Monday 141027

We were to squat today.  It is too nice not to run.  so…

Run 400 meters
50 pull-ups

Run 400 meters
50 push-ups

Run 400 meters
50 sit-ups

Run 400 meters
50 squats

From The Atlantic

Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It

A popular Cornell professor tries to help language-arts types learn how to “make math” instead of just studying it.

The author’s son and husband take the scalene triangle challenge. (Jessica Lahey )

Math has never been my strong suit. I opted out of it at every turn, particularly in college, where I enrolled in linguistics to fulfill my quantitative reasoning requirement. I even tried to overcome my aversion by taking a second whack at Algebra in my forties, but sadly, I still hand restaurant bills to my husband when it’s time to calculate the tip, and have long since given up on helping my teenage son with his Algebra II homework. Despite my negative feelings about math, I am a huge fan of Steven Strogatz, author, columnist, and Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University.

I follow Steve Strogatz on Twitter, and while I don’t always understand his tweets (“Would you like Bayesian or frequentist statistics with that?”), I do find them fascinating. When Steve tweeted that he’d be teaching an introductory math course for non-math majors at Cornell University (#old_dog#new_tricks#excited), I emailed and asked him to tell me more. Why would a veteran professor of higher math choose to spend a semester in the company of undergraduates, many of whom would rather visit the dentist than spend two hours a week exploring mathematical concepts?

The short answer is that Strogatz has discovered a certain thrill in rectifying the crimes and misdemeanors of math education. Strogatz asks his students, more than half of them seniors, to provide a “mathematical biography.” Their stories reveal unpleasant experiences with math along the way. Rather than question the quality of the teaching they received, they blamed math itself—or worse, their own intelligence or lack of innate talent. Strogatz loves the challenge, “There’s something remarkable about working with a group of students who think they hate math or find it boring, and then turning them around, even just a little bit.”

Strogatz believes the key to this turnaround lies not in the material, or the inherent talent of the student, but in changing the way math is taught to liberal arts majors. The curriculum he teaches is called Discovering the Art of Mathematics: Mathematical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts (DAoM); it was developed at Westfield State University byJulian Fleron and three colleagues and funded by a grant by the National Science Foundation. The DAoM approach, which is publicly available through a free collection of books and workshops, is rooted in inquiry-based learning: It focuses on student-led investigations into problems, experiments, and prompts. The typical mathematics for liberal arts class on the other hand, is typically presented in lecture format, usually by non-tenure track instructors, and only serves to further disenfranchise students, Fleron claims.

Twelve years of compulsory education in mathematics leaves us with a populace that is proud to announce they cannot balance their checkbook, when they would never share that they were illiterate. What we are doing—and the way we are doing it—results in an enormous Read more Monday 141027

Monday 141020

Workout
FSquat – 1RM with 5/12 pause

Then
83% of that 1RM for 3 sets of 3 reps

MetCon
21/15/9
Push Press (95/65)
Burpees over the bar

From The New York Times

physed_age-tmagArticle

You already know your chronological age, but do you know your fitness age?

A new study of fitness and lifespan suggests that a person’s so-called fitness age – determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance – is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. The good news is that unlike your actual age, your fitness age can decrease.

The concept of fitness age has been developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who have studied fitness and how it relates to wellness for years.

Fitness age is determined primarily by your VO2max, which is a measure of your body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen. VO2max indicates your current cardiovascular endurance.

It also can be used to compare your fitness with that of other people of the same age, providing you, in the process, with a personal fitness age. If your VO2max is below average for your age group, then your fitness age is older than your actual age. But if you compare well, you can actually turn back the clock to a younger fitness age. That means a 50-year-old man conceivably could have a fitness age between 30 and 75, depending on his VO2max.

Knowing your fitness age could be instructive and perhaps sobering, but it also necessitates knowing your VO2max first, which few of us do. Precise measurement of aerobic capacity requires high-tech treadmill testing.

To work around that problem, the Norwegian scientists decided several years ago to develop an easy method for estimating VO2max. They recruited almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, measured their aerobic capacity with treadmill testing and also checked a variety of health parameters, including waist circumference, heart rate and exercise habits.

They then determined that those parameters could, if plugged into an algorithm, provide a very close approximation of someone’s VO2max.

