'Twas a crisp and breezy Monday morning today. Winter's approaching - and fast - in my neck of the woods, and signs are we'll have an especially severe winter this year. Global warming, anyone??
Anyway, woke up bright and early at 11, hehe, and dove straight into a combination of leg exercises and pushups that left me dripping with sweat despite the chill in the air. To give you an example of the sort of "cardio" effect this sort of routine can give you, try alternating sets of 20 pushups with jumping rope for 100 reps each time - and don't rest more than 10 seconds between each exercise. 5 sets of this puppy, and you'll be feeling it in no time - guaranteed!
Headed on to the park for some pull-ups after that, and started in on some hammer grip pull-ups alternated with regular pull-ups. Man, those monkey bars were COLD - I was literally "wringing" the cold
out of my fingers after every set!
Anyway, I was finishing up with some timed holds, when along dwadles this young'ish sort of guy with a silly grin on his face.
Plenty of these "specimens" where I work out, and they usually leave me to my own devices, which is what I prefer - but I could tell at one glance that this dude wasn't of the same bent of mind.
He was looking at me from afar, making gestures, "sidling" up to the monkey bars every time I finished a set (and sidling right back when I glared at him) - in short, doing everything he could to get me to speak with him.
And I was, of course, doing everything I could to shake him off. I'm not exactly one for "chit-chat" (especially idle and silly chit-chat) during my routines, and I never make any bones about that fact. And it usually works - folks usually leave me alone when I'm working out.
On this occasion though, I was unsuccessful.
"Hello", he starts, while proferring me a limp hand.
"Hello", I grunt back, getting back to my timed holds.
Did my 4th set of 20 second holds, and was taking a brief rest when I heard him again.
I pretended not to hear.
Wool in my ears, as they say. . .
"Excuse me", he said for the third time, finally moseying on up to the monkey bars in a most slimey fashion.
"Yeah", I say.
"Do you work out here daily?"
"Uh huh", I grunt back.
"You shouldn't be working out on these", our guy says. He pointed at the monkey bars with a limp finger as if they were something to be ashamed of, and shook his head in a sad manner.
"You should get the TRX", he tells me. "You'll get the cuts and definition you want in no time at all!"
Uh-oh - those who know me know that "cuts and definition" are the last thing I want to hear about, and badger me with that type of nonsense during a workout - well, you're liable to get the sort of rousing reception a hibernating grizzly bear provides those who rouse him from his sleep.
Anyhow, I ignored him and went on to set #5.
"Ouch! That must be painful", he starts after this set.
"Calluses, what do you expect", I retort in a gruff manner.
"You really need the TRX. Here, take my card", he goes, handing me a sort of business card with the name of a prominent gym as well as the TRX logo on it.
"I don't want your card".
"Try it, it'll help you".
"I don't want to try it, and I don't want your help", I snapped back, annoyance getting the better of me.
He finally seemed to then "get the message", and pushed off in the other direction, mumbling "Thank you" under his breath. Good for him.
Anyway, "cuts and definition" not withstanding, I find it funny that even gyms these days are scrounging around for folks to buy their overpriced (and in many cases absolutely worthless) memberships. It would seem that folks are sick of paying through the nose for something that doesn't really benefit them - but maybe not, as I don't see the number of fit people going up - it's actually the other way around.
Now, just so you know, I've got nothing against the TRX system (even though I prefer to use my own bodyweight to get fit). The TRX has worked for many people, and I'm sure it'll continue to work for many more, and who I am to knock something that apparently "works"?
But does it work better than a bodyweight based program such as what I advocate?
Not a snowball's chance in tarnation, my friend. The TRX has several things going for it, the most important being the fact it also at the end of the day is a bodyweight based program - and the other being that one has to stay on a super strict diet during the program, else you dont see results.
But, I don't see whats wrong with doing pull-ups on thick bars and how they're any worse than doing them on the suspension system the TRX provides.
