Weekly Web Picks 2/10/17: Pull-ups, Supplements & Meditation

OF COURSE, there’s a world of useful stuff beyond OlderBeast. Too much for you to find, prioritize and incorporate, really. Thus these “weekly web picks”…a hand-selected trio of super-helpful things spanning fitness, nutrition and the mind-and-spirit aspects of wellness.

This week: getting started with pull-ups…knowing the “upper limit” for vitamins & minerals…and exploring meditation.

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Guys read OlderBeast to help architect their own “forever” fitness plan—body & soul. And to laugh a little and keep rockin’ along the way.

Articles here offer a unique perspective for 40+ guys ready to double down on fitness, nutrition and wellness…so they can feel great, look their best, keep getting happier, and live long.

But, OF COURSE, there’s a world of useful stuff beyond OlderBeast. Too much for you to find, prioritize and incorporate, really. Thus these “weekly web picks”…a hand-selected trio of super-helpful things spanning fitness, nutrition and the mind-and-spirit aspects of wellness.

Fitness: Why (and How To) do Pull-ups

There are a small number of strength moves that work multiple muscle groups, can be done with the simplest of equipment (or none) almost anywhere, and can be varied in intensity based on where you currently are strength-wise.

Especially with time scarce and the need to invest some of it in endurance, flexibility and balance too…these are great strength moves for the OlderBeast.

Push-ups are one of these, discussed here last week. Pull-ups are another…and they’re a much less common part of most guys’ repertoire. They’re pretty hard, man. But who said it was going to be easy to get and stay in tip-top shape as the second half of life rolls by?

Pull-ups are a perfect complement to push-ups:

⇒ Pushups use every major pushing muscle in your upper body, including pecs, triceps and anterior deltoids (front-of-shoulder muscles). They’re great for core strength, too.

⇒ Pull-ups use every major pulling muscle, including trapezius (upper center back), rhomboids (under shoulder blades), lats (lower/side back), rear deltoids, and biceps.

Here’s a colorful and motivating article about why all guys should be able to do at least five pull-ups, and another one that helps you get started even if you currently can’t do a single pull-up.

So now I “can’t do pull-ups” is not an excuse to not do pull-ups, brother!

If you need a home pull-up bar, this one works well for me.

Nutrition: “Tolerable Upper Intake Level” for Supplements

For vitamins, minerals and other supplements, you’re probably much more familiar with “RDA” (recommended, or reference, daily allowance) than “UL.”

ULs are defined by the National Institute of Health as “the highest level of nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population.”

With many foods now being fortified, and OlderBeast readers likely taking multi-vitamin/mineral supplements…you’re probably getting your RDAs. Note that Vitamin D, which is especially important to men’s health, remains a more-likely-than-others deficiency.

But what about TOO MUCH of a vitamin or mineral? While some smart people argue ULs for some things are too conservative, I think you should at least know if you’re near or above ULs. If so, you can then learn more and decide what to do about it.

Personal example: My one-a-day has the 15 mg RDA of zinc. Based on recommendations by people whose opinion I respect, I added a standalone 20 mg supplement to improve immunity and for “men’s” type benefits. The UL is 40 mg, so my 35 mg level total was good.

But then I added a “prostate health” supplement with saw palmetto and African pygeum. (I confess to the onset of an “older man” malady: urinating more frequently, especially at night; these herbs target that issue).

I took it for a few days and then happened to look more closely at the label and saw it also contained 33 mg of zinc, now putting me at 68 mg! Even without the standalone zinc supplement, this prostate health supplement plus my one-a-day would have been 48 mg. And I get zinc from my diet, too, since I eat beef, chicken and chickpeas (high-zinc foods, among others).

Most experts say too much zinc over the long term can cause digestive and other problems. So, I’ve dropped the standalone supplement and switched to a lower-zinc prostate pill, and now I’m back under 40 mg a day.

