Taking the Long Road

 

longevity

Most of us will be privileged to live on this earth for around 80 years or so, give or take a Zombie apocalypse or our politicians hitting the big red button in a temper-tantrum. The key word here is ‘live’. By live I mean to thrive, be strong, fit, healthy and absent of illness and disease. This is in contrast to just surviving which sadly we can observe in greater numbers in this, the 21st century.

While the great diseases of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century are all but non existent, we have growing number of people suffering heart conditions, diabetes, obesity and the cancers to name but a few.

This is not living – this is just surviving. 

We have a choice to lead a healthy life and these days we even have an abundance of resources and teachers who can guide us in the direction of a healthier life. It’s not actually that difficult once you decide to take ownership of your own existence; what you eat, what time you go to bed at and following a routine of exercise.

Living a monastic life void of all treats is not necessary but living a life of good, better and better(er) choices is achievable by everyone.

The simple choices can lead to many health benefits that in the long run, will add up to a better quality of life.

  1. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Eat mainly unprocessed foods comprising of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrate foods that occur naturally.
  3. Walk every day for around 30 minutes. Not brisk. Just walk.
  4. Practice strength training 2 to 3 times a week.
  5. Daily, perform some form of stretching with a movement system you can enjoy. Just a few minutes a day can have wonderful affects.

You can choose to to just hang around until our nations health system has to take care us until death, or you take care of all the little things that add up to health longevity, living and thriving until our final day.

As my good friend Coach Steve Furys tag line goes – ‘Die Mighty’.

Steve Maxwell is another longtime coach with some wise words to share about longevity.

 

Got any thoughts?

20 Minute Freestyle Challenge

Hey ya’ll. photo-output

So, it’s a sunny Brisbane afternoon, the pool is glistening under a late spring sub-tropical sun and the glass of Johnnie Walker Swing scotch is tasting mighty tasty, but… I must interrupt my moment of bliss with a quick mention of the workout I like to throw out when I want to get stuff done in between actual planned days.

It’s a kind of snack between meals that serves as a great opportunity to practice whatever the heck I want to practice.

So here’s the game plan rules.

  1. Choose a light weight, an 18kg kettlebell in my case.
  2. Pick it up and keep ‘er lit for 20 minutes non-stop.

That’s it folks!

With no particular plan of attack or whiteboard emblazoned with exercises, just move non-stop for 20 minutes between each exercise, any exercises you know and want to work on.

The caveat; weight must not rest on the floor at any time.

I typically rotate between left and right arm and work through a list of:

  • Swings
  • Cleans
  • Snatches
  • Windmills
  • Turkish Get Up ‘downs’
  • Floor Presses
  • Presses
  • Push Presses
  • Jerks
  • The Bent Press
  • Rows
  • Bottom Up carries
  • Other Carries
  • Halo
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Single Leg Deadlift variations
  • Prying Goblet Squats

Darn, the list could go on.

This is just a workout but serves as a great opportunity to put in a practice session with a nice strength endurance outcome.

You could use a sandbag, a barbell, a medicine ball, bodyweight movements (which is actually the hardest option) and you can even use a concrete block or a sledge hammer too!

Have a go sometime you feel the urge to workout and let me know what you did.

Bodybuilding and Strength Training… what’s the difference?

At FitStrong we focus on strength training and moving better as adults. Strength training often takes the path of using tools like Kettlebells, Barbells or other ‘stuff’.

But, oftentimes the use of these or even the mention of ‘strength training’ causes some alarm initially to some members. Why? Because they often have concerns with building big muscles.

They Confuse Bodybuilding and Strength Training.

Whilst the tools are the same, the way in which they get used varies considerably. Bodybuilding focuses on maximal muscle fatigue under certain timing protocols or large number of repetitions whilst strength training focuses on short sets, focussed tension and NO fatigue or muscular exhaustion.

For the most part, we work on getting stronger but when the time is appropriate or required, some clients will include periods of the year working on developing some muscle growth.

Typical example would be a young person wanting to get more muscular for their sport. Another would be an older client who needs to work more frequently on maintaining the muscle mass. The process here is less focussed on maximal effort but would use higher repetitions.

For the majority of us though, what we need in life is a stronger more agile body not a bigger body and as such, we prioritise strength and mobility.

Got any ideas or want more to chat more…. get in touch.

Getting Back to Old Fashioned Health Values

Attaining optimal physical health in the year 2018 is probably a little bit confusing. Do short-cuts exist? Can you hack a boost with a magical coffee and fasting for 3 days? Is there a wonder food? Is there one exercise that’ll do the job and is strength training all you need to lead a wonderful and fulfilling life allowing you to thrive into old age with grace and all your human facets in place?

If anyone tells you ‘just need ____’, they are most likely full of cr@p!

To get a grasp of how and what is means to lead an optimally, healthy life as a human, you need to grasp what it means to be an optimally, healthy human. What is our system designed to do?

