Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Body Weight Workout

Posted: March 9, 2014 in Fitness, workouts

While flicking through the internet one day last week I came across Al Kavadlo and also BarStarrz whose fitness routines were unlike anything I have ever seen before. My first thought – how cool would it be to be able to do some of this stuff myself? My second thought was ‘I’m 48, these guys are fit as could be, I’ll never manage anything like that’. My third thought was ‘let’s give it a shot anyway’. So that’s the fitness plan for the next couple of months.

I’m really struck by Al Kavadlo, not only is he doing unbelievable fitness routines, but he does it with a big smile across his face the whole time.

AlKavadlo-Pistol-Squat AlKavadlo-Flag

There are plenty of times I can’t manage the smallest of grins at the gym, never mind beaming happiness. Fit as could be and with a positive attitude, now THAT’s a role model!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to manage anything to the level Al is at, but its worth a shot. If nothing else it should make gym training a lot more interesting. I spoke to my trainer about this as a plan. We had a stab at some basic exercises about a week ago which clearly showed what I couldn’t do, along with a few bits I’m not too far away from (there is some light!). That resulted in the following workout, so that’s what I’ll be concentrating on for the next while.

Workout 1.
Warm up by doing 3 sets of these 2 exercises
Swings from the bar 20 reps – increasing the range each swing
Bear crawls 5 metres forward and backward

Worm – walk out on your hands as far as possible then slowly walk the feet back up to hands and repeat x 5 reps (3 sets)
Superset with:
Hanging from bar with bent arms/stabilise your torso and use a running action with legs x 30 secs (3 sets)

Dip bar leg raise 3 x 10 reps
Superset with:
Hanging knee raise 3 x 10 reps

Pull ups 3 x max reps
Superset with:
Dips 3 x max reps

TRX inverted row 1-3 x max reps
Superset with:
Press ups 1-3 x max reps – these are depending on time/energy

Workout 2.
Usual warm up circuit

Single leg squat and reach 2 x 10 side
Poliquin step up 2 x 15 reps
Deadlift – follow present set/rep structure
TRX single leg squat 3-4 x 10 side – if this is a problem then perform the version off the bench with a med ball for a counter balance. However the TRX version will allow a greater range of motion.
KB walking lunge 1- 2 x 10/side (max weight) depending on time/energy

As for the first week or so of training its gone OK. The exercises are very new compared to anything else I’ve done before. So at this stage I’m concentrating on the mechanics and trying to get form, but its going OK. The bar swings is the one that has caused me most difficulty, but I’m getting better at them. At the end of the upper body workout my arms feel so pumped I can barely move them, I hope in time as my body becomes accustomed to the exercises this will ease off.

Variety is the spice of life and exercising is no different. I’m already wondering if being able to do a muscle up by the end of the year is reasonable goal?

As for the big grin, that may take a lot longer.


Gym fitness at 50 plus

Posted: March 8, 2014 in Fitness, General, Musings

I came across a couple of websites that caught my eye while meandering across the interwebs.

Fit After 50 and Fitness After 50.

My first thought – Only in America…

But that’s probably a bit unfair. The idea of having a gym with a minimum age limit of 50?  The demographics make sense, the 50-65 age group tend to have a bit more disposable income and at a complete guess I’d expect them to be a bit less demanding to deal with when it comes to fitness. On the surface both the organisations I’ve noted seem pretty similar except the first is a stand alone business and the second is a franchising opportunity.

I’m slightly uncomfortable with the marketing behind these organisations, yet at the same time can’t help but think they may just have hit a good idea. A lot of the focus seems to be on potential customers fears:

  • Apprehensive because you didn’t know how to use equipment or properly perform exercises?

  • Overwhelmed in the gym without expert guidance and personal attention?

or :

  • The Welcyon exercise machines are ideally suited for aging adults, including those with health issues.

  • To minimize the risk of injuries, Welcyon is equipped with machines that provide stable, controlled, objective, and reproducible exercises.

They both seem to pick on the potential customers’ fears or lack of confidence. I know I’m not quite over the 50 mark yet but I don’t want to be choosing my fitness options on the basis of which one I’m less scared of. But there are others out there who feel differently, I’ve certainly seen enough people in gyms moving timidly from exercise machine to exercise machine clearly not confident in their abilities and clearly too shy to ask anyone for help. So a gym that provides a safe environment for that kind of person to be confident in, is that such a bad thing? Looking at  it like that it doesn’t sound unreasonable.

