The Rycast.com Blog - Fitness, Music, Technology, and Whatever Else I Want to Talk About

TrueBeast.com Launched

I’ve launched a sister website to this one – TrueBeast.com. This site will remain up as my personal website, and this blog will be about anything I want to write about – EXCEPT FITNESS. All of my fitness articles will now be published on TrueBeast.com. There may be a few articles that remain on both sites, but from here on out I will not post fitness articles on this website. Check out TrueBeast.com by clicking the image below!

Alcohol, Hormones, and Health: Is Drinking MANLY? Or just STUPID?

Let’s talk about alcohol. Or to be more precise, ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. If you can remember the first time you drank an alcoholic beverage, you probably remember how you didn’t like it. Beer is bitter. Vodka tastes like Listerine (or vice versa, and for obvious reasons). You can acquire a taste for alcohol, but chances are you never liked it originally. So why do we drink it? That’s obvious as well: people like the high they get off of it and how it loosens their social inhibitions. We also drink it because it has become a socially accepted thing to do (i.e., peer pressure). Dionysus would even say that we need alcohol in order to help us unwind. I don’t know about that. I also don’t know how great the high is when there’s the healthy alternative of getting high off exercise. Not surprisingly, alcohol doesn’t help you at all in the realm of athletic performance and general health.

Alcohol Lowers Testosterone Levels in Men
… And Boosts it in Women. Not Cool.

No doubt you’ve heard of all the negative implications of drinking, but did you know that alcohol lowers your testosterone levels? That is, if you’re a man. This means fewer muscle gains. Fewer muscle gains means less muscle, which means a lower metabolic rate. A lower metabolic rate means more fat gain and/or less fat loss [5]. Suddenly drinking doesn’t seem so “manly,” now does it? That’s why real men drink BLAND, BORING, UNFLAVORED WATER.

How does alcohol affect women? Does it still increase testosterone? Actually, it does not appear to. Acute alcohol consumption seems to increase testosterone in women [4]. This helps contribute to the “beer goggles” effect that makes drunk women more prone to engaging in sexual behavior that they would normally not agree to. The same thing happens to men, but heavy drinking over time decreases men’s testosterone levels and increases their estrogen, which can even cause them to take on female physical attributes, such as breasts. It also can decrease male libido and cause related problems [1]. You get the idea. You’re getting a plethora of bad crap, just to get a temporary buzz going.

Read more…

Want to be Lazy?

Stop. Ask yourself this question: why shouldn’t I get in shape?

Laziness, obviously. However, do you want to be lazy? Physical fitness is not something that some people have and some people don’t – it’s not something that some people should decide to do and some people should decide not to do. It’s something that everyone as human beings is entitled to, and should be responsible for.

What’s more important than being healthy? Because if you think about it, all of those other things you enjoy in life – friends, family, hobbies – none of it would be possible without good health. So make time for it.

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or an athlete to be in good shape. Those are just words anyway – the best athletes and bodybuilders are people just like you, who either gravitated towards athletics from an early age or simply decided they wanted to get in better shape. A lot of models and bodybuilders fall in the latter group. Why? Because once you really make the decision to get in shape – and make it an important part of your life – you will continue to reach a higher level of fitness, until you realize that there is no limit. Why limit yourself?

Even if you don’t want to look like a “freaky” bodybuilder (which is hard to do, so don’t worry too much), you can still vastly improve your current physique. There is always room for improvement. Furthermore, even if you don’t care very much about improving your physique, the benefits of a strength training and/or cardio program will factor over into other aspects of your life. Not only will you be healthier, but you’ll perform better in sports, as well as in every day situations, such as lifting heavy objects.

You already know all this. I’m wasting my time. Go get in shape.

Summer Fitness Training Montage

The Human Machine

The human body never ceases to amaze. What other machine or system actually gets stronger when coordinated stress is applied to it? Think about it: a CPU just gets extremely hot when overtaxed… The human body gets extremely hot and adapts. Likewise, a program only “learns” in so far as what it has been programmed to do. Those who have programmed before know that programming is like writing out explicit instructions to the dumbest creature in existence. Yet from the moment we are born, we’re learning. In fact, we cannot help but learn, whereas a computer has to be made to learn. The human body and mind are the most amazing things you will ever possess in this corporeal lifetime, for everything else in life can only be experienced so long as they are intact.

Next time you go running or go lift weights, stop and think about everything your body is doing. Your heart (hopefully) never stops beating. Your muscles and oxygen supply are growing because of the coordinated stress you are applying to them. Sure, some day they will eventually burn out, but before that point they are always growing and repairing themselves. Furthermore, while your body might have a set amount of potential, your mind is limitless. A computer, on the other hand, just starts to overheat or reaches its maximum point of processing power. It can sustain that power better than you can sustain high levels of exertion – most likely, anyway – but at the end of the day, it’s just going to cool down and be the same as it always was. It may be a little worse for wear, because entropy is always in effect. Nothing lasts forever. However, unlike your body, the CPU doesn’t adapt. It doesn’t get stronger.

People often compare a computer’s CPU to the human mind. A CPU is called the “central processing unit” of the computer, after all. However, if you stop and think about it, the CPU is really just the muscle – the body, if you will – behind the actual brains of the computer: the programmed applications residing somewhere in memory, whether in the form of a hard drive or a solid state memory device. Why? Because without human input – even just recorded input like a programmed application – the CPU is useless, in the same way that our body is useless without our mind.