But while fitness age may give you bragging rights about your youthful vigor, the real question is whether it is a meaningful measurement in terms of longevity. Will having a younger fitness age add years to your life? Does an advanced fitness age mean you will die sooner?

The original Norwegian data did not show any direct correlation between fitness age and a longer life.

But in a new study, which was published in June in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the scientists turned to a large trove of data about more than 55,000 Norwegian adults who had completed extensive health questionnaires beginning in the 1980s. The scientists used the volunteers’ answers to estimate each person’s VO2max and fitness age.

Then they checked death records.

It turned out that people whose calculated VO2max was 85 percent or more below the average for their age — meaning that their fitness age was significantly above their chronological years — had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as or more youthful than their actual age. According to the study’s authors, the results suggest that fitness age may predict a person’s risk of early death better than some traditional risk factors like being overweight, having high cholesterol levels or blood pressure, and smoking.

Of perhaps even greater immediate interest, the scientists used the data from this new study to refine and expand an online calculator for determining fitness age. An updated version went live this month. it asks only a few simple questions, including your age, gender, waist size and exercise routine, before providing you with your current fitness age. (I discovered my own fitness age is 15 years younger than my chronological age — a good number but still not as low as I could wish.)

Thankfully, fitness age can be altered, said Ulrik Wisloff, professor at the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who led the study. His advice if your fitness age exceeds your chronological years or is not as low as you would like? “Just exercise.”

Dr. Wisloff and his colleagues offer free exercise suggestions on their website. But he said almost any type and amount of exercise should help to increase your VO2max and lower your fitness age, potentially increasing your lifespan.

In upcoming studies, he added, he and his colleagues will directly compare how well fitness age stacks up against other, more established measures of mortality risk, like the Framingham Risk Calculator (which does not include exercise habits among its variables). They also hope to expand their studies to include more types of participants, since adult Norwegians may not be representative of all of the world’s population.

But even in advance of this additional data, there is no harm in learning and lowering your fitness age, Dr. Wisloff advised. “There is a huge benefit,” he said, “larger than any known medical treatment, in improving your fitness level to what is expected for your age group or, even better, to above it.”

Thursday 141016

Workout
Bsquat
5RM
-5% for 5 reps
-an addtional 5% for 5 reps

MetCon
5x
1:40 row with :20 rest
Goal – M/410m – W/350m

From The Art Of Manliness

7 Simple Exercises That Undo the Damage of Sitting

You’ve probably experienced those moments when you get up from a sitting position and your butt feels numb and your hips feel so tight that you have to lean forward at the waist just to walk. Excessive sitting leaves your hips and legs tight and your glutes inactive. Even after you stand up, the ill effects of sitting stay with you and may prevent your butt muscles from firing at an optimal level when you really need them – like when you suddenly need to chase down a purse snatcher!

Some fitness experts argue that sitting causes muscles in the hip area to physically shorten (and stay shorter), even after you stand up. While there are no scientific studies to back that claim, from my own personal experience, sitting for lengthy periods of time definitely makes everything feel tight in the groin/butt area.

If you’re an athlete (or fancy yourself one), tight hips and inactive glutes can hamper physical performance in a variety of activities, such as sprinting, squatting, and — my favorite — deadlifting. If you want to perform at your best, you need to make sure that your hips stay limber and that your butt muscles are firing on all cylinders. Even if you’re not interested in deadlifting 600 lbs. (though I hope to change your mind on that someday), keeping your hip flexors loose and glutes active can improve your life on other fronts.

First, having limber hips just feels good, plain and simple. Second, having a healthy range of motion in your hips can help prevent injury when you pursue more recreational physical activities and do household chores. For example, loose hips keep your IT band loose as well, which can ward off knee pain. Finally, taking care of your hips may help improve your posture, which can in turn alleviate back or neck pain. (Not to mention the role of limber hips in doing a mean mambo.)

Below, we provide some simple stretches and exercises that will undo the damage to your hips and butt caused by sitting.

Prevention Is the Best Remedy: Sit Less and Move More

As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best thing you can do for your hip mobility and glute activation is to simply sit less and move more during the day.

If your employer will allow it, try using a standing desk, which keeps your muscles activated at the office. Keep in mind that, just as with sitting, standing should be done in moderation (doing it for an extended period of time isn’t that great for you, either).

