How to Exercise Safely and Increase Fitness Levels

20 02 2014

 

IMG_20140126_134514Article last modified:  19 Feb 2014 by Marc Woodard

There are so many exercise programs one could engage in to increase fitness levels.  How does one know which is right for them?

This question is important why?  Increased fitness levels contribute to healthy heart, lungs, metabolism, lean body, body strength, reduced body fat, weight loss, sustainment of body weight and better physical endurance and energy levels.  Not to mention, excellent  pain alleviation benefits for weight bearing arthritic joints.

So what you really want to know is what exercise activity will give you the best bang for the buck?

I highly recommended if you are getting back into an exercise fitness program or activity, you condition your way back through a 3-5 day/workout program.  This may take you 2-6 weeks or longer to get back into good physical condition before you ramp up your efforts.  Especially if you’ve just recovered from some type of physical adversity.

Five day exercise program – Consider making two of your exercise days on Saturday and Sunday to include family fun activities as substitutes for exercise activity.  Work in the other 3 exercise activity days with exercise you enjoy and can stick too.

This type of programming will provide more flexibility at first to develop healthy fitness activity around your busy schedule while reducing stress.  After the fitness habit is maintained for 2 week period, begin to incorporate more activity choice into the plan to keep it interesting.   I’ve always found it important to take two days off in the week for needed rest [Typically Mon & Fri for me].  I don’t recommend a 6-7day workout routine unless you are training is too meet some particular fitness goal as are conditioned to do so.

Recommendations, Tips, How to safely increase fitness levels and activity,

You must develop a plan that lists your daily fitness objectives to meet your fitness goal.  Is your goal to lose weight, increase fitness level, build muscle, better health, sustain weight, increase muscular endurance, higher level of competitive sport, improve task specific activity (ski, golf, walk, biking, running, etc.).  So now you know before you spend money on an exclusive fitness membership, be sure to have a plan to achieve the fitness goal you have in mind.

Second, you must be realistic about your daily schedule. If you’re a working adult with children, there are considerations that must be thought out.  Like working around busy work and family schedules.  However, it is not impossible to squeeze in exercise activity even with a busy schedule.  It’s a matter of priorities.

For example, if you want something bad enough like a new car, getting the furnace fixed, or watching a game, or taking the spouse out to a movie you manage to find the time and resources don’t you?  Yet you have a tough time making time for any type of exercise activity.  Your fitness levels and health must be as valuable to you as any other tangible thing like a home or car you insure.

Only through daily continuous daily movement activity can one “insure” an additional layer of protection from life stresses on the mind-body.  Sustained exercise activity daily is also a proven centurion attribute, or better known to others as a fountain of youth fitness principle.

If you have time before work or after the children are in bed a daily exercise program can become a habit you will become addicted too once the commitment is made.  You simple must want increased fitness health as bad as you want to create a better lifestyle for your family.

For me, working out provides great stress relief and fitness benefits.  And for many years I’d get up at 5:30am go to the gym, or jog where the adrenalin and metabolism was at full throttle just before hitting my full time job at 7:00am.  This habit served me and my professional careers well and ensured I was always at the top of my game, I didn’t need energy drinks to start my day.  Now in my mid-50’s, my age appropriate exercise activities is walking 7 days a week and 2-3 days strength conditioning in the gym.  I’m just as competitive at these exercise activities as I was when I played football during by high school years.  I attribute much of my career success, energy levels and clarity of thought to age appropriate continuous exercise habits.

Like anything else it takes dedication to be successful at anything you do.  It’s more a matter of finding an activity that you really enjoy, get excited about and can become addicted to it.  I tended to become addictive to new exercise conditioning if I could get through the first 5 days.  If I didn’t make the 5 days, I’d reduce intensity until ready for more intense training.  I didn’t quit the training; I took it down a notch until I could physically and mentally accept the fitness conditioning plan.  To push when your not ready for it is defeating and causes too many beginners to give up when they’ve not planned accordingly.

Third, your never too old to begin a daily fitness conditioning program.   All too often I hear people give up on their fitness and activity aspirations because they “self proclaim” their too old to exercise.  And then begin to look for unsafe – fountain of youth short cut gimmicks to lose weight, increase sexual performance, anabolic steroids for max muscle increases, etc.  This line of reasoning is absolute nonsense; when did 40 become the 80 plus crowd?  Exercise activity is a metabolic optimizer that increases hormone production and immune system to keep us healthy and stimulate all things that keep our bodies, mind and spirit engaged in a satisfied lifestyle.  “Without the need of dangerous manmade chemicals that temporarily mask the real reasons were not happy with our bodies energy levels, how we feel and physical performance.

Forth, if you are infrequent about your exercise, or activity routine, it is very important you learn to pace yourself each time you exercise until your body is ready for a 3-5 day exercise activity routine. Ease into your workouts, forget about competing with what others are doing.  Set your mind to see yourself as the healthiest 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 year old possible in your neck of the woods.  If you think exercise-activity appropriate per decade, you’ll stick with a healthy exercise program for your age while physically appearing and feeling 20-30 years younger.  Why don’t I talk much about 80+ years old and fitness training programs?  Actually, 80 years and above should walk-swim, push light weights, participate in flexibility exercise, eat balanced nutritious foods, socialize and travel as much as possible for quality lifestyle experiences.  At this age, I thoroughly believe, each day is a blessing and one should enjoy life to the fullest while reducing life stresses.  And these life stresses and health are adequately sustained through social activity and low-stress walking, swimming and dance exercise.

