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10 Physical Exercises To Avoid

14 Feb

Because many preppers are younger guys big into physical fitness, I thought I’d share my views about some exercises that are best avoided. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should! I want to emphasize I’m not a physical therapist or anything. This is only my personal opinion. Research the pros/cons of each and make your own informed decision.

1) Wrestlers Bridges. These things can really mess up your neck. Ask me how I know. The idea is that the material between your neck vertebrae gets compressed and can’t recover. Neck strengthening is important to wrestlers and other athletes. Finding a safe way to strengthen the neck, not so easy. Some will not be adversely affected by this, but some will. If your neck ever freezes to one side, spinning around like a dog chasing his tail helps alleviate the pain.

2) One armed pull up. OK, few will ever get far enough in their training to attempt it, but even if you do, this is way too much load to put on the connective tissue holding your biceps to bone. If you get this strong, you risk having the connective tissue rip before your muscle fails.

3) The push up equivalent of the one armed pull up is the 90 degree push up. These are extremely impressive. I believe the world record is like 13. Again, way too much physical stress on the body.

4) Upright rowing. This was one of my personal favorite exercises. I miss it. The experts say this has a progressive damaging effect on the shoulders. Imagine wearing away at your nerve tissue with a dull knife. That’s my very simplified understanding of what’s happening. If you must do it, don’t raise the bar too high. Better: Do Shrugs.

5) Behind the back pull ups or military presses. Most physical fitness buffs know you shouldn’t do heavy lifting with your hands behind your back. A shoulder thing.

6) Planches from the ground. These look kinda like a static push up. If you want to do these, make yourself a pair of parallette bars.
The problem with doing them from the ground is that you hyperextend your wrists. You don’t want to hyperextend most of your body parts. Doing so means you’re forcing a connection of your joint to go farther than it’s designed to do.

7) Hyperextension of the knee joint is also bad. Have you ever had the ugly feeling of having your knee joint “buckle” the wrong way? Standing on your feet with your legs locked at bending forward to stretch risks hyperextension. If you want to do this stretch, do it from a sitting position or allow a slight bend in your knees.

8) Everybody knows by now not to do hurdler’s stretches. Twisty knee, no good. Included for completeness.

9) Crossfit anything. Just joking. I don’t want to get beat up by the Crossfit guys. Those guys are scary. Many exercise physiologists don’t like some of their exercises though. Here are a few:

a) Doing powerlifting exercises for reps and time. Nothing better than pushing to exhaustion with 500 pounds above your head!

b) Jumping down from box jumps. Can rupture ankle tendons.

c) Anything that has the word “kipping” in it. Kipping? Isn’t that a fish?

10) Dips with the elbows behind the back. A shoulder thing. Many people do huge numbers of these without any problems, but the experts advise avoidance if you have shoulder issues.


For the health conscious, this is interesting: People with faster reaction times have less chance of premature death. It’s believed fast reaction times are reflective of a well-functioning central nervous system.

Want to test your own reaction time? Try the sheep dash.

I’d feel a lot better about this article if I wasn’t an old and overweight bobcat who needs to drink more coffee. Has anyone ever achieved “Super-charged cheetah”?

Patty Cake For Adults: Proprioceptive Exercises

3 Nov

As we age, we lose our sense of physical balance. Likely, this is because we become more sedentary. Because falls are a significant problem for the elderly, it’s a good idea for us to improve our resistance to trips and falls.

Anyone who’s suffered an ankle or knee injury knows reinjury is a problem.

Watching professional athletes is impressive because of their agility and ability to react in less than the blink of an eye.

What do these three topics share in common? How can younger folks be better athletes? How can older folks improve their safety? What kind of rehabilitation do we need for ankle and knee injuries?

The theme word: Proprioception. The following links explain far better than I could:

If you’re looking for athletic proprioceptive exercises:

“Oh, my God. That was close” is usually what goes through your mind after your proprioceptive sense saves you.

Just when you think the limits of human capacity have been reached…here’s an impressive fellow (one arm handstand pushups):

If you’re working on your balance, it’s only a matter of time before you contemplate something like balancing upside down. Don’t do it. Not for long anyway.

Keep Your Brain Healthy: Train Your Brain

10 Sep

We all know the benefits of exercise and healthy living. It’s good for your body. You have less risk of diabetes, heart attacks, and other ailments. It’s important to keep your brain healthy too!

Here’s how:

1) Get cardio exercise. It improves blood flow to the brain which helps the brain repair itself and build new brain cells. If you read about the brain today, you’ll come across the word “plasticity” which means that the brain has a surprising ability to change over time. The healthier your body is, the healthier your brain will be. Just like biceps or belly fat, the brain can get better or worse, depending on our actions. The building of new brain cells is called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis can happen in anybody, regardless of age.

