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Practise Perfect Posture – your life depends on it.

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Change your philosophy, change your life. Vv.

You see it everywhere you go. We all hear about it and we know someone who has it, but have you ever asked the question if you’ve got it too?

Bad posture, that is.

I think it is and has been a growing problem of modern societies today and I would claim, it is now at epidemic proportions. I believe it is a more costly problem to society than the well-known obesity epidemic that is gripping us.

But no one is talking about it, and yet, it is all around us! Everyone needs to practise perfect posture.

One of my key goals for twenty five years and one of the many reasons I love weight training is it allows me to continuously sculpt and design my ever evolving, dynamic physique towards better balance and symmetry. It never ends. Your body is never static, it is always changing.

I constantly apply my ‘adaptive strategy’ approach for this dynamic and complex environment/system that is the human body/mind/ heart and soul.

That is part of what I do and have done with the hundreds and thousands of students I have taught over the years. Design an improved version of themselves – they become a walking, talking, sitting, sleeping, living piece of art in motion with better balance and symmetry.

I help move people away from hate towards love. That is the essence of design, in my case, designing a new body – a new YOU. Incidentally, striving for improved balance and symmetry in my tailored programs, adopting my framework, indirectly and directly converts bad posture to good posture.

One of the many hidden benefits of my custom design bodies programs.

Good posture is needed for balance, symmetry and a healthy body. Take a look around – everyone that you see at the bus stop, on the train, on the street and even at home. If you’re brave enough, take a look at yourself. What is your posture telling you? Is it ideal? Can it be improved?

What you will see, is what I have stated in my first three sentences here – real impressive figures are few and far between. I look around and symptoms of the aged (like bad posture) is inflicting the young school children.

It is depressing to say the least. How did society get to this stage?

Not sure why children are being affected with this at such a young age, maybe because stooping low would gain more acceptance with friends. Standing straight, with good posture may offend someone, it may give an air of cockiness or a holier than thou perception.

Maybe. I don’t know, I was not one to succumb to peer pressure in teen years.

Sure, parents and carers notice this early on-set age-related ailments adopted by their teenage children. They must ask them to stand up straight but it seems that this habit is ‘set’ in by the time they arrive in their 20s. The poor posture is established and almost irreversible.

Sad, truly sad.

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Doing and being is essential to muscle building success for your health and muscle goals. Connect the two. Make them one. Vv.

The years of continuing bad posture has resulted in the less-than-ideal situation the aged population is suffering from now. A lot of people are living longer but spending the last twenty to thirty years after sixty five with delibitating posture and increasing immobility. Increase immobility leads to reduced sense of self-worth and increasing levels of mental diseases and worse.

We’re all getting older by the second, yes but could I suggest that we slow down the ageing process by firstly becoming aware of our posture every day. Everyone shouldn’t be too concerned with ‘living longer’! I think it is a sales gimmich, everyone should be aiming to:

“grow younger, not older!”

“Growing old” is a decision, afterall. A MIND-SET.

Is this possible? You bet ya!

First stage of any form of self-improvement is to increase your awareness. Then, consciously (in this case), you need to take ACTION – try to improve your way of standing, of walking and sitting.

I believe that correct posture helps manage stress and keeps us healthier. Poor posture on the other hand can have an adverse of effect on the internal organs, causing numerous aches and pains. The compound effect of this as we age results in the reduction of mobility which is an affliction of the aged population now.

I believe in striving towards ‘balance and symmetry’ of the body, through sufficient and appropriate weight-training, coupled with a sensible diet, stretching and cardiovascular exercise. The body works as one and you’re made up of a chain of muscles that are constantly contracting and extending. When one part of your body is out of alignment, the other areas are also off-set. The domino effect then takes hold.

A big mistake people make is thinking that the body will correct itself. No, it won’t! The body will grow to the shape and posture they consistently adopt and practise every single day.

Think about it – the more you slump, the more you lose flexibility so you not only move older, you FEEL OLDER and you APPEAR OLDER!