I don't see whats wrong with climbing a long, steep hill daily for your "cardio" as opposed to super strict diets that one cannot stick with for any length of time.
And neither do I believe that it's necessarily better to do pushups using straps or pushup bars - I much prefer the old fashioned way of putting one's palms on the floor and completing the exercise.
Folks think they need something "fancy" to get fit - but the truth is, all you need is your own body and some willpower, my friend, and your all set.
More importantly, people need to learn that "tough" isn't a bad thing. Thick bar pull-ups are tough, and they'll give you a pair of calloused hands for sure, but you'd be hard pressed to replicate the STRENGTH that this particular exercise builds no matter what gizmo you use. 'Tis a fact - try it yourself and see if you don't believe me.
Tough is GOOD - and they understood that in the old days. And thats why they had some mighty strong - and FIT - men back in those days. Men who stuck to the basics, and focused on getting stronger. Men who knew all you needed to get a great workout in is your OWN body weight.
What's also amazing is that folks these days are willing to fork over big bucks for the latest gadgets, fad diets, gym memberships et al, and then do so all over again when their "purchase" doesnt deliver what was promised.
So, forget the $250 gym memberships, my friend.
Forget "workout systems" that promise you six pack abs within said number of days.
Ditch the fancy protein shakes, "no carbs" diet, and any other nonsense the so-called fitness gurus might preach.
All you really need to do is fork over a mere $24.99 for Fast and Furious Fitness, and you'll be all set. Heck, that's less than a FRACTION of what I mentioned above would cost - but you'd better believe it delivers far more than any of the above will.
It's solid, tough, back to the basics stuff - and THAT, my friend is what really delivers - not the lass on TV showing off her "8 pack" trying to sell you products late at night.
Anyway, this email has gone off for long enough - so I think I'll end here. Gotta go help my wife reposition a solid oak bed we have - moving that sucker around the bedroom (limited space) can be a workout unto itself.
P.S.: - I speak about "men" towards the latter part of this note, but this advice, and the routines I teach in Fast and Furious Fitness are just as applicable for you ladies out there - as well as kids. Click on over NOW to see what the hullabaloo is all about: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
If there's one upper body (primarily) exercise that's guaranteed to have you huffing, puffing and sweating within a short period of time, it's the good ole pushup.
It doesn't matter how out of shape or in shape you are, there is a type of pushup out there that will make you feel it in the right areas when you perform the movement correctly. It doesn't matter if your just starting out or an experienced trainee. It doesn't matter if you choose to train in the morning or evening - and it doesn't matter if your from Mars or Venus - pushups, when done correctly will get the blood pumping and the heart beating within a short period of time. Good stuff.
A much ignored but extremely effective exercise, especially when done for high reps, this exercise is one of my favorites - not just to get a great upper body workout in a short period of time, but also to "rev the engine up" before embarking on a tougher/longer routine.
What do I mean?
Well, I wasn't feeling the best this morning when I woke up. The weather's changing around here, and I think I might have picked up a tad bit of flu or something - so, I wasn't at my chirpiest to say the least.
Started to get stuck into my normal routine (which today was supposed to be various styles of jumping jacks, rope jumps and a few other associated exercises), but quickly figured out that I just wasn't being able to "get into the groove" as I normally do. I was sweating, and breathing hard, but something didn't feel quite "right" - in other words, I wasn't as switched on as I should have been, if that makes sense.
So, for a change, I figured I'll pump out 25 slow pushups, and then get back to the set #6 on the rope jumps.
Did that, and then knocked off 5 "table" pushups (slowly) for good measure, followed by 10 finger tip pushups.
By that time I was starting to feel a little something in my triceps, and I was breathing much deeper than I was before for sure.
"Hey, this feels good - that old, familiar feeling of the heart starting to pump HARD, and working up a great sweat while I'm at it".
So, figured I'd do a "few more" pushups before getting back to the rest of my normal routine.
Hit #60. Figured I'd do a "few more".
On to #92. "Ok, a few more".