Fifth, if you over consume too many calories per day, especially after 7:30 pm, or binge over the weekends it will be harder to lose weight.  Body metabolism slows down tremendously during evening hours and excess calories will be stored as fat for every hour you take in calories after 8pm.

Weekends will be your worst enemy with regard to calorie consumption if you don’t have an activities plan to offset food intake with caloric expenditure.  This is why in the next paragraph I recommend plan fun movement activities on the weekends.   This will help increase metabolism and will help burn off extra calories that may be put back on over the weekend.  Then over the weekdays if your mindful to balance calorie intake and expenditure relative to days of the week, you can actually continue to lose weight.

Sixth, find a workout routine you can stick with and enjoy. Various examples:  Try biking, stationary treadmill, stationary rowing, dance, ball room dancing with spouse, tennis, walking, golf, jogging aerobics sessions, swimming, etc., 3 days a week (mix it up with gym activity).  Make sure you get in 2 days a week exercise activity and 3 days aerobics (walking, biking, treadmill, elliptical walker, swim, hike etc.) minimally.   On the weekends substitute an aerobics week day activity with a planned family outdoor activity, backpack, dance, walk and shop for your meals, camping, beach walking, fishing, etc.

I recommend 5 days a week exercise activities to sustain fitness levels and good health.  I use combinations of all these activities listed above to sustain my age appropriate fitness levels and overall health.

Changing up fitness activities will help with motivation and will power to stick with exercise activities daily.  Mixing up activities also becomes very addicting when you  break the initial 2 week conditioning barrier.  It takes about this long for brain chemical stimulation and muscle toning to optimally provide the motivation and will power to sustain this lifestyle change.  Brain chemical release (adrenalin, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) through exercise activities is as addicting as nicotine is to a smoker; and is chocolate  to a chocoholic.

Now that I’ve provided you “How to Exercise and Increase Fitness Levels,” get out there and get it done!  Try various combinations of exercise activity.  At a minimum, if you can walk you can improve your fitness levels and experience greater lifestyle experiences.

The cost to to walk is nothing, other than your time, effort and commitment to sustain it.  Through daily walking fitness levels will increase.  This will also positively impact mood as well as how your body feels.  Sustained walking activity is good for you heart, lungs, metabolism and overall fitness goals.

Take one step at a time, one block at a time, and one mile at a time.  Do what you can daily if your exercise activity is walking.  Put no time lines, intensity of pace, or distance limitations on yourself.  The mind-body will tell you each day what it’s capable of doing.  If you have the ability to walk you’re much further ahead in becoming more fit and healthy.  The key is to move more daily, work to reach 10-15min/day exercise activity at a minimum before increasing distances and intensity of pace.  Be consistent at daily walking activity to sustain greatest fitness and health benefits.

Other tips:  Consider “not taking” your car to the store for daily staples once you can walk half a mile total distances.   Make a goal to walk and shop for your evening meals, or drive to and walk the mall.  Get a small backpack “once able to walk small distances;” carry healthy produce, products to the car, home etc.

Never carry more in weight than you can do so comfortably.  For example, I personally never carry more than 5lbs in bags, one for each arm, greater than 1 mile.  That’s .5 mile one way.   In other words when starting a shop & walk activity program, you don’t haul extra weight until you lose weight, or alleviate weight bearing joint pain [if this is a problem for you].  To do so when the mind-body is not ready may risk secondary weight bearing injuries to body compromising overall increased fitness success.

The information presented within this article and on our website, is in no way intended as a substitute for medical consulting or treatment.  Always consult a physician before starting any course of fitness programming, particularly if you are pregnant or currently under medical care.

Also Read:  Relative Fitness Programming Sustains Active Lifestyles

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





How to Exercise Safely and Increase Fitness Levels

24 02 2010

Bicep Exercise tones and strengthens grip, wrists, forearms, bicepts

MAE Video Safely Build Fitness Exercise Activity.  There are so many exercise programs one could engage in to increase fitness levels.  How does one know which is right for them?  This is pretty much a two part question because you also want to know, “even though you may not have completely thought it out, which exercise activity will increase your fitness levels significantly?  This is important why?  Increased fitness levels contribute to healthy heart, lungs, metabolism, lean body, body strength, reduced body fat, weight control, weight loss, better physical endurance, excellent circulatory properties, pain alleviation and ill-health prevention, etc.  So what you really want to know, how you can get the best bang for the buck with busy lives?

