Fitness Specter 8 – Road Workouts

Sometimes you have to leave town.  Sometimes you have to leave town for an extended period of time.  There are even sometimes when you can’t get yourself to your gym when you go out of town.  This column is all about working out options that don’t involve going to a gym.

FitSpecter300Not everybody has the same options but you need to be active while you’re away anyway, meaning you need to have yourself an “out of town” plan for working out.  I have one and I know that I’m about to be going out of town… well, at least for this example.

Or maybe I am actually going on a trip.

The idea is to continue things as closely to your routine as possible.  Or if you’re doing some sort of super power lifting bulking up program, maybe you just want to go to a gym.  They’ll have the weights you’re looking for… this column won’t.

What I’m looking at are two, maybe even three, alternatives to your normal routine.  There’s the “cardio the bejesus out of yourself” but if you’re out of town for more than a week, trying to cardio that much will just be terrible.  Why not use your bodyweight as the weights?  I’m talking about pushups, pull-ups, and basically looking at utilizing things in your hotel room.  Maybe the chair allows you to work your triceps (dips), the chair may also be heavy enough to curl (biceps), though only slightly different chairs in mind for that one.

What about bringing along some weights?  I’m not talking about staking your car full of weights that can help fulfill your biggest desires while on the road… grab some medium weight dumbbells that can help you tone some muscles and build other muscles.  If you have access to them, how about the BowFlex SelecTech dumbbells?  They have multiple selects for weight options and dumbbells can help with all kinds of exercises (curls, extensions, flyes, presses).  They would pack well, too.  In their absence, though, I’d bring a single set of medium weight dumbbells (lighter than your max so you can use them in multiple ways).

Make sure you continue the cardio while you’re away, though.  Even though I don’t recommend only doing cardio I suggest you don’t stop the cardio while on vacation.  You won’t be able to do as much as you have been doing but you really shouldn’t try to go as far as you normally do.  That may make you look a little crazy.

Stay fit, don’t take the week off… don’t take two weeks off… don’t take lots of time off because when you climb off the horse the horse tends to run away and you have to catch the horse.  I took six weeks off and getting back into the gym was really, really hard.  In fact, I had to have a slight kick in the ass to climb back on the horse.  That was the reason for the extensive horse analogy.

I’m back on the horse, though, and when I get a chance to take a trip, I won’t stop working out and you shouldn’t either.

Lift it.

Fitness Specter 7 – Pump Up to the Jam

I don’t know anyone who works out that doesn’t listen to some music while they’re doing so… in fact, there is so little people interacting with each other at the Gold’s Gym I go to, I sometimes wonder if anyone really goes there because they want to.  What I’m saying about that they probably want to workout at home… but that isn’t what this column is about… this column is about work out music!

FitSpecter300I’m what you might call a mixmaster.  I create “mix tapes” of music that I like listening to and quite often that spills into things like workout music.  In fact, I’ve curated two “workout albums” of music that I’d like to share with you and let you know that I’ve started working on a third one… but let’s not get ahead of myself.

My musical collections are known as “Pumped,” which gets me pumped up and ready to go just reading the title.  On Pumped (volume 1), I have a collection of music that really gets me motivated to lift some weights.  Golden Dawn by Ministry is a nice “wrestling theme music” style song to build me up and leads off my swing.  Next comes Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and if you’re laughing, just think about how energetic the music is and don’t listen to the lyrics while you’re working out you have nothing to laugh at.  I’m Bad by LL Cool J, followed by Bangarang by Skrillex, and Right Round by Flo Rida are next in line and just rocking enough to keep you through the “initial rush” of the beginning.  You’re then treated to Cowboys from Hell by Pantera, More Human Than Human by White Zombie, Pound the Alarm by Nicki Minaj, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses, and Go Cut Creator by LL Cool J are the “pump back up” you need to get through towards the end portion of your workout… you’ll be waning a bit by this time but don’t stop, and that’s what the music is designed to do.  Applause by Lady Gaga, Turn Me On by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj, Starships by Nicki Minaj, and I Don’t Wanna Stop by Ozzy Osbourne round out the music.

I won’t delve into the second list of music in this column but I want you to know that group is designed for a different reason.  Pumped is different from Pumped 2 because I wanted them to achieve different ends.  What do you want your music to achieve?  Staying energetic is important, especially if you’re going solo, and if you’re at home then it’s even more so important.  There is so much that you need to think about so you don’t have to think when you’re working out.

If your thing is country music, I’d go with the more “rocking” country music.  If you like rap, I’d suggest going with the heavy and faster beat rap.  If you’re like me, and you like a little bit of metal with some electronic sounding stuff, I’d start putting together this list and see how it works for you.  Let me know, too.  I’d like to see if my music works for others, too.

Lift it.

