When it's the survival of the fittest
Fitness is important as a mortal in a dangerous world. Even as a mortal in our mundane world, fitness is important for a long and happy life. In my daily fitness regime I imagine my training in terms of an urban fantasy or contemporary fantasy context. That is, what training would I do if I had to face a world with vampires, werewolves, warlocks and demons?
Resistance training is usually for strength and physical durability. In a gym you might do bench press, squats and lat pull-downs. These exercises are great, but lack functionality in real world situations. When you’re calling on your body to respond to an emergency, being able to lie on your back and hold iron weights off the ground is not so useful.
1: Push-ups: Like bench press, this exercise primarily works your chest, shoulders and the back of your arms. Unlike bench press it also requires core stability, leg strength and even some of your back.
2: Pull-ups: Like lat pull-downs, this exercise primarily works your back and biceps. Pulls ups have the added benefit of improving core strength and giving you the power to climb walls or pull yourself up, into a tree.
3: Box jumps: Squats are great for working your legs but they are slow and won’t give you the power to kick butt or run away. Explosive power is what you need and for that you want to jump up on things and then jump off them.
4: Planking: Not just a short-lived fad but an excellent way to strengthen your core muscles. Your core is used for everything, including keeping your innards from becoming outards.
Agility and Speed
Agility and speed training will keep you upright and allow you to respond to sudden changes in your environment. From an urban fantasy point of view, it is agility and speed training that will keep you dodging the monsters and outrunning the hellhounds.
1: Burpees: Ugh, the only reason I do these is just in case I have to jump up and run when the apocalypse comes. Starting in a lying position before leaping to your feet and doing a tuck jump becomes tiring very quickly but works your entire body.
2: Stair climb: Find a big set of stairs and march up them as quick as you can. Avoid jogging or running as this my result in a terrible fall or overuse injuries like iliotibial band inflammation. Accurately placing each foot on treads, one after the other in quick succession become difficult after just a few flights. But if you’re in the office of the vampire of Perth, you’ll need the practice.
3: Ice skater: Big, wide leaping sideways steps work your hips like nothing else. Quickly changing direction improves your balance and stability. Needless to say, you’ll look funny while you do it, but won’t have any trouble sidestepping groping zombies.
You’ll want to do these exercises along with your resistance training and in similar amounts. Start out with three sets of ten burpees and ice skaters and climbing five sets of stairs (about 50 steps in total). Work your way up until you are doing sets of 25.
Never neglect your cardio. It is true that recent research has discovered about twenty percent of people struggle to see improvements with the average recommended amount of exercise, but another recent study indicates that may not be the whole truth.
It would seem that though everyone responds in different amounts to exercise, everyone can improve. For some it may require five intense work-outs a week while others might get away with just two. In any case, do you want to be the one who lags behind while the werewolves close in?
I didn’t think so.
In that case, choose one or two of the following to do:
Running: You know what this is. Put one foot in front of the other while boosting yourself up and forward with the other foot so that you move in the direction you are facing. Running requires that you buy some decent running shoes, not just any old trainer, but otherwise has a very low barrier to entry.
Walking: Like running but slower, though not necessarily less intense. If running is too rough on your joints or you aren’t practiced enough yet, walking could be your answer. But walk with purpose and intent. Walk like you’ve got a sword on your back, a sawed-off shotgun in your hands and hell following behind.
Riding: Get on your bike and pedal with vigour and consistency. Just like when you were a kid but this time it’s serious. You don’t have to wear Lycra, but it helps.
Swimming: Swimming is a great exercise but because it uses the smaller muscle groups of the upper body, it tends to be slower to build your endurance. This is offset by the low impact to your body.
I run a lot and for a long time.
Everyday, almost. To build endurance you want to aim for frequent, regular, steady intensity work. The aim here is not to be the fastest, but to be the longest. At a moderate 6 minutes per kilometre (10km/hr or 6miles/hr) it will take four hours to run a marathon. I did it twice and I’m aiming for number three late in 2020. You don’t need to go to that extent, but it is an amazing feeling if you do.
If the magic at the heart of the Earth suddenly awoke tomorrow, would you be ready? or would you become a victim of one of the many monsters it would unleash?
The fitter and stronger you are, the better your chances. Even if the world doesn’t descend into darkness, you probably want to live long enough and be strong enough to enjoy the full richness life can offer. Getting fit and getting strong is easier than you’d think. You don’t have to start at an eleven. It isn’t a race and you need to enjoy the journey. But, going too soft gives you all the excuses you need to not continue. Commit and workout like you mean it, like your life depends on it, like you might be called upon to wield otherworldly power at any moment.
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