Tag Archives: fitness

Not-So-Obvious Reasons To Be Fit and Athletic

PaleoPeriodical has the details. Highly recommended. A quote:

One of MovNat’s direct predecessors (and forefather of Parkour) is Georges Hébert, who I’ve quoted in the title of this post. As a French naval officer stationed off the coast of Martinique in 1902, he witnessed a volcanic eruption that wiped out the town of St. Pierre. He and his fellow shipmen rescued some 700 people in the chaos. When Hébert returned to France, he scanned the crowds of people and came to the sad realization that very few could save themselves if they had to. In response, he developed his “Natural Method”:

The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.

Sadly, when I scan a crowd of people today, I see the same problems Hébert saw over a hundred years ago. I can only imagine his shock at how much worse it is today.

Read the rest.

I sometimes scan survivalist blogs, where they consider “sh*t hits the fan” situations and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). Are you ready, physically?

Jamie Scott wrote about survival of the fittest in context of the devastating Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquake of 2012.

Random Thoughts On Fitness

A couple years ago, I was thinking about putting together a fitness program for myself.  My goals were endurance, strength, less low-back aching, flexibility, longevity, and being able to get on my horse bareback without a mounting block or other cheat.

I spent quite a bit of time at Doug Robb’s HeathHabits site.  He has a post called The “I don’t have time to workout” Workout.  I ran across some paper notes I made during my time there.  Doug recommended some basic moves to incorporate: air squat, Hindu pushup, dragon flag, shuffle of scissor lunge, Spiderman lung, hip thrust/bridge, swing snatch, dumbbell press, Siff lunge, jumping Bulgarian squat, band wood chops, stiff leg deadlift.  Click the link to see videos of most of these exercises.  The rest you can find on YouTube.

Another post is called “Do you wanna get big and strong? -Phase 1″.  The basic program is lifting weights thrice weekly.  Monday, work the chest and back.  Tuesday, legs and abs/core.  Friday, arms and shoulders.

  • Chest exercises: presses (barbell or dumbell, incline, decline, flat, even pushups with additional resistance  – your choice
  • Back: chins or rows
  • Legs: squats or deadlifts
  • Arms and shoulders: dips, presses, curls

Doug is a personal trainer with a huge amount of experience.  He’s a good writer, too, and gives away a wealth of information at his website.

Around this same time of searching a couple years ago, I ran across Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance, Mark Lauren’s book “You Are Your Own Gym,”  and Mark Sisson’s free fitness ebook that also  features bodyweight exercises. Lauren is or was a Navy Seal trainer.  His plan involves 30 minutes of work on four days a week and uses minimal equipment.  Lots of good reviews at Amazon.com.

I did the Verstegen program for 15 weeks and saw major improvements in my fitness and low-back aching.  It’s a good program.  The only drawback is that it required six hours a week of my time.

Newbies to vigorous exercise should seriously consider using a personal trainer.

If you’ve had any experience with these regimens, please share.  Or is there another you like?

Steve Parker, M.D.

Baseline Measurements Before Starting a Fitness Program

Impressive jump!

Before beginning or modifying a fitness program, it’s important to take some baseline physical measurements. Re-measure periodically. That way you’ll know whether you’re making progress, holding steady, or regressing. Seeing improvement in the numbers also helps to maintain motivation.

Not taking measurements would be like starting a weight loss plan without a baseline and subsequent weights.

Around this time last year, I finished a home-based, 15-week, six-days-a-week fitness program called Core Performance, designed by Mark Verstegen. I was pleased with the results. The only problem is that it’s very time-consuming. Perhaps fitness just has to be that way.

I regret that I didn’t take any fitness measurements before and after starting Core Performance.

For much of the last year, I modified Core Performance to a thrice weekly, then twice weekly program, until a couple months ago when I pretty much abandoned it. I miss the benefits now, but just didn’t want to put in the time to achieve them. In other words, I lost my motivation.

Who needs this much flexibility?

Intellectually, I know that regular exercise is important. I’m starting to get motivated again. Not sure why. Perhaps because I’ve read that you can be fairly fit with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a week. I’m not convinced yet. I’ll be test-driving some of these time-efficient programs soon.

This new style of fitness is promoted by the likes of Dr. Doug McGuff, Chris Highcock, Skyler Tanner, Nasim Taleb, and Jonathan Bailor, among others.

What to Measure

  1. Weight
  2. Blood pressure
  3. Resting heart rate (first thing in the AM before getting out of bed)
  4. Waist circumference (upright and supine)
  5. Height
  6. Body mass index
  7. Mid-arm circumference, both arms, hanging relaxed at your sides
  8. Maximal calf circumference, both calves, while standing at ease
  9. Maximum number of consecutive pull-ups
  10. Maximum number of consecutive push-ups
  11. Maximum number of consecutive sit-ups
  12. Run/walk one mile as fast as you can
  13. Maximum vertical jump (stand by a tall wall then jump and reach up as high as you can with one arm, noting the highest point above ground your fingers can reach)
  14. Can you touch your toes? Stand up straight, locking knees in extension, then bend over at your waist and touch your toes with your fingertips. If you can touch toes, can you flatten your palms against the floor? If you can’t reach your toes, measure the distance from your fingertips to the floor.
  15. Optional blood work for special situations: fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, cholesterols (total, HDL, LDL, sub-fractions)

The particular aspects of fitness these measure are strength and endurance in major muscle groups, cardiovascular and pulmonary endurance, a little flexibility, and a hint of body composition.

You may appreciate an assistant to help you measure some of these.

Record your numbers. Re-test some or all of these periodically. If you’re in fairly poor condition at the outset, you’ll see some improved numbers after a couple or three weeks of a good exercise program. It takes months to build significant muscle mass; you’ll see improved strength and endurance before mass.

Am I missing anything?

Steve Parker, M.D.