the tip of the iceberg

I don’t want to write this post. It’s been a long day and I can’t sleep and maybe by writing this my mind may settle down.

The reality we perceive never is what is real. We are afraid to show ourselves to people and because of that, for lots of reasons, perception becomes reality. We come to our own conclusions on how the people we know are doing. How they ‘are’. We ask our friends how they are and are satisfied with the answer we want to hear and mostly it is the answer they want to give because otherwise things get too complicated. The allotted amount of time you have for that conversation cannot bear anything more than small talk, the how are you doing’s, the what’s new and such things like that. And even if there is more time it can get too dirty to get further down into someone’s reality. Are we ready for that? Are we ready for the answer that needs to be given but never is?

Can that answer even be given? Places to go, emotions kept in check because otherwise from that point forward you are no longer the same person. The fear of that relationship changing forever, never the same because how could it be? And the fear of nearly drowning when only wanting to dip your toe into the water. Uncomfortable knowing that from that point forward you’ll never be looked at the same.

I think this is why it’s easier to smile and just say ‘all’s good’. It’s easier. Said and done.

And it’s too bad. It’s too bad we cannot talk to each other because of these things. Sometimes these things that never get said manifest themselves and the worse happens. Other times the disintegration happens over years, deconstructing life as it once was until what remains is nothing like what it was.

Why is it today we still cannot tell our friends that we are hurting.

I wish it wasn’t this way. I hope the world will change.

Darryl

 

All things moving I am still

The air flows like the tide

 

My last post dealt with eccentric contractions. If you read my post you might remember there are 3 types of contractions: concentric, eccentric and isometric. In this post I’m going to cover isometric contractions.

What

Concentric contractions are muscle contractions where the muscles are shortened. An example is a bicep curl where you have the weight at the top of the motion, the bicep muscles are short and contracted. Eccentric contractions are the opposite of concentric, the muscles are lengthened. Using the bicep curl as an example the eccentric contraction is where the contraction happens while the muscle lengthens. Isometric requires no movement at all when the muscles are contracted. An example would be a plank.

Benefit

There are a number of benefits to isometric contractions. For one, it may be something that you never do. Our body adapts to load. If you have never exercised using isometric contractions it may be a way for you to ‘shock’ your muscles and bring on a nice course of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and gain some strength and muscle size. Another benefit is it doesn’t really require equipment to do this. You will see in the examples I provide below how you can do some isometric exercising without any equipment.

Another benefit is there is no movement so if you have sore joints, you will more than likely be able to exercise instead of having to take time off and lose those gains you made. If you are like me, an injury will get you down because it has impacted your workout regiment.

Something else to think about. You don’t need a special place like a gym, or a lot of space for this. Isometric exercising can be as simple as contracting your glutes while standing in line, or contracting your abs. And if you think about it, you probably have already done isometric exercises. Ever carry something heavy over a distance and you feel your shoulders, your arms burn? There it is. That’s an isometric exercise.

Try these

Here are some isometric exercises you can do for various parts of your body:

  • Planks – a great way to work your core and a method I prefer since a lot of people don’t know how to exercise their core without injuring, or increasing the risk of injuring their back. No movement required to build a strong core. You can also do side planks to add a variation.
  • Wall squats – killer on the legs. Put your back against a wall and sit down into a squat position with feet under your knees. Be sure to have your upper legs parallel with the floor. Hold it. Resist the pain and hold it.
  • Supermans – put some time into strengthening the lower back.
  • 2 inch Leg Raise – instead of doing normal leg raises, while laying on your back, lift your legs up so they are 2 inches off of the ground and hold it, keeping the core muscles tight.
  • Push up – get into push up position and lower yourself half way down and hold it. That’s it.
  • Hip abduction – hold onto something for balance while standing. Now, gently lift your outer leg away from the body to the side, not to the front or back and hold it for as long as you can. Do the same for the other leg.

When doing isometric exercises, hold it for as long as you can while maintaining proper form. Do this until you can’t stand the pain, then take a minute break. Do it again and again so you have completed 3 sets. Try that to start.

Simple

Not everything has to be difficult to work. Don’t need an expensive gym, equipment or location. Don’t know what isometric exercise to do to work that body part? Google ‘isometric back muscles’ as an example. You don’t kneed to do isometric exercises all the time but try to incorporate them into your workout plan.

Just another way to help you to your goal.

Yours in health,

Darryl

opposite day

If I can only get through this…

 

Today teaching class I had to remind everyone to slow down. As people living in today’s times, we seem to always be in a rush to get things done. It’s our culture be it at work, school, and we tend to be conditioned that way too from our surroundings. How many edits are in that 3.5 minute video, or scene from a TV show? A lot more today than there was 30 years ago. How many people actually read a complete news article or story? Most of us read the headline or summary and then move on. Our brain is being rewired to only respond to short bursts of information.

