This is something I've been meaning to write about a LONG, LONG time now, but haven't had the time to do so.
The park that I partake of my daily walk in has plenty of folks of all age groups exercising on a regular basis (which is a great thing). You'll find folks out for their walks (and/or Tai Chi, bodyweight stuff, et al) even on days so hot that you literally feel like a sponge that is slowly, but surely being SQUEEZED, dripping sweat with every movement.
And that is one area where the Chinese score over a lot of other countries - despite the recent surge in couch potatoes (young 'uns at that) and folks getting lazy, by and large, the Chinese still believe in daily exercise as "part of their lives" as opposed to a lot of developed countries where exercise is treated as something you have to "fit into your schedule" (and consequently becomes a chore).
But that isn't the topic of today's post.
A few weeks ago, I puffed up the hill, and almost collapsed once I was at the summit. It was an especially cloudy and muggy day, extremely overcast, and one could barely even BREATHE (you know, the sort of humidity that "clings" to your lungs) and that doesn't make climbing a steep hill any easier.
There weren't that many people that day, except for a few young men "lounging" about, if I may term it as that.
And as I completed 25 strict, letter perfect pushups, something I tend to do after a hill climb (and before my pulling movements), they looked on in amazement as if to say "in THIS heat? No way!?"
But one of them soon got down from his "perch" on a nearby railing and started to follow suit - and pounded out what seemed like 70 or so "rapidfire" pushups.
Or so he claimed.
His compatriots cheered him on, but to me it felt like watching a circus show - rather like watching a human machine gun hurriedly rep out half baked pushups, the arms barely bending, the chest so far from the floor that you could stick a barrel in the space - - and most of all, the horrible, jerky, up and down motion where the person exercising uses momentum rather than strength to complete whatever "movement" it is he is doing.
Uggggh, I thought.
But I'm used to this sort of foolishness, and I just sort of shook my head ruefully and didn't say much.
Fast forward a couple of days, and I see a wiry guy on the pull-up bar, a slim fella with very little fat on him, someone you'd think should be great at pull-ups done in proper form.
But as he "jumped" on to the pull-up bar, I watched from a distance, warming my grip up for a few tough sets of the monkey bars, and I soon found out that his fitness levels were nowhere near what I thought they should - or would, for that matter - be at.
Our friend completes the first rep by literally "jumping" half the way, and then goes half way back down, and then kicks both legs furiously, sort of like the "dolphin kick" when performing the butterfly in swimming, and that kick gets him to rep #2.
He gets to rep #4 or so like that, and then furiously contorts his face, scowling, and letting out "oohs and ahs" for the benefit of a few girls who had stopped to watch "the monster crank out the reps".
He finishes 20 or so reps like that, and then jumps down from the bar (the last 5 reps being half-half reps, in that neither did his chin get over the bar, and neither did he go even halfway down), grinning at the simpering women, and at that point I couldn't help but laugh, though I turned around quickly, not wanting him to notice.
But notice it he did, and he came on over to the monkey bars, which are three times as thick as the regular pull-up bars most folks prefer.
He jumped up, but fell off the bar quickly, much like a limpet detached from a tree trunk.
"That's not easy", he grimaced, staring at his hands (baby soft from what I could tell). "That's too hard on the palms!"
And as he said this I repped out a few "back and forth" reps across the monkey bars, swinging my way across, and the guy kept staring.
Then, he jumps on to the bars again, and starts to rep out pull-ups in the same shoddy manner, and at that point I stopped him.
"Not that way", I said, somewhat irritably. "All the way up, and THEN (this is the part he most hated), go ALL the way DOWN!"
He gaped at me as if I had asked him to dive to the bottom of the Pacific.
"Down", I repeated.
And after about 5 rounds of this conversation, he finally did lower down to a "flexed hang" letting out a genuine gasp this time.
He then flailed around with his legs for a while, but not even the most desperate of kicks could get him past half way point on this particular rep.
And he soon dropped from the bar like a dead weight and glared at me, as if I was responsible for his "failures" in front of the girls.
Soon, he walked off, muttering something about my calloused hands being "horrible".
