and uttering strange noises as he did so, as if he was working his entire upper body really hard.
And when he was done, he barely broke a sweat - - not surprising, me thinks.
Anyway, I've written enough about the nuts who seem to think the "rep" is all that counts, and form be "damned", and as promised, I'm going to write about a welcome surprise that I've been getting over the last few evenings in the park.
This middle aged Chinese gentleman usually shows up in the park around the same time that I do, and can be seen valiantly working his pull-ups in the same area as I do. As in, the monkey bars - - with THICK bars!
He can't get a single rep in as of now. In fact, it's all he can do to even pull himself up halfway, after which he falls from the bar like a sack of bricks.
This is mostly because he is overweight and out of shape - something which is clearly evident, and YET, I rate HIS attempts on a FAR, FAR higher scale than the other clowns who "frog out" repetitions.
Yes, even though he can barely hold onto the bar for any length of time.
Well, because he TRIES - - and does so in a genuine manner. No preening, no posing, just a STRUGGLE to get that first rep in - - as it SHOULD be.
And more importantly, he tries to do the exercise in proper form. He starts out with a dead hang and THEN tries to pull himself up from there, and isn't concerned about the fact that he isn't succeeding in his efforts - as yet.
And he shouldn't be - - if he keeps this up, and incorporates some hill climbs into the mix to lose the flab around his midsection, he'll soon be pumping out GENUINE reps like nobody's business.
This dude isn't worried about "impressing" the girls, and he isn't worried about "how he looks" upon not being able to complete a single rep.
Not for him the nonsense of "I did a 100 reps, I'm better than you!".
Just silent, hard work - - and THAT, my friend, ties in nicely with the topic of today's e-mail, which is basically that you have to start SOMEPLACE.
Hey, we've ALL been there - - no-one is born looking like a human Hercules, and it's a fact of life that some of us have to work way harder at this than others that may be a tad bit more genetically gifted.
That's a fact of life that we can't change, and quite frankly, I've never bothered wasting brain cells over it - - and this is coming from someone who is a hard gainer in the true sense of the word - - ME.
I mean, my forearms have ALWAYS been weak, ultra weak in fact from what I'd say - - and yet today, I've got a stronger grip and better upper body development/strength than a lot of "naturally" gifted folks.
And it doesn't matter what your current strength levels are, or how you "look in front of the girls", or "how many reps you can do NOW", or whether or not you have a family connection to the Pope (ok, I made that one up).
What matters is that you WANT - and TRY - and TRY in the right manner.
What matters is that you know you have to start someplace. I did - we all did at some point.
And most of all, what matters is the will to SUCCEED, and IMPROVE, despite seemingly insurmountable odds in your way. I talk about will power a LOT in Fast and Furious Fitness - - in fact, it's one of the "commandments" that are an absolute must to read even before you start on the exercises and workouts outlined in the book.
Fast and Furious Fitness: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
And that, my friend, is why I bring up the middle aged Chinese gentleman who I'm sure will improve within a few weeks, faster perhaps if he takes my advice on incorporating some cardio into his routine.
I also gave this gentleman a tip or two on HOW to grip the bar when doing his exercises - - advice he was more than happy to accept, and advice that has him firmly on the path to a rock solid grip and super forearm strength down the line.
So remember - it doesn't matter what your current fitness or strength levels are. In other words, you have to start SOMEPLACE - and so long as you have the right attitude and the gumption to forge ahead no matter what - well - NOTHING can stop you from achieving your desired goals!
And just so you know, this philosophy is applicable to all areas of life - - NOT just fitness.
All for now! If you workout today, make it an excellent one - - and write in and tell me about it!
P.S.: - Working on grip and forearm strength is a great place to start, and I've put a course out there that tells you exactly what and how to do to get started: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/89-gorilla-grip/
That was the exact thought that came to my mind this afternoon as I hustled up the steps, determined to beat my previous best time on this route.
I was sweating like a racehorse, puffing like a locomotive and panting like I'd just swam an ocean (or darn near close to it) - but after passing about ten people that had started the climb before I did, I finally had to pause for some much needed breath.
I breathed in deeply, making sure to breathe "into the stomach" as opposed to the shallow breaths that it's so easy to get suckered into when one is out of breath. And soon enough, I was fine, and ready to continue again.
(That's a tip for you right there - breathe the right way, and you'll find your performance in most physical activities improves without you even actively trying. I've written about the importance of proper deep breathing before, so I'm not going to get into it here - - just know it's something well worth keeping in mind at all times.)
But while I was gasping for air, I knew I still had a GOAL to attain - that goal being bettering my last climb time, and that meant resuming the climb ASAP.
I look up above me, and all I see is the sun shining down angrily, and a vast imposing row of steps as far as I could see.
Well, not as far as I could see, actually, but the top seemed far, far away at that point. You know how it is - that last bit always seems to be the toughest!
And all of a sudden, I remembered.
"Eat a bear - but ONE bite at a time!"
And in my current situation that meant one thing.
Go for the goal - attain it - but remember that it's the little steps that add up to the big thing.
So, I tackled the steps in sets of 15, as opposed to thinking of it as one long arduous set of steps I had to get through, and get through fast. And before I knew it, I was at the top, and I had bettered my previous time by one second.
Not a lot by any means, but again, it's the small things that add up. That one second will turn into 30 soon, and then 60, and then more, and so forth.
And why do I mention this in an email to you, my friend?
Well, because fitness follows the same principles, my friend.
Take the case of a person that can do only one pushup before collapsing. Show him the ultimate goal of 100 at one go, and he'll likely sigh and throw in the towel before even starting on the long and arduous path ahead of him.
Other than, set a goal of 10 for him, and chances are, he'll get to this goal within a few days with a bit of will power and lots of properly applied effort.
