Friday, July 30, 2010

UFC 117 PREDICTIONS

Alright, here are my predictions for UFC 117. As before, I'll just make this short and sweet and place the actual details of my predictions in my reviews of the fights.

MAIN CARD:

1. Anderson "The Spider" Silva vs. Chael Sonnen - Silva
2. Jon Fitch vs. Thiago "Pit Bull" Alves - Fitch
3. Clay "The Carpenter" Guida vs. Rafael Dos Anjos - Guida
4. Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almedia - Hughes
5. Roy "Big Country Nelson" vs. Junior "Ciganto" Dos Santos - Dos Santos


PRELIMINARY CARD:

1. Dustin Hazelett vs. Rick "The Horror" Story - Hazelett
2. Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis vs. Rodney "Shonuff the Master" Wallace - Davis
3. Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch" vs. Todd "Bulldog" Brown - Boetsch
4. Johnny Hendricks vs. Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman - Hendricks
5. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve vs. Christian Morecraft - Struve
6. Ben "Killa B" Saunders vs. Dennis "Superman" Hallman - Saunders

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Monday, July 26, 2010

EURO TRAINING!

This is kind of old, I know, but how can I make a fitness blog without mentioning Euro Training? Check the video below for some really funny stuff that pokes fun at working out:




For a bit more fun with the very well built Mr. Terry Crews, check out this collection of Old Spice commercials:




Sunday, July 25, 2010

UFC LIVE: JONES VS. MATYUSHENKO PREDICTIONS

UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko is only a week away, so I'm offering up my predictions for the main card. I'm going to save my exposition for my actual reviews of the fights, so I'm going to make this short and sweet:

1. Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matyushenko - Jones
2. Mark Munoz vs. Yushin Okami - Munoz
3. John Howard vs. Jake Ellenberger - Ellenberger
4. Tyson Griffin vs. Takanori Gomi - Gomi

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment below!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT?

I created a brand new poll on the sidebar to the right, asking what kind of subject you'd most like to learn about. I'm thinking of creating a very detailed and specific "how to" series in the near future, but I'd first like to find out what you, the reader, are most interested about? There are currently four choices available:


1. MARTIAL ARTS
2. WEIGHT LIFTING
3. DIET
4. FLEXIBILITY


I can currently write about any of the four subjects above extensively, but I'd first like to know which one you're most interested in. I'm going to leave that poll active for a month from this writing, so take your time and think it over if you want to. If you also want to request a topic that's currently not on the list, please let me know by leaving a comment below!

Friday, July 23, 2010

SLY STALLONE ON LETTERMAN

Sylvester Stallone was on David Letterman recently, and talked a bit about working with other Hollywood tough guys such as Steve Austin and Jet Li. There's lots of great stuff in this interview including a rather interesting injury Sly suffered during filming.

Sly also talks about former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion Randy Couture, saying:



"if you put all these tough guys in one room together, and let's see who comes out, and you walked in ten minutes later, you'd see Randy Couture sitting on top of us having a chocolate fudge sundae. And we're all, like, gone."


Interesting stuff. Check out the rest of the interview below:







I'm personally really excited about this movie and will write how Randy and the rest of the Hollywood badasses do after I've seen it!


Adrien Brody was also on Jay Leno recently promoting Predators:





Later on in the interview, Brody reveals how he admires Schwarzenegger and, how, in his youth, he would read about him in muscle magazines. Kind of annoying that, even after Leno asks him about his workout, Brody kind of circles around the topic and talks about liver tablets, of all things. Oh, well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WHY I DISLIKE FAT GUYS IN VIDEO GAMES PART 2

In part one, I outlined in detail why I thought I needed to voice out my opinion regarding obese characters in fighting games. In this follow up article, I just want to clarify a few thoughts on characters, persons, and ideas that may run contrary to my thoughts, but actually don’t.

E. HONDA

What about E. Honda,though? The famous sumo wrestler that first appeared in the granddaddy of all fighting games, Street Fighter II, way back in 1991? Well, first of all, my specific complaint was about characters who are obese, and not just fat. There are plenty of people all over the world that some may categorize as fat for whatever aesthetic reasons, but when physically examined, they wind up to be perfectly healthy. E. Honda pretty much fits this description. If you actually look at his design, you’ll notice that much of his torso is meant to actually be muscle, and not fat. His character design in the classic, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, is even more evident of this.


SUMO WRESTLERS

But what about a lot of the other sumo wrestlerswho are truly mostly fat and not muscle? Well, there’s plenty of controversy right now regarding this. Sumo is a sport where one opponent has to push the other outside the ring, and mass obviously plays a huge aspect of that. In this case, sumo wrestlers often pack on extra mass in order to gain an upper hand against their opponents. Of course, a lot of this mass is muscle, as sumo wrestlers typically engage in very rigorous physical training every day, like any other fighter. The problem is when they gain too much body fat in order to increase their weight even more. There have been numerous occasions when champion sumo wrestlers have died because of cardiovascular diseases related to high amounts of body fat. 

Sumo wrestlers that value technique over mass have been emerging, and these are much lighter competitors who have a tremendous amount of lean mass, and use their skills as the primary form of winning. This is obviously a better form of sumo wrestler.