Now, why would you want that for yourself?! Aren’t we all aiming to ‘off-set the on-set’ of ageing as best we can?

I’ve said it before that a prerequisite for the elusive balance and symmetry (and health ) of the body (and mind, dare I say) is good posture. I will go as far as saying that a person who consciously carries him or herself with a proud upright posture is more likely to come across as a fit, energetic, and even a more attractive and hence more desirable individual.

Yes, you read that right!

Having a good posture makes you MORE ATTRACTIVE!

If this is the case, why aren’t more people doing it? Because it takes effort – it takes work and deliberate practise because to achieve good posture, you need to make a habit of checking your posture and correcting it if necessary.

It can be hard work.

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Fine-tuning the ‘mind-muscle’ connection through intense posing. Hold!

A few things to consider to help you work towards your ideal good posture:

  • Is your butt sticking out too much that it causes a sway in your appearance?
  • Is your shoulders slumping forward causing your scapulae to stand out like wings in your back?
  • Do you balance evenly on you feet?
  • Do you round your back when eating at your dinner table?
  • Do you tilt your head to one side when using a computer or while writing?
  • Do you allow your head to stick out in front of your body?

I truly believe that posture can reveal as much about a person as his/her face does. Poor posture can make you a billboard of insecurity and old age. Why add to the effects of gravity? Everything will sag in time – don’t accelerate the process, gravity does not need help!

I also believe that it is every human being’s ultimate responsibility to take care of themselves and do everything they can to slow the ageing process and the effects of gravity. This amazing, unrelenting force is tugging at you and me this very moment!

One way that is within your control and that you can fight this force is to have good posture.

If you want to instantly improve your attractiveness, you don’t need to run to plastic surgery or put on tonnes of make-up, work on your posture. Attraction is the greatest factor in love. It’s hard to relate easily to a man or woman you find unattractive. We all enjoy relating to attractive people.

I’ll say it again – posture is one key ingredient to this attractiveness.

So, you see, posture is the one thing we can all improve almost instantly. In time, you can then work on other significant changes.

Here are my top 3 tips for you to adopt to work towards good posture:

  • Quit overeating, over-drinking and smoking
  • Start exercising regularly – three to four times per week
  • Consciously check and correct your posture throughout the day

Then ….

When you walk, practise perfect posture and … walk as if you were seven feet tall!

I know I do (even though I am ‘slightly under six feet tall’).

Best of vitality to you!

 

Until next time,

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My beautiful daughter and I enjoying “Daddy-daughter time” on the Ferris Wheel at Luna Park in amazing Sydney, Australia.

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A Happiness KEY: Be naked, exposed and vulnerable.

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In the heat of battle at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, NY, USA. Me (4th ranked) and competitor (3rd placed) striking a “Triceps Pose”.

A wise friend told me once a long time ago that if you love life, life will love you back.

I have seen them, so perhaps have you – people who seem to have been freshly scrubbed or newly minted. They have taut skins and great smiles. How do they do it?

They do it partly through increased respect for their body, spirit/soul, heart and mind.

If you see one of these people, ask them their secret and then … get in touch with me and we can tell it to the world. Their secret would be worth more than a pot of gold!

Well, after twenty five years of helping people, help themselves work towards a better version of themselves, I believe a key factor is in better energy management and also that these lucky people have better experience of happiness, daily.

Managing energy better does not only refer to raw materials taken in and outputs expanded from the human machine that is the human body, it also refers to our state of mind and state of heart and spirit.

It seems that many people are of the belief that constantly ‘being happy’ is desired and so they spend all of their day choosing and stressing about being happy. I believe that striving to constantly be in a state of happiness takes you further and further away from the elusive happiness. They do so to such an extent that the drive to be constantly happy leads to unhappiness and an empty feeling.

Why is that so, I ask?

Well, it is because, a human being is also an emotional and spiritual being. I believe that to be truly human, one needs to be able to feel ALL emotions, not just being happy all the time. A human being needs to feel emotions including those that are unpleasant – like anger, hatred or sadness amongst others. One needs to FEEL the whole gamut of emotions in one’s life to be truly closer to happiness.

