Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. – JOHN F. KENNEDY
A feeble body weakens the mind. – JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU
A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I’m afraid of widths. – STEVEN WRIGHT
In my last post, Game Your Brain: 10 Ways To Hack Your Mental Hardware & Make Yourself Faster, Smarter, Sexier and Wealthier, one of the “hacks” was high intensity exercise. I told you why you needed to do it and what not to do but not what to do.
In a world of 3 Minute Abs, P90X, Chuck Norris gimmicks, Bowflex and The Brazilian Butt Lift Workout, it is understandably hard to figure out which TV infomercial to give your hard-earned money to in order to get all ripped and shredded.
Fortunately for us “ripped and shredded” isn’t our goal so we don’t have to choose today. My gut tells me we’d end up going with the Brazilian thing, but we’ll cross that bridge when we never come to it.
The following are some suggestions for your high intensity workout sessions. This is by no means exhaustive (pun intended). It’s just what I feel like telling you today.
– Mixed Martial Arts Classes
I see mixed martial arts as moving forms of meditation. When you’re sparring or drilling techniques, you can’t think of anything else. – JOE ROGAN
If you’re not familiar with MMA, it’s what cage fighters do. Don’t worry; this won’t involve blood as much. My thinking on this is if you can combine learning how to choke potential attackers unconscious along with a high intensity workout? So much the better. Two birds with one high intensity exercise. Boom.
Seriously though, MMA classes will kick your butt (literally), and your butt will love you for it. Right now your butt is mad at you. I don’t know if you knew that or not. Don’t tell it I told you.
Just google “Gracie ____________ <— [your town]” to find the best place. Involve your kids if you want bully insurance. They’ll thank you for this when they’re older and self-confident and wealthy as a direct result. Or just keep letting them get pushed around and be frightened to walk the school halls like most all the other kids. Whatever.
– Fitness Boxing
Punching things is both fun and intense. There’s nothing that relieves stress so much as picturing your #1 enemy’s face on the punching bag, pounding the crap out of it for three minutes straight and then asking it for forgiveness. It’s therapeutic.
Ever try punching for three minutes straight? Try it now just shadow boxing (punching an imaginary person).
I’ve yet to find something that gets my heart racing to the degree boxing workouts do. And, like MMA, you have the added bonus of being trained to destroy people should the need arise. You can do these privately or in classes. And I see old ladies doing this at my gym regularly so don’t discount this if you happen to be old and a lady.
I know this sounds crazy, but Jazzercise is back in style in L.A. It’s making a comeback, and your best bet is to really try to know when I’m messing with you. Otherwise you could literally end up in a class full of senior citizens doing a jazz hand exercise with Richard Simmons and moving one step farther away from heterosexuality.
In case you’re mad about wasting your time with that paragraph, here’s a picture of two storm troopers on their day off …
– Spin Class
Sounds lame I know. But the first time I tried one I had to quit and walk out after 12 minutes with all the women looking at me shaking their heads. It was a 45-minute class. I gradually built my cardio up to go the distance, but man … it is INTENSE. Which is why I recommend it for your brain.
Alternatively you could buy an expensive racing bike, strap on some neon spandex and do this out in heavy traffic. Up to you.
I’m a fan of classes in general, just as a side note. There’s something about the social aspect of everyone facing the same challenge that has a positive neurological effect. In the book Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman he talks about synchronicity where our brains energetically synch with those around us. There is science to back up the fact that this is a healthy thing for our brains. If you go to a gym currently, watch people as they come out of spin classes. They’re always smiling. Sometimes laughing. Why? No one’s telling any jokes in there I can promise you that.
Let me just start off by saying that, as the old saying goes, “I don’t trust joggers. They’re always the one’s that find the dead bodies.”
If you’re going to run, do it only on grass or dirt trails with good form and minimalist shoes. Run on concrete with sloppy form and standard running shoes if you hate your body and have “Live In Constant Pain In My Golden Years!” on your vision board somewhere.
