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Extreme Heat effects your Workout and Diet

When it gets super hot and humid in Toronto you're going to be sweaty, cranky and tired. So how do you beat the heat and still manage to eat properly and get a good workout?

Today we are going to do some ol' fashioned myth busting when it comes to exercise and eating healthy in the heat. And give you some healthy tips along the way!

#1. Is it really hot enough to fry an egg? No, not really. And seriously, would you even want to eat the egg? Stick to frying your eggs in a pan instead.

#2. Does the heat actually make you more tired? Yes. Heat is very draining on your body and it uses a lot of your active energy just to try and cool your body down. Which means if you have air conditioning you will be able to sleep better at night.

It isn't just the heat however - it is also the humidity. Which means a dehumidifier in your bedroom can also help you to sleep better. And better sleep = more energy the next day and less likely to binge on sugary foods to boost your energy levels.

#3. If you feel so tired that you are nauseous and dizzy (or suffering memory problems) you may have heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and you should get to some place cool immediately and drink some cool water. When in doubt call 911.

#4. However, heat exhaustion doesn't mean you should jump in a cold shower or a pool. The shock could knock you unconscious. Your goal should be to SLOOOOOOWLY lower your body temperature back to normal. So a dip in a cool pool - not a cold one - will help. A cool / luke warm shower is also good. Drinking lots of water (not too much all at once) will also help. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, they will just dehydrate you further.

#5. Avoid very large meals on a hot day. Binging on food will just make you more tired. Your body is already working hard to maintain your body temperature, so digesting a big meal will just put more stress on it. Aim for smaller, lighter meals - and eat snacks in-between meals.

#6. When running / jogging don't drink ice cold water. Instead drink cool water that is only moderately cold. The reason is because your body has to expend energy to warm that water up. The lost energy then makes you feel more tired than you would normally be. By drinking only moderately cool water you don't feel the energy drain as much but are still getting the cooling effect. Some marathon runners prefer to drink water which is luke warm / room temperature that way they are minimizing their energy drain as much as possible and only want the water for hydration, not for cooling them down.

#7. The more fit you are the less effect the heat will have on your body, this is true - but that doesn't make you immune to heat exhaustion, dehydration or heat stroke. If you start to notice symptoms of any of these three seek shade, a cool place and water.

#8. A handy trick is to exercise AFTER the sun goes down. You can download a smartphone app that will tell you when sunrise and sunset is in your area or check it online. (I personally use one which tells me sunrise, sunset, a detailed hourly weather forecast and the weather forecast for the coming week.)

#9. If doing any kind of weight training outside on a hot day it is best to have a partner if possible. Long list of variety of safety reasons. And the list grows longer if you are older and / or unfit. Exercise caution.

#10. Sweating a lot doesn't burn more calories. It just means your body is overheating and trying to cool down. If you feel too hot you won't be able to exercise as hard. You can exercise much harder in cooler conditions because your body doesn't have to expend so much water, sodium and energy trying to cool you down.

#11. Sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade help. Why? Because in addition to the water they also replenish sodium and calories. Gives you more energy, and the sodium means you can sweat more - which in turn cools you down physically - which in turn allows you to exercise harder because you don't feel as hot.

#12. If you're tempted for a beer on a patio, try to stick to just one beer. None is better, but if you fall to temptation try to limit yourself to one and then have a glass of water with it. Same goes with coffee and other caffeine drinks. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrates you because you end up using more water from your body just trying to flush the toxins from your system. (Which is why you will feel the need to urinate later after drinking alcohol or caffeine.) Exercising immediately after having alcohol is not recommended, but if you do try to rehydrate yourself by drinking a fair amount of water before, during and after the exercise.

#13. Your body adapts over time to hot weather. It is why we get sunburns on our arms for example and later our arms become more resistant to sunburns. It is in our genetics that we adapt to summer by getting sunburns a couple times and by the time we have a good tan going we don't burn as easily - but you can still get a painful sunburn if you aren't careful! So use sunscreen, wear a hat and avoid long exposure to the sun.

#14. Your blood vessels and sweat levels also adjust to the weather. You will start craving more salty foods and this is normal - the sodium in the salt replenishes your ability to sweat and keep yourself cool.

#15. A health tip for women and men. Antiperspirants contain aluminum in the form of toxic chemicals like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly - a chemical proven to cause lymph node and breast cancer in both women and men. If you are going to use an antiperspirant try not to use so much - or switch to deodorant instead.

