Last month, I got an email from a gentleman named Bruce Pahl, who introduced himself and offered to send me a set of his Battle Ropes, which he calls Slam-N-Ropes (available from his site SlamNGear.com).
I had never used Battle Ropes before, and honestly, didn’t really know much about them. But I had seen them used by some other professionals I respect. So, I gratefully accepted Bruce’s offer. He was even kind enough to throw in one of his sandbags (Slam-N-Sandbags), a climbing rope, and a training DVD, too.
I’ll be honest that I haven’t had much time to test his equipment this past month, but I thought that since I know nothing about Battle Rope training, the first thing I should do was ask Bruce some questions about it and post an interview with him – not just for your benefit, but mine as well!
So, I sent him some questions via email, and he sent me back some audio files with his responses, which I had transcribed for you.
Here it is…
How To Make The Most Of Your Rest And Recovery Days
Note: this is the final entry of my series on 7 Days to Build a Better Body. Thank you for joining in this week! Links to each post in the series are located at the bottom of this article.
I used to be a firm believer in the idea of an “off day.” So, I’d train X amount of days per week depending on the program, and then I’d rest on all of the other days. And when I say rest, I mean that I did nothing physically active – no exercise whatsoever. And that’s how I did it for years. Boy, was I missing out!
I realized recently that my rest and recovery days look absolutely nothing like they used to. I’ve changed everything about them, and I’m getting much better results because of it. I think this is, in part, because I no longer treat them as “do nothing” days. Instead, they’re an opportunity to encourage maximum rest and recovery and spend some extra time devoted to the important stuff.
You see, awhile back, I started thinking of every day as a balance of training and recovery. That is, I’m always training, always recovering. For example, even on days that I’m not doing hard physical training, I’m still training my mind. And I’m still training my posture, my eating, and any other number of things every day of the week. I’m a human being (and a parent!), and I don’t have days off. I don’t get breaks from life. So, I don’t allow myself to compartmentalize my health and fitness because that doesn’t work. Besides, doing some exercise daily is a much more effective strategy than doing exercise some days of the week.
Now, I typically do physical training at least six days per week. And so, the closest thing I have to an “off day” is on Sunday, which is a day that I usually take for true rest. I’ve found that I benefit greatly from taking one day per week and not requiring myself to do any physical training. This simple act of lowering my expectations once a week restores me physically and mentally.
So, today, I thought I’d share how I approach my Sundays. It’s really not that complicated.
1) I don’t do any hard physical training.
Very rarely will I perform hard physical training on a Sunday. That means no weightlifting, weight swinging, calisthenics, met-cons, running, or interval training. Nothing vigorous, unless it comes in the form of recreation (see below).
Sure. I might make an exception every once in a blue moon if my schedule is very different that week, but that’s pretty rare. And usually, I’ll just bump my training schedule a day to accommodate. Regardless, I always make sure that I have at least one day per week for complete rest from moderate and high intensity exercise. This will do your body good.
2) I might do some low intensity exercise for active recovery if I feel like it.
If I feel like I could use some extra active recovery on Sunday, and I have the energy and willpower, I might do some joint mobility exercises or gentle yoga. Or, maybe just go for a walk.
I’m very regimented about this stuff throughout the week. And so, I always perform some low and moderate intensity exercise Monday through Saturday. But it’s completely optional on Sunday, which is reserved for R&R.
And even when I do perform some gentle exercise, it’s usually at a very easy pace. I’m not doing any power yoga or anything. I keep it light and easy.
3) I often enjoy some outdoor recreation.
Having fun is pretty high on my priority list. So, when the opportunity presents itself on a Sunday, we Siffermans usually take advantage of it. This could be anything from going on a hike, playing a game (e.g. Ultimate Frisbee), going fishing, hitting up the playground, or going on a walk as a family. Or, it might just be yard work. It’s always optional, and only if I/we feel like it.
And if it turns out to be a strenuous adventure (like climbing Mt. Washington), or if I just overdo it, I might bump my training program out a day and take Monday “off.”
Apart from those few things, I’ll usually be spending time with family and friends, wrestling with my kiddos, eating good food, catching up on a good book, and I might even squeeze in a nap if I can sleep without being pummeled.
Note: here are 5 Things That Fit People Do Differently Over The Weekend.