Both set ups offer group involvement. Fit After 50 has a wide array of classes and Fitness After 50 promotes its lounge area for sharing a coffee or a game of cards after a – well it doesn’t really say after an anything. Just that it has an area to socialise in. To me it sounds a bit like an old folks home at this point.

The Welcyon site has a photo tour of the gym and describes it as smaller and more intimate than a normal gym. The pictures don’t fill me with confidence, the clientele look a good bit older than in their 50’s. Or perhaps they just had tough paper rounds when they were kids. Lots of machines and no pictures of free weights.

Fit After 50 doesn’t have a photo tour, but at least there’s a picture of someone using some dumb bells (albeit very small ones). One thing that amused me was at the About You section you get to rate your fitness level – beginner or intermediate. No other options. I think that sums up where they see their client base coming from. It’s not over 50s who are training regularly and already in good shape, but those who aren’t at that level and without the self-confidence to go to a mainstream gym and train there.

One thing missing from both sites were any details of costs, there is talk of plans and of course its the usual ‘contact us for pricing information’. So I can’t give detail on what they charge. I suspect it will be above the usual costs for a standard gym as the marketing focus is on what they offer that regular gyms don’t and not about cheap prices. If you want a comfy area where you don’t need to worry about your personal fears, that is bound to cost extra. They are targeting a niche market and its unlikely they do that on the cheap side.

I can’t blame them for what they do, business is business and all that. But for me, I think I want to ensure I’m still looking for a box well above ‘intermediate’ when it comes to assessing my fitness rate in years to come. Neither of these locations do anything for me other than fill me full of fear! All I see is ‘attempts at fitness for old people before you die’ – that’s not what I’m looking for. Instead of living a younger life, that is living an older life. Count me out.

I came across this picture on the Fitocracy website and it amused me. Base your lifting on what size of bear you can lift (well why not?)…

tumblr_mui8wgHDF31qf1avqo1_500Bring forth the 250 lb panda and I’ll show you who’s boss. In fact I reckon I could probably dead lift a Sloth bear on a good day (managed 140 kg this week, so that sounds about right).

But, damn, it’s a longggg way to Grizzly from where I am. That’s almost three times my bodyweight – not sure we will ever get that one. However, everyone loves pandas so its good to know I can lift one when the opportunity arises – and of course that it stays still long enough.

Kettlebell Complex

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Fitness, workouts

I always assumed that as I got fitter doing things at the gym would become easier, the exercises I struggled with in the past would become easier and therefore I’d have an easier time as my fitness improved. In fact there would come a time when I could cruise through a gym workout whilst barely breaking sweat. Great theory, but nothing like reality! Once you can just about do something its time to move onto something else more challenging.

Now my trainer introduced me to kettle bells, which to those of you who have been spared such things look just like this:

kettlebellsThere are all sorts of exercises you can do with these things and as you can see they come in a range of sizes. So the permutations are endless. I’ve used them in the past as part of a workout, but my trainer ‘kindly’ showed me how to do a complex with these things for “a quick full body work out.” Oh its quick all right, I go from fresh-faced to exhausted in about 4 minutes flat. The complex is a series of exercises performed one after the other with two kettlebells. In my case:

  • Press up
  • Stiff leg deadlift
  • Row
  • Swing
  • Clean
  • Reverse lunge
  • Push press

I start off with one of each, then two, then three, then two and then one.

If you think I must be doing this with the big purple kettlebells at the end, I have to disappoint you. Instead I’m using two of those little yellow ones (12 kg each). My workout has 3-4 sets of the complex. I probably spend longer sitting on my ass between sets than it takes to do the set in the first place. Today I managed four sets although I was hardly a thing of beautiful motion towards the end of the last set.

Despite all the gains I’ve made in my fitness, I’m still astounded just how tiring a workout can be and in this case so quickly too. Apparently the trainer wants me to aim for a complex of 1,2,3,4,3,2,1 as opposed to the current 1,2,3,2,1. I have to say that looks like a life-time away. But then again, it wasn’t that long ago I thought I’d never be able to pull ups either.

