In today's March 15, 2010 newsletter . . .

  • Fitness Fads & Buzz Words

  • Exercise of the Month (No. 2):
    Renegade Row & Push-up Combo

Fitness Fads & Buzz Words

The following is from Living the Fitness Lifestyle.

With so many fat, out-of-shape people these days, I want to be careful about criticizing any form of exercise. I think it was Bill Phillips who said practically any exercise is better than no exercise at all. And I agree.

However, some things sound kind of funny to me (such as “core” and “functional” exercises) and a few, taken to the extreme, can be downright silly and perhaps even dangerous (some stability ball drills, for example).

Core Exercises: Not much is really new here. In days past people exercised the center of the body — abdominal, sides, and lower back. Various sitting up movements, leg raises, side bends, back lifts and extensions have been part of balanced training for as long as there have been barbells. But today it’s core this and core that. Core is just a new word for it, often spoken with great reverence. Call it core if you like the sound of it, and certainly don’t neglect the area in your training. But I guess I’m from another era, a workout codger. When guys would say, "Now let’s work gut."

Functional Exercises: Okay, I sometimes use the word myself. But I’m sure tired of it. And what does it really mean anyway? I’m the first to admit there are plenty of isolation movements that are way overdone, and that to me doesn’t seem very “functional.” Yet virtually any exercise has a practical function of some sort. It just depends on what you are training to do. But if by functional a movement must require and develop power and pure athletic ability, I suggest the Olympic lifts — the snatch and the clean and jerk — as the most functional of all. But get a coach. Do them wrong and you can get hurt.

Stability Balls: I have nothing against these things. Nothing at all. Stretching out over a heavy-duty beach ball feels great and switching from sit-ups on a slant board to a stability ball is a nice change of pace. I use them myself. Nevertheless, I’ve seen some contortions on them that border on the ridiculous. A senior beginner balancing on one leg on a bosu-ball while doing one-arm dumbbell presses must be seen to be appreciated. The reasoning of some trainers for putting people through this sort of nonsense is that it improves one’s balance and "recruits stabilizer muscles," or something like that.

Let me put it another way. Picking up odd-shaped objects from various angles can be a good way to develop practical, useful strength. But let’s also be careful here. Lifting weights while standing on one leg and balancing on an unstable object can be dangerous to one’s health, especially as you get older.

I’m all for lots of variety to keep things interesting: free weights, resistance bands, machines, sandbags, kettlebells, stability balls, bodyweight calisthenics, and aerobics classes. You name it. They all have a place. But let’s not get silly. If something looks ridiculous, it probably is.

Click to see this amazing compact gym system

Exercise of the Month:
Renegade Row & Push-up Combo

Most sports or even daily activities involve several muscle groups working in concert, rather than in isolation. The Renegade Row & Push-up combo rates well in this regard, requiring all upper body muscle groups to work together.

Notes of caution: 1)The Renegade Row & Push-up is not for senior beginners. And 2) you should use either hexagon dumbbells or kettlebells. The movement requires balancing and round plate dumbbells may roll and can be dangerous.

Watch the short demonstration video here.

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Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Policy Matters

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, the newsletter and web site contain advertising and some affiliate marketing links. I receive a commission when people buy the advertised products or services.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter