Sunday, 30 June 2013 16:16

A different workout

Well, I got in a workout alright today - whew! And it wasn't my normal routine by any means; I did something NEW today - as in, things I've done before - not anything I've talked about before, but highly effective nonetheless.

Today's workout did NOT involve any dipping, pull-ups, monkey bars, timed holds - none of those staples today. And it involved only ONE strength movement (albeit a great one), but I was huffin and puffin' like I used when climbing the hill in China in a different life. And in fact, it got so hard that at one point I simply had to collapse on the floor and PAUSE for breath - it was that tough.

Now, what on earth was this workout?

Well, let's just say a combination of some exercises so "basic" that one couldn't even think they'd be tough - but ohhh yes, they ARE! Those, combined with handstand pushups in between sets of the other exercises - YOW!

My workout lasted for more than an hour and a half today - hardly fits the bill of FAST - but certainly fits the FURIOUS part. And rest assured that this workout is too tough for the uninitiated to handle - which is probably why it hasn't made it to the book as yet.

What WAS it?

Well, a lot of yoga movements, and work for the core - and handstand pushups thrown in. I'm not going to get into all the gory details here, but here's a sample:

100 jumping jacks, preferably done FAST and without a pause (and no, I couldn't manage them all at one go)
Handstand pushups (as many as you can do)
Knees to chest while jumping - FAST - 100 reps as a minimum, preferably in a set (and no, didn't manage this either - like I said, haven't been doing them for a while!)
Handstand holds (or pull ups, if you have a chinning bar at home; I don't at this point)
Repeat for three sets.

And thats not even taking into account the stretches and other core work. Think cycling movements - SLOWLY - while lying down - can feel like TORTURE for the abs after a while.

I'm writing this a couple of hours after my workout, and I'm still sore in the traps, abs and legs - not something you'd necessary associate with yoga, eh?

Now, I don't do this type of workout ALL the time - but it's mighty effective if done as a change, and some of the movements CAN be incorporated into a regular workout as well. Tough movements to be honest, but can be done for sure.

So thats something else to think about for all the weight maniacs who think the weight room is the only way to get a great workout - THINK AGAIN! And it also tells you that doing something DIFFERENT once in a while can only be good for you.

I'm probably going to get back to my normal routine tomorrow - and it'll be great - I can feel it in my bones already! And for those of you that work out regularly, you know the feeling; inexplicable at times, but it can't be ignored.

So, that ends today's note - until next time - take care - and work out hard!

Best regards,
Rahul

PS: I don't cover all this in a book - YET. But, I do have another book I'm working on which details advanced handstand training and bridging (another fantastic exercise), and I might just add these exercises into the mix. Until then though, you still have more than enough to work with with Fast and Furious Fitness - grab a copy NOW.

No, today's subject line/email is NOT an advertisement for a tobacco company (or other products that are injurious to health)! I'm aware that what I wrote in the subject line would be manna from heaven for the marketing departments in most tobacco/liquor companies, but I'm referring to keeping a kid "hooked forever" in a GOOD way - not bad.

I was doing my exercises out in the park today, when a little girl with her mother showed up in the area where the dipping bars are. Wouldn't have been more than 8 years of age or so, and they had badminton rackets in hand, along with a yoga mat - always a good sign - especially when most stroll into that area with cellphones and handbags in hand as if it's a mall - and then park themselves right on the dipping bars to complete their daily gossip quota. Ugggh.

Anyway, I saw this girl trying to do pull-ups on the monkey bars, and dip between the parallel bars (much the same as I was doing). She was too small to do them in full range of motion, but at least she was trying - and trying hard. Good stuff!

But, guess what was even BETTER?

Her mother was actually encouraging her from the sidelines. As in "honey, don't give up - try to get at least ONE chin". Or "honey, let's see you fall over into a gymnastic bridge" (and she did - it was great to watch). And so forth.

The majority of adults today don't bother to fit physical activity into their daily lives - and this seems to be the norm for parents as well, at least in this neck of the woods. And given that fact, it's not surprising there are more and more obese children "running" (I use that term loosely) around galore with I-phones in hand and pizza on the mind.

