Well, it's been a while since the last email - - the summer is raging on here, hot, humid and - - well - - H..O..T!! So hot that the hill walk seems like I'm doing it in a sauna, albeit a "natural" one. . .PHEW!
Anyway, seems the heat is getting to some people's brains, and today's email is about one of the most STUPID, bar none, statements I've heard in the recent past (and going by the jokerishness going on during the past month or so, that is saying something - - but more on that later).
This morning, I was talking to a lady who I met a few days ago. We were talking "business" (read into that what you choose to, hehe) - - but after we were done, the conversation shifted on to other topics, and we soon started chatting about fitness.
Now, this lady isn't hard on the eyes to be honest, and that's putting it lightly. Great figure, no extra flab, etc etc - - as you might expect from a competitive swimmers, which this lady used to be in her younger days.
(Side note: Swimming is one of the very best exercises there is, despite the fact it doesn't do much for the legs - - goes against a lot of what I've said about leg training being the #1 priority, but swimming is one of the very few, if not the ONLY exercise which actually delivers a lot of the same fitness benefits that you get via other tough exercises - - but again, more on this later).
And so it wasn't a surprise that we got talking about fitness, starting with swimming, at which this woman appears to be FAR better than me - - and good on her for that.
"I knew it", I said. "You look like you love sports - - but I didn't know you liked swimming as well".
The usual giggle, giggle, and thank you, and we continued.
"I guess you go to the gym nowadays, since you don't swim competitively any longer", I said, more as an afterthought than anything else.
"Yeah, I do"
And so, we started talking about the various exercises she did at the gym, most of them being ones I wouldn't personally do, but hey, to each his - - or her - - own. And it wasn't all bad stuff to be honest, stationery biking, treadmill, etc - - not the best by a long shot, but if it works for her, hey...
"What about the Stairmaster", I broke in, as we were discussing the benefits of the treadmill. "I'm sure you use that, and..."
"Oh no", she said, looking a tad bit concerned. "Climbing stairs is bad for your knees, you know".
I shook my head. I was sure I had not heard her correctly.
She repeated what she said, and I shook my head again, this time in pure disbelief.
"Bad for you? Stairs are BAD for your knees???"
"Yes. My personal trainer, and the one before that said so".
"Ah", I responded, still trying to deal with this once-competitive swimmer imparting this bit of sage (not) wisdom.
But as the shock abated, I realized it wasn't her fault - - it was more her personal trainer's fault for spouting rubbish that has no basis whatsoever - - and whats sad is that 99.99% of trainers you'll see in the gym today are just as, if not MORE, clueless about what WORKS - - and what doesn't.
(Or should we say as opposed to hard work and "sweating it out" as a couch potato is to a brisk walk?)
And I looked at her legs, and it made more sense. She has "swimmer's legs" for sure - - slender, lissom- - legs that wouldn't look out of place in a fashion contest - - but at the same time, legs that don't scream STRENGTH - - and RUGGED POWER.
I then tried to convince the lady that she was being fed a crock, but though she listened politely, I got the feeling I might as well be banging my head against a brick wall.
Anyway, shortly after we exchanged pleasantries and departed, and that particular story ends there - - but that is where THIS email starts, to be honest.
I chose this topic to write about because there are LOADS of folks out there who believe that stairs are the worst thing you can do to your knees, when the truth is the exact opposite.
Look, fellas (and gals), training your legs is the NUMBER ONE, I repeat, NUMBER ONE priority in any sort of fitness endavour. I don't care if your training to be in the army, or sports, or martial arts - - or if your the blob that has just got off the couch for the first time in his life - - leg training is by far the most important thing to focus on, followed closely by hip, core and back work.
And there is nothing that quite hits the legs, back and core like a long, steep step of stairs climbed rapidly and repeatedly.
Well, because this exercise taxes the thighs - - which are by far the largest muscles in your body, and the muscles which really cause GROWTH - - and fat loss - - and release of HGH (human growth hormone) in liberal amounts all over your body.
Squats and rope jumping do it as well, but nothing really gets the heart rate up as efficiently as climbing stairs. And anyone that has experienced the heart pounding, "blood roaring in ears" feeling after a tough climb up a bunch of stairs knows what I mean.
As for it being bad on the knees, well, I haven't experienced any problems from my daily climbs up the hill. And neither do the thousands of people ascending the steep stairs leading up the mountain near where I live on a daily basis (both old and young) seem to complain about bad knees - - if anything, they seem to be enjoying far better overall health and strength than their counterparts on the machines in the gyms.
You'll hear some folks complain about "flexion" of the knees - - well, all I can say is that Nature gave us knees for a PURPOSE - - and your using your knees for exactly the same purpose that they were intended for when you climb stairs.
Your knees were NOT intended to stay "straight" on a machine while you "isolate" your muscles - - NO WAY, Jose!
And at this point, you might hear some say "Pooh! Swimming gets one fit as a fiddle, but swimmers don't have the sort of legs you mention - - what gives?"
Fair enough - - but google any competitive swimmers's routine, and you'll see that exercise on land is a priority for them - - especially LEG work.
Swimming is a sport where the legs don't get that much work - - the upper body does the bulk of the hard work - - but does this mean strong legs don't help a swimmer?
Again, no way, Jose - - them "frog kicks" and "dolphin kicks" will be that much more powerful with a pair of strong and sturdy legs as the "motor" behind the movement!
And if that still hasn't convinced you, take a gander at Fast and Furious Fitness where I detail how my daily hill climb has helped me get into the VERY BEST shape of my life - - at the age of 33, at that - - and if THAT doesn't convince you, then nothing will.