ROY NELSON

Okay, but what about Big Country Roy Nelson, the recent winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 10who is currently tearing through opponents in the UFC? Well, first of all, “Big Country” Roy Nelson has a big belly, but I really don’t think he can be classified as obese (compare his picture to that of Bob’s or Rufus’ in part one). He pretty much has a ton of muscle underneath all that flab, and he has the cardiovascular endurance of a champion. He works hard in the gym, and it shows in the Octagon. In this case, I don’t think his fa├žade is something young people should emulate, but his work ethic sure is.

Also, if you notice, from his time on The Ultimate Fighter to his more recent fight against Stefan Struve, you can actually notice Big Country slim down quite a bit. This is because of his increased training to prepare for higher level competitors. The higher he climbs the ranks of the UFC, the fitter he’ll get.

And if you want to emulate a UFC heavyweight fighter, there are plenty of bigger names out there hyped even more than Big Country. People like champion Brock Lesnar, top contender Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, and Minotauro Nogueira are hyped way more than Nelson, and have slimmer, more muscular physiques, which is something that better represents the current Heavyweight division of the UFC.

Any more thoughts on “fat” or obese people being represented in popular culture? Drop me a comment below as I’d like to read your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WHY I DISLIKE FAT GUYS IN VIDEO GAMES

As some of you may have already figured out, I really enjoy fighting games. Heck, I’ve admitted that they’re part of the reason I got so into fitness in the first place. Street Fighter was my favorite, and I idolized the characters there, particularly the main character, Ryu. And this is actually the primary reason I wanted to voice out my opinion about this.

RYU

Some of these fighting games are extremely popular, and people idolize the characters associated with them. For whatever personal reason, they think they’re cool. Just like me, they want to emulate them, and be just as strong and physically impressive. Idolizing Ryu was a great thing for me as a child because it geared me towards becoming a strong Asian person. Ryu is a Japanese character, and he’s drawn as a well-muscled fighter, who is, both story and game-wise, one of the strongest competitors in the world. That’s a great inspiration for someone like me!


BOB

So, imagine my surprise in 2007 when Bandai Namco games revealed the new characters to the sequel of their most popular fighting game franchise, Tekken,and one of them was an obese American. I was seriously disturbed when I saw the images for the first time. I knew how some people all over the world viewed these characters, and now one of them is a seriously unhealthy person? Not only that, this person moves and fights like an incredibly strong, agile and well trained martial artist. To this regard, some young people may think that the character is cool and want to emulate him.













RUFUS 


I quickly disregarded this as a sort of isolated incident, though, but when Capcom announced the lineup to Street Fighter IV,a sequel to arguably the most famous fighting game franchise of all time, they also included an obese American character. Not only that, this character moved even better than Bob and is actually one of the strongest characters in the game.

I really don’t understand why they needed to represent such a serious health problem in such a positive light. Young people are very impressionable, and they’ll cling to whatever imagery they find interesting. I really don’t want them to idolize obesity. Video games already propagate this by making them stick to the television screen even more and making them physically inactive. We really don’t need these games to create imagery that what they’re turning into is something cool, either.


CLOSING THOUGHTS

If these characters were featured in games that were very unpopular and which I didn’t really care for, I probably would never have thought of this whole idea. But the fact is, they’re being featured in some of the most popular video games in the whole world.

I really want these sorts of characters to stop being created. I want Bob and Rufus to be the end of the line. Obesityis a serious problem and it doesn’t need to be represented as cool in any sort of way. Fighting game characters are usually great sources of inspiration for young people because they’re popular and feature very fit and athletic characters that people can emulate and create positive goals from. In my personal opinion, new characters to these popular franchises should continue this trend and not do the opposite.

What are your thoughts on these characters? Should they continue to be created or not? Drop me a comment, as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, July 19, 2010

HOW TO PREVENT CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

Medical professionals all over the world have reported that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common injuries being sustained today. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an overuse injury caused by repeatedly flexing the wrist or maintaining the wrist in a flexed position. This means that your wrists are constantly bent in such a way that the palms of your hands are facing you, even slightly, like if you were to bend your wrists to type on the keyboard.

People often bend their wrists to type, but, unfortunately, that’s totally the wrong way to go about it. Again, maintaining or constantly bending your wrists in that position can lead to a very serious injury, which can often lead to surgery, and you don’t want that, do you?

PIANO PLAYER


The best way to type on a keyboard is to do it like the expert piano players do, with their wrists in a neutral (not bent) position. Some people might think this contrary, but this is the most natural position for your wrists to be in. After all, you don’t naturally bend your wrists and form your fingers into a claw while walking do you? No, and if you do, you really should read on to see how you can correct that.


PREVENTION

The best way to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to maintain your wrists in a neutral position for as long as possible. Don’t bend them if you know that you don’t need to. If you have trouble doing this, then get a few tools to aid you. Adjusting the arms of your chair, for example, to the correct height, so that when you rest your elbows on them, your wrists are exactly where your keyboard is without needlessly bending them. There are also other readily available tools on the market that can help you maintain this position comfortably as well.



STRETCHING

As with your other joints when you play sports or exercise, you should stretch your wrists when you work them often, even when you maintain them in the neutral position. Every once in a while, when you want to naturally take a 1 minute break to stretch and rest your eyes from the computer monitor, you should also take a few seconds to stretch your wrists as well.

STRETCH 1

Bend one of your wrists such that the back of your hand is facing you and your fingers are pointing up. Hold it in that position for 10 – 20 seconds, then perform the stretch with your other hand.


STRETCH 2

Bend one of your wrists such that the back of your hand is facing you and your fingers are pointing down. Hold it in that position for 10 – 20 seconds then perform the stretch with your other hand.