A CPU can compute much faster than the human brain can. But it cannot think. It cannot adapt. Any adaption a computer makes is a programmed adaptation based on some such programmed manifestation, such as a complex strings of if-then statements and memory allocation, all thanks to a programmer… who actually had a brain. Computers follow instructions, that’s all. Human beings, on the other hand, can actually think.

So what was really the point of this little piece of writing? There was none, really. It was just to make you think. Hopefully you already stop once in a while and appreciate the most amazing gifts that God has granted each of us in this corporeal lifetime – our mind and body. For without them, nothing else in life could even be experienced. One is damaged if the other is damaged. One is improved if the other is improved. Take care of them.

New Music Work in Progress

Moments Passed

Any and all comments and criticisms are much appreciated! :)

EDIT: Why do all of my musical works in progress that I post end up becoming “completed” pieces? When is a piece of music, art, or writing really “complete,” anyway? :-/

Arm Workout – High Volume

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k301-A8mqg0

Remain Inspired to Workout – 5 Tips

It happens to the best of us. You’ve set up your training routine, and you’ve been following it closely for weeks, even months. But lately you just aren’t feeling the motivation to continue it. Luckily, there are many methods to try to help keep you inspired to workout.

1. MUSIC!

Seriously, if it were not for music, I would have missed many a workout, and many would have been of less quality. Get yourself a small, durable MP3 player that can clip onto clothing, such as the modestly-priced SanDisk Sansa Clip+. It only costs around $40, and I much prefer it over my $200 Zune (which, while nice, has been thoroughly destroyed). The Sansa Clip+ has an amazingly intuitive interface for such a small size, it’s durable, it sounds great, and you can upgrade its storage capacity using Micro SD cards (which are up to 32GB right now)! Hard drive MP3 players are so last generation – they break more easily, they’re big and clunky… So get a little MP3 player like the Sansa, a great pair of earbuds to match, put on your favorite music (heavy metal or hard rock recommended), and start working out!

2. MIX IT UP!

Your routine is not set in stone. You can replace those isolation exercises with ones that work the same muscles. You can switch from a hypertrophy routine to a strength routine for a few weeks (actually, you should do this anyway). You could try doing endurance running instead of high-intensity interval training, or vice versa. Cross train! Go play a sport you never play. Rock climb. Snowboard. Surf. Keep it fresh!

3. REWARD YOURSELF!

So you’ve been dieting strictly for months now. Don’t you think it’s about time a cheat meal was in order? Seriously, a cheat meal once in a while can actually be good for you, if for no other reason than because eating the same thing all the time without any change whatsoever can cause your metabolism to get stuck. It doesn’t even have to be a cheat meal, just alter your diet for a change! Get weird vegetables and bizarre health foods you’ve never tried before. Yet when all else fails, it never hurts to have an occasional pizza, as long as it isn’t every day.

Results are awesome!4. LOOK BACK ON YOUR RESULTS!

As mentioned in a previous post, this can be really beneficial if you’ve been tracking your progress via workout and dietary logging, as well as taking pictures of your physique (if improving your physique is one of your goals). By looking back on what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be more inspired to attain greater results. Remember, you’re awesome!

Tricking is awesome!5. WATCH COOL VIDEOS!

What’s your sport? Bodybuilding? Parkour? Tricking? Mountain Biking? Snowboarding? Whatever it is, there are awesome videos of awesome people doing your sport awesomely on YouTube. Go watch a few videos of them being awesome, and strive to be as awesome. Just don’t watch too many videos and end up wasting your time…

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Remember, there are Navy SEALs out there busting it while you’re complaining about your little workout routine, which is surely not half as bad as freezing your ass off in the surf zone at 5 am. Kick some ass!

5 Tips to Help You Succeed

NEVER QUITSucceeding in fitness is all about consistency. NEVER QUIT. It is a life-long journey. If you stray off the path, just get back on it. It is as simple as that. Here are five tips to help keep you on that track, and to help you get back on it if you lose your way…

1. Take pictures of yourself. Vain? Maybe. Helpful toward your fitness goals? Definitely. When it seems like you aren’t making any progress, it’s great to be able to look back at old pictures and realize that you are.

2. Log every workout. EVERY workout. Make it as hard as – or harder than – the one before it. Log the weight that you used for each exercise (if any), the number of reps, the number of sets, and keep track of how much rest you are taking between sets.

3. Log what you eat, every day. Improve your diet, slowly but surely, and keep improving it. Sure, there will be periods where you lull in your regimen, but log it anyway. Log cheat days and cheat foods. This will help you figure out how much you are actually cheating, as well as how on-track you actually are.

4. Listen to your body. This means possibly even skipping a workout if you are still recovering from a previous one. If you need to push your 1-week split into 2 weeks, do it. The important thing is to be honest with yourself. Do you really need more time to recover, or are you just being lazy?

5. Stretch and do trigger point massage therapy every day. Do dynamic stretches in the morning, as a bare minimum. Do trigger point massage therapy at night, on the places you need it most. Personally, my hamstrings often get out of whack, and trigger point work helps. Use a PVC pipe, if nothing else. It actually works even better than the foam rollers, but it takes some getting used to.

Proper Push-up Technique / Form and Variations

You probably think you already know how to do push-ups correctly. You might be right about that, or you might be very wrong.

I go over proper technique / form, which muscles are targeted, and how to perform regular push-ups, close position push-ups, wide position push-ups, elevated push-ups, knee push-ups, and “Perfect Push-ups.”