Thankfully the impartial and unbiased side of the medical and sports science world has outlined this for us on numerous occasions. We’ll delve into this later on.

For the purposes of physical health, strength, wellbeing and seeing results from training, I like to focus on the following areas:

  • Recovery
  • Nutrition
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Resistance exercise
  • Movement practice

Here’s a wee infographic I’m working on. Eventually it will have links to resources for each area.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.04.21 pm

For a very long time (until recently) people have included the above ‘agenda’ in their lives out of lifestyle necessity.

Until the 1950s and 1960s people had lifestyles that promoted:

  • moving more than sitting,
  • activities that kept them strong,
  • eating mostly unprocessed foods,
  • sleeping a good 7 to 8 hours rather than binge watching TV until they fell asleep.

Standards and values of basic human performance have dropped dramatically. Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life. Let’s read that last sentence again.

Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life.

There is no doubt that we will never return to a lifestyle that demands more physical living unless war and famine dictates it!

If you value old fashioned physical standards of health, attaining a good balance of physical living, what do you need to do?

At the start of the blog I mentioned that medical and sport science has informed us what we need to do. Let’s recap on what is promoted:

Sleep: 7 – 8 hours is optimal despite the fact that some people tell you that 5 hours is all they need.

Nutrition: No diets are required. Just aim to gradually reduce processed foods and meals and snacks and instead target fruits and vegetables that are in season NOW. Three to four fist sized portions a day. Eat unprocessed sources of protein, roughly the same size of 2 to 3 palm sizes. Eat unprocessed (read – natural) sources of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and other root vegetables. Roughly 2 to 3 palm fulls a day. More information from Precision Nutrition. 

Cardiovascular: The targets have been made clear. Walk 30 to 90 minutes a day. You do not have to get seriously out breath, just get up and walk for at least 30 accumulated minutes a day. Simple really. Once this standard is met, then an additional 2 higher intensity sessions can be added a week – 30 minutes of effort that take you pulse to 180 – your age. Not flat-out death chasing stuff! Read more here.

Resistance Training: Two to three times a week undertake a strength training program that includes all the essential human movements. These are the most common physical movements we are required to perform and designed to perform frequently. These can be labelled as Squatting, Pushing, Pulling, Bracing (our torso), Hinging / Bending at the hips and Carrying weight. A well structured plan can be simple and undertaken in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Need a hand, just ask.

Movement Practice: This is probably one area that should increase compared to strength training as we age. As a goal now, if you spend 30 minutes strength training, you should spend up to an hour on a movement practice. What do I mean movement practice? Yoga, Animal Flow, Original Strength, whatever flexibility techniques you like but in any case, you gotta get looser. As we age our hips, biceps, chest, hamstrings and other areas develop and hold onto more tension due to fatigue, posture, lifestyle. Stretch, move – get all loosey-goosey.

Building this into a week as a beginner

  • Walk every day for 30 minutes (3.5 hours a week)
  • Strength Train twice a week for 30 minutes (1 hour a week)
  • Stretch / Get Mobile 4 times a week for 30 minutes (2 hours a week)
  • Start a habit of eating mostly natural foods
  • Sleep every day for 7 to 8 hours

Yes, you read that right. Exercising for 6 ½ hours is essential for a beginner. Any less and you really are leaving a lot on the table. Any less and your lifestyle will be underpowered to assist you into old age.

It’s a serious matter but think of it this way. Do you want to spend the final years of your life in assisted aged care, unable to clean your own bum or do you want to thrive until your dying day.

To quote Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner, ‘Live Long, Be Strong, Die Mighty’! 

I know I’ve laid out a handful of information here. If you want to start to thrive now and you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and I will happily steer you in the right direction. Not a sales pitch, I just want to help.

 

 

‘It’s Too Miserable to Train’!

Today the 24th September 2018 in Brisbane is a dull ‘ol day. This kind of sky is one of the reasons we left Northern Ireland in 2011 for the sub-tropics of South East Queensland.

Anyhoo, a miserable day can really do a number on our spirits, enthusiasm and drive to go to the gym and exercise when alternatively you could go home and binge watch Grand Designs on Netflix.

However, how about just turning up to your place of exercise* and starting…

… just see where it leads to.

 

*On that note of ‘place of exercise’, I did a recent poll and learnt that 34% of respondents exercised at home compared to the other 64% who went to the gym.

Any thoughts?

Quick Recovery Tip

Recovery days may raise the notion that’s it’s a day for total rest, like feet up, don’t move and conserve energy.

Well, in actuality, ‘active moving’ recovery is a far superior recovery method AND preparation method for your next training session.

As well as mobilising our joints, preparing wholesome meals, sleeping a good 7 1/2 to 8 hours is vital too.

Today I just want to share a quick active recovery routine I follow in between my harder days.

Increased blood flow to remove post exercise toxins, joint mobility and regaining muscle elasticity are some of benefits but rather than write it…. here’s a video.

You can follow along to it too 😁