Another set of 20 slow tricep pushups - followed by fingertip pushups again - and I'm on 120 pushups before I know it.
I finally finished at 155 pushups - and whats more, I was feeling GREAT by the end of it. No more "wooziness" or "slow off the blocks" feelings - I was feeling recharged and ready to ROLL. The blood was pumping, the sweat was pouring, and I was breathing like I'd just run a sprint - all great, great stuff.
Never did finish the 1500 rope jumps I had planned for today, but finished my routine off with 25 pull-ups and timed hangs - and that was that. And this feeling of being "on top of the world" after a good hard set of pushups lasts all day long - I'm still "buzzing" a few hours after my routine, and my triceps literally feel "worked to the bone".
And thats not just a stray observation - pushups always make me feel better. For those of you that do them regularly, you know what I mean - and for those of you that don't do pushups on a regular basis - well, one of the best things you can do for your health is to get cracking on a regular pushup schedule - it'll benefit you far more than you know.
So the next time you need a quick "pick me up", ditch the coffee in favor of 20 pushups done in the right way - the boost you get will be well worth it!
All for today. If you workout today, make sure and make it a winner!
P.S.: - I speak of "table" pushups in this email, and I did a wide variety of pushups today in getting to the 155 mark. To learn more about how I structure my high rep push up routines, push on over HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
I've not been able to get to the park I normally perform the outdoor portion of my workout in for quite a bit now. Not really sure why, but one reason is TIME - that park is a fair distance away from where I live, and I just haven't found the time as of late to mosey on over there for some long and enjoyable workouts.
I miss it somewhat - especially having to shoo off the "busy bees" that all show up in my workout "space" to do little other than pass comments, "ooh and ah", and hang their jackets on the dipping bars (or even worse, position their posteriors on said piece of equipment as soon as one's ready to start a hard set of dips). Ah, the fun of it all. . .
But, I'm digressing here - so since I can't make it to that particular park these days, I'm making do with one right near my house. Which is fine, really, except for the fact that it doesn't have the old rusty swing set that I'm used to doing my pull-ups on. I basically used to use the top of the swing set (thick bar joining the swings together) to do my exercises, and it worked great.
Neither does it have a monkey bar apparatus of any length/height, so going back and forth on it (an excellent grip builder, btw) is out.
But, it does have a monkey bar set up of sorts, so that is where I do my pull-ups these days. And I'm doing OK - except for the fact that the monkey bars form a "V" where I grip to perform my pull-ups, and I'd much rather do them on a thick and straight bar if that makes any sense.
Why? Well, many reasons, mostly personal preference, but also because I think I can exert maximum force and get the most out of my back muscles on a straight bar as opposed to a "v" setup.
And so, I'm trying out some interesting variations on the pull-up these days - one of those being the hammer grip pull-up - where you basically perform the movement by gripping a couple of parallel bars and pulling - perfect if your doing pull-ups on a monkey bar setup.
I've seen this variation done many a times before, but for whatever reason, I never really got into the movement that much myself - but I am now - and here are some observations: -
- This type of pull-up should be far easier than the regular pull-up (especially in the bottom position) for those that have shoulder problems, as the shoulders are in a "neutral" position of sorts as opposed to a regular pull-up.
- The movement should be easier to master than a regular pull-up, meaning more reps is a real possibility - and leading to many fun "high rep" pull-up sequences!
- The parallel grip makes it a lot more comfortable (note - thats different from "easier") to perform abdominal movements such as the L-hold, or V-hold. I personally sometimes have trouble with my shoulders when performing said movements on a straight bar, but nothing of the sort happens on parallel bars - even if I hold for an extended period of time.
- It brings the biceps into play big time; so for those of you that are looking to hit the biceps with a decent exercise - this is it. The regular pull-ups is still king - but this one is a close second.
- Last, but certainly not least, this movement can be a fantastic grip builder as well if you perform the right number of reps - try it and see!