But guess what happens when parents actually encourage their kids to participate in physical activity and sports - kids do so happily, because kids are full of energy naturally and are made for this. And when a parent actually shows up and does some of the same stuff she's asking her kid to do - well, even better.

And guess what - once they start - and get into the habit - they're hooked, my friend, and that can only be a GOOD thing. And exercises don't have to be tough for kids; in fact Fast and Furious Fitness teaches you a wide variety of exercises that kids will absolutely ENJOY doing (and that adults would benefit greatly from as well).

http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

So, if you have kids, make sure and set a good example - plonking down in front of the tube with a six pack and Doritos may seem like the thing to do after work, but it isn't setting a good example for the little one.

Anyway, wanted to share that with you; I figure you'd like it as much as I did. . .

Until next time - and if you work out today, make it a super one!

Best regards,
Rahul

PS: One of the best presents you can give your kids is the gift of lifelong health, strength and fitness (and yes, I know I switched the order around) - grab Fast and Furious Fitness NOW - and get 'em started!

Fast and Furious Fitness: http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 07:04

Chin-ups vs pull-ups -- which is better?

This has GOT to be one of the most talked about questions in strength training.

Which is better - the chin-up, or pull-up? And I've seen this question posed so often in so many different places, that I thought I'd do my best to try and address it today. . .

First off, I'd like to say that ANY sort of pulling exercise involving your own body-weight is good - be that chin-ups, pull-ups, pull-ups on rings, horizontal pull-ups and so forth. It isn't so much which one is better than "they're all good", so if your doing any of them at all (and most people DON'T), more power to you.

My own preference has always been for pull-ups, and I state this in my book as well; the main reason being the pull-up is a more natural movement, and builds more strength throughout the upper body in lifting postures you actually USE throughout the day. Think about it - do you generally lift stuff with palms out or in? I'd say the former most of the time, and thats one main reason behind my preference.

Second, the pull-up tends to target the LARGEST muscles in your upper body a lot more than the chin-up does - those being the lats, which provide most of the pulling power/support throughout your entire back area. Develop real strength in the traps and lats, and you'll never have trouble picking up heavy objects again - not to mention you'll LOOK strong as well, no matter what you wear.

So, what does this mean - should we ignore the chin-up altogether?

Well, it depends. Most people actually end up ignoring the pull-up in favor of the chin-up, mostly because the chin-up is an easier move to accomplish. Chin up brings your chest and biceps into the movement a lot more than regular pull-ups will, so it is easier to do them that way a lot of times. Chinning can also put your wrists and elbows in a somewhat unnatural position, which could be a problem for some folks.

Is that OK to do long-term - well, again, it depends - I'd say no if you want to develop your back to the fullest, but at the same time, the chin-up can be an interesting and intense variation at times; especially to target the upper chest area. Try mixing these in with a bunch of dips and pull-ups - YOW!

And at the end of the day, if pull-ups are too tough for you to do, and chins are all you can do, well, do them - you'll still build way more strength doing them than you would on the lat pulldown machine in the gym (an useless piece of equipment if I ever saw one); and they are probably the only one exercise that will aid you in making the "leap" to a regular pull-up.

So, there's my answer - make of it what you will. As with most other things, it all really depends on YOUR goals, and how far YOU want to go - but that is a basic outline of the issue.

And that, my friend, is that for now - back again later!

Best regards,
Rahul

PS: To read and learn more about these amazing body weight exercises, order a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

 

Been receiving some interesting emails as of late, and I'll share a couple with you.

The first email was from a person in the UK who bought my book a while back. He was already pretty strong, but in a LOT of pain from repetitive weight training - especially in the shoulder/trap region - so he wanted to get on a routine that would allow him to maintain his strength/fitness levels, but not cause him to squeal in pain every time he brushed his teeth or put on a T-shirt. Now, bear in mind this dude is strong (at least going by what he told me), but the amount of pain he's in on a daily basis - man oh man, I wonder if all those heavy weights are worth it after all. . .

Anyway, he writes me back two (or so) months later, and is all praise for the book - especially the part where I talk about handstand pushups, and how beneficial they are for you.