Ok...horrible they are, but they sure can GRIP!
Now, the point of mentioning this jokerishness is not to poke fun at the two fine men I just spoke about, but rather to emphasize that "cheating" a.k.a "bouncing or kicking" your way through reps does YOU no good.
It may stroke your ego for a while, but when you do the exercise in right form, you'll soon find out that ALL your "effort" thus far has been in vain. More importantly, bouncing and kicking on pushups and pull-ups (for instance) is a great way to lead to shoulder and tendon injuries - not something you want for sure.
So don't be the guy that "bounces" out 50 plus reps and preens in front of the women. Be the guy who pumps out 15 slow, letter PERFECT reps, and BUILDS from there.
Don't be the guy who "kicks" his way to 20 half baked chins. Be the guy who spends hours honing his grip on THICK bars, more time in the dead hang position, FEELING his lats, and PERFECTING that first rep before moving on.
In other words, check your ego in at the door when training hard - and this goes for trainees at ALL levels.
Concentrate on the workout itself - - and the numbers will come. Believe you me, the numbers will come!
And here's a parting shot - if all this sounds too "silly" (pff! I'd rather "pound" out the reps rather than worry about this nonsense, some might say!) - just go back and read my post a while back on the "old man I met in China" right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/blog/item/167-the-old-man-i-met-a-couple-of-months-back-in-china. Read the part about a letter perfect handstand, the vice like grip - - the entire post, actually, and then read THIS one again, and that'll say it all.
Or at least, it should!
And thats it for today. Back again with more!
P.S.: - Pull-ups are one of the hardest movements for folks to even complete, let alone complete in proper form, but the benefits from doing these right, and doing these regularly are manifold. And the same holds true for handstand pushups. Weave a workout around these two movements (remember the leg work!), and you'll be looking like a human gorilla in no time at all!
Yes, you heard that right. Forget the six pack, but work the ABS - - work them intensely, and make them a priority in any workout you partake in.
What's that, I hear you say. Work the abs, but forget the six pack, the very muscles that make up the abs?
He's nuts, I hear some of you say. Bonkers! After all, how on earth can I work the abs without concentrating on the six pack - - which makes up the majority of the abs?
And so forth.
Well, my friend, given the modern day muscle media nonsense floating about all over the place, and even in most commercial gyms etc, you'd be justified in calling me nuts for saying this - - but hear me out for just a minute before you judge.
First off, the "six pack" muscle might be the ones that are clearly "visible" to most folks, and that are the "showpiece" muscles of the abdominal region, but remember that there is a workhorse behind every showpiece, and the same holds true for the abdominal muscles.
The REAL work to stabilize the core (the primary function of the abdominal muscles) is NOT done by the "six pack" - - it's done by muscles far deeper underneath - - the muscles of the abs that literally create a "girdle" around your stomach - - ones you can't see, but ones that are vitally important and crucial for any level of real abdominal strength.
And other than these muscles, most of the "heavy lifting" is done by the muscles at the SIDE of your body - - i.e. your obliques, NOT your "six pack".
Yes, I said that. Your obliques are far more involved in any sort of physical activity you do than the actual six pack is and add FAR more to core strength than the superficial "six pack" does.
Proof, you ask?
Well, look at any competitive weight lifter, or sportsperson, or anyone in GOOD shape, really (and by good I don't mean the 'roid crazed monsters at the gym with their bloated muscles, each trying to "outpump" the other).
Strongmen. Swimmers. Boxers. Or those that hike hills on a regular basis, for that matter.
Take a person in any of these categories, and the first thing you'll notice about their abdominal region is those "lines" running along their sides. A look that can't be hidden even if you wear loose T-shirts that two of you could fit into - - and a look that is either "chiseled" or "muscular", but NOT FAT.
And while said people might have a six pack as a direct consequence of the ab work they do (which in turn is a result of the exercises they do on a regular basis which involve the large muscles of the hips, legs, back and shoulders), that six pack isn't the showy six pack you might expect.
Last, but not least, we have the muscles that run along the base of the back, the spinal erectors to be exact. It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to be either fit or strong to any degree without developing these muscles to their fullest, and again, you only need to look at any competitive athlete (in most sports that involve physical activity) for proof.