STRETCH 3

This one tackles your fingers, which also shouldn’t be neglected. Simply open your handas and outstretch your fingers to the farthest they can reach, hold them there for a second or two, then make a tight fist. Do this with both hands simultaneously 10 – 15 times.





BALL SQUEEZE

Squeezing a tennis ball or any other similar object from time to time during the work day is also a wise idea to strengthen your hand, fingers, and wrists. During one of your 1 minute breaks, pick up the ball and just squeeze on it. You can make a game of it. Try squeezing it quickly over and over, or just hold the squeeze for as long as you’re comfortable. Do this every once in a while with both hands.

WRIST CURLS

If you’re always stuck at your keyboard all day at work, then you should really integrate wrist curls into your regular weight lifting routine. I took this into account when designing my simple, but effective dumbbell home workout, and you should too. Simply follow the video below and maintain proper form with a weight that you can handle comfortably. This exercise will strengthen your wrist so that you can maintain them in the neutral position comfortably for extended periods of time, and with much reduced risk on injuries.


REVERSE WRIST CURLS

Since your wrist can bend in two directions (upwards and downwards), you should strengthen them the same way. Again, you should integrate reverse wrist curls into your regular workout routines as well if you’re always stuck at a keyboard all day. Follow the video below and maintain proper form with a weight that you can handle comfortably.



WHAT IF MY WRISTS ALREADY HURT?

If your wrist already hurts, you can still follow all the pieces of advice in this article. Maintain your wrists in the neutral position using a tool of your choice (your chair’s arms or something else), then regularly stretch your wrists and strengthen them with a tennis ball or something similar. You can also still do the wrist curls and reverse wrist curls with a much lighter weight. They’ll still serve to strengthen your wrists and help in their recovery. When your wrists feel better, you can increase the weights and turn rehabilitation into prevention!

SURGERY

Some people who have had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for a while but didn’t do anything about it often continue to aggravate the injury and need surgery. If this is you, then please, take the surgery or risk losing the use of your hands forever. When the surgery is done, you can follow the advice in this article to rehabilitate and strengthen your wrists.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a serious injury in the modern, technologically dependent world, but there are very simple steps to prevent it. Hopefully, if you have been having problems with your wrists lately, you’ve followed the advice in this article, and are on your way to better wrist strength and health! If you are, or have additional questions about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and your wrists, please leave a comment below as I’d very much like to hear about it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

THE SECRETS TO LONGEVITY

Below is a picture of Sylvester Stallone from his upcoming movie, The Expendables. For those who don’t seem to realize, the man is 64 years old. Not bad for an old man. There’s also this extraordinary video I created an article for recently about a man in his 60’s performing gymnastics techniques most people less than half his age (including myself) can’t do.

Living an exceptionally long and healthy life isn’t restricted to a select genetically gifted few people in this world. Sylvester Stallone clearly can’t be classified as one, despite appearances. During his youth, when one would expect him to look his best ever, his physique didn’t nearly resemble what it does today. Just check out the first Rocky movie and compare it to some of his more recent features (barring Cop Land) to see the difference. This is all the result of hard work and consistency, which literally anyone can achieve.

It’s actually as simple as following the most common pieces of advice found in such articles as the requirements to be physically fit and the cost of physical inactivity, but here are the most important rules that you need to know:

1. MAINTAIN NORMAL BODY WEIGHT

What this basically means is that you shouldn’t carry around too much excess body weight that your body can’t handle for too long. There are actually plenty of user-friendly ideal body weight calculators online that you can use like this one. Just keep in mind that these are never exact, and should be used as only a sort of estimate for you to create a target weight for. For example, if you are a heavily muscled bodybuilder, you might way over 50 pounds heavier than what these calculators say, but have very little body fat.

The best way to determine your current body fat percentage would be to go to a gym and have a professional check your fat percentage manually with a body fat caliper. Try to aim for below 20% at first, then try to lower it more and more until you’re satisfied. Just remember that body fat percentages below 5% are very dangerous for most people. Too much body fat should definitely be avoided, but you should also be wary of having too little.

2. EAT BREAKFAST

Eating breakfast truly does help one maintain one’s weight. This is because, when you fuel yourself up with the right sort of foods the first thing in the morning, your body will be immediately energized for the day, and you’ll be more mentally adjusted for the next meal. Fueling up your body properly this way will help keep it strong, and at the same time lessen or even flat out remove any cravings for bad foods that you may have throughout the day, allowing you to keep to a healthy diet plan. This is actually a very crucial step to achieving rule #1.

3. SLEEP NO MORE THAN 7-8 HOURS EACH NIGHT

It’s also not a good idea to sleep in every day. Every once in a while is fine, if, for example, you stayed up really late to finish an important project for work or school, then made up for it with a 12 hour sleeping period. Doing this every day, however, will just make your body more and more sedentary, and will continuously weaken it over time. Unless you’ve got some legitimate medical problem you can attribute this to, your body shouldn’t need more than 8 hours of sleep each night.

If you do feel that it should, perhaps you’re subjecting yourself from some sort of stress every day, whether physical or mental. The best advice would be to lessen or totally eliminate the source of the stress to save yourself in the long run. No amount of sleep can reduce your stress if you just experience more and more of it every day. Stressing yourself out too much definitely will not lead yourself to a longer, fuller, and healthier life.

4. DO NOT SMOKE

And any illegal or non-medical drugs for that matter. I really don’t think I need to explain this one. Just don’t do it, and if you’re already smoking, please quit right now. It’s for your own good, I promise.

