Deadlift

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The beauty of the deadlift is that it’s not just for bodybuilders. It is for lifting your groceries, your kids, bags of mulch, morning furniture…you name it. Its for life. If you don’t have a weightlifting bar, you can still practice this very important movement and build your strength.  Grab a couple of books, a heavy rock, or a kettle bell if you have one. Practicing this movement in a controlled environment, paying special attention to your form will help build new neuropathways and you’ll find it natural to lift things properly and without injury. Give it a try.

  • Begin lift by taking a grip on the bar just outside your hips.
  • Bend your knees so they are slightly over the bar.
  • Keep your chest tall and your weight in your heels.
  • Be certain that you maintain the curvature in your lumbar spine throughout the lift by contracting your midsection and low back.
  • Initiate the lift by standing up with the weight using only your body to lift the bar and not your arms.
  • Lock your knees and hips out at the top by standing tall, and return the weight back to the ground with prudence using the same mechanics discussed above.
This movement can be done with a PVC pipe to warm up or to practice the movie.
If you don’t have a barbell, you can also substitute with dumbbells.

 

Struggle and Strength – Using Adversity to Motivate Personal Growth

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Struggle is everywhere.  It presents itself to us daily, in many different forms, and each time, we have a choice of how to approach it.  Everywhere we look, someone or something is facing and overcoming adversity:

• It has been said that the initial struggle a baby bird meets with to emerge from its egg is necessary for its survival.  Chicks that overcome the struggle of hatching are generally strong enough to sustain life outside the egg.

• Increased muscle growth and density is a result of the body’s natural repair response to the tearing of tissue.  Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic explains that, done correctly, resistance exercise and the struggle in the last few repetitions before exhaustion optimize muscles and sends them “the message to build themselves up in preparation for the next battle.”

• A mother must labor through the birthing process so that she and her baby can enjoy life together.

• Those who have suffered the loss of loved ones know that the grieving process is one of the toughest struggles of all.  Yet, most also know that there must be an appropriate duration and eventual end of the grief if life is to move forward in honor of those lost.

Erik Weihenmayer is familiar with struggle.  As a youth, he lost his eyesight to a degenerative eye disease.  In the advanced stages of the degeneration, Erik dealt with frustration and anger associated with gradually losing his ability to see and engage in activities he had been always been well-equipped to enjoy.  Yet after being struck completely blind, Erik faced his adversity and determined to turn it into his strength.  He has achieved what relatively few have:  Erik has successfully climbed the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on each of the seven continents…and he did it completely blind.

Erik’s struggle and his determination not to yield to it produced strength of character that many admire and greatly respect.  This strength he now shares with others, seeing and non-seeing, all over the world, inspiring them to scale their own summits and giving them hope that they might see possibility in the impossible.

The same opportunity to make a difference for ourselves and for those around us exists for us every day.  We may not be losing our sight or climbing an icy peak, but none of us lives without challenge, adversity, and struggle.  They are integral components of life and growth; we are who we are today because we have made it through all the struggles of our yesterdays.

In the ongoing pursuit of the lives we want, let’s be conscious of our struggles, give them the attention they require, embrace them as opportunities to grow, and power through them with the expectation that we will emerge stronger, better adapted, and wiser on the other side.

Will we be the ones who choose to fight through pain and exhaustion to hatch to strong, healthy lives, or will we be those who give up and never grow beyond the bounds of a thin shell?  The decision is ours and ours alone.

Being Fit vs. Being Healthy: The 10 Facets of Physical Fitness

by admin

Does this look natural to you?
(Okay, for many of you this is outright disgusting and for others, compared to the many American men sporting monster bellies, it’s a breath of fresh air.)

For sure this guy looks big and muscular; for sure he looks strong; but there are a couple of questions that begged to be asked: 

1.    Is he healthy? 

2.    Is he fit?

These are not only interesting questions, but important ones as well.  There are many ways to look big and strong, which can give the impression of being healthy and fit, but is big and strong healthy and fit?  A body builder or even an Olympic weight lifter is unquestionably strong; but … fit? … healthy?

Rule One:  To be healthy, you must be fit. BUT, a person can be fit, and not be healthy. For example, it’s highly probable that the man pictured above has taken steroids to get the way he is.  It’s hard to know whether he can run, jump, and do sustained exercise over time – a sign of being fit. We do know that steroids destroy one’s health over time in many ways.

Bodybuilding and fitness magazines are filled with pages that boast men and women with bulging muscular figures, super-tanned bodies, and not a trace of fat on them.  At first glance at a bodybuilder or fitness model, you might say “Wow, they look incredibly fit!” But, physical appearances can fool you. While bodybuilders and fitness models are certainly adept at sculpting their bodies by doing exercises that isolate particular muscle groups, they are often far from being healthy and fit; and they are often even far from being functionally fit. There can be benefits to isolation and machine exercises, but if your goal is to maximize your overall health and your ability to perform everyday tasks and challenges, there are a different set of skills on which you should focus.

At Bonfire we advocate exercise regimens that use what are called universal motor recruitment patterns – exercises that get your entire body moving in symphony…efficiently, effectively and quickly from one place to another with strength, balance and agility. These movements are universal in that they are found everywhere.  These basic movements are used in everything you do in daily life, from homemaking to physical labor to sports and recreation; they include:

  • Jumping
  • Lifting
  • Reaching
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Throwing
  • Running
  • Climbing

These functional movements mimic what you do in life versus calf-raises, pec-flies or leg curls, which are non-functional, isolated and artificial movements that do not serve us in real life activities. Universal motor recruitment patterns are safe, in fact the safest kinds of movements you can do. Adduction/abduction machines, lateral raises and flies are not natural, and thus are not inherently safe movements.

Also, when doing universal recruitment type of exercises it’s very demanding on the cardiovascular system which makes your ‘workouts’ very time efficient – you get an awesome workout in a very short period of time.  For more on this subject, please read Short Interval High Intensity Exercise.

The 10 Elements Of Fitness
According to Crossfit.com, if your goal is optimum physical competence then there are 10 general physical components that need to be considered:

1. Endurance (Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory): This is your body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to your body.

2. Stamina (Muscular Endurance): This is your body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.

3. Strength: This is the ability of your muscles or a muscular unit to apply force.

4. Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion of a joint.

5. Power: The ability of your muscles to maximize their force in a minimum amount of time.

6. Speed: The ability to minimize the amount of time it takes you to accomplish a task or movement.

7. Coordination: The ability to combine several different movement patterns in a single distinct movement.

8. Accuracy: The ability to control a movement in a given direction or intensity.

9. Agility: The ability to minimize the time going from one movement to another.

10. Balance: The ability to control the center of gravity of your body in relation to your supportive base.

The first four (Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility) are organic (natural) and are developed through exercise and training.  Science has shown that improvements in each one of these components can be confirmed biologically (actually under a microscope) as you improve your training.  The last four (Coordination, Accuracy, Agility, Balance) are neuromuscular and developed through practice and repetition. These are improvements that we see with specific challenges and tests.  Those that are a combination of both (Power, Speed) are improved when exercise and training are combined with practice and repetition over time.

The Bonfire Health exercise program has been designed to help you build all 10 of these fitness elements regardless of your age or current level of activity.  All of the workouts are tailored to any fitness level and are composed of movements that will help you build outstanding results in your health and fitness.

We were built to be healthy and successful; we were meant to move.  Follow the Bonfire program and unleash your potential to be strong, fit, functional, healthy and ready for life’s challenges!