07
Dec
11

Gym Etiquette Lesson 3

The Exerciser has the Right-Of-Way. Always!

I despise when I see people in the gym who are either discourteous or oblivious to their surrounding gym peers. Remember, oblivious and careless behavior more often than not will lead to injury.

For example, if someone is performing walking lunges in a designated area of the gym, don’t stand or walk in the way while talking to your buddies.

Be aware of your surroundings and respect everyone’s personal space and equipment in the gym. Respect when others are in the middle of an exercise; don’t make them move or expect them to stop just because you want to walk by or use the equipment they’re using.

On the flip side, this doesn’t mean the “exerciser” should take advantage of their right-of-way and perform exercises inconsiderately or in undesignated areas. It means, every floor space and piece of equipment can be respectfully shared when there’s area awareness, and especially when questions are asked considerately.

Don’t forget the Golden Rule: “Workout with others as you would have them workout with you.”

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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26
Jul
11

The Need for Speed

In a world where speed is constantly breaking new technological grounds.. Where we can fly around the world within 24 hours as opposed to months, or years like in the old days (yet we still complain)..

fighter jet breaking the speed of sound barrier

In a world where we want everything to be done immediately (quick fixes, fast food, transportation, customer service, etc.).. where speed is highly demanded in order to keep up with society..

                              

In a world where speed is everything and everywhere, our bodies are the ones that get left behind in the dust.

We as human beings, and creatures of this planet, have the innate ability to run, and I mean run FAST! When we run as fast as we possibly can with 100% effort, we call this a sprint.

Usain Bolt, world's current fastest man

What makes it innate? Well, there are dozens of factors. The fact that we are fast thinkers, have long legs, upright torsos, swinging arms, and fast twitch muscle fibers should be a clear sign. *(fast twitch muscle fibers contract rapidly and are used for short, explosive bursts of energy) But if that does not convince you, maybe the fact that we are built with an automatic “fight or flight” response will. This is when our brain and nervous system perceives an immediate danger and responds with seemingly automatic evasive maneuvers.

For example, let’s say you’re walking down a side-walk minding your own business when, all of a sudden, you realize you’re being run down by a neighbor’s fearful Rottweiler. You immediately start to haul-ass (sprint) towards somewhere safe. It won’t matter how old you are, or if you haven’t exercised in years, you will end up sprinting for your life without considering making one excuse. Hopefully you’ll make it.

Cute

Not so cute

Extreme situations or not, the sprinting capability is within us all and should be exercised and maintained. That way, when those extreme situations do occur, you are better suited for them. Oh yeah.. Sprinting is also great for you and your health (the reason I am writing this blog).

Sure, some people may be faster than others. Some people may even be gifted with the genetic ability to run as fast as 11 meters per second. Although, I will never discredit a lifelong competitive training program even if it is combined with great genetics. Either way, this should not deter you from being able to sprint to the best of your ability.

Olympic Sprinters

Unless there is a harmful metabolic condition, injury, or some specific ailment, you should be running sprints.

One more time. Unless there is a harmful metabolic condition, injury, or some specific ailment, YOU SHOULD BE RUNNING SPRINTS!

And finally, here are my Top 10 reasons why:

10 ) Sports & Running Performance (available on page 2)

9 ) Anaerobic Performance (available on page 2)

8 )  Aerobic Performance (available on page 3)

7 )  Body Composition (available on page 3)

6 )  Functional Advantage (available on page 4)

5 )  Health & Youth (available on page 4)

4 )  Time Management (available on page 5)

3 )  It’s Easy To Track Progress (available on page 5)

2 )  Competition (available on page 6)

1 )  Sprints Are COOL (available on page 6)

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

29
Apr
11

what is the core? (part 1)

You’ve heard it all over the media and gyms, “Core” this and “Core” that, but what does it really mean?

Aside from being a fitness marketing buzzword, the core should not be interpreted as a fitness gimmick or a so-called trend in training.

Some points on what the Core is NOT:

-upper abs

-lower abs

-abdominal exercise machines

-something you can’t control

-reducing belly fat

-hyped up and commercialized abdominal exercises

useless!

Alright, so we got that part out-of-the-way. Now let’s focus on what the core really is.

*One definition of the word core: the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.