2) Avoid getting hit in the head. Well, duh. If you walked into a boxing gym in the 1980s and started talking about “brain damage,” many boxers would argue that brain damage doesn’t happen to every boxer. Today, we know better.

In non-technical terms, the brain is relatively soft and gel like. The skull is bone and hard. When the brain gets bounced around, it smashes up against the skull. It develops tiny cuts. These cuts are a source of a plaque that cause problems.

The sad fact: Any serious amateur or professional boxer with six or seven years of serious training and competitive fights has some level of brain damage. It’s unavoidable.

More powerful blows to the brain can cause concussions. Repeated concussions are especially bad. If you suffer a concussion, you must let your brain fully heal before you risk injury again.

Some sports commentators predict that American football will cease to exist in the next thirty years, because of the risk of head injury. Many professional football players will not let their younger children play full contact football.

Be sure your children wear helmets when they bike or skateboard. In my time, this would have been seen as a sissy thing. The truth: protecting your head is always smart.

3) Reduce stress. Stress floods the brain with harmful chemicals. One study showed poor people make worse decisions because they’re under financial stress. If you can remove the source of stress that’s best. If you can’t, meditation can help people deal with stress. Exercise relieves stress too. Laughter reduces stress. Building strong social ties reduces stress.

4) Use it or lose it. To prevent mental decline we must challenge our brains. The fancy term given to this is “cognitive engagement.” Engage your brain in a challenging activity. Read a book, learn to play chess. In fact: Learn anything new. Whatever it is, is up to you. The process of learning will create new connections between brain cells that will keep your brain functioning at its best.

Mindfulness or concentrated thought is good for the brain. It doesn’t matter if its reading, meditation, or gardening. Mindfulness is all about learning to do one thing and give it your full attention. The more challenging it is, the better.

5) Eat healthy. It’s believed foods rich in antioxidants, like blueberries, protect the brain. A balanced diet that’s good for the body is good for the brain.

The opposite is true too: An unhealthy diet can damage the brain. Too much fat and sugar damages the hypothalamus. This can interfere with the body’s metabolism. It takes a long time to repair the damage, but the brain can heal with changes in diet. This is believed to be one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for overweight people to lose the extra pounds.

6) Engage the senses. The brain has a surprising number of jobs. It deals with sight, sound, touch, and smell. It can be rational or creative. It deals with emotions. It processes language. Certain parts of the brain have even been found to be active in spelling words. If, like me, you’re a lousy speller, blame it on your brain! That part of your brain just isn’t up to snuff.

Learning new motor skills forces the brain to learn and adapt. Lawrence C. Katz, author of Keep Your Brain Alive, coined the term neurobics to refer to brain exercises which engaged the senses in unique ways. You’ve probably heard about trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. This is a neurobic activity.

When you use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, you engage both sides of your brain. Watch a child use a spoon and you’ll see motor skills need to be honed through practice. We aren’t born with them.

For more of a challenge, try occasionally writing with your non-dominant hand. Other creative ways Katz likes to engage more of the senses: Learn some Braille. Reading with your fingers is no small thing. Or learn American sign language. Talk with your fingers, listen with your eyes.

The one thing I was shocked not to see in Katz’s book was dance. Dance could well be the ultimate neurobic activity. Even just taking a few steps backward powerfully engages the brain. Learn to dance GANGNAM STYLE and improve your ability to think on your feet.

One neurobic suggestion from Katz will go over well with preppers: He likes searching for edible wild plants or trying to identify flowers and trees. That can engage a sense of vision, touch, and smell. In the modern world, we let many of our senses wither and die. Get outside and enjoy nature. It’s a richer environment than a cubicle.


Miscellaneous (Sort Of) Deep Thoughts: NSA, Bug Out Bags, Pullups, Metal Prices

7 Aug

Our elected officials and head of the NSA told the American people they don’t collect data on American citizens. Enter Edward Snowden. Turns out they do collect data on us. OK. The jig is up.

Update. Our elected officials tell us they’re only collecting Meta-Data, not what’s said in our conversations. Don’t worry, your conversations are still private. Snowden says he could read anybody’s e-mail. Elected officials say that’s a lie.

Snowden releases training materials for the X-KEYSCORE program showing indeed, “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet” is collected. So much data is being collected it’s overwritten every three days. They just don’t have the data storage capacity to keep it. That’s way beyond meta-data.

Your data will only be kept if you searched for “suspicious stuff.” Yes, fellow preppers. That probably includes you. Preppers, by nature, are interested in “suspicious stuff.”

And, no. You can’t protect your privacy with a service like TOR. The NSA has hacked that too.

But, I guess it’s all OK. After all, we’re told we’re in danger of a major terrorist attack or attacks. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The only thing saving us is our outstanding national electronic surveillance program. Thank you, NSA.
Yes. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

This is a good editorial about why the government lying to its citizens is bad.

I see an upside to the NSA program. We can solve the entire national debt problem. Just sell this real-time data about what we’re thinking to marketers. I bet they’d pay for it.

