The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #88 – Cold Weather Cycling, Back Training Science and Google Trail Tracking

Dressing for Cold Weather Cycling, From Performance Bicycle – YouTube

I don’t ride if it’s below 55 degrees. I’ve tried several times at around 45 to 50 degree weather and I was miserable each time. But after watching this video I realize that I wasn’t wearing the optimal gear, so for Performance Bicycle’s Cyber Monday sale I bought some new stuff, which you can see in the photo above. I already had a few of those things shown in the photo just so you know I didn’t go nuts in the store, but I did buy a long-sleeve jersey, a balaclava and windproof bike jacket. I rode my bike yesterday and it worked out pretty well! It was 52 degrees, so I still need to test it around 45 degrees or less, but I definitely noticed a difference compared to my previous cold-weather rides.

Explosive Back: The Science Of Back Training

This article starts with a ton of information on the anatomy of the back, but the best part of this post are the tips halfway down the page. I love the tip mentioned here from Dorian Yates – If you can’t hold a row for at least one second at the midpoint, you’re using too much momentum. Drop the weight and do it right.

Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation! – YouTube

This one’s a tearjerker. Arthur gave up all hope of ever living a normal life after suffering back and knee injuries as a paratrooper earlier in life. His doctors told him that he’d never walk/run again. WCW Wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page, now known as DDP proved those doctors wrong, by putting Arthur on the DDP Yoga system that he personally created. I didn’t know DDP had his own program, but it looks like it works.

How to Turn Leftover Rice into a Chewy, Crispy Snack – YouTube

I love this tip! I always have leftover rice and I never know what to do with it, so I usually toss it into a burrito or throw some soy sauce all over it and finish it up. I can’t wait to try this.

The Benefits Of Chili & The Best Vegan Chili Recipe You Can’t Resist

I can’t vouch for this chili just yet because I don’t have the black eye peas or chickpeas to make it yet, but I’ll be trying it soon. I don’t usually care for chickpeas all that much, although I don’t hate them, so we’ll see. Even without chickpeas, it looks like a solid recipe.

12 REAL Fitness Professionals You Need to Know

I agree with everyone in this list. I already follow a few of these people, for example Kelly Starrett, Mark Sisson, and Martin Berkhan, but I now follow pretty much all of them. If they have blogs, YouTube channels or Facebook pages, they’ve been added to my feed reader.

Google trekker captures Grand Canyon’s beauty – YouTube

Google Maps is expanding to hiking trails! I love this idea. Trails can sometimes be a little more difficult than expected, so I think something like this would be extremely beneficial. It’s a great way to plan a hike too. You can seek out spots to rest or have picnics. You can find areas you want to avoid. Or maybe stopping points where you want to turn back. If the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can decide on if you want to keep going based on the knowledge of how much trail is left to climb. There are so many ways this can be useful.

The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #87 – Deadlift Tips, a Guide to Caffeine and Beating Insomnia

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.

14 Deadlift Tips and Tricks

I knew I had to include this in my weekly roundup as soon as I read the last paragraph in the very first tip. There’s a ton of great deadlift information here.

Clint Darden on Rehabbing Back Pain

Have you ever thought of using a car buffer to rehab your back? I haven’t. There are lots of other great tips here too. I’ve never heard of Clint Darden before, but this guy definitely knows what he’s talking about.

StrongLifts 5×5 Workout A: Full Video Demonstration

This is a really long video (30 minutes), but Mehdi provides a whole bunch of great tips about the 5×5 program as he actually completes an entire workout. It’s really helpful if you have any questions about the program.

4 Weeks to Big Arms

I must admit, this program sure does sound enticing. Shoot! I can’t help myself. It’s only 4 weeks so I’m gonna take a break from my routine and try this one out.

The Ultimate Guide to Caffeine

Awesome article and I love this quote “Caffeine is kind of like getting a green shell in Mario Kart – it’s readily available, can certainly help you win, but has to be used properly or it can end up doing more harm than good.”

Is Alcohol Good or Bad For Health?

This article goes through the pros and cons of drinking alcohol, how alcohol is processed by the body and the best ways for you to consume alcohol so that it doesn’t effect your health.

The Virtual Squat Seminar

This one covers everything when it comes to squatting – depth, stance, hand position, mobility, bar position, knee pain, and proper footwear.