So THOSE are the muscles you need to concentrate upon, NOT the six pack, and certainly NOT that awful, worthless exercise that God only knows who invented - - the dreaded "C" exercise.
Yes, I mean crunches - - which are the most useless exercise ever invented in my opinion.
Ok, hold on, Rahul, I hear some of you say. It's all fine and dandy asking me not to focus on the six pack - - but how do I focus on the other muscles?
Well - - good question - - and there is a simple answer - - you don't.
Yes, you heard that right. You don't focus exclusively on these muscles - - but you DO focus on hard, regular workouts that TAX THE ENTIRE BODY AS AN UNIT - - which is hymn #1 in the hymnal most Fast and Furious Fitness followers religiously sing from daily.
Climb a hill, and you involve the obliques and spinal erectors without realizing it (except for those that are way overweight, hehe).
Lift a keg, or a barrel of beer overhead and press it multiple times and you're working the internal stabilizers in your core FAR, FAR better than when your doing them worthless crunches.
Do pull-ups in strict form, and your working the entire core heavily, especially the obliques.
And so forth.
So those are the important muscles, my friend, NOT the six pack muscles.
Of course, none of this means you ignore a good diet, a bulging belly, etc - - but it DOES mean that you focus on - - gasp - - yes, exercises that make you WORK - - puff and pant - - and involve the ENTIRE BODY as an UNIT, as opposed to isolationist exercises that seem to be all the rage these days.
Old fashioned stuff, but stuff that works - - give it a try, and you'll see.
And I'll end on that note - - but the "good form" reminds me of some foolishness I see on a regular basis in the nearby park. Stuff that has me literally shaking my head in disbelief at the sheer stupidity of those who think that sort of workout will actually benefit them. . .and THAT will be the topic for the next post!
Hasta la vista for now - - and if you workout today, make it an awesome one!!
P.S: - I speak about pull-ups in this email, but not many of you will be able to do these in correct form for reps. And if your one of the many that struggles with pull-ups, then THIS is the course you need: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/88-getting-better-at-pull-ups-from-dud-to-stud-within-a-matter-of-weeks
Was completing my workout today in the local park when a couple that I've seen often came along.
I was working out in the afternoon today, and this particular, probably in their mid 20's or so usually chooses this time of the day for their jaunt.
And as I went through the last few repetitions of an extremely tough exercise I've been working HARD to master, I saw "the look" on the woman's face.
And from the title, you've probably already guessed what type of a look it was - - and you're right.
And what's funny, at least to me, is that this look repeats itself every time they see me exercising - - oddly enough, they seem to show up just at "that" particular time in my workout. One of those things as it were.
The guy usually looks at me with a resigned, sort of "benevolently friendly" (if that term makes any sense), says something to the gal, and walks on.
The gal walks on too, saying something to the guy, but she's got the first stage of the "the look" printed ALL over her face.
As in, what's that crazy "gui lao" doing? (Gui Lao literally meaning foreign devil, a not so polite but commonly used term on mainland China, at least in the Southern provinces)
She pauses, stares at me, and I stare at her after I complete my rep, and then go on about my business.
Finish that rep, and I find her staring at me again with a look of "why would someone do that", as her partner nudges her, edging her on her way, down past me.
And come the third rep, I see both of them sneaking surreptitious glances at me, but being they're too far away at this point for it to really register in my mind, I just act as if they're not there and continue.
This particular scenario repeats itself every time they see me, so you might ask, hey, what exercise is it that causes the Chinese to give me the "crazy gui lao" stare?
Well, as mentioned before, it's an exercise that is extremely tough to master, and certainly not for the "pumpers" at the local gym/'roid house.
It requires patience to master, so that makes it a no-no for most people.
It makes you grip as if your life depended upon it, and it makes ugly callouses sprout all over your hands. Strike three for most folks right there.
But it also develops a vice like grip, super strength (and endurance of sorts) in the entire arm, especially the fingers and forearms.
And that exercise is - without further ado - a FLEXED hang - but from one hand.