I highly recommended if you are getting back into an exercise fitness program or activity, you participate by working your way back to a 5 day/wk program.  This may take you 2-6 weeks or longer to get back into gear.  For example, after one of my surgeries, it took me one and half years to work my way back to walking significant miles in a day.  Persistence paid off big health and fitness dividends for me.  Having an Exercise Science undergraduate degree provided a knowledge base in my rehabilitation fitness process.   I understood without applying fitness, alternative health and pain management methods I would experience a disabling life outcome of limited activity, mobility, more pain and increased secondary health risks.  I know many of you reading this won’t have to rehabilitate yourself from injury, depression, disease or surgery.  However, it is important to understand, if you find yourself in a disabled and rehabilitative state you can enjoy fitness conditioning activities that provide quality living experiences while you nurse yourself back to good health.  The point is, depending on your fitness and health condition(s), there is a way to slowly work back into a 3-5 day exercise-activity program.  Those that work too fast to achieve an exercise-activity program will likely drop out of fitness conditioning; while possibly looking for high risk shortcuts to achieve physical results.  This is a bad plan!

One would be wise to follow a physical fitness conditioning program for the first 6-8 weeks while easing back into a fitness routine if you’ve been out of it for a while.  Your goal is to achieve a 3-5day consistent exercise activity program after significant fitness conditioning occurs.  Fitness conditioning prior to the 3-5 day exercise activity program may require rehabilitative services to reach the 3-5 day exercise activity goal.  And if you need to, consult with your medical providers before you exercise to ensure applicable health risk considerations are taken into account before you begin a 3-5 day exercise program.

Five day exercise program – Consider making two of your exercise days on Saturday and Sunday to include family fun activities as substitutes for exercise activity.  Work in the other 3 exercise activity days convenient with your work schedule, etc.  This will provide more flexibility at first to develop healthy fitness activity around your busy schedule, reduce stress, and more time to focus on exercise-activity technique, etc.  After the fitness habit is maintained for 2-6 week period, begin to modify the plan much like you’d schedule anything else “balance!”  I’ve always found it important to take two days off in the week for needed rest (Mon & Fri).  I don’t recommend a 6-7day workout routine unless you are training at an elite level for competitive sport.

 Recommendations, Tips, How to safely increase fitness levels and activity,

 First of all you must develop a plan around busy lives.  And before you develop the plan, you must have an ideal of what are your fitness goals.  Is your goal to lose weight, rehabilitation, build muscle, better health, sustain weight, increase endurance, competitive sport, improve task specific activity (ski, golf, walk, biking, running, etc.).  So now you know before you spend money on an exclusive fitness membership, be sure to have a plan to achieve the fitness goal in mind. 

 Second, you must be realistic about your daily schedule.  If you’re a working adult with children, there are considerations that must be thought through, like working around schedules, appointments, etc.  However, it is not impossible to squeeze in exercise activity even with a busy schedule.  It’s a matter of behavioral habit change.  For example, if you want something bad enough like taking a family vacation, new car, boat, weekend outing, social networking during time off, watch evening football, baseball, basketball game, spending more time with your significant other; you manage to find the time and resources don’t you?  Yet you have a tough time committing to a healthy activity because you simply don’t have the time or see the point.  Your fitness requirements must simply become as valuable to you as personal time, or personal possessions that you protect through health, home or car insurance.  You pay for these things for prevention against catastrophe.  Your fitness health requirements are no different.  You simply must value your health as much as you value your personal time and possessions.  Also keep in mind, just because you pay for health insurance there is no guarantee after years of physical and mental abuse medical services will provide a cure-all solution.  You must also do your preventative health part.  Only through daily preventative activity exercise can one add an additional layer of protection from all that will assault the mind-body as we age.  Activity exercise is the best pain and ill-health alleviation strategy.  Physical activity for life is a key centurion attribute.

 Many employers have fitness centers at the job and/or promote life fitness schedules that allow time for workouts.  Be sure to check with your employer, if you haven’t’ already done so to see if they have corporate fitness center discounts in the local area.  If you have time before work or after the children are in bed a daily exercise program can become a daily habit that you will become addicted too.  You simple must want increased fitness benefits as bad as working more overtime for more discretionary income.  Or value fitness goals as much as indulgences.  For me, working out after work and before dinner had a great stress relief benefit.  And for many years I’d get up at 5:30am go to the gym, or jog where the adrenalin and metabolism was at full throttle as I hit the job at 7:00am.  This habit served me and my professional careers well as I was always at the top of my game, I didn’t need energy drinks to start my day.  Now in my 50’s one of my age appropriate exercise activities is walking which I’m as competitive as when I played football as a youth.  I attribute much of my life and career success to my age appropriate fitness habits.

Like anything else it takes dedication to be successful at anything you do.  It’s more a matter of finding an activity that you really enjoy, get excited about and can become addicted to.  I tended to become addictive to my exercise program if I could get through the first 5 days.  If I didn’t make 5 days at the planned fitness level goal, I would reduce intensity until ready for more intense training.  I didn’t quit the training; I took it down a notch until ready for the stress load on mind-body.  Activity exercise must vary daily dependent on how the mind-body feels.  To push when not ready is defeating and causes many to give up when they don’t have flexibility built into the exercise activity.