Not to mention it makes a nice change from having to do your pull-ups the same way every time; always good to change things up once in a while.
None of this means you should replace the regular pull-up with this one - not at all. That movement is still the #1 back and arm movement in my books - but this one is a pretty decent strength builder as well if you really get good at it.
And that, my friend, is the tip of the day - back again soon! If you workout today, make it a super one!
P.S: - To see photos of me with my adorable little baby girl, click on over here to my facebook account: - https://www.facebook.com/rahul.mookerjee
P.S. #2: - For more interesting variations on pull-ups, check out Fast and Furious Fitness right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
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 sent this one to my mailing list on my Simple and Effective Diet website at http://www.simpleandeffectivediet.com, but figured it's applicable here as well - so am sending it to you guys as well. Enjoy!)
Well, it's been a long, long hiatus for sure - especially for those of you on the Simple and Effective Diet mailing list. Lots and lots of things going on over the past year, the main ones (the topping on the cake, really, in terms of volume) being a move back to India from the sands of Oman (a country that didn't particularly suit us) a few months ago, new fitness routines (of course!), a new manual on developing your shoulders - and most importantly, the birth of my baby girl a little more than a month ago. More than enough to keep me busy for a few months, if not more!
And as if that "ain't" enough, there are more major changes galore - all very exciting and I'll hopefully be keeping you posted on all those through the blog/email.
(Side note: For those of you that haven't already, you might want to sign up for my newsletter on my other "main" site http://www.rahulmookerjee.com - the blog/list there is update far more frequently than on this particular site. Worry not - I don't plan on forgetting about this particular site - quite the contrary - but as of now, I've been updating the other one a lot more frequently, so you might want to sign up for the mailing list on that one as well).
Anyway, so I was surfing the Internet looking for some decent burger joints (don't ask, long story there) and up pops this URL that claimed the owner of the "Heart Attack Grill" is "proudly displaying dead customer's remains" to it's customers, and is apparently doing quite well also.
Hmm, gotta check THIS one out, I thought. Some loons in this world for sure (no disrespect meant to the Heart Attack Grill management!), but I've never quite heard anything like THIS before. . .
So, I did some research - and it turns out that this restaurant DOES exist - in Vegas - which given the "theme" of the joint doesn't surprise me. It's basically a burger and fries joint for the obese - extremely obese, at that. Some "attractions" here include "quadruple bypass burgers" (which supposedly contain 10,000 calories per burger), french fries prepared in pork lard (not kidding), calorie laden milkshakes, beer and more - in short, a perfect invitation to obesity and a heart attack if one eats these regularly.
Oh, and lest I forget, the waitresses are dressed up as nurses, and apparently "spank" those that are unable to finish their portions. The owner of the joint wears a doctor's white lab coat and makes it a point to warn all and sundry that his food is BAD for you, and those that manage to finish the quadruple bypass delicacy are put into a wheelchair and wheeled out to their vehicle by the "nurses".
And to top it all off (no pun intended), those over 350lbs get to eat free there - no questions asked.
Now, as of late the owner of the joint has apparently been marketing his business by displaying the "remains" of a customer than apparently died while eating a meal at his restaurant, and that has obviously got some folks more than a bit agitated.
Some folks are asking if it's "right" to serve such unhealthy food.
Some are pondering the ethics of the situation, as in, "should he really be marketing himself this way"? "Doesn't the man have a sense of responsibility?"
Well, I'm not really going to get into the ethics part of this - but I'm going to say this - ethics aside, what is REALLY, REALLY pathetic is that folks still GO to this restaurant and eat there - despite it being openly (some would say shamelessly) billed as serving possibly the unhealthiest food you can eat. Despite folks dying while eating that sort of food on a daily basis. And despite knowing fully well that partaking of such food is an invitation to health problems, even if you exercise on a regular basis (unless your Michael Phelps who reportedly needs around 13,000 calories per day, but I doubt most of us fit that bill).
