Sunday marks the winter solstice, the day the northern hemisphere is tilted furthest from the sun. Some animals escape the danger by migrating south; others, including humans, find heated shelter. Their body temperatures, heart and breathing rates drop to almost imperceptible levels, lowering the animalsa€™ metabolic rate a€” how quickly they use energy. As autumn progresses, and as food becomes scarcer, lady beetles begin to gather in groups at the bases of trees, under bushes or in the cracks of buildings.
When the temperature careens near freezing, and wind whips snow across the landscape, how does a wild creature survive?
Every week or so, a 13-lined ground squirrel wakes up, repositions itself and possibly urinates, said Matt Andrews, a biologist at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.
The bears might sleep an hour or two longer than in summer, he said, but the two always come outdoors afterward to romp.
One reason bears don't go into a deep hibernation is that females give birth during torpor and must care for their fragile cubs, which can weigh as little as 1 to 3 pounds at birth. But during a particularly harsh winter, or when food is scarce, bears can go into torpor for up to six months.
Many people associate groundhogs with hibernation, thanks to the species' most celebrated member, Punxsutawney Phil.
There might be a smidgen of truth to the folklore, said Stan Gehrt, an OSU assistant professor of wildlife ecology. True hibernators, groundhogs - also called woodchucks - are triggered by the shortening days to fatten up on clover and leafy plants. When it comes to surviving the elements, snakes can be sociable creatures - think of the snake-pit scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ohio's black rat snake is large and dark, so it retains heat, tolerating cold better and entering hibernating later. Bats are special among hibernators: They spend almost 90 percent of their lives in some state of dormancy. The hibernaculum temperature is critical because bats adjust their heart rates to their surroundings.
A A A  Some animals escape the danger by migrating south; others, including humans, find heated shelter. A A A  As autumn progresses, and as food becomes scarcer, lady beetles begin to gather in groups at the bases of trees, under bushes or in the cracks of buildings.
A A A  When the temperature careens near freezing, and wind whips snow across the landscape, how does a wild creature survive? A A A  Every week or so, a 13-lined ground squirrel wakes up, repositions itself and possibly urinates, said Matt Andrews, a biologist at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. A A A  The bears might sleep an hour or two longer than in summer, he said, but the two always come outdoors afterward to romp. A A A  One reason bears don't go into a deep hibernation is that females give birth during torpor and must care for their fragile cubs, which can weigh as little as 1 to 3 pounds at birth. A A A  But during a particularly harsh winter, or when food is scarce, bears can go into torpor for up to six months. A A A  Many people associate groundhogs with hibernation, thanks to the species' most celebrated member, Punxsutawney Phil.
A A A  There might be a smidgen of truth to the folklore, said Stan Gehrt, an OSU assistant professor of wildlife ecology. A A A  True hibernators, groundhogs - also called woodchucks - are triggered by the shortening days to fatten up on clover and leafy plants. A A A  Like ground squirrels, groundhogs sometimes awaken, often shivering to generate body heat. A A A  When it comes to surviving the elements, snakes can be sociable creatures - think of the snake-pit scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A A A  Ohio's black rat snake is large and dark, so it retains heat, tolerating cold better and entering hibernating later.
A A A  Bats are special among hibernators: They spend almost 90 percent of their lives in some state of dormancy.
A A A  The hibernaculum temperature is critical because bats adjust their heart rates to their surroundings.
If you have been a subscriber to my newsletter for some time, you know that I'm always trying to give you ways to make your workouts more interesting and fun, while also stimulating big-time results.