*One definition of the core in reference to the human body: the central link in the kinetic chain between body extremities which transfers, generates and stabilizes human movement.

*Kinetic Chain: A group of body segments that are connected by joints so that the segments operate together to provide a wide range of motion for a limb.

Understanding these definitions will allow you to see beyond the BS that’s out there, and will hopefully improve your decision-making in regards to exercise selection.

The core is not one muscle or an isolated group of muscles, but rather a system of muscles that exist to efficiently transfer movement force in 3 dimensional planes of motion. In doing so, it protects the spine and internal organs, essentially the most important role of the core. It can be considered your body’s transmission system, just as in a car.

Having unbalanced or weak core muscles can result in injuries to the spinal column. Think of the spinal column as an extension of your brain and your intelligence. It controls and responds to all major movements and body functions. Protecting it is vital to life!

Because a weak core can result in spinal column injuries and spinal misalignment, it can therefore influence and affect your digestion, reflexes, immune system, posture, and nerve impulses. Everything in your body is connected and has its roots in the core. What is more, a weakness in your core can result in an injury further up or down the kinetic chain (shoulder, neck, hips, knees, ankles).

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Sedentary lifestyles, prolonged unhealthy postures, improperly rehabbed injuries, 1 dimensional exercises, muscle imbalances around the spine, and obesity CAN and WILL lead to spinal/back problems.

Then, once some pain or injury occurs, people begin to apply all the common excuses (“getting old, it’s not for me, I’m not built properly, I don’t have time for this, my job, stuck in traffic, I don’t like to change my exercise routine, etc..”) without realizing how much control they have over the situation.

poor old fellow

different postural imbalances

If you spend most of your day (or life for that matter) undoing the natural mechanics of the human body/core, then you should UNDO the undoing by spending at least 10 minutes a day performing exercises that will promote core strength & endurance, and spinal health. That’s all it would take! Consistency is the key.

what we do all day

Alright, you understand it’s importance. So someone please explain to me how performing 3 sets of 20 crunches is strengthening your core? Truth is, It’s NOT! Crunches are an upper abdominal, 1 dimensional, isolation exercise. The core is worked BEST when demands are applied that force the core to work as a whole unit, such as an overhead squat.

overhead squat

Would you buy a Ferrari to only use it to back up out of the driveway and drive around the block at idle speed..? NO, you wouldn’t! You would take that baby to the track and race it to the extremes, or show it off on South Beach (but that would still require work to get there).  Performing crunches on the floor is the equivalent of driving your Ferrari around the block at slow speeds and expecting to win with great results.

As I mentioned before, the core is like the transmission system of the body. Generally speaking, it connects and transfers force and energy between the engine (the desired movement), the front wheels (arms), rear wheels (legs), the gears (the movement intensity), and the driver’s controls (your brain).

By now you should be wondering what muscles comprise the core. I will mention the big ones:

Internal Obliques (love handle muscles)

External Obliques (diagonal ab and rib muscles)

Transverse Abdominis (the muscle that draws in your belly button; the body’s own natural weight belt)

Diaphragm (internal breathing muscle)

Erector Spinae (lower back muscles, they travel from the pelvis all the way up the spine; not shown)

Rectus Abdominis (upper and lower abs)

*The transverse abdominis and diaphragm work together to create an internal pressure chamber so that your spine remains neutral during extreme movements. (Will be discussed in part 2)

Working your rectus abdominis (abs) alone will lead to imbalances. In fact, we should stop using the word “abs” and start referring to our midsection as the core. You MUST train each part of it.

To make it easy, choose a different part of the core to train on different training days. You can also combine some muscles on different days. For example, on your leg training day, you can train all angles of obliques. On upper body day, you can train rectus abdominis and lower back.

On other days, you can choose exercises that challenge the core as a whole for strength and endurance. Essentially, the most important way to train the core for health. Below are some examples of exercises that accomplish just that.

plank

yoga bridge (yoga is great for spinal flexibility and endurance)

*A point to remember, training your core musculature for size and strength will NOT be the only way to get your “abs” to show. You must also lose the belly fat that covers them. Skinnier people do have an advantage for this.

*Fitness is an even combination of strength, endurance, flexibility, body composition, diet, and health. That is how you get the results you ultimately want, a well-rounded and healthy physique. Get after it!