5. EXERCISE

The human body is meant to move and be active. This is why it’s built the way it is, with two arms and legs, a plethora of muscles, the capacity to be trained to perform amazing feats of strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility, and so on. In order to achieve a long and healthy life, you need to train and strengthen your body constantly. You shouldn’t allow it to grow too sedentary and weak over time. This is basically the equivalent of just letting your car sit in your garage forever and allow it to accumulate more and more rust each day. Your body is the same, and if you take care of it and keep it strong, it will make you feel better than ever.

Now, I don’t mean that you should suddenly become a super athlete or look like Sylvester Stallone (but it would be nice if you shot your goals this high). I just mean that you should do yourself and do your body a favor by exercising regularly and engaging in all sorts of physical activities. If you don’t have a sport or physical activity that you currently perform, then I’d suggest weight training. You can start out with the simple, but effective home workout, or the dumbbell version, then work yourself up to more difficult programs after you feel you’ve progressed enough.

There, now that wasn’t so bad now, was it? The hard part is actually keeping this up literally every day of your life. What about junk food, alcohol, or any of that party stuff? Notice that I didn’t really touch on those things very much in the five magic rules. This is because, yes, you can indulge in those every once in a while if there’s a party of sorts. Eating at a buffet or drinking beer with your buddies once a month or even once a week shouldn’t hurt you if you followed all of the above rules the rest of the time. Your body fat percentage, for example, won’t suddenly balloon to 10% more after just once beer or one deluxe hamburger. Just don’t indulge in these things every day and you’ll be fine.

These rules to longevity aren’t actually secrets, but they’re things that I find most people forget easily because they take them for granted. Hopefully, I managed to help you keep these things more in check and possibly grant you ten more years in life. For an expanded explanation on the topic that focuses on the diet rules, please check out my earlier article, how to live longer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

UFC 116 REVIEW PART FOUR: THE PRELIMS

SETH PETRUZELLI VS. RICARDO ROMERO

Seth Petruzelli is a serious veteran of the sport. He’s been fighting since 2000, was on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, and is credited for single-handedly shutting down Elite XC after knocking out the then much hyped Kimbo Slice within 14 seconds with one punch in a main event match. Always willing to be a serious crowd pleaser, Petruzelli went into this fight looking to up the spectacle in his usual game, in order to impress the UFC executives, and this time, have a longer stay inside the world’s biggest MMA organization.

His opponent, Ricardo Romero, actually has a pretty opposite history. He’s been involved in the sport for a relatively short time, and isn’t very well known. He has shown some very impressive performances in the past, however, and this is his shot at making it in the UFC.

The first round is pretty action packed with both warriors fighting fairly equally against each other, with Petruzelli predictable looking more the aggressor. In the second round, Petruzelli catches Romero early on with a vicious knee to the head and eventually transitions into an arm bar. Romero, though, shows that he has the heart of the champion and reverses Petruzelli, and eventually wins the whole match with an arm bar of his own; A very impressive victory for such a young fighter. The submission was so effective, that Petruzelli screamed out in pain as his arm seemed to have been broken.


Petruzelli opponent may not be known as one of the top fighters in the Light Heavyweight division, but he is genuinely tough, extremely aggressive, and very experienced, as heavily evidenced in this fight. Despite being dominated in much of the fight, and even coming dangerously close to losing, Romero gutted it out and won the fight in a very convincing fashion.


BRENDAN SCHAUB VS. CHRIS TUCHSCHERER

This fight is pretty fascinating since it looks like a genuine preview of the much hyped about main event of the evening. Schaub is the training partner of Shane Carwin, and Tuchscherer that of champ Brock Lesnar. Will this be an early telling of how the main event will go?

Schaub is very young in the sport, but has had a very long career as an athlete, what with his long experience with professional football. He leapt into the spotlight as part of the cast of the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter and doesn’t seem to have left since. His opponent, Chris Tuchscherer, has been around MMA for more than twice as long as he has, has an extremely massive frame and a very impressive record, and looks to be a genuine threat.

That didn’t seem to have much bearing in the actual, however, since, after about a minute of feeling each other out, Schaub drops Tuchscherer to the ground with a quick overhand right and finishes him off with some quick ground and pound. He didn’t even break a sweat. An incredible win from an incredible athlete, Schaub seems to be climbing the UFC Heavyweight division at a very impressive pace.


GERALD HARRIS VS. DAVE BRANCH
Harris, though not one of the more well-known MMA fighters, is a very experienced veteran who came into this fight a very impressive 16-2 record. Branch, on the other hand, is a much less experienced fighter who has only had 6 pro fights prior to this event.

As expected, Harris’ experience allows him to mostly dominate the fight. Branch tried his best all throughout and showed some tremendous heart and athleticism, but that apparently wasn’t nearly enough to prevent Harris from controlling him standing up, against the cage, and on the ground. In the second round, Branch jumps on Harris to attempt a guillotine choke, but Harris slams him down viciously onto the ground and knocks him out with a very impressive win.


What was even more interesting was that, Harris immediately recognized that Branch was knocked out cold from his slam, and held off on any additional ground and pound before the ref even stepped in; A nice bit of meaningful respect there which all the more shows Harris' experience within the Octagon.