Now, some things that I don’t do on my rest and recovery days include binge eating, binge drinking, staying up late, or skipping my morning routine. And I try not to wake up Monday morning without a plan for my day and week. So, if I didn’t get to it on Friday when I was supposed to, I’ll make sure it’s done by Sunday night.
So, if I had to sum it up: on Sundays, I take it easy, take care of myself, and have fun.
And that’s a pretty good prescription for most “off days.” The key is to identify what you need to focus on that you’re not getting enough of on your other training days, and take care of those things on your “off days.” And be sure to make time for the little stuff that’s still important.
If you make sure that you’re not having an “off day” too many times per week, you’ll probably be fine. And if you do only train three or four times per week, I highly recommend getting into the habit of doing some exercise daily – however little – at least six days per week. It’s well-worth the work to establish this habit.
Thank you for joining me for this series on 7 Days to Build a Better Body. I hope it was helpful for you, and I hope you apply some of what you learned.
Now, this was a bit of an experiment to see if there is any interest in another more extensive blog series in the future. So, if you’re interested in a month-long series on building a better body, please let me know by signing up for the newsletter (i.e. waiting list). If I think there’s enough interest, I’ll try to put something together after the New Year.
Health-First Fitness Coach
Further Reading: 7 Days To Build A Better Body
Note: this is Day 6 of my series on “7 Days to Build a Better Body.”
For most of us, our home is our primary habitat. It’s where we spend the lion’s share of our time (even if we are asleep for much of it). So, what are the best bang-for-your-buck investments for creating a healthier home environment?
Well, some of the things we’ve done in our home include changing our lights, getting black-out shades for our windows, using a standing desk, installing blue-blocking software on our computers and phones, switching to glass for food storage instead of plastics, getting some houseplants, and using more natural cosmetic and cleaning products (e.g. soap, vinegar), among many other things.
I’ve since learned that there’s so much more that can be done to boost the health of your home – whether you’re living in the city, country, a house, or an apartment. Just beware that this is one of those areas where the rabbit hole goes very deep. You could easily spend thousands of dollars just covering some of the basics. And tens of thousands of dollars if you wanted to be thorough. And there are also a lot of gimmicks out there that rely on shady science or no science to promote their products.
But today, I want to focus on some healthy home hacks that are:
- reasonable & sensible
- low cost (or at least have low-cost options)
- high yield in benefits
In other words, the practical stuff that most people can implement without too much difficulty. These are some of the things that I think should be a high priority for most homes.
Note: This is Day 5 of my series on “7 Days to Build a Better Body.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks! This time, I really let myself go.
After some drinks, we started with a PILE of cheese fries. You know, the ones covered in cheese, bacon bits, and ranch dressing. There’s enough calories in one plate of that stuff to sustain a small village in Africa for a couple of days. But there were only two of us, and we ate them all! And that was after the bread rolls that we plastered with honey butter.
Once we licked that first plate clean, then came the steaks – the big, juicy, fatty, middle class budget steaks. Fortunately, I had some mixed vegetables that were drowned in butter to get some fiber in, too. And the mashed potatoes weren’t bad either. I was stuffed half-way through the steak, but you’ve got to eat dessert, right? This was a date, after all. And oh my…the dessert! It was a gorilla-sized slice of chocolate cake that stood towering on my plate. I stopped counting the layers because eating it was pure ecstasy…until!
Needless to say, I had a slight tummy ache after that…
CAN’T BREATHE! CAN’T MOVE! AM I DYING?
Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale. And I’ve learned since then that it’s possible to both eat well and be completely satisfied when you eat out.
So, if you’re the type of person who likes to eat good food most of the time, and eat really good food every once in awhile, then you’re in for a treat because I found this helpful and entertaining info-graphic on Eating In Real Life: Bar Edition, which will show you some healthier food and beverage choices for when you dine out.
I’ve got four young kids, and the last time I went to a bar was a LONG time ago. And I’m not much of a drinker anyway. I never actually got into the bar scene back when I was in college. But every once in awhile, you might find me sipping a nice dark rum with a few of my buddies, or a glass of wine with family.
But I found this info-graphic both helpful and entertaining – lot’s of good tips in there, and some of them made me chuckle.