How To Hack Your Sleep, Beat Insomnia & Get Into A Deep Sleep Phase As Fast As Possible

Ben Greenfield provides a whole bunch of great tips on improving sleep by using technology, gadgets and supplements.

The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #86 – Chocolate is Natures Viagra, a Lesson in Kipping Pull-Ups and Dumb-Ass Vaccine Myths

Harvard Scientists Compare Blood Flow from Chocolate to Viagra!

I don’t eat chocolate that often but this research has me thinking that I should. I just went to see my physician yesterday and oddly I seem to have an elevated blood pressure. I’m going back in for some tests on Monday, but for now I’m thinking that I should start eating at least 45g of chocolate a day to help keep my blood pressure normal. 45g actually seems like a lot though. For example 45g of the Lindt chocolate bar in the photo above is about half of the bar, or 275 calories and 27.5g of fat. I suppose it’s not too bad if you’re in good health.

The Squat 4 Times Per Week Experiment

I love that this guy did his experiment, tracked results and posted it, even though he didn’t end up improving his deadlift, which was the goal of experiment. Still something to be learned from it though. He had fun by changing his routine and he saw an increase in muscle mass over his entire body. Still sounds like a success to me.

A Kipping Pull-Up Instructional by Cherie Chan

Watch the video here to see how a woman struggling with kipping pull-ups learns how to do them using progressional instructions from a CrossFit coach.

Lift Big Eat Big: You Need Olympic Weightlifting Shoes

Powerlifters, CrossFitters and lifting coaches always seem to slip in a quick mention about using olympic lifting shoes, but I’ve never seen one person actually say why someone should use them. This article has all of the “whys” covered. Great article!

Hone Your Chops: The Chef’s Guide to Knives

Being healthy usually means spending a good amount of time preparing food, which I don’t mind at all. I love cooking. But despite all of the hours I’ve spent in the kitchen, I’ve never learned how to properly use a knife. Or at least that’s what I thought. After looking over this infographic, I realize that a lot of the individual knife tips I’ve read over the years has stuck with me. This is a really handy infographic though. I still learned some things.

50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

This is a perfect go-to list of exercises for those times when you can’t get to a gym, for example if you’re traveling or on vacation. When I went to Vegas a few years ago, I did many of the bodyweight exercises in my hotel room every morning.

New ways of eating fruit

I really like the idea of consuming the nutrients of an entire grapefruit in a glass of water.

Sitting for protracted periods increases risk of diabetes, heart disease and death

More evidence that sitting for long periods throughout the day is bad for your health, despite the amount of physical activity you partake in.

Dumb Weightlifting Questions

All of these legitimate questions were answered with smart-ass responses, but I thought it was really funny.

Reader Request- About Wraps, Belts, And Straps by Matt Foreman

If you have questions about using wraps, belts or straps to aid in lifting weights, read this. I personally don’t like to use anything, but I would be interested in using a weight belt for heavy squats and deadlifts.

Basketball Star’s Insane Workout Will Make You Feel Weak [VIDEO]

Patric Young is a six-foot-nine, 249-lb. athlete that does more in a 3-minute routine than most people do in 30 minutes. I feel Patric’s fatigue just watching this short workout.

Plant-based diets can remedy chronic diseases

This is some great news for vegans and people who eat lots of fruits and veggies.

Mark Crislip’s Dumb Asses and Vaccines

This is a list of 14 common excuses people give for not getting vaccines. I work with several people who have told me many of the things in this list. I never flu vaccines either, but not really because of any reason on the list. I just don’t go because I’m lazy. After reading this I feel like I should start though.

Sorry For No Weekly Update This Week

This is the first week in 86 weeks that I haven’t published my regular “Health and Fitness Articles of the Week” post on Mixed Fitness. I wanted to so badly, but I had a really big work deadline that required pretty much all of my free time this past week, so I read absolutely nothing.

I went to work for 8 hours, came home, did whatever needed be done and then I worked again until bed. It was such a draining week, but my deadline was met successfully and I can get back to my regular schedule again. Be ready for a big “articles of the week” post next Friday though, because I’ve got a ton of catching up to do!

My First Full Week of CrossFit

I’ve done several CrossFit workouts before, but I’ve never actually done CrossFit on consecutive days. I got the urge, so I decided to take a break from my old tried-and-true routine by throwing in a full week of Crossfit.