Top Ten Running Surfaces from Runner’s World Mag:
If you’re out of shape – meaning your calf, quad, and hamstring muscles resemble Jell-O more than steel and/or you’re more than 20 pounds overweight – don’t run; you’ll hurt yourself. Really if you’re out of shape I wouldn’t even lift grocery bags or do laundry.
Get in shape. Have some self-respect, and use common sense. Common sense tells you your muscles are the main things protecting all your bones from breaking.
You know what? I changed my mind; forget running. Running sucks. You’ll have plenty of time to run when our government collapses and we all have to hunt for food again. You’ll be barefoot and underweight so it’ll be safer. For now … pretend you never read this.
Bootcamps generally involve things with large tractor tires, ropes, and someone yelling at you. Kind of like what you see on The Biggest Loser.
Only do these if you are already physically fit (I mean really physically fit) and have a decent grasp of sports biomechanics. You can’t just go from lifting a remote control to lifting a 300 pound tire, man. You know how many people get seriously injured on The Biggest Loser? Google it.
Sike. Yoga is a death trap in disguise. They lure you in with their peace and harmony flute music and then they lead you off the side of a cliff like the Pied Piper.
Don’t believe me? Explain these yoga mats:
Read this before you start hating:
Some people can do yoga and not get hurt. People like … gymnasts. And Cirque De Soleil acrobats. No seriously, if you’re really physically fit and athletic and have a strong musculoskeletal system, excellent coordination and great flexibility (I’m speaking to essentially no one reading this right now), it’s ok to do. I used to do it and loved it. But I had all those things on that list.
The AAA – Average Atrophied American – cannot expect to go from occasional walking (from the sofa to the refrigerator) to standing on your head but with one foot on the ground behind you somehow. Heck, a downward dog is enough to send a AAA to the emergency room. Do you know how many times I’ve heard people tell me their back “went out” just from bending over to pick something up at their house that weighed about as much as air???
Sorry, Kim. Don’t hate me.
Sike again! Man … I keep getting you!
Look, just to pull the curtain back a little, I do my personal training one-on-one with literally the best fitness trainers on the planet. And I’m not just saying that. P Diddy, countless movie stars and 100 million dollar pro athletes (all people I regularly see at this private gym) say it too. They’re from outer space compared to what most people are doing.
The trainers at 99.93% of the gyms in the world are a joke in comparison. The Biggest Loser trainers are a joke without even any comparison. Pro sports team trainers are borderline joke’ish in comparison! All the owners of professional sports teams across the board have my trainers on speed dial. They send all their STAR athletes to them.
How do you know you’re working with the very best? When you’re either their only non-professional athlete client or their only non-worldwide-famous-somehoworanother client. And you’re paying $400 an hour. And they’re strictly in NYC or L.A. Plus you just know. And yes, I fly up to NYC once a month, train with them for a week, get a customized program and implement it solo at a gym I own in Tampa.
I’m not bragging. I’m telling you this simply so you can believe me when I tell you that they informed me Crossfit is totally whack. It’s whack because ZERO attention is given to good form/posture, and a ridiculously high percentage of their devoted cult members – I mean gym members – get injured. They actually brag about getting injured.
You know you’re doing something potentially whack when collegehumor.com does a skit about you …
Seriously though, it’s just a big marketing scheme.
My trainers also confirmed the validity of that NYT article about yoga btw. “It’s horrible,” was their response to my question “What do you think about yoga.”
Unless you are a seriously strong, seasoned athlete, Crossfit and Yoga are the two quickest ways to destroy your body I can think of outside of just driving your car as fast as possible into the side of a Crossfit building.
– Weight Training
I hesitate to mention his because I have personal experience lifting weights without knowing what the heck I’m doing and literally destroying my body as a direct result. When I say literally I mean I just had my fourth back surgery last year. I’m trying to spare you my pain.