Fitness Specter 6 – Goals

Welcome to the Fitness Specter WEEK, folks.  In honor of the impending Mr. Olympia contest on September 19 & 20, I’m putting out a Fitness Specter every day this week.  That means five full columns of Fitness Specter goodness, starting right now!

In this Fitness Specter, we are going to talk about setting goals.  Want to understand more then read on!

FitSpecter300Everybody that works out needs to have a goal.  When I say “work out” I also mean those of us that choose to go to a gym and lift weights… bodybuilding.  If you want to do any sort of bodybuilding and you’re actually serious about the idea of lifting, you need to decide what your goal is to achieve anything.  Yeah, that means you need to set a goal.

I chose Arnold Schwarzenegger for the “cover art” of this column for a reason.  I believe that the definition of the champions, the Olympia winners, is something to pay attention to and Arnold’s generation has a special kind of look to them.  They all had pretty significant “definition,” for aesthetics.

Here is Hugh Jackman:

HughHe’s got more aesthetics going on than anything else with his body building.  He’s an actor, that’s really what is necessary when they want when they’re filming.  This would be “definition” and this would be more about what I was initially shooting for: looking ripped.

Here is the current 3-time reigning Mr. Olympia Phil Heath:

PhilPhil is different from Hugh in the fact that Phil has spent the better part of his life bodybuilding, and therefore is absolutely massive.  He’s a professional bodybuilder but there are those who want the size, and he’s got both size AND definition.  He will be my representation of pure size, though.

Hugh is defined.  In this example, Phil is big.  You need to know what you’re working for in order to actually achieve what you’re hoping for.  There are two paths on this one and they are actually quite different paths to follow.

The size path is one of a very strict eating regimen, very well plotted out workouts, and very strict routines to get as big as you can get.  You’re eating nothing outside of a very specific list of items, food designed to help you maximize nutritional output and you’re lifting towards gaining size, meaning you’re after heavier weights and increasing your weight limits.  Yeah, you’re spending a lot of time doing cardio, a lot of time lifting weights, and you aren’t deviating from your diet at all… or so little that when you do you’ll feel terrible for doing so.

The definition path is not nearly as strict but you need dedication nonetheless.  Definition still requires eating a very specific diet but you don’t need to be AS strict as going the size route.  You are lifting up to a certain weight and spending more time lifting for more reps than anything else, which is what defining is really all about.  More reps, lighter weights, and eating right.  Having the occasional drink, eating something “not healthy” once or twice a month isn’t a killer and you can certainly take some time off now and then.

These are two very different routes but if you want one, then you need to put the effort in once you identify which route you’re taking.

I was initially heading for the definition and briefly considered the size… I think a mix of both, for me, might be better, but definition is where I’d ultimately like to be, I think.  I would like to look the part but  I haven’t been putting in the effort at the level I need to be… that changes right now.

Lift it.

Specter Who – Listen

This is going to be another short one, I didn’t have the time I thought I was going to in order to write this.  In short, this is a four out of five because I thought it could have been better but was way better than what has come before it.  Capaldi continues to be better than Smith and I’m sure I’m nearly alone on that one because my wife hates him.  She says he’s too grumpy… that’s what reminds me of Colin Baker, who happens to be my favorite.  Let’s get some better stories, Moffat, because that one would have been great if there were some sort of monster rather than just giving us a glimpse of what we got at the end.

Fitness Specter 5 – The New Blueprint

I’ve been doing my own thing since the third week in January with working out and I do feel like my muscles have gotten bigger, I do feel like I’ve gotten more fit, and I am happy with the meager progress I’ve made… but I had to do something different and I certainly needed to get in a specific plan, workout plan, to make myself into what I really want to be and that means I needed to seek out some very specific help.

This is the talk about my new blueprint.

FitSpecter300On BodyBuilding.com, there is a section of the website that has workout plans and part of those plans is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Blueprint.  That’s the reason for the name of this column, though I’m not following that particular plan.  I just liked the idea of a blueprint.

Rather than just lift weights, which is essentially what I was doing, I decided to ask someone for some professional advice.  I didn’t hire a trainer but I did talk to a friend who competes in fitness competitions.  Actually, I asked three of them and one actually gave me something substantial to work with.

What I had been doing was focusing on specific types of muscle groups.  I’d work very specifically a chest and triceps day, biceps another day, and I wouldn’t really work the legs a whole lot.  I wasn’t doing as many compound movements as I could and I was really falling into a funk.  Cardio wasn’t big on my list and I was basically treading water.  I needed a change.

Then I talked to the friend.

The first thing she did was give me five sets of workouts that were designed to push me to the limit, build up muscle, and burn with lighter lifting in all one workout.  The first day I was exhausted, still no cardio, and the second day I was surprised when I was done because I felt I could do more.  Still no cardio.  Day three starts tomorrow, as I write this, and I’m looking forward to the workout… and I’m including a healthy dose of cardio because I want to get somewhere.