Women who wear antiperspirant regularly have significantly higher chances of developing lymph node and breast cancer. In contrast most men use deodorant instead, which doesn't prevent sweating and instead just masks the smell - and thus men have significantly lower chances of lymph node and breast cancer because they aren't using antiperspirants as much as women do. This doesn't mean men cannot get cancer in those body parts, it just means that most men don't use antiperspirant and thus have lower chances. A man who does use antiperspirant regularly will have the same chance of developing lymph node and breast cancer as a woman who uses antiperspirant regularly.

Also your body is going to sweat anyway. Swiping some toxic chemicals on your armpits isn't going to stop you from sweating from head, neck, chest, arms, belly, back, legs and so forth. In its efforts to cool your body down your body will simply sweat from all available pores anyway.

How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.

MYTH BUSTING

#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.

THE SPLITS - DEFINITION

A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.

HOW TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO DO THE SPLITS


#1. DAILY BUTTERFLY STRETCHES

Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.

#2. STRETCH YOUR KNEES AND LEGS DAILY

Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.

#3. STANDING LEG STRETCHES

Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.

#4. ATTEMPT TO DO THE SPLITS

Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS

If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.


Just 40 stretches per day.



Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

Exercising while Sick - Pros and Cons

Q

"Hello! What are the pros and cons of exercising while sick?

- Brenda J."

A

Hello Brenda!

Exercising while sick is inherently risky. But there are several benefits if your illness isn't too serious. Eg. The common cold.

If you can muster the strength and motivation to exercise while sick I first have several pieces of advice.

#1. Take it slow. Take your time. Your endurance will be lower.

#2. Use smaller weights if weightlifting.

#3. Don't ignore proper nutrition.

#4. Focus on form. Don't injure yourself.

#5. Expect to do half of what you normally do.

The Benefits of Exercising while Sick

Heightened metabolism. You will get better faster.

Maintains your muscle tone and endurance more so once you are recuperated you won't have to catch up on any losses.

The Negatives

Low energy, so don't expect to do a lot.

You really should not be exercising if seriously ill. It is one thing to exercise while you have the common cold and another thing entirely if you are dying from pneumonia.

Weather conditions are a factor. If you like jogging outside doing that while sick and it is raining outside, big no no. But if it was warm and sunny and you stay hydrated a short jog wouldn't hurt.

In Toronto (since we get winter 4 months of the year) I don't recommend any kind of outdoor exercise while sick during the December to March period.

How fast / slow should I lift weights?

Q

"Hello! I have read that there is advantages and disadvantages to going faster or slower while lifting weights. What are the pros and cons?

- K. Duncan"

A

Hello!

Yes, you are correct there are pros and cons.

The best thing to do is to go slowly and keep your form correct. Correct form while weightlifting reduces injuries. Going slowly builds more muscle and brute strength.

Fast Weightlifting will feel a bit like a cardio. It still builds strength, but it builds muscle speed and endurance more. 'Muscle Speed' is more desirable for people into martial arts. But it increases your chances of injury so it is better to stick to lighter weights.

It really depends on your goals. Strength = go slowly. Endurance = quickly, but pay attention and try not to hurt yourself.

If you get into the whole muscle speed topic then what you will be doing is aiming to activate "fast twitch muscle fibres", muscles that are responsible for explosive speed and strength. Unlike brute strength (which can live large amounts), fast twitch muscle fibres work on a different principle whereby they utilize energy differently.

Here are some tips when trying to build those fast twitch muscles...

#1. Do Jump Squats, Jumping Jacks and Push Presses and similar exercises - they require your muscles to fire quickly.

#2. Practice Reflex Exercises - such as catching a ball or juggling.

#3. Take up a sport that requires fast reflexes - like tennis or table tennis or even boxing / martial arts.

#4. Smaller Reps when Weightlifting - Only do 3 to 5 reps with a weight, focus on form, but try to do it really quickly. Don't over do it, rest a lot between reps.

#5. Rest a lot in-between sets / exercises. Anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes. For example if you were practicing sprinting you would want to sprint for 10 seconds, then rest for 2 minutes, then sprint for 10 seconds, rest for 2 minutes, repeat.

#6. Speed Boxing or Kicking - Punching or kicking really fast, but do short reps and take lots of breaks.

The photo below of the cat amused me so I have included it just for fun.


Although to be fair the one below is even funnier.