And I think this has proliferated into other things we do. We need to slow down and do things properly especially when exercising. Here’s a quick test. How many push ups can you do? Let’s say the number is 20. Now I want you to do 20 push ups and when lowering yourself take 4 seconds to reach get to the bottom position, hold it for a second, then back up. How many were you able to do this time? 10, 12? I don’t know the number but I bet it wasn’t 20. Is this a better way of doing push ups? Sure is. Slower reduces risk of injury, helps prevent cheating and ultimately works the muscles better thus the end result is results, the ones you want!

But I’m not talking only about taking your time, this post kind of is about that but more about full range of motion and paying attention to what is called the ‘negative’ or eccentric contraction. My point is if you are racing through things the negative, or eccentric movement gets missed. And you don’t want to do that.

Contractions

There are 3 types of contractions:

  • Concentric: is the one everyone likes, especially when posing at the gym. The bicep curl, lifting the weight feeling the bicep muscles pumped with blood. Yeah! It’s the movement where the muscle shortens when contracting.
  • Isometric: No movement at all. People hate this one because it’s tiring, and the muscles tend to start shaking. Think of being at the bottom of a squat, thighs parallel with the floor, holding, and holding, and holding legs shaking. Feel the muscles burning.
  • Eccentric: The one we neglect. Think of lowering the weights when doing bicep curls. But lower all the way, not 3/4’s only to bring the weight back up. This is the contraction where the muscle lengthens, it’s where we are the strongest.

We are stronger when the muscle is contracting and lengthening. You can use almost twice as much weight when you are in the eccentric contraction phase as to the concentric contraction phase. That is significantly more weight!

Why

So why do we want to focus on the eccentric contraction phase. Because of what I said above. We can use more weight and because we can use more weight, our muscles work harder and ultimately we become stronger regardless of the contraction we are doing. That’s it. Because we are increasing the load on our muscles, we are creating more microscopic tears which in turn heal and we end up with more muscle mass.

Heavy negatives (that’s what eccentric contractions are commonly referred to as) also increases flexibility. The muscles are under a larger than normal load as they are lengthening thus helping them to lengthen even more. And because you are using more weight than normal, almost twice more, your connective tissue is becoming tougher. This helps prevent injury. Sometimes when we are injured we think of muscle injury. But it very well could be tendon injury, which you don’t want. Tendon injury can be very painful and can take a long time to recover from.

Tough

Negatives can be tough to do. You are using a load that you can handle on the eccentric phase, but is much to great a load for the concentric phase. Bands are great for this. Think of bicep curls. You can start with the band lose in the concentric phase, and as you lengthen the biceps muscles by lowering your hand, the band tightens.

Want to get really good with pull ups? Do you want to make gains quicker? Use a chair to raise yourself so you are in the contraction position, the position where you have pulled yourself up. Now, while in that position, lift your feet off of the chair and lower yourself. Put your feet back on the chair to raise yourself up back to the bar. Again, lift your feet off of the chair and lower yourself slowly, slowly. Don’t lift yourself up to the bar unaided, using your muscles. We are doing only negatives so save your energy for all the work you will do lowering yourself from the bar.

Now do 3 sets of these and tell me your back muscles aren’t killing you the next day. I bet they are?

Want to get better at leg raises? Try the same thing: while hanging from a bar, swing your legs up and lower them down super slow. Do this again, and again, lowering them really slow and swinging them up quickly. You could also use bands for this. Lay on your back and have the band attached to something such as a door handle, frame, whatever. Have the band so it is taught when your legs are 90 degrees point up from the ground. Now, lower your legs and feel the resistance as the band tightens. Do this for 3 sets and your muscles will respond the next day by letting you know you really shocked them.

Try this for a couple weeks, nothing but negatives. Then, see how your next ‘normal’ workout is. Feel stronger? Probably.

Rest

You can’t do negatives all the time. This is something to switch in from your normal workout once in a while. And because you are stressing your body by increasing the load, it needs time and rest to heal. Don’t forget that. Don’t work extremely hard and then not realize the gains you should have because you aren’t eating properly and resting. That would be bad.

Yes?

Try it. Why not. You’ll get stronger, more flexible, and your technique will be better because of it.

Negatives – the opposite of what we think we need to do.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life…

I started writing this blog just over 3 years ago. Someone interested in health and fitness and a brand new certified personal trainer. I became a personal trainer because I wanted people to be the best they could be when it came to fitness. As a karateka, and a shodan (1st level) black belt I had the responsibility of running the warm up/exercise portion of our classes from kids to adults. When I ran these warm ups I kind of did what our teacher did, and I wasn’t happy with it. I had my own understanding of exercise, etc. but wanted to know more especially now being in front of the class and having a black belt around my waist. Shouldn’t I know what I’m doing? Shouldn’t I be able to talk to what I’m doing? But I had a lot on the go. Getting ready for my nidan (2nd) level black belt test.

