Category Archives: Ninja Tips

NINJA: Tying Your Shoes For The Long Run

Photo by: ThaRainbow

The Right Knot for the Job

At sea, on a mountain, or during surgery, knowing how to tie the right knot for the task at hand is crucial.  Yet, most of us only know one knot for tying our shoelaces, the basic bow.  The most common variation for making shoelaces more secure is the dreaded double knot…untying this knot is like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes it unties easily.  Other times, you end up with an intricate and nearly impossible to untie snarl.

There is a better way.

In this post, I will show you how to tie your laces with a knot that keeps them more secure than a double knot and is as easy to untie as a standard bow.

The Video

Breaking it Down

Instead of going over and under once, do it twice.  This makes a secure foundation for your knot, because the second twist holds the laces tight and helps keep them from slipping.

Now make two bows…just like when you were little.

Tie the bows in a loose over under knot…So far, so good.

Now for the tricky part.  Take the bow on the right-hand side and bend it around the outside of the loop in the center of the knot, then feed the bow through the middle of that same loop.

Tighten the knot, by pulling on the bows.  You can also pull on the loose ends of the laces to balance the knot.  If you have made the knot correctly, untying is simple…just pull on one of the loose ends and the top knot comes undone.


It’s well worth taking the time to practice and master this technique for tying laces, because it’s far more secure than a traditional single or even a double knot.  But, you need to be patient and you need to practice.  In the long run, you’ll be saving time and with practice you will be able to tie this not very quickly.

PRO TIP: For hiking or snowboarding boots, consider substituting paracord for your laces.  With paracord, you will get a much higher breaking strength and it’s always helpful to have with you in case of an emergency.  If you want a finished look, sleeve the ends with plastic heat shrink tubing.

MORE RESOURCES: Thanks to Anna for linking to Ian’s Shoelace Site in her comment.  Ian’s site has tons of information on knot tying and lacing, definitely worth checking out if you are a runner or hiker.


For related Stretch Exercise Eat posts SEE:

NINJA: The Two Numbers That Could Save Your Life

Home Remedies

Barefoot Runners of the World Unite


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NINJA: Handstand Push Ups

Photo by: Funky64

If anybody tells you that you can’t teach an old ninja new tricks, don’t believe them.  This ninja recently learned a couple of ways to improve a long time favorite exercise: The Handstand Push-Up.

I have been doing handstand push-ups since high school.  I love them.  You can do them against any open wall.  You look cool doing them.  They shred your shoulders and back and they are a natural compliment to pull-ups.

Looking Down = Incorrect Head Position

Looking back = Correct Head Position

When Yavor stopped by and left a comment on the Weird and Wonderful Avocados post, I went to scope out his site: Relative Strength Advantage.  Turns out, Yavor is also an admirer of the handstand push-up.  His post Handstand Push-ups: How to Make Them Easier and Get Super Hero Shoulders in the Process is a must read for rookies and pros alike.

After reading Yavor’s post, I paid more attention to my head position. My instinct is to look at the floor.  I tend to want to see what I am about to face-plant into.  Following Yavor’s advice, I tried looking forward, at the far wall, instead of down at the floor.  Instant improvement.  The exercise was smoother through the full range of motion and with a properly aligned body I was definitely working more efficiently.

Handstand - Side Freeze

Handstand - Front Freeze

When Kristina Dobyns of Freestyle Fitness Addiction started following me on twitter, I had to check out her web site too.  It was like hitting the daily double, when I came across her freestyle fitness move of the week…handstands.  Kristina takes the difficulty level up a notch when she points out that by angling your feet in different ways, you place a huge demand on your core! I dare you to position your legs in different configurations! It’s hard! But good! And it looks badass.

Well, ninjas are badass, so I spent the weekend playing around with these.  Kristina calls them freezes and she is not joking when she says that freezes place a huge demand on your core.  It takes a lot to get to my abdominals.  Plenty of years with swimming, boxing, and now TKD and I have solid ab strength…but after experimenting with freezes, my abs were feeling it.

If ninja pull-ups and handstand push-ups have got you thinking more about training your shoulders and working your back, then you should definitely read Matt Perryman’s article Training the Back.  Another well thought out and well written article from Matt!

Meanwhile, how many of you that are dedicated to doing pull-ups or lat pull-downs are equally dedicated to handstands and handstand push-ups?  Let us know in the comments how you incorporate handstands and handstand push-ups into your training.