Proper Archery Form

Notice her finger positions on her drawing hand,
this woman is using a Mongolian style thumb ring.
Archery is one of those sports where proper form matters a lot - especially if you are a beginner.

To an experienced archer - one with years of experience - they can attempt to make a shot despite unstable footing, a weird angle, moving target, or even being on horseback in the case of equestrian archery. But for the beginner form is exceptionally important.

It is a case where you need to learn how to shoot under ideal conditions with perfect form, and then as you progress as years go by the archer will have learned enough that they can perform more difficult shots despite adverse conditions - because their experience has reached the point where they know how to compensate.

In the photo below you see a traditional archer leaning forward into the shot. This is something an archer would only do after years of experience.


Proper Archery Form

#1. Stand with both feet apart, roughly shoulder distance apart. Both feet should be pointed roughly 90 degrees away from the target.

#2. Your hips and shoulders should be lined up towards the target.

#3. Your bow arm (left arm if you are right eye dominant) should be facing towards the target. When extended do NOT lock your elbow. Instead try to relax your arm.

#4. Having nocked an arrow to the bowstring place three fingers on the bowstring, one above and two below, using a tab or finger gloves. (Some archers like to use all three fingers below. Personal preference.) Leave a bit of space, 1 or 2 mm, around the arrow so you don't squeeze the arrow by accident.

(An alternative to using finger gloves or a tab you can also use a Mongolian Draw / Mongolian Release, which requires a special archery thumb ring. More about that to come in a future post.)


Mongolian Style Thumb Ring
#5. Don't touch the arrow with your thumb. There is no need to use your thumb on the arrow or the bowstring. Same thing goes with your pinky finger.


#6a. The Predraw - Predraw refers to pulling the bowstring part way and then checking to see if everything feels okay. If something feels wrong just start over. If your body tells you something isn't right don't ignore it, start over. You could be gripping the bow wrong, your stance might be wrong, your grip on the bowstring could be twisting the bowstring more than usual - any number of things could feel wrong on a subconscious level and warrant starting over. This is referred to as "checking your predraw".

#6b. Pull the bowstring (not the arrow) back towards your face so it is under your right eye (or your left eye if you are left eye dominant). Don't pull it back to your ear. Pull back so it is near the corner of your mouth or your chin. This is so you can see clearly down the shaft of the arrow and now which direction it is going to go. Remember the spot where you pulled back to and continue pulling back to that point during each shot. That spot is referred to as your Anchor Point.

#7. Your forearm on your pulling arm should be aligned straight with the arrow. It should make a nice straight line with the arrow. If your elbow is too high or low your arm will shake more and your shots will be more errant. This is a common beginners mistake and it needs to be rectified so the archer can progress. The mistake is most common with archers who have never studied proper archery form.

#8. While pulling the bowstring back keep your back / spine nice and straight. Curving the spine is a common beginners mistake. See photo of Marilyn Monroe below making this common mistake.


 #9. While aiming try to keep perfectly still. This is a difficult skill to master. An advanced skill is to learn to breathe into your belly so your chest doesn't go up and down.

#10. During your release try not to jerk your bow arm up / down or left / right. During the milliseconds during which your arrow is released any slight jerking motion in the bow can cause the arrow to go in a different direction.

#11. The Follow Through - After your release maintain the same position for a few seconds and follow your shot. This is more a mental practice than a physical one. Use the moment to try and learn from any mistakes you may have made.

#12. Draw another arrow and repeat, paying attention to your form. When in doubt have an archery instructor or a friend point out errors you are making in your form.

There is a lot more a person can learn on the topic of Proper Archery Form - I have touched only the bare essentials here. There is a lot more to learn if you are interested in having archery lessons.

How to use Hand Grips - Hand Grips for Beginners

Grip Training for Beginners - How to Train with Heavy Grips

The following is step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of your handgripper training. The program is designed for beginners, but adaptable for more intermediate and advanced grip trainers.

Beginner Program

Congratulations on your purchase of hand grippers (aka hand grips). Hopefully you purchased one that challenges you and isn't too easy - but also isn't too hard.

If it feels too hard so that you can't even squeeze them for 10 times consecutively then you purchased hand grips that are too difficult for you to use properly and you should set them aside for now and use easier hand grips.

If you can squeeze them easily and hold them indefinitely without problem then they are too easy and you need something harder. Try to find out what weight your current handgrips are and use a set which is several pounds of pressure more difficult.