Third, you must plan and program around age appropriate exercise if you want to find a workout plan, or activity that you’ll stick with.  All too often I hear people give up their fitness goals and activity dreams because they “self proclaim” their too old at forty to exercise.  And simultaneously they begin to look for fountain of youth quick results gimmicks (weight loss, muscle max goals, chemical stimulus, etc.).  This is absolute nonsense; when did 40 become the new 80 plus crowd?  On the flip side, there is absolutely no reason, 50 can’t be the new 30 plus crowd.  Also, you are not 20 if your biological age is 40.  Age appropriate exercise does not mean training to become a marathon runner at 40 years of age!  My point is, if you want to look and feel better regardless of age, you must find age appropriate activity and exercise programs, or you’ll not experience true quality living experiences.

I’m not saying this isn’t possible, as a matter of fact there are some very conditioned athlete’s well into their 50’s.  But for most of us, you can’t go from lethargic couch potato and train the way you did before you became a potato.  One thing you’ll find out about elite athlete’s (50+) they have not lost step with their competitive physical-mental edge, they’ve sustained a competitive habit without fail throughout the years.  Is there a health risk for this competitive demographic?  Certainly there is, they are pushing the biological-physical plane envelop.   This activity training intensity is not meant for most entering their 40’s.  Unnecessary stress on mind-body relative to age is something that needs to be considered if you want to increase fitness health goals safely.

Forth, if you are infrequent about your exercise, or activity routine, it is very important you learn to pace yourself each time you exercise until your body is ready for a 3-5 day exercise activity routine.  Ease into your workouts, forget about competing with what you see others doing.  Set your mind to see yourself as the healthiest 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 year old possible in your neck of the woods.  If you think exercise-activity appropriate per decade, you’ll stick with a healthy exercise program for your age while physically appearing and feeling 20-30 years younger for your age.  Why don’t I go beyond 80 years of age?  Actually, 80 years and above should walk-swim, light weight, flexibility training, eat right for good health and socialize, travel as much as possible.  At this age, I thoroughly believe, each day is a blessing and one should enjoy life to the fullest while reducing life stresses.

All too often those 40 and above seek the Hollywood conventional wisdom to find their fountain of youth quick result gimmick(s) after they fail to change behavioral fitness activity habits.  They become mesmerized by the tabloids and their favorite star’s physical appearances.  They focus in on young, vibrant and wrinkle/fat free models and starlets.  They are not focused on age appropriate activity.  Instead desperately want to turn back the hands of time and will stop at nothing to achieve this goal.  This is not God’s law. You have a purpose for every decade of life.  It is your job now to be wise and healthy for your children’s sake and grandchildren.

Those that follow Hollywood conventional wisdom must have blinders on.  Because if they follow the nip-tuck; take 30lbs off in 30 days; blast your abs, thighs and buttocks; fountain of youth gimmicks then they also know the following is true.  What does Hollywood do with its actors and actresses once their physical flaws become too apparent?  They throw them out like old dish rags don’t they?  The paparazzi relentlessly pursue them and exploit their aging, overweight, illness flaws, relationships gone bad through the tabloids for a buck.  Many of these star icons you worshiped can’t keep up with the immortal Hollywood youth expectations and self destruct.  You see this, but deny the reality of the situation and search for a younger icon to follow ageless beauty advice, etc.  Why would you ever follow a celebrity’s advice as a fitness health expert in your 50’s?  Especially if they have no specialized training in age appropriate fitness techniques?  Hollywood and your iconic stars don’t cater “how to achieve” quality living experiences for the 50plus crowd.  Instead, they offer quick result diet and fitness solutions to turn back the hands of time to make a quick buck.  All the while, they use perfect model specimen’s, made up to look as if the results are mostly due to their products secret ingredients. 

There is nothing mentioned about life long health habits and healthy behavioral change in order to achieve and maintain these quick result appearance benefits.  And this always leads me to wonder, really how healthy and how well do these diet and fitness products improve fitness levels?  And what health risk are these customers subjected to in the long run for a quick result promise?  I know this to be true because I have a vice.  I love to read smut magazines about the stars.  And they do slam aging stars without mercy.  I read these for pure entertainment, a habit I can’t seem to break since my childhood.   There is one fitness celebrity that sticks out in my mind as one of the greats, Jack Lalanne.  For years, he has been known as a world renowned fitness expert through the 60’s at his peak celebrity status through our TV’s.  He now is known for his Power Juicer products.  To this day his life-long fitness story is amazing.  Research him on the Internet if you get the chance and learn more about someone’s applied exercise fitness principles that have served his followers well through a lifelong fitness career discipline. 

Fifth, the other factor to staying with an exercise age appropriate fitness program is food intake.  If you over consume, especially after 7:30 pm, or on the weekends it will be hard for you to notice weight loss and body toning (reduced body fat).  Body metabolism slows down tremendously after this evening time storing excess calories as fat.  Weekends will be your worst enemy (over consumption typically occurs during this time).  This is why in the next paragraph I recommend if you are just getting started into a workout, fitness activity routine; plan two of your five days on the weekends during the first 2-6 weeks.  Try consuming mostly a Mediterranean diet and/or 50%protein, 20%fat, 30% carbohydrate diet.  What this means in real general terms.  Stay away from the following main dishes/snacks:  Pizza, pasta, breads (whole grain ok) baked goods, ice cream, deserts, casseroles, pancakes, waffles, restaurant chains (fast foods), too much salt, chocolates, muffins, donuts, lard, candy, gum, chips, fried foods, milkshakes, alcohol, beer, diet sodas, popcorn, artificial sweeteners (aspartame), energy drinks, coffee additives (cream, sugar, artificial flavored, etc.).  These are the main addictive foods and food consumption habits that are causing much obesity in this country. 