What I have noticed over the years is that many people will train regularly for a few months and then will either get bored with the same old weight training and cardio routines, or will get discouraged because their progress comes to a grinding halt after a while. Now before I start with some of my favorite non-traditional training styles, I will state that I think one of the best ways to achieve a lean, muscular and healthy body is through a consistent weight training routine with free weights. Just look at any world class 100-meter sprinters and notice how ripped-to-shreds those guys are. It's been a little over a year now since I've incorporated kettlebell training into my routines, and I'll admit that I'm hooked for life! Well, I hope you've enjoyed all of these ideas for ways to really shake up your workouts and make them fun again. Late December days are the yeara€™s shortest in terms of daylight hours, when nature appears to be standing still. Freezing temperatures and lack of food would kill most creatures: Exposed to extreme cold, body temperature drops, organs shut down and the heart stops. But hibernating animals survive in a kind of suspended animation: In their dens, they might appear limp or even dead. But the majority tough out winter, huddled beneath leaves, in the crannies of trees or underground. In September, they begin building fat stores by eating fruit, said Joe Kovach, an Ohio State University entomologist. Certain varieties, such as the multicolored Asian lady beetle, crawl into attics or wall cavities. If it goes from 70 to below freezing in a day, (the insects) are going 'aaaaah!' " he said. The 13-lined ground squirrel, perhaps the most intense hibernator in Ohio, stays underground.
A main tunnel often branches into several others, with chambers where ground squirrels can curl up.
A closer look at Brutus and Buckeye - twin Alaskan grizzlies at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium - dispels the misconception.
They use powerful claws to dig a burrow beneath a fallen tree, or they crawl into a hollow log or rock crevice.


They sometimes develop a plug at the end of their intestinal tracts so they wona€™t defecate. They survive underwater because they can absorb oxygen through their cloaca, the opening where they expel waste.
There, a groundhog's body temperature hovers above freezing, and its heart and breathing rates drop drastically.
The males emerge first, almost never before mid-February, and it's to look for a female, not their shadow.
Although those snakes were estivating, or escaping the heat, cold-climate snakes also congregate, in winter. Such small bodies lose a lot of heat, said Merrill Tawse, a zoologist and bat expert at the Gorman Nature Center near Mansfield. Northern long-eared, big brown, little brown and Indiana bats leave summer habitats in October to look for underground shelter.
The femalea€™s body either delays fertilization, or stores away the fertilized egg, a€?putting on pausea€? the babya€™s development until spring, Tawse said. Scientists once studied bats in their hibernacula but found fewer bats each time they entered. They sometimes develop a plug at the end of their intestinal tracts so they wona€™t defecate.A  They also can recycle their urine, breaking it down to make proteins that help maintain muscles and organs. You can choose to integrate some of these alternative training techniques with your weight training routines on the same day, as alternative workouts on separate days of the week, or even as separate training cycles where you try some of these techniques for several weeks at a time before cycling back to a traditional weight training workout. Wind Sprints and Hill Sprints - Find any open field in a park or athletic field and try 50, 75, and 100-yard all-out wind sprints. Now compare that to the emaciated weakling physiques of many marathoners, and you'll see that sprinting is where the action is at for a healthy, ripped, powerful body! Kettlebell Training - If you've been reading my articles for some time, you've probably heard me praise kettlebell training many times before, but I will have to reiterate that it has been one of the best training methods that I've ever tried and has taken my physical capabilities to a whole new level. At between $100-$150 per kettlebell, they are definitely not cheap, but they are well worth the money.
Bodyweight Workouts - For a change of pace, try adding to your routine one or two workouts a week at home with just bodyweight based exercises. Ring Training - This type of training basically uses portable gymnastic rings that you can take anywhere with you.
Swimming - A great full body workout that stresses the muscles and joints in a much different way than most resistance training. Sandbag Training - This form of training is a nice variation to mix in with your strength training. Mountain Biking - As you may have figured by now, I'm not a proponent of steady pace endurance exercise, but rather, highly variable intensity exercise that works with bursts of exertion followed by recovery intervals.
Indoor (or outdoor) Rock Climbing - This is yet another fun way to get in a great workout that will also challenge you both physically and mentally. Stick Wrestling - This is a killer full body workout and can also be a great competition between you and your friends. Strongman Training - This type of training is a little more hard-core, but it's a blast for those who are into trying something different. Rope Climbing - This goes back to the old high school days of climbing the rope in gym class. Bag Boxing - You can use a heavy bag, a speed bag, or even one of those rebound bags to get a great workout.
