Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Exercise Pyramid

The exercise pyramid (UPDATE: I mean heirarchy), is designed to give you an idea of what movements should be important to your life; what will give you most bang for the buck. Enjoy.

1. Walking - Self-locomote! Head to the shops or take in a Munroe. There is NO excuse (unless you are Stephen Hawkins).

2a. Sprinting - Don't just go in straight lines - and if you can mix it with sport (rugby or football), all the better.

2b. Lifting and Carrying. Pick up something reasonably heavy (around the equivalent weight of a toddler), and go for a walk with it. If it actually IS a child, then ask the parent's permission first. This should work your core and upper body. Try washing your car or watering your garden without a hose.

3a. Muscle Up - If you cannot manipulate your bodyweight with arms then your are bear-food. Oh, and by the way, Pull Ups and Chins DO NOT COUNT. They are merely steps on the path to an MU!

3b. Bent-Over Rows/Rope Climbing - that should be bent-over rows AND rope climbing. I don't care how much you can row, get up that rope without using your legs (and preferably in an L-Sit position)

3c. Military Press/Handstands - Deep down inside you know that the press is just a warm up for some handstand work. You KNOW a HSPU is the coolest thing ever and until you have self-locomoted upside down, you have not lived!

4a. Play - If it is a game involving rapid bursts of speed, we like it! The opposite of play is not work, it is depression. Anyone under 16 should place play at number two on their exercise pyramid!

4b. 'Tics - (Athletics and Gymnastics) - From Isometrics to Tumbling, gymnastics will develop kineasthetic awareness and brutal strength. This is such a broad church it definitely gets high up my list. Athletics covers a similar range, but you have to watch out for those events that branch out in to steady state events of more than a few minutes duration. You know, if the did sprinting on World's Strongest Man, that'd be up here as well.

4c. Throwing & Jumping - Throwing could be a shot-put, rocks from a river bed or a medicine ball. hell, maybe even a spear. Alternate arms! Jumping? Well, trampolines are great fun and plyometrics are incredibly demanding. In between these extremes there is a whole range of intensity.

4d. Climbing - Adventure, fear and the great outdoors! (Yes, I am biased so I will let you add your own one here.)

5a. Ball Sports - As long as it doesn't involve a cue, most ball sports I can think of involve demanding stop-start activity.

5b. Water Sports - Swimming - A survival skill that opens up exploration of 2/3 of the world's surface to you. Windsurfing, Kayaking - generally anything that

5c. Winter Sports - Been Ice climbing or Skiing? Try it with a heart rate monitor and, if you are doing it right, the stab of adrenaline and surge of lactic acid should tie in with a heart rate pushing 200!

5d. Extreme Sports - From Rollerblading and BMXing to Parkour and Tricking or Breakdancing, if it raises adrenalin and leads to development of precise skill and technique, it'll do you some good.

5e. Combat Sports - Striking or grappling sports, it doesn't matter - and better still, both! Bull fighting and Bull riding have to be excluded on grounds of cruelty!

6a. Aerobics - Fashion from the 80's, music from the Top 40. No thanks.

6b. Marathons - Pheidippedes did the one thing you should not do after declaring "Chairete nikomen".

6c. Bodybuilding - enough said. I'd just like to point out that Vince Gironda is the only bodybuilder whose training principles I would follow. And maybe Mike Mentzer's.

6d. Motor Racing - unless you are petrol head at the top end of your sport, this will NOT get you fit. It's classed as a 'sport' but it is not enough to get your fit. Look at Clarkson! Now get over it.

6e. Static Bikes, Air Walkers, Abdominators etc.... If it is a piece of exercise equipment advertised on daytime cable TV it will be shite. Shite I tell you!

6f. Cardio & Crunches. Cardio is a continuum. Stay at the shorter intense range. Great abs are made in the kitchen. Crunchies are higher up my list than crunches.


Kat Eden said...

Very cool idea. I'd love to know what the exercise traditionalists would think of this one!

Where would you place stretching/flexibility work?

Oh - 'great abs are made in the kitchen' - absolutely.

Asclepius said...

Hi Kat, I found it quite tricky trying to fit exercise in to a food-pyramid model as you cannot reflect volumes or intensities.

It ended up just being a bit of fun really - I reckon the traditionalists could pick holes in it, but the deeper message is one of play, adventure, variety and intensity. These are areas that traditionalists I have ocme across, fall down on!

The conditioning Research blog has some interesting stuff on flexibility and stretching. Worth a look.

The warm up section of each of my routines shows a link to my general warm up. This involves (controlled) arm and leg rotations and then swings. I do these before every principle training session.

In addition I will exercise through a whole range of motion to gain flexibility. Thus, for example, when performing Ring Scissors, this leads to strength gains and (ultimately) the splits.

I don't really do the whole static stretching thing that you see people doing in the gym - (although in my Lau Gar classes, the odd one is thrust upon us).