If a standing desk isn’t an option, take five-minute breaks from sitting every 30 to 45 minutes. Stand up and walk around a bit. Maybe even perform a few of the exercises below. Even if you have a standing desk, you should still take breaks every now and then for some movement.

Stretch Out Those Hips

These dynamic stretches and exercises are designed for loosening tight hips that come from sitting too much. I try to incorporate a few of them in my daily workout warm-ups or even sneak some in when I’m hanging out with the kids (who think their dad is pretty odd). Every now and then I also dedicate an hour on Saturdays to just hip and glute work, along with some intense foam rolling.

If you’re really tight, take it nice and easy. As physical therapist Kelly Starrett says, “Don’t go into the pain cave. Your animal totem won’t be there to help you.”

Leg Swings

Leg Swings 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a great dynamic stretch that I do before every workout. It loosens up the hips, hamstrings, and glutes.

Begin with forward leg swings. Find something to hold for balance. Start off swinging your right leg backwards and forwards as high and as far back as you comfortably can. Do 20 swings and then switch legs.

Next are side-to-side swings. Again, find something to hold for balance. Swing your right leg out to the side as high as possible and then in front of you towards your left as far as you can go. Perform 20 swings and then switch legs. Depending on how tight you feel, you may need another set.

Grok Squat

Grok 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grok Squat is very similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels firmly on the ground and your back straight. Hold that position for 30-60 seconds. You should feel your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin gently stretching. If you’re super stiff, it may take a few days of practice to sink into a full squat. Keep at it. Your back and hips will thank you.

Intersperse a few short squatting sessions into your daily routine.

Table Pigeon Pose

Table 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve done yoga, you’re probably familiar with the pigeon pose. This stretch is the same thing, except you use a table, which makes it a bit easier to perform and allows you to stretch out your muscles from different angles. Start by placing your leg on a tabletop (you could also use your bed) with the knee bent at 90 degrees. Place one hand on the table and one hand on your foot for support. Lean forward and hold for 60-90 seconds. Then lean left to the 10 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Lean right to the 2 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

If you have knee problems, rotate your body so that your ankle hangs off the table and place a pillow underneath your knee. Aim to do two pigeon poses a day (I personally do one during my workout and another at a random time).

Couch Stretch

Couch 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stretch is a killer. I didn’t realize how unlimber I was until I tried doing the couch stretch. It’s basically a quad stretch ratcheted up a few notches. Starrett argues that this will undo years of sitting.

You actually don’t need a couch for this stretch, it just makes it a bit more comfortable (if that’s even possible). You can also do it on the floor by putting your knee against a wall.

For the “easy” version, place the knee of the leg you’re stretching against the back of your sofa. Place the foot of your other leg on the floor. Slowly raise your torso to a neutral spine position (i.e. standing straight and tall). As you raise your torso, squeeze your butt and abs. Hold the position for up to four minutes. Switch and repeat on the other leg. You should feel things really stretch in your hip flexor area — just don’t push yourself too hard.

To up the ante, bring your non-stretching leg up onto the seat of the couch. Keeping a straight, neutral spine, squeeze the butt and abs and work your way up to holding the position for four minutes. Keep in mind that it may be awhile before you can get your torso to a straight position. When I first started doing this stretch the “hard way,” I could only raise my torso to a 45-degree angle and I’d have to support myself with my hand on the floor. I was eventually able to move to a straight position after two weeks of dedicated stretching. The difference in the mobility of my hips was (and continues to be) significant.

This stretch is so good that I try to do it every day, sometimes before a workout, sometimes when I’m just hanging out while Gus watches Paw Patrol.

Activate Those Glutes

Barbell Bridges

Glute 1

 

 

 

 

 

This is another exercise that makes you look goofy but does wonders for your glutes and hips. It has been a great support exercise for the deadlift.

Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put a padded barbell across your hips and grab it with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. Raise your waist off the ground while squeezing your glutes until your hips are aligned with your body. Return to the starting position, and complete three sets of 10 reps.

Aim to do this exercise one to two times a week. You can add weight as you get stronger. If you can’t do it with the weight of the barbell, try un-weighted bridges.

Clamshells

Fair warning: You’re going to feel a bit ridiculous doing this exercise. But it’s one of the best for activating your glutes. If you’re self-conscious, do this at home before you go to the gym so no one sees you.

clambeginning

 

clamend

Read more Thursday 141016

Tuesday 141007

BSquat – 10RM – Attempt 10 more lbs than 140930

Find a 10RM – try 70%-80% of your 1RM.

