Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Exercise: Bench Kickbacks

Strong triceps make arms look very sexy, in the opinion of the Amazing Stickie.  One way she works on her triceps is by doing bench kickbacks.

She starts by placing one knee and one hand on a bench as if she were on all fours.  She keeps her back straight, her abdominals engaged, and her head in line with the rest of her spine.  She places her hand directly underneath her shoulder and her knee directly underneath her hip for optimum alignment.  She uses her other leg for balance.  She holds a dumbbell in her other hand, arm extended toward the floor, but shoulder centered in the socket and then rows the dumbbell up toward her armpit.  At last, she has achieved starting position!

The key to getting the most out of this exercise, Stickie knows, lies in keeping her upper arm stationary.  From the chicken-wing-like starting position, she extends her forearm toward the ceiling by straightening her elbow.  Then she returns to the starting position.  She alternates sets between sides.

Two to three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions tend to get the job done.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Book Report: Becoming a Supple Leopard

I read Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza in part because my son told me it was magic for resolving his pain issues.  It covers a lot of the same territory as Jill Miller’s work with Yoga Tune Up Balls, but with a slightly different perspective, what I would have to describe as a more, well, male approach focusing on power generation and performance enhancement.

I like power generation and performance enhancement, and if it improving those things motivates the men I know to improve their relationships with their fascia, I’m all for it.  There is plenty of theory in the book, but those who don’t want to fill their heads with it don’t need to read those parts.  The sections that focus on mobilization for each area of the body may be of most interest to the practical folks, unless they are particularly interested in one painful area.

I will, of course, use it as a handy reference, so clients may find themselves leopardized!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Moving through life

Fitness has many components.  As a trainer, obviously, my focus with clients is on movement as a way toward fitness.

We are embedded in time, which means that we live in a world of change.  We are always moving.  Training the body is just one way to direct our movement.

Let’s go in good directions.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Exercise: Bent-Over Row

The Amazing Stickie loves having strong arms.  The bent-over row helps her achieve this goal.

She begins by standing with excellent posture.  (Reminder:  excellent posture consists of standing up straight with ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a continuous line.)  She bends her knees slightly and hinges at the hips to get into the bent over position.  In her hands, she holds dumbbells or a barbell.  On an exhale, she lifts the weights toward her armpits, elbows pointing behind her.  Then she lowers them back toward the floor on an inhale.

Stickie loves her shoulders and wants them to work forever, so she is particularly careful, when lowering the weights, not to let the weight pull her arms so far down that the head of her humerus is no longer centered in the socket.  She knows that if she cannot maintain her humeral head in the socket the weight is too heavy and she will need to work up to it.

Most of the time Stickie chooses a weight that she can lift 10 to 12 times for two or three sets for this exercise, but occasionally she does shorter sets of heavy weights until she can only complete a single, beautiful repetition.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Book Report: Looking Deep

When one goes on vacation and severely underestimates how much reading material is required, one might end up browsing the 99-cent used books at the closest bookstore.  This is how I ended up reading Looking Deep by Terry Bradshaw with Buddy Martin.

I love football.  I wasn’t paying attention much at the time that Bradshaw was an active player, but I enjoy his commentary nowadays.  He’s likeable, funny, and generous in spirit and he has good stories to tell about his remarkable achievements.

While he is certainly not perfect, he is disarmingly honest about his own shortcomings.  He describes coming to terms with his own racism and overcoming the biases he grew up with.  He owns his part in the professional and personal relationships that didn’t work out for him.

He’s also humble, crediting his success to hard work above all.  He addressed his struggles with intelligence, persistence, and humor.  May we all do likewise!

Finally, the book was entirely worth the under-a-buck I paid for it just to learn that the fake name he used when he had elbow surgery was… Thomas Brady.  There has to be a conspiracy theory waiting to happen there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rockin' the hard place

So I might be slightly obsessed with healing right now.  I’m sure that the obsession will pass as soon as the fascia in my foot allows me to bike again.  In the meantime, more thoughts.

Sometimes healing is a totally passive process.  I read seven books while I was on vacation because I had to sit still and heal.  My contribution to the process was negligible.  Sometimes I needed to add ice.  Patience becomes the exercised skill.

The active parts of healing, I think, are often about the bodily equivalent of housework.  Clean out the refrigerator and get fresh vegetables.  Toss out the worn out shoes.  Do the maintenance.  In other words, eat decently, stretch, plan, strategize for the future.

Laughing is also good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Physical forms come in all... well... forms

I am not one of those people who obsess about the Olympics.  I don’t have a favorite Olympic athlete.  I don’t even know what events are on and when.  When I do see news about the Olympics, one of the things I find most shocking is the amount of negativity directed toward athletes’ bodies.

I probably shouldn’t be shocked.  Our culture likes to say negative things about bodies, especially women’s bodies.  I object.

