You'll be doing 20 and feeling strong
We've all seen it. The instructor announces "20 push-ups everyone", and a groan rolls through the class.
"If you can't do 20 then start properly and then go to your knees!", she yells in vain—Eighty-percent of the class to straight to their knees.
Frustrated, the instructor yells "if you always start in the easiest position you'll never get to the hard position". Everyone pretends that they didn't hear.
That's the point. If you always start in the easiest position, you WILL never get to the hard position. And you'll never get the full benefits of the exercise.
I'll show you how to get from knees to full push-ups, and it will be worth your while.
Adjust your expectations and get back on track
The most common reason that you are not losing weight is down to the way we think about our effort and the expected results.
At the gym, the average level of energy in cardio classes is modest, but the expectations are high.
When the outcomes fall short of the expectations, then we are likely to give up. That applies to all of our endeavours - writing on Medium, learning a language, exercising, or losing weight.
We'd be better off to do a reality check on our expectations before quitting. If we can reconcile a less ambitious set of expectations, and then keep putting in the effort, success is much more likely.
The truth about calorie counters
It's human nature that when we are focused on a goal, such as losing weight, that we underestimate the effort and overestimate the potential outcomes.
Case in point - calories. We have ready access to calorie counters - on our personal devices and on the machinery at gym.
But are they telling you the truth?
Unfortunately, the answer is "mostly not".
These devices are most likely to be overestimating your calorie burn. After all, who wants to sell a gadget that delivers bad news?
Even worse, they make no allowance for your body's ability to exercise more efficiently as you train. That's really bad news, as you could be burning far fewer calories than you imagined.
Here's a better way to estimate your calories, based on what you know but what your devices do not know - your exercise exertion.
Boost your power and muscular endurance
Passive recovery - where you do nothing between bursts of activity - is the most common phenomenon at the gym.
Research shows that you'll be able to generate more power from your intervals, or more endurance, by using an active recovery protocol.
As I move about my local gym, I'm always surprised at the number of people doing very little. A lot are hooked on the myth of needing "3 minutes between sets". A lot are just idle sitting on machines.
The reason this catches my attention is that I follow the principle of getting the best Return On Exercise (ROE). I don't really want to be at the gym, and when I'm there, I want the most bang for my buck in terms of my objective of living longer better.
Karate is a sport, but it's still martial arts
I was recently browsing Youtube watching World Championship Karate sparring championship fights - Kumite (Japanese: 組手, literally "grappling hands") - as my daughter is competing in this sport.
On one match there were a bunch of bro-comments dissing the karate fighters. The consensus was that karate fighters wouldn't stand a chance in a real street fight as it was all theatre.
There's a grain of truth in those comments. Martial arts were about defending yourself and disabling your attackers.
If there were multiple attackers, then your survival demanded that you inflict as much damage as possible on them to bring the odds back to your favour.
I failed twice before
I've been trail running for 2 years. Before that, I hated running, especially at the gym when circuit training included running or the firefighter's beep test.
I built up to running 5km twice a week, but up to now had failed in my efforts to run 5km.
In my last effort, I failed at 8.8km. Not from lack or lungs but from the pain in the ball of my right foot, and right hip.
I hatched a new plan, and last Sunday in the early morning, I set out with new hope and determination - and patience - and recorded my first 10km. It was 10.4km to be exact - at an average pace of 5:21/km.
I'm pleased that I could do it. And not sure I will do it again.
[Copy of my weekly Newsletter] Here are my hand-picked 4 Most Valuable pieces of content that I found this week, to help you live longer better.
These four topics stood out to me (click the links below):
Spoiler: I didn't hang around to see
People were screaming. Dazed, I wondered why some were running towards me; no, wait - they aren't looking at me?
Oh! It's the guy next to me down and out.
My tinnitus is screaming so hard it is hurting my head. What the heck just happened?
Some find it relaxing as well
As you age, stretching becomes more important, even if you're less active. Unfortunately, I see fewer older people stretching - even those that go to the gym. This one exercise will help regain your flexibility and strength.
Flexibility declines as the years go by because our muscles get stiffer. And if you don't stretch them, the muscles will shorten.
Inflexibility puts a crimp in daily acts, making it harder to walk, raise your arms overhead, or turn your head while backing up the car. It undermines your balance, too, which can cause life-altering falls.
It's for much more than just muscle
In the swirl of debate about high and low protein diets and the necessary amount of protein, the wide-ranging role of protein for our health often gets scant attention. It's more than just for muscle.
Some government health guidelines recommend people over 50 increase their daily intake of protein. Usually, this recommendation is linked to sarcopenia - the loss of muscle as we age.
Apparently, because we become less efficient at converting protein into muscle, we should have more to kick the process along. I'm not sure how that works in people who are not active, whether it helps or not.
But for active older people, like me, I think that we should have quite a lot more than the usual health official recommendations.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter