The Herald-Dispatch |

Finding Motivation to Get Fit
How I found motivation to lose weight, get in shape and help others to do the same.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What happens when motivation fails?

Inevitably, there will come a day when nothing can motivate you to workout, eat right, or take your vitamins, whatever it is you do to improve yourself.  It happened to me this week.

So what happens when you just can't find a single thing that motivates you to get up and get going?  I took the day off.  That's right.  I didn't fight it.  I didn't go to the weight room and waste an hour or two half-heartedly pushing around a few pounds of steel or swing a sledge hammer half speed.  I went out to eat!

One thing about motivation is that there will be a time when your real motivation will be to do nothing.  And for me, that works.  On a few occasions.  Never two workouts in a row, though.  Sometimes you just have to give your body and mind that extra day to recover and relax so it can grow, shape up or transform during your next workout.

Now that I've slipped off my normal Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule and missed my Monday makeup, what am I to do?  I'll pick up tomorrow, Thursday, and get in a great lifting and cardio workout and I'll be back on track, my body will get an intense workout and my mind will be stimulated from the work!

The next time you are struggling for motivation to workout maybe your best motivation is to take the day off and try again next time.  Just make sure you use the day off as motivation to work just as hard or harder on your next workout.  I'm sure I'll be pushed to my limit and I hope you are too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dynamic Warmups: The key to a great workout

If you're like me, you want to get to the gym or track or where ever you plan to workout and get started right away.  For years that's what I did on those few instances I worked out.  Shortly after I started getting back in shape I learned that I was probably doing myself more harm than good.

To get the greatest benefit out of working out, whether it be a simple half mile jog or an intense weight lifting session, you need to get your body prepared to perform.  Like many, I used to do all sorts of static stretching before a workout.  A static stretch is basically where you reach for a body part, like your foot and pull / stretch until you feel lose or three times as I learned from high school athletics.  Today that's a big no-no according to many of the leading sports authorities.   Dynamic warmups are the new way to prepare the body for physical activity.

Dynamic warmups are designed to put the body through the basic functions of the activities you are to perform so that the muscles that are going to be called on most are ready and activated.  It really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

For my workout plan I start with a light jog just to get some blood pumping, maybe a quarter mile.  Then we begin with double hurdle walks.  Basically we lift the knee, swing it out and simulate swinging it over a hurdle.  Once the foot hits the ground we swing the other knee.  We do this for a distance of about twenty-five yards in both directions.  Then we do a single leg swing.  Step with the right foot and swing the left leg over the hurdle and then alternate on the way back, step left, swing the right.  These two warmups really get your trunk and hips ready to work.

Our next dynamic warm up is what we call the airplane.  Step onto your right foot, lift your left leg and then kick it back and up so that you form a T!  Put your arms out to the sides for balance until you have this down.  Pull the leg down and take three steps.  On the third step plant the opposite foot and swing the other leg up and then back.  Do this up and back for twenty-five yards followed by kicks.  Kicks are simply kicking up as high as you can as if you were punting a football to fully activate the hamstrings and hips.  Do the same distance as the airplane.

The final dynamic trunk warmup we do is something we call dance step.  It starts with side stepping, putting your right foot behind your left and dropping your hips down until you can touch the ground with both hands.  Then side step putting the right foot in front of the left and bend down to touch the ground again.  Do this for a distance of fifteen yards and back.

Your trunk, hips and legs will now be primed and ready to work.  Personally, I've seen a huge benefit from the dynamic warmup.  First, I get a great sweat going by doing it.  Second, I've improved my leg and hip flexibility tremendously.  And third, it's fun!

Give this basic warmup a try and let me know what you think of it.  Good luck and get to work!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turning winter weather rage into motivation

Well, it happened again!  The powerful windstorm that tore through the Tri-state knocked out our power again and this time we were out five days.  I was not a very happy camper at my in-laws, though I was very thankful that they took us in.  Again.

The Lady Knights lift and condition on Tuesday and Thursday so on Thursday I took the opportunity to shift my anger at Mother Nature into my workout.  I spent the first ten minutes of my workout in an active warmup, getting my body ready to go.  I did 100 jumping jacks to start and then did some basic dynamic warmups.  I'll explain more about dynamic warmups next article.  Once I had a light sweat going, I pulled on my gloves and got back to basics with 300 tire swings!  I took as short about a minute rest between each round of 30 swings so by the time I was finished I had a great sweat pouring.

