Limitless in all ways

A healthy lifestyle is extremely addictive. Reaching and surpassing our goals, constantly feeling good as opposed to bouts of limited social anxiety during self-intoxication. Being energetic throughout the day, confidence skyrocketing, being up to any task, as our mental and physical capabilities increase. We can take it too far, but it rarely happens. So we stick with the lifestyle that provides us with happiness and well-being.

There is no limit as to how long we can keep taking care of our bodies. It is natural that seniors (or masters as they are often called in competitions) may not perform as well as individuals younger than they are. But constantly moving throughout our lives provides us not only with the benefits listed above, but also battles many so-called diseases of affluence. Osteoporosis is a fine example of those. Stress is being linked to many negative effects it has on our bodies. The immune system responds well to exercise, further strengthening the reasons as to why older people should train too.

It is no shame to start late. I have recently watched this beautiful video of a group of elders up to a hundred years old that were progressing and getting tangible results from CrossFit training. That says a lot about the methodology, but also and perhaps more-so about the fact that’s it’s never too late to start moving. It is truly incredible what our bodies can achieve if we let them.

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Fragile youth

Parents seem reluctant to allow their children to train with weights. Usually they lift this ban by the time their offspring is around the age of sixteen. I compel fathers and mothers worldwide to lift the ban much earlier than that.

Resistance training is not only much safer than other sports (especially team sports – which are usually both parents’ and kids’ favorite – with good reason since they also build up on our social skill and team working, but I digress), if done properly it reduces the chances of injury in different sports.

The belief that weightlifting stunts growth is misplaced. Studies have indicated that no such phenomenon occurs and that both children and adolescents are safe to train with resistances and it is effective as a strength building exercise. And if we look at strength as the ability to exert force against resistance then it is a tool we use everyday throughout our entire lives. Then perhaps it would be wise to work on it to help with said life.

Over-protectiveness can be as damaging to our children as carelessness, when it comes to training they should be supervised but do not diminish their enthusiasm for any sport, that youthful spark in a kid’s eye will remain there if we allow him or her to pursue the goals that are important for him. I believe that almost any activity can be regressed in such a way to suit the goals of children.

Male archetype

It is important for each and every one of us to workout in some way, because preparedness of our bodies may be of utmost importance in the moment we least expect it.

There is no denying that human males are faster, stronger and better conditioned than females. One look at the numbers of Olympic events leads to such a conclusion. I do not claim that we are the stronger sex, simply that our physical bodies are more adept at taking on strenuous, physical tasks. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Taking care of your loved ones is a must for us all. That is why I believe that being ready to defend your family is paramount especially to males, as that role is not only put on us by society, but by the manifestation of our bodies itself. Lifting a car off your toddler, rescuing your daughter from a strong current or fending off street assailants may sound like comic book feats, rarely seen in real life, but those dangers are real. Those adrenaline-filled events may never happen in your proximity, but we should be prepared to act if they do nonetheless.

That is why I try to somehow stress working on our functionality and being a so-called jack of all trades. We oft forget about learning or relearning basic first aid. Many people in good shape do not care about being able to defend themselves and the ones they care about. Pacifist or not, sometimes violence comes for you. Specialties are fine, but lagging behind in some areas can prove fatal (figuratively and literally). Dramatic? Perhaps, but I would like to see a populace ready to answer alarming calls.

Metabolism, recovery

There are measurable differences in basal metabolic rates. However, 96% of the population is within 10-16% of the average and 68% of the population is within 6-8%. Therefore blaming your genetics for either being under- or overweight is ludicrous. The most extreme cases (under 5 percentile) showcase differences of 600kcal and the probability of that occurring between two random people are 0.5%.

We are varying in our basal metabolic rates, however the variances are usually low and attribute to nothing in our athletics and aesthetics. If it seems to you that gaining or losing weight is really hard for you for some reason I recommend calculating your total daily energy expenditure and simply write down everything you eat for a week (a month would be more beneficial) or insert those numbers to a smart phone app. I assure you that the numbers can be quite bewildering to most. If you naturally have a slow or fast metabolism then adding or retracting those 200kcals seems very easy once we truly know our intake.

Those variances do not affect recovery times. Those are attributed to many different factors like age, hours spend sleeping, active recoveries, vitamin and mineral intake, macronutrient distribution and intake, hormonal levels (heavily influenced by testosterone) – therefore also affected by genetics. Frequency of training sessions should be determined by our athletic background, time spend on active recovery and the nature of our training. If a lifting novice performs heavy compound lifts every single session, then it is recommended to provide enough time in-between to rest and recover. Our bodies adapt, albeit slowly, to the resistance and our recovery rates hasten. Professional athletes can train several times a day – although the nature of each session is different and can be categorized to heavy or light workouts – because not only have their bodies adapted form years of exercising but also because they get deep tissue massages, swim, spend time in saunas and cryogenic chambers. Foam rolling and stretching is a staple of many programs nowadays.

