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Monday, January 31, 2011

Medicine Balls - Exercise #1

It's been a while since I've posted. Let me tell you that looking for a job is tougher than having a job. Still looking but I have high hopes.


In the mean time I've spared no expense to get back into the swing of things with the medicine ball. Above you will see my hi-def, wide screen rendering of exercise #1. I actually tried setting up a video camera to take pictures of myself doing these exercises but the only result was a blue ribbon from World's Funniest Home Videos. And a lot of nasty comments from my friends.

This is a very simple stretching exercise. I start with the ball at my chest and then lower my shoulders until they are at hip height. I let my arms dangle totally relaxed short of dropping the medicine ball. Touching the floor is fine if you can do it but it's not a strict goal. DO NOT BOUNCE! You can pull a muscle instead of just stretching it.

Remember, these are not supposed to be hard. You will not feel like Charles Atlas when you are finished. The whole idea is to do 20 minutes a day of easy stuff and have a good time doing it.

Cheers, I'm glad to be back.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Medicine Balls - Part Deux

Back again after some snow shoveling and weather whining.

There is an old joke about a guy who goes to the doctor and tells him that it hurts whenever he pokes his ribs. The doctor tells him to stop poking himself and the pain will stop.

Starting off with a medicine ball is going to exercise some muscles and ligaments that haven't been used in a while. They're going to get sore. Sore is OK, pain is not! If you feel real pain stop and think about it. Do you need a lighter ball? Do you need to do few reps as you start? Do you need to go see your doctor?

The first 2-3 weeks are going to seem to be going in reverse. You'll be surprised by the number of places you have muscles you never knew about. You'll feel worse, not better but it's actually a good thing. First, it means that you're making progress and, second, as long as it's not pain it means that you are in shape to improve.

The Great Medicine Ball Handbook: The Quick Reference Guide to Medicine Ball Exercises

What I'm about to describe is what I do each morning, YMMV. If you got the book you can follow along.

I should mention reps. How many should you do? I think a better question is, "How many do you want to do?" Is your goal to achieve tone or to build muscle? How much time do you have? My opinion is that the discipline of a regular schedule is more important than any specific count. If you try for 50 but only do it occasionally you will accomplish nothing. You will only irritate yourself and the ball will end up at the Goodwill store. Some days I only do 6 reps of each exercise, others I do 20. Better to do some small amount and stay on schedule than to skip a day. You will never make it up! If you say you will do this every other day then don't go to bed until you have done it on that day. The number of reps will sort themselves out as you go along and you'll figure out what meets your goals and time constraints. If you find that you're doing a really high number of reps then it's time to get the next heavier ball. I'd suggest starting at 6 reps each exercise and then increasing by 1 until you feel you're being challenged but not killing yourself.

Warming up and stretching is crucial. On the other hand if I did all the warm-ups in the book I would never get to the exercises.

1. I hold the ball at chest level and then bend over until my back is parallel with the floor. I let all my muscles relax and let the ball dangle from my hands. This stretches out my butt, back and shoulder muscles. I count to 8 and straighten up. Like page 28 except that I start at my chest.

2. Ball over my head I squat and swing the ball in a straight armed arc until it's between my feet. I keep my back vertical while I do this. It stretches my legs and arms and gets the blood moving.

Next time, I'll put together the exercises that are the core of my workout.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Medicine Balls

Did you get your ball yesterday? I didn't think so. But I will continue in hopes that somebody out there will listen. Think about your last long ride, did you come home with sore and cramped muscles? Were the lap times at your last race or track day a lot better at the beginning than at the end? If true, your muscle tone and endurance are not where they should be.

So you need to get the ball AND the book. I'm no Phys-Ed guru, just a guy who's trying to pass on what worked for me.


The Great Medicine Ball Handbook: The Quick Reference Guide to Medicine Ball Exercises

The Great Medicine Ball Handbook is all you need. Michael Jespersen, Andre Noel Potvin know a lot more about this stuff than I do. The booklet is under $10 and has lots of pretty pictures of the exercises.


Buy it at your local book store or order it online and tomorrow I'll tell you which exercises (and how many) worked for me.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Speaking of New Year's Resolutions ...

This is the season for everyone to jump on their shiny new Nordic Track or Stair Master or some other sort of silliness that will end up on eBay by next summer. Everyone starts off with high hopes and good intentions and then fails miserably.

My theory is that they all try too hard. They turn it into some sort of mighty sprint to results, get depressed when the results don't develop on schedule, and then find some (any) excuse to give up. It's almost as if they wanted to pull a muscle so that they could quit.

Motorcycling takes muscles. Unless you're an E-Z-Boy cruiser rider you know that a few fast turns on the road or a couple of hills on the trail can give you quite a workout. If you live in the snow belt it's all the worse because you sit all winter and then go out and beat yourself up because you had been sitting all winter.

I'll propose a simple and economical procedure for staying in shape and thereby increasing your fun. It's that old standby, the medicine ball. That should bring back fond memories of horror from your public school days. Seriously though, it is something that has worked for me for many years.

Bally 5lb. Pearlized Weighted Ball

I originally got started with one when a friend suggested it as a way to get rid of the chronic pain in the shoulders and neck that I got from being hunched over a computer all day. Add the stress of constant deadlines and it was a prescription for pain. Much like the pain I get from a long road ride while keeping the throttle open with my right hand.

To get started:
1. Get a ball. Since you're a Manly (Wo)Man you'll certainly want to start BIG. DON'T! That is the surest way to failure I can think of. Better to save your money and spend it on a beer and some Advil.

Even if you feel that you're in tip-top shape start with a 4-6 pound ball. The 4 pounder is a nice size that won't pull anything and will let you develop the most important part of any plan; the discipline of doing it every day (or whatever your schedule is). Just like the Nordic Tracks that end up on craigslist, the medicine ball will not help if it sits on the shelf.

Start with a light ball and get in the habit of working with it on a regular schedule. It's cheap ($8-15) and as you develop you can always work up to a 8 or 10 pound ball. It will come in handy when you restart your regime after your vacation or other hiatus

Just as important as the weight is the size. Some are as small as 5", others are as big as a basket ball. Pick one that you can easily hold on to. For the lighter weights I like the small size and for my heavy ball I like the basket ball size.

Every local sports store has them so go pick one up today and tomorrow I'll talk about actual exercises.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

  1. Ride More
  2. Fall Less
That's pretty much it! A new job would be nice but that would just be so I could implement the above. Life is simple, people make it complicated!

Happy New Year!