Archive | December 2014

Jumping on the bandwagon…2014 in review

So this is the new thing to be doing just at the moment!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

so, after studying this report, I seem to have been a better blogger when I was doing my 365 project, I think that is probable because I knew what I was supposed to be blogging about then!

I am quite proud of my 5x a New York subway train full of people a mount of bloggers, I suspect in real life (if it is like thdpe London Underground) all the people would just cram on one train and make life unpleasantly crowded for everyone else…

anyway…

Bring on 2015, for such things as Janathon, a half marathon, 100km of walking (all at once) and Insanity max 30…

I’ll keep you posted, have a great new year!

lastly a big thank you to you all for reading and particularly to my biggest fan Nancy at my year of sweat 😀

Wordles Wednsday: Among the Stones (pt 2)

The Winter Solstice music, dancing, drums call out Celebration

I signed up for a thing…yes another thing!

This is not a scary thing… not really!

thing

this is not the thing I have signed up for…

Not like the last thing, (my 100km craziness) or the thing before that (half what??) but a new thing that should help / encourage / force me to train for the other two things!!

Ok…I suspect you are going to need more information than that!

I signed up for a thing called Janathon. You have all probably heard of this thing, but I hadn’t until yesterday.

It is basiclly a challenge to run/jog/swim/jump up and down/do trampolining or any other assorted form of exercise every day in January.

ok so far…

you also have to blog about it every day…probably to prove you have done something…

janathon

this is the thing!! click on it for more info!

so you lovely people you are going to be regaled with tales of my workouts once more for the entire month of January. I will try to make them entertaining and not just do the same thing every day!

Click on the picture up there to sign up too…it will be fun!!

also there are prizes, although I am not sure what they are yet or what exactly they are for…

I know this is a little odd for me, and I am not normally one for starting new things in January, but I happen to need a kickstart, I have a lot of things to train for and January is soon so I may as well join in…

I am not waiting until January to do exercise by the way…that would be silly!!

I am not going to stop after January either…that would also be silly!

It just seemed like fun…and fun is good 🙂

woohoo January things are happening…some of them are happening in December too but shhh!

I am going to stop now…I am making less sense than normal!

Oooh I have a new insanity work out routine to try out too…Insanity Max 30…this may also put in an appearance in January (or pre January)

ok now I am stopping…

Bye for now 😀

Wordless Wednesday: Among the Stones

Once it was peaceful Sunrise over frosty ground Returning light

Core Considerations

Lately I have been considering core strength…

and gingerbread houses…

and kittens…

but for the purposes of this blog post, lets stick to core strength shall we 🙂

ok just one kitten..but it is participating in a core strength exercise so it is allowable..

ok just one kitten..but it is participating in a core strength exercise so it is allowable..

although kittens are awesome…

no, sorry core strength it is…

Specifically I have been thinking about how to get really good core strength without hurting your back.

This is a challenge I faced when working on my portfolio for my level 3 assessment, I needed to find core exercises which would not damage the lower back. Lets face it, this is important for everyone, but it was particularly so in this case.

It made me think back to when I first started this quest (and before), with posture problems brought on by too much sitting and a lower back that was often achy, what did I do to get my now strong core?

(by the way I didn’t know I had a strong core until people on my PT training courses kept telling my that I did, I think it was the plank on a bosu/medicine ball that made them think it…)

So what did I do?

You know this was a harder question to answer than I thought it would be…

How did I get a strong core…I haven’t spent a long time doing crunches or really any traditional core exercises

Well almost none, they do have their uses sometimes...

Well almost none, they do have their uses sometimes…

I suppose the first an most logical answer to this question is Pilates, I have done Pilates (almost) every week for over a year and Pilates is all about core strength.

Or to put it another way core is the core of pilates…

OK, I shouldn’t have put it that way…shhh!

So to get a strong core, go to pilates, well yes, but there was more to it than that otherwise this would be a slightly pointless post as there are a lot of things out there that will tell you how good pilates is for your core!

What you should do, is go to pilates, and do some of these awesome things I am about to suggest while taking the core engagement techniques pilates as taught you and applying them to everything…

Or…read what I am going to tell you about core engagement, practice it, and do it all the time during every exercise you do, and when walking and such like, then your core will get a little bit of a work out all the time!