He'll then progress to 20, and then 30 even before he knows it.
And soon, within a couple of months, he'll get so good at doing pushups that he'll crack off 100 plus in a row.
And what did he do to get to this goal? Well, he broke down the goal into gettable "bites" (parts), and ate the "bear" slowly, one bite at a time.
The same thing applies to losing weight, getting stronger, and so forth.
You might say "elementary, my dear Watson (Mookerjee)", but the fact remains that this elementary piece of "wisdom" is ignored by many on a daily basis.
"Oh, I'm too out of shape to do 25 pushups"
"Oh, my knees hurt so bad, how could I possibly go for a run?"
"Oh, I'd rather sit on the couch, and shove potato chips into my mouth - easier than getting down on the floor and cranking out bear crawls, or whatever the heck that Mookerjee guy is on about"
Ok, so maybe the third was a bit of an exaggeration (although many do prefer gobbling up potato chips by the dozen as opposed to exercising and following a decent diet), but the first two sure aren't.
I'm sure you can think of a couple of examples yourself too.
So remember, the next time you think a target is too tough to achieve, you just need to say one line to yourself (or others).
Eat a bear - - one bite at a time!
All for now - - back again later.
P.S:- It's easier to simply ignore this email rather than to take action and improve your fitness levels NOW. Remember, words don't rock the boat - - ACTION does. And the first step to take towards reaching your fitness goals is to grab a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
I wrote to you yesterday regarding a drastic change in diet a couple of months ago, and the wonders it did for me - including get my hill jaunt timings down to less than 15 minutes - something I couldn't do even at a trim, lean and fit 25 years of age.
And while diet played a massive role in making this happen, there was more to it than just diet.
I think I mentioned I returned to China in March, and started to go for my daily climbs again as soon as I got back. Well, due to work related reasons I've been climbing mostly in the afternoons as of late, around 2P.M. on most days, and that applied to my March climbs as well.
(Side Note: Tough outdoor exercise during the peak hours of the day is NOT recommended if you live in extremely hot locales, as dehydration is a very real risk especially if you are pushing yourself hard. If you absolutely have to exercise at those times, make sure your a) drinking enough water, b) drinking enough water, c) know what you are doing, and d) yes - you guessed it - drink enough water - and by water, I mean good old H2O - nothing else during your workout.)
Ok, that side note turned into more than a "side" note, but it needed to be said - I don't want any of you keeling over in the hot sun for sure!
The hill I climb has many different routes, my favorite one (or should I say one of my favorite ones) being a long, steep climb with tons and tons of stairs. Sort of like a Stairmaster workout x 10, if you get my drift, or tougher. . .pictures on the site as well on the Fast and Furious Fitness Facebook account.
But, there is another route I use regularly - one with a long, sloping path going straight up and "around" the hill. There are NO steps on this route for say 70% of the climb, and the last 30% merges with the other route I take (the one with steps).
I usually alternate between these two routes. If I climb up route A, I go down route B, and if I climb up route B, I descend via route A. And I alternate between A and B daily - works different muscle groups in an intense manner.
This wasn't what I did years back in China - I stuck exclusively to route A going up, and route B coming down - it seemed to give me a better workout - but times change, and so should your workouts if they need to. Plus, it adds a bit more variety into the route, keeps it interesting.
So, anyway, I'm huffin and puffin one day at the top of the mountain, and I notice this old Chinese man walk up the stairs behind me, observing me quietly, yet intently.
We acknowledged each other, but didn't say much, mostly due to a language barrier. This guy must have been at least 70 years of age by the look of it, probably more if you consider the fact that many old Chinese people actually look a few years younger than they are, due to following healthy lifestyle habits their entire life.
He walked around the top of the hill once, and left, and I returned to my pushups.
Come the next day, I took route B, and I saw the old man again. We started together up the hill, and I was expecting I'd easily keep pace with him, maybe even outpace him, but what surprised and shocked me was the speed and pace at which he motored up the hill. I think I must have kept pace with him for about 20% of the climb that day, and I was already bushed after that.
Now, just so you know, this guy is not a "fitness guru" or "fitness buff" or anything like that, at least not in the traditional sense. No rippling muscles, no excess brawn, and like zero percent body fat - actually quite a small guy if you look at him from a distance.
But as they say, it's not the size of the dog, it's the size of the FIGHT in the dog.
Anyway, I got to talking to him a few days later, and shook his hand - and it felt like I'd put my fingers inside a pair of iron pliers.
I started to notice this guy's routine more closely after that. At the end of each climb, when most people are gasping for breath, this guy walks coolly over towards a nearby wall, and kicks up into a letter perfect handstand against the wall - and holds that position for exactly 60 seconds.
After that, he stretches his hamstrings out thoroughly - but in a manner most people wouldn't dream of doing. That sort of stretch stretches the ENTIRE core, lower back, chest and hamstrings - as well as calves and shins to a certain degree.
And after that, he walks back down the hill. Sometimes, he'll bang out a few pull-ups - letter perfect reps, almost always 15 reps per set.
And that's the extent of his workout. A 10 minute climb up the hill (which some folks can't complete in 30 minutes), and a 5 to 10 minute stretch/workout combination that works the ENTIRE body as a unit. And the results are there for all to see.
Granted, the guy probably follows a great diet as well - but still, a 70 year old (or more) doing all that? Most people would be lucky to kick up into a handstand at the age of 30, let alone 70, and add in pull-ups and a hill to the mix, and we're talking some serious fitness levels there, my friend.
And why do I tell you this? Well, first to let you know that age is NOT a barrier in terms of achieving your fitness related goals. I don't care if your 15, 25, or 40 or even more - the right attitude and the right workout routine WILL get you results - there is no other way.
Second, because inspiration doesn't always come from those who you think it might come from. This guy is an ordinary old man - nothing special to look at, but he's the one that in part inspired my less than 15 minute climbs.
