So recently I decided to go back to using a recommended beginners bodyweight routine developed by the Reddit Bodyweight Fitness community. It’s not a perfect routine, but I worked out more consistently and saw more results this past Fall while using the routine than any other I have tried in the past. There’s nothing wrong with the other bodyweight routines I have tried in the past, but for some reason I enjoy this one a lot more, and that seems to make the difference. It’s simple and requires effort, yet I find it fun. Perhaps the reason for this is because the other routines I’ve followed didn’t have me playing with gymnastics rings. Continue reading
It has been well over a year since posting any activity to Fitness Llama. 2014 came and went with only a single update, and now 2015 has arrived. I always meant to keep posting at least one post every week this past year, but unfortunately that did not happen. It’s a dangerous thing getting into the habit of telling yourself every day that you’ll do something tomorrow. Because in that situation tomorrow never comes. Despite the inactivity on Fitness Llama, my training and goals have not fallen to the wayside, 2014 was behind the scenes a successful year. Here are my six biggest takeaways from 2014.
“You’re really going to walk ALL the way home??? But that takes forever!”
This was the worried response I used to get from people over and over again this past semester, when they would find out I was planning to walk home instead of taking the tram. In reality the walk only required about 50 minutes, but it still took a while to convince my friends that I was actually walking out of choice and kind of enjoyed it. It’s not every day back home in the USA that you get to walk through a park that looks like this.
Since February walking has served as the cardio component of my fitness program. Some people run, others bike or swim, but I’m a walker – for the time being at least. On an average week I’ll go on 4-5 casual walks for about an hour each. In comparison to the athletic conditioning standard that is HIIT Training – high intensity interval training – walking for an hour seems rather inconsequential. But if you had told me 8 months ago that by late summer I’d be comfortably switching from my standard medium-sized shirts to wearing a size small and largely due to walking, I probably would have scoffed.
A gem of an option
It really is, and it’s often overlooked. But the way I see it, there are two ways to look at walking:
- Inefficient and time consuming or
- From a long-term perspective, a very effective approach to weight loss/management that is safe and accessible to almost anyone
For an elderly person or your average Joe it is a great way to stay mobile and avoid gaining extra weight. For someone who is dangerously overweight and wants to make a change, walking provides an effective solution that has both low impact and low intensity aspects, which will protect them from injury while getting started. In the bodybuilding community walking is a favoured form of cardio because it allows a bodybuilder to drop their body fat percentage significantly in preparation for a competition without sacrificing muscle mass. The list of benefits that come from walking goes on and on. T-Nation has a pretty good comprehensive article covering many of the benefits.
It’s easy to incorporate into daily life
That’s what gets me the most about walking. You can get all the benefits from it while incorporating it into your daily life. You can get a “workout” without feeling like you are.
Go with friends, go with family; nothing is painful when you’re with people whose company you enjoy. If the grocery store is 7 blocks away, then save the gas money and take a stroll. When visiting a new city, explore it on foot and see what you discover. If you need some time by yourself to think undisturbed, then simply plug in your earbuds, press play on a groovy playlist and just go. If you have access to a treadmill, there is always the option of walking while watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. And if you have a dog . . . well, in that case you don’t really have a choice! The possibilities here are endless.This of course is all just food for thought.
Maybe walking is for you, maybe not. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and in the end what matters most is figuring out what options you enjoy and can stay consistent with. But if you’ve never seriously considered walking before, I invite you to try it and see if it works for you.
Which form of cardio do you tend to choose and why?