When determining your own frequency it is necessary to understand and listen to your body. Stalling and hitting a so-called plateau may mean that you are pushing your body too far and if your numbers are going backwards, then deloading and reassessing your program is paramount. Broader distribution of workouts can help, but if we are conscious about how our body recovers then by amplifying that recovery we can successfully up the frequency of training, steer clear of injury and therefore reach our goals faster.

Uninteresting training

You absolutely should not change your training program just because it bores you. You are not training to have fun, you are doing it to achieve a certain goal. Being disappointed about a certain regimen due to its uneventfulness can be understood, but if you are making good progress because of it, then you should stick with it.

There is a strong case of fuckaroundatis among gym-goers. It spreads like the most viral of diseases. People go into a fitness club to minx, socialize, maybe train a little, but not too hard. And it has to be fun of course, no boring stuff. Then they try ever new exercises, each one stranger then the one before. Yet what works for years for countless other athletes and is working still is somehow being overlooked. Squats are bad for your knees. Deadlifts are bad for you lower back. Overheard and bench press damage your shoulders. Everyone is developing a phobia for snapping shit up – which is a good, but the thing is – those exercises are good for you in every way possible. If done right they not only strengthen your muscles, but also ligaments, joints. Unless we are talking about an injured person then there is nothing to fear. No reason to stray from the true and tested methods of training for size, strength and conditioning.

Information availability skyrocketed. There is such an abundance of it through the internet that by searching right, using sources that proved to be beneficial for many others we can easily find a program that suits our goals. Not everyone can craft it and although we are all different I believe that a private, written specifically for an individual is not necessarily better than the one we can find online. This concerns amateur trainees, rather than the ones that have been at it for quite some time. The longer we exercise, the less true this statement becomes.

Brace your core

That’s the cue when doing compund movements. Tigthen your abs, not exactly like flexing them, but more like stabilizing the entire midriff, not allowing it to bend to any direction. Important for safety and taxing for your core as well, providing yet another reason for doing compounds.

The reason why stabilizing is so effective at developing core muscles is because rectus abdominis is not the only muscle you have on your stomach. Behind it is another layer of muscles called transverse abdominis, which is responsible for protection during those movements. A lot of people care a lot about how their stomach looks and doing compunds as well as other stabilizing exercises like planks and using the ab wheel will push the rectus abdominis out due to enlargement of the transverse muscle.

Another common misconception regarding stomach aestethics is the bewildering belief that by doing a lot of exercises that target it you can locally shed fat. There is no way to lose fat of a single body part with another method than liposuction. During a caloric deficit – hence the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” – your body uses the accumulated fat as fuel and it burns it throughout the entire body. By doing thousands upon thousands of crunches you will not see visible results, because the muscle is covered by fatty tissue, if you want to lose that then examine and adjust your diet.

Now regarding that saying – “abs are made in the kitchen” – I disagree. They are made during training, what you do in the kitchen simply reveals them. I know the saying is figurative, but it can lead to confusion. The look of strong, hard muscles doesn’t boil down to simply eating less and sitting on your ass. An easy way to develop them is by doing compund movements and maybe incorporating from time to time an isolation exercise. Squats and deadlifts – due to their stressing nature – are perfect for this. Form is paramount, and good form means you are bracing your core throughout the entire movement – effectivly training your abdominal muscles.

Glorified circuit training

There is no more controversial topic in the fitness industry than CrossFit, maybe supplementation can be on par. This training methotology drew so much attention in such a short amount of time it’s no wonder there are two opposing sides to the debacle. My view on the subject is in the shades of grey. I’m not a blind follower of CrossFit HQ, but I’m not blasting them at every turn, either.

What I believe is being done wrong – but at the other hand, there’s very little people can do about it, because the human element is at work here. There is no point to full on randomization. I understand that this methodology calls for diffrent workouts each time, but there must be some kind of progression and periodization. Few boxes can manage this kind of programming (a good example of how to do this right is Tricity Crossfit). Throwing random WODs at people every time they show up at the box does not promote growth in the field. It may work for some time for those that are new to the sport, or – more likely – new to exercise itself, but in the long run it is damaging.

Doing everything for time. This is a big issue, because WODs incorporate a lot of weightlifting and other technical, whole body movements. People can get easily injured if not well coached. I believe that teaching people that proper form is much more important than a fast rep is mandatory. An easy way to achieve this i simply by no-repping them at any sign of improper movement and cuing them right the next time. Supervision is extremely important, which is why classes shouldn’t be overcrowded.

Now let’s move on to the merits. Promoting overall growth. This is great. Being good at everything is important for everybody. Endurance, stamina, strength, speed, power, agility, flexibility, balance, accuracy, coordination. These are the so called foundations and must be worked in tandem in order to become fittest and being fit – as stated on crossfit.com – is the preparedness not only for the unknown, but the unknowable. That ability to adapt no matter what is being thrown at you. To efficently act at any given time, under any circumstances. As I said – important for everybody.

When done right CrossFit is a great tool to become a fitter version of oneself across broad domains. If you are of a mind to try this methotology out I urge to find a capable coach and box. This is paramount in order to remain healthy and not injured.