Ok, a little urging from him (I'm not going to get into what that urging entailed, hehe) helped, but still, he inspired me to push myself and achieve what I couldn't even back in 2005 at the age of 25!
And third, because one never really stops learning in terms of fitness. I know a little something about handstands and handstand pushups - I've written an entire training manual on that exercise alone - but this old man showed me a tiny little adjustment to make in terms of leg placement while kicking up, and that tiny little bit DOES make a difference to how your final handstand turns out.
I'll cover that in more detail in the future, but that's the story for today.
Anyway, my goal is to beat the old man's approximately 10 min timeframe - and do it in less than a month. See how THAT pans out!
All for now - if you work out today - make sure it's one of the best ever workouts!
P.S: - Talk about shoulders like boulders - this old man has a pair of shoulders on him that would shame most gym goers. Pound on over here to find out how YOU, my friend, can develop a vice like grip and shoulders like King Kong here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/87-shoulders-like-boulders
Well, that's another long break from writing to you for sure. I think my last note to you was on New Year's Eve, and funnily enough, I just haven't had the time to post after that. Maybe it was my New Year's resolution of starting new businesses that started to work for me, or perhaps I just got too busy dealing with other stuff, but either way (and again,funnily enough), here I am in China, writing to you right after the Chinese New Year holidays.
Strange how that works, huh - I found no time to write to you after the "English" New Year, but I seem to be getting time to do so after the Chinese New Year? Is that a harbinger of even better tidings to come?
Well, I don't know, to be honest, but what I do know is that I've been busier than a bee trying to build several honeycombs at once. I've been dabbling in a new business I might start shortly, and I've also been doing lots and lots of writing, again for different business which I've already started. So, lots of things going on for sure - and all throughout, I've been climbing my favorite hill here in China on a daily basis.
(Note: There's always time to exercise for those that really want to!)
Anyway, so I saw this little building being built today in the park my hill is in, and thought I'd look closer to get a better look. Turned out they are (or were, at some point) building a small building where folks could barbeque food, cook their own meats etc while relaxing by the side of the lake, perhaps with a beverage of choice.
Ok, that's MY style of relaxation - but the combination of the hill and this potential bar-b-que spot instantly got me thinking about the furnace INSIDE of us - which everyone should have, but doesn't.
Furnace inside of us? And "keeping the fire burning"?
Do I mean keeping the "desire alive", which is what "keeping the fire burning" commonly alludes to? Well, there's nothing wrong with keeping the desire alive for what one likes, but I'm referring to something else.
I'm referring to the FAT burning furnace inside of you that lights up the fire cells like fireworks, and pops each one of them right OUT of your system. The furnace that is key to dissolving the layers of pesky chub that bulge out over that abdomen. The bar-be-que inside of you that is instrumental in roasting off the blubber hanging off your backside. And so forth.
Effective fat burning can often be compared to a successful outdoor BBQ. Think about it - how do we get a good BBQ going? It takes a large flame to kick start the process, but that flame usually dies down to a steady, but intense heat that keeps the coals red, and cooks your food from the inside out. And far burning, my friend, works much the same way.
In other ways, you kickstart your metabolism - and keep it at a level slightly below what it was during the peak part of your kickstarting.
So, those long, boring runs won't do it in terms of shedding fat quickly - - And neither will lifting weights all day in the gym do it. In fact, large and clumsy muscles can actually sometimes worsen your entire look if your overweight to begin with.And while walking is a great overall exercise, and does burn calories, it alone won't give you the intense fat burning effect that overweight people need.
But take an exercise - - any exercise - - that cranks your heart rate up to the MAXIMUM level it can go (depending upon your current conditioning levels), and then either keeps it there (not possible for very long periods) or "dies" down to to a slow and steady pounding, and you have the perfect recipe for building muscle and burning off fat - - both at the same time, while also getting your heart and lungs in the very best shape of your life.
Climbing hills fits the bill for sure, but for those of you that don't have hills nearby, here are some more options to roast your inner lard right off your frame: -
- Stair climbs/sprints (almost as good as climbing hills)
- Pushups done in sets; a great lung buster
- Jumping rope at the right cadence
And many, many more - - all exercises that I've included in Fast and Furious Fitness: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book - - grab your copy right NOW if you haven't already.
Once you've got your hill climb in, or done a few hard sets of pushups, or whatever, really, that BBQ is going to taste so much better once you get to it. And if you don't believe what I have to say - - well, all I'm going to say is this - - TRY IT - - an intense workout always works up a far better appetite than slow, "grind me down" exercise that actually ends up harming you more than you think it benefits you.
So that's the tip of the day, as well as interesting way to think about burning fat!
P.S.: - It's the Year of the Horse in China, and the very best thing you can do for your health and fitness this year is to grab my fitness manuals and start implementing what I teach. Gallop on right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
As you know, the New Year will be upon us in a matter of hours. In fact, it's probably only an hour or so away for some of you, especially those of you from New Zealand and nearby areas, where it's already 11P.M. at the time of writing this.
Not quite that late here as yet, it's around 5:30 P.M. here. And it's a great time for - you guessed it - some introspection on how the year has gone by, and how the New Year is going to pan out.
Notice I don't know "how you think the New Year is going to pan out" - I say "how the New Year is going to pan out". And that's more than just adding in two words - I believe that WE make our destiny to a large degree, and so whether or not the New Year is a roaring success or tepid failure for you is really up to YOU, my friend (again, to a large extent).
Be positive, and look ahead to the upcoming year with optimism, hope and positivity - - and chances are the same vibes will flow back into YOUR life. Other hand, look ahead to the New Year with trepidation, worries about the economy, or just a bleak outlook in general, and chances are 2014 won't exactly be the best year for you either. And that holds true both in terms of life, and fitness as well, my friend.
