Lifting and strength training - Intro and the Big 4

I grew up a computer/video game nerd and have zero strength training background and little natural athletic ability. Early this year, I decided to get myself into lifting, get strong and get in better shape.

I have been pretty committed, dedicated and have found myself enjoy time with the weights. I am by no means an expert, but I've learned a few things so far that I thought could be of help to those thinking about getting into lifting.

When we talk about serious strength training, nearly all programs focus on the big 4: squat, bench, deadlift and overhead/military press. There are lots of great YouTube videos on the correct form for each of these--search them up and watch. Having good form is important for not only helping you lift the most weight, but also ensuring you stay injury free.

Of the big 4, I've found the squat hardest to perform. I have tight, not very flexible hips, and have had to focus on improving my mobility there. YouTube up "Mobility WOD" if you run into similar issues--lots of excellent stretches to help loosen things up.

Though most agree that the big 4 should be the foundation of any program, there's less consensus on other program variables like number of reps, sets, frequency of training, progression and what, if any assistance work one should do. That's where the differences come in when you look at programs like Starting Strength, StrongLifts 5x5, 5/3/1 or whatever else. More on programming to come.

The big 4 are all barbell exercises, so you'll need to hit a gym or invest in some home gym equipment to perform them. I went the route of setting up a garage gym, and it took me several months to put together all of the needed equipment. The wait and expense has been well worth it and the best way for me to ensure I can lift 3-4 times a week. More is in the works to discuss the equipment side of things. I have become a huge fan of Rogue Fitness gear -- a bit pricier than some of the Chinese-made stuff, but super solid, great company and made in the USA.

Whatever program you choose, adding incremental amounts of weight, tracking your progress and tracking your personal records (PRs) is key and part of the fun. Watching your strength progress is awesome. Crushing reps with weights that you couldn't even lift once...pretty sweet, and the progression quickly becomes addictive.

More to come. Hit me up with questions or requests in the comments section.


The world is NOT ending this weekend

Once you're ready spiritually and physically...you're ready. After that, it's physical and spiritual maintenance, constant improvement and enjoying life
For those who haven't heard, there's a bunch of buzz over tomorrow night's "super blood moon" and various other signs of the times as indicators that the rapture is nigh. Mormons in particular have been getting caught up in this latest panic to the point where church leadership issued a statement telling the minority who were freaking out to calm themselves down. The freak out hasn't been limited to my Latter-day Saint peoples of course; many others are getting their panic buying on.

There are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now that one could certainly see as signs that the end is near. I am totally with you. And convincing arguments can certainly be woven by using scripture, historical records and some good story telling.

However, before you get carried away, take a look at this long list of failed apocalyptic prophesies for some perspective. People have been prophesying the end of the world for a couple thousand years now. Nobody has been right yet.

After this weekend, they'll be adding another line item to that list.

The KJV is pretty clear on apocalyptic predictions: But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

But I suppose the prophets of doom disregard that verse.

Trying to predict the end of days or foresee cataclysmic events is a waste of time and mental energies.

Instead, prepare what you need, physically and spiritually.  Be ready and stay ready for tough times--they will come, and you probably won't be able to see 'em coming. Be ready to meet God, whether that's tomorrow or 60 years from now. 

The timing and nature of these things is out of your hands. Control what you can, don't sweat the rest.


Recommended Reading: Carryology - What Refugees Bring When the Run for their LIves

Image via Carryology

The Syrian refugee crisis is both a tragedy and an example of what bugging out actually tends to look like. It's not glamorous--it's horribly desperate. Men, women and children fleeing their homelands for the hope of safety somewhere else.

These are the lucky ones who have made it to some relative safety, versus drowning in the sea or suffocating in the back of a truck. They've had to rely on smugglers to move them out of country, and were limited to one small bag. Big bags, suitcases and other belongings were left behind.

This article is a look inside their one bag.

They don't have much--a change of clothes, some money, a cell phone and some miscellaneous toiletries. All that they've managed to hold onto during their flight to safety. 

Take a look.

Read at Carryology >


Update / Keeping Grounded

Well, been almost exactly two months since my last post. Took an unplanned hiatus from T-Blog. Not sure what my posting frequency will be like going forward, but felt like posting something up for the first time in a long while. Thanks to TimSAZ for the poke.

Why the hiatus? Honest answer--I've my focus has been other places. Three little kids, busy and work, and my spare time has been focused on strength training. I've gotten mildly obsessive about lifting and improving my health...I'm learning a lot and making slow progress, but still a total noob.

As a result, I haven't been thinking a whole ton 'bout preparedness these days (blasphemy!), and haven't had much blogging inspiration as a result. Honestly, got a bit burnt out on the whole scene.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be ready for the curve balls that life throws all of us, not just the low likelihood, world ending stuff. People have been worried about the apocalypse for a few thousands years...hasn't happened yet. But people get laid off, have medical emergencies (and the accompanying medical bills), or die young due to terrible health on a regular basis.