After exercise and fitness goals are achieved, balanced eating behaviors become much easier.  You will naturally crave healthier food as the chemical food toxins are removed from the body.  This is not to say you can never have pizza, deserts, etc., or have a few drinks.   “That would be ridiculous.”  Balance my friends; we simply must get to a level of fitness for your age that you desire and will stick.  Thereafter, the fitness habit will become addictive which will lead to lifelong healthy habits including balanced consumption of food choices.

Sixth, find a workout routine you can stick with and enjoy.  Various examples:  Try biking, stationary treadmill, stationary rowing, dance, ball room dancing with spouse, tennis, walking, golf, jogging aerobics sessions, swimming, etc., 3 days a week (mix it up with gym activity).  Make sure you get in 2 days a week exercise gym activity and 3 days aerobics (walking, biking, treadmill, elliptical walker, swim, hike etc.).   On the weekends substitute an aerobics week day activity with a planned family outdoor activity, backpack, dance, healthy cooking recipes (walk and shop for your meals), camping, beach walking, fishing, etc.   I recommend 5 days a week exercise activities to sustain fitness levels and good health.  I use combinations of all these activities throughout the week to sustain my age appropriate activities.

I use combinations of daily walking, swimming, gym exercises (stationary equipment use for muscle building and toning, light weights, 12-15 reps per exercise per body part), to include aerobic cross trainers (elliptical), bikes, etc.  I also like to bike, boat, walk, hike, travel, camp, and fish on the weekends as activity substitutes, etc.  Changing up fitness activities will help with motivation, will power to stick with a program and breakup gym exercise routines nicely.  These are activity mix habits that become very addicting if you can break the 4-8wk exercise habit barrier, because it takes this long for brain chemical stimulation, muscle toning and toxins to be adequately removed from the body.  Natural brain chemicals will stimulate activity motivation and will power if given the chance.  Efficient Brain chemical release (adrenalin, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) through exercise is as addicting as nicotine is to a smoker; chocolate is to a chocoholic.

Now that I’ve provided you “How to Exercise and Increase Fitness Levels,” get out there and get it done!  Try various combinations of exercise activity, break up the fitness conditioning patterns and don’t go into any activity program at full intensity until conditioned to do so.  “Good things in life come to those that take the time to do it right!”

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Viking Carnivores TV Reality Game Show

24 01 2010

Viking “Big Meat” Carnivores:  Vikings compete amongst the best “big meat” open pit Carnivore Viking tribe.  Customs include Viking attire, tools, weapons and culture befitting of a Viking as they travel to each host site to gather more bone coinage.  Tribal host games are set up by the visiting tribe for a chance to barter; trading needed Viking skill sets by receiving “game losing tribes Vikings.”  Tribes compete to build the best ‘big meat” cooking team to earn bone coinage, eat “big meat” and win end game rewards with coinage cache.  To the victors, so go the spoils!  VIKING CARNIVORES SITE , WGAW Registry #1406636, 23 Jan 2010 (Viking Carnivor’s TV Reality Game Concept).  Copyright Mirror Athlete Enterprises, All rights reserved 2010.

Now The “Big Meat BBQ Story”

Many moons ago I was inspired to barbeque during a winter snow storm near the Oregon coast not so different than my many Summer Viking barbecues in Northern California. That one snow day twenty something years ago, coined my tradition of barbequing “big meat” like a Viking in extreme conditions. The rest is history and the “big meat” barbeque tradition I carry on satisfies the most insatiable savage appetites. I cook “big meat” Viking meals typically during two seasons, in two different locations. The two seasons are winter during the North West Oregon snow blasts and ice storms similar to Northern Europe weather trends; also during summer months under the blistering sun’s rays of Northern California.

One methodology of “big meat” smoky BQ is performed under an open garage using a Weber barbeque, while the other is performed over an open pit campfire on grill rack with a Weber cover, or Weber BQ unit. Either one of these two geographies provides the right atmospheric aroma smoke movement and smells.

The two seasons are worthy “in my opinion” of a traditional Viking Carnivore “big meat” festivity for the protein deficient. This was and still is the staple of Nordic and European coastal Viking Carnivore celebration; “at least in my neck of the woods it is.” I use unconventional and traditional Western cooking methods and techniques with a Viking theme that originated in the great North West kicked off many years ago under my garage on a snow day. I’ve been at it ever since perfecting my “big meat” barbequing skills.

There are big differences as far as the two traditional “big meat “cooking methods are concerned. Definitely “big meat” barbequing is totally different then your fast gas, or briquette cooked tenderloin, T-bone and New York steak, etc. Both summer and winter Viking cooking methodologies will now be covered.

The no wind condition is important during the summer barbarian feast as opposed to the winter celebration. Why is this? Because the slow cooking technique allows one to also enjoy the day while anticipating the good eats. This is a great time to participate in a gaming session: horseshoes, Frisbee, nurf football while consuming quality grog under heavy blistering sun rays and not so much standing next to a 250-350 degree heat source. Often, the nurf is thrown over the horseshoe Vikings pit area to make things more interesting for the elder spectator vikings.