Today’s message for the purpose of subverting the dominant paradigm:  YOUR BODY IS AWESOME.  Yes, I typed it in all caps.  Yes, I am shouting it out loud.  Do not argue with me.  I am right.

Your body (mine, too, for that matter) does magic every day.  It sees, hears, smells, tastes, and senses the world around it.  It moves you around.  It transforms energy into matter and vice versa.  Because of your body, you can laugh and dance and hug people and eat melon and play football and sleep late.

Do not tell me that you do not like your thighs or your belly or that weird spot by your left elbow.  Your body is awesome just the way it is.

Give your body some love today.  (With consent, you can also give somebody else’s body some love today!)  You have officially earned a gold medal in miracles.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fit to fly...

I thought about fitness while I was on vacation.  This is one way I know that I have the right vocation; my work blends in with my regular life in good and inspiring ways.  Fitness changes our lives at a fundamental level.

Because I am still healing from injury, I am, at the moment, considerably less “fit” than usual.  My top crutch speed is not even close to the normal walking pace of my kids.  The demands of a healing body produced fatigue much faster than usual.  Stairs, inclines, doors, and non-paved pathways proved challenging.  My point here is not to complain (although I am an expert complainer!), but to notice the fitness I, and perhaps others of us, take for granted.  I missed out on some fun things because my body couldn’t do them.  At the same time, I was grateful for the fact that I am strong and fit enough to cope with my injury.

What fun things do I miss out on when I am not injured?  What could I do if I were more fit?  Fitness is not an end in itself, but a means to a better quality of life.  Let’s get stronger, faster, fitter, better, so we can have more good times.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Exercise: Vacation

No picture today.  No real post!  The blog is on vacation because the blogger is on vacation!  Back in a little over a week!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thursday Book Report: The Martian

Andrew Luck chose new books for his book club!  Hooray!  For kids/”rookies,” he chose The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  It’s great.  If you haven’t read it, do it.  However, I’m here to write about the grown-up choice:  The Martian by Andy Weir.

I saw the movie and liked it.  I liked the book more.  It reminded me of The Swiss Family Robinson, except funnier and in space.  What is not to like about a book with contraptions and adventures and rockets?  Adversity is overcome!  Death is vanquished by duct tape and ridiculous jokes!

In some ways, this was the perfect book to read after last week’s book (Resilience).  All the characteristics required to bounce back from difficult situations were on exhibit in The Martian.  Our hero uses his brains and his body to survive and even thrive through optimism, intelligence, and humor.  I rooted for him all the way.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reward: Wanted

I believe in treats.  They are so much more motivational than punishments.  When we do things for treats, not only do we accomplish what we need to get done, but we also get rewarded.

Here’s the thing:  we have to choose the right treats.

There is an art to this.  Unless I mean there is a math to this.  I get those things confused.  Let me clarify by using an example.  Let’s say I want to exercise more often.  I decide that I will motivate myself to exercise by giving myself a treat.  If I choose staying up all night playing pinochle as my reward, I may find that the next day I am too tired to exercise.  My treat may have been fun, but didn’t advance my overall plan to exercise more often.  (Also, I have no idea how to play pinochle, so my brain would probably hurt.  And doesn’t it involve worms?  Or is that just the song?)

I have to choose something as a treat that will not get in the way of the larger goal.  This may mean choosing smaller treats (one cookie, not ten), different treats (hot bath), or better proportioned ones (pinochle party that ends at 10, not 2).

Within those parameters, the treat should be as awesome as possible:  that had better be one life-changing cookie, bubbly bath, or hilarious party.  Make the treat worth it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Naked Lady (That's the name of the flower...)

Most of us need to drink more.  No, not that kind.  Water.

It is hard to pick up a magazine without seeing an article about “detoxing.”  There is no diet that will pull toxins out of our bodies.  That is why we have livers; livers do that.

Digression:  we can put fewer toxins into our bodies in the first place by choosing organic, whole, health-inducing foods, but that is not the same thing.  End of digression.

Our livers do appreciate a little help with the process.  This is where the water comes in.  Hydration is essential to our bodily processes.  Without water, we become crabby, headachy, and slow.  Our brains don’t work as well and our bodies quit on us.

Drink up.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Not the candy

Sometimes stretching seems like the runt of the litter.  He or she gets shoved aside by the bigger, cuter puppies that seize our attention with their active bodies and insistent wiggling.

Feed the runt.  Take care of him or her.  That dog will save you later.

Tight muscles eventually fail.  They inhibit range of motion, causing problems with form.  Form issues produce injury.  Let’s not go there.

Warm up a little before you stretch, or use dynamic (moving) stretches as you warm up.  Stretch between weight lifting sets or during cardio recovery periods.  Stretch at the end.  This is just basic care and feeding for our little runt.

If you take your puppy to Pilates or yoga, it’s like a trip to the stretching dog park.  Not only does the puppy get lots of play time, he or she also gets to play with others and strengthen social bonds.

Runts can grow up to be healthy, happy dogs.