Monday, 26 March 2012

Take it to the playground

As a little critter growing up, I'd spend my play time hanging from monkey bars, crawling up the slide and swinging upside down.  These times on the jungle gym with my mates left me feeling happier than a fat kid in a donut shop.  

If it were a little more socially acceptable for an adult without any children to be found hanging around a playground, I would do it far more often.  However, grabbing some mates and hitting the park together for some fun is not as frowned upon.  Throwing in a day outdoors into your training and enjoying the challenge of defying gravity with your own body can be fun and serious at the time time.

Sometimes you need less structure and more play, sometimes you need to just kick back and use the body that you have built.

The 21st century fitness world loves throwing the word functional around, the majority of the training world spends their days picking up heavy things, rowing them, pushing them, pulling them and shouting about how functional their training is.

If this is the case, if you are being 'functional' get outdoors and see what you made of. Put your training and your body to the test.  Climb the ropes, dip from the parallel bars, work on your pull ups, row from the low lying bars.  There are hundreds of combinations to workout a sound program that will probably give you a harder training session then you would have gotten indoors, playing with the TRX and the bosu ball.

Not only are you challenging your body but you're outdoors, hell, it'll make you feel alive and far less tense afterwards.  You're in a park, so there's open space, finish your workout with some field sprints, drop in a higher level of conditioning than you would have received in the gym, on the treadmill, staring into the abyss.

You do not need a membership, spandex tights and the latest Reebok trainers to get in a solid workout.  All you need is a playground, your bare feet and the drive to challenge your body.  You can still walk away with some serious callasus, a sweat soaked t-shirt and pounding muscles.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The hills have eyes and the prowler never lies

Whether you're an athlete, soccer mom, weekend warrior, samurai or built like a Greek God, there are some things that you cant go without.  Conditioning.

Its these things that will break down the weak, and build up the hard.

Strength to conditioning is like orgasms to sex.  You cant have one without the other, or you can, but the results are never good.

I love this side of training as much as a seven year old loves broccoli. When my coach puts me on the prowler, I don't just suffer from prowler flu, I endure full blown bitch flu, I fall off the wagon straight into radical pneumonia.

However at the same time its that physical stimulation of pushing yourself beyond your last session that freaks like me thrive on.  Now when we talk building lung capacity, building endurance, putting the body under stress, increasing your speed and cardiovascular fitness, we talk conditioning.

Your strength is useless if you run out of gas.  If you are training you must be conditioning.

If you want to be faster, stronger, more efficient and look hot in spandex,  for ultimate conditioning you want to push prowlers, pull sleds, battle ropes, smash the skipping rope, tackle those hill sprints and fight the building stairs.

Why?  Because these are the shores upon which the weak are broken

The prowler is probably thee most effective training tool, I am no expert but I have spent the last 2 years on
the prowl.  I have learnt that this simple piece of equipment builds your lungs, your hips and your legs and leaves you wanting to throw up a body part.  There is little room for wear and tear on the knees, shins and ankles and the gains I have experienced surrounding my level of conditioning are irremovable, whether you are a beginner, an athlete or a world class sportsman the prowler should fall in as part of your workout.
Walk into any garage style facility and you are going to find some powerhouse out of breath, red in the face and grunting like a troll.  Its not about looking fabulous its about getting results.  Battling ropes build muscular endurance, increase lung capacity, works your grip and is an invaluable tool for speed and endurance.

When does your body start adapting to the stress? Never ever.

Hill sprints and stair sprints are probably the most lethal in my books, making your strong, fast and lean while building your mental strength.  Another great exercise that only requires the outdoors, that target your legs and your lungs while attacking your mind.  As South Africans we have no excuse to be indoors staring into the screen on the treadmill, adjusting to an incline while your personal trainer barks "pick up the pace" from the side lines, this gets you results like McDonald's salad gets you nutrition.

These tools and this knowledge are not going to just make you hard, but make you hard to beat.