Now, before some of you guys jump on me for saying this, let me make it clear than I have absolutely nothing against a decent hamburger/fries meal. I actually love grilled meat, and I also enjoy the occasional cold beverage along with it, so I'm certainly no "purist" in that regard.
But, I also believe in the concept of personal responsibility - something that seems to be lost to many folks. I mean, allowing oneself to balloon up to over 400 lbs or more isn't exactly being responsbile with your own body - and stuffing oneself silly when one weighs that much with unhealthy food is the same as a slow, drawn out suicide - nothing less than that.
We hear a lot about ethics, and while the provocateur of this particular joint seems to specialize in guerilla marketing (to say the least), what about the folks that continue to eat there?
I mean - the guy's openly telling folks NOT to come to his joint since the food is so unhealthy, and yet folks keep coming - where's the logic in THAT?
And while coming once "just to try it out" might be one thing, there are apparently "regulars" who eat there on a regular basis as well (hey, it's "FREE!" for those of us over 350lbs). Yikes!
I could go on and on on this topic, but it's sad that it's come to this, to be honest. When did the concept of a "good hard days work" followed by a nice, hot dinner along with beverage of choice get replaced by unlimited gluttony and zero physical exercise?
Anyway, my advice to those that continue to enjoy that type of food on a regular basis would be to: -
- At least get on a decent fitness program and lose some of that excess weight, even if doing ONE pushup is a current impossibility right now. The routines in Fast and Furious Fitness will help these folks whittle away the lard in record time: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
- Ditch the fries, shakes and bread - fatty meat is bad enough, but the rest is just empty calories times 10. Seriously.
- Make a will (if you have loved ones). Chances are that even intense training won't get you in the sort of shape you need to be to "digest" this sort of swill on a regular basis.
- And last, make a drastic change in your eating/lifestyle habits - this is probably the best suggestion, but one that a lot of folks are averse to, since it actually involves some effort and responsibility on their part.
And as for the owner of the Heart Attack Grill, well, I'll say this - he's sure found a marketing tactic that (unfortunately) works - and who are we to condem him for that? His marketing might not "sound" ethical, but neither are the "healthy" offerings dished up by Mc Donalds and KFC - both contributors in a big way to the epidemic of obesity sweeping across the globe. At least this dude is honest about the fact that he's concerned about the money coming in, but also wants folks to know just how unhealthy society in general has gotten - and that to me isn't a bad thing.
Sometimes some nasty medicine is "just what the patient requires" (to paraphrase the late Steve Jobs). . .
And that, my friend, is what I think of that - I'm off to eat some grilled chicken breasts myself shortly!
P.S. #1: - You can sign up for my Simple and Effective Diet list (that I spoke about in this email) right HERE: - http://simpleandeffectivediet.com/index.php/free-newsletter.
P.S. #2: Stay tuned for more MAJOR changes coming - changes you guys will certainly enjoy as much as I will!
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
Well, it's been a furlough again from sending you daily updates/emails, and this time mostly because of the birth of my baby daughter a couple of weeks back. Yes - you read that right- there's been a new addition to the Fast and Furious gang - a healthy little girl that already seems to be wrapping me around her little finger, hehe.
I also now fully understand what folks say about newborns tiring one out - it's been a struggle (though an interesting one) just to keep up with our baby girl and take care of her at odd hours and such, and handle business affairs, workouts and life in general at the same time - whew!
And so, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about infants and what they can teach us about fitness in today's email.
Most folks, especially those that are hooked on to heavy weights and stuff would sneer at this. After all, what can a 2 week old baby girl teach a "muscle bound" gym goer about fitness?
Well, read before you judge, my friend, and you might just be in for a surprise.
First off, infants and kids (uptil the age of maybe 3 or 4) do the one thing that ALL of us, regardless of shape, size, or fitness levels should be doing - and that is, they BREATHE naturally and correctly. They breathe the way we were meant to breathe, which is from the lower abdomen. And if you've seen a baby sleep, you know what I'm saying. They breathe deeply on each inhale, with the lower abdomen rhythmically rising and falling with each breath, and the chest expanding - not intentionally, but as a side effect of each breath. They do NOT breathe from the mouth - which is another bad habit most adults have, especially when gasping for breath.