I have an eating problem.  I eat healthy but I snack.  I get on a roll with eating this and that and I do eat healthy items but I eat too many calories without doing enough calorie burning.  I think that 45 minutes on the endless staircase tomorrow will help burn a lot of that off… especially since I’m going to go back to wearing something to cause me to sweat a whole lot more than I have been…

I’m going to get pumped up.

I made a joke to my wife earlier that I think I may want to get as big as Phil Heath or Kai Greene, because then there wouldn’t be any sagging skin… because as is, I’ll probably have to have that surgically removed… I don’t want to be that big, but it would be cool.  I just don’t have that kind of dedication.

But I’m going to see what kind I have starting tomorrow (because right now, it’s 10 pm and I’m on my way to bed).

Let’s go lift.

Footie Specter 2 – A Rough Start

I’m a Manchester United supporter.  The 2014-2015 season has started off really, really rough.  Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve really opened my eyes to what is going on with the Premier League yet this season but I suppose I need something to talk about and I’m going to start with games 1 and 2 of this current season.

FootieSpecter300David Moyes was the chosen successor to Alex Ferguson.  There was word that he was the chosen one and the one to lead United into the next epoch of greatness.  Less than half the season was all that we needed to see that he wasn’t going to be what we thought he was going to be.  Before the season was really over, Moyes had to know he was on his way out and when he was let go, I honestly couldn’t say that I was surprised.  I’ve not even bothered to learn the name of the new guy at the moment and that is because the season has started out really, really rough.

Game one was hard to watch the end of… because I managed to see the end of the game.  The highlights of the game were even harder to watch because I knew the outcome and I sighed seeing the ax finally fall.  I admit, I’ve been spoiled into thinking that losing was a “not very often” thing and now that I’m in with the rest of the supporters out there in the world, I am very understanding of how everyone else was feeling while we were rolling over them.

Before I go on lamenting, let me state that I understand that Manchester United won’t be like this forever… there will be a resurgence, I just don’t know how long that is going to take.

Game two I have not had a chance to see.  Looking at the “box score,” I can say that I’m not very impressed with the performance.  Sure, I bet the game was better than all of that, but a draw is still a draw.  At least the draw was with Sunderland, because at least I consider them worthy of being competition for the level of United.  Game one against Swansea was embarrassing.

One embarrassing loss.  One miserable draw.  That is a terrible start to the season and I’m hoping for a very long run of unbelievable wins because without a strong presence in the winning column for the next few games, I don’t really know if Manchester United has any hope of finishing in the top five this year, much less in the top two.  I would have to see some miraculous play from United for a big chunk of the season now to say that they have any chance of winning the league.  That is sad, considering my level of dedication.

I have been peeking at the other leagues I follow and I think that enjoying some of them may be better for my health this season.  Time will tell, of course.

Let’s play some footie.

Ingress Intel 6 – Farming

You want supplies?  You want bursters?  You want resonators?  Then come on down to *location redacted* for the best ones of them all!  Level 16s!  Come down to *location redacted* to farm the best Ingress supplies around!  Hurry, available while supplies last.

Ingress300Alright, that was a little fun to start things off with a fake commercial, right?  Come on…

Anyway, I’m here to talk about farming.  I am a farmer, of bursters, and I’m ramping up for one hell of a grand “get out of town” party.  There’s a plan that will be put into motion and I need as many bursters, resonators, and all the fun things associated with that I can get my grubby little hands on.  That means I need to do me some farming!

Where I’m from, the exact city, there are two level 8 portals with ultra rare multipacks (2) and ultra rare heat sinks (2) on them, allowing us to hack them about 25 to 30 times a piece.  When they both burn out, as long as you’ve glyph hacked them the whole time, you’ll end up with about 100 new toys to play with.  At least 100 new items, though a lot of them will be resonators.  Bursters still come but they won’t come as much.

The whole process takes about an hour to burn both portals out.  Get some friends together and you’ve got yourself one bunch of people staring at their phones and glyph hacking without doing more than telling a few quippy anecdotes to pass the time.  The glyph hacking makes the hacking non-stop, by the way.

Sure, there are only of them and once they’re burned out it takes a full four hours to hack them again, but at least they are there and are close enough to do the multiple hacking.

This is because our entire city (we are technically two cities) has agreed not to take these portals out, though we can flip them all we want, we can farm them without needing to worry about not having a place to farm.  That is something, at least.

I am always wanting to farm them, though I don’t get there as often as I’d like.  I would love to set one up a lot closer to home, too, because the portals aren’t exactly outside the front door.  Having one just outside the front door would be awesome and I’d love to suggest that but I am only one of two people that can make a part of a level 8 portal.  Being able to have a few more in on that and having everyone in the area be on board with making more untouchable portals.