Start with this:

Core bracing / engagement…

this is really hard to explain, and quite tricky to get the hang of but once you do it makes all core (and other exercises) a lot more effective.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a level pelvis, which for most people involves tucking your bottom under a little and making sure your sit bones are pointing down at the floor not backwards.

when you have done this, you need to pull in through all of your abdominal muscles (front and back) as if you were trying to do up a tight pair of trouser or hollow your tummy out. At the same time, pull up through your pelvic floor which is a little like when you walk into cold water and everything pulls upwards…

You don’t need to maintain this at full hold but about 30 – 50% of maximum.

the other key thing to remember is you need to do this without holding your breath! you breath into you lungs not your tummy so with practice you should be able to do both 🙂

There is a much better description here

Then do some of these things…

Burpees!

of course I jumped that high :-S

of course I jumped that high :-S

Well we all know that burpees are pretty awesome, and are well known as whole body exercises, but if you concentrate on  form over speed the are an excellent core workout 🙂
Just remember to keep your core engages through out and try to use it to pull your legs in on the squat thrust bit ;-). Adding a tuck jump on will give you an extra core boost too 🙂

Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers (as well as mountain climbing) are excellent cardio exercises, we know that… but if you concentrate on your core and really draw your knees up towards your chest while you do them, they will also give you a core work out at the same time 🙂

 Press-Up Jacks

push-up-jacks

 

Yes, I know it says push up jacks…but I am British and insist on saying press ups…so in my mind, these are press up jacks…

These are hard…and awesome!

They are the product of an unholy union between a press-up and a jumping jack!

You start in press-up position with your feet together. As you bend your arms to go down into the press-up, you jump your feet out wide, as you press back up you jump your feet in again. things to remember with this is (apart from obviously maintaining core engagement_, are to keep you bottom down and your back straight. DO not lift up into pike, and do not let your bottom drop too far so your  back hyperextends. Just maintaining this good form while moving your feet and press-uping requires a great deal of core stability!
(yes…press-uping is the technical term!!)

Cable machine core press

your feet should be closer than this really...

your feet should be closer than this really…

This is the thing you do where you stand with feet shoulder width or narrower, side on to the cable machine with the cable coming out level with your waist. The goal is to hold the handle out in front of you with straight arms while resisting the cable machine trying to make you twist towards it. (do this on both sides)

It sounds simple…

It is not simple… and it will strengthen your core so do it! 🙂

Cable Machine Wood Chop

you are allowed to wear a shirt....

you are allowed to wear a shirt….

set the cable machine to about head height, stand side on and hold the handle with both hands. with straight arms pull the cable diagonally down, trying to control the motion with your core not your arms. When you get to knee level, stop and return the cable to where you started slowly and under control. (do this on both sides!)

Plank Pikes

TRX Pike

TRX Pike

On the trx or on a swiss ball. THis one is easy to describe…but that is where the easy ends…it is another hard but awesome one!

Start in the plank with your feet on a thing that will move… pull your feet towards you and your bottom up into pike position. then lower back down slowly an under control! You can do it on your elbows too…you end up doing a kind of headstand at the pike-est bit of the move!

Deadlift

Deadlifting is awesome!

lifts-deadlift

look…all those muscles… and no, you don’t have to end up looking like this guy 😉

Just doing it makes you much more awesome! and on top of that it works a whole lot of muscles including your core! all round your core too…not just the front bit!!

Heavy deadlifts will give you an extremely efficient whole body work out, do these regularly and you will end up with a very strong core!

Having said that, make sure you know how to do them properly before you attempt them, and start off lighter than you think you can manage to get your technique right! You may hear of gyms that have banned them and people telling you about how they are dangerous, but they are not really, not if done with proper form and some common sense 😉

Information on how to do them can be found in these places:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson101.htm
http://www.schwarzenegger.com/fitness/post/deadlift-101

among other places, better yet, ask one of your gym instructors to show you… they hang out in the gym for a reason after all!!

This is also an exercise that will stand you in good stead should you want to lift stuff up from the floor, such as furniture… It does, however, leave you with no excuse when asked to help move furniture…

Walk Out Press Up  

Yes press up…I am still British :-p

walkout-pushup

click on this picture for the reference 🙂

 

this one is a good one 🙂 it shoehorns in upper body and core as well as kitting your hamstrings a bit too 🙂

the other good thing is it is almost endlessly adaptable!

As the picture says…start standing, bend forward until your hands touch the floor. Walk your hands forwards until you are in plank position, do a press up then walk your hands back towards your feet, using your core strength to lift your middle up, then return to standing.