Jumping exercises - squat jumps, box jumps, lunge jumps, and broad jumps are some of the best ways to incorporate explosive jumping exercises into your routines.
Even with temperatures in the 20s and snow falling, the 950-pound brothers still wrestle one another, jostling for a bone in their outdoor enclosure. In torpor, a bear's temperature can drop from 100 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and their heart rate and breathing slow.
During Ohio's frigid winters, red-eared sliders and map turtles must seek refuge, so they bury themselves in the mud beneath ponds and rivers.
2, cameras train their lenses on Phil's burrow (really a zoo habitat) to see whether he will emerge and be frightened by his shadow. When it emerges in spring, a bear can be hundreds of pounds thinner, so it immediately begins searching for food. This is what separates the people who jump on and off the "fitness bandwagon" a couple times every year without ever making any real progress from the people that actually adopt a true fitness lifestyle and finally achieve the body they have always wanted.
You just need to have an open mind to the huge world of various training styles and techniques that are out there. You can go to a football field and do stadium stairs, any building that has stairs like a hotel (most people take the elevator, so you will not even have many people looking at you while you're working out), or even the stairs in your own home.
After each sprint, rest long enough to catch your breath before the next one (generally 1-2 minutes).
Kettlebells are an alternative type of free-weight training instead of barbells and dumbbells. These can be great because you can get a high intensity workout done in only 15-30 minutes without having to go to the gym on days that you might not have time for a trip to the gym. You throw the straps up over any high bar like a pullup bar, the top of a power rack, or even over a football field goal crossbar. Incorporating swimming workouts once or twice a week into your normal training routines can really enhance your physique. It works your body with an unstable object, which makes muscles that might normally be neglected get in on the action to perform the movements. Indoor rock climbing gyms have starting popping up all over the place in recent years and will be more accessible than outdoor rock climbing to most people. The premise is based on the types of exercises competitors perform in the "worlds strongest man" competitions. Seriously, if you have access to a rope, either at a gym or somewhere outdoors, rope climbing builds a powerful and ripped upper body like no other exercise. Among the three, the heavy bag is the best all around full body workout, while the speed bag will test your rhythm and timing and give you a great upper body workout.
The explosive and powerful nature of jumping exercises works your leg muscles in an entirely different way than most normal slow grinding strength training moves. If he goes back into his hole, tradition says, we're in for six more weeks of winter weather.
Make it interesting, make it fun, and make your fitness a priority, and you'll have the body that you want. Seriously, there are so many different and fun training styles out there, that there is no reason you should ever get bored with your workouts and give up on that lean ripped body that you've been looking for.


For an awesome full body workout, try mixing stairs sprints with an upper body exercise like pushups or pull-ups.
Their unique construction and weight distribution (basically a cannonball with a handle) allows for a whole different realm of exercises that's available compared to dumbbells and barbells.
Try alternating bodyweight squats, pushups variations, lunges, and floor abs exercises continuously for 15-30 minutes. Then you can quickly adjust the rings to do exercises like ring dips, ring pushups, ring pull-ups, hanging leg raises, horizontal body rows, L-sits, and more. I recommend trying a "sprint" style swimming workout, which will help more for building muscle compared with endurance long distance swimming.
I've been mixing some sandbag training into my routines for over a year now, and I've found it is a very intense method of training that works your muscles in a different way and gets you huffing and puffing like crazy. You get the leg pumping exertion during the uphill climbs, while also getting the adrenaline rush of the downhill acting as your recovery intervals. You could even come up with your own "fight club" and have stick wrestling competitions with your buddies to see who is toughest.
If you have a yard, you can even set up some of these exercises in your yard and do some outdoor workouts to have a little fun.
A great way to incorporate rope climbing into intense workouts is to do a climb up, then lower yourself back down. If available at your gym or if you have a bag at home, try mixing these in as a good warm-up or as an intense finish to your strength routine.