Also, during the perfect BQ Summer smoke off, the lid-dampers are closed enough to create a slight suffocation of premium oak and Manzanita, or mesquite once the fuel is amber hot. You see a modern day Viking doesn’t envision his homeland off of some Nordic, or European coast line. But can find his homeland comforts by recreating in a festive and game fun area with good friends and of course the aroma smoked environment where the smoke lays heavy at ground level. Barbecue works great with a no wind condition. The smoke envelopes the grounds with a cherry bomb effect that is real cool. It is so cool it pays “big dividends” in ways that only those that have experienced it can totally relate.

Why Oak as the fuel source? It’s simply the best smoking wood in my opinion. It burns hot and long and is plentiful in our native forests. Manzanita is also a hardwood with great flavor (a bit stronger smoky taste, less sugar flavor than oak). Manzanita and mesquite also compliment oak wood smoking by way of smoker’s chips with tasty rich mixed flavors.

Now during the winter BQ smoke off, a Viking Carnivore is all about warmth and damper control of the barbeque with lots of wind to properly propel the aroma and plenty of fine grog to enhance cheer. This way it’s easy to signal your near Viking tribes you take your “big meat” cooking and festivities serious. Like Scandinavia it is better to have this celebration during a heavy snow, or freeze. Temperatures should range in the high teens to below freezing with a steady 8-12mile per hour wind with blizzard is “spot on” if you can get it. Why? Because this adds to the excitement of this mystic celebration, pays bigger dividends esthetically and as the delicious smoked “big meat” aroma travels throughout the village

This thickened white smoked oak plum beacons many to imagine and wonder how good this slab of meat would taste. It also brings comfort to empty bellies that will soon fill with the most fantastic tasting Protein in the world. Compliments from the elders tell you, you’ve met expectations. This builds the Viking ego immensely.

Simply by using traditional Western smoking methods the Viking festivities while children play in the snow can truly be experienced by all. This is not a traditional Western celebration but a modified Viking feast. Aroma aeration from my hooch is left wide open to the village tribes for proper air turbulence convection and distribution of fine aromatic smells. All of this occurs as I expertly use my special knowledge in “big meat” barbequing for my fellow Viking Carnivores.

Yes, we will all partake often in this celebration of life and family brought together through “big meat” cook offs “with drink of grog.” The neighboring tribes are only left to ponder, “There must be a Viking feast over at the tribal hooch, “in my case, in my garage.” Or, “those guys are at it again, smoke is pouring out the garage,’ maybe the hooch is on fire?” “I can guarantee, neighboring Vikings will check it out to ensure there is no fire while working their way in for a look.

Smoke from an oak wood burning barbeque puts out smells like no other and a lot of it for long periods of time. As a matter of fact I’ve been known to stimulate olfactory nose receptors for miles away. My Viking feasts are almost legendary regardless of whether I celebrate the winter, or summer “big meat” cook off tradition. I still have one Viking brethren that has not partaken in the festivities for twenty years. But he always says when he sees me, says, “do you remember how good that “big meat” tasted out of your garage during that snow storm? What was it a 30lb roast? Holy cow, I didn’t know a roast could melt in your mouth that way, let alone fit in your barbeque. I simply must drop by when you do that again, “let me know!” Then he’ll say, why do you cook this way in these extreme weather conditions?” My reply, “a Nordic Viking wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Now, I mention grog. Since we are modern day Viking warriors, there is a huge interpretation of exactly what grog is, or should be. However, you should know the traditional grog in my village is wine drank out of a goat skin stomach. “Yah, you heard me right,’ I know, you’re saying, are you kidding me?” My answer is “yes I am.” How fun was that? But, if I had a goat skin stomach, I would consume a fine Merlot, not too sweet, not to dry. Some Viking want-a-bee will fill their cup with port wine. This is a big mistake and un-Viking like behavior. The same mistake can be made with a full taste beer. It is too rich and filling and will lessen your ability to consume mass portions of “big meat,” and quite frankly, the Viking want-a-bee may be out for the count early on in the celebration.” Did I mention we also drink our grog out of Viking mugs and goblets? “Why, yes we do, which will be covered under appropriate Viking utensils when invited to Viking Carnivore “big meat” meals.

To ensure the occasion goes off without a hitch, you must find the right Viking utensil and clothing wear. The clothing can be anything that looks to be cool Viking stuff. At a minimum, you have to have a helmet with Viking horns, or something of that nature. If you can’t find one with horns any Viking leather-fur cap or helmet will work. The most important item you’ll want to take with you is an impressive knife and fork as this will be your only eating utensil. No plates, or napkins will be provided. Ensure you have sleeves and a loin cloth over your belt. I know what you’re thinking right now, “don’t be ridiculous,’ of course your wearing pants!” There is a purpose to this; one of which the loin cloth identifies your tribal village and also dubs as a napkin.