Quoting from his note "Your handstand pushup workouts are the BEST - I've never been feeling stronger in the shoulders/upper back; and whats more, that piercing pain in my shoulder joint is almost GONE! Kudos!"

Thanks pal - but the feedback isn't surprising, since you've been training one of the very, very BEST exercises you can to do rehabilitate, strengthen and rejuvenate your shoulders - those being handstand pushups. Sure, you need to do them in proper form or you might as well not do them at all, but they remain one of the very best upper body exercises there is, period.

I speak about handstand pushups at length in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure and grab your copy now!

The second question was from a newbie who just joined the site yesterday. He's just starting out, and was apprehensive about whether or not my book contained routines suitable for a rank beginner. And my answer was YES - Fast and Furious Fitness WILL help you if you are at that level. Get the book, follow the instructions and work out religiously - and you WILL see a difference - more so than you would by joining a fancy gym and working the treadmill in front of the TV. Glug.

So, if your still on the fence (and those of you that are know who you are!), quit dallying around and get the book TODAY - it will literally change your life for the better.

OK, that's it for now. Back again soon with more!!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Too much dithering never led to anything but a massive headache - quit beating about the bush and get the book TODAY - it IS literally a ticket to a BETTER you.

 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 15:50

Are dips bad for the shoulders?

Well, today I'll get to an oft discussed issue when it comes to dips (one of my favorite exercises, as those who have been following this blog will know) - that being "Are dips bad for the shoulders"?

I'm sure you've seen a lot of discussion on this one, be it in the gym or the internet - and a lot of popular opinion seems to gravitate towards the "yes, they hurt the shoulders" category, while those who do them regularly seem to swear by them.

And as you can tell, I fall into the latter category, so my answer probably won't come as a surprise, but before you dismiss what I'm saying outright, take a minute to read through what I have to say, and then make your decision.

First off, as with any other tough exercise, dips are meant to be done in GOOD form - and good form is often what we do NOT see when we see folks performing dips. And as with any other exercise, you run the very real risk of hurting yourself on any exercise done with poor form, and dips are no different. That however doesn't mean they are bad for the shoulders - quite the contrary - in fact dips are one of the BEST chest/shoulder exercises you can do, period.

Second, like I said, dips are TOUGH - and TOUGH exercises seem to get a bad rap for no reason. Ever heard folks complaining about the bench press being too tough, or the pec-deck being bad for the body? I bet not - but funnily enough both of those activities are not normal for the body, and are nowhere near as beneficial to your overall strength and conditioning as dips are. Think about it - pressing a bar up while laying down as opposed to pushing your ENTIRE bodyweight through space for reps - which one is tougher?

Third, and most importantly, you progress in the dip as you would any other exercise. You do NOT try and bang out 20 reps per set the first time you do these and then get a severe case of shoulder pain and stop doing altogether. It's amazing, but there's still a plethora of folks out there who think bodyweight exercises are somehow "easy" because they are plain bodyweight exercises, and they over-do things accordingly. Big, big mistake.

So, long answer short - no, dips are not bad for you, per se - in fact, they are one of the best upper body strength builders out there. I've personally had great gains in my shoulder/upper body strength while doing this exercise, and I bet you will too. And no, this exercise is NOT "just for skinny people" - much like other exercises involving your entire bodyweight (handstands, pull-ups etc), this one can be performed just as well by a bigger individual as a small one.

Now, does this mean everyone should do dips, period - and not worry about hurting themselves? Well, no, not really - if you've had prior shoulder issues, or if you don't do too well in the dipping position due to a dodgy joint, well, then you probably shouldn't be doing a lot of these. But, the exercise is FINE to do for the vast majority of folks out there - and the comments I've recieved on the book vouch for that.

As for form, see Fast and Furious Fitness - I give you detailed instructions along with pictures on how to perform this challenging bodyweight movement. Get started TODAY - and let me know how you do!

And that's that for today. If you work today - make sure you make it a GREAT one!!

Best regards,

Rahul

Thursday, 13 June 2013 14:56

Close grip pullups and more

A great variation to your regular pull-up workout (for those of you that do them) is the close grip pull-up. The movement is similar to the regular pull-up/chin-up, but the only difference is that your hands are close together while performing the movement - close, as in less than shoulder width - and touching one other if your really good at the exercise.

