Friday Funny 1372: Reviews for a HUGE Swiss Army Knife

>> Friday, December 15, 2017

Yes, this is a real thing:



And the reviews for it on Amazon are fantastic:

























Lots more funny things post 10x every day on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.

Read more...

Friday Funny 1371: Morbid Stock Photos

Here are some truly odd and morbid stock photography as shown on the twitter account Dark Stock Photos:














This isn’t that morbid. This is just amazing.




WHAT DID YOU DO, BILLY?!? WHAT DID YOU DO?!?










I think she's asking for help because with some eggs and cocoa,
she could make a nice cake with all that flour.













Lots more funny things posted all day long on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.

Read more...

Friday Funny 1370: Insulting Tea Cups

Miss Havisham has some insulting tea cups that you can use to serve to your family this Christmas:























More funny things posted all day long on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com.

Read more...

Thirsty (for Knowledge) Thursday: 8 Tests for Your Overall Fitness

>> Thursday, December 14, 2017

I recently came across this article on Runner's World about 8 challenges that "fit" people should be able to do. At times, this reads a bit like an advertisement for this book, but it's still an interesting article. And because we're still near the start of the "off season," if you do these tests and find yourself lacking in a certain area, you have time to "get fitter" for next year. (And they offer tips after each point on how to get fitter in that area.) This is written by an editor from Runner's World, so it's his results he's talking about under "my score" in each of these 8 challenges. I'll chime in after most of these...

As a runner, it’s easy to enter a training bubble: sleep, eat, run, repeat. It can be a cycle that helps you become a better runner, but it’s easy to forget—or flat-out ignore—that you should be doing other exercises to stay in the best overall shape.

This really hit home when reading The Better Man Project, the new book by Men’s Health Editor-in-Chief Bill Phillips. It contains thousands of ways to improve your life everyday, including how to sleep soundly, how to keep your brain sharp, and, this being Men’s Health, how to improve your fitness.

As a former editor for the Men's Health website, I admittedly took a giant gulp when I turned to the following series of tests about where the average guy should be when it comes to overall fitness. After trying the tests, it was a wakeup call that I still have a lot left to do when it comes to being a fit runner.

Here's a look at the 8 Tests of Overall Fitness, excerpted from The Better Man Project, along with my score after trying the self-checks. If you fall below the Men's Health Fit Standard like I did, check out the training advice so you can get stronger over time. (The book excerpts are in italic.)



Check 1: Is your core weak?

Even if you don't have an ounce of fat, you could be soft in the middle. This test will tell. Lie facedown on the floor and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor with your thumbs in line with the top of your forehead. Lift your elbows off the floor and position your feet the way they would be in a pushup with your ankles flexed. This is the starting position. Now, push yourself off the floor while maintaining a straight, stiff plank position from your shoulders to your heels. If your hips dip lower than your torso, your core is weak. Try the test again with your hands repositioned at chin level. If you still can't keep your hips from sagging, you need even more core work.

The MH Fit Standard: Hold a stiff arms-extended plank for 10 seconds.


My Score: A solid 10 seconds. This didn’t shock me because I do—a few times a week—hold a normal plank for 30 to 60 seconds just for the heck of it. While this was probably the test I was least concerned about, the variation with my arms more extended gave me some pause. A good confidence booster going forward. (Though it wouldn’t last long …)

Get Fitter: Fall short? No problem. "You can more than double your score in a matter of weeks," says Angelo Poli, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California. Alternate among these three exercises during the course of a week.

1) Three-point tennis ball toss: Hold the top position of a single-arm pushup (feet slightly beyond hip width, body straight from head to heels, weight supported on one hand) and bounce a tennis ball off a wall. Catch the ball and immediately bounce it back against the wall. Do 2 sets of 15 reps each arm.

2) Plank push/pull: Assume a plank position with a weight plate between your forearms. Lift your right arm, push the plate forward as far as possible, and then pull it back. Do 2 sets of 10 reps with each arm.

3) Swiss ball "stir the pot": Assume a plank position with your forearms on a Swiss ball. Make small circles with your elbows, switching directions every 10 circles until you've done 40. That's 1 set. Do 2.