Sound cryptic and confusing? Well, I wouldn't blame you if your answer is a big YES - I like to think of myself as breathing in the right way, but I caught myself not doing so just a few minutes after watching my little girl sleep in the hospital. To put in a nutshell, your breath should originate from the lower abdomen - NOT the chest, and it should be a "deep" rhythmic breath that makes your lower abdomen expand with each inhale. Try it yourself after a hard set of exercises, or when you are out of breath, and I bet you'll find you recover far more quickly than sucking in "lungfuls of air" through your mouth in a harried manner.
Ever see an infant huff and puff after a bout of wailing, or a 1 year old out of breath after "running" you ragged around the living room? I bet not - and the reason behind this is deep breathing - done naturally without a second thought, and done CORRECTLY. And that, methinks is "proof enough" for those that believe this method of breathing isn't the right way to do it.
Second, and more importantly, infants (and toddlers) make sure to get in the right amount of movement during the day. Ever seen a healthy infant lie "still" without flailing about? I bet not - this movement is what gets their muscles up to speed for the tasks required in daily life such as walking etc. Easy enough to figure out, huh? Well, take the average pot bellied Joe (or Jane) and have them kick like a baby from the "core" for just five minutes straight, and I bet they'll be exhausted and unable to complete even two straight minutes without a pause.
As for nutrition, well - ever seen an infant stuff itself so full of milk that it can't breathe? I bet not - but I bet you've seen someone stuff themselves full of a calorie laden pizza and barely be able to breathe (let alone walk) after that. 'Tis not the case with infants and toddlers - they instinctively know how much they need to eat and move, and thats something we as adults would do good to emulate in our daily lives as well.
Anyway, those are but a few examples - and YES, we CAN learn how to incorporate some of these practices in real life as adults as well.
All for now - the little one is crying, and it's gotta be Daddy's fault, of course, hehe. . .
Back again soon!
P.S.: - Natural movements are the key to getting super fit in a record period of time - and ensuring those results stick with you for the long term. Click on over HERE to learn about natural movements that can get you to the levels of fitness and flexibility that you had as a kid: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
Despite the importance of a strong and reliable grip, training the grip is usually the last thing on most trainee's minds. Most folks would rather train their chest, back, and other larger muscles and not really focus on grip work except for whatever work the forearms and fingers get from performing exercises for these larger body parts.
And I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing - training the larger muscles of the body is always good, and yes, the grip does get worked quite a bit on exercises that target the chest and back - but always remember, a chain is only as strongest as it's weakest link, and if your grip is that link, well, some focused grip work won't hurt.
Anyhow, I discuss that in detail in Fast and Furious Fitness, but today's email is about balanced grip training, so lets get back on topic for now.
When we talk about "grip training", most folks instantly associate it with training the fingers to "close" powerfully around a said object. So you could be training for a firm/crushing handshake, or perhaps to improve your pull-ups by gripping the bar firmer. Those are great, but there's a missing link here - that being the muscles that do the opposite i.e. "open" your fingers.
To put this in perspective (of sorts), a crocodile has one of the most powerful bites in the entire animal kingdom. More than a grizzly bear, more than a hyena, or even shark - but tie a croc up and hold it's closed mouth with a normal grip - and it won't be able to open that massive jaw until you let it.
Sounds amazing, but it's true, the croc's jaw muscles bite down with immense force, but are unable to exert any tangible force the other way around.
Now, how does this relate to humans? I'm certainly not asking you to mess around with wild crocodiles, but what I'm saying is that we have something similar going on with our "gripping" muscles as well - those being the muscles (and tendons) in our forearms, fingers, wrist and even palm.