I hope I have helped you better understand the truth about the core. Please stay tuned for more on core training including sample exercises and video demonstrations.

Thank you!

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

10
Mar
11

2 Superbowl Quarterbacks

Todd Durkin, a renowned strength coach (CSCS) and founder of “Fitness Quest 10” in San Diego, CA, is one of my internet mentors.

In the NFL off-season he trains quarterbacks Drew Brees, of the New Orleans Saints, and Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers. The champions of Superbowls 44 (2010) and 45 (2011).

Is this coincidence? Who knows.. You be the judge.

Some of his other clientele include Ladainian Tomlinson, Kellen Winslow, and Shaun White just to name a few.

Here is a cool clip of the Lombardi Champions’ workout amongst other NFL quarterbacks.

Here is a bonus clip of Drew Brees working with Todd and the TRX Suspension equipment. Stay tuned for a “self-inflicted” TRX workout of my own!

Hope you enjoy!

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

22
Feb
11

Mr. Workout’s Big Four

By now you have probably read my blogs about certain bodyweight exercises. If you have not, the links are provided below.

I will get right to the point. If you want to get in any kind of shape you need to be doing the Big Four:

The Squat

The Lunge

The Push Up

The Pull Up

There you have it folks!

These Big Four exercises are essential in attaining any kind of strength and conditioning. Mastering these bodyweight exercises will allow you to coordinate muscles all over the body simultaneously.  It’s what makes them functional. Plus, they will put some meat on your bones!

You should always be able to handle your own body weight with good form FIRST before you decide to add some extra weight, if not, you will only be feeding into some of your weak links (that means injury further down the line; back, hip, shoulder, knee).

*Weight loss and bodyweight exercises (i.e. CALISTHENICS) have an inverse relationship because weighing less will allow you to accomplish more reps, which in turn, will allow you to become stronger AND lose more weight.

Orange=Body Weight, Green=Calisthenic Strength

If you are not doing the Big Four in your exercise routines, or at all for that matter, then get to it!

They will guarantee great results.

Check out the following video I created with two friends of mine.  I put them through the “Big Four Pyramid”. It’s purpose is to challenge bodyweight strength and muscular endurance. They performed the four exercises in sequence for 10 repetitions each the first round, then 9 reps each the second round, and so on until they got to do 1 rep each on the last round. The reps for the lunges were doubled because you are using one leg a time. So 10 squats means 20 lunges.

*Fatigue will accumulate with each round, but it is tolerable by doing 1 less repetition each round.

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Try it for yourself.

Please review the first comment that was written by Mr. Workout.

Til’ next time!

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

 

18
Feb
11

An Epic Journey

Kalalau dusk

Aloha! This time I take you on a visual tour of one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever been on. There is no doubt Hawaii is one of the world’s most beautiful places. Each island holds its own unique natural beauty and character.

Kauai is the northern most island of the chain. It is known as the “garden isle” and its beauty has made the island a favorite location for hollywood films. Jurassic Park, Avatar, Six Days Seven Nights, and the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, all have scenes that were filmed in Kauai.

Kalalau Valley

The Napali Coast is located along the northwest side of Kauai. There you will find the Kalalau Trail. The trail provides the only land access traversing 11 miles and crossing 5 major valleys (and many smaller ones) before reaching Kalalau Beach at the base of the Kalalau Valley. If you ask me, this tiny spot on Earth is the epitome of paradise.

Kalalau trail map

Kalalau beach and caves

Don’t let this beauty fool you. Hiking the trail is no joke! There are reports of deaths and missing people. There is no cellphone signal. It is extremely physically demanding and it puts you face to face with the forces of mother nature. But it is so WORTH IT!

This hike will put your physical limits to the test. Every aspect of fitness is challenged and depleted. ENDURANCE and STAMINA are at the top. Mental toughness is also challenged. I have never participated in any official Triathlon, but I believe this hike sure as hell gives the Ironman a run for its money! It was my version of the Ultra Ironman.

Not only does this hike require an above average fitness level, but it requires survival awareness and strategy. Internally, you need to be aware of your fatigue level (especially when carrying a backpack that can weigh 50+ pounds). Proper nutrition and HYDRATION IS A MUST if you want to make it to the end. Preventing, or maintaining those nagging, chronic injuries is crucial. You can have knee soreness, back spasms, foot blisters (the worst), cramps, etc.. All which happened to me and they will happen to you.