KENDALL GROVE VS. GORAN RELJIC

Originally meant to be one of the televised preliminary fights on Spike TV to hype UFC 116, this match was removed from the airing schedule to be replaced by Seth Petruzelli vs. Ricrado Romero. This turn of events come because of some unfortunate comments by Kendall Grove about The UFC’s longtime cable TV partner, Spike TV. Grove quoted to Tapout Radio: “Spike TV officials only care about ratings and getting "as much drama and stupidity out of us" as possible with little regard for the cast members' career”.

Grove should be more cautious about his words, especially since he came into this fight with an unimpressive 11-7 record. Despite being The Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner, his career with the UFC has been in recent doubt. His opponent, Goran Reljic, has been around the sport for nearly the same amount of time as Grove, but has had only 9 fights prior. Reljic is known for his abilities both standing up and on the ground, but Grove clearly has experience on his side.

The fight has very back and forth the entire time and each round became more and more difficult to call. Grove, as always, used his incredible reach advantage to continuously keep Reljic within his game, but Reljic stuck through it and showed some great offense. The fight ends with a very close split decision favoring Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove.

Take a look at the rest of UFC 116, including the main event: Lesnar vs. Carwin, the co-main event, Leben vs. Akiyama, and the rest of the main card!

And check out more incredible pics of UFC 116 over at the official UFC website!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THE PREDATORS WORKOUT

I recently had the chance to watch the movie "Predators".Great action movie, but I personally feel that it kind of pales in comparison to Arnold’s 1987 classic.The writers and director obviously wanted to make it bigger and more exciting than the original, but failed to make the story become totally engaging. The star of the film, Adrien Body, while a great actor, is also no Arnold Schwarzenegger, so that’s something that was probably eating at the back of my mind during the entire film.

But while Brody is no Austrian Oak, he nonetheless still worked tremendously hard to build a very impressive physique for this film. Entertainment.gather.com has a great article about his transformation:

“When asked about how he prepared for this action hero role, Brody noted that he was doing a "challenging" six days a week of training and diet. He was also shooting for the movie 12 hours per day. Brody said during preparation he wasn't drinking alcohol, wasn't consuming any refined sugars and was having no sex. He said he did all that he could to harness a "ferocious" mentality and persona for this character"


While Brody never revealed the specifics of the workout he used for “Predators” (as far as I know, though I’d love to be proven wrong), Entertainment.gather.com suggests that he might have used a Scrawny to Brawny workout,as published by Men’s Health, when Brody made the cover of the magazine because of how he buffed up his physique for the 2005 version of King Kong:


“Adrien Brody achieved results for our December 2005 cover in 3 weeks. For you, Mejia suggests a training schedule of 8 to 12 weeks, although the same discipline is required. Just avoid these two mistakes.

1. Lifting too much. "What you really need is less volume but more intensity," says Mejia. This strategy actually simplifies your workout--only four exercises every session. For the first three, do five sets of five reps. Rest no more than 2 minutes between sets. For the last exercise, do two or three sets of eight to 12 reps, as this targets smaller muscles in your core or shoulders.


Monday: Squat, barbell incline bench press, pullup, weighted situp 
Wednesday: Hang clean and press, deadlift, dip, side-lying external rotation 
Friday: Front squat, dumbbell bench press, bent-over row, back extension


2. Eating too little. To build new muscle, you need calories. "Guys don't eat nearly enough, says Mejia. "They're reluctant--rightfully so--about putting on body fat."


To avoid that, "you must count calories," says Mejia. Figure out your body's optimal caloric intake, then add 300 to 500 calories to that total to determine how much you need to pack in every day.”

PREDATORS MOVIE TRAILER:



Check out more information, complete with pictures for each exercise you need to turn from scrawny to brawny like Adrien Brody over at Men’s Health.com!

All images used in this article are taken from IMDB's amazing Predators page.


Monday, July 12, 2010

BREATHING AND THE KARATE KID

The original Karate Kid movie is a genuine classic, with a story that pulls you in and characters that are genuinely human. The sequel, on the other hand, is a pretty disappointing follow up, as the villains become more cartoony than ever, and the story devolves into a mostly uninteresting piece of fluff. The last time I had seen “The Karate Kid part 2” was most probably more than 20 years ago, when I was still very little. I had very fond memories of the movie, primarily because I found the Japanese landscape that was presented to be so fascinating. While this aspect of the film is still true, sadly, the rest of it just doesn’t hold up. I find the opening sequence to be utterly fantastic, though, but after the words “six months later” appear on screen, things quickly go downhill.

ANYTHING USEFUL?

Alright, but what about the martial arts, the physical conditioning and so on? Is there anything concerning physical fitness and activity that is worth talking about? Yes, there is, and I don’t mean the secret to Miyagi-do Karate, either. Seriously, fighting skills that are patterned after a child’s toy drum are pretty much conditioned in us at, what, the age of 3? Ever see kids in a playground try to honestly fight with their fists? It’ll look something like that, yeah. So, needless to say, it’s pretty useless in real life and isn’t what this article is about.

BREATHING

The aspect of “The Karate Kid part 2” that I wish to talk about is the breathing exercise that Miyagi teaches Daniel near the beginning of the film. Does this work in real life? Yes, it absolutely does, and I’ll teach you how to do it.

1.    QUIET

Find a quiet place and sit down on a chair. The area you’re in doesn’t have to be completely sealed in. A bit of background noise is fine (which is almost impossible to avoid in most circumstances in today’s modern world, anyway), but try to find the quietest area you have easy access to.

2.    SIT UP STRAIGHT

Now, sit up straight in the chair, with your back resting on it properly. Don’t strain yourself, though. Try to find a position where you know you’re sitting in a perfectly formal and straight position, but still relaxed. Place both hands palms down onto your thighs and close your eyes.


