Oi, you…wanna take this outside?!

gymecard_thumb

It’s the new year and the new resolution’ists are flocking to the gym in droves. I personally salute them; if it needed a digit change in the calendar to give them the motivational boost they needed to do something about their health and fitness then so be it. But I can imagine many die hard gym goers might be grumbling at the legions of first timers and “wannabe thin again” newbies taking up their precious gym space. Awkward gym moments (very funny FB page btw maybe link it) are only funny for so long before they get annoying, especially when they’re using the equipment you want to use. However don’t despair, I have a solution. Yes, you could wait for those fitness fads to wear off before you can own your space in the gym, but that could anything from 1 to 3 months (I guess…however long it is, it will happen) or you could always change gyms!

I hear you – “A little drastic”, “it’ll be the same elsewhere”, “I like my gym” etc… OK, concerns duly noted but let me elaborate. I like the gym, it has everything I need. In fact it lays it out on a plate for me, it makes working out a breeze and all I have to do is plan accordingly to challenge myself. But I tried a new gym last year and I encourage you all to give it a go – it’s called outside! Hitting the streets, park or country may have been seen as a domain for runners, cyclists and extreme sports only but not so. The local park or industrial estate is an assault course waiting to happen. If you’re more of a muscle man then just take note from the awe inspiring Worlds Strongest Man event – pull, lift and push your way through urban or country backdrops. The elements offer a range of challenges and the environment offers an infinite amount of opportunities with only your imagination to limit you.

So jump those walls, scale that tree, lift those boulders and weave through the land of your choice at record speed. Not only are you out of the hustle and bustle of the gym, but you’ve just upped your game. Easy it isn’t, satisfying it most certainly is!

Strip back the layers and feel the benefits.

Free yourself to really 'feel'  your training...occasionally
Free yourself to really ‘feel’ your training…occasionally

How then to get a bit more primal with training and strip back some of the creature comforts that are in danger of softening us up. Whether it’s modifying or taking a slightly different path with your current regime or some food for thought if you’re looking at starting some regular exercise.

I’m not a big runner. Never have been. A few months ago though, I decided to start some regular running to compliment swimming and cycling, get me outside in the elements and get me more ‘naturalistic’ with my cardio. What’s more basic and primal than running right?
I did the usual thing we do when about to embark on a form of physical exercise, whether it be for the first time or resurrecting a previous failed attempt. I kitted myself out. I bought new running shoes, base layer running tights, running jacket, waterproof jacket, gloves and a hat. Some of which I already had but I convinced myself it was necessary in order to give some added impetus to my goals…like it was magically going to help me achieve what I wanted to and reduce the amount of physical exertion or mental willpower that would really be required.
Anyway, a few months on I decided to experiment with my New Years Day run. Not with my route though but with stripping back the refinements and accessories I’d already got used to in the short time I’d been running.

The temperature was +2 but with the gale force winds it was a chill factor of -1 and it was raining relentlessly. The experiment was to remove all I would usually use to counteract such conditions. No base layers, running tights, thermals, running jacket, waterproof or hat. Just running shoes, shorts and vest. No phone or headphones for music or for timing the route.

Observations:
So how did it go?
Initially the overriding feeling was the great sense of running freely and unhindered. Not a surprising observation but one that I definitely hadn’t felt for some time.
I felt the cold but only on my surface, my core temperature still felt warm, no different to usual.
My skin did begin to numb about halfway through the 5 miles but not uncomfortably so.
Not listening to music was great too, enabling me to concentrate on how my body felt and allowing me the freedom to connect with what I was doing rather than taking it for granted or being distracted from it.
All these are real positives. It wouldn’t, however, be a realistic experiment without at least one negative observation.
During the last 1/2 mile of the 5 my knees began to ache. They felt stiff from the cold and it was pretty uncomfortable. Not something I was used to so my usual apparel must be working well. It raised the question of whether working the load bearing knee joints whilst cold would be putting extra stress and be more prone to wear and tear or injury?

Conclusion:
A fantastic way to make exercise more natural and to regain some alignment between mind and body. Great for toughening the mental attitude if done regularly. Pushing your mind and body through uncomfortable conditions stretches the boundaries and perception of what you can achieve.
Cautionary note….
Maybe something to introduce slowly into your running and not for every run, one in three or four can get you the above benefits. Shorter runs will be best too because as your muscles fatigue good base later tights will aid recovery and also help in injury prevention.

Remember, it’s all about making small changes but changes that you can maintain long-term.

Fight Testosterone Depletion

'Worst Component Of Modern Diet'
‘Worst Component Of Modern Diet’

If you want to perform like a man physically and act like a man instinctively you seriously need to cut the sugar from your diet.

That’s the message from the leading nutritionists.
It is commonly agreed that added sugar is the single worst component of the modern diet.

