Thursday, May 28, 2009

Camel Jumping

Heh, when I first read about camel jumping (via RossTraining), I thought to myself "I didn't know camels could jump."  Of course, it's not the camels doing the jumping in this case.

I'm sure I could come up with some smart ass comment about the sport, but at the moment, I'm too impressed that the guy had enough hang time to clear six camels.  Ok, maybe I can think of just a couple of humorous (dumb) comments:  I just don't have enough in me to make it over the hump.  That sort of physical exertion might make me yak.

All right, I'm going to leave my comments at that.  I'm seriously impressed at this somewhat unconventional display of athleticism.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The quick fix

Recently, I read a post on T-nation on training myths.  This mythbuster post made the claim that steroids are overrated and that they don't do nearly as much as most people thinks.  That's an interesting claim, especially coming from a site with a heavy body building slant.  Turns out that I actually agreed with the assessment after I read through the explanation.

Steroids are useful (for the bodybuilder/athlete/etc) for building muscle mass, but there's a big caveat for maximizing the positive effects.  If you're not already working out hard and eating smart, the 'roids probably won't do that much.  It would be akin to putting racing tires on a car with a 4-cylinder engine; the tires may be great, but they don't make up for the fact that the core (engine) of the car sucks.

That got me to thinking about how people are always looking for the quick fix.  There's no substitute for effort.  Even geniuses need to work hard to attain greatness (though it may come easier for them than the average person).  Similar to steroids would be sports supplements IMHO.  They don't do much except fill the coffers of supplement companies unless you're actually training hard enough to need them.

I was talking to one guy in the gym who was asking about which protein shake was the best to take to gain muscle mass.  Fair question (even though not one I'm well equipped to answer being that I don't actually buy those things).  Turns out upon further questioning that he doesn't eat breakfast, eats irregular meals, doesn't even do strength training on a regular schedule, and only does exercises which hit small muscles.  You're just not going to gain any appreciable muscle with poor eating habits, an irregular training schedule, and poor exercise choices.  He shouldn't have even bothered with protein shakes until he took care of the basics.  He totally fell for the quick fix marketing of the protein shake.

My parents shared a Chinese adage with me (which I've heard again from a third party, so I'm confident they weren't making this one up): an idiot who works hard will surpass the lazy genius.  In their own Asian work ethic way were trying to teach me that there's just no substitute for effort.  You can work smarter and find ways to facilitate a process, but in the end there's no quick fix for achieving anything you truly value.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Maintaining Literacy

I've never been a big book reader, except for maybe a brief stint during my middle school years. Being educated and all, I seem to be the exception rather than norm in this regard amongst my peers. Almost everyone I know seems to be more well read than me. Sure, I read plenty of stuff, but it just doesn't tend to be in book format. I'm more likely to be reading articles (online and dead tree), blogs, forums, etc. Maybe it's because I tend to read more of the "how to do stuff" and "how stuff works" sort of things that my fascination with books never quite took off. I find other sources tend to get me the information faster and are usually a little more up to date.

On the other hand, I did marry an English professor. I'm not entirely sure why she agreed to marry me since I must appear nearly illiterate with the dearth of literature in my collection. But I am working on upping my reading rate. My normal book reading average over the past few years was 1-2 books a year. In the past six months, I've managed to read 3: The Four Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss), The Subtle Knife (Phillip Pullman), and The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan). I'm not counting the strength training anatomy book I read since it was mostly pictures, and I'm currently working on The Amber Spyglass (also by Pullman). If I keep up this pace, I'm probably going double or triple my usual reading average.

I'm ambivalent about my new reading habits. I'm usually too busy tackling more projects than I can feasibly handle. I'm enjoying the ability to read at the moment, so I'm hoping that this reading uptick isn't an outlier.