After that 10RM, complete:

-5% for 10 reps

-an additional 5% for another 10 reps

 

Tuesday 140930

Welcome to Squatober!

Find a 10RM – try 70%-80% of your 1RM.

After that 10RM, complete:

-5% for 10 reps

-an additional 5% for another 10 reps

From The Atlantic

Sense of Humor Changes With Age

A new study explains why your grandma doesn’t find The Office funny.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

There’s an episode in the first season of The Office in which Michael Scott, the tactless boss, is asking his female employees to serve as cheerleaders for an upcoming company basketball game. When the heavyset Phyllis says she’ll do it, Michael reflexively says, “Oh yuck, that’s worse than you playing.” He then tries to rescue the crack with, “because we need you as an alternate.”

According to a new study published in the journal Psychology and Aging, this type of humor is exactly the kind you should never deploy around the elderly.

Jennifer Stanley, a psychology professor at the University of Akron, had 30 young adults, 22 middle-aged people, and 29 senior citizens watch a variety of different sitcom clips, including the above segment from The Office. The subjects rated how socially appropriate and how funny they found each clip. Stanley also used facial electromyography to determine how much the clips caused their smile muscles to move.

And for the record, “to be coded as a smile, there had to be an upturn of the corners of the lips plus a wrinkling of the crow’s feet at the corners of the eyes, or a pushing up of the cheeks.”

What the authors found was that older adults were much less likely to be fans of the aggressive style of humor—laughing at the expense of others—that’s so often used by Michael Scott. The 64-to-84-year-olds found The Office clip about 23 percent less funny than the middle-aged people did, and about 19 percent less funny than the 17-to-21-year-olds did.

Young adults were also more likely to smirk at the clips that showed self-deprecating humor, as exemplified in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which Larry pumps his waiter for information about how much his friend left as a tip.

The older participants, meanwhile, liked affiliative humor—the kind of jokes that bring people together through a funny or awkward situation. Stanley says aGolden Girls clip in which the women try to buy condoms and suffer an embarrassing price check is a good example.

Humor relies on the psychological idea of the benign violation: Situations that are mostly wrong but still a little bit right. If something is too banal, it won’t be funny. Go too far, though, and you’ve just offended the person. Michael Scott’s offensive quips can apparently be a little too much for older viewers.

So why doesn’t grandma find that aggressive style of humor funny, young man? One explanation might be that the jokes in sitcoms have changed over time, and today’s older people are just accustomed to a gentler kind of wit. People also might have a greater emotional connection to a show from their own generation—Golden Girls is a much earlier show than either The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm.

It’s also possible that the study authors chose an unusual episode of The Officeto represent aggressive humor. Connoisseurs of the show have suggested that in its first season, it didn’t yet have the time to explore the sadness of Michael’s character—how his petty tyranny was motivated by a deep desire to be liked. Though fat-shaming is always disturbing, the joke in that exchange wasn’t on Phyllis; it was on Michael.

In a review of that episode, The Awl, which has a youngish demographic, also said Michael’s reaction to Phyllis contains “a nastiness … the source of which we just don’t understand yet.” An earlier study showed that older adults, when watching the British version of The Office, were worse at picking up on the times when the Scott-like character, David Brent, committed a social gaffe.

Stanley suspects a big reason for the generation gap in humor is that as we age, we experience a variety of physical and emotional setbacks—declining cognitive faculties, friends who pass away—and the affiliative style of humor helps us deal with these losses.

“Other work has shown that the importance of having people close by you when you experience the physical and emotional loss of aging,” she told me. “Maybe affiliative humor is more helpful for promoting that type of experience.”

It’s fall, which means the long march of the holiday season is nearly upon us. Stanley’s study is one worth keeping in mind as we weigh which comments to bury deep within our psyches at the Thanksgiving table. To keep peace with the elders, it suggests, act a little more like Blanche Devereaux and a little less like the boorish branch manager of Dunder Mifflin.

Thursday 131024

Ahh…Last 1!  Squatober is almost done!We will CrossFit Total a week from today.

Workout

Texas Squats – 95% of your FS 1RM and complete 4 sets of 2 FSquats and 4 BSquats

MetCon

2,000m Row.  Set a wicked pace and hold on!