I did these for 5 sets of 5 reps today in addition to some other things - and I'm FEELING it in my forearms right now!! That's right; this type of pull-up is great for the forearms, and is a super tough variant as far as gripping power goes. Believe me, these are hard enough to do even if your good at the regular pull-up  - and they're almost impossible to do with a weak grip.

I don't recommend doing this style of pull-up all the time; the standard pull-up is still king in my opinion, but it pays to change things up every so often, and this is one great variation you can use, especially if your looking for extra forearm/bicep work.

So, during this 5 x 5 workout (along with other 5 x 5 exercises - for "sample" workouts you can follow, see Fast and Furious Fitness), I added in yet another style of pull-up, a couple of hard sets across the monkey bars, and then timed holds. And that was pretty much all I needed to get the forearm workout of the week. No fancy gadgets, no routines that took all day. No pumping, no preening, nothing - just basic work on thick bars - and that's ALL. 

So, moral(s) of the story?

- Keep things simple - the simpler the better - and usually tougher.

- Variations are great; just make sure you do them RIGHT!

And that, my friend, is that for now. Back later with more!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: - The forum had a few problems, but they seem to be all sorted out now - stop by and post your thoughts and ideas: http://rahulmookerjee.com/phpbb2/

PS#2:  If you don't already do pull-ups, you really SHOULD be. Fast and Furious Fitness is the place to start for a primer on how to incorporate this wonderful exercise into your regimen: -  http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

 

Monday, 10 June 2013 16:58

Discussion forum up and running

I've been receiving a lot of emails lately - mostly questions related to training, the site, or just general questions. As in, "how do I perform this exercise", or "I'm simply NOT improving at my chin-ups; how do I get there?". And so forth - the questions keep coming in - and thats great!

I make an attempt to answer most of the emails - but I do miss some - and for that, I apologize. Only so many hours in the day, and all that fun jazz. . .

But, to cut a very long story short, I've decided to set up a basic discussion forum on the web site - a place where YOU guys can log in and discuss your training questions, routine, diet, and just about anything you'd like to. I actually did not consider this before, but given that comments are disabled on the blog (sorry - haven't figured out how to outwit the spam bots just as yet!), I thought this should be a good idea.

It's pretty basic - but basic is how I train, and after a lot of playing around with code, fonts etc, I figured the basic setup is the way to go  - and it's LIVE now! All you have to do is click "Forum" on the site homepage, and you'll get there. You do need to register with a login name and password,but that's pretty much all you need to do in order to start posting.

The forum is completely free as of now - and hopefully I can keep it that way. As for rules, what to post and what not to - well - we're all adults, and I leave it to YOU to decide. My only rule is - do as you would in "real life" i.e. be civil, respect others, etc etc - and thats pretty much it. Not much of a forum Gestapo as you can tell. . .

So, this should be fun - let's give it a try, and see how it goes!!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: The actual link to the site is http://rahulmookerjee.com/phpbb2/index.php ; bookmark this if you want to jump straight to the forum instead of the site!

PS #2: Here's to many productive discussions!!


 

Sunday, 09 June 2013 14:48

Hard training in hot and humid weather

Well, the summer rolls on here in this part of the globe - and let me tell ya, it's gotten HOT and REAL humid here as of late. As in, so humid that one sweats simply sitting on a chair doing nothing (without A/C). As in, so HOT that you feel like you stepped into a furnace the moment you step out of the house. As in, I'm soaking wet after my workouts these days - I can literally wring sweat out of my clothing after my routine. And so forth. I could go on and on, but you get the idea here.

Boy am I glad I left the Middle East when I did - I don't EVEN want to think about what the weather is like this now in this part of the year. YIKES!

Anyway, getting back on topic - there's literally no respite from the heat and humidity these days - and that in turn means one has to figure out a way to work out effectively despite the oppressive weather conditions. And while it's important not to fall prey to the "Oh, it's too hot to train" syndrome, it's equally, if not more important to know how to train SAFELY during extreme weather conditions. And so, I thought I'd throw a few tips out there in this regard - mostly basic things, nothing fancy, but you'd be amazed as to how often these basic things are ignored. . .