Or, well, wait a minute.
A hard climb up a hill in searing hot weather might - - especially if that hill has STAIRS on the way up.
But then again, that would mean HARD work.
Something that 99.9999999% of all "personal trainers" (UGH!) are opposed to. And something that most modern day trainees seem not to think much of either, preferring to "blast" out reps of whatever exercise they are doing on the latest useless machine in the gym while "ogling the babes".
And if you're the kind that fits into the above category - - well, no problems from my end, my friend - - but I wish you best of luck with the knee problems YOU WILL have if you continue using the machines and do no other work for your legs.
And if you are in the tiny minority? The "Fast and Furious Fitnes" minority, if I might say so?
Well, there's nothing to say in that case - - except a (virtual) shake of the hand, and pat on sweaty back - - and back to the workout, as it were!
Well, that's it for today. If you hear a personal trainer spout more nonsense like this, smack him as hard as you can before running - - that'll be your "good deed for the day"!
P.S.: - I speak about Fast and Furious Fitness in this note, and you can grab your copy right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/4-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book. This is NOT for the 99.999999% I just mentioned - - but if you don't fit into that category - - well - - there's no better read for you. Again, that link is http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/4-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book . . . rush on over, and grab your copy NOW.
Yet another hot and muggy day here in Southern China, so hot that the term "sweating buckets" doesn't do justice to how hot one feels when exercising in an intense manner. My shirt was sopping wet by the time I got through HALF of my hill climb, and it seemed to weight a couple of kilograms or more by the time I was done. Whew!
Never did manage to get through the "pulling part" of my workout though - thanks mostly to an incessant drizzle that wouldn't (and still apparently hasn't) let up. Boo!
Anyway, the mailbox is overflowing with questions from readers that want to know - - let's take a look at two interesting emails from different corners of the globe.
The first email comes from Rich (presumably in the U.S.) -
"I subscribe to your newsletter and enjoy your inspirational personal workout stories.
In the article entitled "The old man I met a couple of months back in China", you mentioned a hamstring stretch that he did that also stretched his entire core, lower back, chest, calves, and shin.
When you find the time, would you write another newsletter describing that stretch.
I look forward to reading your future newsletters.
Rich, thanks a million for the positivity and kind words. Before I describe the stretch the old man did (does, actually), be advised this this stretch is a somewhat advanced stretch and you a) need to work into it and b) DEFINITELY, and I mean DEFINITELY - - let me say that again - - MOST DEFINITELY - - need to be WARMED up and ready for the stretch.
This is NOT one of those stretches that one does straight out of bed, to put in another way - - you need to be warmed up for it, and do need to have a (or work up to) a certain level of flexibility to do this correctly. I usually do it after my hill climb and before my pushups.
To do this, find a railing, or other "broad" surface at about chest height and lift one leg up slowly, while keeping it straight so that the heel of your foot is resting on the railing (or said surface). Keep the other leg ramrod straight, and at right angles to the first one.
From this position bend forward (and again, LEGS STRAIGHT!) and grab the ankle (or heel of the foot is you can) of the outstretched leg with BOTH hands, and bend forward so that your chest and upper body are in line with the outstretched leg.
Stay in that position for as long as you can. When you start, you likely won't be able to do this at all, or if you can, you won't go beyond fifteen seconds or more provided you maintain proper form. But thats OK. Work up to it, and work into it - - this one simple movement will increase flexibility by leaps and bounds through your ENTIRE BODY.
Sounds simple, you say? Well, TRY IT, my friend - - and if you want to make it tougher, do what the old man does - - which is to throw one's leg up - - ramrod straight, NO bending at the knee on either leg - - onto a surface ABOVE HEAD HEIGHT, and then repeat the above movement.
WHEW - - talk about a hamstring stretch from "hell"!!
And now, as a bonus, I'll throw in another similar stretch that will stretch your chest and shoulders out (in addition to the rest of your body) like nobody's business. This one is somewhat easier, but not a lot easier than the one the old guy does, though some folks may find it tougher.
Stand together with your feet shoulder width apart, and keep your legs perfectly straight - - NO BENDING whatsover at the knees again, and raise your arms straight over your head while clasping your fingers together. Now, bend FROM THE WAIST - - keeping the legs perfectly straight - - and try and touch your clasped palms to the floor, and hold the position for time.
As you get better, bring your legs together. Your eventual goal is to do it with your legs together and palms flat beside your feet.
So, that's that for the "hammy" stretches - - great question, by the way, Rich.
And now for another great one from "Sujit" in India: -
"i have been reading your newsletter on bodyweight training and i should tell you i just love to read what you write about workout....i enjoy reading your workout experiences like the one in china....this is the first time i am writing to you as i got some queries which i think only you can clarify...hmm i read your last mail in which you stressed the importance of slow deadhang pullup and handstand for mass gains...for last 1 week i have started doing slow pullup with 4 sec to go up hold for 4 sec at top and again down and i cant do handstand pushup so i am doing assisted handstand....my query is can these two workouts build muscle mass if i work hard at these two exercises ??
and my second query is what bodyweight exercise should i do for my legs for putting on mass...squats are not helping me in gaining any mass ..please help me out..."
Sujit, thanks so much for the positive words. To answer your questions: -
1.YES, the exercises you mention WILL build muscles - - slabs of solid muscle all over your upper body, to be honest, if you keep at it and keep improving with every workout. Of course, I'm referring to REAL muscle - - not the comic book "Micky Mouse" bloated muscles the "bodybuilders" in most modern gyms have.
In other words, YES, you'll build solid, functional strength with these exercises, and lean, toned, POWERFUL upper body muscles, much like a jungle cat's with these movements.