In this post I am going to be giving you tips, tricks, techniques and pictures to help you get the most out of your grippers and develop stronger hands and forearms. The sample training program is the same basic program used by many professional and amateur grip enthusiasts, athletes, bodybuilders and weightlifters. Followed correctly and you will see good results.

With time you will build up such strength that people will find it unbelievable that you can squeeze together heavy duty hand grips with ease while they themselves struggle and can't squeeze it together at all or barely at all.

Why Train With Grippers?

If you’re an athlete, you need strong hands. Many professional sports in the world involves moving something with your hands or transferring your body’s power through the hands. Thus having strong hands and strong forearms becomes very important for sports like football, wrestling, baseball, weightlifting, martial arts, tennis, golf, archery, fencing and many other sports that use your arms. Many athletes - male and female - can gain a competitive edge over the competition by having a stronger grip and stronger forearms.

Higher strength in your hands and forearms also gives you more motor control and dexterity when trying to accomplish something which is physically straining. Tasks like unscrewing a bolt using a wrench at an awkward angle becomes an easier task for you because your hands and arms are better matched to the task at hand.

Setting Your Grip on the Hand Grips

Setting the gripper basically means that you are using your other hand to help position the gripper in your open hand. Your goal will be to close the gripper far enough so that you can wrap your pinky around the handle and put it in a good position to close the gripper. It may take you a few days or a few weeks to completely grasp the “feel” of setting the gripper but once you do you will reap the benefits faster. Essentially this is a matter of maintaining proper form during your gripping exercises otherwise you will be doing it improperly and not seeing the same fast results.

With time you will be able to recognize a "sweet spot" in the palm of your hand for the handle to rest and you won't even need to use your other hand to adjust it slightly. Finding that sweet spot allows you to get the best possible leverage.

When I set a gripper in my right hand, I use my left thumb to press one gripper handle firmly into my right palm, while at the same time using my left index finger to pull the other handle closer so my pinky can wrap around it better. Even people with short fingers will have an easier time closing grippers if they set the grips properly in their hand. See the photos on the above right and below.



When setting them upside down (so you can exercise different fingers more) you will need to repeat the process, but setting it differently. See photos below. These types of closes are known as "Inverted Closes".



Note! Under no circumstances would you want to set the gripper any further than parallel with your fingers. At the same time there is no reason to grip the grippers so that the bars are further than parallel either. Closing it further than that will garner less benefit because it becomes easier to hold them steady in that position. Why not do this if it easier? Because if it is so easy it won't be developing stronger hands. The whole purpose here is to build stronger hands and you need to embrace the idea that this will be difficult to squeeze together because difficulty builds strength.

No Set Closes

 If you want to develop truly strong hands, work on using a very shallow set and practicing "no set closes". No set means you don’t use the other hand to set the gripper at all and you squeeze the gripper completely closed using one hand only. These types of squeezes are much tougher and will make your hands stronger faster. However if you don’t have large hands, this can be difficult for you to accomplish because of your smaller fingers so no set closes may be too difficult for you to do properly.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt them however. Don't let small hands become an excuse. Attempt to do no set closes anyway on a regular basis just to see if you can do them and eventually you should build up your strength so that you can do them even with small hands.

Advice to New People Interested in Grip Exercises

#1. Correct your pinky placement on the handle. Having your pinky halfway off the bottom of the handle puts your hand in a slightly better leverage position. You still want your pinky involved in the crush and not slipping off the handle though.

#2. During squeezes you will begin to crush the handles together. The best advice is to simply squeeze hard and fast! The closer the handles get to touching, the more your pinky and ring finger come into play. Try to determine which is the hardest angle for you to squeeze to and focus on the squeezing around that angle range. Doing it faster builds more collective brute strength in this case. Where in normal weightlifting it is better to go slow if you want to build brute strength, with grip exercises you want to do it quickly instead.

#3. More on Inverted Closes. Since Inverted Closes makes up half the number of grip exercises you should do I think it is important to note the difference in setting the position in your hand. Setting a gripper in the inverted position is a little more tricky than the standard position, but take your time with it. Like above you will find the "sweet spot" soon enough. Don't forget to also do no set inverted squeezes too.

Recovery after Grip Exercises

Human hands have a remarkable ability to recover quickly from the workout you give them. I recommend working with hand grippers 3 times a week if you are a beginner and then start to slowly increase the frequency and volume of your workouts over the course of several weeks. This will give you adequate time in between exercises for new muscle growth periods (every 48 hours) and to fix any damaged muscle tissue. If you still feel pain after 48 hours then you are doing the exercises too frequently and / or using hand grips that are too powerful for you and you need to use an easier set.

