I bet some of you are are thinking to yourselves, “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a men’s style and grooming blog. What’s with all these ‘The Monday Rise’ posts.” It’s a valid question, but I really believe that you can only look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside. “The Monday Rise” is meant to inspire personal growth in the hopes that it will present itself in your outward appearance. This is a concept I have taken very personally in my own life. From meditation, to reading, to exercise, I have found that the more I work to improve myself internally, my uncontrollable external circumstances improve as well. I can’t explain it, but I have found it to be true, and I wish it for all of you as well.
With this in mind, I would like to talk about personal fitness. To me, fitness is not about looking like a bodybuilder, model or professional athlete. Those people have chosen career paths that require devoting hours every day to fine-tuning their bodies. For most of us, this is an impossible image to live up to. Additionally, I don’t think I want to spend hours exercising every day anyway. I have other things I would like to do. In my opinion, fitness is about being able to complete normal, everyday tasks like cleaning the house and taking out the trash with ease, and to complete strenuous tasks as needed, like removing a tree stump from the yard or storing your heavy deck furniture for the winter. Fitness should be practical, but the added “side-effects” are superficial, which is a definite bonus. Your clothes will fit better, your physique will look better and your overall health will improve.
I think how you want to exercise is a personal decision. It is also a biological decision. I know my body responds better to lifting weights and muscle growth than it does to cardio workouts and fat burning exercise. So, I say you should do whatever you you like to do and whatever you think works best for you. However, I would like to present a few options that have worked for me over the years. If you don’t like any of these, that’s perfectly fine. Sign up for a spinning class or register for that 5K or half marathon you’ve been meaning to run or even join an adult dodgeball league; anything that gets you moving.
Kettlebells are my current form of exercise. I started using them this past summer, and after a little time finding out the best routine for me, I love them! I currently own two thirty-five pound kettlebells, which take up almost no space, and am getting close to moving on to forty-five pounders. I also bought a few interlocking rubber mats to use outside so I wouldn’t damage anything if I dropped one. Getting started at home with kettlebells was a little tricky for me because I like coaching. I definitely struggled in the beginning getting things down. Then I found Pavel from StrongFirst. Pavel Tsatsouline brought the kettlebell from Russia to the U.S. in 1998, and is probably the foremost authority on kettlebell training in the U.S. Yes, I’m sure people knew about the kettlebell in the U.S. before he immigrated, but he definitely popularized kettlebell training. I started with his introductory book, Enter the Kettlebell, and have not looked back. I highly recommend picking up the book and a kettlebell from Cap Barbell (which ships free with Amazon Prime!).
I did Crossfit for about two years, and loved it. However, it involved a bit more of a time commitment than I was able to give. Including drive time, I spent about two hours working out. Most Crossfit classes run about an hour, so I didn’t really have any control over the time needed. Additionally, Crossfit can be on the more expensive side of fitness programs. Between the time requirement and the cost, I wasn’t able to justify continuing. However, if you want to get into incredible shape, push yourself beyond limits you knew you had, work out with incredibly fun people and develop great friendships through shared exhausting experiences, then Crossfit is for you. I don’t have a bad word to say about Crossfit, it just doesn’t fit in my life right now.
3. Heavy Lifting
Prior to starting Crossfit, I decided I needed to get in better shape before I joined up. I actually spent a lot of time on the Crossfit message boards asking for advice. The most common answer I got was to focus on getting stronger. If I focused on getting stronger, the weight loss and cardiopulmonary strength would follow. So that’s what I did. I started reading about the guys at 70s Big, and followed their Simple Strength and Conditioning Program. After about a year, my strength had almost doubled (if you measure that by my starting single rep maximum lifts and my maxes when I finished).
There may be no better total-body workout that rowing. Style Girlfriend recently had a nice write up on the rowing gyms that are starting to pop up across the country. You could also always purchase a Concept2 and workout in your own home, but I would make sure you received some instruction first. Improper technique can destroy your back. Of course, after rowing in high school and college, I’ll probably never get on an erg again, but that’s just me. (too many torturous flashbacks! Ha!)
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