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Taking Full Advantage of Rest Days (training book & red wine!)

Today was my second consecutive day-off from training. Virtually no exercise today other than walks with Jack the pup. I feel great, have been pumping lots of protein into myself, and better yet, am getting anxious to head back into the gym tomorrow. My workout tomorrow will be superior in every way to what would have taken place if I’d made time for a half-assed session today.

Lesson: when in doubt, take a day off from working out. Of course, this only makes sense because I’ve been hitting the iron hard, getting in metabolic sessions (pushing that damn prowler). Eating lots of protein and vegetables. Trying to sleep more, but damn, my brain turns on in the morning and begins that motion picture in my head.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tonight I’m cracking the covers on this brand-spanking-new book by one of the true wise men of the iron game, Dan John. I cannot begin to think of more constructive activity on a non-workout day than digging into Before We Go (or any of Dan’s other books, for that matter). This guy is smart, walks the talk, and knows how to clearly communicate. My old friend and boss T.C. Luoma penned the foreward. Nice company.

And (this is important, Dan would back me up, I'm certain), I'm enjoying some wonderful, dry Malbec while I read!

@lareedraper, @Fakedanjohn, #ontargetpublications, #danjohn, #beforewego @tcluoma


"Day Off" Exercise

I don't believe there are rigid "rules" governing how many consecutive days people will benefit from exercise. Sure, many writers and "experts" and online "gurus" and books are quick to tell us this or that on-off policy is best, but it's bunk (in my opinion). Consider your age, fitness level, sleep patterns, how much stress is contained in your life, and your priorities in life, and make your "should I rest or workout" decisions taking all this into account.

With tomorrow the Thanksgiving holiday I knew there would be no training tomorrow. Friday is a maybe, due to possibly having to work, and family members potentially still at my home. Last Saturday was a middling squat workout after an extensive leg session using Med-Ex and Exerbotics machines the day before. Monday was an hour in the gym of all upper body (I'm utilizing a bodybuilding-style split during a month off from CrossFit while I heal a nagging sciatic nerve situation), then yesterday was a high-volume lower body workout utiliing Rock-It machines.

Today was up in the air for me; I had much work to do outside of the gym, but looking ahead and potentially missing two days of workout, I thought it would be best for me to get a workout in. But what to do? My legs were heavy; frankly I didn't want to hammer through another push-pull upper body session, so I went to the gym anticipating an entire workout of accessory movements.

Happily, only a few minutes into my session, a couple of my friends (personal trainers I worked with for years), waved me to a big functional training area where they had an indoor Prowler and some dumbells. For the next 45 minutes the three of us rotated between pushing the prowler (loaded with four 45# plates) from one end of the room to the other (perhaps 30 yards), and carrying two 85# dumbells to the other end. The next person had already grabbed the prowler, so two of us were continually in motion. I have no solid idea how many times I did each of these movements, but it was plenty, and I was happily dizzy on a couple of rounds.

What a wonderful "off day" workout! It felt great all around, I got in some much-needed metabolic work, training with friends made the time more enjoyable, and now I feel free to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving eating with family. I earned a piece of pie today!

Lesson:  err on the side of getting exercise. Don't make excuses. If you have access to a Prowler, get behind it and move!


Anyone Can Enjoy Vegetables - Stop Making Excuses

Over years (ok, actually decades) of practicing what I preach, in the gym and the kitchen alike, today's solid bet-it-all tip is to eat more vegetables.

Yeah, you've heard this before. Many times. So you don't like raw vegetables? Fine. Neither do I and I'm not convinced their nutritional content is as good raw. But it doesn't matter if you're not going ti gnaw on hunks of raw broccoli.

Then cook 'em. Heat a frying pan with organic lard or macadamia nut oil or coconut oil in it. Use scissors to cut a couple strips of bacon into little slices. Add to pan. While the bacon is cooking, cut asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, red peppers, kale, fresh garlic, brussels sprouts if you like 'em, and any other vegetables you have handy, and add to the pan, in the above order. I enjoy adding sundried tomatoes and capers and sometimes cut-up kalmata olives at the end. Up to you.