Paying off debt and building a financial safety net ain't glamorous, but you're a heck of a lot more likely to need that extra cash in the next year than night vision goggles, a battle rifle, custom 1911 and a mountain of ammo.

Physical fitness is going to be more useful to you throughout your whole life than most any other prep or skill you can come up with. Heck, it'll probably help extend your life, and certainly improve the quality of whatever time you have left.

Strong relationships with family and friends--people who've got your back and will help you out in tight spot--are likewise worth more than we often give them credit for.

It's really easy to get your priorities out of whack. The guns, blades, gear, the survival skills...all are fun, sexy and cool. And all certainly have their place and importance. But don't get caught up in them to the point that they become a detriment to other, more important things. I'm certainly guilty of doing so.

Sit down, do some introspection and make sure you're focusing on what's truly most important, and what is most likely to be needed. If those things aren't in order, make them a priority.


3 Techniques to improve your Mental Toughness

There's a reason why special operations forces use grueling, nearly torturous selection courses...they want to weed out the quitters and the weak...those without the mental toughness to keep going, even when they're completely, totally and utterly exhausted.

If your will is broken, you're done for.

Mental fortitude is the oft undervalued trait that more often makes the difference between triumph or defeat.

Even in every day life, you need self discipline and willpower to do what you need to and keep making progress towards your goals. 

Most of our caveman brains have a hard wired aversion to things that are difficult, uncomfortable or downright painful...even if they're things we know and believe we should be doing. Instead, our brains want the easy, quick fix.

Case in point: physical training of any kind. Everyone knows you should exercise--but how many people don't do it, or struggle to do so consistently.

Our brains are awesome at coming up with reasons for why we shouldn't do those hard, uncomfortable things:
"I'm too tired."
"I'm too busy."
"I deserve a break."
"This isn't worth it."
"I'm not having fun."

It's natural. It's normal. There's a big part of our brains that wants us to sit around and eat donuts. Eat, drink and be merry.

But, guess what? You can't let that part of your brain win.

Luckily, there are simple mental techniques that you can use help to overcome your inner weakling. These may seem like minor, but they're used by some of the toughest, disciplined and successful people in the world.

Here are three of my favorites:

A large number of big, daunting problems can be daunting, discouraging and overwhelming.

Breaking those problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces can make them easier to handle. Focus on the obstacle right in front of you; get over it and move onto the next.

That can mean breaking things down to one day at a time, one minute at a time or one footstep at a time. However small and manageable you need to in order to make progress.

Small goals lead to small victories, and small victories add up fast.

"Just get through the next day and you're golden."
"Just make it to the top of that next hill."
"Just one more step...one step is no big deal."

I've read dozens of accounts of special operation soldiers, survivors and others, and this is one of the most commonly used and powerful coping mechanisms.
Just Get Started
This ties in with compartmentalization. You can't make progress if you never start, and starting is often the hardest part. Maybe it's overwhelming, maybe you're tired--whatever. 

So, tell yourself that you just need to do one, small thing--that's it--and then you'll be done.

And then you do that one thing, and hey--not so bad. Why not keep going?

I do this frequently with PT, when I'm tired and don't feel like diving into an hour long workout session. I'll tell that inner weakling to just do the one main exercise--squats, deadlift or bench--and then it's okay to be done. That way I'll at least get my workout in.

Sure enough, 95% of the time, that turns into the full workout session.

Give it a try.

Remember the Big Goal
"A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain." -- Unbroken

Keeping your eye on the prize--your ultimate goal--is a powerful motivator for making progress. Adopt the attitude that you are going to achieve that goal, no matter what--because it's worth doing whatever it takes.

Great, meaningful victories require work. A lot of work. Years or even lifetimes of work.

That could be success at physical training, winning some competition or making it home to see your family again.

Visual reminders of your goal or motivation can be inspirational here. Arnold or Bruce Lee posters slapped on wall of your home gym. A picture of your family tucked in your wallet. Whatever you need to help keep you focused and working towards your goal.

Have another technique that helps you stick to your plans? Favorite motivational quote, person or book you'd like to share? Let the TEOTWAWKI Tribe know in the comments section.


Recommended Viewing: Expedition Overland

File this one under off roading, adventure, awesome gear and amazing cinematography. Last season, the crew explored their way through British Columbia and Alaska...this time, they're heading south of the border, through Central America and back again.

They're well funded and have sponsorships for some great brands (Triple Aught Design this year), so they've got pretty much the best outfitted vehicles and gear for the journey. And, knowing their audience, they dive into the details of vehicle outfitting, med kits, tool kits, food and personal kit and clothing...all very comprehensive and well thought out. If you're like me, you'll eat this stuff up.

It'll also make you want to grab the 4x4 and head out in search of adventure...and that's part of the point.

Central America will prove interesting--there's the jungles, the many countries and of course security concerns. They'll be rolling $100K off-road rigs through some pretty corrupt, dangerous and primitive places. Watching from home, that makes things interesting...and draws some more parallels to a crap hits the fan scenario.

Worth your time...watch and discuss in the comments below.