Simply put, that means yours truly is hanging in the bottom position of a pull up (arms fully outstretched) with one hand - for time. And to make it even more fun, I use a thick bar to do this exercise.
I've been at it for a couple of weeks, and it was surprisingly hard to begin with, even for someone like me whose used to doing various sorts of pull-ups.
No swinging around crazily, no showing off, just a flexed, still, controlled HANG.
And while the exercise might cause the average person to gawk and gape, be informed that if you want to build a bone crushing grip, this particular exercise will do it for me - in less than a minute, or minute max per set.
I mean, find someone, at whatever body weight, that can hang on with one arm in good form - on a THICK bar - for one minute or more, and you've got someone with a seriously, seriously strong grip.
And I don't know about you - but I'm more than willing to brave callouses and the "crazy" look (and the pain) to achieve the results I'm referring to!
Now, I realize there are a lot of people might agree with me here, and rock on down to the local playground for some timed holds, but before you do so, a word of caution: -
- Make sure your able to do timed holds with TWO hands in PROPER form for AT LEAST a minute before even attempting this. And yes, there is a reason the four words are capitalized. . .extra attention, folks!
- Make sure you can do at least 5 pull-ups per set in good form without undue fatigue.
- And last, but not least, make sure you keep your weight at reasonable levels. This usually goes hand in hand with the first two, unless your freakishly strong, of course, but I've hardly ever seen overweight folks manage one pull-up in good form, let alone five.
And that, my friend, is the story for the day. Try this simple little exercise out if you so desire, and let me know how it went!
P.S: - Can't even do a flexed hang with TWO hands for any length of time, let alone what I mention? Well, no problem, amigo - your NOT alone, and there IS a solution. Pull on over to http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/88-getting-better-at-pull-ups-from-dud-to-stud-within-a-matter-of-weeks and you'll soon be pumping those reps out as if they were second nature - NO questions asked!
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
Tis a common lament amongst folks, even though who exercise regularly. You hit the gym regularly, you go for long walks, you do endless amounts of pushups and sit-ups - - but somehow, just SOMEHOW, that stubborn flab doesn't disappear as fast as it should.
You see some results in the mirror - but you aren't entirely satisfied with what you say - and for those of you that are overweight, the flab doesn't seem to go away "permanently".
Now, you might think that the obvious answer to this is the wrong form of exercise - and you'd be perfectly justified in thinking so. In fact, I've said many times before that exercising the wrong way can actually end up being detrimental to your overall health, fitness and motivation levels - not good if that's the case.
But what if your exercising the way you should, and still aren't quite "getting there" in terms of fat loss/overall fitness goals?
Well, the next obvious answer after exercise would be the big D i.e. diet.
That's right - the dreaded word that a LOT of us don't like to hear - including yours truly at times.
Now, when most people think of diet, they're thinking "oh, I gotta subsist on salads, and raw vegetables. Small portions, NO junk food, NO cheat meals, yadda, yadda". And so forth. And while you might be hitting the nail on the head in terms of staying away from junk food and eating more vegetables, the fact of the matter is that DIET for most people equals PORTIONS.
And this, my friend is the wrong way to think about it.
Smaller portions might leave you feeling hungry and irritated all day long - or perhaps you may feel like you've "accomplished" something mentally in terms of "sticking to a diet". But this ploy won't get you long lasting results - and when you do finally give in and have that large cheat meal, the weight will yo-yo right back on.
Not good, my friend. Not good at all.
I could go on and on about what sorts of food to eat, what to eat, when to eat, but I think the best way to go about this would be to give you a personal example - MINE.
Those of you that have been following this blog know that I moved to China last year. You also know that I've been "reunited" with my all time favorite fat buster and "get your rumpus in shape FAST" tool, that being a long, steep hill about 10 minutes walk from my house.
But what you might now know is that I had to leave China for a while in February (mostly personal reasons) - and what started out as a two week odessey turned out into a near 4 week trip, with VERY little, if any exercise thrown in. Oh, and that explains the long break in posts as well. . .
Now, that's not to say I turned into a tub of lard during that period - far from it. In fact people were commenting on how much better I looked since I'd been to China WHILE I was wondering if I was putting on weight, so that should tell you something.