Note that this doesn't mean you ignore practical realities - not at all - but sometimes, a healthy dose of measured optimism is just what the doctor ordered in many cases.
It has been said that an optimist stays up until midnight to ring the New Year in, and a pessimist stays up until the same time to bid a teary farewell to the old year - which one are YOU?
Anyway, 'nuff said on that one. Back to introspection - a lot of you are probably getting ready to go out and celebrate the New Year in style and that's fine - but a little time spent tabulating your goals and reviewing where you are (in terms of life) in general will work wonders for you in the New Year.
For instance, you might have set a goal to drop 40 pounds this year - did you make it? If not, why not?
Or some of you might be looking to get that raise, but cannot no matter how hard you try - why not?
You get the picture - sit back with your beverage of choice and a piece of paper, and simply think - and jot down the points that appear in your mind.
Along with those points, jot down your GOALS (concrete goals), and also the ACTIONS you are willing to take to achieve those goals.
This should really you take you no more than 15 minutes or so - if it is, your doing something wrong.
And that's it - just make sure you keep that piece of paper with you, and look at it come midnight with a POSITIVE mindset.
Go to bed, wake up the next morning - and start to put your PLANS in ACTION - and watch the year whiz by so rapidly you won't even know it's come and gone. And chances are you'll be pretty happy with what you accomplish as well.
As for this cat, well, my routine today wasn't really any different from what it's been like the last couple of weeks, really. I don't have any plans of going out and ringing in the New Year "in style" (though there's nothing wrong with doing so to be honest) - it'll probably be a quiet evening as usual spent talking to my baby girl (who has a case of the sniffles) as well as Mommy. And then bed as usual.
One of my goals for next year is to get in a hill climb DAILY, without fail (at least ONE hill climb) - as in, a minimum of 365 hard slogs up the hill, more if possible (and it should be very possible). No "rest", no "days off", no breaks, nothing (unless I really, really need it due to reasons beyond my control) - just hard exercise EVERY DAY of 2014. Not really all that different from what I did in 2013, but there it is - thats one of my goals.
Make that one of YOUR goals (replace the hill climb with whatever you prefer, of course) - and you'll be surprised at just how fit you are come 2015.
OK - enough for now! To all readers of this blog, or those who "chanced" upon this post - or just everyone, in general, really - have a very happy, prosperous and safe 2014 - and make it the best year yet!
Rahul and family
P.S.: - My new course on pull-ups is disappearing off the shelves like hot cakes - make sure to grab your copy HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/88-getting-better-at-pull-ups-from-dud-to-stud-within-a-matter-of-weeks.
Well, it's that time of the year again - much love and happiness all around (or at least, there should be). Your kids are probably eager to see what Santa brought them, hehe, and most of us adults are looking forward to plenty of good food, some time spent with the family - and again, thats how it should be.
Sometimes, occasions like this cause us to introspect and think about just whats important in life. 2014 is almost upon us, and I thought it would be a good time to think over how 2013 went, and how I can make 2014 way better - both in terms of life and fitness.
And so I went for a long, long walk today after my hill climb. No tough climbs, no taking the steps three at a time, no lung busters - nothing of that nature. Just a long, peaceful walk through the woods if you would, enjoying the chirping of the birds, the feeling of the sun on my face - just the feeling of being ALIVE, actually.
In short, being glad for the small things in life. None of us lead a "perfect" life (at least most of us don't), but focusing on the negatives only takes away from the joy that the simple (and usually freely available, if one just looks for it) pleasures in life are what count the most.
Just FYI, I often go for long walks like this - not necessarily for any "cardio" (though walking is good exercise), but more to "chill out". If I'm doing this in the woods, then it's usually to "be at one with Nature" and enjoy some well deserved and much needed solitude - and this time really gets the brain cells working, and contemplating. In fact I've had some of my very best ideas while going on long, peaceful walks - can't beat that for sure!
I thought about my family (not currently here with me - so for those of you that aren't able to see family for Christmas, I completely understand you feel). I thought about my baby girl growing up every day - and my wife working overtime to care for her (quite a task without both parents around, and those of you with kids will understand) - and the sheer joy of seeing baby Shristi grow up in front of her eyes (again, those of you with children know what I'm talking about here).
I thought about how glad I am that my daughter was born healthy - and that both of US (wife and me) are healthy individuals with many years in front of us.
I thought about how I'm "lucky" enough to be in a position to be able to do what I am right now on my own terms. Lucky to have a fantastic following on the site, lucky to have some great friends, lucky to be able to enjoy some simple (but tasty) meals every day. And so forth.
I thought about how I was feeling at peace - and at one with Nature, and how these simple walks really make my day - without any expense or special equipment required (and the fitness benefits are a welcome bonus).
In short - the "simple things in life" (or the "small" things in life). Sure, there are areas of my life I'd love to improve (and will improve) and that holds true for everyone - but sometimes, just sometimes, it's good to just "sit back" and just introspect on a relaxed level if that makes sense.
Anyway - that was what I did today - and I highly recommend you take some time out to introspect as well, be it over the holidays or in the New Year.
And in the meantime, back to fitness - remember that the "small things" add up to a LOT over time. You might just be able to crank out two painful pushups now, but keep at it, and soon you'll be repping out 10, then 20, and even more before you know it.
You might not be able to walk an hour without fatigue, but start with 15 minutes, and build from there, and you will quickly develop your endurance to the point you can walk for MORE than an hour without fatigue!
Remember - DOING something is what counts - and doing something is what will keep the pounds off ya during the holiday season.
And one last thing before I end today's note - our 20% off special ends soon - so make sure to take advantage while you can: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products
Ok, that's that for now - I'll be back with more fitness tips later! Merry Christmas to all of you again, and here's to a joyous and prosperous 2014!