I think these tips are most important if…
- you eat out frequently (e.g. 2 or more times per week)
- you’re struggling to lose weight or transform your body, in general
- you’re unfit and/or unhealthy, and need everything working in your favor
But if you don’t fall into that criteria, it’s probably not going to be the end of the world if you indulge every once in awhile – even if you have that high-calorie mixed drink with *gasp* carbs!
You see, I think that having a sensible diet most of the time, and indulging once in awhile, is a good formula for most people. Personally, I’m not afraid to indulge when I feel like it. But nowadays, I do set some boundaries like not eating myself into a coma. And I’ve never drank myself into a coma – never even been drunk before. Although, there was that one time I got a little buzzed and started chatting it up about barefoot running…
In my defense, I had just read Born To Run, And the waiter brought me three drinks, including two I did not order (they were for toasts). And once I realized I was a little happier than usual, I pushed the drinks away. But I digress.
Now, obviously, alcohol isn’t the healthiest thing to consume (including red wine). And neither is most restaurant food for that matter. But sometimes, people drink less-than-ideal beverages and eat less-than-ideal foods. That’s life.
The key is moderation.
And the fact of the matter is that you’ll be much better off if you educate yourself about the many different food and beverage choices, and then go into the bar or restaurant with a plan (or at least some guidelines).
If you like to go out and eat with your family and friends, please share this information with them. And please tune in for the rest of the series over the weekend, too. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some healthy home hacks. And on Sunday, I’ve got a post lined up all about what to do on your “off days” for optimal rest and recovery. You can find links to some of the other posts in the series at the very bottom of this post.
And if you’re interested in a month-long series on building a better body, please let me know by signing up for the newsletter (i.e. waiting list). If I get enough interest, I’ll try to put something together after the New Year.
Health-First Fitness Coach
Photo credit: 1.
Further Reading: 7 Days To Build A Better Body
5 Unconventional Exercises to Counter-Act the Negative Effects of Excessive Sitting and Get Un-chair Shaped (a Simple, Step-by-Step Exercise Routine for all Skill Levels)
Note: This week, I’m hosting a series where I will be publishing one post each day on the theme of 7 Days to Build a Better Body. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since beginning the “fitness lifestyle” over 15 years ago, it’s that you can’t radically transform your body in just one week, or one month for that matter. These things take time. But you can make good progress and set the stage for future, ongoing success in a very short period of time – and still have a life! And that’s what this week is all about – giving you some ideas, tips, and tools for improving your health and fitness not only this week, but for the long haul. If there’s enough interest in this week’s series, I’d love to do a month-long series that goes into much more depth in the future. Let me know if you’re interested by signing up for the waiting list at the bottom of this post.
By now, I hope we all know that sitting for extended periods of time is really bad us health-wise. Excessive sitting wreaks havoc on our health, mobility, and basic functionality, among other things.
Basically, the more that we sit, the more that our body adapts to sitting. But we weren’t designed to sit! We were made to move – to walk, run, jump, climb, crawl, fight, lift and carry things, along with many other wonderful activities. Unfortunately, many of us can’t get around the fact that we have to sit for prolonged periods of time, whether it’s at work, a long commute, or stuck in an airplane (aisle seat, please!).
So, what do we do about it?
Well, there are many things that we can and should do to counter-act the negative effects of excessive sitting, and one of the first things you should try is some targeted exercises that are designed to compensate for the over-specializations that happen to our body’s when we sit all the time.
So, in this post, I’m going to share five of the best exercises for reversing the damage from sitting. But let’s get one thing straight. If you sit down way too much, a handful of exercises isn’t going to completely undo all of the damage caused by sitting. What you really need to do is sit less and move more. But this quick routine is a good start, and it will help immensely. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after your first time through the exercises. And if you keep it up for a few weeks or longer, it will definitely improve your health, mobility, basic functionality, and posture, among other things. It might even get rid of that back pain for you.
Note: I’ve broken each exercise down into three difficulty levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. So, there are actually fifteen exercises to choose from. I suggest choosing one from each group and stick with it until you feel like you need something more challenging. But feel free to experiment with any and all of them.
Exercise 1 – Shinbox Switch
Level 1 (beginner): Windshield Wiper
Level 2 (intermediate): Shinbox Switch with or without hand assist
Level 3 (advanced): Shinbox Switch with full hip extension
This first exercise series is best taught via video. So, I whipped one up for you…