So, in essence you have to experience UNHAPPINESS to experiencing growth towards happiness in your life. There is no other way. This is a key to happiness.

There is a catch though, as (like anything worthwhile getting), it isn’t as easy as it sounds. To get closer to genuine happiness in your life, you need to strip bare (be honest and brave to oneself); be naked, expose oneself to the world and allow oneself to be vulnerable.

This is a difficult task and for some people, impossible.

Being vulnerable is liberating, it is a genuine taste of freedom. Being vulnerable is truth … it is peace. Being vulnerable is harmony and symmetry … being vulnerable is beauty.

I believe part of the reason people don’t allow themselves to feel the full range of emotions, particularly the unpleasant ones is that we’re all sort of brainwashed to some extent, that ‘getting in touch’ with your inner negative feelings is not recommended and frowned upon.

There is a high need and practise in modern day society to reason and provide an objective and logical explanation to everything, without any feeling. That is the key phrase – “without any feeling’. It seems that people think that they must express everything like this – giving well thought out, logical, step by step reasons for a situation without any empathy and feeling.

You see it everywhere, where people frown upon or look at you with surprise when you voice your disagreement, disgust, anger, frustration and so forth because you actually allowed yourself to experience that emotion.

Oh no, that’s not civilized, not good behaviour … you need ‘anger management’ help. A load of c%ap!

And why is this so?

Well, I have told my wife this many times over the years – that the lack of ‘feeling’ is increasingly a sure sign that peoples’ spiritual lives being poverty-stricken.

Basically, one cannot give and share what one does not have in the first place. In other words, we cannot mirror, cannot radiate the tenderness (of God/positive energy) because people have not experienced it themselves. Sad, but true.

If you believe in God, in a God, please understand one thing: I believe that God expects us to show all of our feelings to him – happy and unhappy feelings, everything. Nothing is off-limits!

However, I believe that before a man or a woman can really FEEL his or her own feelings and be able to express them fully, you have to go back to your past and deal with any hurt or anger. Ask for forgiveness and ask God (and your God) for your forgiveness.

There are few certainties in life – death and taxes are two of them. A third one and one that is relevant to my message in this blog is that God does not change, God is a certainty.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Because of this, if you believe in him and you believe in his healing power, you can let go. You can forgive and be forgiven for your past, because it can be UNDONE and off-loaded on to God forever, releasing the shackels you’ve put yourself in.

This is what is meant by being naked.

Allowing you to feel empowered again in your own skin – to be unarmoured … to come out from the wall of invulnerability on those deeply sensitive spots that hold you back from truly feeling the whole spectrum of feelings.

So, being naked, being totally exposed, ironically, provides you with the ultimate armour: increased spiritual connectedness.

A man or woman who has embraced this heightened spirituality, invites wonderful healing of painful memories formed in his or her past. This healing, in turn is the key to be more caring, more empathetic outward expressions (including unpleasant ones too).

Increased awareness of your spiritual part to your whole being allows you to let down the walls of invulnerability, allows you to drop the façade’. It allows the TRUE SELF to be set free, the TRUE YOU.

A great thinker once said that the most difficult thing for a person to do in his or her lifetime is to BE HIM or HERSELF, in a world that is constantly trying to make you somebody else.

So, building your spiritual self allows you to be more of who you really are, not somebody else, not a fake you. You get to love yourself more which ultimately shows in how you show love to others (outwardly), because you are now naked and exposed and vulnerable.

This vulnerability allows you to experience not only the happy feelings but also the unhappy feelings or the undesirable feelings and be more complete.

You see, to me happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have (others may not think so). All emotions can be positive in some contexts and negative in others, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.

Happiness is also about being content, a sub-set of happiness.

So, if your goal is to be more happy (and almost every human being has this goal) then to be more happy, learn to feel more. Learn to be unhappy occasionally (when appropriate), don’t be afraid to. It is human to feel these less-than-desired emotions.