Below is a sample training program for people who are just starting out. You can adjust the program to your individual needs.

Warm Up

6 to 8 repetitions on a very easy gripper each hand. This gets the blood flowing to your hands. Rest 1 minute.

6 to 8 repetitions again, but this time do it inverted. Rest 1 minute.

Your Intermediate Hand Grips – 3 each hand, and 3 more inverted. Rest 1 minute.

Workout

Your Heavy Hand Grips – 5 each hand, and 5 more inverted. Rest 1 minute.

No Set Closes with your Intermediate Hand Grips – 5 each hand, and 5 more inverted. Rest 1 minute.

If you are more advanced you may also try Negatives, Braced or Choked Attempts - but I am not explaining those today.

Cool Down

Fill a big bowl with cold water and the sink with hot water. Plunge your hands into the sink filled with hot water. Then stretch and flex your fingers before removing your hands. Then plunge your hands into the big bowl of cold water and repeat the process of stretching and flexing your fingers in the bowl.

Note: Don't make the water ridiculously hot. "Hot" will do. Scalding or anything that hurts your skin is too hot.

Notes and Progression

Remember to rest in between each set of grip exercises.

If you are feeling ill or have low energy and not up to 100% strength, you can reduce the number of squeezes during the warm-up so the bulk of your energy and strength go into the goal gripper squeezes.

Stick to each progression of your program for 3 weeks before advancing to a more difficult routine. Use your own judgement to decide how much more difficulty to add each time you change your routine. Common changes include adding an extra day per week, doing more squeezes by increasing the volume per set, changing to heavier grips and doing less squeezes, trying new types of squeezes like Negatives, Braced or Choked Attempts.

Building grip strength can be very rewarding and can take your hand and forearm strength to new levels you only dreamed of before. As you get more experienced, don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas on grip training and different kinds of grip exercises that don't use hand grips.

Also sometimes you just need a longer break to build new muscle. Don't be afraid to take a week off once every 4 weeks and then resume your training the next week.

SEE ALSO

Training with Hand Grips Every Day

Building a Stronger Grip using Grip Exercises

Old School Cycling

You don't need fancy equipment or clothes to get really into cycling.

Especially in the summer.

You don't need a new bicycle.

You just need a bicycle that works and is in peak condition.

You do not need a super fast lightweight racing bicycle that costs thousands of dollars. That is just completely unnecessary.

But what you do need is...

#1. A bicycle with working brakes and gears, with full tubes and treads that aren't worn to shreds.

#2. A good thick U-lock (because those sneaky bicycle thieves can cut through a chain lock or a cable lock in two snips of a bolt cutter).

#3. Something to carry water / snacks with you. A water bottle holder or even a backpack with water in it. Or a basket on your bicycle. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of water bottle holders to suit your needs. Or if you have your heart set on a basket there is a variety of front and back loading baskets available.



#4. The actual snacks and water to carry with you. Don't leave home without them.

#5. A helmet couldn't hurt you. Sure, it takes awhile to find one that is fashionable (they're all rather ugly) but certainly you can find one that you like. It is better than wearing a funny looking hat.


#6. Take your friends with you. You will ride further, faster and have more fun with friends.


#7. Dress to Sweat. You know you are going to so you might as well be comfortable.


#8. If looking to buy a new bicycle try to buy one that is comfortable to ride. Racing bicycles may be fast, but they're annoying uncomfortable for you back because the posture of leaning forward constantly hurts your back. Try a Cruiser style bicycle like the one above instead. Easier on the arms and you get to enjoy the view more.

#9. Retro Bicycles are in baby! They may seem old fashioned, but they can still pass the other suckas in an hurry if you pump those legs harder. But if you are looking to buy a retro bicycle remember to check that everything works and the bike is fully restored. Don't worry about rust on the frame so much, so long as the chain and the gears are rust free.


#10. Learn how to raise / lower your seat, adjust your handlebars, etc. Easy to do and there are plenty of bicycle mechanic websites out there with free advice on how to do those things and other more complicated mechanical skills. Learning how to properly oil (do NOT use WD-40!) and clean your bicycle is good advice too!

How to Make a Hearty Vegetable Soup in a Jiffy

Honestly the fastest way is to cheat. But you have to do it in a smart way.

