Quitting is not always a bad thing.

Motivators and influencers will constantly shout at you that you should never quit, we are told that if we just work hard at something then success will come, sadly this is not the case and we need to try and identify when this point has been reached and how to bow out gracefully taking the lessons you have learned and using them to move forward in another direction.

Are you one of those people that just won’t quit? constantly banging away day after day not getting anywhere and making yourself depressed at the lack of progress and tired of failure, if you are then you are not alone, the huge runaway success of the internet and social medias early adopters has spurred on a global group of gold diggers all trying to make their name and carve out their own slice of paradise, the hours that go into the videos and the editing and the uploading, days trying to write blogs and researching different subjects only to get no actual views just likes so people get their avatar on your page should somebody else happen past it and think to click on their link.

And I can’t blame anybody for doing this, we all want to become rich and we all want the good life, believe it or not I do still think it is achievable, you just have to know when to quit something that is not working and replace it with a new direction and a new potential.

So I had a thought and have come up with what I think to be indicators that it is time to find another path, not everybody will agree with these and some of them are a bit hard to hear but ultimately as Paul Newman says in the color of money “find something you are good at and be the best and you will make money”.

Are you happy ?

Well are you? honestly? does what you are doing make you happy, if not then it may well be time to move on, emotions are transmitted very easily through the way somebody writes or holds themselves on screen, or even talks in a podcast, if you are not happy how can you expect anybody else to buy into you ?

Is it your passion ?

A passion is an easy thing to quantify, is this something that you would do even if there were no potential money in it ? I know this sounds like are you happy ? but it is not, eating large quantities of chocolate makes me happy but I am not passionate about it, I am passionate about health and education and the things that money provides, I am also very passionate about American Cars, huge V8’s that breathe and shake the ground as they pass, the subjects you are passionate about you will talk about for hours to anybody at anytime whether they like it or not!

Is it honest ?

By this I don’t mean are you trying to con anybody, what I mean is best explained by example, if there was a guru out there that claimed by simply standing on a carrot for 10 minutes a day you could flush all the toxins from your body extending your life and happiness, would you be able to extol the virtues of the system without trying it for yourself ? conversely if it turned out to be true could you push the subject even in the face of the opposition that it would surely get ?

Can you accept that you are not good enough ?

This is possibly the hardest thing to accept because we are told that we can do anything if we just try, and I suppose I do buy into the idea that with enough practice you can become proficient at just about anything, but we have to be practical as well, this whole blog and site is about trying to rise above normality, to become the best we can be and to make a future filled with life rather than slavery and toil at the hands of our masters, here is a secret, I suck at playing guitar, I still do it but I am slow and clunky and just haven’t got that spark of ability it takes to become a guitarist, I can however play along to quite a few songs and if you heard me you would think I was OK, but I could never make a living out of it because I am simply nowhere near good enough, you don’t have to look far to see how good life can be if you are the best at playing guitar, I am sure Steve Vai often thanks whatever force made him pick up a six string and start playing.

That is really it, there is no section on how long you have been trying because in truth that is irrelevant things will take as long as they take, and as long as you haven’t got a bizarre idea like literally building a staircase to heaven you will get to where you want to be, but without the above I really don’t see that it is possible.

An important point to remember is that quitting does not mean failure it simply means a new beginning and a wiser traveller.

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels

Build the Ultimate Chest with 2 exercises

Recently on Quora I had a question about which exercise was better for building a big chest, Bench Press or Dips, and I had to stop for a moment and think, you see the big thick chests of the late 70’s Bodybuilders were built with both, as this was the way of things, in fact it was common practice to warm up with Bodyweight exercises like dips and pull-ups before heading onto the weights, additionally Dumbells were seen as finishing exercises or “concentration” and were normally left to the end, the question was interesting though as I have always thought of the Barbell Bench Press as quite an inefficient exercise as it tends to recruit a lot of help from the Triceps and Shoulders to complete the movement, but it cannot be denied that it is the exercise of choice and if anybody is going to lift weights you can be fairly sure that it will figure in their routine.

To decide what is best, we first need to understand in where the muscle is anchored as this will give us some idea of what movement it is bio-mechanically suited to performing, the whole idea behind all these new and strange looking machines that came out of late are all trying to move the resistance through the best possible motion to load the target muscle directly, there is a trade off with this though, when we do this we isolate the muscle completely and build it in size and strength, but if we concentrate solely on that type of isolated movement we do not bring the other supporting muscles up with it, and you can at best start to look a little odd as you have large major muscle groups with nothing behind or at worse you could liken it to hanging a chandelier from a thick heavy chain from a plasterboard ceiling with no extra support, sooner or later it will pull loose from the ceiling and the roof will come in, this what gives powerlifters and strength competitors that solid thick look it is all the muscle groups growing together regardless of aesthetics to create the strongest individual possible.

So the pectoral muscle has two parts the Pectoralis major and minor, the muscle we are all referring to when we think of this is the major as this is the most visible, this is anchored under the anterior Deltoid and attached like an open fan to the sternum it’s major function is to draw the arm across the chest and is used to push things away from us, the minor is also anchored under the anterior Deltoid but this is attached to the Ribcage and is activated by drawing the arms back over the head this would tend to be activated along with the Latissimus Dorsi and Serratus muscles.