2. Though some may not notice, Sujit has just revealed one of my "secrets" to superior strength - - which is the timed hold he refers to at the TOP of each pull-up as well as during the movement - - great stuff, Sujit, and this is guaranteed to build super strong forearms as well in addition to the muscles you are targeting. Not to mention a grip like steel - OUCH!
3. If you cannot do handstands as yet, you really need to work into them, as (and as I've said many times before), handstand pushups and pull-ups are one of the, if not THE, most powerful exercise combos out there for the upper body. You may want to check out my "Shoulders for Boulders" course which gives you simple and easy to follow instructions to build up to doing handstand pushups for REPS - - at which point you'll be buying new shirts since the old ones won't fit you any longer - - guaranteed!
Shoulders like Boulders: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/87-shoulders-like-boulders
Of course, a proper diet is of paramount importance as well in terms of your goals which is to build high quality functional MUSCLE. And the Simple and Effective Diet should help you with that: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/84-the-simple-and-effective-diet
4. In terms of mass for your legs, yes, squats are an effective way of gaining quality muscle mass in your legs. Are you doing them with bodyweight, or are you doing the "weighted squats" with a barbell on your back? I prefer high rep bodyweight squats over weighted squats any day - - not to mention the LUNG POWER the former exercise builds as opposed to the latter, which is still beneficial if done right - - but not nearly as much.
You are probably aware from the Great Gama, a legendary wrestler from the Punjab in India. Gama is reputed to have done THOUSANDS of these bodyweight squats (as well as bodyweight squats with heavy bricks/stones tied around his neck) on a daily basis, and his leg development was second to none - - and he was one of the best wrestlers that ever lived, PERIOD.
And while squats are an excellent way to build muscle mass in your legs, hiking up steep hills at a rapid pace (my own preferred means) will do it just as well, and works better for some folks.
Rope jumping is another time tested way of building muscle mass in the calves and thighs - - look at any professional boxer, and you'll realize that this simple exercise is virtually limitless in terms of potential.
And of course, sprints if you so prefer - - there are many ways to skin the cat you are referring to.
Great questions guys - - and keep them coming in, and I'll answer as many as I can in my daily e-mails.
Tomorrow's (or the next) post will deal with a guy that I see working out beside me on a daily basis in the park - - a guy that does the SENSIBLE thing for a change. More on that later!
All for now - - if you work out today - - make it a superb one!!
Yes, you heard that right. Forget the six pack, but work the ABS - - work them intensely, and make them a priority in any workout you partake in.
What's that, I hear you say. Work the abs, but forget the six pack, the very muscles that make up the abs?
He's nuts, I hear some of you say. Bonkers! After all, how on earth can I work the abs without concentrating on the six pack - - which makes up the majority of the abs?
And so forth.
Well, my friend, given the modern day muscle media nonsense floating about all over the place, and even in most commercial gyms etc, you'd be justified in calling me nuts for saying this - - but hear me out for just a minute before you judge.
First off, the "six pack" muscle might be the ones that are clearly "visible" to most folks, and that are the "showpiece" muscles of the abdominal region, but remember that there is a workhorse behind every showpiece, and the same holds true for the abdominal muscles.
The REAL work to stabilize the core (the primary function of the abdominal muscles) is NOT done by the "six pack" - - it's done by muscles far deeper underneath - - the muscles of the abs that literally create a "girdle" around your stomach - - ones you can't see, but ones that are vitally important and crucial for any level of real abdominal strength.
And other than these muscles, most of the "heavy lifting" is done by the muscles at the SIDE of your body - - i.e. your obliques, NOT your "six pack".
Yes, I said that. Your obliques are far more involved in any sort of physical activity you do than the actual six pack is and add FAR more to core strength than the superficial "six pack" does.
Proof, you ask?
Well, look at any competitive weight lifter, or sportsperson, or anyone in GOOD shape, really (and by good I don't mean the 'roid crazed monsters at the gym with their bloated muscles, each trying to "outpump" the other).
Strongmen. Swimmers. Boxers. Or those that hike hills on a regular basis, for that matter.
Take a person in any of these categories, and the first thing you'll notice about their abdominal region is those "lines" running along their sides. A look that can't be hidden even if you wear loose T-shirts that two of you could fit into - - and a look that is either "chiseled" or "muscular", but NOT FAT.
And while said people might have a six pack as a direct consequence of the ab work they do (which in turn is a result of the exercises they do on a regular basis which involve the large muscles of the hips, legs, back and shoulders), that six pack isn't the showy six pack you might expect.
Last, but not least, we have the muscles that run along the base of the back, the spinal erectors to be exact. It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to be either fit or strong to any degree without developing these muscles to their fullest, and again, you only need to look at any competitive athlete (in most sports that involve physical activity) for proof.
So THOSE are the muscles you need to concentrate upon, NOT the six pack, and certainly NOT that awful, worthless exercise that God only knows who invented - - the dreaded "C" exercise.
Yes, I mean crunches - - which are the most useless exercise ever invented in my opinion.
Ok, hold on, Rahul, I hear some of you say. It's all fine and dandy asking me not to focus on the six pack - - but how do I focus on the other muscles?
Well - - good question - - and there is a simple answer - - you don't.
Yes, you heard that right. You don't focus exclusively on these muscles - - but you DO focus on hard, regular workouts that TAX THE ENTIRE BODY AS AN UNIT - - which is hymn #1 in the hymnal most Fast and Furious Fitness followers religiously sing from daily.
Climb a hill, and you involve the obliques and spinal erectors without realizing it (except for those that are way overweight, hehe).