And the way you train these muscles is by focusing on training the FINGERS, rather than grip. One way is to do fingertip pushups - I did these at the end of my pull-up routine today, and I'm feeling a "sore to the bone" feeling in my forearms - different from what pull-ups or other tough grip work feels like.
Not necessarily "better" or "more effective" - but definitely DIFFERENT - and definitely another way of training your gripping muscles in another direction. You don't want to have a weak link anywhere, and balancing your grip training out is important for this very reason.
Additionally, strengthening yourself in one direction will automatically lead to strength gains in your other grip work - try it out yourself if you don't believe me! This holds true for other body parts as well, and the grip muscles are no different in this regard.
So thats the tip for today - back again later.
P.S.: If your looking to develop gorialla like claws and gripping power, the first thing you need to lay your mitts on is Fast and Furious Fitness: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
The subject line of today's email might seem a bit strange, but it's really not when you think about it.
I'll get straight to the meat of the matter here - obesity has become a huge, huge problem the world over - and even folks that exercise regularly aren't immune from the "bulging belly" syndrome at times. You rarely, if ever see a naturally flat stomach any longer on folks (and no, the "roid" crazed monsters at the gym don't count), and that's not good for reasons you are already aware of.
Just last night, I read about Australia being one of the fattest countries in the world - and that had me floored big time - I was always under the impression that Australians with their outdoor oriented lifestyles were amongst the fittest in the world - and I guess I was right - emphasis on the word "WERE". No longer, it seems.
There are many reasons behind this, an improper diet being the main reason, followed closely by lack of exercise. Stress is a factor too, as is food pumped full of chemicals and hormones that get your body's natural fat burning tendency out of wack.
Not good - but what can one DO about it?
Well, exercise hard, you'd say, right? And you're right - but the thing is, not ALL exercise is equally effective at "roasting the pork" right off your body and this holds true for all exercises, be they weights-based or body-weight only.
You often see folks working out on stationery bikes for hours hoping to 'tone the midsection up'. You often see folks doing crunch after crunch (which by the way is an utterly useless exercise if there ever was one) in an attempt to get the "six pack" to show, but all they end up with is a sore neck and lower back from the exercise.
And while those aren't exercises I advocate anyway, the truth is that even GOOD exercises at times won't be 100% effective in burning fat the way you want to, especially around the midsection. Take pushups for an instance - super cardio workout for the overall body, and while they do good in terms of reducing overall fat, promoting strength and fitness and the such, they still aren't the best way to lose fat around the midsection.
So, what IS the best way, then?
Well, to put it simply - exercises that literally "shake" the fat up. Yes, I mean those annoying exercises that get your tummy bouncing up and down in a most uncomfortable fashion as opposed to sitting comfortably on that exercise bike. . .
Exercises which literally shake your core "inside out" if that makes any sense - and have you breathless within a minute or less. In fact, when you first start you'd be lucky to get even 25 seconds without collapsing on a particular exercise - and thats the honest truth.
One example of this would be to simply "walk" (or march) in place while swinging the arms and bringing the knees as close to the chest as you can with each rep. Doesn't sound like much I know, but there's a good reason this exercise is practiced in the military, and those of you with bulging waistlines will start feeling the "heat" very soon indeed if you do this right.
You'll feel uncomfortable, the sweat will start to trickle, and then pour off you in a torrent. Your stomach will literally feel like it's been turned inside out - and those of you that are constipated might feel the "urge to go" as well, hehe (and no, I'm NOT kidding on that one!). And remember this is just one movement - there are many, many more that can be done here.
Anyway, I plan on putting these movements all together into a new "core routine" book - stay tuned on that one.
And just why do these exercises work so well, you ask?
Well, I'm not going to get into all the reasons in this email - but for one, because they force the body to use the "subcutaneous" fat as opposed to the fat you can "see" on your body. That means the fat inside of you which envelops your internal organs and is an open invitation to heart disease. Most folks have more of this type of fat than they should which is NOT good - but the good news is that this fat is usually also the first to disappear when you start a solid exercise routine.