Watch and learn.

How to Make a Hearty Vegetable Soup in a Jiffy

In a large pot mix the following...

#1. One can of meat/vegetable soup. In this case I am using Campbell's Chunky Beef soup.

#2. Add one cup of frozen vegetables. I did say jiffy didn't I?

#3. Add half of a can of chick peas (a big can of chick peas is 796 mL so put in roughly 400 mL and then seal the can back up and put in your fridge for later). Remember to rinse off the chick peas with water (hot or cold, doesn't matter) before adding to the pot.

#4. Spice to your tastes. I used parsley, basil, salt, and ClubHouse LaGrille Lemon and Herbs.

Cook to a boil, then lower to minimum heat and cover. Let sit 5 minutes, then turn off. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before consuming.

Total Time about 20 minutes.

RATIONALE

The combination of the soup can and spices ensure you get a very tasty soup. The added veggies and chick peas add a lot of extra hearty nutrients - chick peas especially are really good for you.

Nutritionists recommend chick peas for people who are trying to lose weight and / or gain muscle, the reason is because they are low calories (134 calories per 125 mL of cooked chickpeas) because they are ridiculously low in fat, and high in nutrients and protein (7 grams of protein per half 125 mL of cooked chick peas).

The beauty of chick peas is that they go really well in soup, require very little preparation (just rinse with water before cooking) and they are incredibly good for you.


Learning Instinctive Shooting for Archery

Traditional Archery in Scotland
I have been teaching archery for over 3 years now and during that time period I have learned that you cannot teach Instinctive Shooting to archery students.

Now that doesn't mean they can't learn how to shoot instinctively.

And it doesn't mean I cannot set them on the right path to learn how to shoot instinctively.

Which is what I am going to do right now, in this post, is set you on the right path towards becoming an instinctive archer - assuming that is your goal.

But first lets explain the four different types of shooting a person can do.

#1. Traditional Shooting

You aim off the tip of the arrow, learn through experience, trial and error, and determine where your arrows will go. Your goal is to develop tight clusters of arrows and then adjust your aim so that your clusters are lined up with the target.

Learning to shoot traditionally takes time and practice as you have to learn through experience. However traditional shooting is argued to be better because when shooting at targets at different ranges the experienced traditional archer can gauge the distance to the target with their eyes and knows from their experience where to aim.

With traditional shooting your eye should be looking at both the tip of the arrow / the adjusted target, and the center of the target at the same time. This is tricky to learn how to do because it requires teaching your shooting eye to multitask.

The traditional archer also pays attention to wind conditions, obstacles, can adjust their footing to unfamiliar terrain, adjust for a moving target (when hunting), and can shoot despite bad weather conditions based on their previous experience of shooting in such conditions.

#2. Gadget Shooting

Gadget shooting is typically used with olympic archery bows and compound bows. You aim through a gadget located above the arrow rest. In the case of compound bows you also use a peep sight to line up the peep with the primary sight.

With gadget shooting your eye is simply lining up the sights with the target. It is brainlessly easy.

Where gadget shooting fails however is that it is overly reliant on the accuracy of the gadget. The archer becomes too dependent on never changing their form, on the wind/weather conditions they are used to, and they will be completely confused as to how to aim if their sight is ever broken or lost. A person can get really good accuracy with a gadget, but they're so reliant on it that they don't know how to shoot without it.



#3. Zen Shooting

With zen archery you aren't so much aiming as you are meditating and trying to achieve a zenshin moment. Zenshin is a moment in time wherein "you know" you will hit the target. If you've ever played basketball or golf you've probably experienced such moments where everything just seems to go perfectly. The method of aiming is not so much as important as your mental state while shooting.

Zen archery in Japan is traditionally done with a Japanese yumi bow. However zen archery in general can be done with any kind of bow because it is not the equipment or the stance or the way you aim. It is your mental focus.

In a way Zen Shooting is similar to Instinctive Shooting because it isn't really something you can teach. It is something a person has to experience and then once they have experienced it they must then pursue it as a mental discipline. Nobody can teach you mental discipline - but you can be set on the right path so that you can learn it through self-purification, learning to both control and unleash your mind, and improving your mental skills so that you can attain zenshin more easily.

