PF Quick Hits: Finding Balance in Your Fitness Routine
Plus, healthy frozen foods, compression socks and Arnold presses. Lots and lots of Arnold presses.
As I was sitting on a video call last week, I noticed my arms looked a little bigger than normal. I’ve been a skinny guy all my life, and while I stay in shape, it’s not often that I’ve thought to myself, “wow, I look a little muscly.” Maybe it was the camera angle? My small shirt?
Later, I asked my friend what he thought. He confirmed my suspicions.
“You’re putting the Rock to shame with those guns,” he said.
OK, so maybe I made that quote up, but he definitely did say something to the effect that I looked noticeably more muscular up top. It was a mental boost for me, as I’ve felt sedentary for two-and-a-half months, recovering from a broken fibula.
Despite the injury, I’ve been able to start strength training for my upper body in recent weeks, being careful not to put too much weight on my leg. Since I’ve only been able to do that—well, that and swimming, and I hate swimming—I’ve been doing a lot of that. Pull ups, dumbbell bench presses, Arnold presses (see below), hammer curls…you name it.
Here are a couple of things I’ve taken away from my upper body progress and recovery:
When you’re recovering from injury, find your small victories. I’ve been frustrated by my lack of activity, so I was excited to do something. Lo and behold, I’ve made a change that people notice, which feels rewarding. Another example: as much as I hate swimming, I was able to get my heart rate up, which I hadn’t done for two months.
Ask yourself if you’re finding balance in your fitness plan. As I reflect on the past year, I know I’ve been focused on cycling, perhaps to the detriment of more balanced exercise plan. I hit my goal of riding 3,000 miles last year, but maybe I need to take a step back and look for better balance between my strength and cycling workouts.
Frozen Foods Are Cheaper, Too
I’ve been living off frozen fruits and veggies for years—after all, frozen fruits and vegetables are easy to consume (you can just microwave them or put them in a smoothie), and overall tend to contain the same amount or more vitamin content than the fresh version.
With that in mind, I was pleased to see CNBC heralding not only the nutritional value of some frozen food, but also the cost savings. Registered nutritionist Mary Ellen Phipps shared the six foods she always buys frozen:
You had me with everything except the fish, Mary Ellen. After all, who really likes tilapia? I mean, if I drown it in tartar sauce…maybe?
Cuckoo for Compression Socks
At this weeks intersection of fitness gear and content marketing, we find a HuffPost missive on compression socks. While the main purpose of the piece is to sell socks on Amazon, they do feature some pretty fascinating information from Dr. Michael Mazer, a podiatrist—
Yes, I know, Jerry, please don’t interrupt. Anyway, Dr. Mazer says compression socks can help with recovery after intense workouts, like a long run:
“After a strenuous workout, high levels of waste products such as lactic acid can build up in the blood causing discomfort and diminished performance. Additionally the body, and muscles specifically, require oxygen-rich blood to circulate through the arteries and veins to help maintain peak performance,” Mazer said…This is particularly beneficial during exercise because that pressure can “help clear waste products of exercise and assist your muscles’ natural ability to help pump blood through and back up against gravity to the heart.”
Mazer also notes that compression socks aren’t just for those of us over 40:
Mazer said that although we tend to develop various health conditions that can contribute to leg swelling as we age, older demographics are certainly not the only age group that can benefit from compression therapy.
“People who are constantly standing or walking on their feet for long hours for work or leisure can develop leg swelling from the rigors of their activities or even from gravity alone, regardless of age or health status,” he said.
So should we all be rushing out to buy compression socks? Maybe. It can’t hurt. I ran my fastest half marathon in compression socks. Just promise me you won’t buy them from HuffPo. They’ve been trying to sell them all year.
Exercise of the Week: Arnold Presses
Why do shoulder presses when you can do Arnold presses? Made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, they’re a great movement that works all the muscles in your shoulder, as well as your neck, triceps and chest. I’ve been falling in love with them again during my injury phase, and I think they’ve contributed to my upper body muscle gain.
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These can be integrated into either an upper body or full body workout—aim for six to 10 reps of three to four sets. Challenge yourself with the weight, but don’t go so heavy that you can’t maintain your form. If you go a little heavier on the weight, you might end up at six reps…a little lighter, you might end up at 10.
And hey…master these, and you too might end up the governor of California.