Going to Extremes


We are living in a world bursting with extremes. Extreme politics. Extreme weather. Extreme religions.

World leaders with wild notions of politics, justice and reality are being elected to high office, making decisions that affect all of us on a very significant level.

Our winters are warmer than ever, the temperatures vary intensely from day to day, and storms are way more intense.

People are carrying out the most horrifying acts in the name of God, somehow convincing themselves that they are doing God’s work, when, in reality, they are doing just the opposite.

With the rise of our extreme global situation, we are also seeing a rise in extreme approaches to fitness. Coincidence or not, programs such as Crossfit and other intense “work to failure” approaches to exercise have gained in popularity.

Our bodies should not be pushed beyond their limit. When we are young, our bodies can mask the damage done by recovering quickly. We don’t feel as sore, or as tired, or as creaky as we do as we age.

But be assured that the intense workouts do have an effect on your body, and it will catch up.

I’m not advocating against pushing oneself to achieve greater things, but it’s important to do it deliberately and with care.

Warm up. No matter what your goals for the day are, be sure to get your body moving before you start moving. This may sound odd, but spend a few minutes breathing deeply. This will create space in your abdomen, warm up your diaphragm, and enable you to move better and breathe well throughout your workout.

Continue to warm up by moving slowly. Try a few hip opening exercises such as this one:

Get into a hands and knees position, with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Point your toes down toward the ground. Look up at the ceiling or the sky and send your hips back to your knees. Come forward back to your starting position, and then repeat. Move slowly, and try this 10 times.

Progress at your own pace. It’s easy to walk into a gym, grab some weights and start bench pressing. I’ve seen many people  who think more is better. If you are working out on your own, without a trainer, make sure you can master the proper form before you add weight to your exercise. And then, once you feel confident in the form, add weight slowly. You need to train your muscles to be able to endure the resistance of the weights. Just because you can lift heavy, doesn’t mean you should.

Monitor. Take stock in how you are feeling. Work within your limits. (And your limits might change from session to session.) Pain does NOT equal gain. And, if you are so sore that you can can’t sit down the next day, you did too much. Dial it back.

Rest. It’s very important to rest. Rest between sets, take rest days. Rest is when your body recovers from the work you have done, and rebuilds its stores of energy. Without proper rest, your body is prone to injury and, in extreme cases, weight gain or retention. Don’t overdo it. Your body will thank you.