Repeat 🙂

for variations:
if you can’t do a full pres sup, you can drop to your knees, but make sure you keep your core engaged!
to extend you can add in almost any plank variation before and/or after the press up! examples include, Cross body knees, slow mountain climber knees, multiple press ups, plank with one leg or arm or lifted (that is both one leg and one arm not both legs or arms and make sure they are on opposite sides, any variation from this is likely to make you fall down). the possibilities are endless!

You're all Brilliant!

These are all Brilliant!

As the man says these are all brilliant alternatives to crunches and will provide you with a strong core. There are many many more (Kettlebells for example…) and I can’t possibly list them all here. I just wanted to give you some idea of the possibilities out there and examine how I got myself a strong core while not doing very many crunches 🙂

All of the above are things I have at one time or another incorporated into my work outs so I know they work 😀

Whats 100km between friends?

100km, whether between friends or between one end of an epic adventure and the other, is 62 miles.

100 kmIt is also the distance of the next challenge I have signed up for!

It is a, “right I am now going to prove I am crazy” 100km challenge.

no. not an ultra marathon. I am not actually certifiable.

well…

not an ultra marathon that I am running anyway.

According to Wikipedia, an ultra marathon is any even where you run or walk longer than 26.2 miles. so I guess technically it is an ultra marathon, but I am not calling it that!

I am calling it my 100km endurance walking epic adventure!

I have with a group of other similarly crazy people signed up to the Grand Union Challenge on the 27th June 2015! It is a 100km (in case you hadn’t guessed the distance) walk which we aim to do in 24 hours. It is a long the towpath of the Grand Union Canal which runs from London to Birmingham, but we don’t go as far as Birmingham, that would be crazy. It is from London to Bletchley where the WW2 code breaking operation was based.

Walking it...we are definitely walking it!!

Walking it…we are definitely walking it!!

So having no experience really of endurance walking, I am going to have to do a bit of research into how best to train for this, but I am thinking…by doing lots of walking! Same as training for running distances, walk a lot and build up the distance coupled with other cross training to build strength and such!! I also think my half marathon running training will help, and this even more than a half marathon is going to give me incentive to carry on with that!!

It is a very exciting challenge!! I am looking forward to it already, although I suspect after one or two training walks, the enormity of the distance will probably make me more appropriately scared!!

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team

I will be raising money for Keswick mountain Rescue, they are the lovely people who rescued me from the side of a mountain when I fell off it and broke my leg! For the full story of my dramatic mountain dive go here: -dizzy-new-heights

This is a fully voluntary organisation which does some excellent work!

I will keep you posted with training updates and the like, but for now, this is my first 2015 challenge set up already and it is not even 2015 yet!!

It is New Paddington Day!!

For the uninitiated amongst you a Paddington bear in my wierd brain equates to a personal best.

it even says PB on his case!!

it even says PB on his case!!

There is (un)complicated reasoning involving the similarity of the initial letters of each phrase and the way my brain associated things…
(if you want one, there is an explanation here…but it is fairly self explanatory)

So the PB…it was deadlifting…it is (almost) always deadlifting!

TO day I upped my personal best deadlift 1RM to 90kg!!

Yes 90kg this is a lot of kgs and sounds even more impressive if you convert it into pounds…

90kg = 198lbs!!

It is 5kg higher than my last PB of 85kg from a couple of weeks ago! I am very excited by this!!

I was so excited that I did a little excited feet dance in the middle of the freeweights area…to the complete blank faces of all the other users who are presumably too serious to do this sort of thing when they get Paddingtons…

They probably don’t call them Paddingtons either!!

The bad news is, I fell off the running wagon again and didn’t run for about a month…I know it is rubbish after all my good intentions, I have no excuse, I just didn’t run…I lifted but I didn’t run…

The good news is…I am back on it again, and have run 3 times in the last week and intend to keep it up…I have no choice other wise my half marathon in march is going to be very unpleasant!!

some running evidence...

some running evidence…

I have gone back to week 3 of my training app, but that (just) gives me enough time!! I am determined to put in a good effort at least!

THe funny thing about it was I found the 3 min intervals doable, and easier as the week progressed…I guess it comes back easier than I thought!

I promise (again) to keep it up an to keep you all posted!!

I did realise that I really need to do out my thermal long sleeved baselayers mind you…it has turned really cold!

No…I am still not braving the treadmill!!

All in all a  pretty good week so far 🙂 I am going to do a snoopy happy dance in its honour!

happy dance!

happy dance!

Wordless Wednesday

(I promise a real post with words is forthcoming.. but in the mean time here are some photos from the bluebell railway in west sussex)

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