I prefer to use the really cheap "speed" ropes with a plastic rope instead of a fabric rope. I've even seen a university study cited once that found squat jumps to elicit the greatest testosterone response of all exercises studied. Also, mixing in various training styles builds stronger joints by reducing repetitive movement pattern overload and varying your training stressors. If done with a high enough intensity, stairs workouts help to create changes throughout your entire body due to the muscle building and fat burning hormonal response and metabolism increase that you get through working the biggest muscle groups in your entire body. But don't say you're doing it for the health benefits, because I might just have to disagree. Kettlebells have been typically used for training hard-core athletes, military units, martial arts competitors, and other tough individuals, but there is no reason that anybody looking to get stronger, bigger, or more cut can't learn the exercises and benefit from them.
Try to take very short rest periods or none at all to really amp up the intensity since this will be a brief workout. Dips and pushups on the rings are my favorites and the rings really make them a hell of a lot more difficult, while also incorporating your stabilizer muscles to a much greater degree. For sprint style, swim as hard as you can to the other side of a 25-meter or 50-meter pool (or sprint swim similar distances in a lake or the ocean if you like to swim outdoors).
You can make your own sandbags to train with by filling various sized duffle bags with sand, or you can use those construction type sandbags that come in several shapes. Mix it all together and you get a super-fun, high-intensity, leg burning workout that will melt fat off of your entire body and build awesome legs at the same time. There are actually sticks designed specifically for stick wresting, but you can even just use a strong broomstick cut down to about 30-36 inches long and taped up with some athletic tape to prevent splinters.
Then while your upper body is recovering for the next climb, you can do a lower body exercise like squats or lunges, or go up and down stairs. Once you get good, you can jump rope much faster with the plastic ropes than the fabric ones, which will allow you to get a more intense workout. If you're more advanced, you can even incorporate more challenging exercises like handstand pushups, one-arm pushups, and one-legged squats into your bodyweight training routines. The rings allow your joints to move in a more natural pattern and can help you prevent or even recover from shoulder injuries.
Sandbag exercises can be done as squats, cleans, presses, lunges, shouldering, throws or heaves, carrying up hills, etc.
The climbs can be tough and will challenge you both physically and mentally as you pump away trying to make it up steep hills without having to resort to getting off of the bike.
Whenever I go indoor rock climbing (which is only on occasion), my forearms are sore for about 2-3 days afterwards. For your stick wrestling workout, stand on a soft mat or carpeted area (or grass if outdoors), match up with a friend or foe. You can get one of those giant tractor tires and do tire flips (which is basically a deadlift followed by a push-press). Keep alternating the upper body rope climbs with the lower body exercises in between and you'll get one hell of a full body workout. Try super-setting jumping exercises with upper body exercises for some really intense workouts.
My fellow trainer and friend, Virgil Aponte, has developed a website that focuses on creative stairs workouts using all kinds of exercises you never would have thought of before. Then after you make it up the challenging climbs, you get rewarded with the adrenaline rush of flying down steep hills while jumping off of boulders and logs and trying not to stumble or fall off the bike. You'll both grab the same stick toward the ends with your hands on the outsides of your partner's hands, on the inside, or staggered.
However, dips on the training rings feel perfect, and also give me a much better muscle pump. You can also mix different strokes (crawl, breaststroke, sidestroke, backstroke, butterfly) on each swim sprint.
I've actually found an entire book devoted to sandbag training, which gave me some great ideas for doing sandbag based workouts. Try mixing together two legged jumps, one-legged jumps, arm crossovers, double jumps (rope passes under feet twice for each jump) to keep things interesting and increase the intensity. I've found that sprint swimming gives me a great muscle pump (especially in the upper body), without any soreness the next day as is typical with weight training.
Strongman training works your entire body in a very intense fashion and could easily spark some new results. Also, try alternating 15-20 second high intensity bursts where you jump as fast as you possibly can, followed by 15-20 second recovery intervals where you jump slowly to get ready for your next burst. This is because swimming has no eccentric movement (the negative portion of a lift), which is what causes muscle soreness. Keep in mind that even though swimming works your muscles well and is a nice alternative workout to mix in once or twice a week, it does not strengthen your bones.



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