Posts Tagged 'fitness'

Strain to Gain

Courtesy of SportTalk.com.au

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

The macho T-shirts could not be more incorrect.

What is intended as a powerful metaphor for working through obstacles has become a mantra inviting injury.

Pain is an indicator of danger — life threatening danger.

The truth is, the most effective tool for development is strain.

It is the adaptation to an uncomfortable stimulus which stretches us beyond current boundaries, not jumping to the next plateau before we are remotely prepared.

Pushing to the edge leaves us expanded, similar to the joint aches associated with a growth spurt.

In this manner, we move improve inch by inch instead of breaking in two.

Weakness leaves the body by degrees over time.

Strain tests and builds capacity. Pain exceeds it.

Variety Shows

Courtesy of MyScienceProject.org

Switching things up is a key to peak performance in any arena — sports or entertainment, business or life.

The benefits of changing an established routine are manifold. When it comes to fitness, doing so is a necessity. The body is always searching for the most efficient way to perform a given activity.

In order to reach the sort of elite level we all seek (if only deep down), we have to unlock ourselves from the chains of a memorized — and therefore easier — program.

I have a hard time doing this.

I enjoy running. I get some miles in six days most weeks, testing my cardiorespiratory system and relieving stress, to a lesser extent. As much as I hate to admit it, such repetition can eventually do more harm than good.

I’ll get bored.

I’ll get injured.

Thankfully, I know better.

Yesterday, my brother, sister-in-law and I did our monthly measurements. This includes weight and waist-to-hip ratios, as usual, but I added another wrinkle for myself:

I decided to perform an experiment over the next four weeks and abandon distance running.

Early in the evening, I ran 1.56 miles in 9:38. Using math to project this across the traditional 2.4km test, I covered the appropriate distance in 9:12, averaging 6:08 per mile.

Why did I do this, you ask?

This set a baseline for me in terms of Maximal Aerobic Speed and VO2 max, a pair of intertwined indicators of a person’s ability to take in and distribute oxygen during exercise. Generally speaking, higher ratings equate to the ability go farther and faster.

I’m curious about improving fitness with less traditional endurance workouts, a concept I’ve read about but have yet to really attempt myself. I plan to use regiments based on building agility and speed while putting the heart to work. The idea is to create an all-around program built on the intervals I already use, substituting other exercises for out-and-out running to get the desired effect.

In short, I’m going to get back to basics.

Squats.

Mountain climbers.

Lunges.

T-sprints.

On April 10th, I’ll retest and see what variety shows.

This is Healthier

Four Weeks' Difference: 1/16 (l) and 2/13 (r)

Some things we have to see to believe.

Four weeks ago, I wrote a revealing post about my desire to shift my body composition in subtle ways by paying more attention to what I eat.

I gave up sweets and focused on eating more meat, seeds, nuts and leafy vegetables.

I decided to work out again — in the way I always told myself would be ideal.

The change is evident.

First and foremost — because I know you’re wondering — I did lose a fair amount of weight. I was 170 pounds when my brother, sister-in-law and I did “before” measurements on January 16th, four days into adopting the Paleo lifestyle.

I clocked in at 155 on February 13th, fifteen pounds lighter — a misleading number, for the record. A nasty case of stomach flu tore me apart that weekend, leaving me either in bed or on the toilet for the better part of 30 hours. After a snack early Saturday afternoon, I was unable to eat or drink anything until Monday morning.

It was Tuesday before I returned to full strength.

Dehydrated and starved, my weight skewed downward.

The next evening, after eating three meals more like my normal intake, the scale hovered at 160 — what I played soccer at in college. I consider this “unofficial,” as I stepped on the scale merely to reassure myself (as I said before, my intent is to be lean, not emaciated) and skipped taking other measurements.

Looking at the pictures, you’ll notice the differences in two spots, primarily: the face and abdomen.

A comparison of the jawline highlights the change: it is far more apparent on the right than left. Though it would be unfair to say I was chubby before, a distinct streamlining has occurred in a highly-noticeable area. This is why I advise anyone tracking weight loss to take up-close-and-personal facial photos — when the rest of the body seems to lag behind, those pictures tell the (encouraging) truth.

Now, notice the beltline. My waist slimmed by two inches, a portion of which must be attributed to my inability to take (or even sniff, really) a bite of food at the time. Still, the visual is telling: an increase in tone and decrease in, ahem, “softness” at the area most men stealthily begin packing on pounds after college.

Despite being very pleased, I have to admit the pictures tell a small part of the story:

  • Sleep feels deeper and more refreshing
  • Energy levels are more stable throughout the day
  • Meals satisfy appetite longer
  • Exercise recovery seems faster

This weekend, we decided to incorporate some of our old favorites back in. I had some pizza, a couple beers and some of the desserts I used to enjoy again.

The fast food was bland.

The fries turned my stomach.

The cookies were unbearably sweet.

I look forward to my next slab of meat and handful of baby spinach more all the time.

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