To get closer to the elusive happiness – be naked (and honest with your spiritual self). Be real and authentic. Be You. No one else in the world can play that role better than you can …. The role of YOU.

Here’s to your happiness (and unhappiness)!

 

Until next time,

 

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Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior, Tom Hanks interior.

With my trophy – doing the “Abdominal/Thigh” pose.
Top 5 Natural BodyBuilder in the world.

I love observing life and society and everything around me. I am a student of life. In recent years (last ten to fifteen years or so), I have noticed that men are forgetting or maybe do not know or are unsure of what it means to be a Man anymore.

A Real Man.

I have a few theories about how this has reached a growing and worrying societal problem now and for the future, but I won’t go in to that in this blog. No, I’m going to dance with the idea of what a Real Man is or should be.

What should the mark of a Real Man be?

Status in society? Richness in money? Accumulated financial wealth? Power? A tattoo, maybe? I’m sure you’ll have your opinion and definitions.

One word: GRIT.

I believe this is one characteristic of a Real Man. And a sub-set of this word Grit (along with resilience, unrelenting, solution-oriented etc), is simply “toughness”.

But it does not end there.

What is more important than toughness? It is exercising the RIGHT KIND of toughness. Anyone can be tough and we all are at various points in our lives but not many people can call on the right kind of toughness at the right time.

Now this takes skill, this takes effort and work and deliberate thinking and practise to get it right. Now, this characteristic is the foundation of a Real Man . It is the building blocks of what it means to be a Real Man.

It feeds in to his strength of character.

But that is only half of what a real man is.

The other fifty percent should be intimacy, gentleness. Don’t you think so?

Put together, you have what I refer to as a possible definition of a real man. He has an Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior (toughness) and a Tom Hanks (gentleness) interior.

How should we go about attaining these two qualities of a Real Man?

Well, I believe each man should strive for ‘balance’. Everything comes down to balance – internally and externally. So, every man should consciously strive for balance with both qualities.

Knowing when to be tough is as important as knowing when to be tender.

The wise man has the power of discernment and knows when to exercise either. The art in the dance through life is in developing this power of discernment towards balance.

Balance is achieved when a man stops trying to be someone else but the man that is truly reflected through the eyes he sees look back at him in the mirror. A man needs to just be himself and believe in the Holy Spirit or his inner-self, his Real Self and not be afraid to let him out. To let him be vulnerable.

The more vulnerable you become as a man through increased positive self-awareness, the more ‘Real’ you become. The closer you get to becoming more authentic, more of a Real Man.

A man cannot just choose Toughness and no tenderness or only choose to be gentle (and a gentleman) all the time and not be tough. No, this leads to confusion with his self and also with his woman and every person around him. Simply, because he is not clear on his role as a man and what it means to be a Real Man.

A Real Man is partly defined by having both these traits continuously intertwined in his daily life. At home and at work and play. It is a never-ending, dynamic complex fusion of chaos and order to produce something unique: the Real Man.

Being just tough results in a man being cold, distant, intolerant, unbearable and impatient. What we’ve all been brought up hearing society (mainly angry women) refer to “All Men are As#holes! “. Very unfair because not all men are like that.

But, being tough and tender brings about something different, something elusive. It makes a man appear closer to what I refer to as beauty.

And why do I say that?

Well, being tough AND tender … results in gentleness, thoughtfulness and being considerate. The man is more attuned to the principles of nature which is harmony.

Being tough and tender brings you closer to the elusive balance and symmetry of life. Brings you closer to what I refer to as ‘beauty’. I love formulas and mathematics so here is a little formula for you, based on my hypothesis of what a Real Man is:

Tough + Tender => Balance + Symmetry ==> Beauty!

So, all you men reading this, ask yourself if you can be beautiful. If you strive towards balance and symmetry in these two strengths of character – toughness and tenderness, you run the risk of being referred to as a ‘beautiful man’.