3.    EMPTY YOUR MIND
Empty your mind of all thoughts one by one. Our minds are typically overflowing with ideas, which sometimes cause us stress. You’ll find that the less you think about, the more relaxed you become, so that’s what we’re going to do now. Imagine each thought in your head being rolled up like a newspaper page and stored in a drawer. Do this for each thought until your mind is a blank.

4.    FEEL YOUR BREATH

Notice your breathing. Inhale deeply and feel your abdominal area expand as it takes in the air. Inhale slower than you normally would, but not too slow, and breath in and out only through the nostrils. Feel your breath going into your nostrils and down into your belly, then feel it rising back up as you exhale. Concentrate on your breathing as if it is the only thing in the world. Do this over and over several times until you are absolutely relaxed.

5.    RETURN TO YOUR BREATH

While doing the exercise, from time to time you might notice that some of the thoughts you locked up in the drawer creep back in to bother you, reminding you of the troubles you might have in the real world. Pay them no mind and return your absolute concentration to your breath. Breath in slowly, feeling all the air entering you seep into every pore of your body, your belly expanding as it does. Then exhale and feel it flowing out of you once again.

6.    BE AT PEACE

You can perform the exercise for as long as you wish. Form some people, 5 minutes is enough, but others take an hour for just this activity. Just don’t fall asleep! However long you wish to do it is up to you, but keep at it until you feel yourself totally at peace, with all your stress removed and your body more energized than any cup of coffee could possibly make you feel. When you feel that you’ve had enough, you should have more clarity in you mind, and be more focused than before.

HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD

Will this make you a better carpenter like it did Daniel? Well, that depends, but if you’ve never done carpentry before, the answer will most probably be no, so don’t try that nail trick at home, kids! You might get seriously hurt if you mess up. And don't even think about using this technique to break blocks of ice, either.

You should, however feel very relaxed and focused, as Daniel most probably did in the movie. Reorganizing your thoughts and flushing out all the stress in your body can have amazing benefits that you may never have felt before.

WHENEVER, WHEREVER

Perform this activity as many times as you wish, wherever you choose, and also in whatever position you wish. It doesn’t need to be performed sitting down, though that is the ideal position for a beginner to get a hang of it. If you try it lying down the first time, the temptation to sleep instead of emptying your mind and relaxing is too great. You can also do it standing up, if you wish, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it while you’re in a queue.

Hopefully you’ll find this technique effective and find some use for it in your daily life. If you have any other questions about this method, or have other breathing techniques that you know about, then drop me a comment below because I’d love to hear about them!

MEDITATION AND THE KARATE KID

This is the third in a series of articles I've made concerning the Karate Kid franchise. These articles attempt to dissect the fitness and martial arts concepts utilized in these movies and see if they are actually useful in real life or just empty Hollywood baloney. I highly recommend you read the first (where I tackle motor learning) and second (where I take a look at conditioning) articles before diving into this one!

BONSAI

Another piece of awesomeness I saw in the original Karate Kid was Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai habit. Bonsai is used as a sort of meditative practice all over the world these days and is able to instil peace within one’s by quieting it, allowing it to focus on a single, simple task, and shutting out the noise that often clouds our thoughts. Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel this and is something, I believe, that should be taught to everyone.




MEDITATION AND YOU

No, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy some bonsai to quiet down your soul. What I am saying is that you find some equivalent of this in your daily life and make the most of it. Some people pray and even go to church on a daily basis. Some people perform Yoga, some people stretch their troubles away, and some people go into actual meditative states for long periods of time.

The activity doesn’t need to be as traditional as all that, though. I, for example, try to write for my blog everyday. Of course, my primary intent is to share my thoughts to everyone in the world in blog form, and hope that I help someone out there somehow, but I also find that writing keeps my mind at peace and brings me in a sort of meditative state. Like Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai method, writing quiets my mind so it can focus completely on a single, simple task: chronicling my thoughts on a very specific topic.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Find your own, personal meditative activity, embrace it and try to do it as much as possible; every day if you can. You’ll find that it can relax you totally, keep you focused, erase a completely stressful day, and thus, aid in your health.

MR. MIYAGI?

Alright, now back to Mr. Miyagi’s training methods. The rest of Mr. Miyagi’s methods were now very similar to Mr. Han’s except, well, Mr. Han’s were better in this regard. Why? Well, for one, Mr. Miyagi never used Random Practice in the original Karate Kid movie, ever. All of his methods were all Block Practice styles. Another thing is that Daniel apparently only learned two offensive moves during his training sessions, the straight punch and the crane kick (which, just in case some of you are stilll wondering, doesn't work in real life, so don't bother trying to do it; there are other, cooler moves out there that actually work), but in the actual tournament, he seemed to have the complete Karate arsenal on his side. Continuity flaws aside, when he did practice these moves, they were against thin air (as in the crane kick) or against a non-moving object (as in the straight punch), which is never how you want to practice for a live competition. You want actual sparing with actual people that mimic the actual competition environment as close as possible to help sharpen your skills to their maximum. This is the essence of Random Practice and the key to how to truly prepare for an event.

WHO WINS?