Lift a keg, or a barrel of beer overhead and press it multiple times and you're working the internal stabilizers in your core FAR, FAR better than when your doing them worthless crunches.
Do pull-ups in strict form, and your working the entire core heavily, especially the obliques.
And so forth.
So those are the important muscles, my friend, NOT the six pack muscles.
Of course, none of this means you ignore a good diet, a bulging belly, etc - - but it DOES mean that you focus on - - gasp - - yes, exercises that make you WORK - - puff and pant - - and involve the ENTIRE BODY as an UNIT, as opposed to isolationist exercises that seem to be all the rage these days.
Old fashioned stuff, but stuff that works - - give it a try, and you'll see.
And I'll end on that note - - but the "good form" reminds me of some foolishness I see on a regular basis in the nearby park. Stuff that has me literally shaking my head in disbelief at the sheer stupidity of those who think that sort of workout will actually benefit them. . .and THAT will be the topic for the next post!
Hasta la vista for now - - and if you workout today, make it an awesome one!!
P.S: - I speak about pull-ups in this email, but not many of you will be able to do these in correct form for reps. And if your one of the many that struggles with pull-ups, then THIS is the course you need: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/88-getting-better-at-pull-ups-from-dud-to-stud-within-a-matter-of-weeks
Let's face it, we (or at least the guys reading this) all like the look a large, powerful and brawny "barrel chest" gives a man. Most guys rate the chest as the favorite part of their body to develop, and that's not entirely a bad thing, as the pectorals are one of the larger muscles in the upper body, and working large muscle groups in conjunction is always a good thing.
But it's not good when folks start to ignore other body parts in favor of purely training the chest, which is actually more common than you'd think -
- and neither is it good that most folks don't have a clue as to what the REAL secret is to developing a broad, powerful chest.
Now, I can already sense the regular readers on this list saying "Ok, I know the hidden key he's talking about. He's said it so many times before!
Work an opposing body part, in this case, the back, and your chest will grow as well. Bah. Humbug."
And they'd be right - - I DO mention that a lot of times, and with darn good reason, but I'm not going to go over that particular reason in that email.
No, there's a far more important hidden key here - - something which most people are either unaware of, or prefer to ignore (usually the former).
What's that, you ask.
Well, let me backtrack a bit before answering. Several years ago, I climbed my favorite hill for the first time - and the experience left me feeling as if a truck had run over me. I never thought the seemingly simple task of walking uphill could tax the entire body, but boy was I wrong.
A few months later, I was climbing this hill on a daily basis, and had dropped almost four waist sizes. My pants were "hanging" off me, my resting pulse dropped to about 65 or so, and my legs had become like pillars of rock - - all benefits that might be expected from this sort of exercise, but what I also noticed that I was growing out of my shirts - - and this without doing a single pushup, or any sort of exercise for my chest. I did do pull-ups after my hill climb, but not regularly - - my main exercise at the time was the daily hill climb.
Fast forward a few years, and I was doing all sorts of pushups and pull-ups on a daily basis - - including sets of the super tough handstand pushup -
- something which most people can't even do a single rep of - - but though I packed on a lot of mass on to my upper body from these exercises, nothing really "stretched the tape measure" quite so drastically as my hill climbs had.
Back then, I was wearing medium size shirts, and I rocketed straight up to XL size a few months later. Fast forward a few years, and my size increased to a XXL, but not really a lot after that.
Now, keep in mind that was a few months - - and this was a few YEARS of training.
And now, let's forward again to right NOW. As in, February 2014 - - I'm back to climbing my hill again after a bit of a break the past few weeks, and I'm already noticing my shirts starting to get tight around my shoulders yet again - - and this without really doing a lot of upper body work on a regular basis.
What gives, you ask.
Well - put simply - and hard as it might sound to believe, it's the deep breathing that my hill climb induces that is working my upper back and chest muscles along with my entire body. Ever felt REALLY, REALLY out of breath? Like so out of breath you could barely open your mouth long enough to gulp in air, your heart pounding inside your chest like a sledgehammer?
That is what a tough, non-stop hill climb will do to you - - and let me tell you, this deep breathing works the HECK out of your entire upper body as well, including your abdominals and back. In fact, my stomach muscles are often sore after a tough climb as opposed to my legs -- that's how much this deep breathing works my entire upper body.
The old timers wouldn't find this surprising - - in fact, a lot of the old timers recommended exercises that induced heavy, labored breathing for a sustained period of time followed by chest specific exercises to really achieve maximal growth. John Maccullum, Peary Rader, you name them, and these guys knew about how important deep breathing was to overall chest development.
And how does deep breathing actually develop the chest, you might ask?
Well, long story, and one I can't really explain in an email, but the gist of it is that deep breathing done correctly forces the "inner" chest fibers and muscles to grow, thereby giving you a larger and more spacious rib box in which the lungs can expand more comfortably, thereby taking in more air with each breath. It also works the outer chest and back muscles to a degree - - not to mention the entire core - - done correctly, you are forced to breathe in air the right way i.e. through your abdomen instead of your chest.
You can call it developing the chest from the "inside out"; but whatever you call it, it works far, far better than simply trying to overload your chest muscles with heavy presses and the such. Although those are good, deep breathing is the real deal - - deep breathing is what lays the foundation for tremendous gains down the road. Remove the foundation, and you might as well not have the building - - it is that simple.
And of course, the way you get to a state of deep breathing so profound it literally reshapes your physique from the inside out is by doing exercises that cause you to gasp for air - - namely, leg exercises - - or even more more specifically, exercises that work the thighs, hips and core to the max
- - in other words, those exercises that tax the largest muscle groups in your body.