That doesn’t have much to do with farming, though.  Find your local farm.  Farm it.  You need to be able to get stuff at your level and you need to make sure that you have everything you can get for when you really need it.  Who knows when you’ll come across an enemy portal that just looks like it needs to come down.

Hack it.

Game Specter 2 – Learning FATE Core

I have only played the storytelling/storyteller system created by White Wolf since December 1994, when I was introduced to Vampire: the Masquerade.  That means, if you’re counting, I’ve only really gotten to interact with the the White Wolf system for the last 20 years.  All that is about to change because I’m making a concerted effort to learn something new.  I’m learning FATE Core!

GameSpecter300Yes, I’m late to the party on this one.  There have been plenty of people making plenty of effort to play FATE for a long time now and that means I need to start branching out because no one is willing to play the storytelling/storyteller without playing one of the splats associated with the system.  I’ve even suggested making modifications that have only somewhat been responded to by a few and that also means I need to be as into that idea as I’ve suggested others should be.  Well, I haven’t been.

I aim to change things.  I am going to change things UP.

Starting with learning a brand new system, that system being FATE, I am going to build a test adventure that I can run with my buddy Bob and perhaps some of his friends… which means I am going to run a FATE game.  Yes, a game system other than White Wolf.

I know, I know… this shouldn’t be that much an exciting moment but I have to say that I’m really into the idea of playing something new.  Well, running that something new, anyway… then maybe I can get some play time in eventually after Bob and company learns how the game runs.  Maybe they already know, but I’ll see about that in the future.

The one thing about roleplaying that I want to do more of is actually doing the roleplaying part.  I want to develop a story, I want to solve a mystery, I want to interact with the world, and I want to see what things are like when one has to problem solve.  The thing that I always end up having to play is when people bring out the guns, swords, and whatever other handy weaponry and they start a combat that eats up valuable roleplaying time.

I’ve had enough of combat.  Combat is over.  I would like less combat.  Combat is fine in small chunks but not when half of the session ends up being nothing but 73 seconds of combat action.  Yeah, that isn’t very fun, especially when 73 seconds turns into three and a half hours of rolling dice and damage.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress but I’m hopeful to get a little bit read every day and then start building a little bit of a base of what I’d like to run as I go along.  The Knights of the Night have helped show me how awesome FATE can be and I hope that I can be as lucky as that group is with finding players in that same type of mind frame.

We’ll see.  Let’s roll.

Storytelling Specter 4 – “Pilot Season” Update

For anyone who isn’t up to speed, what I’m calling a “pilot season” is actually my short story writing all of a list of ideas into thirteen 3,000 word stories.  Now that you’re up to speed, let’s get an update out of the way with an idea about what I plan on doing from here.

StorytellingSpecter300The original idea of the pilot season was to write all my ideas, or at least a list of them, into shorter versions of what I envisioned them to be in the first place.  Well, I made a list of thirteen ideas that I really wanted to write and as I write this I have gotten about a third into the fifth story.  Being a third into the fifth story I am very excited to actually start expanding on the ones that I’ve already written.  Yeah, I’m ready to start outlining and plotting a “season” of one big story!

The idea behind jumping on the plotting of one of the bigger story expansions is that the story should then be ready to start distributing in chunks at the beginning of the year, unless I can get that done in a shorter order… but that isn’t a likely scenario.

I want to write.  I want to be a writer.  I actually want to be an AUTHOR, not just a writer.  If I can produce some novels, that would be great.  The whole point of this series is actually to make a novel, which will be distributed in smaller chunks, for a free preview style release.  Some of my ideas will even be produced into audiobooks, podiobooks, or whatever you’d like to call them.  Dramatized a bit, for sure.

There is so much of me that wants to tell you all about the wonderfulness that is what I’ve written so far… hell, the last 3,000 word story was flowing so well that I almost kept writing through the hard end.  The whole point is to tell the story from start to finish and I wanted to write more!  Yes, that means I’ve got myself going in the right direction.  Or is that the WRITE direction?

Sorry for the pun.  I like them.

My genre of choice is science fiction.  That’s the first genre I go to when I start thinking about what I’d like to write.  There are other attached genres that I delve into from time to time but science fiction is really where I concentrate most of my efforts because I like the genre.

What kind of science fiction?  Well, I like the space opera, some hard science fiction, some modern day “science fiction twist” type stuff, and more.  While I like my science fiction in a variety of ways, I am very particular with the science fiction that I read.  I do try to give a wide variety of stuff a shot but there is also my picky nature preventing me from just opening up.

Enough of that for now, it’s time to write more columns and fill out my content.