#4. Instinctive Shooting

Learning to shoot instinctively ends up being a bit like both traditional shooting and zen shooting. Except you aren't looking at the tip of the arrow - instead you are ignoring the arrow and looking straight at the target. The idea in instinctive shooting is to advance beyond traditional shooting wherein you are adjusting your aim and instead start shooting without even thinking about it. You just look at the target, pull back the bow-string, and release. In theory you are relying on experience, but instinctive shooting is supposed to be more than that. It is supposed to be about reaching a point of experience wherein you don't even think about it any more.

This is why instinctive shooting is considered to be a desired skill for experienced archers - to shoot without thinking, to hit targets at different ranges without really gauging the target because your mind just does it instinctively.

The problem is you can't teach instinct.

But I can attempt to set you on the right path so that you can eventually teach yourself how to shoot instinctively.

TIPS ON INSTINCTIVE SHOOTING

#1. Constant Practice - Practice archery 3 to 5 times per week, shooting for several hours each day. Aim to shoot for 6 to 10 hours per week.

#2. Use the same bow and the same equipment whenever you practice - Make your bow and your arrows like extensions of your own body through constant use.

#3. During a shooting session start off by shooting large numbers of arrows in the early stage of the session and slowly reduce the number of arrows you shoot each round so that by the end of the session you are shooting 3 arrows per round.

#4. Take your time in-between each shot. I cannot stress this enough. TAKE YOUR TIME!

#5. Stare at the target constantly, even when not shooting.

#6. Don't aim off the tip of the arrow. Just stare at the target itself, narrow it down to a specific spot, and then shoot.

#7. Ignore distractions and things that interfere with your shot. Ignore trees, twigs, wind, rocks. Just stare at the target.

#8. Experiment with different ranges, different size targets, moving targets, shooting in different weather conditions. Constantly challenge yourself to shoot in adverse and difficult conditions.

#9. Don't worry about holding the bow the same way every time or angling it a specific way. Just shoot in whatever manner feels comfortable.

#10. Practice, practice, practice. Practice is the alpha and omega of instinctive shooting.

CONCLUSIONS

Now you might think "Hey, isn't Instinctive Shooting very similar to Traditional since it is so reliant on experience?" and you would be partially correct. Experience is very important for any archery practice. The difference is that where traditional shooting worries about shooting clusters and adjusting your aim, instinctive shooting focuses on "just hitting the target without really aiming".

Which is a tad confusing, because you are aiming at the target and yet not really aiming at the target. It is very difficult to explain. You are and you are not.

It is one of the reasons why Instinctive Archers are so rare. Most archers, even the really great archers, were not instinctive archers.

Howard Hill (1899 to 1975) for example was not an instinctive archer, he was a traditional archer.

Same goes with Byron Ferguson, also a traditional archer.

Awa Kenzo, the great archery zen master from Japan, started off as a traditional archer and later became a zen archer.

Notes

Some people actually claim that Instinctive Shooting is a myth. They say that nobody really shoots instinctively and that it is impossible to learn to do so. They argue that Instinctive Shooting is for people who have advanced beyond Traditional Shooting so that they can shoot faster and with less thought - and argue that it isn't really instinct at all. However some people who identify themselves as Instinctive Shooters say the opposite - that the naysayers of Instinctive Shooting are simply too far behind on the experience curve and have never made "the leap of instinct" (some people describe it as being similar to a leap of faith) and thus such naysayers are dissing something they themselves have been unable to experience. And possibly never will. Trying to explain Instinctive Shooting to a naysayer, especially when Instinctive is so hard to explain in the first place, is a bit like trying to explain evolution to a creationist. It is simply too complicated to explain to someone who refuses to accept it in the first place.

I myself am a Traditional Shooter but I try to do Zen Archery and instinctive shooting on the side. I can see certain benefits to learning to shoot instinctively, but at this point I get more enjoyment out of just challenging myself.





UPDATE, February 2016: Glossary of Terms

There seems to be some confusion about the term "Instinctive Archery" and what makes instinctive archery so different from other styles of archery so I have decide to add a quick glossary for those people who don't understand the differences.

Traditional Archery - Aims off the tip of the arrow, utilizes a high anchor point sometimes referred to as North Anchor, Traditional Anchor or High Anchor. Usually no gadgets, although arrowrests are sometimes used. Sometimes also called "Barebow Archery". Commonly uses many kinds of more traditional styles of bows, longbows, shortbows and traditional recurves, including ethnic varieties like the Turkish horsebow, the Korean horsebow, the Japanese yumi, the English longbow, the Cherokee flatbow, etc.