Show me a guy who squats regularly, or climbs hill regularly, or even jumps rope at a high level, and I'll show you someone with a well developed chest.
Other hand, show me someone who just works the chest without really working the leg muscles, and I'll show you someone who might have the "look" but not the actual strength and power (as well as size) that comes with REAL chest development.
And though all this might sound confusing, it's really not. Here's how you know what this is about - - find an exercise - - any exercise that makes you breathe deeply, and heavily for a sustained period of time (and I mean REAL deep breathing) - - and work that exercise into the ground for a couple of months. You may do upper body work at the end of your routine, but make it supplementary work - - not the main course.
After two months, measure your chest - - and if you've been doing this right, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
And that, my friend, is the tip of the day - - work the chest from the INSIDE OUT for a truly large, and powerful chest!
Implement this little gem into your training routine, and let me know how you do.
P.S: - Leg exercises are the ones that cause all the puffing and panting, literally forcing your body to grow - - but you gotta do the right ones - - and Fast and Furious Fitness is the best resource for those interested in this type of thing: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
Woke up this morning feeling especially sprightly, and I knew at once today was going to be a day where I did something different exercise wise.
No, not different as in deviate from my core routines - I hardly ever do that - but different as in "tweak" my routine just a little bit. 'Twas a glorious winter morning BTW, and such mornings just call upon the exercise fanatics amongst us to get out there, and do SOMETHING - different or not - I'm sure those of you that exercise regularly know what I'm talking about here.
So, off I went to the hill, making sure to enjoy every moment of my walk and the feeling of the SUN on my face. That's two important tips right there by the way - always make sure to get enough sun during the wintertime, and always make sure to ENJOY your workout, no matter what you do or what your preferences are in terms of exercise (lifting weights, walking, swimming, whatever it is - make sure to ENJOY it to the fullest!).
Made it up the hill in one piece, and then started on some jumping jacks. Did 50 of them, got my breath back (again) - whew - and then figured I'd choose a different path on the way down today. I usually choose the path without any steps on the way down - seems to give me a better workout in terms of really stretching my hamstrings out after a tough uphill climb, but I took yet another route with steps on the way down (this hill has plenty of routes that all lead to the top).
Now, I've been on this particular route before - it's a longer walk than my usual route, but it's also a somewhat easier walk, both uphill and downhill - and in the midst of it I got a bit bored. And then from somewhere I got the crazy idea to pause, and go right back up the hill - the same way I came down.
So, off it was for another thigh and lung buster up the hill - oh BOY! I must have lost at least two kilograms in water weight alone after that - at least, that is what it felt like.
And this second climb made me feel GREAT - a feeling that will likely last throughout the day, by the way. Knocked off 25 pushups this time, collapsed in a puddle of my own sweat, and then finally got up to make my way down the hill (choosing my normal route this time).
The sun was shining, the birds were singing - in short, it was an absolutely glorious afternoon by then - and I paused along the way to take some pictures and just "drink" in the views and greenery on offer.
Got all the way down, but something didn't quite feel right.
What was it, you ask.
Well, I felt like something was still MISSING from my overall routine - not sure why, since I had gotten in TWO climbs already by then - more than what I do on a daily basis. . .
And then, out of nowhere, it "struck" me - I just needed another climb up the hill - and what's more, I wanted to climb back up the way I just came down (i.e. the route without steps).
Touch of the sun? Perhaps.
CRAZY? For sure, if your not into this sort of exercise!
Anyway, so up I went again. And a short while into the climb. . .oh my.
My lungs were screaming, my thighs literally felt like they were going to explode - and as for my lower back, well, the less said about it better - three tough uphill climbs and a lot of walking in between with no rest will make even the fittest of people feel it somewhat.
Made it halfway to the top, and thought about quitting while I attempted to "wipe" the sweat and fog off my glasses - an attempt in vain for the most part, by the way.
Resumed, and got about 90% of the way up there before I thought I saw Jesus walking across a shimmering lake. OK, not literally that, but you get my point - I was totally spent, and buzzed to the extreme.
FINALLY made it up all the way, walked around for a bit "savoring" the jelly like feeling in my thighs, and then made it down in one piece - this time for good (for today). While at the top, I saw an old Chinese couple that were walking up hill with me the second time - and they were still there at the top when I made it up for the third time.
They smiled in a silly sort of way at me (or so it seemed), and said something to we which I didn't quite understand. My Chinese is elementary at best, and I'm NOT at my best trying to decipher a foreign language when I'm bushed and so out of breath I can barely speak.
But words aren't always necessary, my friend.
The LOOK the couple gave me said it all - it was a combination of an indulgent look (that a doting parents might bestow upon a toddler being silly) and a "wary" sort of look you might direct at those with more than a few marbles missing "up there", hehe.
In short - that look basically said - this dude is NUTS. As in, plumb damn nuts. Fruity. Batty. Whatever - you get the point!
And I nodded back in a knowing sort of way - hey, I admit it - I'm a sucker for tough climbs and tough workouts - and if that makes folks think I'm nuts, so be it - the sheer BUZZ I get after that sort of thing makes it more than worth it!
Now, some of you reading this are going to want to jump up straight from years of inactivity on the couch in front of the "tube" and want to run up the nearest hill you can find (or stairs) - and that is something I do NOT advise, as it's a veritable recipe for disaster - guaranteed.
Neither do I advise the moderately fit to partake of such activities on a regular basis - this sort of thing should only be done once in a while.
Again, in short, build up to it. Rome wasn't built in a day as they say, and neither will your capacity to recover or even partake of such routines, so proceed with due caution. Craziness in moderation and with due deliberation, if that makes sense!
