Yesterday I was so fired up from reading a newspaper article about Karate Legend, Gary Alexander training harder than most people half his age at age 81, so of course, I HAD to try it myself.
Gary Alexander was a Karate instructor where I grew up in Edison, NJ in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Today, he is in his 80s, STILL training like a madman.
Here's his current regime:
With scuba fins on his feet, Alexander does 100 laps, mostly on his back, alternating with freestyle strokes. The next 100 laps he runs back and forth without the fins, climbing from the pool to throw 800 punches, blocks and kicks.
Back in the early 80s, we heard about Gary instructing his Karate classes while wearing combat boots, a place where everyone performed push ups on their knuckles and sparring was done while wearing Football helmets. In the 80s, we used our imagination as there was NO instagram to see every detail of someone's life.
These stories scared the heck out of 99% of us.
Hence, we ALL feared Gary. Except my brother, he was enticed to find a way to train under such Spartan conditions. My brother found a way to save his money and then rode his bike to Gary's Karate Dojo.
With Gary's training on my mind, I went into the lake and got to swimming.
Although I am NOT the best swimmer, I recall how GREAT it was for strength & endurance going back to 1993 after injuring my knee in wrestling.
I gave up running 3-5 miles every other night and started swimming and lifting at The Y every other night due to a knee injury.
I remember feeling 100X better from swimming and lifting compared to my regular running during wrestling season.
Unfortunately, at age 17 with no mentors and everyone talking about running be the best way to get in shape, I got back to running after a few weeks of swimming. By the time competition rolled around I felt myself losing strength and stamina.
I never should have stopped swimming and lifting in season.
- NEVER stop lifting, especially in season as an athlete.
- Swimming is GREAT for stamina & therapeutic for the joints. You can sprint in the water at waist / chest height water.
So, back to my training at the lake yesterday.
I went into the lake and began swimming.
Freestyle and Breast Stroke.
After a few trips, I climbed up the boat docks and did push ups. My upper body was already worked from the swimming so the push ups were tougher than normal.
In a nut shell, I was getting worked doing this simple workout!
From there, I decided to see how tough running in the water was, and since Gary Alexander does 100 laps in the water, I HAD to test this.
Let me tell you, It was TOUGH & I did NOT do 100 laps.
I was in water about lower chest height.
Pumping my elbows and leaning in, driving my legs hard into the sand.
This was TOUGH!
NO joint strain as well, always a plus for us older guys who have decades of training mileage on the body.
After the swimming and water training, I got neck deep in water and began doing a hugging motion aggressively. This was upper body work like doing flys and upper back / rear delt work. Then upper cuts as fast as possible.
I realized when I was done with my training in the water that you can develop strength through countless ways.
But training in the water, THIS is a Different kind of Strength!
And last week while on the phone with a friend and D1 Coach, he told me how some of his best workouts was when he would just choose 1 exercise and go for an hour. Exercises like Tire Flips and Squats where he would just push himself for extended periods of time to test the body AND the mind.
The lesson here is simple:
- Do NOT keep doing what you are comfortable doing, both in training and life. Growth comes from challenges, not from comfort.
- Train in ways that challenge you both mentally and physically. Too many Coaches are following only what is in the scientific books and have ZERO clue how to go beyond these perfectly organized book smart programs.
- Your body NEEDS change, so don't fear changing, even if just once a week or every other week you do something different.
- It's ALWAYS good to be in shape. Meaning, you need to get your heart pumping. Don't develop into a Strong & Useless Man.
Keep attacking training AND life. Do something different.
Comfort is the Enemy.
Live The Code 365,