From The Military Times Blog

Ask the experts: The benefits of the squat

Off DutyOften times in the military we are what I like to call PT-centric, or we only train for things that we are going to be evaluated on.

In the Army, that means pushups, situps and a two-mile run. My soldiers and leaders often are reluctant to try new things such as CrossFit (my personal favorite) or other forms of exercise because they don’t see how it will help them on the APFT, which affects boards, awards and ultimately promotions.

Allow me to shine some light on this, my skeptical friends. Just using the example of the squat, I will show not only how it will help you perform on the APFT — or any PT test — but perform better as a service person as well.

Here are 5 of the benefits of squatting, regardless of your sport.

1. Squatting will make you run faster. Not just in sprinting (but consider: When I was on the track team, the sprinters did squat three times a week) but in long-distance as well. The stronger the legs, the more force you can apply to the ground, which will propel you farther forward. Regardless of the distance you are running, squatting will improve your time.

2. Squatting properly will increase mobility. Yup, it’s true. Not all strength training will make you look like the juiceheads in the gym — you know, people who are so muscle-bound they can’t even scratch their heads. Athletes who squat frequently are very mobile. Look at the range of motion of Olympic lifters (who squat constantly), and tell me I’m wrong.

3.Deep squats increase vertical jumps. Not a huge shock here that squatting below parallel engages the hamstrings, which will get stronger and allow you to apply more force to the ground. This will send the body higher into the air with a single bound.

4. Squats strengthen your core like a champ. Think of how much your lower back and abs are engaged when you are doing a squat. You’re keeping a heavy weight over the midline of your body, so it’s one of the fastest ways to improve your core.

5. Squats are safe! This is a big one with me. People are often reluctant to do any sort of lower-body exercise because you could get hurt. Baloney: Every unit has soldiers who have been injured from some form of overuse injury from constant running. Joint strengthening is actually one of the best ways to avoid injury. This is why endurance athletes are constantly cross training.

In summary, athletic performance, whether it’s on your PT test or the battlefield, can be improved by branching out into other events

Monday 121029

Squatober is almost over.  So far this month Big Al, Kathy, Katie and Kelly added 20 lbs to their BSquat 1RM.   Guys…where you at?!

Workout

BSquats – 5/3/1 (use 90% of your 1 RM then complete: 3@70%, 3@75%, AMRAP @80%)

Mini MetCon

20/15/10

Ring Dips
Thrusters 75 M, 55 F
“Games” Push-ups

Tomorrow Tabata!

It appears that we are not the only folks that did not dig the New York Times article titled Why Women Can’t Do Pull-ups.  Smithsonian Magazine and many others feel differently.

Women Can’t Do Pull Ups? Not So Fast

Photo: petar_jurina

This morning, women around the world breathed a sigh of relief as a new study excused their inability to do pull-ups. According to research described in The New York Times, a combination of women’s low levels of testosterone, higher body fat percentage and less ease at building muscle means that women fare worse than men at performing pull-ups.

“I love when science proves that I’m not a wimp,” wrote Sarah Weir on Yahoo’s Shine, in an article titled “Women Can’t do Pull-Ups: It’s a Law of Physics.” Weir went on to describe the study—”a rather grueling regime”—in which researchers recruited 17 average-weight university-age women who could not do a single pull-up. Over three months, the researchers trained the women three times a week using a variety of exercises, such as weight lifting and modified pull-ups. At the end of the training period, however, they were surprised to find that only 4 of the 17 women succeeded in achieving a single pull up.

“While I’m awe of super women who can crank out a few pull ups, for the rest of us, maybe it’s time to lower the bar,” Weir writes.

But how did those women become “super women” in the first place? Gawker’s Hamilton Nolanpoints out the obvious: training.

Women: you can do pull-ups. Do not believe the hype.

Is it usually harder for a woman to do a pullup than it is for a man, due to biological differences in muscle mass and upper body strength and body fat percentages? Yes. It is generally harder for women to do pullups. Does that mean that women cannot do pullups? No. It does not. Any healthy woman, absent any serious physical injuries or deformities, can be trained to do a pullup.

Rather than resigning all women around the world to a life devoid of pull-ups, the study simply proved that 13 of the women needed to continue their training in order to achieve a pull-up, Nolan writes.

I congratulate Read more Monday 121029