P.S: - A lifelong passion (and habit) for fitness is one of the very best gifts you can give you kids, bar none. And we're open throughout Christmas for just that purpose: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book/
It's a glorious afternoon here in Southern China, and I'm feeling on top of the world. Got done with my exercises a short while ago, had a great lunch, and I'm still "in the zone" - and will likely stay there for a while longer yet!
Anyway, some of you are probably looking at the subject of this email, and wondering why I need to ask the question in the first place. I mean, I speak about progressive training (as in, one step at a time or even baby steps that add up) in my book, so why I am bringing it up here?
Well, some of you Fast and Furious followers would be justified in thinking along those lines - but hold "yer" horses - what I'm referring to is uphill climbs. As in, jaunts up a tough incline (can be man made or a natural hill - it doesn't matter) with steps along the way.
It's actually a question that stair climbing enthusiasts have asked many times over, and there are many schools of thought when it comes to this particular topic, all of them with varying, but valid (to a degree) viewpoints.
"Do I burn more calories if I take two or more stairs at a time?"
"Does climbing one step at a time provide me with a better workout?"
And so forth - and just in case you don't believe, fire up your favorite search engine, and you'll quickly see that this is quite a commonly asked question out there on the Internet as well.
And I thought I'd add my $0.02 as well - - so here goes. What I'm going to say might ruffle a few feathers, and might not jibe with what "conventional" training wisdom dictates, but hear me out before you judge.
Most "conventional" climbing (or stair climbing) theories would have you believe that two (or three) steps at a time is far tougher and far more demanding than climbing steadily one step at a time. And this isn't necessarily that hard to believe for the average Joe - after all, isn't it easier to simply "schmooze" up the two flights of stairs to your apartment rather than sprint up?
Sure is - but what this advice fails to mention is that hills and other serious inclines are an entirely different kettle of fish, my friend - and perhaps a bonier version of fish than you'd expect.
Anyway, without further ado - my answer is "They BOTH work, and they BOTH have their advantages". BOTH burn calories BIG TIME - but neither one burns significantly more calories than the other, despite what various studies may you have you believe (given certain basic constants) - and this is coming from someone whose a huge believer in making a workout as hard as possible.
I generally climb two stairs at a time, but not because I think it provides any extra calorie burning effects - more because it works the thighs in a different manner from climbing one step at a time - but that doesn't mean it's the only way to skin that particular cat.
To put this in perspective, let's take my workout today. I focused on climbing the ENTIRE hill ONE step at a time today - and during no part of the climb did I climb two stairs at a time even once. And I was at the summit before I knew it, breathing in the cool invigorating air as deep as I could.
"Ah, so it was easy then", some of you might chime in.
Uh, no - not really - I was drenched in sweat much like I am after my "two step at a time" climbs - and what is REALLY going to sound unbelievable is that I actually made it up the hill in LESSER time than I normally do. I know this, because I timed myself - and I clocked in a full six minutes ahead of time.
Not bad, eh?
The main reason behind this was that one step at at a time reduces the "shock" on your thighs, and therefore the rest periods required to continue up the hill - but does that mean it's a lesser workout?
Not a chance, my friend - especially when you consider that I clocked in earlier at the top than I normally would.
Taking the steps two at a time might provide a lot more "burn" in your thigh muscles, but climbing at a steady pace accomplishes the same calories burn, albeit without the "pounding" two steps at a time puts your hips and lower back.
Some of you might say "Well, that's like comparing a brisk walk to a sprint" - but it's not. It might be if we're talking Jane Unfit's one struggle to get up to her apartment on the first floor, but not on the hill I'm talking - no chance.
A sprinter finishes a 200 m sprint much quicker than a person walking at a brisk pace does - and I've always said and still say that the former option is a better one in terms of calorie burn and an overall workout.
However, a long, steep hill is an entirely different ball game (or if you don't a hill, a building with maybe 40 flights of stairs at a minimum).
Run, or sprint, or take the stairs three at a time, and you'll certainly feel the heart pound times 10 within no time - but you'll need to rest as well.
Walk up the stairs (or hill) at a brisk undulating pace (one step at a time), and you'll feel the lungs starting to burn times 5 as well - but this burning will be sustainable over a longer period of time, and you'll likely sweat your way up to the top BEFORE the other guy does.
And just so you know, that is NOT the same as flat land walks/sprints. Climbs (especially serious inclines) force your hips, thighs and lower back to work HARD no matter whether your taking it one step at a time or two - the only difference being that one is more sustainable over a long climb.
I've also found that the "burn" is significantly less during the "one step at a time" climb, not because it's "easier" - but because one step at a time allows me to fully "press" down on each step with the heel of my foot, thereby stretching out the calves and hamstrings with each step (which then share the load of the legs as well).
Taking them two at a time usually means I'm somewhat "on my toes" for most of the climb, and that really kills the calves, and causes way more soreness later.
Now, does all of this mean you should ignore taking the stairs two at a time?
Not at all, my friend - I sure don't - but what I'd advise is working BOTH the techniques into your climb for optimal benefit.
Climb half the hill in one manner, and switch back to the other during the second half.
Or mix it up - take one flight of stairs two at a time, the next two one at a time, and the fourth two at a time.
It's all good - and it all WORKS!
Last, but not least, know that what I'm saying applies to serious climbs - not the trek up one flight of stairs to the bedroom - you'd likely be better off sprinting that than taking the dowager's "slow and steady" walk up THOSE stairs, hehe.
So, there you have it. Take it one step at a time - or two - but put in serious climbs you absolutely MUST - and it doesn't get any simpler than that!
All for now - if you workout today - make it a super one!