So, who wins? Technically, Mr. Han does. He did waste a few weeks of Dr’s time with that “jacket on, jacket off” nonsense, but the rest of his training was pretty solid. Mr. Miyagi, on the other hand, gave Daniel four perfectly good training days to condition his body in certain ways, but then used up the rest of the two months pretty ineffectively. And, no, after four days of chores, you don’t suddenly know how to block punches and kicks. Notice that, during the tournament, the blocks and movements that Daniel performs is totally different from the “wax on, wax off” motions he learned.
Yes, the balance training on the boat is petty nice, but that sort of training alone doesn’t really help win a martial arts tournament; learning how to score points and knock out opponents does. Aside from the boat and crane kick balance, Daniel didn’t perform any other conditioning exercises, though. At least Dre did push ups and splits during his training sessions. That’s why, during the tournament, I found myself thinking, “that’s what happens when you don’t condition your legs for an event that involves kicking!”


I still like Mr. Miyagi better, though. Why? Well, that’s Pat Morita’s best known role! Jackie Chan has done of others we can remember him for (Drunken Master, City Hunter, etc), but the Karate Kid master will always be Pat Morita. Just sayin’.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Karate Kid teaches us not to be lazy. It teaches us that training and discipline can exist in all the activities we engage in on a daily basis and not just in the gym. This sort of attitude is excellent because the more active we get in our daily lives, the healthier we get. By combining this with a meditative activity or two of some sort to eliminate stress and allow us to receive proper rest, a person could increase his or her health tremendously.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CONDITIONING AND THE KARATE KID

After reading my article, Motor Learning and the Karate Kid, someone asked me if I had the same thoughts on Mr. Miyagi’s training methods as I did Mr. Han’s. As a quick review, my first Karate Kid article discussed the two primary training methods used in sports and other physical activities: Blocked Practice and Random Practice. Blocked Practice is the more traditional form training, where the athlete repeats a single movement an endless amount of times to commit it to muscle memory. Random Practice, on the other hand, has the athlete training all the movements he or she has learned and performs them randomly, and as close to competition circumstances as possible.

REVIEW

In the 2010 version, Mr. Han, played by the legendary Jackie Chan, utilizes both types of training methods, to very different effects. Some of his methods are good, since they are actual techniques used by true martial arts practitioners to sharpen their game, including bodyweight and flexibility exercises, and target practice using such implements as tennis balls and wooden poles. However, as a nod to the original Karate Kid, the very first training method Mr. Han utilizes makes use of an everyday action and attempts to relate it to martial arts. This is the “jacket on, jacket off” training method. In my first Karate Kid article, I basically say that this training is completely useless, as the movements it employs are much too different from the actual motions the “Karate Kid”, Dre performs.

WAX ON, WAX OFF

Now, pretty much everybody knows or at least has heard of “wax on, wax off”, Mr. Miyagi famous line from the original Karate Kid. It’s the technique that “jacket on, jacket off” was ultimately derived from, but is it equally as ineffective?


The answer is no. I hadn’t watched the Karate Kid for a very long time, possibly more than 20 years, and while I remember the key elements about it, such as bits and pieces of Daniel’s training and the tournament at the very end, I’d completely forgotten all the fine details of it. Good thing, too, because I realized after reviewing the original that the 2010 version is almost the exact same storyline as the original, with only a few tweaks here and there. I’d have enjoyed my viewing of Jackie Chan’s version much less if I knew this beforehand.


My personal feelings on cinema aside, the answer to the question I posed above is no. Before reviewing the original film, I’d have said “yes”, without any hesitation, but there’s actually more to “wax on, wax off” than meets the eye.

In the 2010 version, all Dre does at the beginning of his training cycle is pick up his jacket off the ground, wear it, take it off, hang it up, drop it to the floor, and repeat for what seemed liked several weeks in a row, even in the falling rain.

VARIATION

In the original version, Daniel does much more than just wax cars. Sure, that was day 1. Mr. Miyagi somehow has half a dozen cars out in his yard, which Daniel has to wax. He does this for an entire day, with very proper and very specific form taught by his sensei. At the end of the day, his body is completely sore, but he got the job done and, according to Mr. Miyagi, he did it well.

Unlike Dre, Daniel didn’t do the exact same thing in day 2 and the days that followed. Day 2 was sanding floors, which is almost the same motion as wax on, wax off, but with a slight twist. Daniel performed wax on, wax off with a circular clockwise motion with his right hand, and a counter clockwise motion with his left hand. The motions were reversed in sanding the floors, with the right hand going in a counter clockwise motion and the left hand going in a clockwise motion.


Day 3 was even more different than the last. This time, it was painting the fence, which Daniel had to do in a very specific upward and downward fashion. Day 4 was painting the house, which was performed in very specific left to right brushstrokes.

Everyone knows where this is all going, though. In day 5, Daniel suddenly knows the basics of Karate blocking, which doesn’t happen in real life. But, then, why do I say that “wax on, wax off” and its counterparts are more effective than “jacket on, jacket off”. Simple: conditioning.


REAL LIFE

As anyone who’s ever done house chores and errands for an entire day knows, it’s hard work and taxing on the entire body. This is actually how people of old developed strong bodies day to day, by doing all sorts of manual labor. Think about it. How often have you seen laborers who have very well developed bodies as you pass by on the street. Sure, there are some of them with grossly large beer bellies, but I find that there are even more with well developed muscles and firm bodies.

These people don’t regularly work out like the super models and elite athletes we all look up to, but some of them have equally impressive physiques. This is because they use their bodies to the limit on almost a daily basis as part of their jobs. Lifting heavy objects, hammering nails into pieces of wood, and pushing and pulling carts loaded with equipment all condition the human body very well, all without setting foot inside the gym. This is what I learned from my review of the original Karate Kid, and why I was so astonished when I saw “wax on, wax off” again in action for the first time in years.