Cook for a little bit. Everything green turns bright. Your kitchen smells great. If you use an entire head of broccoli, a bunch of asparagus, a couple of peppers, handfuls of kale, you'll end up with a big container of ready-to-heat and eat vegetables. 

Add to eggs, enjoy on the side with any meat. I find this encourages me to eat vegetables two or three times daily. It's the only way I'll eat all these veggies. I get full more quickly and remain so longer. Boxes of crackers don't cry out to me as loudly. I feel better, consistently.

You can do this. No kitchen skills are required. Cutting board, sharp knife, oil, pan, and fifteen of your minutes!



The Arnold Classic Still Numero Uno!


Each spring, Columbus, Ohio is invaded by tens of thousands of athletes, and a couple hundred thousand athletic fans. The Arnold Sports Festival attracts the absolute biggest names in bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, UFC - every sport where weight training and nutrition and supplements are integral to training and competition.

The Arnold Classic Expo, virtually a small city composed of more than 800 exhibitor booths (some the size of a home), is the nerve center of an extravaganza spreading all over town. Every supplement company worth it’s weight in creatine has a presence at the Arnold. Every muscular athlete alive, still in shape and working in the field somehow, makes an appearance. You may see Flex Wheeler working a supplement booth, still looking amazing years after his competitive career has ended. Lou Ferrigno, Arnold’s competitor in Pumping Iron and known to a couple generations as The Hulk, still makes his annual trek to Columbus to sell photos and posters and sign autographs (for a fee). Dan Bailey and Rich Froning, top professional CrossFit champions, are always making things happen in the Rogue Fitness booth.

I could go on and on. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Expo contains the largest gathering of the weight-training clan in the world. More strong people are in one gigantic, crowded arena at this time, in this place, than ever in the world. Even better, more smart people are jammed in here; at least the smartest training - supplement - chemistry minds. There’s no other time and place to find Patrick Arnold, Mark Bell, or Rich Gaspari, just to use random examples, standing in the booths ready and eager to talk with fans. This accessibility us unprecedented and compelling.

 It would be difficult to exaggerate the size of some booths; the loudness of the Expo, the volume of product giveaways (people stand in lines of thousands for handfuls of free supplement samples). When the doors open to the general public (who pay a mere $10 daily for the Expo), the first groups spring through the aisles looking for their favorite booths. It’s incredible and kinda scary for the first half hour.

Keep in mind, the Expo is only one of dozens of events at the Arnold. The pro bodybuilding show is one of the two best in the world; the prize money is alarmingly high and brings out the premier professionals in the world to compete. Amateur bodybuilding, strongman, and powerlifting have competitions taking place during the Arnold. These are of the highest quality and would be outstanding on their own any other time of year in any other place. But here they all are, at the Arnold Sports Festival during the same four days. On top of this, the World’s Strongest Man competition takes place in Columbus during the Arnold, with some of the events onstage right in the Expo. It can be unbelievable to stand in line for some supplement booth, waiting for free samples or to meet Jay Cutler or someone, and watch onstage monstrous men deadlift more than 1,000 pounds! Just another quarter hour in your Arnold Classic experience...

One of the biggest and most rockin’ booths this year was Quest Nutrition. You’re probably familiar with the Quest protein bar (one of the better and healthier bars in the marketplace). Quest also has protein powder, chips, and in 2015 had the most energetic and crowd-responsive booth at the event. It became a focal point of the entire Expo.

This year the lines of people waiting for supplement goodies or to meet an athlete were excessive; often people shuffled along for more than an hour. A couple of times I asked people what they were in line for and they weren’t even certain! There’s a long line, it must be cool, I’ll jump on the back end...

I love watching competitions in these sports. But the Arnold Classic Expo is one of the highlights of my year, and is the brightest spot in the universe of the Arnold Sports Festival. There is nothing like it on earth.


Writing 47 different endings to a story before deciding upon the right one is dedication to the craft of writing.