The first time you walk into a gym, it becomes that you have a long way to go in being perceived as particularly ‘macho’ or even close with your wiry arms. Of course, you might not have been the only one because I’ve also been there.
Well, it wouldn’t matter if you’re John Mayer with that silky smooth guitar picking and strumming style and stunning voice of his… but I’m sure that he won’t be reading this blog between his busy touring schedule or indulging in flings with some of Hollywood’s big names.
But I digress…
So what should you do if you’re not macho yet, and aren’t sure of dealing with weights yet?
Try a workout without weights, yessirree…
Any questions? I’m sure there are…
Reasons why you should Workout without Weights
Well, the first question you might ask is why in the world one would want to try a workout without weights, as it is the best way to gain strength and muscle. But very simply, there are several reasons why you might want to do so…
For one, if you are tired of paying for your gym membership in these times or even weight-phobic, especially as a beginner. Maybe you don’t have the time to head out to the gym or even don’t have the money either… which also rules out the idea of a home gym.
So, no matter what your reason might be, things work out for the best. And if you wonder why I’ve conveniently thrown this cliche in and are on the verge of asking me to validate this statement with something concrete. And so, here goes…
Firstly, the golden age of bodybuilding is over, and unless you are planning to repeat Arnie’s success (which is hardly likely!), you don’t need a costly gym membership or even a home gym to get “toned.”
Secondly, it’s FREE… how about that? Need I say more…
Thirdly, you’ll be using weights but of a different kind – your body and the force of gravity, which your body will not be able to differentiate from normal weights that are used.
Now, with that out of the way, you might wonder where to begin in this mirage of exercises with or without equipment, so without further ado, let’s look at some exercises that you can try as a part of a workout or even if the above doesn’t apply to you, use these exercises as a warm-up before you begin your routine with weights.
Exercises to try without Weight
While you read the list of exercises at this link, you’ll be surprised how often they have come up in conversation, even if you’re not a fitness junkie. Of course, if you’re captivated with the art of building muscle and want to get going without using weights, then you can check this link for the best techniques and exercises that will help you build muscle over a period of time.
And yes, it’s “macho” enough… macho enough to help you move on to the next level, especially if you’re a beginner.
Hot Bikram Yoga
Bikram Chowdhury, who is popularly known as the McYoga guy, is the creator of Hot Bikram Yoga which has come under the scrutiny and criticism of many due to the aggressive steps taken to protect this routine that he has been responsible for putting together.
Like most Bengalis from the State of West Bengal in India, he comes across as an opinionated, strong-willed, forceful, and ego-maniacal personality that you’ll find when you watch or read his interviews with various publications and TV channels late, thanks to the controversy that has been stirred.
But that is just one part of the story, where people try to judge another’s desire to deal with and protect his life’s work realistically, rather than from a super-spiritual and idealistic point-of-view.
And this is in regards to his 26 asanas that he has copyrighted (while suing people who have used his work illegally to make profits) as a part of his teaching of ‘hatha yoga’, which is just one element of the Yoga Sutras as written by Patanjali around 2nd Century BCE. Incidentally, people don’t like this approach of his because they believe that yoga is free, has existed and been taught that way down through the ages.
Now almost any jackass you meet on the street will also tell you that yoga is good for you, and helps stay in good health through the rigor that is involved in practicing such a discipline.
But there’s more than meets the eye here. Here’s why:
Suppose you have studied esoteric philosophy (Hinduism). In that case, you’ll know that there is a distinct connection between one’s mind and the body, and in attaining equilibrium between the two through Yoga, one can attain ‘Moksha’, known as ‘liberation’ from the suffering and limitation of worldly existence. And this is where Raja Yoga (plainly known as ‘Yoga’ today) has achieved prominence in society today.
Although Bikram Yoga (in terms of the ‘asanas’) is very similar to, and is derived from Raja Yoga, yet to the yoga purists in its present form, it only serves as a basic function of promoting good health, and does necessarily achieve the final objective of Raja Yoga, that is to achieve perfection in concentration of the mind or otherwise known as ‘dhyana’.
Why Bikram Chowdhury has insisted on copyrighting his life’s work is because the order of these asanas have been arranged in a particular sequence that have a unique positive impact on one’s health which isn’t the case if they are practiced in a different order.
Another important difference is that, this form of yoga is performed in a room with a temperature at 105 degrees Fahrenheit which helps one’s muscles to loosen up, especially for those with arthritis or experiencing stiffness.
Here’s an interesting interview with Bikram Chowdhury taken by CBS News in June 2005, which will give you the entire picture.
Ironically, this aggressive marketing and copyrighting stance wasn’t a part of his strategy when he came to the U.S at first. One of his students (Shirley Maclaine) insisted that he should take money or else people will not value what he teaches. And since then, he has not looked back in terms of franchising his form of yoga.
Judging from the popularity of his franchise which has expanded to about 600-700 centers in all parts of the world, it looks like the people have embraced his form of yoga as it delivers results. Bikram Chowdhury (love him or hate him) is at the forefront of yoga, and will be known as ‘Yoga’s bad boy’ for years to come.
Barbell Weights and the Golden Age of Bodybuilding
Yes, if you have watched “Pumping Iron”, you’d certainly know who Lou was alright… and you’d also realize the amount of effort that goes into getting a body as chiseled as theirs.