All utensils are stylishly attached to your big leather Viking belt, or slung over your neck, resting on opposite shoulder. Kind of the way you would carry a battle axe or shield into battle. I highly recommend a long handled skewer fork. And no less than a ten inch hunter’s knife blade affixed to an antler’s handle if you can swing it. The bigger the hardware the more impressed your fellow Vikings will be and filled with admiration for your tools.

The size and appearance of the goblet also needs to draw respect. Gaudy and medieval is very good! By the way, Viking women of the festivity can out shine a Viking male warrior simply by out garbing and out charming all of those around them. Viking warriors must also carry a jesting and non-belittling persona, to lighten mood and entertain while welcoming all around them. I’ve seen Viking women reduce a Viking warrior to rubble when getting out of line. You don’t want that! So be prepared to go into battle with the right disposition, or it’s best to stay back at your tribal hooch, or sleep it off under your personal thatch.

Now that I’ve gone over the basic Viking festivity formalities and dress code, it is now time to learn how to properly create the right aroma filled air and succulent tasty “big meat” barbecue. The first and most important ingredient in preparation for “big meat’ cooking is not briquettes,” but instead oak wood. The starter pit, whether over an open pit, or Weber must be started with very dry oak kindling

This takes patience for which “this Viking” rarely has. I use a turbo torch with MAPP gas. Yah I know, I cheat to get to the Viking fun festivities quicker. What can I say, “I’m a modern day Viking warrior field trained in the fine art of deception and field expediency,” moving onto the next mission without haste.” However, I can do without a turbo tourch, for which all should learn how to do.

Ok, you work the fuel core into hot ambers while adding bigger pieces of oak “using a quartered wood stump into a teepee layout, while feeding the kindle.” Once you get 50% of your core cooking wood amber red, it’s time to create a cool core area centralized with a hot parameter around it. You’ll take the wood and push it to your outer perimeters of your BQ side wall. If over an open flame, I recommend bringing a grill screen and BQ Weber Lid, or something similar to capture the heat and smoke. The Weber BQ technique is similar to the open pit BQ grid technique for fuel layout and cooking. You’ll support the grid over pit with non-popping scale rocks [use big dense bed rock if you can find it], or big back logs that won’t burn down with the parameter cooking fuel. Rocks are better to use if you can get a non shale-type harden rock. Granite is best. If no rocks, you’ll have to dig down into the earth no less than 10.” Parameter heating built right allows you to control the heat source better.

Once the center core temp reaches 250-325 degrees, the “big meat” is ready to go on the grill. Put the “big meat on the grill.” Why do I keep referring to the meat as “big meat?” Because it is a “big ass” piece of meat, usually over 10 lbs! And I always outlay chicken breast, fish and thighs on the grid over direct heat for quick tantalizing morsels that can be easily skewered by Viking utensils at will. Vikings need something quickly “gnaw on” while waiting for the main course. This also slows down the consumption of grog. Otherwise the Vikings will go barbaric on something, or someone for which tribal security and prison holding may be required!

Vikings also need some vegetation in the diet. Corn in the husk is the barbarian preference. Throw the entire non-husked corn around the “big meat” on the grill. Do this once the chicken is done and meat is half way cooked. Turn corn in husk until husk is scored well all the way around. I’ve stacked up to 8-10 pieces of corn while rotating around the “big meat and morsels.”

Corn consumption technique is very dependent on the Vikings loin cloth garb. The loin cloth doubles as a napkin and hot mitt for consumption of mass corn. Simply pick up corn with loin cloth, husk the corn, use Viking utensils to add your favorite spice and lard, consume. Also, be sure to plunder, or barter for the biggest blooming sweet onions you can find. Use a 10” cast iron shallow pan for best onion cooking over pit. Cook the onion whole, pour Greek, virgin olive oil over the top, season with specified Viking spices. Wait till onion falls apart on its own, then consume with Viking utensils.

What is the Vikings “big meat” of choice? This Viking looks for uncut “big meat” oxen, buffalo, pigs, mutton you name it, we cook it. But mostly huge tri-tip beef cuts (sometime 2-3, 5-8pounders). I have been known to cook 20-26+lb roasts-turkeys, using my slow 6 hour Viking BQ technique. This is another story.

A word of caution, when cooking on an open pit a seasoned Viking pyrotechnic expert should take command of this area. Much more attention, focus and experience is required not to overcook the meat, or sear a young Viking warrior unnecessarily. However, if a burn does occur, make sure you have at hand a Vikings first aid ointment of Tea Tree oil, alovera gel and gauze. Cover burn with oil first, then apply gel, cover with gauze and continue on with the festivities. Non life threatening Battle wounds are something to brag about with your fellow Viking Carnivore that will fuel stories of legend for young savages into the next century and beyond!

I digress. A 24 inch grid lift “minimum” above the heat source over an open pit fire is wise. Heat control over an open pit is maintained by ensuring a non direct-heat core parameter like the Weber barbeque methodology. By using the Weber lid “or something similar” over an open pit with grid, you will have to still manage damper lever on lid to adequately capture the natural oak smoke wood sugar to adequately lock the juices in. Always, slow cook simmer over an open pit, otherwise your Viking brethren may go barbaric on you if you serve them dry oxen, or mutton! You can accomplish excellent “extreme big meat” barbeque with a large skewer over an open pit. However, this is another story which requires just as much expertise as burying your meat underground with hot coal engulfing the “big meat.”