You have to make time for conditioning or make time for failing.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Tips for the aspiring ninja

Everyday each one of us tackles our own demons, faces our own personal challenges and crosses our own bridges.  Whether we choose to move forward with a giant leap or remain on a constant plateau while the world around us gallops forward is our choice.  Only you are responsible for your current status.

As an aspiring superhero I have committed to rising to the challenge, to going beyond the call of duty and to not being mediocre as I choose not to live a life below my potential.

Whether you are an accountant, school teacher, strength coach or soccer mom you have the choice to become a ninja in your own right.  Why settle for average?  Why just do the bare minimum?  Normal, typical, fair, ordinary, standard, vomit.

Bring out your inner ninja and strive for greatness in everything that you do, everyday, all the time, every time.

Some things I like to keep in mind in my quest for being my best:

  •  Being exceptional comes not from 'just practicing' but 'practicing efficiently'.  I do not just push the repeat button and reiterate the mundane, every time needs to be better than the last time.  
  • Exchange is a constant process of life, in order to more forward and improve on yourself constantly you need to replace the bad with the good. Bad habits with good habits, lack of confidence with confidence, faith with fear.
  • Feed your mind.  With knowledge comes power, ninjas are very knowledgeable.  The more you know about what you do, the better you are going to be at it.
  • Never be too old, too good or too complete to learn, never assume to know it all, when that point comes when you think you know everything. You have failed.
  • Extraordinary is a lifestyle, be incredible in every small thing that you do and make it a fixed attitude.

I few weeks ago I read Mike Mahlers - Live life aggressively -  there was a lesson on every page of this book but what really stood out for me was something he said about passion.  He spoke of being prepared to read at least 25 books on how to achieve success in your field, or in my words, ninja status.  If you are not prepared to do that then you should choose another field, as 25 is the minimum that you should read about something for which you allege a passion.

Aspire to be the best ninja at what gives you ecstasy, if you are passionate about what you are doing - be a ninja at it.

Aristotle said "We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit"

Tuesday, 06 March 2012

Femme Fatale: Bring it Barbie

Ladies, its time to step up to the plate.  We are more deadly than the male.  Take that title and own it.  

Women seem to have this illogical fear of turning into the incredible she-hulk overnight, after lifting a 1kg barbie bell, when they have been lifting and carrying washing baskets and babies all their lives.

The age old excuse "I don't want to get bulky" is as bad as a pair of granny panties on Demi Moore.  Women break out into a sweat just looking at a weight, in fear that with any sudden movements, litres of testosterone will  pour from their systems and instantaneously turn them into world class warriors.

Women can not and will not develop muscle at the rate that a man does, no matter what the 'You Magazine' has told you - it is not true.  Women don't bulk up from weight training, purely because genetically we do not produce as much testosterone as men do.  Those women who grace the pages of the muscle magazines look the way they do because they have had the aid of anabolic supplementation and growth hormones, aka steroids.  

Men produce 10 times more testosterone than women,  we have a similar biological ability to develop strength but do not acquire the same muscle mass due to hormonal differences, but we will derive all the same benefits from a strength program.

Stop striving to be the queen of cardio and aim to be the empress of strength if you want the key to the body that you want.  Another great justification for avoiding the man cave is that women are 'afraid of the environment'  I can relate to this statement however being in the game, I face this with a smile on my face.

Women do not want to be surrounded by muscle maniacs who are grunting and heaving while they attempt to show off their strength, nor do they want to be hit on by men who are in the weights section waiting around for a barbie they can perv over.  These idiots are everywhere.  

The truth of the matter is that serious lifters are not going to waste valid time lifting, on you.

For that bikini body, model posture, abs of steel and winning arm wrestling abilities you need to get out those guns and play with the big boys.  I've said it once and I'll say it again - Women should train like men.  

However the problem with that statement is that in reality, men do not train like men.  Men have weak pain thresholds and more often then not don't push their own boundaries. I work with men so I see this on a daily basis, women will push themselves till they bleed, men will drop their weights and take a break.  So women should in fact train like athletes.

Ladies, summer is around the corner.  Its time to get your shape on, get out of the spandex, get off the treadmill and enter the man cave.  We were built for power, let that inner Joan of Arc come out to play