And why not, the word beautiful should not only be reserved for women, cars, sculptures and paintings and flowers. No, men too can be beautiful.

Being referred to as beautiful is worth the risk because I believe a beautiful man is a Real Man.

Work on your beauty and not be just a “Gentle-man” or “Tough-man”, no, work towards being a Beautiful-Man.

A Beautiful Man is A Real Man!

Until next time,

Explaining the principles of training within my programs.

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How close is close enough?

Me and my children - carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Me and my children – carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

I spend a lot of time with my two children in this phase of my life and I feel very blessed that I have the opportunity to do so. I will cherish these moments for the rest of my life and I thank God every single day.

Being a parent is quite interesting because most of society make it out to be a relationship where the parenting is ‘one way’ but I think otherwise. I feel, the child ‘parent’ you too, if you are aware enough to recognise it so. They teach and remind you of many things you let slip by the way-side. They help you improve your game as a parent, as a human being.

We play many games together, from racing cars to doll house; from twister to monopoly; from shops to painting; from horse-riding on dad to pillow fights; from dress-ups to leggos; from hide-and-seek to pretend classrooms and so many others. I just love my time with them and I love this role of being a dad.

You see, my son is quite innovative. He is a bit of a thinker. For example, today he created maizes that he drew up from self-created dots on clear pages. He then asked me to find my way through his newly created maize (indicating where the ‘start’ is and where I should try and ‘finish’).

The aim of the game is to get to the ‘finish’ line without drawing over an existing line. I came very close to a few of his maize lines but managed to get out of the maize. He applauded my effort but then asked me an interesting question, he said –

“Dad, how close is close enough?”

I have always told my children that it was important to not be afraid to ask questions rather than know all the answers (as there are countless storage devices or google these days). I also always remind them that it is even more important to ask the right questions.

And so he did.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other. Choose to spend time with your kids, not 'quality time'.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other.
Choose to spend time with your kids, not ‘quality time’.

I asked him what he meant, and he showed me where I had come very close to ‘touching’ two of his self-made maize lines on my way to the finish line and that I could be considered to have ‘not finished’ and lost. I told him that it was a matter for him and I to decide on how ‘close enough’ is defined and acceptable to both of us. He was happy with how close my drawing was to his line and said that close enough to not be close enough for him to win.

I still am very amazed at the question he asked because it could be applied to many other areas of life. The maizes he draws could represent the maizes (different paths) we are all taking in life. Are you able to accept a service that is 98% complete without getting angry and accepting that it was ‘close enough’.

Are you a ‘close enough is good enough’ person or are you do you expect nothing short of perfect? Are you able to forgive people if they fall short? Once, twice … repeatedly? What is your tolerance level? I know how it feels to come close enough to winning natural body-building contests, experiencing runner-up finishes quite a few times. To me, close enough was not good enough in those contests but that was how the results turned out.

Have you reflected on how close are your closest friends? Are they close enough for you to really get to know you? How close enough are your family relatives? Are the number of years in a relationship relevant or is it the actual number of hours of ‘face-to-face’ contact that brings you close? How do you define ‘close enough’ in a relationship to be able to trust them? How close is close enough for you?

What a thought-provoking question from my son and was the impetus for this blog message to you.

Work the muscles you don't 'see' in front of the mirror. It creates balance and symmetry and lowers your risks of injuries and potential postural problems amongst many other things. Vv.

Work the muscles you don’t ‘see’ in front of the mirror.
It creates balance and symmetry and lowers your risks of injuries and potential postural problems amongst many other things.
Vv.

Anyway, if you have children, YOU, as a mother or father – you’re given the responsibility to work with them and help guide and build them from strong values and principles. Guide them in the ‘way they should go’. I believe it is the single most important task we will ever have in our lifetime – our most important responsibility.

I strongly believe that no other accomplishment and no definition of ‘success’ will ever compensate for failure to help teach eternal truths to your children. No amount of success (as commonly defined in life as financial wealth and status) can ever compensate for the failure to invest in your most priceless off-spring, the generation currently around your knees.

