Freakishly Strong

A co-worker said that to me today. She said that I am freakishly strong. I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you very much! :) Yesterday another (female) co-worker asked why we had let go the temp, who just happened to be male, she said “but he could have helped you pack and carry boxes, he’s a man!” I actually went “pffffffffffft! I don’t need no man to carry boxes!” I was insulted, not because I obviously have muscle, but I was insulted for every single feminist on the planet! Ladies, don’t fall into that trap that you can’t be strong enough to lift and carry heavy things. That’s bullshit.

My workout today was courtesy of our upcoming office move. I spent the afternoon packing up my filing cabinets and moving boxes around that need to go to storage. Paper is heavy, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that. And there I was, picking up a couple boxes at a time and carrying them to the other room to get them out of the way.

This is why I strength train, why I do body weight workouts, rather than boring and tedious cardio. What’s wrong with cardio you may ask? Well, it does nothing to help you get stronger, and it doesn’t help you burn fat off your body. If you lose weight with a cardio training program, you’re losing muscle mass, not the fat. And you don’t want to lose muscle mass do you? You need muscle. More muscle means better metabolism. More muscle means you can get up out of your chair and up off the toilet without a grab-bar and without grunting.  More muscle means you can walk up and down stairs easily. More muscle means a slimmer physique, and none of the jiggly butterfly bingo arms or muffin top hangin’ over your belt. More muscle means you can wander around in the woods for 3 hours, climbing over fallen trees, jumping over creeks, and trudging through the snow when your dog has run off after a squirrel.

Cardio doesn’t even necessarily give you better heart & lung health. How many marathoners have died at a young age, some even mid-marathon? How many running enthusiasts and cardio fans have just dropped dead, and everybody thought they were so healthy? There’s a level where slow steady cardio becomes unhealthy.

The real way to burn off stored body fat is with high intensity interval exercise/training. Build some muscle! Burn body fat while you’re resting! You can build muscle, burn fat, and get healthy in as little as 4 minutes a day with strength and conditioning training. You don’t need any fancy machines, or even a gym membership, heck you don’t even really need weights. Just a bit of floor space and some motivation to get sculpted everything.

Admittedly, I’ve fallen off the wagon the past few weeks because of work, I haven’t taken the time (no excuses! It really does only take 4 minutes a day!) I’ve been crazy busy, and have had my nose to the grindstone since middle/end of November. But I can still lift heavy things when I need to. Like this past weekend when the dog needed a bath because he was smelling exceptionally doggy.

You don’t need to build muscle so that you look like Arnold, or some steroid riddled show body-builder. Heck no! Just strengthen your muscles so you don’t suffer with back pain or knee pain, and so you can move furniture, carry boxes, or the dog, or the kids, or can climb a tree if you need to get away from a grizzly. Black bears can climb trees, so don’t bother if you’re being chased by a black bear.  

Do some pushups, planks and side planks. Do some squats and some lunges. Do some bird dogs, and some mountain climbers. Stretch your hammies and your calf muscles and your hip flexors. Hip flexors are SO important! Everybody forgets about their hip flexors until they’re not working! Stretch your chest and shoulder muscles. Flexibility and strength will keep you able to move and do things well into your later years. Which should actually BE LATER! 60 isn’t old. 70 isn’t old. 80 isn’t old. 90 is starting to get up there. You should still be able to live and function on your own and not in a nursing home when you’re 100. Unless you’ve suffered some catastrophic accident and lost your lower limbs. Then ok, you may need some assistance getting around and doing things.  

If you can’t do a pushup, then start smart, up against the wall. Plant your feet about 3 feet away from the wall, lean in and do pushups off the wall. Do as many as you can in 20 seconds, rest for 10, then do 20 seconds more, rest for 10, do 20 seconds more, rest for 10. Can’t do a plank? Then start smart, do the plank but rest on your knees instead of your toes. Brace your abdominal muscles like you’re getting ready for someone to punch you in the gut, don’t suck it in! Again, plank for 20, rest for 10. And so on and so forth. Next week, try pushups from table height instead of on the wall. Find a table or counter that’s not going to move on you, and do some pushups. 3 days a week, and each week move lower until you’re on the floor like a pro and can hold a plank for 8 hours ;) Do side planks to strengthen your obliques, the muscles along your sides.

Use squats to build up every muscle group, they’re not just for leg day! Make sure you’re doing them correctly, because a bad squat isn’t going to help you at all!  

Hip flexors are so important to everything! They’re part of that mysterious “core” you hear your doctor and physical therapist talking about all the time, and they’re always shortened and stiff because we sit Way. Too. Much. If your hip flexors are too stiff and short, nevermind if your upper body is strong for climbing trees, because you won’t be able to run to the tree anyway. You might be able to waddle, but then the bear will just swipe at you and have you for lunch. Grizzly or black bear.

Check out these hip flexor stretches and exercises. Yes, they’re a lot like torture when you first get started, but trust me, they’re well worth it!  Even if you’re not a body builder and you just want to be able to play chase with your kids, grandkids, or your dog, around the park.

Don’t forget some good old fashioned jumping jacks, or running in place! *This* is where “cardio” comes in, but we’re not going to do slow, steady and boring. No. We’re going to do short burst, top of your game conditioning. 20 seconds jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest. And so on.

You can do 4 minutes a day and burn body fat and strengthen everything. Or you can do 30 minutes 3 times a week, and get *really* strong. This is what I do, and thanks to Turbulence Training, I haz abs, and I can climb trees. I’m usually after fruit though, and not running away from a bear.  

Always always always use diet and exercise in tandem. You CANNOT out exercise a bad diet. You can’t. So stop going for that 2 hour jog on the treadmill and then stopping at Domino’s on the way home and telling yourself you deserve it because you burned all those calories at the gym. Doesn’t work that way I’m afraid.

If you need help figuring all of this out, join my Post Holiday 5-Day Diet Detox,  I’ll get you started on the diet bit, and point you in the right direction for the strengthening bit. But that’s a whole other program ;)

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