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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #185. Training Variety
August 15, 2016
August 15, 2016
In this newsletter . . .
Variety: The Spice of Life
Variety: The Spice of LifeI believe in variety workouts, mixing things up. When I was young and interested almost totally in building big, strong muscles my routines were static weight training workouts, changing exercises only every six weeks or so. There’s still something to be said for that kind of training, depending on your circumstances, goals and age. But for all around fitness, workout variety is a better way to go.
Until sometime in my early 20s, it was weights, weights, and more weights. Then I got interested martial arts . . . and eventually injured my back while training. Self-prescribed rehab was distance swimming in San Francisco’s enormous Flieschacker pool (six laps and it was one mile). Following that, I took up distance running. I was never much more than a plodder. But it was fun.
As the years went by, my back stopped hurting and I returned to martial arts and weight training. So now I had the training variety of weights, running, swimming, and martial arts to play with. Other recreation included handball and backpacking. Variety, plus! I was never top-notch, or even close, at any of them. But I was decent at a couple.
Today walking/hiking has replaced running/jogging. For resistance work, I use kettlebells or resistance bands instead of Olympic bars and big iron (i.e. heavy weights). Recently, I’ve done some lap swimming again, after being away from it for years. What a wonderful relaxed feeling it provides.
Most of us who took up training in our youth were looking for strength and big, big muscles. Some degree of that may stay with us for a lifetime. But as we pass through middle age and into our senior years, our focus usually changes. With maturity we become more concerned with overall fitness and health, as biceps size and bench press poundage take a back seat.
It is then that variety plays a greater roll than ever. Find the physical activities that you enjoy. Blend them in with resistance training and cardiovascular work. Be consistent, have fun, but move with purpose.
To keep moving is the highest priority.
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Breathe!Ever hear of the “Valsalva maneuver”? Even many long time fitness buffs may not know what it means, but unknowingly practice it or something like it. You’ve probably seen this many times in the gym: A guy is pushing hard during a heavy bench press; he’s holding his breath, red in the face, looking like his head is about to explode. It’s an almost do or die effort to get that last wonderful rep. He may not know the term for it, but he’s practicing the Valsalva maneuver.
When lifting or pushing something heavy there is a natural tendency to hold your breath. Some coaches even teach it as a way of increasing intra-abdominal pressure, thereby providing more back support. But it can have dangerous consequences -- especially for seniors.
Blood pressure skyrockets when chest cavity pressure increases as you hold your breath. Dizziness or fainting can result, and even a stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, or retinal detachment is a possibility. Some lifters will tell you not to sweat it. The dangers of Valsalva are exaggerated, they’ll say. I’m sure there are younger lifters who use it to their advantage and get away with it. But my advice is don’t do it. Breathe!
Ed Yarick was my first trainer and showed me the basics. He would say to beginners: Do not hold your breath. Exhale as you push the weight away from you or pull it toward you. Inhale as you return the weight to the starting position. It developed a rhythmic breathing pattern that I practice to this day. You didn’t ignore the man who showed Steve Reeves the ropes.
Most trainers today tell their clients not to hold their breath, which is good. But most don’t make as much of an issue about exhaling during the pushing or pulling phase of a lift. They just say, “Don’t hold your breath. Breathe.” And that’s certainly a plus. But Ed Yarick’s instruction to emphasize exhaling during the exertion part of a push or pull was even better.
Breathe the Ed Yarick way. Make it a habit that you won’t regret.
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, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.
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.
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