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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I Experimentally Reduced Cardio in My Fitness Mix – Here’s What Happened

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Overtraining on cardio – especially without super-disciplined rest and nutrition regimes – can wear down your body, contribute to muscle loss, and allow development of imbalances that make you more prone to injury.

Also, in our time-challenged lives, too much cardio usually implies too little strength and flexibility training. And maintaining muscle tone and staying limber are huge parts of looking and feeling our best, and maximizing longevity, as we move through life’s second half.

And one big concern about reducing cardio – gaining weight/fat – may be misplaced. Evidence is emerging that strength training (with at least a somewhat-intense cadence) burns fat as well as, or better than, cardio.

With these things in mind (but still needing to overcome a “cardio reduction paranoia” mental hurdle), here’s what I changed and what I learned.

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Why “Solitude + Exercise” is a Key Wellness Formula

One of the great things about certain types of exercise is that we can address two vital questions with one single action: Am I getting enough physical exercise? Am I getting enough high-quality solitude?

I’m willing to be the Oracle of the Obvious sometimes (just ask my wife or kids) But I won’t belabor the “why exercise?” question here.

But let’s discuss “why solitude?” and also “why is exercise time especially good solitude?” These should be prominent themes for any guy doubling down on body-and-soul health.

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Fitness Planning & Gear

Nine of My Favorite, High-Value Fitness Products

Despite its paramount importance, in one way fitness is just like any other pursuit in our modern world. There’s a lot of “stuff” you may need acquire (and “toys” you want to).

You can spend a lot here. Think: multi-thousand-dollar bike…expensive home-gym equipment…membership at high-end gyms or studios…personal trainer…performance nutrition products. And depending on your situation, man, these things may well be worth it…much more so than other areas of discretionary spending in your life.

But a small number of things – not that expensive – will go a long way to setting you up with what you really need. Things you’ll use every week, and which do their job very well for a modest cost. A growing list of these things (products, as well as “services” like gyms, studios and online fitness programs) are featured on OlderBeast’s Recommended Products page.

Here are nine of my favorites – things I SWEAR by, and which will be great for most guys.

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You Eat Organic? At Least, Consider It For These “Dirty Dozen” Foods

When it comes to organic, people are all over the map. Some buy the organic version of anything. There’s even organic apparel now (and I’m not talking about edible underwear, man). Others suspect it’s at least partly a price-raising, fad-exploiting scam. And in science and food industry circles, there’s debate—and contradictory studies and claims—on several topics.

This week’s OlderBeast Web Pick is to help you “cut through” all this. Here’s a prioritized view on where organic is most important, and three useful articles you can check out to learn more.

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