Pectoralis Major

  • Bench Press
  • Flies
  • Dips
  • Cable Cross Overs
  • Dumbell Press
  • Cross Bench Dips
  • Press-ups

These all have an Incline / Decline variant and as discussed previously Bench Press can be done with Dumbells as well as a Barbell and in fact when training on your own it is probably advisable to do it that way to avoid dropping the weight on yourself!

The best way to determine which exercise is best is to try them, and variations of them, but I would say that as an integral part of a chest routine they should both exist, in fact I would go out on a limb and say that a routine consisting of just these two exercises would be sufficient to build a good think chest, I will explain.

Bench Press

Laying flat with your feet flat on the floor grip the Barbell evenly at just beyond shoulder width and by that I mean that the inside of your thumb should be just outside the line of the shoulder this will help to reduce the activation of the Triceps, there are several schools of thought on the arched back situation you often see but I will offer my opinion, a small arch that you could just about slide a flat hand into is fine any more than that and it is too much, lower the weight slowly and under control, do not bounce the weight at the bottom as this could cause damage, push straight up and do not lock out, it is bad for your elbows and besides it just rests the weight on your Triceps as they fight to keep your arm straight against the weight.

Dips

Traditional Dips at a dip bar are very difficult to get wrong as the body is suspended and pretty much just follows it’s own pattern, the trick here is concentration, mind – muscle connection plays a big part in this movement as you are concentrating on moving up by squeezing the pectorals together rather than simply straightening your arms, you will know when you have got it right because your chest will pump up instead of you triceps just feeling like balloons!

Flies

Done with Dumbell in a flat position keep your arms just shy of straight and put a small arc into the movement so instead of simply going straight up and down move your arms from the open position as if you were going to cross them over your chest but obviously stop as they meet at the top of the movement the best way to imagine this is to think about pulling from under your shoulder and toward your sternum as that is the path the muscle will want to naturally take.

Cable Crossovers

These are done on a cable crossover machine (surprise) and are easy to get wrong, it seems that some people are trying to replicate a pressing movement by literally closing and opening the arm at the elbow, this really makes it a Tricep exercise and at best the Pecs just had a stabilising support, You need to imagine the same movement and intent as the Fly but stood up, this exercise also targets the Pectoralis Minor due to you bringing the arms down and across from overhead, once performed right you will know because the resultant pump from both the Major and Minor muscle groups is huge and you will notice it.

Press ups

Photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels

I would (and do) use this exercise as a warm up, it is a brilliant one to warm up the shoulder joints and the elbows as well as the chest and when performed correct you even get a lot of AB activation as well as some Hip Flexor assistance, the right way to do this is with a flat straight line from your ankles to your shoulders and hands in the same shoulder width position as with Bench Pressing, slowly lower yourself to the ground so that the whole body touches at once not the face or tummy first, and then in one movement the whole body lifts back to the starting position, this is a little rough on the wrists though so make sure to roll them out after each set.

Conclusion

As you can see the two exercises that stand out as having the most activation on the Pectoralis Major are the Bench Press and the Dip as they naturally sit across the muscle girdle and move in the same direction as the muscle can pull, Cable Crossovers are a very close third as they also target the Minor and this will lift your chest up and make it appear bigger over time, I do not subscribe to the Incline / Decline theory because it is so easy to over do, benches just aren’t adjustable enough unless you are lucky, and tend to be too high on incline, moving the stress to the Shoulders and too low on Decline because you have to put one end on a step to achieve it and you end up pushing with you triceps, if it is possible to do so and you are determined to do it, then an incline or decline of no more than 2 inches would suffice more if you have shorter arms to allow for the lever effect, so in the end after being forced to think it through I realised that done correctly Bench Press is a very good exercise and has a good amount of activation across the chest, the trick is to get the hand spacing right and think about the movement rather than the ego boosting weight, because if you go heavy to soon you just recruit every other muscle and leave the Pecs just supporting.

Jeez what a day!

So I am all set now for the start of the Holiday Challenge and one of my brain waves was to go to the local swimming pool to get some widths in to provide a kick start to my cardio for the week, but I could not have been more wrong, if you imagine being stuck on the London underground in rush hour, up to your waist in warm water semi naked (as is a swimmers want) that is exactly what we walked into, I can assure you however close the analogy there are a lot more awkward moments when you are wearing a swimming costume in close proximity to others than when you are in a business suit!

However my daughters loved it, and managed to thoroughly enjoy the slides and chutes as well as the wild water section where an artificial current drags you round a circular pool, one thing that made me laugh was given the close proximity of parents and children funnelled into a whirlpool you really had to look twice to make sure you still had hold of the same child at the end as at the start! but I finally made my way from the play pool to the main boring square one that had no slides, chutes, flumes, whirlpools or plastic dragons firing water at me from varying angles, and so despite the odd cannonball from an over excited child ( usually my eldest daughter ) I managed to get some swimming done before setting off back home for a family barbeque.