Anyway, I finally got back in March, but I was still busier than a bee for the most part. Sure, I got my exercise in daily here - but my busy and erratic schedules often meant I was eating late, eating all the wrong things at the wrong times - in short - my diet was pretty bad at the time.
And after a week or two of arriving back, I actually noticed that I was putting ON weight in certain areas.
It was a VERY tiny amount of weight to be sure, but it was flab alright - and that's how it starts. Tiny turns into BIG before you know it, and this was when I was exercising hard on a daily basis - hiking up hills in the heat ain't no joke even in the best of weather, and I was doing my other bodyweight stuff as well.
I knew what the problem was, though.
Too many "burgers" (I use that term loosely) gobbled down late at night after I got a respite from my schedule. Virtually no vegetables in my diet, and no real "meat" either for the most part. Well, not unless you count the meat on pizzas to be real meat. . .
And so forth. Now, I got away with this sort of eating pattern for a while when I was younger, but that was for a few months - it eventually catches up with ya.
Anyway, something had to be done.
This won't work, I thought. Here I am, taking time out of my busy schedule to work out daily - and I'm actually LOSING instead of GAINING??
And so, here are a few rules I made for myself around the 14th or so (I think it was that date - I haven't recorded it): -
NO more fast food unless I really, really had no other option.
NO more fried dumplings, or friend anything.
NO more French bread for breakfast (even though I love the taste)
NO pizza, except maybe on Sat nights
Make it a point to eat meat, and lots of it on a daily basis - and make it a point to eat VEGETABLES on a daily basis. And drink lots and lots of green tea/water (this part was easy - I was already doing it).
And - here's the kicker - NO alcohol of any sort, which for me means no beer, or very little of it. (Guys, you're going to hate me for saying this, but beer can really, really screw with an otherwise great diet).
As you can tell, these are pretty simple rules to follow. No fancy calorie counters, no cholesterol blasters, no repeated bloodwork etc etc. Just a few simple rules that I thought I could abide by.
The first week went by smoothly. The second was tougher, and I "cheated" a couple of times, but I made it through. No noticeable results as yet, but I did notice I was generally feeling and looking better.
I had much more energy and more spring in my step - even though it wasn't showing in terms of absolute and rapid fat loss.
Come the third week (around the start of April), and I noticed I no longer even wanted the stuff I ate before. In fact, put a Micky D's supersize meal in front of me, and I'd be asking myself where the greens were - - and thats not because I was feeling "guilty" - - it was because my body just didn't want the stuff any more, period.
Interesting observation, eh?
But what's more interesting is that it was around THIS week that I really started to notice dramatic changes in my stamina and fat levels - not to mention overall appearance.
My hill climb times started to abruptly drop from around 25-28 minutes per climb to between 15-17 - - and given how steep this hill is, that ain't no easy task, let me tell you. (more on this tomorrow - - be looking for my post "The old man I met in China")
The tiny little bit of unsightly fat around my chest that had built up out of "nowhere" started to melt away WITHOUT any direct chest work.
Ditto for that troublesome area around the lower back.
And my pants started to literally fall off me - - even after tightening my belt as far as it could go.
Now, after that third week, I cheated a bit again the fourth week, and then the fifth. But it was only once or twice a week - I ate healthy most of the time otherwise - and kept my exercise routine exactly the same i.e. a hill climb followed by bodyweight stuff.
And I even allowed myself a beer or two on the week occasionally.
And guess what - the results just keep coming. I got in a 17 minute climb on a REAL tough route on the hill today - something which took me around 23 minutes a few months ago (still a good time for that route, but 17 minutes is REALLY good).
So, that was the result of my little experiment - need I say more? I'm not even going to get into how I could and do "cheat" a bit more occasionally than when I first started - - or about how I cannot even stomach the unhealthy stuff any more - - perhaps I'll address those points in future posts.
Folks, diet DOES, and WILL play a huge part when it comes to getting the results you want in terms of fitness. If your not getting the results that you want, then take a long hard look at your diet - it might just be whats drawing you back.
