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The Lack of Time Excuse

I have been an athlete my entire life. I don’t have a transformation story to tell about how I was once sedentary and overweight. I have always been active. That’s the only life I have ever known. I have always trained. I have always participated in sports. And I have loved every minute of it. That is who I am and what I do.

With that said, I do not think any less of anyone who does not exercise. My quality of life won’t change whether you exercise or not. I don’t run around the street trying to get everyone to drop down and perform pushups. I will never force someone to do something that they don’t want to do. All that I can do is share what I consider to be the benefits of a healthy and active life. You can either take my advice or ignore it. It’s up to you. You need to live your life the way you want to live it.

If you want to sit on the couch all day, go sit on the couch. Do what you want. All I ask is that you don’t go around telling everyone that you do not have time to exercise. The lack of time is excuse is nothing but an excuse. Lazy people and productive people have at least one thing in common. They both operate within the confines of a 24 hour day. Unfortunately, more and more people seem to be shifting towards a life of inactivity. Just yesterday I received an email that included the following statistic:

I cannot imagine wasting 4 hours of leisure time staring at a screen. Is that really what the world has come to? What happened to going outside and enjoying the great outdoors? What happened to just getting off your ass to accomplish something worthwhile? Have we really evolved into sedentary creatures who stare at screens all day?

Perhaps I am veering off on a tangent so let’s get back to the point at hand. If you can find 4 hours to play with your phone, you have more than enough time to exercise. If you don’t believe me, drop down right now and perform 20 pushups. I’m guessing it will take you 30 seconds or less. Imagine if you did that five times each day. That would be 100 pushups in less than 3 minutes of your 1440 minute day.

Imagine if you did the same with an exercise such as squats or lunges. And if you really want to get wild, you could knock off a few sets of pull-ups from a door-way pull-up bar. What if everyone in the world did 100 pushups, 100 squats or lunges, and a few sets of pull-ups a few days per week? Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing we would have a lot more healthy and active people.

But Ross…

Let me guess, you are busy. You have kids. You work long hours. Blah, blah, blah…

Guess what? I do too. I work six or seven days a week. I work long hours. I have kids. I have a dog. I volunteer in the community. Leisure time is virtually non-existent.

I can never find time for exercise. I gave up on that notion a long time ago. Instead, I make time. I prioritize it. I plan for it in advance. If it means I need to wake up earlier, I wake up earlier. If it means I need to go to bed later, I will go to bed later. If I need to drop down and perform pushups at random times, I’ll drop down and perform pushups. I find a way to exercise no matter how busy I am.

Pushups with the kids

As mentioned above, there are 1440 minutes in a day. That’s a lot of time. Plenty can be accomplished if you manage your time wisely. Don’t assume that you cannot exercise just because you don’t have an hour of uninterrupted time. Training does not need to be viewed with an all or nothing attitude. Something is almost always better than nothing.

Using myself as an example, there are days when I wake up at the crack of dawn and push myself to the extreme. I love the hard, uninterrupted work. There are other mornings though when it is not a possibility. Perhaps I was up in the middle of the night with a sick child. As a parent, you never know what the next day will bring. Therefore, you need to be flexible with your planning and scheduling. If I do not have a dedicated block of time to train, I will perform random sets of exercise throughout the day. A few minutes here and there will accumulate as long as you are consistent.

In summary, rather than complaining about a lack of time, start to manage your time more wisely. Make health and fitness a priority instead of watching television and mindlessly browsing through social media sites. The busiest people in the world can make time for exercise. It all begins with a conscious effort that is made regularly.

Unfortunately, no one can prioritize your health for you. It is a decision that must be made on your own and then repeated day after day.

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If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. – Jim Rohn

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Same Sh*t, Different Day

If you have followed this site for a while, you may recall when I used to post old clips from Jack LaLanne’s early television show. Unfortunately, many of the original videos were removed from Youtube. I am happy to note however that some of those clips have been added back under other channels.

One example can be seen below.

I first shared this video to the blog in 2007. It is hard to believe that seven years have already passed since that original entry. Yet while time has certainly passed quickly, it is unfortunate that little has changed in that time. Jack’s message is still as relevant today as it was when he first shared it.

Another example can be found below.

Don’t we all know someone who always complains about feeling tired? If anything, I would guess that more people are tired today than they were in years past. Jack LaLanne’s generation didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to browse their phones. They couldn’t even watch television as stations would sign off the air in the evening. Nowadays, people still eat crap and don’t exercise enough, but they also stay up half the night watching television and playing with their phones.

It often seems like today’s generation has more knowledge and technology, but also more problems. Despite all of the information that is accessible to all, people are still tired and out of shape. Little has changed in that regard.

Imagine if more people simply followed Jack LaLanne’s advice? Does it really need to be more complicated than that? Do we really need more research to confirm why people are lazy and out of shape? Rather than arguing and debating about what causes the problem, let’s instead encourage more people to get up and move while nourishing their bodies with real food.

Science may have evolved in recent years but most people have not. Jack LaLanne was ahead of his time and I don’t see many people today who will be able to follow in his foot steps. He was still going strong in his 90′s. Most people today are struggling to get around in their 40′s and 50′s. Perhaps we aren’t as smart as we’d like to believe. Rather than continually seeking out new information, maybe we should instead listen to the advice that Jack LaLanne was preaching to the masses many decades ago.

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Living is a pain in the butt. Dying is easy. It’s like an athletic event. You’ve got to train for it. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom. – Jack LaLanne

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Just Work

Back in April, I wrote an entry about outdoor training. If you missed the original entry, you can catch up at the link below:

Beyond Sets and Reps

Since writing that story and sharing the video footage, I have received several questions about outdoor training. Many readers seem confused about how they can monitor progress when lifting stones or logs. For instance, one reader of the site recently wrote the following:

It’s fun to train outside, but how do I know if I am getting any stronger.

