The Dead Lift
Pulling is probably one of the best movements for overall leg and lower back growth, plain and simple. Dead lifts hit your quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, abs, traps, and upper lats. This exercise does require a barbell.
Walk to the bar. Stand with your mid-foot under the bar. Don’t touch it with your shins yet. Stand with feet at hip width stance and toes out 15°. Grab the bar, narrow, with hands about shoulder-width apart. Arms should be vertical from the front view, hanging just outside your legs.
Bend your knees and keep going until your shins touch the bar. Don’t move the bar. Keep it over your mid-foot.
Now, lift your chest and straighten your back. Don’t move the bar. Don’t drop your hips, and don’t squeeze your shoulders-blades.
Pull. Take a big breath, hold it, and stand up. Keep the bar against your legs. Don’t shrug or lean back at the top.
It is extremely important to keep your back straight throughout the dead lift! To bend your back could cause back injury, such as herniated disks. Since this exercise should be done properly to avoid injury and these are just the basics, you may wish to do further reading.
Links to illustrations of exercises follow:
The essential piece of a strong fitness routine, running, builds strong legs, glutes, and abdominals, and it also is probably the best way to increase stamina and endurance. Why is it so important? Man has been running since the beginning of time, when he needed a faster pace to escape his enemies. Soon he learned that by running when he wasn’t being chased, he was able improve his ability to run when his life was on the line. The pushup will give you the strength to lift that heavy pack onto your back, but you need to be able to move your body as well as the gear you are carrying forward! Running can be difficult, especially for the beginner. However, with practice and forbearance, it can be enjoyable. There is no such thing as a person who isn’t “the running type”. Try not to forget, though, that we are talking about practical fitness here. Running a marathon may not be what every runner needs to do. This is probably going to be the most in-depth of these entries.
Wear clothing appropriate to the weather. The last thing you want is to catch pneumonia! Modern workout clothing is fine, but it is somewhat of a racket; there is very little you actually do need. Here is what I would recommend:
For warm weather: (60-90 degrees F) No more than one layer is necessary.
- a 100% cotton or poly blend t-shirt or, in hotter temps, a tank top are your best upper body garment.
- A thin pair of shorts of the materials listed.
- A pair of 100% cotton socks.
- Lightweight, breathable running shoes; be sure you tie your shoes properly.
- You can add a headband, as you are going to sweat, a lot.
- Consider carrying a micro-fiber cloth.
For cold weather: (10-40 degrees F). These guidelines are assuming a moderate to high level activity run, which will contribute to keep you warm, negating the need for heavier clothing.
- You will need a base layer, a lightweight one will do fine, coupled with a cotton/poly long sleeve shirt
- pants (I run in my BDU pants, but sweats also work) between 30 and 40F.
- Below 30F, you should add a thicker garment over the other two. A hoodie or fleece pullover works nicely. You can opt for a actual jacket, if there is precipitation. A mid-weight bottom base layer will complete your outfit.
- Be sure to wear a good watch cap or other headgear. If there is cold wind, you may wish to add a balaclava type headgear to protect your face and neck.
- Thick wool/thermal socks.
- Boots may be called for, especially if there is snow. A waterproof combat boot, which is designed with elements of a running shoe, is a very good choice. Hiking boots tend to not flex for running as well, but footwear is a very personal item, so get what works well for you. Below 10F, well, do you really need to run? Working out in lower temps may just be foolhardy.
Bring water! No matter what the temperature, hydration is key. A Camelbak type hydration system is the best. Be sure to bring enough, but on a workout too much will slow you down, and carrying a bottle is very awkward. It is very helpful to mix with plain water some citrus juice. Any squeezed citrus fruit will do; what I currently use is a grapefruit and two lemons mixed with about a gallon of water and a half teaspoon of salt and sugar (don’t leave out the fruit pulp!). Fill your water carrier with 1 cup of this mixture to every 3 cups of straight water. And there you have your own electrolyte replacing drink.
Your running form is very personal. No two people run the same way. By trying to follow a textbook style, you will most likely only become frustrated and risk injury. Experiment to find your own unique style. However, there are some guidelines that are usually universally helpful, which I will state below:
Your torso should be kept straight and you should lean slightly forward, without bending your back . Except for the legs and arms, there should be no other movement. Such “flailing” will waste energy and throw you off balance. It is most important to move in a natural, relaxed manner. You (if you have done your warm-up!) shouldn’t feel tense or stiff or move in an awkward feeling manner. If you are, find the cause and eliminate it. Don’t worry; you probably won’t have any issue with this. It is hard to screw up something you’ve been doing since you were a toddler.
Don’t over stride; this is awkward and dangerous. When running, you aren’t trying to step out farther than when you walk; you’re only trying to take more strides. So, watch how you walk, and apply the same manner to running, only sped up. Your leg and knee should form a slight angle still; if your leg is stretched out straight, you are over striding. Land with your leg as close to the body as possible.
Move your arms. Don’t try to keep your arms still at all. They should form a 90 degree angle at the elbow and swing freely up and down, raising the arm opposite the leg currently taking the stride. However, don’t let your arms come across in front of your chest; they should move up and down only. Again, just let what is natural take place, and you’ll get it right. Don’t consciously try to raise and lower your arms to a certain level.
Don’t slam your feet into the ground. Keep some spring in them, but don’t land on the balls of your feet. Instead, land on your whole mid-foot. Then, make contact with your whole foot and start the next step, pushing off with your toes. Your landing knee should be slightly bent.
After your run, do some reps of warm-ups to gradually “cool” your muscles down. Remember that you will slow down based on the terrain you are running over. I do most of my running on gravel country roads, so they are pretty level and even throughout. Also, remember to slow down on hills. Until you have some practice up-hill running, just gunning it is an injury hazard.
As you run, try to concentrate on what you are doing. While you may be tempted to find a distraction, not paying attention to your running will slow you down.
Pacing It All Out
So, I’ve presented the exercises. Now how much should you do? This depends on your goal. If you’re out of shape and trying to come back, you’ll naturally start with less and build up. If you are trying to build more muscle, you’ll add more also. Once you are at the point you wish to be, you can “stay the course”. I call this maintenance. A maintenance workout is a daily (or several days a week) routine that shouldn’t take more than 15-30 minutes for each session (excluding runs and an additional seven minutes for your morning warm-up). Depending on your own ability, the amount you do will vary, but I’ll sketch out a rough idea in the next section. This pace is assuming you do this workout in your home or workplace. When at a dedicated gym, routine is different. Also, the running pace is assuming it takes place outdoors.