To put it another way - - exercise is king - - and nutrition is queen - - but a cranky queen makes for a tough life if you're the king!
And now, to end this, I'll throw in the final wrench by stating what my diet normally looks like these days: -
Rice at most meals, along with grilled beef, pork, or lamb. In other words, I usually eat meat and rice (two huge no-no's for most dieters) at EVERY meal, except perhaps breakfast. Lamb comes in first on my list, followed closely by beef - with pork running a close third.
(I should also mention I try and stay away from chicken, turkey and other supposedly "lean" meats - they don't do much for me at all.)
I eat steamed leafy green vegetables at EVERY meal - preferably a good bit.
I eat eggs when I want to, and snack on salted cashewnuts and almonds if I get hungry during the day (or evening, for that matter).
I don't eat a lot of fruit - none at all, actually these days - but I don't mind the occasional apple or orange. But, I don't drink any commercially processed OJ or other drinks - NO sugar whatsoever in my diet in any way, shape or form.
I skip breakfast at times if I have to (or lunch sometimes) - but I NEVER control portions when I do eat. In other words, if I want a few more chunks of beef, I'll go right ahead and eat them without feeling guilty.
(Side note: this doesn't mean I eat like a hog - far from it - but I certainly don't limit my portions either)
I drink plenty of green tea and water during the day. I do have the occasional beer, perhaps once or twice a week, but no more than that, and I don't go overboard with it.
And that, my friend, is the diet that's been giving me excellent results - - perhaps not what "the doctor ordered" in terms of a traditional diet, but it works for me.
And it'll work for YOU too, my friend.
Remember, diet is important - but the RIGHT form of diet is of paramount importance. A diet ideally shouldn't even feel like a diet - - if it does, it ain't the right one for you.
And I'll end on that note. If you work out today, make it an excellent one - and write back and tell me how it went!!
P.S.: - Forget watching calories, limiting your portions and all that other jazz the "pundits" yell about. A simple and no-nonsense diet that you can actually FOLLOW - and that won't leave you cranky all day long is laid out right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/84-the-simple-and-effective-diet
Let's face it, we (or at least the guys reading this) all like the look a large, powerful and brawny "barrel chest" gives a man. Most guys rate the chest as the favorite part of their body to develop, and that's not entirely a bad thing, as the pectorals are one of the larger muscles in the upper body, and working large muscle groups in conjunction is always a good thing.
But it's not good when folks start to ignore other body parts in favor of purely training the chest, which is actually more common than you'd think -
- and neither is it good that most folks don't have a clue as to what the REAL secret is to developing a broad, powerful chest.
Now, I can already sense the regular readers on this list saying "Ok, I know the hidden key he's talking about. He's said it so many times before!
Work an opposing body part, in this case, the back, and your chest will grow as well. Bah. Humbug."
And they'd be right - - I DO mention that a lot of times, and with darn good reason, but I'm not going to go over that particular reason in that email.
No, there's a far more important hidden key here - - something which most people are either unaware of, or prefer to ignore (usually the former).
What's that, you ask.
Well, let me backtrack a bit before answering. Several years ago, I climbed my favorite hill for the first time - and the experience left me feeling as if a truck had run over me. I never thought the seemingly simple task of walking uphill could tax the entire body, but boy was I wrong.
A few months later, I was climbing this hill on a daily basis, and had dropped almost four waist sizes. My pants were "hanging" off me, my resting pulse dropped to about 65 or so, and my legs had become like pillars of rock - - all benefits that might be expected from this sort of exercise, but what I also noticed that I was growing out of my shirts - - and this without doing a single pushup, or any sort of exercise for my chest. I did do pull-ups after my hill climb, but not regularly - - my main exercise at the time was the daily hill climb.
Fast forward a few years, and I was doing all sorts of pushups and pull-ups on a daily basis - - including sets of the super tough handstand pushup -
- something which most people can't even do a single rep of - - but though I packed on a lot of mass on to my upper body from these exercises, nothing really "stretched the tape measure" quite so drastically as my hill climbs had.
Back then, I was wearing medium size shirts, and I rocketed straight up to XL size a few months later. Fast forward a few years, and my size increased to a XXL, but not really a lot after that.