I did this one with GOOD form in a mirror at the gym, with my hands out in front of me a bit as they say. It's trickier than a normal plank, but I stopped after 30 seconds. I do a fair amount of core work (usually 1-2 hours/week), and that showed here. I could have gone longer, but stopped when it started to get hard at 30 secs. RESULTS: passed easily.



Check 2: Lower-body power

The standing broad jump is another great test. This evaluation is used by strength coaches and drill sergeants to gauge raw leg power because it requires several muscle groups throughout the body to fire at once. Stand with your toes on a line and your feet shoulder-width apart. Dip your knees, swing your arms, and jump as far as you can. Have a buddy measure the distance from the starting line to the backs of your heels.

The MH Fit Standard: 8 feet


My Score: 7 feet. My form was pretty good according to my witness, despite my lack of practice of jumping in any way. (Maybe those years of doing the long jump in high school more than a decade ago helped.) Though I came up a little short on the distance, I was happy I came close.

Get Fitter: "Power is a combination of strength and speed, so if you come up short, work on both," says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. Start by doing squats and hip thrusts each week in separate workouts. During week 1, go heavy with the hip thrusts (3 to 5 sets of 5 reps using 85 percent of your 1-repetition maximum) and light with the squats (6 sets of 2 fast reps with 50 percent of your 1-rep max). The following week, flip the set-rep scheme, going heavy with squats and light with hip thrusts. Continue alternating for 4 to 6 weeks. "To build even more explosiveness, also do 3 sets of 10 kettlebell swings twice a week," says Gentilcore.

This one I wasn't sure of, because I'm not an "explosive" guy (when it comes to training or life). I had witnesses at the gym when I did this. Sally and Abe helped me mark off 8 feet, and I jumped it. My right leg cleared, and my left leg was 1 inch short. I could have used an inch more. (That's what she said.) Sally teased that the first one was my warm up, and she told me to do it again. Try #2 was 1 inch shorter. RESULTS: barely failed.



Check 3: Anaerobic endurance

You'll have fun with this one. Performing the squat, biceps curl, and push press exercises with dumbbells as a single compound move is an accurate measure of your anaerobic endurance, or your ability to work at near-max intensity in bursts of 20 to 60 seconds. Anaerobic endurance reflects the stamina of your fast-twitch (type II) muscle fibers, which generate energy in the absence of oxygen (i.e., when you're sucking wind). How to do it: Use dumbbells that together total roughly 30 percent of your body weight (that's a pair of 30-pounders if you weigh 200) and hold them at your sides with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back naturally arched, push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, curl the dumbbells to shoulder height using a neutral (or hammer) grip (palms facing) and then press them straight overhead, using your legs in the effort. Return to the starting position and repeat the compound move for 1 minute.

The MH Fit Standard: 20 reps in a minute


My Score: 14 reps. This started off feeling easy with a set of 20-pound dumbbells, but by the time I was 30 seconds into it I could feel my muscles wanting to take a breather. While I struggled a bit toward the end, at least my form didn’t suffer—I just slowed down. Could have tried to do 20 reps without a time limit.

Get Fitter: Perform 2 sets of the drill twice a week, resting 90 seconds between sets. If you can't do at least 16 reps on your first set, lighten the load. "Each time, add an extra rep to your first set," says L.A.-based strength and conditioning coach Chad Waterbury, M.S. "Once you reach 20 reps with the lighter weight, grab slightly heavier dumbbells and work your way up to 20 reps again."

For me, it was two 25-lb dumbbells. Sally and Abe witnessed this one too. It was easy through #12, and then I got winded. I kept good form and kept the pace smooth (I could have been faster, but form would have suffered). I hit 20 RIGHT at a minute, and I could have kept going at that pace. RESULTS: passed.



Check 4: Mobility

Mobility is a quality great athletes hone, but most regular guys ignore. The more mobile you are, the less likely you are to injure your joints. See how you do with the wall squat check. A lot of people fail this test because they have a rounded back or inflexible ankles. Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes 2 inches from the baseboard and turned slightly out. Keeping your feet flat, chest up, and back naturally arched, see how far you can lower your body without touching the wall or falling backward.

