This blog provides encouragement to people who are recovering from injury, losing fat and gaining muscle, and working towards fitness. This is my journey, and I write in this every day, which helps me. If it helps you, that would be wonderful.

Leg training at home with a kitchen counter and ankle weights

Today is Wednesday, which is Leg Day for me. Specifically, upper leg day, as I do lower legs on Fridays. And since I've been training legs for a long time, I've been including some advanced movements, which I do at home. If you're just a beginner, don't try these as you will probably just hurt your knees or your lower back. If you have good muscular control in your quads, give it a try, it's a very focused workout!

For this I'm using my kitchen counter. You can do this anywhere that's high enough to allow you to dangle your legs. I have long legs, so a chair just isn't high enough for me. I put a towel there on the edge just for comfort, and I strap ankle weights on my ankles.

The movement is the familiar flex and stretch. Your legs dangling is the stretch, and when you bring your leg up straight in front of you, that's the flex. You should feel it right in the top of your thighs. If you're feeling pain in your knees, don't even think about doing this. And don't bother flexing your ankles, this isn't lower leg day, save that for Friday.

I like to warm up with no weights at all, just doing the flex and stretch. I go one leg at a time. Flex and hold, and hold, and hold. Make a mind-muscle connection - this is a very slow movement. Hold at the top and lower slooowwwwwly.

Now strap on the ankle weights and do the same thing. Don't bother to count reps - you can think of stopping once it starts to burn.

How to walk and move with graceful movement

I've always admired graceful movement in both men and women. It's just how a body moves itself in space, whether it's a dancer, a gymnast, or just someone who just knows how to walk. And if you've confused graceful movement with having a beautiful body, it's an easy mistake to make, but those two things are not the same.

I clicked on a video yesterday on Facebook to listen to a song that I knew from way back when. And it was choreographed by people dancing. And their movements were so graceful it was positively hypnotic. Yes, these were people with beautiful, fit bodies, but I was watching their graceful movement.

Now calm down here if all you can see if lewd and lasciviousness. Of course bodies moving are sensuous - if you didn't get an emotional response out of watching a beautiful body move, I'd check for a heartbeat. But I'm talking about something that goes beyond just that, and I call it graceful movement.

If you want graceful movement yourself, you'll need to work on command of your body. Just looking at dance steps won't get you there. You have to find yourself in time and space, in what gymnasts call "air sense". Your movements need to be fluid, and it should look like you just barely touch the ground gently every once in a while. It's the opposite of clumsy and plodding.

Like everything else, start with finding someone that you can emulate. As a kid, I wanted to be able to walk into a room the way that Sean Connery did, or Frank Sinatra. I wanted to move like Bruce Lee. When I was learning gymnastics I would marvel at people like Kurt Thomas, who didn't seem to be affected by gravity very much. He worked out at the gym at ASU where I took my gymnastics classes, and it was astonishing to see him in real life. When he won the gold medal in the Olympics it had been impressive on TV, but to be watching him do the "Thomas Flair" on the pommel horse right there left a deep impression on me. It's as if he flew.

And make no mistake, graceful movement isn't just about ankle work. It flows through the body, the arms, the fingers, the torso. Watch a belly dancer sometime and if you can stop staring at her belly button, watch how she has command of her body.

No, I'm not saying that my blood is cold, I'm as warm-blooded a male as ever has lived, I guarantee that. But the next level is graceful movement, and once you can see that, and want to learn it, it becomes fascinating on its own level.

I'm working on my own graceful movement, and I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime if I falter and stumble, just realize that it's all part of the learning process. Now go stand on one foot!

How to get started training your abs

Abdominal muscles are very important for fitness. They protect your lower back, give you more power in lifts (there's an old expression "you can't fire a cannon from a canoe!") and mostly chicks dig guys with abs. And you don't need any fancy equipment to train them, you just need to know what they do.

Start by taking off your shirt. Stand in front of the mirror, like I just did, and contract your ab muscles are hard as you can. If you're brave, take a photo. That's the flex. To stretch them, put your hands over your head an stretch. There you go, that's what your abs do.

So, in theory, you could do the flex and stretch standing up. But it's more comfortable, and more effective, lying down. And all you really need is the floor, and the correct motion, stretching and flexing. It just takes some practice to make the mind-muscle connection, especially if you can't see the muscles yet.

Yes, my abs were still down in there, somewhere.

And yes, even if you can't see them, you have ab muscles. Muscle sits under fat, and we all have fat, especially around our midsections. But the muscles are there, and I can prove it - can you pull yourself into a "fetal position"? Yep, there they are, and always have been, since you were in the womb. I'm working on getting my body fat down so that they show more, and I'm also of course training them, which is just another muscle-building routine.

The mind-muscle connection is always important whenever you train, but it's vitally important for ab training. Abs are tiny muscles, and like all muscles, will only get stronger if you train them with focus. Flailing around on the floor isn't the way to go, small controlled movement is.

I like to train in the morning, and this morning I made the mistake of getting started before I'd had my morning Cheerios. I'll digest for about fifteen minutes, and get back to it. You obviously don't want to train abs with a belly stuffed with several servings of waffles, but you don't ever want to train hungry - your body needs energy to work. And this is muscle-building we're doing here now, not calorie-burning. This workout won't burn many calories, it will build muscle.

OK, time to train those abs! Crunch!