For the past month and a half I have had a severe case of writer’s block on the Fitness Llama blog. For some reason I just could not think of anything to write about. There were a few topics I started working on, but none really stood out to me as worth following through with. For sure, it is good to publish content on a regular basis, but I have an issue with reverting to publishing posts that will merely count as more contributions to the overcrowded pool of generic “How To” fitness related articles that you can find all over the internet. There really is only so much you can say on the subject of how to go about losing body fat, gaining muscle and such before it has all been said, and most of those topics have already been covered quite well by other people who have more expertise on the subject. There is no point in rehashing old topics that other people have already addressed. The posts I was trying write in the past 6 weeks were starting to turn into what I just described, and it bothered me, so I figured it would be better to sit back and give more thought to my posts in order to keep from fall into that sort of rut. And besides, this blog is supposed to be about my own experiences, not generic fitness “how to’s”. But luckily, an easy topic to get me back into writing has popped up.
The Fitness Llama Anniversary!
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the second post of the Fitness Llama blog. Today’s topics are the Fitness Llama’s physical condition and the workout program. So here are my “before photos” that I took a couple weeks ago, a day or two before starting my program. Nothing too spectacular to see, but I suppose that’s how all before pictures generally are.
As for my physical condition, my official program start date was somewhere around September 30th or 31st, and when I began I could comfortably do about 10 pushups 4 pullups, and maybe 10 crunches or so. In the past when I used freeweights and such, I was lifting dumbells around the 5-8 lbs range. Since then I have not noticed much difference in physique, but I have noticed a slight increase in strength, as well as a large increase in energy throughout the day.
I’ve chosen to try out bodyweight training. This is the kind of stuff gymnasts do, wherein you manipulate your own body weight in motion to create weight resistance rather than lifting traditional weights. The program I picked comes from a book, called You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren. It is essentially an encyclopedia that features over 100 bodyweight exercises with a wide range in difficulty, and along with it comes the author’s personally designed comprehensive workout program you can follow. Lauren also teaches how to design your own program if you do not feel like following his. Right now I’m following one of his 10 week planned workout schedules he provides in the book. I chose this bodyweight program over a commercialized program like P90X or simply doing traditional weights for a number of reasons:
1. Of all the bodyweight training books out there, You Are Your Own Gym has the best reviews for being comprehensive, as well as containing a balanced variety of exercises suitable for any experience level.
2. I greatly appreciate that this program does not try to push all sorts of expensive nutrition supplements at you like P90X does, claiming that you won’t get the sort of results you want if you don’t use them. Mark Lauren makes it clear that you don’t need them if you are eating correctly. That makes this program to me a breath of fresh air from all the super commercialized ones available from sites like Beachbody.com.
3. P90X may be great, but it still costs $119 for the dvd’s and then some for all the required equipment. I paid $15 on Amazon for Mark Lauren’s book. Enough said.
4. Lastly, bodyweight training allows you to work out pretty much anywhere since there is no need for equipment, so there is no excuse for not doing a workout.
So here’s what my workout routine for the past few weeks following the program has been. I workout 4 days a week for 30 min each session. The first two weeks are meant to be high in reps, but low impact, which is achieved by doing each exercise for 7.5 minutes in the form of pyramids. With pyramids, you do one rep, and then rest for one second. Then you do two reps, and rest for two seconds, three reps with three seconds of rest and so on. You go up in reps to a chosen number, mine is currently six, and then you work your way back down to one. If you complete a pyramid before the time is up, you just start a new one. The exercises for these two weeks have been things like pushups, squats, side crunches, lunges, etc. Some of the exercises are really creative, like one called Let Me Ins, where you place your legs on either side of the door, bend your knees and pull yourself up to the door while holding onto the door knobs. I took a picture of me doing this one(staged in this instance, of course) to give an idea of what it looks like.
So far I’ve been pretty happy with the workouts. They are short, typically 20-30 min in length and rather intense. The day after my first workout I felt like I had been hit by a train, which is to be expected, but I discovered that a 20 min stretch session after the workout significantly reduces the onset of severe soreness the next day. In general, I am quite happy with how things are going so far.
Thanks for reading, and check back soon for my next post!
Until then, Wiederschauen!
Ben Sexton, aka Fitness Llama
Upcoming post: What does the blog title mean?