Random Thoughts and Quick Hits

Things have been crazy the past few days and my mind has been all over the place. Rather than fight, I decided to Just Go With It (see number 6 for the pun) and spill some randomness.

1. Exercise as a Stress Reliever. We hear a lot about exercise being a stressor the body, which it certainly can be. We hear comparatively little, however, about exercise being a stress reliever for the mind. In my mind, when life is throwing you curveballs and nothing seems to be going right, there is nothing better than a good hard workout to clear your mind and calm you down. This seems to apply to most forms of stress, but none more so than anger.

So of my best workouts have come when I’m the most pissed off. It’s a socially acceptable way to vent. When I’ve got that feeling where all I want to do is punch someone in the face, I take it out on the weights. I’ll even visualize whatever it is that’s pissing me off and use as motivation to push harder. It works out well because I avoid getting myself into trouble, I calm myself down, and I get stronger in the process. It’s a win-win-win.

When life gets busy and times get tough, it’s easy to make excuses for why you can’t or shouldn’t exercise, but it’s during these times that it becomes paramount that you get it done. As much as you might not feel like at the time, you’ll almost invariably feel better afterwards. Try to make the most of a bad situation.

2. Wide Grip Chinups and Close Grip Pullups. As part of my pullup/chinup experiment to test my strength with various grips, I am not only using different grips but different widths. It has been interesting to see how strength levels compare, and some of them have varied quite dramatically. It has been a cool project because I have been able to figure out which grips I like best and which ones I don’t like so much. Two that I haven’t liked are wide grip chin-ups and close-grip pull-ups. You normally see wide-grip pull-ups and close-grip chin-ups and I can see why.

Wide-grip chin-ups feel good in the lats and upper back, but they are awfully stressful on the wrists at the top. This is exacerbated by the bent bars found in many racks (such as the one in the video below), but I found it to be a problem even with the straight bar. Other people may not have a problem, but this isn’t something I’ll be doing again. Still, it was interesting to me to see how much harder it is using a super wide grip compared to a standard width (a little outside shoulder width). I got 5 reps with 100 lbs added, which is less than half what I did with a normal grip. Those few inches make a world of difference, both in terms of strength and in terms of joint stress.

Close grip pull-ups felt fine on my joints, but I still did not like them as much as normal width. I got the same amount of reps (9), but I felt these much more in my forearms and less in my lats and upper back, which is what I’m trying to work during this exercise. I think the grip needs to be wide enough that the arms can come to sides of the bottom in order to get full scapular retraction.

I’m still glad I tried these two variations out because even though I don’t necessarily like them, I think in experimentation, you learn as much from the failures as you do from the successes. I will continue to post my thoughts on different grips as I try them out and record my results.

3. New Hampshire Pride. Someone posted this on my Facebook wall recently and it had me absolutely cracking up. If you aren’t from New Hampshire most of it probably won’t make sense, but for all you Granite Staters out there, enjoy!

4. 1 Arm Dumbell Bench Press. 4 months ago in a previous Random Thoughts post I questioned the bilateral deficit with regards to upper body movements, and specifically mentioned the dumbell bench press as an example of a lift where I felt like the bilateral version was substantially stronger than its unilateral counterpart. Well, after much testing, I’d like to quash that doubt because I realized yesterday that my strength on single arm dumbell bench presses has actually surpassed what I can do on regular dumbell bench presses. The difference is slight, but it’s there.

Just like with single leg training, it took me a little while to get the hang of the lift, but once I did, my numbers increased quickly. Patience, grasshoppa.

5. Dunk Contest. I have heard a lot of people criticize the use of props during this year’s Dunk Contest, but I thought it was great. The dunks this year were just unreal. I love watching it every year because I am just so impressed with the athleticism these guys have. It just amazes how well these guys can be so big yet move so gracefully. Poetry in motion. Blake Griffin stole the show, but I think Javale McGee and Serge Ibaka could make an equally compelling case for why they should have won. My 5 favorites.

Javale dunks on two different hoops

Javale dunks 3 balls at once!

Ibaka dunks from the free throw line. I have actually heard people say this isn’t that impressive because he is 7 feet tall. Come on man! In my mind, his size makes it all the more impressive. Most guys that are 7 seven feet tall are so clumsy they can hardly tie their own shoes. This is nuts.

Ibaka grabs a toy animal in his teeth.

And last but not least, Blake Griffin hops a car.

I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with next year.

6. Just Go With It. I am a HUGE Adam Sandler fan. For one, he’s a fellow New Hampshire native, but more importantly, he’s just flat out hilarious. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore still rank in my top ten favorite movies of all time. When I saw he was coming out with a new movie that also included schwingtastic co-stars Jennifer Anniston and Brooklyn Decker, I had to see it immediately.

It was good. Not even in the same league as Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, but still definitely worth seeing. It’s hard when an actor sets the bar so high right out the gate because none of the subsequent movies can really compare (think Jim Carey, Vince Vaughn, etc.), but this was far from his worst showing. Plus, Jennifer Anniston is a complete babe.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Check back soon for more updates. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to my You Tube page because I’ve got some more videos on the way. Also, follow me on Twitter to stay in the loop. Thanks.