I grew up being a very active kid. I often ran and biked ride with my mom in my adolescent days. That would be the foundation of what was later to come in my life. I grew up playing sports my whole life. I played basketball, baseball and football. Basketball would be the sport that would get me a scholarship to play at UC Berkeley and to play pro basketball internationally.
My teenage years were great athletically. I did things without realizing what I was doing. I could jump high without thinking about it. Run fast without warming up. As a matter of fact…I could run a mile in 5 minutes and 10 seconds. I never thought anything special about it until today. I would play basketball with my friends all day and night. I still remember my friends and I breaking into the local junior high school so we can play basketball all day. We played numerous games without getting tired. We were never sore. Those were fun times but that would change as I got in my 20s.
My 20s were great in the sense that I knew I could jump higher if I practiced. I could run faster if I put in the time and the work. I could get stronger and more powerful if I lifted weights. I could lift heavy weights without warming up. I could run fast with minimal warming up. I knew I could improve more as a basketball player if I kept up the training. I did accomplish all those things. I got super strong. I jumped higher. My body responded as my mind commanded. But unlike my teenage years I would get a little sore. I could still play basketball and run all day but I would feel it more in my body afterwards. This is when I felt I needed to implement stretching so I wouldn’t be as sore and would be able to play and perform on the basketball court the next day. My 30s unfortunately would be the start of the beginning of the end for me athletically. In my early 30s I could still play basketball but I couldn’t play all day anymore. I saw myself getting my tired. I couldn’t jump as high. I didn’t have the same speed, agility and quickness I had in my 20s. My body was more stiff. It would take me a full game until I got warmed up. I would be sore for days after playing. But I was stronger physically. I really got into strength training to keep my body strong and to it from breaking down. I got into long distance running…half marathons. I knew I could have full control of my body and strength with running and strength training. But this would change as I approach my mid to late 30s.
My mid to late 30s have not gone as well. This is the first time in my life where my body doesn’t respond to what I want it to do. I had to cut my basketball playing down because I wasn’t performing how I wanted. My mind thinks one thing but my body has something else in mind…I feel your pain Kobe Bryant. I even started to feel it when I ran and lifted weights. Lifting heavy weights started to put a strain on my body and joints. I still lift heavy but only on certain exercises. It took me longer to get warmed up when I lifted weights also which increased my time in the gym. But I was good once I was warmed up. But super sore the next day. Similar to weight lifting it took longer for me to get warmed up when I ran. I would be super sore the next day depending on how fast and long I was running. But I loved the feeling I got from running even though body was always sore and my joints were stiff. I felt like an old man sometimes when I got out of bed. I even started to get all kinds of little injuries from things I thought normal such as runner. I developed a runner’s tendonitis in my right hamstring. I would strain my calf on numerous occasions from running. I even had to stop running a few times. This is the first time in my life where I don’t have control of my body. Very frustrating. I guess I’m just venting. All part of the aging process.
As I look back in my life. I felt invisible as a youth. Able to do anything I wanted physically. My body responded everything my mind commanded it to do whether it was running faster or jumping higher. Today at 39 years old my body is not responding to what my mind is commanding. Again… very frustrating but I have accepted these things as part life and the aging process. Father time is undefeated. But I will continue to stay active. I have a saying…”YOU WILL LOSE IT IF YOU DON’T USE IT”. Health is wealth. I will continue to run but not at a super fast speed. I will continue to life but not super heavy. I will implement more yoga and stretching. Biking Basketball?…I will leave that for the youngsters.
Have you ever noticed that people in the gym can run on the treadmill for hours and hours? Why is that? But when you take that same person outside they cannot even run for 5 minutes. This is very interesting.
When you run on a treadmill you are getting assistance from the machine. Gravity and your body weight is taken out of the equation because of the forward movement and assistance of the treadmill. This makes running on the treadmill meal easier for a lot of people. People can run on the treadmill me longer which will help you burn a lot of calories. Another benefit of the treadmill is that you can set it at an incline which can increase the intensity of the run which will help accelerate both fat loss and weight loss. Running on the treadmill can also be boring since you are not moving around anywhere. It’s almost like a mouse you see running in a cage.