I then moved on to an exercise I came to know recently called the Barbell Russian Twist.  Look it up on Youtube or give a few days and I'll post a video link here.  The BRT  challenges the shoulders and biceps but more importantly the obliques or love handles.  I've noticed since I've been doing them that my love hands are tightening up and no longer seem to droop.  For those who are in pretty good shape, the BRT will help you sculpt that classic V-shape from the waist down.

So after working out all my Mother Nature issues on the tire and the barbell twists I spent the next thirty minutes alternating short sprints with the girls.  It's always great to have partners who hate to lose, especially to an old man.  I can still keep up with most of them and the one that eludes me, I'll catch her soon!  Unless she continues to work hard!

My next article will deal with Dynamic Warmups!  Good luck with your workout!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Swinging the Sledge

Sledgehammer training is old school and effective.  It can also be a great stress reliever.

First, you'll need an old tire.  I personally like tractor trailer tires as they're big enough to give you plenty of striking surface but not so big you can't move them as needed.  Most tire stores will be happy to give you a used tire.

Second, you'll need an eight pound sledgehammer.  Doesn't matter what type of handle as you'll want to use gloves until your hands toughen up enough to combat potential blisters.

Third, you need to get ready for an intense workout.  Always warm up before getting into the meat of your workout.  Jumping jacks are a great way to warm up your whole body.  I also do some twisting movements to limber up my lower back and side lunges to get the legs ready.

Now you're ready to get started.

Grip the sledge in a baseball grip directly in front of you with the hammer head resting on the center of the tire wall.  Point your feet directly at the tire and lift the hammer straight up.  Do not allow the hammer head to tilt past your head as you could lose control and eight pounds of steel against flesh and bone really hurts.  Trust me!

Swing down hard, pulling from the abs, the shoulders, and finally the triceps and wrists.  Snap the hammer down hard and as it rebounds off the tire push your hands under the hammer to get it vertical and lift the hammer straight up again and repeat.  Do at least ten repetitions and start slow.  Complete three sets of ten.

Once you've completed this round stagger your stance to position your left foot slightly closer to the tire and slide your right hand down the handle toward the hammer head.  Bring the hammer down past your right knee and around in a large circle all the way over your head.  As the hammer begins to drop toward the tire slide your right hand down onto your left and pull hard just as you did previously.  As soon as the hammer rebounds slide the right hand up toward the hammer for greater control and swing it around again.  After ten reps switch to a left handed swing by changing your grip and your feet position.

Ninety swings doesn't seem like much of a workout but for your first few attempts it'll be plenty if you put real effort into your swings.  And remember this:  HIT THE TIRE!!!  Steel is very unforgiving when it hits toes or shins!  And never, ever, ever wear open-toed shoes.

Give this workout a try and you just might find you don't need anything else to start dropping the weight and shaping up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Taking the first steps

Sorry for the long delay!  Lost power on Tuesday, got it back on Sunday, got my water pipes thawed on Monday!  What a week!

Finding the motivation to get in shape wasn't that difficult.  I felt bad, had no energy, and I couldn't remember a single time that my dad got down in the floor to play with me as a kid and I didn't want that to happen with my newborn son.  So I was motivated.

The first step I took was one I wasn't sure I could maintain.  I cut out all regular soda.  Sounds easy enough, really, but I was a six pack a day or more drinker.  I'm talking the big 24 ounce bottles too.  I'd suck those down like liquid life.  Sadly enough, when we had a "dress up" day at a Lady Knights' softball practice in April 2006, one of the girls dressed like me, complete with bulging belly and a Pepsi.  It was pretty funny at the time but it soon opened my eyes to how others saw me.

Giving up soda was a huge start for me.  I dropped twenty pounds in about four months with just that change.  Then in late May 2007, at the end of softball season, I had put back on ten pounds.  That's when I realized I needed to do more than just cut out the sugary soft drinks.  If I was truly going to get back in shape, drop the weight, and transform my body into something I could be proud of I had to get active.

Overweight, out of shape and saddled with gout, running was out of the question for me so I searched for an alternative method of training to get my heart pumping and work my muscles at the same time.  What I found didn't cost me a dime and put me through an intense workout in just a few short minutes while letting me workout all my stress and frustrations.  I'm talking about sledgehammer training!

Anyone who's ever used a sledge or a maul to split wood knows it'll work you into a sweat in no time.  Using a tire provides a rebound surface that takes some of the stress away and it's a great combo exercise in that you get an awesome cardio workout while working the shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, and abs.

Next time I'll explain just how to get started on the sledgehammer drill.  It's old school.  It's quick and effective.  And if you'll commit to it you will see results!

Until next time, true motivation comes from within!