If you’re male and aged over 30 the last thing your body needs is any assistance in producing less of your muscle building, pencil lead-ening, primal instinct inspiring hormone.

Sugar though, particularly refined ‘added’ sugar does just that. By up to 25%!

There are many natural ways to offset reduced testosterone production or invoke increased production but taking action with regard to sugar in your diet is the common sense place to start.

Spend LESS time reflecting…

'Mirror, mirror, on the wall...'
‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall…’

Well it’s Panto season.
All that ‘Mirror, Mirror On The Wall….’
So it’s an appropriate time to broach a subject that I think sums up the very essence of what this page is about.
In all aspects of daily life us men are spending more and more time in front of the mirror. Whether it be daily ablutions like shaving, cleansing, moisturising, styling hair, dressing, re-dressing… Some of this is necessary of course, I wouldn’t promote a lack of personal hygiene but surely there must be a limit to how much time spent in front of the looking glass is acceptable before it’s considered a breach of ones masculinity. Worryingly though, it’s not confined to self grooming. Everywhere it seems men are taking the opportunity to glance at themselves. Whilst shopping, at the gym, in shop windows whilst walking by, even the rear view mirror in their car!
You’ll know you do it because of the awkwardness you feel when you make eye contact with someone and you try to pretend they haven’t just caught you out…and if you don’t feel the awkwardness then your case is probably even more serious.
There’s two areas to focus on here:
How is this rise in reflection gazing perceived by others (particularly the opposite sex)? It can’t be good can it? Take a step back for a moment and question how appealing the image of modern man is that major fashion and cosmetic companies have painted and we are being brainwashed by. Are we just in danger of dancing to their tune like puppets on strings?
The other, is what effect does our obsession with how we look have on our subconscious, does it soften us the fact we seem more concerned with how we appear superficially than with who we are inside and the actions that we take? Does it betray the very thing that makes us men?
Believe in who you are and what you stand for enough that if you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror you don’t spend time either admiring yourself or critically analysing your appearance, you just accept it’s you going about your business.
This way you’ll be less ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ and more ‘Man In The Mirror’.

Man Up to Man Flu

ManFlu

Man flu is a pejoratively used phrase that refers to the idea that men, when they have a cold, exaggerate and claim they have the flu.”

That’s how Wikipedia describe it – we exaggerate our symptoms! Maybe we are righteous in our claims, I know the undefined head cold I had over the Christmas break knocked me for six, but do we fuel our onlookers criticism by just giving up. When Man Flu hits many might just seek the sofa and duvet as both comfort and treatment in the belief that hours of XBox or Netflix and the sympathy of a loved one is the magic cure for the ailment. It isn’t, so Man Up. Fight the so called flu with the tried and tested remedies – keep hydrated, stock up on Vit C, keep well fuelled with nuts, fruits, yoghurt’s, vegetables and relax but don’t shutdown. Be a man about it, but don’t be a fool – its real, it effects your performance and it could quite easily be the precursor for a more tangible illness.

Removing the barriers

Remove barriers to free your imagination
Removing barriers will free your imagination

So we’ve looked at why we should get back to basics in our exercise and training but how do we get there, where do we start?
It’s all about removing boundaries and restrictions to your training. These may be real, tangible restrictions like using resistance machines that only allow your muscles to work in a defined plane of motion. It may be imaginary, psychological barriers or ceilings because you’ve always trained or exercised in a certain way, conforming to programmes and routines that you believe are tried and tested. It can also be pitfalls of habitually repeating workouts over and over.
Consider all of these ‘shackles’ to the incredible human body (and brain). If it’s going to be stretched as it needs to be these all need to be removed….but take small steps. Make each one achievable but more importantly ones you can maintain indefinitely.
One of the joys of training in this way is the freedom it gives you and the licence to use your imagination and creativity. It will allow you to feel more ‘real’ and primitive with your exercise, more in touch with who you are and what you want to achieve.
I’ll start with some suggestions in the next post on this topic.

Small but ‘wheel’ changes…

Whether you come from the ‘God the creator’ corner or the ‘theory of evolution’ corner, the human body doesn’t have wheels as part of its anatomy.
This is all about making small changes so I’m obviously not going to talk about reinventing the wheel here or lambast probably the worlds greatest ever invention.
Just be aware that along with all the necessary uses it also makes us soft and lazy. How many times have you jumped in to the car to drive 2 minutes around the corner to the local shop or to post a letter? These situations don’t occur all that regularly (I hope!) but when they do….. walk. Or jog. Or a bit of both.
If you take public transport occasionally take the stop before or after or if you walk places regularly anyway take a different, longer route and this will also nurture your sense of adventure too (well, just a little!)
Remember it’s a culmination of small things like this that will help us stay in tune with the instincts that enabled our bodies to develop into the incredible, planet conquering beings we are!

Modern 'man' Reinvented

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