5 Ways To Get Strong And Stay Strong IRL

Hello friends~

I hope you’re having a great summer! Around here it’s been a revolving door of kids, grandkids, siblings and their kids, and more to come. I love it! I’ve been hauling gear back and forth to the beach on my bike, playing around in the ocean, gardening, and loving helping a little guy gain confidence on a bike.

Polli and Mikey on bike
Teaching a kid to ride bikes is my joy!

Do stuff IRL have fun, get strong and fit. Here are 5 strategies for real life training that really work. I promise.

1. Run or walk on rough ground.

Hike. Climb over stuff. Run, or walk fast on uneven surfaces like sand or gravel…or run sideways balancing a kid on a bike!

People who don’t spend much time outside of the built environment like gyms can often feel awkward on uneven surfaces like we encounter in real life. Take time to hit a trail or beach on a regular basis.

Biomechanists at the University of Michigan discovered that the increased challenge of walking or running on rough, uneven ground can burn 28 percent more energy per step compared to paved ground.

2. Carry oddly shaped, heavy things.

Gym weights are great – you know I love lifting –  but they’re heavy just for the sake of being heavy. They’re optimally designed for lifting. They have ergonomic handles, solid weight, evenly measured in kg or lb. Definitely lift heavy shit.

But you can use anything for weight – especially lift loads that aren’t perfectly balanced. You’ll feel a big difference between lifting a 40lb kettlebell, and a 40 lb wiggly child! Picking up something that’s an odd shape or size (or something that’s moving!) requires that we stabilize the weight, training muscle to do functional movement, and works our body differently and more intensely.

On your next hike, pick up a log or a big rock, and carry it in different positions: on the front of your body, on one shoulder, across your back. Of course that 40 lb child qualifies here too!

Gardening isn’t for little old ladies – pick up bags of soil at your garden center, hoist them to the front of the body (like a “clean”), carry them to your car, unload them, and carry them to garden bed. Carry the bag on one shoulder then the other and maintain stabilization with the shifting weight of the bag.

Polli and soil bag
Hoisting a soil bag.

3. Throw stuff.

Medicine balls and sandbags are meant for this. You can throw those bags of soil too, or throw logs, or rocks. Lifting utilizes strength, and throwing generates power, one of the abilities we lose with age.

Connect all your muscles and joints, use mass (body weight plus whatever you’re lifting), and you’ll add velocity in the throwing, which produces power.

Polli lifting Doug
Hoisting and *not* throwing a kid 😉

4. Grab a heavy weight with one hand and take a walk.

Grip strength is not about your hand – it translates through the entire body. Choose a weight that’s heavy for you and hold it and walk or march in place as long as you can maintain stability. The unilateral (one side of the body) benefits will address imbalances in the body.

Fact: weaker grip strength was associated with increased all-cause mortality rates, with similar effects on deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease and external causes. These findings encompass both genders and through all age groups.

5. Occasionally exercise easier but longer.

People who train hard in the gym then go to more sedentary behaviors throughout the day and the week are missing an important component of fitness and strength.

A gym goer might exercise at a level 8 intensity, with challenging, metabolic HIIT sessions and strength training 2-3 times per week in one hour sessions. Substitute some of the high intensity workouts or add those hikes, or long walks on uneven ground- longer duration, and lower intensity, or lower intensity and more frequency throughout the day and the week, which will train muscular and cardiovascular endurance, not to mention the great psychological benefits.

Put it all together, and have the time of your life!

Polli and Mikey
One bike, me, the kid, the boogie board, chair, and backpack = a long hike home!

The best is yet to come. I promise.




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