CrossFit Controversies: “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

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Imagine if Jonny “Bones” Jones, the champion MMA fighter, mocked Floyd Mayweather as being a wuss because his sport didn’t include takedowns, elbows, and kicks! Ridiculous, right? You certainly wouldn’t question the manliness of either of these champions, would you?

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of name calling taking place between CrossFitters and other members of the fitness community that has a similar ring to it. I just finished reading an article suggesting, essentially, that bodybuilders didn’t like CrossFit because they just couldn’t handle the pain and couldn’t endure a CrossFit workout. Whoa!

When Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a young boy, saw a picture in a magazine of Reg Park, a famous bodybuilder at the time, he decided exactly what he was going to do with his life–become the most muscular man in the world. The rest, as they say, is history. I am thoroughly convinced that if CrossFit had existed in those days and Arnold decided to be the best CrossFitter in the world, it would have happened that way. I’m guessing that Arnold would pass the wuss test by anyone’s standards. Either way, what it takes to be the best is the same no matter what the endeavor.

What reason is there to think that your pursuit of excellence in your sport is superior to the man who derives his passion from a different pursuit?

I’ve been interested in all aspects of fitness since I was a boy. Every weekend I would watch Wide World of Sports and marvel at the skills of the competitors – – from gymnastics to bowling. There is plenty of room for all who participate in fitness to coexist with respect. Being the best at each sport requires the same admirable ingredients: hard work and relentless determination. The winning attitude shines wherever it is found–especially in my fellow Seniors at the gym, or studying Tai Chi, or practicing Yoga– competing against the ravaging effects of aging just to maintain a lifestyle. There’s some serious courage to be found there, my friend.

I completely set aside weight training for three years when I decided to study Shotokan. The workouts were intense and demanding, as were the training hours I spent in the gym. Two very different workouts and two very different worlds–weightlifting and martial arts–both requiring practice and determination, and both deserving of respect.

Appreciate the differences found in the incredibly diverse world of fitness; it’s befitting of champions to do so. In the old days we called it sportsmanship.

We, as a fitness community, could use some of it right now.

Train Hard and Respect Our Differences,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Seniors: Accommodation In Your Training Gets You Started And Keeps You Going!

Accommodation As A Fitness Concept: Working Around and Through Life’s Inconveniences
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You could call it a work-around, an end run, or even a creative solution–the idea is to keep moving forward, even given the obstacles that aging is going to throw in front of us. Here are a few guideposts.

Training Tempo and Form

Because the aging process has diminished our capacities of elasticity in the joint components, aerobic capacity of the lungs, and ability to recuperate, (exercise puts demands on the body from which we must recuperate), our tempo of movement (generally slower) and quality of movement (proper form) become much more important than before! Youth tolerates sloppy form and lack of common sense much more than does seniorhood. Whatever you choose as your method of exercise, take the time to learn and practice correctly. Be patient with the pace of change.

Expectations

You might wonder about this one, but if you don’t temper your expectations, disappointment could choke your intentions. Yes, you will get stronger and healthier. No, you won’t be what you were twenty years ago. Of course it sounds obvious, but seeing yourself in the mirror as a smaller, weaker mortal– even given your best efforts, can be discouraging. Aging is the ultimate mind game played out over many years. You must mentally accept this challenge of aging and determine to use the tools available to be healthy. It is this mind-set that moves you forward through the obstacles. There is no substitute for exercise.

Pain

You’ve felt the pain before and you wonder about your training. Sometimes my bursitis is a mild nagging reminder of the number of my years, and sometimes it stabs me like a madman.

As various pains creep into daily routines, the immediate task is to determine the cause and understand the ramifications for movement and training. The predominant source amongst us is some form of osteoarthritis. The ironic but important fact is that while we’re tempted to move less and restrict our range of motion, the exact opposite is necessary! Even the most accomplished athlete will lose strength and muscle mass if all training ceases. So, on top of that reality we are faced with the subtle (sometimes) ravages of the aging process. Am I being too blunt? Sorry, but aging has offered me no apologies, so toughen your resolve, Ladies and Gentlemen, and let’s get on with it…

After you’ve determined that the source of the pain will not be exacerbated by exercise, your accommodation to pain may include the following:

1. More recuperation time than before.

2. Use of icing after training

3. Anti Inflammatory meds (be careful here). My local pharmacist recommended concentrated tart cherry juice as a natural anti inflammatory, and it has helped my inflammation. I put some in my morning and evening protein drinks.