Externally, you need be constantly aware of your surroundings: wild animals, terrain steadiness, trail width, the heat, the rain, the rivers, the trees and branches, the mud, the bugs, the rocks, the sink holes, and the slippery slopes just to name a few. Knowledge of your location is vital as well. Basic land navigation skills should be acquired (learn how to read a map).

Most importantly, NEVER attempt this hike alone. Having one buddy with you at the very minimum. You need to take care and watch out for each other’s lives. Selfishness on the trail is stupid! Share nutrients and tools!

meet Chris

My hike inward began on Thursday morning, May 31, 2007, at the base of the trail. There were three of us. My cousin Chris, a formidable Yoga instructor, a friend named Ana, and myself. Only Chris knew what this hike was all about because he had experienced it one year prior. Ana and I were in for a surprise! Chris was well prepared. He had packed two huge backpack-camelbak combinations that each weighed about 80 pounds. I had a backpack from home that was only about 40 pounds. Back in Miami, I bought a box of Power Bars to munch on during the hike. There were 12.

Chris and I carried the 80 pound backpacks and Ana carried the 40 pounder. Keep in mind, this entire journey consisted of hiking up and down mountains, in and out of valleys, crossing over rivers with stepping-stones (or swimming when we fell), sipping on water from our camelbak every 5 minutes, sliding on mud, climbing on rock, and jumping over crevices that would surely end our lives if we didn’t make it. Our balance was continuously tested. Fortunately, there are major land marks every couple of miles consisting of either a beach, a valley, a river, or a campground.

2 mile beach at Hanakapiai

falls crossing at 2 mile

At 4 mile mark by a boulder, one more person joined us. A Botany grad who attended the University of Manoa, Hawaii (though he was from Puerto Rico). Having a botany grad on the team was helpful because he would educate us on poisonous plants, edible plants, and plants that can be used as tools. His name was Walid.

Chris and I (mainly Chris) would alternate taking the lead. I remember coming up to 6 mile, I had been ahead of the group for quite a while and I decided to take a break for them to catch up. When I took off the backpack, my upper back muscles were numb and spasming (if that’s even a word). It took a while for the pain to subside which set us back about 30 minutes. There, a married couple from the Florida Keys had asked to join us on the hike. I can’t remember their names. They were nice and offered food (trail mix). Our group was now 6.

Hanakoa Falls at 6 mile

Although all the beaches and valleys along this trail are part of the Napali Coast State Park, which requires a paid permit for each day that you’re inside, you will find that many people don’t register or pay. If you get caught by the state park police you will be given a ticket or be arrested depending on your condition. We were some of those people. (lol). The police do not waste their energy hiking the trail, they use boats and can arrive at any point along the trail with ease. Luckily, we had not encountered such a threat, yet.

Also, you will randomly bump into illegal nudists hiking the trail. If you’re okay with communicating with them, the “nudists” actually have tons of experience and can give advice about the land, food, do’s and don’ts. Come on, we’re all human!

Moving forward. The darkness of the night creeped up on us. We were coming up on the scariest part of the trail. It appeared as if a landslide was about to occur from up in the mountains, demolishing the trail, and into the Pacific Ocean. The trail itself was disappearing and we were slipping and holding on to each other, and for our dear lives. Ironically enough, a wild goat was running up and down this part of the trail in a joyous fashion, as we humans were fighting for a lives. It’s funny to think about afterwards. There are many advantages to having four legs and a “wild” sense of humor.

whatever you do, don't look down

I told you not to look down

It was a race against time and darkness to the 8 mile mark. It was high ground and there is safety at 8 mile; a helipad, a camp ground, and a flat grassy part of the cliff. We began to lose our sense of direction and took a couple of wrong turns, but with the help of flash lights, we made it well past sunset and posted our sleeping mats on the flat grass and knocked out. I felt physically exhausted.

8 mile, where we slept

It was Friday morning, June 1st, 2007. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise (you can see both the sunset to the left and the sunrise to the right from the north side of the island), the fresh smell of nature, the sound of the pacific ocean, and of course, our lovely friend, the wild goat who somehow found us at dawn and was making goat noises (he was our alarm clock).