DO IT YOURSELF!

So, what am I saying, that we should all work as manual laborers instead so we can all get buff the same way? No, of course not, but it does inspire one to rid the mind of laziness, get up and get some work done. Clean your room. Walk to the store and buy the needed groceries. Replace any burnt out light bulbs and broken pipes around the house. Mop the floors when they get grimy. Do it all yourself and don’t be lazy about it. Think it’s a waste of time and that you could be doing something of greater importance? Like what? Lying around and playing video games?


Believe it or not, these chores actually improve one’s quality of living, especially if done on a regular basis. By keeping your room clean, you prevent filth from accumulating; By fixing any holes in the roof, you prevent leaks during the rainy season; By walking to the store inside of driving or commuting, you’re getting some much needed exercise and saving some cash at the same time. These are all good things that will benefit you tremendously if you do them on a regular basis.

MORE TO COME …

That’s not the end, though. As I was typing down my thoughts on the Karate Kid, I realized that I took in a bit too much. Yes, that means there’s more. Also, I didn’t really fully answer the question posed to me yet. “Wax on, wax off” and the first four days of Daniel’s training was only part of what Mr. Miyagi’s training regimen. Daniel did train for two months to prepare for the tournament, after all, so what did I think of the rest of the training sessions? Tune in tomorrow for the follow up article!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

UFC 116 REVIEW PART THREE: THE MAIN CARD

UFC 116 was an extremely action packed mixed martial arts event. Dana White has said that he was incredibly surprised at how well almost all the fighters did. It seemed like each fighter wanted to top the match before and kick everything to another level, and that’s exactly what happened.

GEORGE SOTIROPOULOS VS. KURT PELLEGRINO

Sotiropoulos was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter Season 6, but he never really stood out for me. I’ve recently changed my views of him after he recently defeated Joe “Daddy” Stevenson at UFC 110. Joe Stevenson is one of the top lightweight fighters in the UFC, and for Sotiropoulos to have such a decisive win over him is totally incredible. His BJJ seemed incredibly sharp, and he had an answer for everything Stevenson did on the ground.

Kurt Pellegrino has an incredible ground game himself, but he’s known mostly for his striking. Pellegrino managed to get in and hurt Sotiropoulos several times during the fight, and even seemed very close to finishing him just before the bell rang, but Sotiropoulos’ ever improving stand up and ground games proved more dominating as he wins via unanimous decision.


KRZYSTOF SOSZYNSKI VS. STEPHAN BONNAR

Stephan Bonnar was once a Golden Boy of the UFC, what with him being partly responsible for the UFC dramatic rise in fame. His extraordinarily bloody fight with Forrest Griffin way back in The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale has been heavily credited time and time again for partly making the UFC the success that it is today. Since then, however, Bonnar has had less than stellar successes in the Octagon.
What with being suspended for steroid use, and having three very recent straight losses in the UFC, one of which came at the hands of Mark Coleman, who everybody has labeled as way past his prime, Bonnar went into this fight with a mindset of a starving, rabid dog. He either wins this fight and avenges his previous loss to Soszynski as impressively as possible, or he goes home without a job.

Krzystof, meanwhile, has had a string of successes in the UFC after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter Season 8. He had three straight and very impressive wins before being outclassed and defeated by Brandon “The Truth” Vera. He went back to his winning ways by defeating Stephan Bonnar at UFC 110, but the win was surrounded by some controversy since it the fight was stopped because of a cut. It didn’t seem decisive enough, so the two are at it again, continuing exactly where they left off, to see who among them is clearly the better warrior.

Almost looking like a mirror image of his fight against Forrest Griffin, the fight was fast paced, bloody, and looked more like a wild street brawl than an MMA match. Everybody at the arena leapt to their feet and loved the hell out of it. By the time the bell for the second round rang, both fighters were bloody messes. Bonnar’s rabid dog mentality kept pushing him forward, though, and, like, a vampire, every time more blood spilled into the Octagon, the stronger he seemed to get. Maybe he’d like to change his “American Psycho” moniker. After enough blood had been spilt, he’d managed to muster up enough power to finish him off with some serious ground and pound. A decisive victory this time, indeed.

CHRIS LYTLE VS. MATT BROWN

I’ve been a huge fan of Matt “The Immortal” Brown ever since his time on the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He always has a do or die attitude in the Octagon that makes his striking game look absolutely outstanding most of the time.

Chris “Lights Out” Lytle, however, is a serious veteran of the sport with a huge amount of experience and an incredibly dedicated attitude that will definitely take him far. After losing a very close fight against Matt Serra at The Ultimate Fighter Season 4 Finale, he’s taken great strides to improve dramatically his game every time he’s in the cage and take out his opponents as decisively as possible. This has resulted in him getting some of the most fight bonuses within the UFC, including several Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night, and Submission of the Night awards. Very impressive, indeed.

Almost losing early in the first round because of a very deep choke attempt by “The Immortal”, Lytle manages survive because of his superior skill and return to submit Matt Brown via arm triangle in the middle of the second round.

I’m going to tackle the Preliminary Fights of this event next, but in the meantime, check out my reviews of the co-main event, between Chris Leben and Yoshihiro Akiyama, the much hyped about main event between Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin!

Also check out more amazing pics of UFC 116 over at the official UFC website!