Now, keep in mind that was a few months - - and this was a few YEARS of training.
And now, let's forward again to right NOW. As in, February 2014 - - I'm back to climbing my hill again after a bit of a break the past few weeks, and I'm already noticing my shirts starting to get tight around my shoulders yet again - - and this without really doing a lot of upper body work on a regular basis.
What gives, you ask.
Well - put simply - and hard as it might sound to believe, it's the deep breathing that my hill climb induces that is working my upper back and chest muscles along with my entire body. Ever felt REALLY, REALLY out of breath? Like so out of breath you could barely open your mouth long enough to gulp in air, your heart pounding inside your chest like a sledgehammer?
That is what a tough, non-stop hill climb will do to you - - and let me tell you, this deep breathing works the HECK out of your entire upper body as well, including your abdominals and back. In fact, my stomach muscles are often sore after a tough climb as opposed to my legs -- that's how much this deep breathing works my entire upper body.
The old timers wouldn't find this surprising - - in fact, a lot of the old timers recommended exercises that induced heavy, labored breathing for a sustained period of time followed by chest specific exercises to really achieve maximal growth. John Maccullum, Peary Rader, you name them, and these guys knew about how important deep breathing was to overall chest development.
And how does deep breathing actually develop the chest, you might ask?
Well, long story, and one I can't really explain in an email, but the gist of it is that deep breathing done correctly forces the "inner" chest fibers and muscles to grow, thereby giving you a larger and more spacious rib box in which the lungs can expand more comfortably, thereby taking in more air with each breath. It also works the outer chest and back muscles to a degree - - not to mention the entire core - - done correctly, you are forced to breathe in air the right way i.e. through your abdomen instead of your chest.
You can call it developing the chest from the "inside out"; but whatever you call it, it works far, far better than simply trying to overload your chest muscles with heavy presses and the such. Although those are good, deep breathing is the real deal - - deep breathing is what lays the foundation for tremendous gains down the road. Remove the foundation, and you might as well not have the building - - it is that simple.
And of course, the way you get to a state of deep breathing so profound it literally reshapes your physique from the inside out is by doing exercises that cause you to gasp for air - - namely, leg exercises - - or even more more specifically, exercises that work the thighs, hips and core to the max
- - in other words, those exercises that tax the largest muscle groups in your body.
Show me a guy who squats regularly, or climbs hill regularly, or even jumps rope at a high level, and I'll show you someone with a well developed chest.
Other hand, show me someone who just works the chest without really working the leg muscles, and I'll show you someone who might have the "look" but not the actual strength and power (as well as size) that comes with REAL chest development.
And though all this might sound confusing, it's really not. Here's how you know what this is about - - find an exercise - - any exercise that makes you breathe deeply, and heavily for a sustained period of time (and I mean REAL deep breathing) - - and work that exercise into the ground for a couple of months. You may do upper body work at the end of your routine, but make it supplementary work - - not the main course.
After two months, measure your chest - - and if you've been doing this right, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
And that, my friend, is the tip of the day - - work the chest from the INSIDE OUT for a truly large, and powerful chest!
Implement this little gem into your training routine, and let me know how you do.
P.S: - Leg exercises are the ones that cause all the puffing and panting, literally forcing your body to grow - - but you gotta do the right ones - - and Fast and Furious Fitness is the best resource for those interested in this type of thing: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
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.
Much has been written around the two words in capitals in today's letter. I bet you've heard talks on this before, and how being more positive is always a GOOD thing no matter what - tomes have quite literally been written on this particular topic.
But while a lot has been said and penned on this, what I'm going to tell you today might be somewhat different from what you've heard - or from what you might be expecting me to say.
First off, those of you that read my emails regularly and have purchased my bestselling Fast and Furious Fitness know that I'm big on breathing correctly, both while exercising and otherwise. I've devoted an entire chapter to breathing in the book, and for very good reason (by the way, if you're still "on the fence" about whether or not to purchase the book - that particular chapter alone will get you your money's worth: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book).
And why exactly is deep breathing - done correctly - such a big deal, some of you might ask?
