When it comes to improving your fitness, you have to constantly keep yourself challenged. In weight training, this is done by increasing weight to increase difficulty. With calisthenics, however, it works little differently. Challenging yourself and calisthenics can mean changing the angle, changing the depth of the movement, or looking at different variations of exercises for the same muscle group. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing calisthenics most of us are familiar with dips. When I was starting to increase the difficulty of my dips, I add weights. But taking a step back and taking a better look at the exercise I found that the weights are not necessary. As I progressed I moved from bench dips, to elevated bench dips, to parallel bar dips, the straight bar dips, and eventually Korean dips. Before I would progress from one to the other I made sure I was reaching the maximum depth with proper form to make sure I was maximizing my range of motion. One of the things I love most about calisthenics is the near limitless amount of exercises you can do if you get creative. You can find a video of all these dips here.
Want to get fit without paying for a gym membership? Do it all in the comfort of your home or local park with my new book The Calisthenics Quest!
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Did you know that proper sleep, exercise, and diet can help your memory?
Let’s start with sleep. If you want your brain to function properly, then you need to get a good night’s sleep. This particularly helps in the forming of memories. If you want to be able to remember something better, then rehearsing both during sleep as well as while you’re awake helps you to consolidate those memories more efficiently. There used to be an old myth that you could learn while you’re asleep by listening to lectures or learning CDs while sleeping, but sadly this has been found to be false. Sleep deprivation can severely interfere with the functions of the memory section of your brain the hippocampus. So, typically, those sleep deprived lifestyles tend to have issues with retaining memories.
Exercise can be beneficial to a good memory because of the norepinephrine released during exercise. This neurotransmitter plays a huge role in the formation of memories. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours at the gym exercising. Even short exercise programs have been shown to help improve memory.
Now, on to your diet. Diets high in DHA particularly fish such as salmon tuna and swordfish which happened to be high in omega-3 fatty acids are actually good brain food. So not only are those omega-3‘s good for your cholesterol but they also help memory cells communicate better resulting in better memory function. Other good foods that can help with memory or things like flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, and naturally raised beef products.
So if you want to maintain that healthy memory into those later years, then it may be time to sleep right, get your exercise, and eat right.
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Mindful Vinyasa Power Flow.
A vigorous flow that combines movement with breath to build strength, increase flexibility and improve balance. We will move, breathe and sweat through a powerful yoga practice.
Appropriate for all levels and modifications will be made available for most poses.
Some may not see it, but there is a big difference between body building and performance training. One difference is that body building is primarily done for aesthetic purposes, whereas performance training is done to improve certain physical skills. Another difference is that the muscles that are focused on. The body builder, in most cases, wants to build that muscle mass focusing heavily on the slow twitch muscles that help with raw strength and appearance. In the realm of performance training, you want to focus on the fast twitch muscles and the tendons. Performance training sometimes requires quick direction changes and explosive movements. For the aesthetic purpose, the body builder will also focus on keeping the body fat low to look more defined, whereas body fat only becomes an issue in performance training if weight class or poor performance become an issue. Now, I’m not saying that you won’t be aesthetically attractive doing performance training, but it is more of a side effect or after thought not a focus. Also, you do work strength into performance training, but it is more for the purpose of performing a certain physical activity. In the end they both have benefits, and it really comes down to what do you want in the end.
I get a lot of comments on photos and articles that I post claiming that, of course I can do the things that I do because I’ve been fit my entire life. But, I can tell you that is not true. In high school, and my much younger years, I was very active and outdoorsy and constantly exercising, but there was a point in which I fell out of it, and through a good portion of my 20’s I was completely off the fitness bandwagon and started putting on a bit of weight and body fat. I came back onto the fitness scene with studying Taijiquan, and not long after I got into weight training. My primary goal, at first, was to start losing that weight that I had put on. And it was a struggle a lot of ups and downs in my diet anger over not seeing results right away and wanting to give up on more than one occasion. But with a lot of hard work, and a few years of busting my butt, I lost about 20 pounds. At this time I was doing a combination of weight training as well as calisthenics. And when I was doing this calisthenic training I will tell you firsthand that I could not do one single pull-up. After continuing to work for a few more years those pull-ups started coming along as well as hitting those crazy numbers on push-ups. It is honestly been within the last four years that I’ve become more calisthenic focused and it’s not because I dislike lifting weights. It was because I found calisthenics just work better for me. Now looking at some of the crazier calisthenic moves that I’ve been doing I want you to keep in mind that for a lot of those I train for well over six months just to do it for the first time and in some cases it took close to a year just to get it for the first time. So what I’m really trying to say is that this was all achieved through hard work not something that I have always been able to do I’m still striving for new goals just like everyone else, I even continue to watch my eating habits. If you have a goal you need to push for it and there will be ups and downs, but there are people out there that are more than willing to support you towards your goal.
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Ok, so now you are considering a trainer but don’t know what to look for. Sure, the huge meat head or cheerleader looks like they know their stuff, but do they?
First, is your trainer willing to answer questions? To believe everything without question is indoctrination. Your trainer should be able to answer your questions about health and fitness. No trainer knows everything, but they should be willing to research the answers to your questions.
Does your trainer make huge promises? No person is the same, so to be told you will lose a bunch of weight just like a person you saw in TV is likely a false promise. Also, if they tell you that you will be ripped like Arnold, I ask you this. Are you Arnold? No one will build the same.
Does your trainer have insecurities? If your trainer tries to dissuade you from trying new things this could be due to personal insecurities. If you want to try out that Spin, Yoga, or Zumba class, then do it. It is your fitness journey and you should do things you enjoy.
Does your trainer listen to your goals? If your goal is to lean out and lose weight did they build the right program for you? There are certain rep ranges and weight percentages to take into account for each goal. Also, if your goal is to not lift weights at all, then your trainer should be listening to this.
Finally, is your trainer certified or just a gym rat? Sure that guy that can lift 200lbs is ripped, but can he teach you to do that safely? I highly suggest researching your potential trainer. Most certifications can be looked up online for free. After all, you are putting your fitness health and goals in their hands.
Don’t be afraid to get a trainer, just make sure they are right for you.
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Like a lot of people, I started martial arts training in an external martial art such as Muay Thai, and weight training worked great for excelling in that art. I got stronger and hit harder. Now, there is nothing wrong with external martial arts, I respect each art, but they were not for me and I didn’t realize this until my 20’s.
After a small hiatus, and watching late night Kung Fu movies, I gave Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) a try. The art fascinated me with its flowing movement and hidden power. I had to reverse all of my study, and focus on my internal self. I picked up on the weight training and noticed the weight training actually hindered my movement. In the last few years I dropped the weights and went to calisthenics. My movement, quickly improved. But I didn’t really pay attention to the change.
Recently, I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, a Grand Master in Yang Style Taijiquan, and after his lectures and expectations of movements, it clicked! Calisthenics is extremely beneficial to internal martial arts. Let’s look at the meaning of calisthenics, exercise to achieve fitness and grace of movement. In TaijiquanTaijiquan you need to have every part of your body to flow as one, calisthenics teaches full body control. This is a beautiful match to improve your internal martial art performance. I would never say you should give up your weight training if that is what you love to do, just make sure your training matches what your current goal is.
See my story here.
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