I have cooked on a barbeque previously but only for us and relatively small quantities of food, so the prospect of cooking for the in-laws as well was frightening, I was further shaken by all forums and instructions on the NET stating that the charcoal was ready to cook on when it was covered in grey dust and the grill could maintain a steady temperature of 250 degrees, nowhere and I mean nowhere did it make reference to the charcoal being 50/50 black and grey and the temperature a good steady 300 degrees (largely because that was as high as the gauge read) while being put under pressure by a line of people with plates of raw meat, so I just took a chance and cooked on it open, and despite having slightly thinner eyebrows and a stronger facial tan the whole thing was a success.

we even managed to get some gardening out of the in-laws, which is a bonus because I am far from green fingered, and the disapproving looks, sighs of disappointment and the more than occasional exclamation of sheer surprise at the wife’s and my gardening skills is a small price to pay for transformation they seem to be able to make in only the time it takes me to cook a chicken breast to the point that I have to identify it to my daughter as she is picking what she wants to eat.

I am having my before photos done tonight as well as the Mrs did point out that for a fitness and finance blog I have only two pictures of me to illustrate that I have made any progress at all! and as yet nothing on finance, but in my defence I still haven’t found any financial that is worth talking about!

So if you read down this far, thank you, and I will catch up again later.

main Photo by Min An from Pexels

Children, our pupils and teachers.

Children can and do ask the strangest questions and their world can fall apart at the slightest drop of a hat, and we as adults, all caught up with trying to run a home a life and look out for the best interests of our children and significant others sometimes find these episodes a little testing, and that is without trying to fit in the reading of another blog!

Life does demand our full attention there is no getting away from that, but life is not just what we do for a living, what we want to do for a living or what is fed to us through tiny handheld 4k super hd screens, it is the mere act of living and breathing and what ever else we happen to be facing at the time.

So this explains why our children often overreact to situations or need our support for seemingly inconsequential things, they do not worry about work, the car or house payments and they certainly do not worry about their progress becoming rich or a Superhuman! so to them when a fly comes to close to their ice cream they are devastated, when they are being asked to eat something that they don’t like it is a life or death struggle (even if we know it is soo much better for them than their choice of Chicken Nuggets and Chips) but we still sit and shake our heads and in some cases (I know I have) actually ask them why it is so hard to eat a yogurt?

This actually presents us with a huge and rare opportunity to be problem solvers, to be a God, if only for the 2 minutes it takes them to forget what they were upset about, and to further cement the relationship between you and the most important people in your life, because you can swat the fly or chase it away, and to your child you have become a hero, you may as well have swooped down on a great green dragon and slain the beast where it stood, and imagine if you went in to work and your boss pulled you to one side and said “the company is going under we will all be out of work and have our houses repossessed unless you put this hat on and run around the garden with a stick pretending it is a gun”, twenty minutes later the world is saved and it was you that did it.

And our children do not take without giving either, in return if we listen really close we can hear a very clear lesson, a situation is as bad as we decide it is, and the vast majority of the time it is not as bad as we think it is going to be, so next time you feel that the world is caving in and you do not know how to proceed, just stop and close your eyes, and reduce the problem in your mind to what it actually is, just as the fly is not going to steal the ice cream and then take the remainder from the freezer rendering your child’s world ice cream free forever I would be willing to bet that majority of the situations we face everyday are not as big as we make them internally.

And every time you get the chance to save your child from a hell bent insect, or cure tears and a broken heart by running around the garden flapping your arms do so, because if at any point we lose touch with the ones we love then all the late nights and early mornings, all the trailing through blogs like this one looking for inspiration and guidance are for nothing, money alone does not make good company.

So solve the problems be a god, and put them to bed to rest, then smash the hell out of improving all your lives beyond any of your wildest dreams!

Photo by Thierry Fillieul from Pexels

A Conversation with the Mrs

Having only just started this I run pretty much every post past the Mrs to get her opinion on the content and the layout and so on just to make sure I don’t make myself look a clown with spelling mistakes and pictures of balloons when talking about fasting or contracts for difference, she usually makes the right noises and maintains just the right tone of enthusiasm without over doing it and arousing suspicion, however tonight this happens, “what do you think of my nutrition page?” “it is ok, yeah I like it” “ok?” “well I prefer the ones where you talk about the dog and the kids and stuff” “but I haven’t done any wi…..” no ice cube for the ego no ice cream to make me feel better just straight cold truth.

So with vision blurred through tears, I guess I better introduce myself, I thought I had but as she points out even my gravatar is the anonymous mask, so she may have a point.

Truth is I am actually quite a lucky man, I have an awesome wife and three awesome kids that are a constant source of comedy and stress, (not always equal measures) our two Cat’s spend an inordinate amount of time messing with my head, and the dog is as dumb as it is inoffensive, I am in I.T. (now the gravatar makes sense) but don’t panic the closest I get to anonymous is walking into a room and forgetting what I went in for (could possibly be attributed to the cats but I have yet to prove this).

So there it is, that is me, and I am sure that as the follower count drops through the floor I will post “A Conversation with the Mrs #2” where I discuss the death of my blog with the person that suggested I introduce myself!