He went on to explain his fondness for stone lifting, but expressed frustration over his inability to weigh any of the stones that he lifts. Like myself, this individual trains in the woods so does not have a convenient way to determine the weight of the stones that he uses.

stone carry

Fortunately, you do not need to know the exact weight of a stone to benefit from it. Speaking for myself, I have a huge assortment of stones in the woods that I often lift and carry. I honestly have no idea what the stones weigh. When I lift stones, I am not concerned about training with a specific percentage of my 1-rep max. Instead, I use my own informal scale. I classify my stones into categories such as somewhat heavy, heavy, and ridiculously heavy. At times, some of my athletes have even added four letter descriptive terms to enhance my classifications. One stone in particular is often described as being heavy as f–k. And while that description may seem inappropriate, it makes perfect sense once you get your hands on the stone.

As for monitoring progress, I don’t need a pound or kilogram stamp on the side of the stone to know whether or not it is challenging me. When I lift the stones, some go up without too much of a struggle while others require every ounce of strength I have. It’s safe to say that if I regularly lift or carry the more challenging stones, I will eventually become stronger. I don’t need to solve a calculus equation to determine whether I have progressed or not.

If the stone goes up easier, I have probably gotten stronger. If I can throw the stone farther, I have probably gotten stronger. If I can lift the stone for more reps, I have probably gotten stronger. If I can carry the stone more distance, I have probably gotten stronger. I could go on and on with additional examples, but I’m sure you get point. Once you become better at lifting, carrying, or throwing a particular stone, you will know you have improved. You can then seek out a larger and more challenging stone. It really does not need to be more complicated than that.

Ultimately, progress is not nearly as difficult to recognize as many of the pencil pushers would like you to believe. Strength does not hide in the dark. It is easily noticed. As you become stronger, you are going to know. It will not be a secret.

Whether you train indoors or out, don’t get lost in the math. It is often best to minimize the complexity and just work. If you regularly challenge yourself against difficult types of resistance, you are going to improve. It does not matter if the resistance comes from stones, logs, free weights, or anything else you can think of lifting. Show up regularly, work hard with whatever you have, and you will progress. And if or when progress is absent, don’t be so quick to blame the tool or your lack of knowledge regarding its weight. Often times the source of the problem is only visible when you look into the mirror. Stone lifting is like many things in life. You get what you put into it.

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Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple. – Edward de Bono

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Hill Training – No Expiration Date

It was one year ago last week when I cleared a hill sprinting path in the woods behind my home. I’ve always been a fan of hill sprints and was thrilled at the idea of having a hill to run within walking distance of my backdoor. Therefore, I eagerly took to the woods with an axe and saw and slowly began clearing out my future hill. At the time, I took a few before and after pictures and wrote an entry to the blog (see here).

Hill sprints

One year later and I still run the hill regularly. I have likely sprinted more hills in the past year than I have at any other time in my life. And while that may not sound significant, hill sprints have been a favorite conditioner of mine throughout my 20+ years of training. In other words, I have been around the block and run my share of hills.

Yet after all these years, hill sprints are still kicking my ass. No matter how hard I run, the hill is always ready for more. It does not matter how well conditioned I am, hill sprints always remind me that I am human. It is only a matter of time before the hill takes over and wins. Hill sprints are truly an undefeated conditioning exercise that will never expire. I will never reach a point where I am too good for the hills. I may technically own the hill, but when I run it, the hill owns me.

Unfortunately, despite the obvious benefits, hill sprints still don’t get much love in the fitness industry. The lack of attention should not come as a surprise however. Why would an equipment manufacturer advertise the benefits of hills? It wouldn’t make financial sense unless that manufacturer doubled as a real estate agent. The same could be said of a gym owner. The gym owner wants you to run on his treadmills. There is nothing in it for him to have you out scouring the neighborhood for a steep hill to run.

Consequently, it is no surprise that I have never seen a traffic jam of runners on a steep hill. And while my wooded hill is a bit secluded, I have run various hills throughout my town There is even a picture of me running a local hill that was tweeted by Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy). He has millions of followers who saw the picture (see here). It was taken in 2005 and it has been shared countless times since. I have also publicly listed the address many times (Orchard St. Rockville, CT). Yet despite all the views and mentions, I have never once seen anyone else running that hill. When I am there, I am always alone.

What Gives?!

Although some readers may grow tired of me proclaiming the benefits of hills, I must not be doing a very good job if all of the hills in my own town remain desolate. How can so many people overlook such an effective and free to use exercise location? If the average person did nothing but run a few hills and mix in some calisthenics afterward, they would be in better shape than 90+ percent of the world.

Sadly, simple but effective solutions must not be flashy enough to attract the masses. People either do not know about hills or are not willing to put in the work. Perhaps it is a combination of both. Regardless of what leads to the avoidance, it baffles my mind that more people do not take advantage of what is perhaps the best conditioning exercise of all.

In summary, rather than searching high and low for the next best exercise, consider investing that time and energy into an exercise that has already stood the test of time.  Legendary athletes such as Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and countless others ran hills for one simple reason. Hill sprints work, as long as you are willing to work. You can either follow in the footsteps of these past legends or waste your time looking for an easier yet less effective alternative.

It seems like a simple decision to make. Unfortunately, the desolate hills seem to suggest otherwise. Hopefully that will eventually change. I will certainly do my part to hype the benefits of hills for as long as I’m alive. And if you are ever in the area and want to hit up Orchard Street, shoot me a message. Perhaps we can run together.

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It’s okay to lose, to die, but don’t die without trying, without giving it your best. – Walter Payton

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