Done. Now I have time. So what do I do now that I’m a 2nd level black belt. Time to go back to school and learn about the body, the mechanics, how our body derives energy from food. Time to be a better black belt and bring more value to the students that train with me. If I’m going to tell people what to do I should know why I’m telling them that. What do I say to a parent when they ask me ‘Why do you have the kids do burpees and other tough exercises?’. Now I can tell the parent that we do these things for cardio fitness, strengthening the core muscles, strengthening the legs. When an adult asks me what’s the best food to eat before a work out I can tell them that they need to load up on complex carbs and I can tell them that I’m a certified personal trainer and that the body converts complex carbs into glucose and then that glucose is used for fuel by the body.

I can tell my students these things knowing I’ve studied the science, I’ve been trained on the mechanics of working out. I’ve been trained on what macro nutrition is. I’ve used the platform of being a black belt, running classes to bring the best out of my students.

I guess that’s why I started this blog. I wanted to extend my knowledge, wanted to expand my audience and help as many people as I could. I wanted people to be the best they can be and really understand how to do that. I’m not a conventional blogger, not really a conventional person. The titles of my blog are unconventional. I have a strong passion to help people if I can. That gets me in trouble sometimes.

I can be a type A personality. When I study something, something I’m passionate about, I dive right in. I read a lot, I watch a lot of videos, I educate myself. I can spend hours some days going over the same couple of videos to understand why certain foods we eat are good for us and why other foods are bad. I’ll read a chapter, or a couple of chapters of a book and re-read those chapters to better understand why this is good and why this is harmful. And when I understand these things I want to tell people. Hopefully I can educate people and help them become healthier.

Also, I tend to see things as on or off, black or white, 1 or 0. I’ve always been that way.  People like gray areas, room to move, space, the ability to deviate.  When I read study after study that says this causes cancer, and this causes heart disease and it’s valid, the studies are valid then to me my mind switches to the mode of thinking that I need to tell people this. I think that if it makes sense to me it should make sense to others.

So I guess that’s it. I started this blog to bring, hopefully, good information to those looking to improve their fitness and health.

Having said that, let me finish off listing what I think are important things you should be doing to achieve health and fitness:

 

  • Technique: Don’t rush, go slow and follow proper technique. This will prevent injury and get you to where you want to go sooner.
  • Intensity: You have to be intense when you work out. Hovering around that mid to medium intensity level just doesn’t cut it. Push yourself hard, it doesn’t have to be for a long time, it can be for 10 minutes overall but you have to work hard. That’s the reality of it.
  • Rest: Enjoy the downtime. Sleep. Relax. If you feel rundown you probably are and need some quality vitamin Z.
  • Last but not least, food: If you love animals, great. I’m not talking just dogs and cats, all animals. If you love animals than you love all animals which includes cows, pigs, chickens, fish, even mice. If you love them than don’t be a proxy in their suffering and killing. You don’t need to. There is NO REASON to eat animals or animal product to stay healthy. There isn’t. No reason. Everything we need to eat to be healthy we can get from plant sources. It’s true! And what you eat has the largest impact on your health today, tomorrow and the future. If you don’t believe me, look past the bullshit of corporate sponsored studies, the jerks trying to make a quick buck by selling books and programs, and use your logic. How is it the promoters of Atkins, Keto, Paleo are all fat, out of shape, and some even suffering from cardio disease, where as those promoting whole foods plant based diets are healthy.

 

I’ve left the last point out on purpose. I wanted it to have it’s own paragraph. State of mind.

You need to be happy. It’s not always easy to do. For lots of reasons. Lot’s of things influence our lives in the sense of where we are and where we will be. And then you notice that it’s years later all of a sudden and you are wondering where did the last 10 years go.

Live life the way YOU want to. Does it matter? YES. At the end, is it important that you were happy or is it important that others were happy? You know the answer to that right? Yep. Easy for me to say isn’t it. My point is if you aren’t happy then doing all the other things become more difficult. At least that’s what I think/feel.

Of all the posts I’ve written maybe this is the most important. Wisdom can elude us and then it hits us hard with the force of a right cross.

The last thing I will say is don’t ever beat yourself up not meeting what you think perfection is. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is what’s in your heart.

What matters is what’s in your heart.

Do your best and that’s all you can do.

DO YOUR BEST AND THAT’S ALL YOU CAN DO.

Don’t ever be ashamed of that. NEVER! Never be embarrassed of doing your best.

I’ve seen what you can do and you can fly.

Yours in health,

Darryl