Might I add, there were also two full-blown rainbows over the pacific.

I felt particularly refreshed and restored. I decided to take the lead even though Chris was the one with the terrain knowledge. I felt great as if I was on a mission to conquer the world, but really just wanted to give myself a good workout. There were only 3 miles to go. On average I was ahead of the group about 100 yards. The hike transformed from a coastal forest to beautiful iron-reddish cliffs and hills. This was roughly between miles 9-10. The trail was once again disappearing and became switchback trails (one of the many along the 11 miles).

looking back and up the red hill

looking down the red hill

Finally, I can see something spectacular in the distance. It was the end of the Kalalau Valley merging into the trail. On the other side of the trail was Kalalau Beach. Keep in mind these photos do no justice to the real thing.

looking down Kalalau Valley

getting close

even closer

Knowing the crew was following well behind in the distance, I hiked on through passed the camp grounds, passed the infamous “hippie” waterfall, hiked on the beach, dropped my backpack at the base of a cave, and walked into the cave where you can see the entire beach. I dropped down and laid there knowing my 24 hour journey was over. Or was it?

Kalalau campground and fire circle

"hippie" waterfall

Kalalau Beach (rocks and caves in the distance)

passed the rocks, looking back

After an hour or so, Chris found me laying there. From afar he yelled, “Javi, there you are, everyone has set up back by the campground. Are you okay?” I replied in a burnt-out voice, “never been better”, then a pause, “I’m going to just lay here for a bit”, he said, “Ok, I’ll just take your backpack over to the tents”. I replied, “you’re awesome man!”

make a right turn

there

a caveman's paradise

Stay tuned for part 2!

I will discuss the six days we camped in Kalalau, what our diet consisted of, and the hike back to civilization. This time it was only Chris and I on the return. That’s a dangerous combination of characters. I hope to find the photos I took with a disposable camera during the trip. I will post them in part 2.

“A hui hou” (see you later in Hawaiian)

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

14
Feb
11

Gym Etiquette Lesson 2

?

Counterproductive Company!

I despise those moments when I see a group of 4 or more “training partners” at the gym who do nothing but talk nonsense, take up crucial space and equipment from others, and waste time.

If you’re not there to take your training seriously, then get out the way of those who do!

Scenario 1) Those young boys (late teens to early twenties) who show up in a group of 6 and decide to do bicep curls at the squat rack.

They each want to do 4 sets of heavy barbell curls and SWING the weight with their backs.  It’s usually no more than 85 pounds (the barbell itself weighs 45).

Imagine how long this whole process takes considering there are 6 of them with 4 sets each.  Imagine how much longer it takes considering what they’re mainly doing is talking about getting drunk, getting girls drunk, and who they think they can beat up.

Meanwhile, there are people (adults) who are waiting to purposely and efficiently use the squat rack and move on to the next thing.  What a waste of time for everyone involved. The kids aren’t getting an effective workout and they are making everybody pay for it as well. Do they think that going in these groups makes them a cool gang or makes them manlier? You usually learn how to share things in kindergarten. They can at least go use the dumbells all at the same time and get it over with.

An acceptable exception to this would be a group of athletes who are serious about their workout and use the gym space and equipment quick and effectively and can communicate with those who are waiting.

Scenario 2) Those groups of ladies who stand around the machines, doorways, and major walkways of the gym to gossip and talk about their kids, clothes, hair, etc..

Um.. hello! It’s a gym, not a mall or a hair salon.  Stop creating traffic and distracting people, and go do your work out, or go somewhere else that’s not in the way of other people trying to exercise.  It’s not social hour.

Meanwhile, there are people trying to do lunges, or other exercises, and they have to figure out a way to go around the “divorced wives club” who will probably give them a stare as if the person exercising is getting in their way, or is just weird and rude.

An acceptable exception to this would be… None!

Check out the truth about women and weights if you haven’t already.

Scenario 3) The following photo says it all.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Alright, so the point is, choose your training partner wisely. One partner is enough, and two is pushing it unless you really know what you’re doing. If you are going to exercise in a large group make sure everyone is serious and arrive at a time when the gym is not very occupied.

This is not cynicism, it’s the truth.

Shut up and train!

Haha

Catch y’all next time!

(Copyright 2011 by Javier Fleites/Mr. Workout. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)




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