Anyhow, 'twas all I could do after that to bang out a few pull-ups, timed holds and dips and then it was off home for a well deserved shower and lunch.
And that, my friend was my workout and my update for today. I'm outta here now - back again soon - and if you workout today - make sure it's a lung buster "for the ages"!!
P.S.: - In case you didn't know, prices at Fast and Furious Fitness headquarters are at a crazy low right now - a whopping TWENTY percent off any order. Click on over NOW to take advantage: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products
It's beautiful outdoors today (at least where I'm at). The sun is shining, a cool winter breeze is blowing, and there is NO sign of the rain that had plagued this particular city for three days continuously (and also resulted in temperatures that felt like they were below freezing at times, though in reality they were way above).
Perfect day for an outdoors workout, and I took full advantage - got my daily climb in, followed by some stretching, pull-ups and dips. The park where I go for my daily climb has all the equipment required to make this possible, so I don't even need a chinning bar at home - which suits me just fine - I'd much rather exercise outdoors than indoors anyway.
Anyway, in response to my daily (as of late) posts about climbing a steep hill near my place, and absolutely loving it, a long time reader wrote in to ask me why I believe that climbing (or trekking up) hills is one of the VERY best exercises you can do, period.
In his own words "I know it's tough as heck, but does it really build the entire body? Is that one exercise enough to get in a full workout?"
And my answer would be "yes" to the first question and "it depends" to the second.
First, and as I state in Fast and Furious Fitness, any sort of exercise that works the hips, thighs and core into the ground gets my vote for a super overall body exercise - and climbing hits those three areas BIG time. If you don't believe me, go climb the steepest and longest hill you can find near you, and then tell me how you feel the day after. For those of you that don't have hills nearby, try sprinting up multiple flights of subway stairs or maybe even the staircases of a high rise - not quite the same thing as being outdoors, but a pretty darn tough exercise nonetheless.
And why exactly is working the hips, thighs and core that important? Well, there are many reasons, and those that have my book know why (hint, hint) but the #1 reason is that working the legs and core causes you to work the largest muscle groups in your body simultaneously - which in turn causes you to huff and puff big time; in other words - you HAVE to breathe deeply - you don't have a choice but to, and THAT deep breathing is what purges the body of all toxins and ultimately gets you fitter, stronger and healthier.
There's far more detail on this in the book, but for now let me just quote what fitness pioneer Paul Braggs famously said: - "Deep breathing alone has made many a weak man strong, and many a sick man healthy".
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we come to the next question i.e. is this one exercise just enough?
Well, like I say, it depends. I know that climbing the particular hill I do a couple of times is more than plenty exercise for me - and that goes for the entire body, but those of you that exercise for a living might not think it is.
For instance, I often find it hard to complete my sets of five pull-ups after a long arduous climb or two. I literally feel like I've already worked my back and arms during those climbs (and that feeling is actually accurate) - but then there are days where I simply jump into my bodyweight routine after a climb and feel great.
Those of you attempting a slog up a tough hill for the first time in years probably don't need to do anything else for the first few days at least - that much is also a given.
So in response to the second question, yes, I'd say it's generally enough - but you can always work specific body parts and improve at certain exercises after your daily walk/climb if you so desire - there's absolutely no reason why you cannot.
Anyway, I'm feeling great hours after my workout - and THAT, my friend is what it's really all about. And that feeling can only be experienced once you actually get out there and put in a tough workout - 'nuff said there.
Now, the holidays are fast approaching, and it's a well known fact that obesity and related issues are traditionally known to be at an ALL time high during this season. Folks sit back and relax (and deservedly so) - but unfortunately usually end up eating/drinking way too much of the wrong stuff, and pretty soon the lard starts to pile on.
And this isn't limited to those of us that don't exercise - I've seen folks that wouldn't touch anything unhealthy "normally" go absolutely bonkers during the holiday season and end up losing the gains they worked so hard to attain in the first place.
Not good, my friend. Not good at all - but the good news is, you can avoid the "holiday bulge" by simply making sure to workout as hard as usual, or extra hard during the holiday season. It'll make you feel better - you'll actually enjoy your food MORE - and the best part is you won't gain oodles of weight in a week or less, and then have to slog all of January in the cold winter weather to work off said weight.
And just in case you needed a further push, here's good news - I'm offering a holiday discount of TWENTY percent on any order starting TODAY (Dec 18, 2013) and ending next year on January 4th. Call it a holiday special, call it "season's greetings from Fast and Furious Fitness Headquarters" - call it what you will, but the discount is there just waiting to be grabbed - all you have to do is enter in "DEC2013" as the coupon code (without the quotes) and the system will automatically apply a 20 percent discount to any product you choose to order during this time period.
And that, my friend, is that for now. Have at with the discount - but I'm outta here for now - gotta go take care of some annoying chores, hehe.
P.S.: - If I were you, I wouldn't wait a minute longer to do my holiday shopping - I'd click over RIGHT NOW: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products
The subject line of today's email might seem a bit strange, but it's really not when you think about it.
I'll get straight to the meat of the matter here - obesity has become a huge, huge problem the world over - and even folks that exercise regularly aren't immune from the "bulging belly" syndrome at times. You rarely, if ever see a naturally flat stomach any longer on folks (and no, the "roid" crazed monsters at the gym don't count), and that's not good for reasons you are already aware of.
Just last night, I read about Australia being one of the fattest countries in the world - and that had me floored big time - I was always under the impression that Australians with their outdoor oriented lifestyles were amongst the fittest in the world - and I guess I was right - emphasis on the word "WERE". No longer, it seems.