But you have to lift weights. Yes, there is a lot you can do with your own body weight, but not enough to build lean muscle mass.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from an article I read recently on Life Extension’s website …
“Shrinking muscle mass correlates with declining cerebral blood flow. Since sluggish cerebral blood flow is associated with a greater risk of cognitive impairment, it follows that building and maintaining adequate muscle mass equates with maintaining healthy cerebral blood flow. We once assumed that cerebral blood flow remains more or less constant, but we have recently discovered that exercise increases cerebral blood flow, possibly by speeding up brain metabolism.”
The main thing to consider when lifting weights is posture, form and protecting your low back. The problem is I can’t really teach you this in a blog post. You need a trainer. And the problem with that is 99.93% of all trainers are completely clueless.
The following are some tips to keep you from doing stuff in the gym that would make me shake my head and pray for you if I saw you doing it:
– Always warm up for 5 minutes on an exercise bike or treadmill prior to lifting. If you’re at home do jumping jacks (unless you’re both overweight and out of shape … yes, a children’s jumping jack is enough to destroy a AAA).
– Most trainers will give you one free session at your local gym. Tell him or her to walk you through the main free weight exercises for both lower and upper body.
– Start light. Super light. Only move up in weight in very small increments. As small as possible really. You know you’re lifting too much weight if you’re unable to keep absolute perfect posture and form. You should never swing ever. If you have to use momentum to do a pull up, pull down, reach around or any exercise for that matter, it means you’re attempting more weight than you should be.
Figure out which muscle each exercise is meant to work, and isolate that muscle. Use only that muscle to pull or push the weight. All other muscles should be activated strictly for stabilization.
– Squeeze your glutes and flex your abs on most exercises to protect your low back. This is the #1 most important thing I could possibly tell you. This produces a flat back. Like this …
– For any exercise laying down on a bench, keep your back flat against that bench at all cost. To assist with this simply put your feet up on the bench (or on a box/stool in front of you).
Once you get reasonably fit and are confident with your posture and form, find the very best trainer in your area, and have him or her cross-train you (or give you a cross-training routine) with very little pause between sets. This gives you the best of both worlds – muscle building and cardio – in one routine. Just be sure to keep good form.
And no jumping until you’re in shape!
And finally, I will leave you with
The 7 Deadly Gym Sins
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, do any of the following in a public gym:
You must stare straight ahead intensely as if you’re looking into another dimension. If you accidentally make eye contact with someone you have to give that person your phone number if they ask. It’s a dangerous machine. Maybe don’t use it.
2. Do not look at yourself in the mirror ever for any reason whatsoever – especially to flex and admire yourself.
3. Do not grunt, yell or roar loudly as you push the weight up. If you find yourself making noises in order to lift a weight that is the universe telling you to please leave the gym immediately. Or lift lighter weight.
4. Do not dance.
There’s something about the combination of hearing music, feeling an endorphin rush and being surrounded by a bunch of people making bad decisions that makes you feel like you’re at an actual dance club. You’re not though so just snap out of it. If you want to dance at the gym, take the Zumba class or something. Keep it out of the weight room.
Admittedly it is sometimes hard to resist the urge to dance given the above circumstances, especially if you are an incredible dancer like myself. Just try. If for no other reason than you need to rest between sets. You can’t recover for the next set while doing this …
It is a mystery to me why this does not have 5 million views
5. Do not sing along with the music in your headphones. We can hear you. Headphones don’t make you invisible contrary to what must be the only possible thing you could be thinking while apparently trying out for The Voice in front of me while I’m attempting to lift 225 pounds off my chest (now my neck after hearing you).
6. Do not walk around all bowed up. No one cares if you’re big, dude. No one’s even looking at you. Except for me because I can’t not notice absolutely everything around me at all times. It’s a blessing and a curse in this case. And if you’re so big that you can’t NOT walk around bowed up? You’re too big. Stop it.
7. Do not wear spandex (females excluded), tank tops (females excluded), any tight superhero shirts (females excluded) or head to toe matching outfits (females excluded, but still … eh … maybe ask “Why?” first).
Avoid these sins, and your workout shall be blessed.
Leave a comment if you feel like this is definitely the best thing you’ve read online in the past 45 minutes.