1. Keep yourself well hydrated! This goes without saying, and is applicable to all weather conditions really, but it becomes more important in hot (and especially humid) conditions. Err on the side of caution or even a bit of excess here - there's nothing more frustrating than feeling weak in the middle of the workout due to extreme dehydration (and I've been there myself, so I know how it feels).

As for how to keep oneself hydrated, I prefer WATER to be the best drink when it comes to keeping yourself well hydrated. This is a personal choice really -nothing wrong with sports drinks and such, but at the end of the day, I've found nothing recharges my batteries during and after a tough workout as a drink of cold WATER.

2. Pick the best time of the day to train - preferably the evenings or mornings, when the sun is either going down or about to rise, as you'll do better than if you were training outside in the sun. And while the more extreme of you might enjoy the feeling of "breathing in fire" while climbing a steep hill or doing roadwork in the sun, it's not always the best thing to do for your body. Again, I've been there and done that - for more on this, see Fast and Furious Fitness.

3. Less is MORE when it comes to training in this type of weather. Now, this doesnt mean that you drastically reduce your workload or don't train progressively - what it means is that you do enough - but you don't over do it. And this is especially applicable to those of you that train with high rep bodyweight movements (like I do). So, I might shoot for a goal of 50 dips and 40 pull-ups every time I workout - but I tailor this number according to how I feel, how hard I've worked, and what kind of weather I'm training in. As a general rule, you'll probably do slightly less in real humid weather than you would in better weather - and rest assured, this is fine.

4. If your training outdoors, and doing movements that require a strong grip, you'll likely have trouble with your hands "slipping" off the bar while you exercise. This can be real frustrating (not to mention dangerous) - especially when sweat on your hands is the limiting factor as opposed to grip strength. Chalking the hands up helps with this, but you'll likely require a towel as well to wipe your forearms after each set. Wrist bands are good too - I personally don't use them, but I've heard they do a good job of absorbing the sweat on the forearms.

5. Dress for the weather - this one is obvious. Again, less is more when it comes to hot and humid conditions - I can't help but shake my head when I see folks out in thick sweatpants in the local park in this weather. . .

And that's really all there is to it - all simple and easy things that you likely already knew, but you'd be amazed at how many people neglect one or more of these points.

And with that endeth today's note. Back again soon with more!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: For more motivation on getting outside and training in oppressive weather conditions, read Fast and Furious Fitness - I guarantee it won't disappoint!

I've been laid up over the last week or so with a NASTY, NASTY ankle injury. Not quite sure how I managed to strain it, but long story short - I woke up last Tuesday morning with a throbbing pain in my left ankle (not quite unmanageable, but pretty painful in certain spots), and a right ankle that hurt somewhat if I put pressure on it. 

Big deal, huh. I've been doing a lot of boxing style roadwork these days, so it's probably just tiredness, sore ankles, right? Best to just get on with things and "tough it out"?

WRONG - let's just say I went for my workout Wednesday, and returned home with a right ankle that was almost impossible to walk upon - and which later got so painful I'd literally howl in agony if someone even lightly TOUCHED the area. That's right - just a gentle TOUCH was that painful.

And being the genius that I can be sometimes, I ended up trying to tough that out as well - and went for a gentle walk the next day. Long story short, BOTH my ankles were shot after that - I spent most of last week in severe pain and hobbling about, mostly in bed. I've had sprained ankles and injuries before -  but nothing quite compared to THIS pain. YOW!

Anyhow, there's a lesson for you that I keep talking about, and sometimes don't follow myself - that being, the body is giving us signals all the time, and sometimes we pay no heed to them - and thus reap what we sow. I did get back to my usual workout today after a week's lay off, but boy was that a painful reminder of what I should have done, which was to lay off both feet immediately the moment I felt serious pain.