4. Variations of the exercises that don’t involve effected area of pain.

5. Supportive wraps

In the case of my bursitis, the level of present discomfort determines the exercises I do, at times, and the level of intensity. Take a look at the bursae involved in shoulder movement, which is the source of my pain:

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This is a top, and slightly rear view of the right shoulder. The blue sacs are the bursae, and are situated between layers of muscle to lubricate movement. They literally surround the shoulder. When they are inflamed, I definitely must make accommodations!

Many of you Senior fitness enthusiasts have, for years, been training through many more obstacles than I’ve outlined here. Like anything else in life, it’s not always easy.

Be creative. Be relentless in using whatever it is that you have now to be a stronger you in the future.

If you’ve discovered some creative accommodation techniques in the course of your workouts, please share them with our fitness community.

To Your Wellness Journey,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Fitness Industry: Stop Showing Steroid Results and Pretending It’s the Supplements!

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It bothered me many years ago and it bothers me still. The magazine pictured a lifter with a massive physique selling his special protein powder. The conclusion was that hard work and nutrition could get you where he got. The real main ingredient, a mixture of body changing pharmaceuticals, is never mentioned. They got my money when I was a kid, but they lost my respect as hucksters. Sorry guys and gals… if it’s the needle, come clean (pun intended), and tell like it really is. I’m ok with whatever choice you make to get where you’re going, and I admire the dedication and hard work it took to get you there, but let’s stop perpetuating the illusion that it’s a result of a special diet or training secret.

I’ve enjoyed fitness all my life and it stands on its own as a worthwhile lifestyle with so much to offer. But size matters and so does money. I don’t expect that things will change. And I’ll always be smaller and weaker than the current models selling protein powder and their latest workout secrets. But somebody else out there might wake up and smell the coffee if they happen to read these words. They would have saved me disappointment many years ago.

Let’s Get Real,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Weight Training: After 50 Years, It’s Still Number One!

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Everyone has their own reasons why they derive joy from one form of exercise and not another. Fifty years is a long time to be doing anything, so let’s look at a few of my reasons, shall we?

Fitness Goals

It’s important to address these components of fitness in one’s training routine:

1. Strength movements
2. Aerobic Conditioning
3. Movements challenging balance and coordination
4. Range of motion and flexibility movements

Achieving these goals, for me, involves a combination of weight training, treadmill/stairclimber time (always with fast/slow intervals), and dedicated stretching time (after main workout).

The Utility of Weights

While I incorporate bodyweight movements in my workouts–and certainly they can be, by themselves, an incredible routine–here are my reasons for preferring iron plates and dumbbells:

1. Total control of weight/movement

2. Ability to train specific areas effectively with varying degrees of resistance and range of motion.

Here are the real world benefits of the points above…

Being able to begin a fitness program using very minimal resistance and very basic moves is important. I love the functionality of the chin up, and use them instead of curls for my biceps routine–but most people aren’t capable of lifting their own body weight. This point is critically important to the population of Senior citizens who desperately need resistance training to have hope for battling osteoporosis. There is no better way to strengthen bones than consistent progressive resistance training!

Beyond the beginning stages, strength training with equipment becomes what one wants to make of it. With compound movements such as squats, and minimal rest time between sets, a challenging aerobic workout can be accomplished.

This ability to train safely and with such incredible variability of movement, resistance, and range makes weightlifting my favorite for strength training!

To Your Health and Fitness,

Steven

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Focused On Fitness: Where Does Wellness Fit In?

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What if, when you took your next selfie, it could show you everything –right down to the major emotional conflicts tearing you up inside?

Perhaps a lot of people would avoid such a revelation, but hiding from our emotional/spiritual selves is not an option. Wellness speaks to this aspect of our being, and is indeed, a powerful concept.

The mental exercise of calming the mind instantly changes us physically. Going aerobic for twenty minutes changes our chemistry, and thus, the emotional feelings in the mind. This interconnectedness functions as a positive force, or as a negative one. Your emotions are working for you or against you; it’s our physiology. It is absolutely possible to have killer abs and the picture perfect physique, and still feel lost and lonely inside. Obviously, fitness fanatics are people, too. These negative emotions cause physical damage that is very real.

Speaking as one who understands the fitness lifestyle, I admit that the gym, at times, became an escape – – a healthier reaction than other choices – – but still, an avoidance tactic, nonetheless.