I started by gathering a list of CrossFit workouts from the official CrossFit website. I went back into the archives and put together a full week of WODs (workout of the day). I squeezed them onto a Microsoft Word document and printed it out to take with me into my home gym.

One of the first things I realized is that I didn’t understand most of the terminology, but I finally found it all explained on the CrossFit FAQ page. Probably the most useful things to understand as a beginner are the terms “PX’ed” (prescribed), “AMRAP” (as many reps as possible) and “For time” (complete the workout as fast as you can).

The Routine

This is the routine that I did, along with the notes I took along the way.

Workout Name: CINDY

  • 5 pull-up
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats

My completed rounds: 12

I was able to complete 12 rounds before I couldn’t do any more pushups or pullups. I probably could have done more squats, but I didn’t know the rules on continuing. I figured that I should stop anyway, because I wasn’t sure how punishing the following week was going to be on my body. I finished my final round with an extra long set of squats of about 50 or so. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was somewhere around there.

Workout Name: NANCY
5 rounds for time:

  • 400m Run
  • Overhead Squats, 15 reps (95#/65#)

My time: Approx. 28 minutes

I really thought I was going to do well on this one, but wow, it was difficult. I especially had problems keeping good form on the overhead squats. I just couldn’t seem to keep my arms straight above my head while squatting. Overhead squats are a new exercise for me so I probably should have started with much less weight than what was prescribed (95 lbs. for men, 65 for women), but I powered through anyway.

Workout Name: CrossFit Tri

  • 2000m Row
  • 1 mile run
  • 100 Double Unders (or 4x singles)

This one wasn’t timed or for reps, but I finished it at about 24 minutes. I don’t have a row machine, but I found that the suggested alternate exercise for rows are sumo deadlift high pulls (SDHP) with just an empty olympic bar (45lbs). Those things really kicked my ass. For each 100 meters, you need to do 10 SDHP’s, so for this WOD, I had to do 200 pulls. By the time I got to 150 SDHP’s, I just wanted the pain to stop! I’m not able to do double unders yet, so I just did 100 regular rope jumps instead. I realized later that single-unders are in no way able to compensate for the exertion required of double unders and that I should have done at least 400 single-unders or the official CrossFit approved one-for-one alternative, tuck jumps. Here’s a video with an example.

Workout Name: Elizabeth
21-15-9 reps for time:

  • Squat Cleans (135#/95#)
  • Ring Dips

My time: approx. 23 minutes

If there one thing I learned from this day, it’s that if you don’t have experience with a lift, start out with lighter weight than what is prescribed. I pulled a muscle in my arm at the very beginning of doing the squat clean, which made the rest of the workout much harder than it needed to be. I kept massaging the muscle after every couple of reps to work it out, and that helped me get through it.

This one is definitely tough. I had poor form for the first 4-5 reps and then I re-watched the exercise video on the CrossFit site a couple of times to get the form down. Since this was my first time doing this exercise, I could only get in 3-5 reps each time with short breaks in-between before starting up again.

I don’t have Olympic rings available to me, so I had to do dips on my power tower. From what I’ve read on the CrossFit forums, they recommend substituting power tower dips for olympic dips at a 2:1 ratio, and some suggest a 3:1 ratio. I have always had shoulder problems with dips so I just did them one for one. It was still a great workout.

Workout Name: Jackie
For time:

  • 1000m Row
  • 50 Thrusters (45#/45#)
  • 30 Pull-ups

My time: 14 min. 34 seconds

I don’t know if it was the previous day’s workout or if it’s all of the workouts of the week finally catching up to me, but I was pretty sore all around. The foam roller was putting me through some pain!

This day was probably the easiest of all of them so far, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a tough workout. Thrusters are a new exercise for me. I did the exercise with just the bar (45lbs.), which is the way the workout was planned. I saw some videos of people on YouTube doing it with 45’s though. Now that’s crazy.

I also learned that there are different types of pull-ups in the CrossFit world; kipper pull-ups and butterfly pull-ups. Both of those pull-ups seem really weird. I watched a video online and I couldn’t help but laugh at how silly it looks when a group of people are doing butterfly pull-ups at the same time. I can see how these pull-ups can add some variety to a workout though and I’m sure they work a lot of other muscles that regular pull-ups don’t. I don’t have the space in my basement to swing my body around to do these, so I had to stick with regular pull-ups.