P.S. : - My new course on pull-ups is going gang busters - click on over HERE to see what the hoo haa is all about: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/88-getting-better-at-pull-ups-from-dud-to-stud-within-a-matter-of-weeks
Wow, what a busy few days it's been thus far. Seems like I've been in China for years already, when in reality it's only been around 10 days so far. You know what they say - time flies when your having fun, and it sure has "flown" past these last few days!
Anyway, it's been a merry jaunt thus far - getting back in touch with folks I knew here, practicing my very limited Chinese, hehe, drinking my "secret" potion for health and weight loss (for those that require it) in copious amounts, and of course, my jaunts up the hill. Great fun thus far, and I don't expect that to change for the immediate future.
Of course, things are never "perfect" - and the weather sure hasn't for the last two days (and today as well) - it's been raining incessantly over here, making it almost impossible to get out of the house, let alone go for long treks up a tough hill. I generally don't let the weather stop me, but it's cold and rainy outside, and I don't fancy catching a chill trekking for hours in this weather, so I'm doing the sensible thing for once, hehe, and letting the weather even out a little before I venture out again.
And I won't lie - an enforced house stay is never easy - and those of you that enjoy outdoor activities on a regular basis know what I'm talking about. I write in my book about how "I got so cranky if I missed even a day of my daily climb" - and that's spot on - I'm crankier than a hibernating grizzly roused from his sleep right now, and ready to chew nails as it were. Aargh!
Anyway, I figured I'd use the extra time productively, and one of the things I've done is to (finally) get a Facebook page up for Fast and Furious Fitness. The page is still very much a "work in progress", but feel free to stop by and check it out, "like" it, and leave your thoughts/comments - all much appreciated! You can check out the page here: - https://www.facebook.com/fastandfuriousfitness.
On other fronts, I'm also going to be announcing a special offer soon on the site - which will likely mean a discount on all, or at least some of my products. That offer should be up within a day or so - stay tuned for that one!
And that's the update from here, for now. Back again tomorrow with regular programming - and here's to hoping the rain stays AWAY!
P.S. : - That Facebook link again is https://www.facebook.com/fastandfuriousfitness; be sure and stop by!
Those of you that have been following my daily emails and blog posts know by now that my #1 weapon for getting into kick butt shape - and FAST, at that - is a long, steep hill which I used to climb daily in China many years ago in a different life.
At the risk of repeating myself, that hill is one of the very, very best things that ever happened to me in terms of health and fitness. I actually "discovered" it by "accident" (long story there), but once I did - there was no looking back.
Quoting from my book:
"Climbing hills is one of my all time favorite workouts. In a previous Chapter I spoke about my training in China, when my workout consisted for climbing a hill followed by a bodyweight routine. I used to live near a hill which was about 10 minutes walk away from my home. This hill was pretty steep, and took about 25 minutes to climb at a reasonable pace. There were many routes up this hill, some with steps, and some without. I usually chose the route with steps on the way up, and the slope without any steps when on the way down; this gave me the best workout, as I worked my thighs heavily going up, and stretched my hamstrings out thoroughly coming down. I used to exercise mostly in hot humid weather, and used to be soaked in sweat by the end of the climb – and this was before I had even got to my bodyweight routine. It didn’t matter if it was winter and cold as heck; I used to work up a sweat anyway when I climbed. Now that’s some serious cardiovascular exercise there! "
Great, great stuff - and lest you believe that these sort of hill climbs are tough only for the unfit and uninitiated, well, THINK AGAIN - this hill will make you feel it in no time regardless of your current fitness levels.
Anyway, there's plenty more where that comes from, and you can read all about my hill climbs and the associated benefits by getting Fast and Furious Fitness here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book - but that isn't the topic of today's email.
No, what I want to do today is to actually SHOW you what this particular hill looks like. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time, but couldn't because I didn't have the actual pictures I took back in 2005 - but I'm back in China for the immediate nonce at least, and I've taken these pictures myself during my very first day in China. Made it straight to the hill after very little sleep and a 7+ hour flight (and more travel) over - and that in itself should tell you I let very little get in the way of my hill climbs!
These pictures can be seen right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/the-hill. Those of you that have "friended" me on Facebook have already seen these updates, but I figured I'd put it on my site for the rest of you as well.
Anyway, it's been a goal of mine for a very long time, but it's only been a month or so since I used some visualization (something I speak very highly of and in detail in Fast and Furious Fitness) and other techniques to make this goal a reality. And I'll tell you this, my friend - when you have a goal - and truly set about conquering it - there "ain't" nothing in tarnation that can stop you from achieving it, provided you go about things the right way.
Dreams CAN, and DO come true - we just have to BELIEVE.
I should know - obstacles were thrown up at EVERY step along my last odyessy. Obstacles that we'd normally never have thought we could overcome - but overcome them we did, even though we were stupefied at HOW some of the issues got resolved. I'll be writing more on this later - in fact, I'm working on a new and related product on achieving one's goals (fitness, life, anywhere) so stay tuned on that one.
Anyway, that's the update for today, and those are the photographs. Back to regular programming again soon - stay tuned for details on some lung busting climbs and associated workouts from China!
P.S. #1: I usually post most photos on Facebook first - and you can find me on Facebook right here: - https://www.facebook.com/rahul.mookerjee
P.S #2: - Dreams are great, but they are only half the battle won. Action is of paramount importance, and if you dream of being supremely fit and healthy, then the first thing you need to do is take action - by grabbing a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
'Tis a common refrain these days amongst most parents, especially in the bigger cities, where obesity rates amongst children (very young children, at that) is rising at a shocking pace.
Parents often "try" and get their children to exercise, or incorporate some sort of physical activity in their lives to counter this - but more often that not, these efforts are in vain. And those of you that have tried to get a recalcitrant kid up for that 5AM swim, or 7AM jog know just how it feels.