Sometimes it’s easier to do a hundred rep set of squats than forgive the one who hurt me, but it’s the forgiveness that needs to get done because that’s what is going to make me stronger and healthier.

Being honest with one’s self is a brutal process. But along life’s journey, it’s inescapably necessary.

Wellness is the whole picture of your life and lifestyle – – be sure to examine this with all the attention you give those abs.

Wellness Is Worth It,

Steven
(That’s me and my Grandson enjoying man time together)

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

BluesTheory Fitness: The Poor Man’s Orangetheory!

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Orangetheory is RED…as in ‘red hot’! A fantastic mix of HIIT and technology, it kicks your ass in colors. You know when you’re in the zone, Baby. Like everything state of the art and trending, it takes a few bucks to make it happen. So…
knowing that budget workouts can seriously kick ass without colored lights and monitored pulses, I’m bringing you ‘BluesTheory… HIIT on a budget. I call it that because no matter how blue you feel before you start, going aerobic changes all that. No membership dues here, just your willingness to get your heart rate up and a watch (you could even do without the watch)!

Let’s take a look…

Based on the fact that the body responds to the positive stresses of exercise by getting stronger, it makes sense that if you can raise that stress level, even intermittently, your body is going to respond accordingly. So what if you can’t run a mile in five or six minutes… you might be able to run at that pace for ten seconds. Do one minute easy pace and then blitz for the ten seconds–repeating this interval numerous times. As you train, you’ll be able to increase the time of your maximum effort.

High Intensity Interval Training gained notoriety in the last couple of years as the results from a few journal articles filtered down to the masses. In reality, the basic concept has been utilized for a long time. If you trained with alternating pace 100 yard sprints (which we did in conditioning class many years ago) or did the alternating runs up the stadium steps and then down, these applications were derivatives of that same knowledge base, although not yet so scientifically analyzed.

Given our current state of technology along with the quest for bragging rights about exactly what the ‘best’ intervals of time are, and what the ‘best’ exercises are… we’re going to keep this SIMPLE.. alternate max effort with medium effort, do it a number of times, and it really is that simple! The rest of you can debate the issues of what’s ‘best’ while I go get my shoes… yes, the red ones.

Is it fun to work out with colored lights and state of the art monitors? Absolutely! Do you need all that to maximize your results from HIIT? Absolutely not.

Get your shoes on and go interval… any way you like!

Steven,

Become a part of ‘Senior Fitness Issues And Ideas’–a Google+ Community, (even if you’re not a senior) and I will gladly answer your exercise and fitness questions personally!

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Over Training: When Too Much Is Not Enough!

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It’s possible to be compulsive about any behavior, and I think that fitness enthusiasts sometimes need the benefit of an ‘out of body’ experience to see it.

I saw a regular at the gym last week – – a no nonsense, intense kind of guy. Noticing that his eyes signaled a definite need for some sleep, I suggested he back off a bit from his normal attack mode training style. Indeed, as I observed while training, it was an ‘off’ night for him.

When he’s not lifting, he trains in Parkour–the acrobatic flips and leaps on the run–just as intensely.

The following week, when I didn’t see him, I found out that he had been injured in the class from a serious fall from the high bars.
It’s conjecture on my part, but I’m convinced that he was way overdue for some recuperation.

Those of us who train, to a degree, welcome the accompanying aftereffects such as soreness,
as signs of a good workout. At the same time, it’s necessary to understand the fact that such stress on the body – – even though it’s positive – – demands a time of repair and healing.

Your body responds to the stress of exercise in a tear-down/build-up cycle. Keeping in mind that our daily routines, themselves, are certainly filled with stress (with physical consequences), consider this: “Exercise represents one of the highest levels of extreme stresses to which the body can be exposed. For example, in a person who has an extremely high fever approaching the level of lethality, the body metabolism increases approximately 100% above normal; by comparison, the metabolism of the body during a marathon race increases to 2,000% above normal.” This is from an article in Exercise Physiology, authored by Amer Suleman, MD, Chief Editor, updated 7/03/2013. To put it into perspective; you didn’t just ‘have a workout’– you pushed your body, and all its systems, to the edge! Extreme exertion during single rep max lifts can spike blood pressure levels above 300/300!

Knowing this, be sure to aim for adequate quality sleep and proper nutrition in your training cycles.

Train Safely,

Steven

Become a part of ‘Senior Fitness Issues And Ideas’–a Google+ Community, (even if you’re not a senior) and I will gladly answer your exercise and fitness questions personally!

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.