Workout Name: AMRAP 20

  • 10 Burpee Box Jumps
  • 10 Toes-to-bar
  • 10 Burpee Wall Balls
  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 400 meter run
  • * 10 walking lunges before each 400m run and 10 more after reaching turn-around point

My completed rounds: 2.75 rounds in 20 min.

I got to rep 8 of round 3 on the wall ball squats when the timer went off. I went on to finish the round at 4 min. 18 seconds later. I was beat by the time this workout was finished.

Some Final Notes

CrossFit is a lot of fun! Even without lifting heavy weight, I got really sore. CrossFit is very similar to HIIT training, except that CrossFit puts more focus on functional strength & conditioning while HIIT often focuses more on cardio-only training and less weight lifting. I love that I was able to lift weights and get a cardio workout at the same time. It definitely felt like a more athletic routine than what I’ve ever done before.

There are a lot more body movements involved when doing CrossFit, so to prevent injury I would recommend that if you’re a beginner that you watch instructional videos for all of the exercises, even the ones that you think you know, because CrossFitters do a lot of things differently. I also suggest that you start slow and use a lighter weight than what is prescribed – at least for the first couple of weeks.

I’m doing my old weightlifting routine again right now, but I plan to start adding a week of CrossFit into my routine regularly from now on. I’m thinking that I might do one week of CrossFit every couple of months to start, but I had so much fun that I have a feeling I might do it a whole lot more as time goes on. The way I get with things, I wouldn’t be surprised if my garage became a fully-outfitted CrossFit gym within a year πŸ˜‰

The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #85 – Algae Powders, Limiting Calorie Burn to 4000 Calories Per Week and Screwing Up the Row

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.

Is It Primal? – Spirulina, Chlorella, Amaranth, and Other Foods Scrutinized

If you want to know the quick answer, spirulina and chlorella are primal, and amaranth isn’t, but all three are fine to consume. There are lots of benefits to eating all of these. I just wish spirulina and chlorella were more affordable.

Rugby Conditioning Workout Caveman Style – YouTube

I would be running for a bucket after about 5 minutes of doing this workout. πŸ˜‰ Watching this video really helps to understand how someone has to train in order to be a professional athlete.

Why You Shouldn’t Burn More Than 4,000 Calories a Week

Killing yourself in the gym everyday can help you lose weight, but you can lose weight faster and do less damage to your body if you don’t take it past the point of diminishing returns. If you go too hard on your body, you can actually reduce your overall wellness. The article suggest 4,000 being just about right for the cut off point. That’s not a lot. In the summer when I’m riding my bike to work, I’d meet that mark by Wednesday and I’d still have a couple more workouts to finish in the week.

Modern wheat a “perfect, chronic poison,” doctor says

An excellent five minute interview with Dr. William Davis, the author of the hugely popular book Wheat Belly. He talks about what’s wrong with the wheat of today and the health issues that wheat causes. I haven’t read his book yet, but I plan on it.

Round Back Deadlifts

This is probably the most informative and in-depth article I’ve ever read on deadlifts. Set aside some time and read this one all the way through.

How To Bench Press With Proper Form (StrongLifts 5×5) – YouTube

I’ve never cheated myself by doing incomplete reps, but I saw it in the gym all the time when I still had a membership. This video runs much longer than it needs to, but you can get the info you need in the first couple of minutes.

Use Onion Skin as a Built-In Handle for Safe Chopping

This is one of those things that’s so simple, you’ll feel stupid for not thinking of this before. Well that’s how I feel anyway πŸ˜‰ I always hate cutting the end of the onion because it starts slipping all over the place. Hopefully this neat trick helps.

Strength Training Technique: 8 Ways to Screw Up a Row

Lots of good tips on perfecting technique when doing different types of rows. He demonstrates only one handed cable machine rows, but it easily translates to other variations.

Does Organic Produce Have More Nutrients?

I think a lot of people, even me at first, were led to believe by the recent Stanford study on organic produce that organic produce isn’t healthier than regular produce. The study didn’t say the word “healthy” though, it said that organic wasn’t more nutritious. According to this excellent article from Marks Daily Apple, that might not be entirely true either.