NINJA: Pull-ups

NINJA: How to Count Like a Ninja

NINJA: Squat Stretch


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NINJA: The Two Numbers That Could Save Your Life

Photo by: Funky64

Being a ninja is inherently dangerous work.  Ironically, many of us stretch, exercise, and eat well, so that we may engage in inherently dangerous activities for fun.  Whether you are a rock, ice, or mountain climber, a surfer or snowboarder, rider of horses or motorcycles, marathon runner or tri-athlete…you are exposing yourself to the potential for a serious negative event.  Of course, driving to the grocery store can be a dangerous activity too.  Remembering these two numbers may make a difference in whether you survive or not.

The two numbers are 98.6 and 3 and they are brought to you courtesy of the United States Air Force.  The U.S. Air Force Survival School at Fairchild Air Force Base provides survival training to aircrew members and others and they drill these numbers into their students heads.

Photo by: purplemattfish


Overheating or exposure to cold, both can disorient you and take you out of the game or worse, if you survive the initial catastrophe, they can kill you  Your number one priority in a survival situation is to…


Photo by: splorp


You cannot survive-







Memorize these priorities in order and manage them in the same order.

If you want to see a vivid example of the importance of 98.6 and the Rule of 3 watch or re-watch Touching the Void.  To read more about survivors, what it takes to be one, and how to improve your odds of surviving a serious negative event read: The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood and check out The Survivors Club website.

NINJA: How to Count Like a Ninja

Photo by: orvaratli

Whether it is a crazy heavy set with just a few repetitions or a personal record of 500 body-weight squats, losing count is not an option.  When training, for real ultimate power, you have to know how to count under pressure.  Hone your counting ability with these ninja counting tricks and never lose count again.

Count Backwards: Real ninjas don’t count up, they count down.  If you learn only one counting trick today, this is the one you need to know.  When going for 20 pull-ups, counting up from 1 to 20 can be demoralizing.  At the beginning, 20 seems so far away and by fifteen you feel like you have already gone too far.  By counting down, the big numbers drop while you are still fresh.  At the end of your set, you can tell yourself, “3 more to go, any one can crank out three lousy pull-ups.  You call yourself a ninja.  If you can’t get three pull-ups, right now, you are out of the clan and will be cast out of the forest.  With no friends and no family, how long do you think you will survive as a lone killer?”

Break It Up: Breaking up a large count on a set with a massive number of repetitions keeps your head in the game.  A set of 300 sit-ups becomes more manageable, when you count down from 100, then count down twice from 50, and finish off by counting down 4 times from 25.  Remembering that you are on repetition number 137, is harder than knowing that at the end of your current count, you will only have 150 more to go.  Meanwhile, just like in tip #1, going from a large number, like one hundred, down to a smaller number, like 25, helps you win the mental battle and keeps you cranking out the reps.

Cadence: Sound off 1 through 9 and finish the cadence by emphasizing 10, then 1 through 9, 20, 1 through 9, 30…up to 100.  By focusing your count on 1 through 9, you will not be overwhelmed by the cumulative number of repetitions, rather, you will focus on a manageable set of ten.

Think Of Something Else: If you don’t have to count, because you are on the clock or someone else is counting for you, then you will want to distract yourself.  Otherwise, you will waste mental energy focusing on how much time is left or how many more repetitions you have to accomplish.  To keep your mind strong, while continuing to work with amazing ninja like strength and speed, mentally play the alphabet game.  Pick a subject – ninja gear is a good one.  As you continue to exercise, for each letter in the alphabet, name a piece of ninja gear: A is for Ashiko,  B is for Bokken, C is Chigiriki, D is for Darts…  While your mind is distracted, your body will be free to perform amazing feats of strength and endurance.



NINJA: Pull-ups

AMAZING PERFORMANCE: 325 lbs and Bringing It

EXERCISE: How to Set Goals to Meet Your Fitness and Performance Objectives

NINJA: Pull-ups

NinjaPhoto by: orvaratli

*What started out as a $15 thrift store purchase has turned into a regular ninja training phenomenon.  I found this cantilever door-frame pull-up bar at our local thrift store.  Scott, in the office next to mine contributed a suitable replacement for a missing bolt. Nuts were tightened against lock washers and we were in business.