There are many reasons behind this, an improper diet being the main reason, followed closely by lack of exercise. Stress is a factor too, as is food pumped full of chemicals and hormones that get your body's natural fat burning tendency out of wack.
Not good - but what can one DO about it?
Well, exercise hard, you'd say, right? And you're right - but the thing is, not ALL exercise is equally effective at "roasting the pork" right off your body and this holds true for all exercises, be they weights-based or body-weight only.
You often see folks working out on stationery bikes for hours hoping to 'tone the midsection up'. You often see folks doing crunch after crunch (which by the way is an utterly useless exercise if there ever was one) in an attempt to get the "six pack" to show, but all they end up with is a sore neck and lower back from the exercise.
And while those aren't exercises I advocate anyway, the truth is that even GOOD exercises at times won't be 100% effective in burning fat the way you want to, especially around the midsection. Take pushups for an instance - super cardio workout for the overall body, and while they do good in terms of reducing overall fat, promoting strength and fitness and the such, they still aren't the best way to lose fat around the midsection.
So, what IS the best way, then?
Well, to put it simply - exercises that literally "shake" the fat up. Yes, I mean those annoying exercises that get your tummy bouncing up and down in a most uncomfortable fashion as opposed to sitting comfortably on that exercise bike. . .
Exercises which literally shake your core "inside out" if that makes any sense - and have you breathless within a minute or less. In fact, when you first start you'd be lucky to get even 25 seconds without collapsing on a particular exercise - and thats the honest truth.
One example of this would be to simply "walk" (or march) in place while swinging the arms and bringing the knees as close to the chest as you can with each rep. Doesn't sound like much I know, but there's a good reason this exercise is practiced in the military, and those of you with bulging waistlines will start feeling the "heat" very soon indeed if you do this right.
You'll feel uncomfortable, the sweat will start to trickle, and then pour off you in a torrent. Your stomach will literally feel like it's been turned inside out - and those of you that are constipated might feel the "urge to go" as well, hehe (and no, I'm NOT kidding on that one!). And remember this is just one movement - there are many, many more that can be done here.
Anyway, I plan on putting these movements all together into a new "core routine" book - stay tuned on that one.
And just why do these exercises work so well, you ask?
Well, I'm not going to get into all the reasons in this email - but for one, because they force the body to use the "subcutaneous" fat as opposed to the fat you can "see" on your body. That means the fat inside of you which envelops your internal organs and is an open invitation to heart disease. Most folks have more of this type of fat than they should which is NOT good - but the good news is that this fat is usually also the first to disappear when you start a solid exercise routine.
Second, shaking the lard up and down is uncomfortable as heck, but it's the closest thing you can get to "spot reducing" fat on your body. Ever seen a hula dancer with a fat backside? Or a belly dancer with a protruding belly? I bet not - continuously working a particular area of the body vigorously not only strengthens and builds muscles, but also reduces that unsightly LARD.
The old timers said it best i.e. "fat can only accumulate on that part of the body where there is the least movement" - and I couldn't agree more.
So whether you are looking to shed that last bit of belly fat, or just starting out, remember to always choose exercises that really make the body MOVE vigorously - and this holds especially true if your trying to reduce fat around the core/abdominal region!
All for now - try this little tip, and let me know how it works out for you!
PS: While waiting on the book with the new core routines, you might want to get started on Fast and Furious Fitness to lay a solid foundation for the tougher exercises: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
As regular readers no doubt know by now, one of the highlights of very enjoyable stint in China a few years back was my evening (usually) climbs up a long, steep hill about 10 minutes or so from my apartment complex. Got me in the very best shape of my life in terms of cardio and "skinfold" measurements (if you care about that kind of thing - I don't to be honest), and I miss it even today.
I generally used to climb in one of my old, white, threadbare T-shirts - they were more like thin "exercise vests" to be honest - and they worked GREAT in the heat and humidity of China. Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't soaked in sweat by the time my climb was over, but a thin T-shirt at least made the heat more bearable.
A lot of you have asked me for pictures of that hill - and while I don't have any of me climbing that particular hill (I didn't have a website at the time, and didn't really think of taking photos), I did manage to find some pictures of the hill on the Internet, which I'll be sharing in future posts. Stay tuned on that one.
Anyhow, being I can be somewhat sentimental at times about "old memories", I never threw away those old T-shirts. Fast forward a few years, and Mrs. Rahul Mookerjee almost whacks me on the head when she saw them. Like, "Can't you at least buy some decent T-shirts??"
Hey, what I can say - ladies can be that way - but we workout fanatics (different from "gym bunnies" or "beach boys") have our own preferences as well, hehe. The older the shirt, the better it gets, at least in terms of getting a workout in - and that's how I've always felt.
Anyway, we were doing some spring cleaning the other day, and out pops one of those very T-shirts.
"Let's put it in the laundry, I'd love to wear that again", I said.
"Wear what??", says my wife, looking at me as if she didn't have a clue - which of course she did.
"Those", I said. "They'll bring back a lot of good memories!".
So we wash them, and I try them on today after my post-workout shower.
And what do I find out??
Well, it's hard to explain - but have you ever tried stuffing a full grown grizzly bear into a medium size T-shirt? It ain't easy to do for sure, and whats more, it ain't pretty - long story short, I almost tore the shoulder right off my beloved T-shirt.
I'm amazed I could wear it back then without any problems - but I've gotten a LOT thicker through the arms, shoulders and upper back since then - and thats all courtesy the Fast and Furious routines I follow on a regular basis. Of course, my "Shoulders like Boulders" routines don't hurt either - I routinely discard shirts that I bought just a few months back, mostly because I can no longer get my arms through them.
