2014-06-09

Fitness Endeavors

Let's zoom-out a bit on the Fitness Experiments blog posts long enough to consider a bit more of the bigger picture.

I have originally explained that the general idea governing the creation of these workouts is to use body-building workouts as a framework with which to create calisthenics workouts. Now that I'm six or seven weeks into these experiments, I realize that this is no longer an appropriate way to describe what's happening. I haven't been looking for new and different body-building workouts that I can convert into calisthenics, but rather I did so initially, and have spent the rest of the time attempting to improve upon my ability to perform calisthenics. So what started out as a hybrid workout approach has slowly become a calisthenics-only approach.

The reason this happened is because I experienced such significant strength gains that I came to realize that calisthenics is all I really need to achieve my goals. Let's reiterate: I am not really a body-builder, I'm a distance runner (fundamentally). Diabetes makes it challenging or impossible to eat the way a body-builder eats, anyway, so it's not something within my practical reach. I don't want to be a hulk, I want to do cool calisthenics.

The other thing I discovered is that calisthenics offers a seemingly limitless way to improve upon prior gains. Sick of push-ups? Do handstand push-ups. Sick of handstand push-ups? Do clapping push-ups. Sick of clapping push-ups? Do Aztec push-ups. The fun never ends.

Well, the fun never ends, so long as it actually begins. There are a great many calisthenics exercises that I'm not currently able to perform. I just don't have enough strength, or balance, or both. The fact that I can't do some of the things I'd like to do is, in fact, a blessing in disguise. If I could do absolutely everything that I want to do, then I'd have very little motivation to work out. It would be a matter of putting together combinations of exercises in various sets of various reps, for no discernible reason, and without experiencing any sort of improvement. Perhaps that's even what some of these workouts look like from the blog-reader's perspective.

So, I'd like to clear things up a little bit. There are a few exercises that I'm currently trying to perform, unsuccessfully. There will come a day when I'll have built up enough strength and balance to pull them off; then, I can make them a regular part of my workouts. Until that point, though, they're really just movements I'm trying to figure out and master. I know I'll eventually pull them off because I've done this before with other exercises.

Here's a short list of exercises I could never do, until I gradually built up enough strength and coordination to do them properly:

·         Dips – Let's face it, these are difficult for most people.

·         One-arm push-ups – Again, most people don't really do these, perhaps because they have a bad rap as a "showing off" exercise. So, they've become a skill that few actually have.

·         Lateral raises – Maybe it's just me, but I always started out with too much weight. Consequently, I never really figured out how to do them until I pulled back and started with the basics.

·         Hanging leg raises / Hanging torso-twists – I never would have even attempted these, had it not been for a personal trainer I worked with briefly. Stick with them; it's worth it to learn how to do them.

The reason I bring up the past is that, over the course of the existence of this blog, I've learned how to do a great many exercises I couldn't do before. Maybe I've given the impression that I'm just building workouts out of movements I already know how to do. Truth is, I'm learning as I go.

Now I'd like to write down a list of exercises I'm working toward, slowly but surely. If you can already do these, then congratulations – you're already way ahead of me. Good work! If you can't, then here's your opportunity to learn them as I learn them. We'll do it together.

All these calisthenics workouts I'm doing these days are created with the intent of being able to do:

·         Pistols, AKA "one-legged" squats. I could do these once, but no longer. Time to re-acquire the skill.

·         Muscle-ups – A pull-up, followed by shifting the weight of your shoulders over the bar and pushing up, as if climbing over a ledge. Currently working on proper form, but I might not have enough arm strength yet.

·         Aztec push-ups – Like a clapping push-up, but rather than just pushing your arms off the ground, push your arms and legs off the ground and do a "jack" in the air by making your body form an X. I can almost do these; I just need a little more plyometric power.

·         Planche Push-ups – Maybe this is the "ultimate" push-up. Get in push-up position, lean forward, shift your bodyweight over your hands, and balance so that your legs aren't touching the ground. Now do a push-up. I have major balance issues, so I'm a long way off from this.

These are the exercises that are on my current horizon. It will take time and effort. Know that when I list any of these in my daily workout routines, I am simply attempting to do them.