The MH Fit Standard: A full squat—that is, when your hamstrings touch your calves, in control


My Score: 1 full squat. I did this in a mirror and can assure you that it wasn’t the prettiest (or fastest) squat ever, but I did maintain form and got low enough to touch my hamstrings to my calves without comically falling over. However, when I tried to go for a second one, I felt my left hamstring tighten up—and it hurt all weekend. Looks like I could still use some work.

Get Fitter: Loosen your back with self-massage. Lie on your back with a foam roller placed perpendicular to your spine just below your shoulder blades. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Support your head with your hands, and move your head, neck, and upper back forward and backward over the foam roller four to six times. To loosen tight ankles and calves, try the ankle mobility lunge. Stand in a split stance with your front foot about 6 inches from a wall. Now bend your front knee to touch the wall without letting your front heel leave the floor. Do this 8 to 10 times. Switch legs and repeat.

OK, this is AWKWARD AS HELL. Try it: get your toes and face 2" from a wall, and tell me that it doesn't feel like you're about to do the strangest squat ever! But I did 3 nice and easy. On the first, my right knee hair brushed the mirror (I was doing this RIGHT in front of a mirror at the gym), and then (of all things) my right wrist brushed against the wall when I was "ass to grass" at the bottom. So that one maybe didn't count. But then I did 2 more perfectly without any fear of touching the mirror in front of me. RESULTS: passed easily.



Check 5: The Beep Test

Cardiovascular endurance isn't just a sign of your 10K potential or how long you'll last in a 48-minute game of basketball. People with solid aerobic health tend to have a longer life expectancy than those who lack it, according to a German study review. The Beep Test or 20-meter shuttle run is a classic measure of aerobic fitness. Easiest way to do it is to download the Beep Test app for your iPhone (Beep Test Solo, $1) or Android device (Beep Test, free). Place two cones 20 meters (about 65 feet) apart on a track or field, hit the start button on the app, and run from one cone to the other. When you hear the beep, run back. Continue until you can't reach the opposite cone before the next beep sounds. (The time between beeps will shorten as you progress through the test.)

The MH Fit Standard: Level 12


My Score: 11.5. I’ve often heard the beep test was easy until you get to level 8 or 9. That’s very, very true. As much as I wanted to make it to 12, my legs—and lungs—just couldn’t quite get there.

Get Fitter: Repeat the beep test once a week. Just repeating the drill can help boost your peak aerobic capacity, says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. On two other days each week, do sprint intervals. Sprint at 85 percent of your maximum effort for 1 minute and then rest for 2 minutes. Do that 5 to 8 times total.

I didn’t do this one. Apparently a $1 app is too much for me. [Goes back to browsing dank memes on free Tumblr app.] When I looked up more info online, I found the average mph needed to keep going at each level. At level 12, you're going 8.7 mph (between 7:00 and 7:30 pace) and you're about 12 minutes in. I've done VO2 Max tests on the treadmill, and I've been 20 minutes into my VO2 Max test (slowly getting faster and faster like this beep test) and done 12 mph for over a minute. So I feel like I could hit level 12, but I never officially tested it. RESULTS: untested.



Check 6: Upper-body power

A powerful upper body doesn't just look good shirtless, it also helps transfer force to the world around you. The clapping pushup—which requires explosiveness as well as strength—is an old-school move that many still consider the ultimate test of upper-body pushing power (thanks in no small part to Sly Stallone's Rocky). Get into a pushup position, with your body straight from head to ankles. Lower yourself until your chest is 3 inches from the floor. Push yourself back up explosively so your hands leave the floor. Maintain a straight body as you clap in midair and land back in the starting position.

The MH Fit Standard: 10 clapping pushups without stopping


My Score: 1 clapping pushup. This was the embarrassing display I thought it might be. In my mind I was hoping my skinny arms could at least blast me up into the air for three decent ones. At least the gym was nearly empty and nobody saw me attempt this!

Get Fitter: Can't clap? Add the exercise to your weekly routine but perform it with your hands elevated on an aerobics step, which reduces the load. Shoot for 3 sets of 5 reps, lowering the step as the exercise becomes easier.

Charlie watched me do these. I did them at home with my wife in the other room because I didn't want to be "that douche" at the gym doing clap pushups. I did 1 to try them out, and my arms landed strange. So I readjusted and started over. I got 16 more. RESULTS: passed easily.