The other thing I'd like to mention is that we hear a lot about the R.I.C.E method of treating a sprained/injured ankle, which is basically rest, ice, compression and elevation. The rest, compression and elevation worked great for me, but for some reason soaking my foot in a hot water solution of epsom salt/water worked better for me than the ice treatment. Not knocking the ice at all, but for those of you that don't seem to respond well to ice treatment, there's another alternative there.

And now, on to the other point - that being, what NOT to do while doing the hanging leg raise.

First, eliminate ANY and ALL momentum during the movement. I cannot stress the importance of this enough - an extremely tough bodyweight exercise for the entire core is reduced to a mere "swinging" exercise on the bar if you allow momentum to do the work. "Kipping" reps may be great to show off, but the slow, steady and controlled reps are what get the job done, and the hurting going in the abdominal region - which is a GOOD thing!

Second, know that there are many ways of skinning a cat, especially if your starting out in this advanced movement. While touching your toes to the bar is great, you may not be at a point where you can do that. Heck, even getting to a 90 degree hold might be tough for you - so do what you can, and progress from there. What you don't want to do though is "swing" your way up to a position you couldn't get up to normally - you'll only end up injuring yourself.

Third, and last - this movement can be tough on the shoulders, so warm up thoroughly and make sure your shoulders/grip can take the load before you jump into it.

And thats about it for that one - it's a great exercise - and produces great results, but only if trained ever so correctly.

And so it goes at Fast and Furious HQ, feeling GOOD after my workout today. Here's to many more!!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: For more on the hanging leg raise, and other core blasters, check out Fast and Furious Fitness

 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 14:29

Make exercise a part of your daily life

One of the most common reasons for failure in any exercise routine is that folks simply fail to "stick" to their routine. They do a good job of mapping their goals out, figuring out which exercises to do, and how often - but when it comes to actually putting in the hours, a lot of folks find that they're just not able to dedicate themselves to their routines as much as they should be. 

And often times, the reason for not sticking to the workouts isn't purely lack of motivation, or even lack of discipline (though that does apply to a lot of folks) - it's mostly people not (or not being able to) making time to fit their exercises into their daily routine.

Now, given that as little as 10 minutes of intense exercise (the right kind) can literally turbo-charge your entire day, you'd think that exercise should be a priority on everyone's list - but amazingly enough, it's not - and the exercises more often that not end up getting the rap rather than the person. So Jane 50lbsoverweight complains that her running program is "worthless" because she "isn't accomplishing anything at all" on the program, when in reality the program simply isn't being used as it should be. And so forth.

But the truth is, it's ridiculously simple to fit exercise into your daily routine - its amazingly easy, if you just open your mind to all the possibilities there are around you in your daily life. I was real busy yesterday, and spent most of the day running around from point A to point B like a chicken with it's head cut off, but still managed to get some decent workouts in - and how?

Well, simple - I was traveling by subway - so I simply used (read ran) the stairs instead of the escalators provided. Sure, I got some curious looks from the legions of tired, hunchbacked office workers patiently queing up on the escalators to get to "terra firma", but I also managed to get some great stair sprints in every couple of hours - and believe you me, combine that with a lot of walking and carrying stuff around - and it gets HARD - real quickly. I can still feel the soreness in my quads today, which points to the effectiveness of the workout.

It's amazing how many people ignore that one,simple basic tool staring them right in the face - and which fits straight into their commute - the stairs. Imagine how much fitter the average office goer would be if he/she made it a point to use the stairs every time instead of the lift/escalator? And making that commitment wouldn't take any time at all - a few minutes MAX - but those few minutes are enough to get the blood pumping, the heartbeat racing and the sweat trickling down one's brow - all good things!

Anyway, thats just ONE thing you can do to fit your workout into your daily routine. There are dozens of other techniques, so you'll have to find the one that works best for YOU. And remember this - its always better to do SOMETHING rather than nothing - and even a 30 second hard sprint up some steep stairs can work better wonders than a long, ponderous jog around the local park (not that there's anything wrong with that if you prefer it, but I'm just saying. . .)

Anyway, gotta go for now - more later. If you train today, make it a super one - and let me know how it went! 

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: The bug in the ordering system has now been ironed out, so run on over here to place your orders for Fast and Furious Fitness: -  http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products

 

Page 73 of 85