Friday, May 2, 2008

Exercise of the Week: Page Turners

This week's Exercise of the Week is actually a brain exercise. READING. I wholeheartedly believe that those who take an active role in researching fitness see better results. Now here's the question: Do those that do this research just have more motivation to begin with, which led them to studying? Or do these people actually learn something from their studies and apply it to their fitness systems? I think probably a little of both.
I get the same question over and over again: "I need to start working out, but have no idea where to begin. How do I start? What should I be doing?" My answer is quite simple: Reading. For beginners, I recommend three articles from the CrossFit Journal. The CFJ is published by CrossFit, one of the (if not THE) premier functional fitness systems going. Here's the twist: the CFJ is a fairly technical publication. It regularly breaks down and analyzes the most infinitesimal aspects of fitness....hardly what the absolute beginner needs. There are however certain articles that have been widely distributed that target the beginner....Which brings me back to the three articles I recommend to the novice. They contain basic foundational concepts of functional fitness. Links to these articles (and a fourth article for police officers) are found in the column to the right.
Here's why I suggest these articles: First, I simply do not have the time (or eloquence) to explain the foundational aspects of fitness. I'll leave that to the expert authors for the CFJ. So my first reason is purely selfish. Second, anyone starting a physical fitness system should know exactly why certain exercises and movements are done, which what load/weight, for how long, and how quickly. Lastly, I have a curiosity to find out how serious these prospective fitness participants are about actually doing it. Every now and then (and much more frequent than I'd like), I get a response to my reading suggestions with something like: "But that one article is like eleven pages long. I don't have time for that," or "I started it, but never really got around to finishing it." That is code for: "I don't want it badly enough to set aside 45 minutes and educate myself about this workout system." Sorry, folks. You asked; I answered. If you don't have time to read, I don't have time to explain.
If you've already read the three articles: Search out answers for the questions you still have. Try the online versions of CFJ, as they have many free submissions. Stay away from the checkout aisle fitness magazines...they're too filled with quick fixes and no-pain solutions that rarely work. The low-effort routines that are appealing to the masses, are not the same ones that the toned men and women in swimsuits on the cover are doing...
If you haven't read the articles yet: Quit asking. I still don't have the time to hold your hand.

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