Currently I have yet to see anything in the gym that exhausts me quite as quickly as kettlebells. So when time is in short supply and you still want a serious work out I have to recommend you reach for the kettlebells, but don’t say I didn’t warn you first about how tough it can be.

These days there is an online community for anything and everything, fitness and health are no exceptions. I’ll periodically publish my thoughts on these organisations. The first one I ever found was Sparkpeople


You can find it here

According to Twitter it has 50k+ followers and a 126k+ followers on Google+. Overall it’s what looks like nice side of the fitness industry. Its full of bright colours and made up of people who cheer on your every success no matter how small. While it does have some sections about exercise the focus in mostly about weight reduction through diet. It has various challenges and lots of groups for different things.

Sign up and you will get daily emails full of general advice and recipes for low-calorie meals (e.g. 10 creative ways to use bagged greens’). Fitness advice like how to do an 11 minute cardio workout while sitting down. There is always the healthy thought of the day and an allegedly funny cartoon.

One feature is how you can get Spark Points for achievements. These are for just about anything and tend to be far more about trying than achieving. There are members blogs where the faithful can let you know how well they are doing and more commonly all the reasons behind the changes they are about to make to their lives. There are motivational comments aplenty. It’s really quite commendable, and yet… and yet… it drives me nuts!

Firstly, its loaded with adverts, it might be dressed up as a health and fitness community but it’s also a means of driving traffic to the adverts. I also find the people who contribute just too mumsy for me. A  large number of the community members seem to be overweight female middle-aged types just desperate to discuss their weight with each other and what they are planning to do about it. Less so what they are doing. Its like the Women’s Institute for diet and fitness. There are also lots of religious quotes given to people in the way of praise for doing well.  Or even just the ‘God bless’ routine for anything and everything. I know its meant well, but whenever they get together cheering for each other with the religious connotations I just wish someone would post ‘Fucking A, you nailed that motherfucker!’ Even if just for a bit of variety.

Perhaps I have got the wrong end of the stick, but it seems like so many of them are seriously obese. This isn’t where fit people go to talk about maintaining their fitness. It’s where really overweight people go to talk about what they are going to do to get fit and how they are doing really well because they walked to the bus stop today. In true Sparkpeople style that would have about 30 people saying how well the writer had done in making those first steps on their own to the bus stop. There are so many posts about ‘how this time its going to be different’ or about how their weight yo-yo’s all the time. Yet they then continue to do the same as last time and wonder why the results are the same too. There seems to be a lot of people talking about plans to change or how they have just started to change and far fewer saying ‘already good and keeping it that way’.

Overall Sparkpeople to me has a load of very genuinely unhappy people all trying to make changes while the people who operate the site must make a fortune in the advertising from the traffic. It’s hard for me not to be cynical about it. They must have their success stories, and they don’t promise anyone results, yet to me it still feels manipulative. There isn’t anything wrong in what they do, there are no lies or false promises. Instead its a community where a lot of unfortunate people can suffer/struggle together. That bit is fine with me, but someone is definitely making money out of them at the same time and that’s the bit that doesn’t sit so well.

Major plus point – feel good about yourself by being with others of a similar condition. The community spirit is one of support.

Down side – I suspect the success rates are poor. If you are serious about improving your fitness then this is not the place.

Warm up – 8 mins Cross trainer

Upper body workout:

  • Medicine Ball press ups (3 sets 12) raise feet on step for extra challenge
  • TRX pull up (3 sets 12) single leg
  • Landmine Press (3 sets 12 @ 7.5kg)
  • DB 3 Point Row (3 sets 12 @20 kg) Aim for sets of 20/24/20 kg
  • Standing DB Curl (3 sets 12 @ 2 x 10kg) Hammer Grip
  • Dips (3 sets 12)


Lower body workout:

  • Deadlift (3-5 sets @ 95 – 110 kg) vary the sets and load per day
  • Reverse Lunge Cable Row (3-4 sets 12 @20kg) or KB Reverse Lunge (3-4 sets 8-10 per leg@ 2 x 16 kg)
  • KB Front Squat (3-4 sets 12 @ 2 x 20kg)
  • TRX Bodysaw (3 sets 15)
  • Standing band press (3 sets 10 per side)