Second, shaking the lard up and down is uncomfortable as heck, but it's the closest thing you can get to "spot reducing" fat on your body. Ever seen a hula dancer with a fat backside? Or a belly dancer with a protruding belly? I bet not - continuously working a particular area of the body vigorously not only strengthens and builds muscles, but also reduces that unsightly LARD.
The old timers said it best i.e. "fat can only accumulate on that part of the body where there is the least movement" - and I couldn't agree more.
So whether you are looking to shed that last bit of belly fat, or just starting out, remember to always choose exercises that really make the body MOVE vigorously - and this holds especially true if your trying to reduce fat around the core/abdominal region!
All for now - try this little tip, and let me know how it works out for you!
PS: While waiting on the book with the new core routines, you might want to get started on Fast and Furious Fitness to lay a solid foundation for the tougher exercises: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
As regular readers no doubt know by now, one of the highlights of very enjoyable stint in China a few years back was my evening (usually) climbs up a long, steep hill about 10 minutes or so from my apartment complex. Got me in the very best shape of my life in terms of cardio and "skinfold" measurements (if you care about that kind of thing - I don't to be honest), and I miss it even today.
I generally used to climb in one of my old, white, threadbare T-shirts - they were more like thin "exercise vests" to be honest - and they worked GREAT in the heat and humidity of China. Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't soaked in sweat by the time my climb was over, but a thin T-shirt at least made the heat more bearable.
A lot of you have asked me for pictures of that hill - and while I don't have any of me climbing that particular hill (I didn't have a website at the time, and didn't really think of taking photos), I did manage to find some pictures of the hill on the Internet, which I'll be sharing in future posts. Stay tuned on that one.
Anyhow, being I can be somewhat sentimental at times about "old memories", I never threw away those old T-shirts. Fast forward a few years, and Mrs. Rahul Mookerjee almost whacks me on the head when she saw them. Like, "Can't you at least buy some decent T-shirts??"
Hey, what I can say - ladies can be that way - but we workout fanatics (different from "gym bunnies" or "beach boys") have our own preferences as well, hehe. The older the shirt, the better it gets, at least in terms of getting a workout in - and that's how I've always felt.
Anyway, we were doing some spring cleaning the other day, and out pops one of those very T-shirts.
"Let's put it in the laundry, I'd love to wear that again", I said.
"Wear what??", says my wife, looking at me as if she didn't have a clue - which of course she did.
"Those", I said. "They'll bring back a lot of good memories!".
So we wash them, and I try them on today after my post-workout shower.
And what do I find out??
Well, it's hard to explain - but have you ever tried stuffing a full grown grizzly bear into a medium size T-shirt? It ain't easy to do for sure, and whats more, it ain't pretty - long story short, I almost tore the shoulder right off my beloved T-shirt.
I'm amazed I could wear it back then without any problems - but I've gotten a LOT thicker through the arms, shoulders and upper back since then - and thats all courtesy the Fast and Furious routines I follow on a regular basis. Of course, my "Shoulders like Boulders" routines don't hurt either - I routinely discard shirts that I bought just a few months back, mostly because I can no longer get my arms through them.
So you see, this stuff really, really WORKS.
It works better than lifting weights that are so heavy you end up injuring yourself and put yourself out of the "game" for ages.
It works better than wasting time idling on the pec deck checking out the latest hot mamas walking by.
And it "showl" works better than sitting on your arse and doing nothing at all except beer curls and pretezel pops, hehe.
Give it a try, and you'll find yourself exploding out of your shirts in no time as well!
P.S.: While you may need to buy new shirts, rest assured you'll save a ton of buckeroonies on new pants - you'll fit into all the old ones you haven't worn for years once you get on the routines mentioned in Fast and Furious Fitness: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
P.S. #2: - If your interested in building grizzly like strength and power in your shoulders, don't forget to check out Shoulders like Boulders right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/87-shoulders-like-boulders