(Side note: The "5AM swim" part brings back many a pleasant memory of me going swimming in a largish man made lake at exactly that time during summer vacations with my 77 (at the time) year old grandfather - great, great stuff, and if HE could do it at that age and then put in a full day of work - well - we ALL can!)
Anyway, most end up blaming the Internet, Iphones, TV, and various other gadgets that have infiltrated our lives for their kids inactivity. Some put it down to an unhealthy diet. And yet others say that it's impossible to follow an ideal diet these days with most of everything you buy at the being stuffed full of unhealthy growth hormones and chemicals.
All true to a degree - but guess whose the mail culprit here?
Yes, you heard that right - it's parents that are ultimately to blame for their kids not incorporating movement into their daily lives.
Why do I say this?
Well, first off, kids (especially infants and toddlers) LOVE to move around. Ever seen a 1 year old sit still for hours in front of the computer - I bet not - and thats not because we force them to move - it's because movement comes NATURALLY to them.
But, at the same time, guess how little kids "learn"?
Yes, you got that right - by watching others - and those others are most likely to be their parents, since parents spend the most amount of time with their children (or they should, at any rate). And if the average parents daily exercise routine consists of plopping his or her backside into a couch and performing "pretezel" curls with a bag of chips or whatever other junk comes to hand, guess what the kid is going to learn?
The very same thing. His instincts will urge him to fight against this slothfulness for a good few months, but they'll eventually lose out - and what was a healthy, naturally active kid starts turning into "Tubby" in no time at all.
Not good - and at that point we have parents literally forcing their kids to get up and move, which further puts them off exercise.
Not good at all.
And the funny part is, kids do NOT need to be forced into moving around. If they see you moving around, they'll naturally try to follow you. If they see you going for a hill climb every morning, chances are THEY will gladly follow you up that very hill themselves - and complain if you don't allow them to. Ditto for other physical activities.
And whats more - they'll be HAPPY for doing so. I know this for a fact - my little girl is never happier than when allowed to freely move her arms and legs about, and she has a huge smile on her face while doing so.
More importantly, this sort of movements is what "toughens" kids up for more demanding physical activity at a later stage - and also speeds up the development process immensely. I'll cite another example here - I often try and get my baby girl to "stand" on my chest. Now, being she's just two months old she obviously doesnt have the strength to stand on her own, so I put my hands under her armpits, position her feet on my chest, and then allow her to try and "stand".
This usually used to result in her flailing her legs around without control - but over the last two weeks or so, something remarkable has happened - my little girl is actually RESISTING the force of gravity towards my chest.
That's right - I can actually feel her little muscles beginning to work as she tries to "climb" up Daddy's chest.
Now, do you think I'll have any trouble convincing her to go for that daily hill climb - or swim - or pushups, for that matter?
I don't think so - and neither will YOU, my friend, if you lead by example in front of your kids.
Lead a slothful life, and chances are your kids will turn into couch potatoes before you know it.
Lead a healthy and active life, and your children will naturally gravitate towards doing the same.
It's that simple - and if you don't believe me, well, I have this to say to you - TRY IT, and then come back to me!
Anyway, that's it for me today. Back later with another report on how my baby girl "sits" on my back while doing pushups - that one's a story in itself!
Folks often get confused when trying to "decide" how many days they should actively rest - rest, as in, not go about their regular workout routine on the day.
And truth be told, this isn't an easy question to answer in one syllable (yes/no). There are a lot of factors involved, and the real answers would probably be "it depends" and. . . "it depends".
Yeah, that sounds kinda cryptic, but that's how it is - and I'll attempt to explain a bit.
First off, I'd like to make one thing clear - that one can only achieved the desired results and get to one's goals if one is fully committed to the plan required - be that exercise, or be it another plan to achieve whatever it is you want to. And being committed means STICKING to the plan as far as possible - not procrastinating to "do it another day".
Not saying "Oh, I didn't sleep well last night - bring on the potato chips, beer and DVD's - and let the workout wait".
Not saying you need rest when you don't - and so it goes.
But, having got that out of the way, how does a serious trainee know when it's time to take a break?
Well, there are several "rules of thumb" here which I detail in Fast and Furious Fitness(http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book), and I'll get into some of these in this email as well.
First off, I don't recommend going below a minimum of three days of exercise a week, no matter what the reason be. Hit it hard one day, take a day off, then hit it again the next (perhaps a slightly less intense workout), then rest, and so forth - that sort of routine seems to work well for a lot of folks, regardless of age or level of training achieved.
Second, you must remember that while exercise is an important part of your life, you also have other responsibilities and activities that are just as important and take up as just as much time. So while an athlete with not much else on his/her plate other than exercise might be able to give it his/her all day in and day out, you likely will burn and crash if you try to do the same. I'll expound more on this beneath via a personal example, but remember that you must (honestly) look at your overall stress levels, degree of fatigue, intensity of workout routines and other similar factors when making this decision.
Third, listen to your body. If your truly exhausted even after a rest day, it might mean you need another day of rest - and so be it. If your sick (and I mean truly sick, not a minor cough or something like that), rest and recuperate. Only YOU know what your body is really trying to tell you - and if you really need to listen - so do so judiciously.
Fourth, remember that while exercise is king, diet is queen, and sleep is the trusted court aide that never fails to deliver. 'nuff said on that one.
There's more where this comes from, but you'll have to read the book to get the complete "low down" on this.
So, what do I personally do in terms of rest days? How many days do I work out per week?
Well, the answer is - "it depends, and it's been evolving as things change around here".
Let's rewind a few years back to China (2006 to be exact), when I was single, 25 years of age, worked a full time job that was more of a 12 hour per day job than 8 hours in real terms and didn't follow a diet worth speaking of (more due to necessity than choice, though). What did I do then?
