Train Like Teddy


PictureNo Excuses, Young Jedi
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt was most certainly someone to emulate when it comes to physical fitness.  I wrote extensively in Movement & Meaning about how fitness and training shaped him from an awkward and shy boy into a vigorous and confident young man.  He was a legend then and remains so today with an ongoing resurgence in popularity among Men, and for good reason.  He saw the connection between intellectual pursuits, work and family life, and physical fitness and how each one benefited the others.  As evidence of this, consider the fact that  Teddy personally wrote 250,000 letters in his lifetime. 

One of my favorite photos of “TR” is of him in his formative years as a boxer.  You can see the determination in his eyes.  He was a man on a mission.  There were no excuses like:

“My back was hurting.”

“I was tired.”

“He broke up with me.  I’m depressed.”

“My dog ate it.”

“I had to go shopping.”

Whether you agree with his style of Imperial politics or not, his conditioning and lifestyle was something to be admired.  Sometimes, you just have to gut it out. 

Picture Not a “Metrosexual” When most people retire they don’t exactly dream of spending months on the Amazon River in Brazil, at the doorstep of death, exploring uncharted territories and dealing with life-threatening illnesses.  But that is exactly what Teddy did back in 1912.  When most men or women lose a big battle, suffer humiliation, or fail, they give up and go home.  But after TR lost his 3rd party bid to become president, instead of going home to eat Cheetos on the couch, and play golf, he took off to explore the wild Amazon River of indigenous tribes, venomous snakes, and unknown infectious diseases. 

Picture Conferring with his Team on the Amazon, 1912. Probably writing a letter in the back of his mind. There is no way President Roosevelt could have survived this trip had he not been in good shape.  Even then, he almost died in the jungle.  Exercise boosts the immune system and surely the days spent hiking through the jungle and paddling the Amazonian currents contributed to his sturdiness and resolve under duress. Not to mention that he had lived an entire life before him of hiking, hunting, boxing, and generally enthusiastic sportsmanship.

Now, there is no need for you to plan a trip to the North Pole, to the Amazon, to the Inner City of any American city, or any other dangerous locale for you to get motivated to get in shape.  As I have said before, motivation doesn’t happen!  ……

Motivation NEVER HAPPENS.  Motivation is what you do, not some sort of miracle strategy.  You DO motivation. Movement is motivation.

I want you doing something every day.  Every. Single. Day.  No excuses.

Work out at home when you can’t make it to a gym, or don’t want to go to one.
Picture The Anti-Teddy Train Like Teddy

  • Keep it Simple- use things you have at home and your own bodyweight
  • Use a Circuit Method– rotate between the exercises to get done faster
  • Pattern Your Breathing– breathe out when you push out on an exercise to give you a meditative, rhythmic, and restorative
  • Start Easy– do 1 or 2 rounds at first
  • Make Your Workout Progressively Harder- add more reps, more total circuits, go slower, or add pauses to make it harder
  • Add a fun element- get a friend to work out with you, listen to music, go to a park, or do something a little silly
  • Make it a competition– add a sporting element or competitive element to it.  For example, see if you can work up to 5 minutes of shadow boxing.
  • If you feel stupid, you’re doing it right!

The Exercises
1) Shadow Boxing: 30 seconds         *Be careful not to hyperextend your elbows.
            -Jabs, Hooks, Uppercuts
2) Squats: 20
3) Kicks: 30 Seconds
            – Roundhouse, Straight, Side
4) Push-ups (Modified or Regular): 10-30
5) Bridges: 10-20
6) Crunches: 20-30
7) Plank (Modified or Regular): 30 seconds to 1 Minute
8) Run or Walk in Place: 30 Seconds to 1 Minute
*Repeat 2-4 times total

And remember, quit waiting on motivation to happen.  It never will.

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