*As soon as this bar went up, it garnered attention.  First, people wanted to know how it worked and whether it was safe.  After reviewing the physics behind the design and witnessing live stress tests (grown men doing actual pull-ups), most people came to trust the fact that this device was capable of supporting their hanging weight and could safely weather additional stresses during exercise.

ScottScott Enjoying The Bar He Helped Rehab

*Then, the thing became irresistible.  You can’t walk by one of these without thinking about jumping up and grabbing the handles.  Older folks in the office wanted to see if they could still do a pull-up.  Younger folks come by on their breaks to crank out quick sets.  Our section’s secretary has an injured back.  She comes by twice a day to hang from the bar and let gravity help her stretch.   My boss, who is rehabbing his shoulder, uses the bar to stretch his arm.

Ms KimMs. Kim Stretching Her Back

*Me, I have been using the bar to reward myself for finishing projects.  Whenever, I cross something off of my list, I do a set of pull-ups.  I rotate through four different positions  and increase the number of reps with each new set.  For example, after finishing my first project of the day, I do a set of 6 standard grip pull-ups.  After completing my second project, I do a quick set of 7 narrow grip pull-ups.  After the next set, I grab the handles and do a set of 8 pull-ups.  You get the idea.

*For a more intense version of this type of workout you may want to experiment with synaptic facilitation techniques, such as Pavel’s Grease the Groove training method.

*I have also been adding isometric training to the end of my sets.  On my last rep, I hold the up position for 6s, lower to a bent arm position, hold for 6s, then drop to near the bottom of the pull-up and hold for 6s.

DonDon Cranking Out a Set of Pull-ups

*Putting up a doorway pull-up bar in your office, apartment, home, or garage is not a stealthy ninja trick.  Everyone will know what you are up to.  Rather, you are using ninja mind control for good and not evil.  What starts out as a curiosity, becomes an irresistible urge.  Each time you walk under the bar, you will feel a subtle force drawing you toward a quick set of pull-ups (we haven’t even discussed knee raises, L-sits, or twists).  Plus, if people know that you have a contraption like that hanging from your door, there is social pressure to use it.  Let them know that your goal is 20 pull-ups and that social pressure will motivate you to exercise on your breaks at work, during television commercials, or on your way in and out of a room (sorry Mom…those fingerprints on the ledge above the stairs leading down to my bedroom – that was me).

NINJA: Office Exercises

ninja_the_last_thing_you_see*Time at work is marked by breaks.  In days gone by, smoke breaks were regular and repeating.  Refilling your mug meant a walk down the hall and a brief respite from work.

Photo by: brunkfordbraun

*Today, smokers are pariahs and pre-ground coffee from a tin is considered undrinkable.  The different stages of the modern work day are marked by a favorite treat from Starbucks, a trip to the vending machine or refrigerator for a Coke, Mountain Dew, or Monster, and eating the candy or sugary snacks found on desk corners and left in break rooms.

*To maintain the strong and alert performance of a ninja, exchange unhealthy breaks for healthy ones.  Physical exercise has a revitalizing effect.  It improves blood flow and helps dissipate stress.  We are not talking about a full blown workout or even breaking a sweat.  Instead use micro-training to break up the day, restore work performance, and help with your major training goals.

—At your mid-morning break, pass on the Starbucks, donut, or bagel.  Instead take a moment to work on your upper body.  Do a quick set of fingertip pushups or work on your crow pose, just enough to get the blood flowing to your head.  Then, stretch your shoulders.

—Just before lunch, work on your abs with bicycle crunches.  Or do some joint mobility exercises to limber up for the afternoon.

—Mid-afternoon…homestretch.  Avoid fatigue with body-weight squats, pistols (one-legged squats), or single leg body-weight dead lifts.

*This is not meant to be intense.  Just enough to get your mind off work for a moment, put your muscles to use, and get the blood flowing.

*From a training standpoint, these breaks present golden opportunities to consciously work on correct form and proper balance.  When it is time for that intense workout, your muscle memory can flow back to what you learned during these breaks.

*More Ninja Tips from STRETCH EXERCISE EAT

NINJA: Crow Pose

ninja_the_last_thing_you_see*Can’t get enough of handstand practice, but caught in a small space.  The yoga crow pose can help.  This pose is an excellent way to work on balance as well as  wrist and shoulder strength.

Photo by: brunkfordbraun

*This video from Expert Village will show you how to properly perform the pose.

*Check out these other Ninja Tips: Shoulder Stretch and Squat Stretch.  For more on handstands see Exercise: Handstands.