Check 7: The Go-Muscle Test

The muscles of your posterior chain provide the power behind many of the most important skills in sports; consider them your "go" muscles. These include your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves—lots of muscles that may not be visible in the mirror but are vital to overall fitness. And no exercise hits them harder than the deadlift does. Load a barbell with the maximum amount of weight you think you can lift once, and roll the bar on the floor until it's close to your shins. Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar using an overhand grip that's just beyond shoulder width. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, pull your torso back and up, squeeze your glutes, thrust your hips forward, and stand up with the barbell. Reverse the movement to lower the bar to the floor, keeping it as close to your body as possible.

The MH Fit Standard: 1.75 times your body weight


My Score: 165 pounds, which is 1.14 times my body weight. It’s been a while since I even thought of attempting a deadlift. Part of me was happy that a) I could deadlift a weight slightly over my 145 pounds and b) I didn’t hurt myself. When I did the numbers in my head and realized 1.75 times my body weight is a little over 250 pounds, I see there’s a lot of work I could be doing.

Get Fitter: Add the deadlift to your weekly routine using a weight that allows you to do 3 sets of 5 reps. That's right, only 5 reps each set. "Keeping the rep count low allows you to do two things: concentrate on form and go heavy," says Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. When you can complete 2 extra repetitions in your last set for two consecutive workouts, move up in weight. Retest your 1-rep max every 2 to 3 months.

I’ve been wanting to incorporate the deadlift into my weights routine for a year now. But I know there’s a lot to know (that I DON'T know) about the proper form. This article was incentive to try it for the first time. I tried just the bar (45 lbs), then I added a plate on either side (135 lbs) and did a few reps with that. I quickly jumped up to 2 plates on each side (225 lbs) just to try it. I got that up relatively easily, but it was HEAVY. I stopped there at 1.34x my body weight, and didn’t try 1.75x, which would have been 294 lbs. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I would have been able to lift 294 once. And then the next day, my lower back was extra sore. I didn’t *hurt* anything... but it would be nice to get some deadlifts into my routine. RESULTS: not fully tested.



Check 8: Flexibility

The sit-and-reach check is a time-tested measure of flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings, two areas that are often super tight in men, especially those who sit in a chair at work. Tightness in these muscles is a major cause of back and knee pain. Check it out: Place a yardstick or cloth measuring tape on the floor and put a footlong piece of masking tape across the 15-inch mark. Take off your shoes and sit down with your legs out in front of you and your heels at the edge of the tape, one on each side of the yardstick. Keep both knees locked and pressed flat against the floor. (You can have a helper hold your knees down.) Now straighten your arms forward and place one palm over the back of the other hand. Bend forward, reaching as far as you can with your fingers while making sure that neither hand is reaching farther than the other. Take a few practice reaches, then hold the reach for 2 seconds while your partner records your distance.

The MH Fit Standard: 17 inches


My Score: 17 inches. Boom; got it. Thank you, foam-rolling-on-the-weekends for helping me finish on a higher note.

Get Fitter: It's time to wake up your hamstrings. Do this stretch daily, recommends BJ Gaddour, Men's Health's fitness director: Place your heel on a knee-high bench, a high table top or counter, or the appropriate step of a staircase and fully extend your leg. Flex your quad and push your heel down into the bench. Focus on hinging at the hips and minimizing movement at the spine to keep the stretch on the hamstrings. Oscillate in and out and move side to side to stretch all 3 compartment of the hamstring. Do it for 2-5 minutes on each leg. (View how to do it here.)

This was probably the one I was most sure of before trying it. I stretch a lot. I foam roll a lot. It's part of my daily routine. My wife knew I'd nail this one. Charlie helped hold my knees as Henry prepared the tape measure and then stood up to see how far I could stretch. I went well past my feet: 23 inches. RESULTS: passed easily.


So I didn't fully test 2, passed 5, and barely failed 1. That's honestly about how I thought I'd stack up. I can't say I'll be doing much to work on my explosiveness/power (the area I failed), but I *would* like to work more deadlifts into my routine. We'll see if I can do that this winter. (First, I need to get someone to teach me proper form.)

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE. Back with some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow.

Read more...

Twitter

Follow steveinaspeedo on Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2017 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
Want to use something seen here? Just ask - I don't bite.