Long time readers know the answer - work out DAILY, WITHOUT fail - and that means climbing a long, steep hill daily without fail. I still get misty eyed when I think of that hill (it's provided me with some of my best memories ever), but to put it briefly - it was over an hour's hike in hot and humid weather, 40 minutes of that on the steep hill. Wasn't any joke, and got me into the very best shape of my life. I followed this up with my bodyweight routine, which I also never missed.
Fast forward to today - and I usually take one, or even two rest days between my exercise days. Don't have the hill here any longer or I'd probably climb that daily even now, but the other exercises I do aren't exactly easy on the body either. But overall, I'm probably doing less volume now than I was then, and I'm resting far more - and whats more, I'm IMPROVING at what I do. For instance, I hit a personal best of 7 (in one set) hammer grip pull-ups, and this after two days of rest.
Some more "background". . .
Back then I didn't really have any responsibilities other than going to work, and exercising - and I slept like the proverbial log once I hit the hay. I was 25,single, enjoying life, the ladies, and, ah, I think you get the gist. So even a 24 hour period of traveling, partying and no sleep didn't deter me from hitting that hill come 9AM next morning (yes, thats actually happened!).
Right now, I'm married, and have an adorable little baby girl that takes up most of my time. Sleep is a premium for both Mrs Rahul and me (her more so than me) and we have a lot more to do than simply exercise. Doctor vists, "time with the family", and of course figuring out ways to beat the economic slowdown (something that wasn't prevalent back in 2006). More than enough to deal with, and exercise sometimes just has to take a back seat - not due to choice - but because handling 10 sets of 5 pull ups, for instance, along with other stuff isn't that easy on two hours of sleep and a bawling baby to boot. Trust me on that one.
But, and here's the kicker - I still make it a point to exercise whenever I can (and that doesn't mean once every month).
I still make time for it even though I'm sometimes dead tired and don't feel like even moving.
And I still make it a point to improve at every workout - and so should you, my friend.
So, thats the long answer to a relatively short question. And as for what works best for you - well, I'll let you figure out by yourself, my friend - because YOU are in the best position to do so.
All for now!
P.S.:- Along with the right amount of rest, diet is of paramount importance, and if your serious about your training routine, then you need to grab a copy of the Simple and Effective Diet ASAP. This diet, combined with my exercise routines will quickly strip the extra fat off you while building durable muscle, superior health and lasting endurance. Grab your copy NOW: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/84-the-simple-and-effective-diet
I’ve been noticing some serious muscle growth on my lower legs a.k.a calves these days. And I mean SERIOUS – my calves are getting that “diamond shape” that most body builders lust after – and whats even more important is the functional strength and endurance they add to an already well exercised pair of legs.
Now, if you’ve been reading my notes regularly, you’ll know that I’m a fan of focusing on tough, compound movements for the larger muscles (thighs, back etc) as opposed to “isolating” the smaller muscles such as the calves and forearms. And with good reason as well – working the larger muscles into the ground leads to tremendous overall gains in strength and stamina – and rapid fat loss as well, if we’re talking about regular hill climbs (an absolute quadriceps killer if done right).
But while isolating muscle groups is a huge mistake, it is also important to know that the smaller muscles must not be completely ignored as they are usually the “weak link” in any chain. And as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Case in point being weak forearms and thick bar pull-ups – something that a lot of folks can probably identify with, by the way - how would you be able to do these for reps if you can barely GRIP (and hold on to) that thick bar, much less pull yourself up on it?
And when it comes to calves, remember that calves are pretty much the equivalent of forearms for the lower body. Ever seen a really strong and functionally fit athlete, strongman, power lifter or combat sports practitioners with weak and underdeveloped calves?
I didn’t think so – and there are many good reasons behind this.
First, calves “connect” the more powerful thigh/hamstring/butt muscles to your feet. The stronger your calves are, the more power you’ll be able to generate through your legs and core – and the better you’ll do at activities that require functional strength (jump starting a dead car battery by pushing the car around, for example – speaking from personal experience here!).
Second, weak calves are an invitation to injury, especially when paired with powerful thighs and
exercise that require the entire leg to work as a unit. The same thing holds true for weak forearms and powerful upper arms – something that came back to bite me strongly in the backside a few years ago while doing handstand pushups in the form of a nasty bone spur on my left wrist. Yow!
Third, strong calves make it much, much easier to warm up when playing any sort of sport or even before your regular workout. Again, I’m saying this from personal experience – it takes me far less time to warm up before my exercises these days due to stronger and more enduring calves – as opposed to a few years back when I could pound out hill climbs “straight out of bed” like there was no tomorrow, but needed a warm up before a brisk walk or jog on flat land regardless.
So, those are three good reasons - there are more as well, but these should suffice for now.
And so, your next question will likely be – well, HOW do I train “dem” calves then?
Well, pretty much the same way I advocate training other body parts – with tough compound exercises that make you use your entire leg as a UNIT – but simultaneously require you to develop strength and endurance in your calves (with size being a byproduct as well in most cases).
Some simple but incredibly powerful (and time honored) exercises that you can use to build up your calves are as follows: -
- Jumping rope: A proven way to build stamina and endurance throughout the entire body, but especially the calves.
- Sprints: Another great, great way to build the calves – and entire body – with one heart pounding, sweat inducing exercise.
- Jogging in place (if done correctly and at the right cadence).
And while those will get your calves (and legs) in great shape, there is FAR, FAR more to working your calves than simply these exercises – and I plan on devoting a book entirely to calf training in the near future. Be on the lookout for that!
So, that’s the tip for the day. If you plan on working out today – make it the best one ever!
P.S.: - The exercises in Fast and Furious Fitness do a pretty darn good job of “prepping” and conditioning your calves for the really brutal stuff at a later stage – grab your copy HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book