So you see, this stuff really, really WORKS.
It works better than lifting weights that are so heavy you end up injuring yourself and put yourself out of the "game" for ages.
It works better than wasting time idling on the pec deck checking out the latest hot mamas walking by.
And it "showl" works better than sitting on your arse and doing nothing at all except beer curls and pretezel pops, hehe.
Give it a try, and you'll find yourself exploding out of your shirts in no time as well!
P.S.: While you may need to buy new shirts, rest assured you'll save a ton of buckeroonies on new pants - you'll fit into all the old ones you haven't worn for years once you get on the routines mentioned in Fast and Furious Fitness: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
P.S. #2: - If your interested in building grizzly like strength and power in your shoulders, don't forget to check out Shoulders like Boulders right HERE: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/87-shoulders-like-boulders
So goes the saying in many of the major subway stations in the world - including the subway in the city I live in.
I had to travel to a different city today for work - a city that, while falling under a different administration is connected to the main city (mine) via an above ground(in most places) subway. It wasn't a scheduled workout day for me, and yet I got a pretty decent workout in simply by using the subway, and - yes, you guessed it - taking the STAIRS instead of the escalators.
The average height of the above ground parts of the subway here is between 15-19 meters above ground, which is a pretty decent climb, especially if done repeatedly, and especially if one takes the stairs from underground all the way to the top. Trust me, a few rounds of this and you WILL feel it, regardless of the shape your currently in. YOW!
Those who follow my emails regularly know that I used to climb a hill daily in China a few years back - and that one routine was enough to get me in the VERY BEST shape of my life. There are no hills here where I live, and the subway stairs are the closest thing I have to hills, so I make full use of them.
And I sure did that well today - I had to change three trains to get to where I was going, and ditto for the way back - which meant four solid climbs in all - not bad at all. These climbs weren't quite the hill climbs I used to partake of on a daily basis in China, but they still got the heart pumping, blood flowing and sweat pouring like nothing else.
Nothing quite beats the feeling of "sore and tired" muscles and "overall fatigue" (in a good way!) after climbing a hill and the same can probably be said of climbing steep stairs repeatedly. Nothing, I repeat, nothing compares to the "wobbly" feeling in one's thighs after a particularly hard climb. I'm even feeling it in my upper back and shoulders as I type this - and it's a great, great, feeling to have.
What's really amazing is most folks ignore this simple and effective "tool" that's staring them right in the face daily, and that requires absolute no extra expense to use. I saw rows and rows of tired looking, bent over, exhausted "professionals" with their laptops slouching along on the escalators as I took the steps two at a time - and these, my friend are the very people that carp on and on about not having the time to get fit, requiring the latest fancy machines to exercises on, gym memberships, and so forth.
All nonsense - just think of how good these people would actually FEEL if they simply took the time to climb some stairs on a daily basis - and think of the benefits this would have on their overall fitness levels.
Anyway, yours truly showed up soaked in sweat for his meeting today, which was on the third floor of a building. The elevator was the first thing that stared me in the face here, but needless to say I ignored it, and made a beeline for the stairs.
Might sound strange to the general majority out there - but I wouldn't trade this "strange behavior" for anything in the world!
Anyway, moral of the story is - use the stairs regularly, and stay fit. And if you can find a long, steep hill to climb daily - that's even better! It's a simple and time-tested theory - that has, most importantly, been proven to WORK - and it will work for YOU as well!
PS: For more such simple tips that you can use in your daily training, grab a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
Woke up bright and early today around 10:30AM, hehe, and dove straight into some emails that were waiting for me. Took care of some business related stuff, and then plunged into my workout for the day.
And as you might imagine from the subject, it was a short, sweet and brutally effective routine - consisting of ONLY three exercises - three exercises which gave me a solid overall body workout.
So, what DID I do today?
Jumping jacks, handstand pushups and pull-ups - all within a 40 minute time frame and that was IT.
No "special" movements for the core (certainly no crunches, which I despise).
No routines to "bomb" the pectorals.
Nothing to "pump up" the forearms.
No sets of 100X5 on a leg extension machine to "blitz" the lower legs (and yes, I've actually seen such routines advertised in magazines!)
None of that silliness.
Just 350 jumping jacks, 30 handstand pushups and 20 pullups - and I was FRIED by the end of it.
I made sure to do the handstand pushups in sets of 5, but that got tougher around rep#15 - my 5 second pause at end of each handstand pushups was probably to "blame". Nothing quite recruits the "inner" muscle fibers of the chest and shoulders quite as well as doing this!
(Note: These pauses are advanced movements - so do NOT attempt to do these unless you've gotten proficient at the actual exercises - you'll only fall over and hurt yourself - or worse. It's a great goal to shoot for, though!)
For the pull-ups, I tried pulling myself up so that my lower chest touched the bar a.k.a "sternum" pull-ups. I don't do these quite often, so they were HARD - needless to say I was dripping sweat by the end of it all.
Threw in a few dips to finish my routine off, and that, my friend, was THAT. Came home, stretched a little, and I'm writing to you now - and I feel on top of the world and ready for the rest of my day.
And thats how workouts should be. Short, sweet, but brutally effective. You don't need much at all in the way of equipment to "git 'er done" as you can see - all you really need is a will power, and discipline in heaping measures - and you're good to go!
Sure beats sitting on the couch feeling bloated and hungover after that Sunday night bash. . .!
All for now!
PS: My new course Shoulders like Boulders teaches you how to go from ZERO handstand pushups to many, many more - along with pauses - click on over to reserve your copy PRONTO: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/products/87-shoulders-like-boulders