Interested in the ULs for vitamins and minerals, and how the total of what you’re taking compares to that? Here’s a chart with RDA and UL info (you’ll need to select “male” and choose age range).

Mind-and-Spirit: Meditation

There’s a lot of interest in meditation nowadays. I haven’t tried it much, though two of my key fitness activities, yoga and swimming, feature controlled deep breathing and are meditative in nature.

But with motivation advocates including Lebron James and other star athletes, Clint Eastwood and other actors, and the late Steve Jobs and other visionary CEOs…I’m interested to learn more.

It’s a little daunting, though, given how many types of meditation there seem to be. And, to be honest, how “out there” the stereotypical image of meditation is.

If you’re like me (interested but unsure), here are two good resources to check out:

⇒ A straightforward article that lays out a really simple, low-time-required way to test the meditation waters

⇒ Two popular smartphone apps: Headspace and Calm (separate links for iPhone or Android and you can also access this via browser). These will walk you through “guided” meditation exercises. They’re both highly rated, but have different personalities to them.

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OlderBeast is about taking charge of your own fitness and wellness, man. It’s learning what you need to know, making a game plan, and taking action.

With that goal, this week’s picks should help you get stronger, stay smart and safe on supplements, and further your quest for peace-of-mind.

“Oh is there concrete all around, or is it in my head?” (Mott the Hoople, All the Young Dudes – click to listen).

Note: this is a great trivia question…very few people can name Mott the Hoople as the band!

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One of These Simple Fitness Tests Will Make You More Bulletproof & Motivated

In business, there’s a saying about the benefit of quantifying things to sharpen focus on them and drive results:

“What gets measured, gets managed.”

This is true for fitness and health, too. And for all of us past age 40, periodic physical tests and assessments are especially important because:

(1) We’re more prone to slow-developing asymmetries in our fitness, which become weaknesses over time — chinks in our armor vs. aging. Fitness assessments help flag potential problem areas so we can address them.

And (2) when assessments find strengths, this is great and much-valued reinforcement of the investments we make in fitness. It’s motivation to keep going…something we all need.
With these benefits in mind, have you done a fitness self-assessment recently? And no, the “Presidential” tests back in gym class in 1970-something don’t count, man.

Here are three simple assessments you can do on your own, with descriptions and pro’s/con’s. I’ve purposely left out tests that require any fancy equipment, and ones that are “hard core” for advanced disciples of any given fitness activity. So, sorry, nothing here about how much you can dead lift or how fast you can run a half-marathon.   

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How Aging Reduces Your Calorie Burn Rate – and How Being Active Reverses The Decline

If you’re a 40+ guy paying at least casual attention to nutrition science, you know this: as we get older, our bodies naturally burn fewer calories.

Given this reality about “base metabolic rate” (BMR), our choices are: (1) Slowly gain weight; (2) Get more active, to counter-balance the BMR decline; or (3) Reduce calories consumed.

I flirted with the first path in my 30’s but ultimately chose to reject Outcome #1, do everything I can toward Outcome #2, and also accept that a bit of Outcome #3 will be needed over time.

Whatever choice you make (and you are making a choice, man), I want it to be an informed one. So please invest a few minutes to learn about your current calorie burn rate, how it’s changing, and how your activity level affects that trajectory. Preview: getting more active can more than offset BMR decline, for many years!

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Got Milk, or Not? Here’s How to Cut Through the Dairy Controversy.

OTHER THAN ORGANIC VEGETABLES, it seems like everything supposedly good for you also has “yeah, but” warnings about it.

Fish…mercury. Fruit…too much sugar. Nuts…high-calorie. Whole grains…carbs!

Dairy is controversial this way. Some very fit guys drink milk, eat dairy products, and use post-workout recovery drinks and energy bars with milk proteins. Others entirely shun dairy.

What should YOU do? Let’s look at pro’s and con’s, and my two cents on sorting this out to make your own decision.

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