When you run outside you are doing all the work. You have your bodyweight and gravity that you have to account for when you run outside. This makes it very hard for a lot people. But if a person runs outside often their body will adapt to it and it will help accelerate fat loss and weight loss while building muscle. A beginner might not be able to run that long in the beginning but if that person stays consistent with it : that person will be running for a much longer time while increasing their fitness level. Another benefit of running outside is that you are getting some good vitamin D and fresh air. You can go on different running trails with nice views which will make the time go by faster.
So here’s my final take on running outside versus running on the treadmill. I personal prefer running outside. It can to go to different places to run and challenge myself. I can see beautiful things when I run outside. It helps keep me athletic and better prepared for every day life in the physical aspect. It helps me build muscle which helps with both fat loss and weight loss. The time also is more enjoyable and the time goes by fast. On the other hand I’m not a big fan of the treadmill but it does have its benefits. If I did do the treadmill I would do it at an incline to keep the intensity high. But the problem I see with the treadmill is that most people hold on to the rails when they run on the treadmill. They keep the treadmill flat. In everyday life we don’t have anything to hold on when we walk. If a dog is chasing you, you’re not going to have anything to hold on to when you’re running. Sticking to running outside will help you prepare for things like this. And besides being like a mouse running in cage when you run on the treadmill : at least you are moving which is a lot better than the person that is sitting on the couch. Overall to get the most bang for your buck : get outside and run, and see your health and fitness level take off to another level.
The most neglected phase of strength training that is holding you back from reaching your fitness goals
One of the worse things for me I see in a gym is people with bad form and technique. You see the guy doing the barbell chest press by arching his back during the movement. Or the woman who is doing a squat but looks like she is bowing to someone. Makes me want to “scream”. We have all seen it but I bet some of you thought they were doing the exercises correctly.You can tell these people had not got any proper training. All everyone is doing is focusing on lifting and pulling the most weight possible without any regard to their form and technique. This is a sure way to injure yourself and prolong you from reaching your fitness goals. I’m going to briefly talk to you about the area where I see neglected in the weight room…”The Eccentric Phase”.
When I first train a client, I focus on the eccentric phase of the lift. Now what is the eccentric phase? It is the lowering phase of an exercise. Fitness people call this the “negative” where you are going against gravity. Take for example the barbell chest press where you are laying on your back. When you lower the bar to your chest you are in the eccentric phase. Most people I see neglect performing this phase the proper way. People perform this phase too fast which often results in injuries and muscles not being worked. I like to use a 3-4 second tempo in this phase which makes sure I’m working my muscles and not letting momentum do the work. This is very important for beginner clients which cuts their risk of injury, and helps their mind and body connect with the exercise movement. This phase should be used the first 6-8 weeks with beginner trainees and with light weight and in the repetition range between 15-20.
This phase a training can also be used for more experienced and seasoned clients and people who have worked out for a long time who want to build strength and power. There are 2 methods that I like to use. Let’s use the chest press as an example. To build strength I would load the barbell 120% of my maximum. I would lower the bar to my chest in a 4-6 second tempo/count. I would then have a spotter lift the bar off my chest. It is very important to have a good spotter when doing this type of training. I would do 4 sets of 5 repetitions of this type of training. This kind of training will definitely help you get stronger by helping you to handle heavy loads of weight which means more muscle. And more muscle is a good thing. This type of training is very taxing on the body and should be use no more than 4 times a month per body part. I guarantee you are going to be sore.
The second method in the eccentric phase of training I like to use for strength and power is where you lower the bar as fast as you can and push it up as fast as you can. This is called speed/power training. The focus during this type of training is on the lifting motion or “concentric phase”. The weight is light during this phase and repetitions should between 3-10. This phase is great for athletes looking to build power, speed, and strength. It is also great for the at home mom, but this phase should only be used for people who are intermediate – advanced. So make sure you have been training for at least a good year before attempting to train in this method. Overall you will be stronger, more athletic, faster, and you will put on muscle which will make you an overall healthy and fit person.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or an athlete: Everyone can benefit from lifting weights when used correctly and with proper form and technique. Always remember the eccentric phase when lifting to maximize your workouts which will make you a stronger, more powerful, healthy, and fit person.