It’s not easy, to say the least… and it takes hours and hours of punishing your body almost every other day if you want to excel at that level. And if there’s anything that’s true of these strong men of our time, it’s been more than just acquainted with barbell weights.
Why Barbell Weights?
Of course, there are several other types of training equipment that can help you build muscle but they all have to bow down to the king of them all – the barbell weights! No matter how many types of dumbbells or kettlebell weights you use or even machines, you’ll find that the barbell helps you build strength like no other.
Yes, if your objective is to “man up”, then the barbell is the way to go… Here begins a new era! Barbell weights and the golden age of bodybuilding.
Perhaps the reason for this is that the more weight you work out with, the easier it becomes to convert fat into muscle and keep it that way. It is the very reason why most instructors will ensure that you do graduate to using barbell weights as soon as you show progress with dumbbells and cardio.
Most of all, it’s mainly to work out with barbell weights as opposed to any other weight training equipment, which is why you’ll see beginners trying their luck with barbells when they should be focusing on the basics first.
What I mean to say that it is a good idea to get into a workout routine for a few months until you take on difficult weight training routines such as that of using different weights with a barbell.
The only disadvantage that you might experience with using barbell weights is the risk of injury just in case proper form is not maintained or God forbid, someone actually drops it without the assistance of a spotter.
If you have been working out for sometime, and now wish to try barbell workouts at home, then here are a couple of workouts that you can try.
The Barbell – Sample Workouts
Sample Workout #1: Considered to be a simple workout for the reason that only one set of 12 to 15 reps are required to finish each exercise. You rest for about 45 seconds and then move on to the next one. Finally, remember to train your body with these exercises three times a week while remembering to have a rest day in between.
So, here are the list of exercises:
#2: Incline Push-up
#3: Bent Over Row
#4: Reverse Curl
#5: Press Crunch
The next sample workout is for 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps for each exercise. You also have to rest for 45 seconds between each set, and do this three times a week with one day of rest after each workout session.
Here are the exercises:
#1: Barbell Squat
#2: Triceps dip
#3: Decline push-up
#4: Biceps curl
#5: Single-arm row
#6: Seated reverse crunch
And if you really want to know more about barbell exercises, you will be able find information at this link.
And if you bought into the rivalry between Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, think again! It was all a set up…
I know what you’re thinking: (a really big) Bigfoot, right?
No… This is just a public service announcement to scare the crap out of you that when and if you run barefoot, you’ll need a wheelchair soon.
Actually, it’s quite the opposite in this case… not all forms of paranoia are justified… if justified at all.
Running barefoot has its benefits… believe it or not… and yes, this is for the folks who have seen people’s feet bleeding from marathons or from anywhere else.
Sometimes all our deepest fears can be cleared if we take a look at history.
Do you think cavemen wore Nike running shoes as they chased their quarry in the jungle?
Even though we’re big followers of Darwin, I’m sorry, we haven’t evolved as much as we’d like to think. We still have two hands and legs, one stomach, take a dump through our colon, and perhaps the only improvement we have made is our use of language from hand gestures (that sometimes works better than the former).
George Carlin once said that you’ll meet three kinds of people in your daily lives. The first type is the really stupid ones (read: numb), the second: full of shit (read: numb), and the third: fucking nuts (read: numbnuts). And some of them carry the distinction of combining these delightful attributes from all three kinds. And that’s why people are scared of germs, obsess about diseases that never really make it in the real world, and won’t expose themselves to hazardous conditions…Er… for example, running barefoot!
What happened to that famous quote by Franklin Roosevelt: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
If that doesn’t get your wheels turning, nothing will.
Now, since I’m done making my point here, let’s get on with business… shall we?
So, the benefits –
1) The relaxing feel
If you recall the last time you were barefoot, it would’ve been on a beach, at a park, or perhaps in your backyard. How did it feel to touch the ground at that time? And for those who aren’t the touchy-feely types, it has been proved scientifically that in running barefoot, we develop a better perception of our contact with the ground (as opposed to wearing shoes), which helps to have better timing in making contact with the ground and adjusting our body weight more precisely.
2) Muscle Strength
The groups of muscles in your feet with the related muscles of the legs and hips are strengthened compared to when wearing shoes.
3) Releases psychological stress
When our feet touch the ground, our body experiences the reduction of electricity charges due to the ‘earthing’ available that acts as a kind of lightning rod. Any nitwit should presumably be aware of the fact that the electric impulses that run through our body contribute to our emotions… namely stress… and this form of grounding seemingly helps you stay calm and in control (as opposed to shooting yourself with drugs of the recreational or medicinal kinds).
4) Bye, bye Varicose veins
Running barefoot can actually help prevent vein problems. Why? The motion you get from your unrestricted foot helps the leg muscles pump blood back to the heart, which might not be the case when working out with running shoes.
5) No blisters, hot, sweaty, or cramped feet
I think this one’s rather obvious after about seven hours of standing and running around… thanks to your temping assignment that requires you to stand all day in front of a bunch of hormonal, uncontrollable, and spoilt (for lack of a better word) teenagers that consider their raison d’etre to be giving you a miserable time.
See… it’s not all that bad! There are two sides to every coin, and just like there are advantages to running with shoes… there are plusses to running barefoot too.
Take a look at this video, where the person running feels a sense of freedom while doing so (watch his feet).
So, are there any other benefits of running barefoot that you can recall?
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