Jerry (on phone): Hi, Bob. Want to shoot some hoops?

Bob: Wish I could. I need to get out and buy some oil and change my car’s oil.

Jerry: Talk to you later. Bye.

Ring. Hello. This is Autozone. We’re just calling to let you know we have a great savings on oil this week….

When you assemble a bug out bag, it helps to think in terms of kits. You can have a signaling kit, a fire starting kit, etc.

A typical fire starting kit might include matches, metal match, steel wool, and some tinder. All kept in a ziplock bag. You could add to it as much as you thought necessary: A small magnifying glass to catch the sun’s rays. A lighter or two for convenience. Maybe a small strong string to make a fire bow and drill. By thinking in terms of “kit” you open up your thinking to other useful items. You see other possibilities.

One kit to consider is a hunter-forager kit. It can be really small. A few fishhooks, line, a few sinkers and small bobbers would let you fish. A couple of arrowheads, nocks, a bow string and some fletching and epoxy would give you a head start in building your own bow. A rubber slingshot band would let you make a slingshot. A few feet of snare wire.


If you’re getting into shape, a handy thing to have is a pull up bar. There are some good tutorials about ideas to build your own on Youtube:

What’s an impressive number of pullups? It depends on the person. The Marines list 20 as being perfect. The old “bar-barians requirement” is 20—40 parallel bars dips, 20 pull-ups, 50 push-ups and 5 muscle-ups in six minutes. Exceptionally fit guys can achieve 30 or even 40 with perfect form. If you can do 50 in one minute, you’re close to world record level.
Most of us will settle for 10 to 15. 20 to 25 is an impressive feat.

If pullups get too easy (don’t ask me how!), you can add weight. Here’s a guy who got into this and convinced Guinness World Records to add a category for weighted pullups. How cool is that? Not only setting a world record, but creating it. He can do a pull up with added weight about equal to his bodyweight.

What makes this interesting to me is that he started from an impressive, but not super-human, number and just kept improving. That’s a great life lesson: Just keep trying to make small, steady improvements, and you can eventually achieve impressive things. It works in reverse too. Put on a pound or two of body fat a year and in a few years, you’ll be shocked at how far you’ve fallen.

Here’s another heavier Youtube fellow with some exceptionally impressive pullups.

Here’s an interesting article about how the banks are artificially driving up Aluminum prices. Thanks, banks.

Some Youtube commentary about the 22 LR ammo shortage.

If You Could Only Have Two Prepper Guns For Bugging Out

30 Jul

As a prepper, your pantry is well stocked. Your home reasonably secure. Unless you must, you have no desire to bug out. But what if you had to bug out during a riot or time of civil disorder? Your home is ablaze. You must flee. Your car is ablaze. You must flee on foot. What two guns would you take?

For me, the choice is pretty clear. You’d want your best defensive rifle and your best defensive pistol. The rifle gives you the most range and firepower. The pistol is a lightweight backup. Both should be reliable and magazine fed. You want to own at least four or six magazines for each.

What about a shotgun? Sure, it’s versatile. But shotgun shells are heavy and bulky. This is one reason the military favors the 5.56 mm. You can carry much more 5.56 mm ammo than 7.62 NATO.

The shotgun loses effectiveness rather quickly. This is one reason police departments prefer 00 buckshot over Number 4. The larger pellets give better penetration. By the time 00 buckshot reaches 50 yards, its lost about half its ability to penetrate pine boards. It will only penetrate about 2″ of pine at that distance. This is comparable to a small caliber pistol like the 25 ACP up close.

The second weapon is your defensive pistol. Why? Because you can’t carry anything larger without being weighed down. This is your last ditch defensive weapon.

What if you’re bugging out to the deep wilderness and other people simply aren’t around? Defense might not be as much of a concern. If big game is plentiful, a good bolt action rifle in 308 Winchester would be a fine choice for your first weapon. For hunting small game, a small 22 LR revolver or autoloader could be a second choice. One of my favorite handguns is a small 22LR Smith & Wesson “kit gun” with a 4″ barrel. If you’re far North and want a handgun capable of taking larger game, a 44 magnum revolver would be an alternative. Another possibility is to keep your defensive pistol. You just never know if you’ll need it!

What two firearms would you choose for bugging out and why?

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

A surfing contest in Huntington Beach turned into a minor riot.,0,5585474.story

For those people crazy enough to try to achieve the one-handed pull-up, this site gives a neat idea to build a “cheat” mechanism to help you build up to it. The pulley and weight will only allow you to use your other hand to a limited extent. As you lighten the weight, you’ll get closer and closer to your goal. Very clever.

Here are ten exercises you can do from a pull-up bar.
Actually, only about seven. The last few “back levers” and the final stretch look like exercises best avoided by us average Joes who don’t want to mess up our shoulders. But the leg raises and earlier stuff looks good.