Regardless of pit, or Weber barbeque cooking technique, ensure when you lay down the meat, no flame directly touches it. Cover the meat and let it sear for minutes at a time. Let it simmer longer. Once you hear the juices begin to drip, ensure bottom dampers of barbeque are reduced 25% open after the first 10 minutes. From the get go, the top air dampers are one quarter open on Weber lid and closed almost all the way when a grid over an open fire pit is your cooking style.

Open pit requires more accurate fuel stoking with wind as your biggest challenge if this technique is used during winter months. These techniques if done right will hold temps around 250 – 325 degrees under the lid once perfected. The perfect “big meat” proper cooking sequence is base on heat, thickened white oak smoke appearance and smell penetrating the airways, as well as meat color, tenderness and dripping juice frequency. Properly cooked “big meat” should have a pink glow throughout the entire inners, very juicy, while the outer surface appears to be a caramelized reddened honey glazed look. This is how a “Master Viking Big Meat Chef satisfies the Supreme Viking Chieftain.” But before the consumption, let’s review the ritual of cooking with a little bit more detail.

Once the smoke thickness encroaches onto the festivity grounds, enact the following Viking ritual to reignite the fire-heat-smoke sequence. Take the lid off, turn the meat, season the meat, swing the lid back and forth over the hot ambers to reignite it by injecting oxygen enriched air from the “swinging of the lid with grog in the other hand, and cover.”

Ensure you don’t overdo the grog, while you perform this ritual or ashes will adhere to your meat and you may also spill your grog! Viking women hate ash in “big meat” and the Viking men hate it when you waste grog! “Balance in everything you do or you’ll have some price to pay.”

There will be so much thickened smoke once the fuel reignites; you’ll have to be an air intake “one-eyed Willie” expert to maneuver around this eye assault. This ritual is done repeatedly and can be dampened down for long periods of time to create stronger smoked flavor, tenderness and abundance in flavorful juices and relief from the one-eyed Willie effect.

Do not cover Viking “big meat” with foil! This will ruin the flavor and you cannot properly cook the meat if you can’t see the color of it, or cut into it easily to check it out with your Viking big knife when gnawing on samples. Sample before you serve the Supreme Viking Chieftain or you may get an ear load.

The secret of keeping the juices in “big meat” cooking methodology stems from the fact that oak creates a honey-red wood sugar glaze on the outer surface of the meat. If cooked right, it’s like wrapping it in a natural sugar sealed coat that keeps the juices in. So, if your meat is dripping too much, the heat source is too hot and the natural sugars are not adhering to the outer surface of the “big meat. If this is the case our meat will dry out like leather. You should hear only a drip here and there throughout the entire cooking process.

I’ve spent 2-3 hours cooking a 10lb piece of meat to perfection. Note: If you have to add more wood, you need to be ready for this. I use a large steal Viking spatula to lift the grilling grid with the meat on it and add wood with the other hand. If this is too difficult enlist a fellow Viking, they love to help while balancing grog in the other hand. Plus they think this act attracts the attention of the “single” Viking women! which also builds their ego.

Now to add additional smoke flavors to the meat, after the meat is cooked one third way through, add water soaked mesquite, or Manzanita chips to the hot oak ambers. The smoke will engulf the air as well as saturate the meats outer pours with additional smoky flavors beyond your taste buds expectations. The only spices that can be used is a tradition salt and pepper glazing. Do not use barbeque sauce, or marinate the meat. This will take away from the Viking feast experience and wonderful complex sugar smoky flavors absorbed by the “big meat.”

I have however upgraded the seasoning selection which vastly improves the taste based on Viking bud preferences. That seasoning is Montreal steak seasoning found at your local market. It also adds to the aroma air-smoke drafts with greater impact on olfactory senses. I find no matter what the weather condition, or season; the best Viking meat is cooked “at first” over an extremely hot flame with a hollow core while dampening air flow, then reducing heat, “sear-simmer method for long periods of time, simmering longer then searing. This tends to cook the meat with a thick red sugary glaze from the wood fuel while retaining much of the juice inside the “big meat.”

Now you have a good ideal how to create the perfect Viking barbarian feast. I must warn you, your BQ will be a hit and the local villagers may be jealous of your new found “big meat” barbeque talents and tasty creativities. So you better think about inviting them over to keep the piece in the village if they keep sticking their noses out, or stick your nose out at them, “your choice.”

Also, be careful how much grog you drink. Your Viking Queen won’t be happy with you if you get out of control regardless of how smashing the barbarian “big meat” festivities went over. This celebration is about family and good friends celebrating life together. Warning, this celebration is not for the faint heart with proper dining etiquette, you must make considerations for the timid, but I highly recommend against this modification in plans as it will take away from the Viking “big meat” festivities.

Be sure to plan accordingly with outdoor activity for all! Whether it’s blistering hot or blizzard cold; entertainment is key to this cultures festivity success. “I highly recommend” If you have battle axes and knives throw them at a wood stump target. Make sure it’s not a live target! Now go out eat “big BQ meat, drink grog” and celebrate befitting as the Nordic savages once did!

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2009 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.