Gap-Shooting Traditional Archery - This is a sub-type of Traditional Archery, which uses the same techniques as Traditional Archery, with the exception of how to aim. Instead of aiming off the tip of the arrow, Gap Shooting involves using the gap between the target and the side of the bow / shooting window. Gap Shooting is usually used by experienced archers who have been shooting for a very long time.

Olympic Archery - Aims off a sight attached to the bow, utilizes gadgets like a clicker, stabilizer, and arrowrest. Also uses a low anchor point sometimes referred to as South Anchor, Olympic Anchor or Low Anchor. Utilizes Olympic archery equipment designed specifically for shooting at 70 meter targets during competitions.

Compound Bow Archery - Aims through a smaller peep sight and off a sight attached to the bow. utilizes pulley cams to create a let off on draw weight, stabilizer, complex arrowrests (eg. drop away arrowrests, whisker-biscuits, etc) and does not normally use a fixed anchor point because the peep sight is doing most of the work in that respect and worrying about an anchor point is considered unnecessary on a compound bow.

Instinctive Archery - Doesn't aim off anything in particular, does not use any kind of sights or gadgets, does not necessarily have a fixed draw length or a fixed anchor point - this doesn't mean the archer doesn't sometimes use an anchor point, it merely means that most instinctive shooters do not use a fixed anchor point. However it should be noted that if they are looking at the target and using a fixed anchor point, then they might be technically Gap-Shooting without realizing it and they are not doing instinctive archery. eg. Lars Anderson does not use a fixed anchor point. Many people confuse Gap-Shooting with Instinctive Archery, mostly because they don't know what the difference is.

Equestrian Archery - Firing a bow from the back of a horse, usually while the horse is in motion. Often utilizes either Traditional or Instinctive archery techniques, as well as specific techniques designed for equestrian archery, eg. a "live" horseman's release, during which the drawing arm moves backwards away from the bow after releasing the arrow.

8 Ways to Lose Weight using Photography

#1. Take your heaviest camera.

Whenever you go for a walk take the biggest / heaviest camera one you own. Take your camera and go for an hour long walk at least twice per week.

If a 160 lb person walks 5 km in 60 minutes while carrying a camera they will burn approx. 300 calories.

Depending on how much you weigh and how far you walk you could burn a lot more. The same person walking 7 km in 60 minutes will burn approx. 460 calories because they were practically jogging in order to cover the extra distance in the same amount of time.

For added weight take your tripod and any other equipment you fancy with you. Even if you don't use it you are burning extra calories by carrying the extra weight with you.

#2. Take a backpack with water with you.

Three reasons. A. Because you can drink the water. B. Because the water and backpack provides extra weight for you to carry, which means you burn more calories. C. Because when bored you can take a photograph of your water bottle for fun in different locations.

Below: Still Life of Water Bottle #32 ; Still Life of Water Bottle #45.



#3. When on vacation explore as much as you can.

The more distance you travel, the more interesting photographs you get, the more calories you burn, the more fun you have. Easy!



#4. Take long walks along the beach.

The further the better. And the more distance you cover the more photographs you will get. And who would ever get bored of walking along the beach???

#5. Take photos of yourself in reflections while walking.

Sort of like before and after photos, but these will be photos along the way. If you look to photograph yourself in your reflection every time you go for a long walk - and you walk at least twice per week, then in a year you will have over 104 photos of yourself - and you will have burned approx 9 lbs of fat without even trying. It is possible you've burned way more than that due to increased physical activity and heightened metabolism. But what will be interesting is that you will have a photographic record of your gradual weight loss. And that is a happy thing by itself.

#6. Take your umbrella when it is raining.

Don't let rain stop you from taking your walks and taking photographs in the rain. Get a nice sturdy umbrella, the heavier the better because that burns more calories, and use that while doing photography in the rain. The rain will provide you with lots of things to photograph.


#7. Use other modes of transportation.

Cycling, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing in the winter. There are lots of other ways to exercise and take your camera with you. No shortage of stuff to do and things to photograph.

#8. Don't be afraid to experiment.

I am not talking about just exercise wise or photography wise. I mean experiment with both. Try new things. Take up new sports and take your camera with you during that new sport. (If you take up scuba diving get yourself a waterproof camera designed for shooting underwater.)

Conclusions

Going for walks and taking your digital camera with you is a very frugal way to get exercise. You can do it as an hobby, while on vacation, while with friends, while visiting relatives. No excuses not to do it.

Just take your camera and go!
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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