Well, I'm not going to get into the reasons here for obvious reasons, but from a fitness perspective, deep breathing done correctly is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to increasing your levels of fitness, capacity to perform a particular exercise, and just your health in general. Show me someone whose huffing and puffing an uncontrolled manner through the mouth (sound familiar, eh?) and I'll show you someone whose NOT breathing correctly - and more, someone whose likely selling themselves short on many of the fitness benefits they could be getting with the right breathing techniques.
But today's note is not about exercise - it's about more than that. It's about bringing good things into your LIFE - focusing on the positive - and doing this in a way that's not normally said.
I'll explain more in a sec, but here's what I did today (and do a lot of days).
I went for a long, long walk after my regular lung busting hill climb routine. And I mean long - I deliberately chose all the long walking trails in the area I generally walk - some of them more "deserted" than the others, with a lot more greenery and forest in some areas than the other paths.
I did this NOT to get in more exercise (although I got in some as an indirect benefit) - but rather to take the time to simply "zone out" and "be at one with Nature". And the way this is done is to simply BREATHE in the right way - that means from your diaphgram rather than your chest - and exhale correctly as well.
I thought about my goals and what I wanted to accomplish during this time - but funnily enough, my MAJOR focus was NOT my goals - it was on the greenery and FRESH AIR around me. I was feeling invigorated with each deep lungful of air, and that feeling alone is indescribable; so the "goals" and "thoughts" were a secondary focus, if I might put it that way.
Neither was I even thinking about exercise, calories, leg muscles, any of that - I was simply MOVING my body through space while I was ONE with nature.
At peace with myself - for the nonce - and at peace with the rest of the world as well (again, at least for the nonce).
Breathing in the FRESH, cool air deeply, and exhaling just as deeply - and just knowing that something good was going to happen. And guess what - it did - I received a couple of calls I was hoping would come while I was outdoors, and sure enough, like clockwork, they came right at that point.
Now, know that my "belief" in this case was NOT based upon logic, or any facts. NO, this was a deeper belief - from "within", if I may say so - the sort of thing you just "know" will happen. And it usually does, if you focus on the positive, and really "open" your body's "meridians" up to what is possible.
I was NOT actively "hoping" the call would come.
I was NOT actively "trying to feel better".
The only thing I WAS actively trying to do was be at one with Nature, and to "blend into" the spectrum of positive energy that is everywhere, if we just know where to look for it.
And again, the way you do that is via deep breathing. Sure, you need a degree of solitude and Nature in order to make this possible, but the #1 catalyst at work is deep breathing - THAT is what gets the wheels in motion without you even knowing (or caring).
(And when I say Nature, know that you don't need an entire jungle or mountain - the beach - or the meadows - or the park - or even the countryside - it all works just fine!)
I mean, I was so "blissed out" today from this portion of the walk that I literally had a lot of local Chinese come up to me and smile and say hello, despite my obvious inability to communicate with any degree of fluency in Mandarin. And most of them were focusing on why I felt so good - and with good reason - when YOU breathe - and BELIEVE - then the positivity just flows off you in waves, and affects EVERYONE around you, whether you know it or not.
And the same goes for negative behavior, of course - remember the saying about what one bad apple does to the rest?
Anyway, there's way more to this topic than I could cover in one email or several - but for now, know that this is one of the most important practices you can adopt, not just to achieve your fitness goals - but to literally turn around your LIFE and achieve what you want to.
Yes, you heard me - deep breathing (done the right way) will lead you to greater things than you ever believed possible. And I'm working on a brand new book that will focus a LOT on this topic (amongst others) - be on the outlook for it.
Last, but not least, I realize there will be some reading this note that "pooh pooh" what I'm saying, and dismiss it as just another bunch of hooey from the Far East. And truth be told, if you're one of them, I really don't care - and am not going to spend my energies educating you on a topic you obviously are not open to. It's just not worth it.
Other hand, those of you that have opened your mind up to what is possible KNOW what I'm talking about here - and I'm willing to bet the majority of folks reading this email fall into that category.
OK - that's all for now. I'm going to sit back and relax for a while - back again later with more updates from China!