So, choose well I say.

As the American – William James, the father of modern Psychology once stated when referring to time spent with children –

“The greatest use of life is to spend it with something that will outlast it.”

This is about as close enough to close as you could get to truth on this area of life. None of us will ever get out of life, alive, in this life anyway.

And truth, as we know is beauty. So, embrace beauty – embrace the beauty and truth of life. Embrace your children.

And remember, don’t just schedule ‘quality time’, there’s no such thing. You either make time or you don’t. Choose the former before it is too late.

The ‘empty nest’ comes way too soon.

All the very best in your decisions that contribute to your purpose in life.

 

Until next time,

With my children striking a 'front-double biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out these guns are loaded .... hope you're wearing your bullet-proof vests! Vv.

With my children striking a ‘front-double biceps’ pose for the camera.
Watch out these guns are loaded …. hope you’re wearing your bullet-proof vests!
Vv.

~~Life &; wellness COACH~~

~~Life &; wellness COACH~~

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Simple is beautiful. Complex is not.

Keep it simple.

Keep it simple.

I love simple. I love simplicity.

I believe the very idea of ‘keeping things simple’ and the very idea of simplicity adopted in all areas of life is one of the most valuable yet still very under-rated aspects of life.

In all areas of life one needs to strive towards simplicity as this brings you towards a more harmonious life.

I can see where this trend of ‘minimalism’ has evolved from in today’s modern world. Smart living is what I call it, smart living. Similar to the way I encourage every person that I have ever helped in the gym over the last twenty plus years is to Train SMART. This is partly why I believe that simple is beautiful.

As I have said in previous blog write-ups, my definition of beauty or beautiful is ‘balance and symmetry’. Nothing more, nothing less. We can see it readily in nature – a beautiful flower or leaf, the beauty of the way a shark swims and the beauty of autumn leaves scattered all over the ground. It’s everywhere! We just need to learn more from nature.

How? We’ll keep it simple!

To become more balanced and symmetrical in the various areas of life though, you need to work, and you need to work hard and smart. You need to work at becoming a little more organized and organize things a little bit more differently in order to approach simple. You need to be able to let go, to destroy what is not relevant in your life. You need courage to bring chaos in to your life to have the opportunity to create and evolve. With a continuous adaptive strategy you can find your new equilibrium, your new state of balance and symmetry.

Just like Life, muscle too, is the continuous fusion of chaos and order. The real skill comes in the awareness of simplicity because mastering the ability to ‘filter out what is not relevant in your life’ (being a better manager of your funnel) is one of the most difficult skills in life to master. Through continuously assessing multiple feedback loops, you are able to self-tune. This takes courage and it takes time. Ultimately, this brings you closer to ‘the essence of the various areas of your life. This brings you closer to simple. Why?

Because SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL!

Look & learn. Start from a clean slate. Create & Evolve.

Look & learn. Start from a clean slate. Create & Evolve. Keep it simple.

Making anything – any process, any part of your life more complex, eventually leads to ugliness. Because complex is ugly. Some people may like ugly and that is ok. But I think we have enough ugliness in the world already.

So, it follows that one has to make the complex – simple.

This can only be achieved through increased awareness. Increased awareness within yourself and increased awareness of the external environment that affects you and your life.

Then, make a quality plan and sometimes getting help from a strategist to guide you in taking sufficient and appropriate actions towards non-complexity, one step-at-a-time. A quality plan is useless without quality implementation.

The most important step and almost always under-rated step is to adapt. A lot of people forget to do this or don’t do this completely. It is the process of adaptation that really allows you towards your state of beauty.

Perhaps it is this: ‘truth is beauty, beauty truth. That is all ye need to know’ as the famous poet Keats wrote. There you go – beauty is not only simple, it is truth or closer.

Ultimately, you have to find your truth. And what is beauty to you?

My tip: whenever something is starting to become complex – simplify it. It is as simple as that but as a great philosopher once said, ‘it is the simple things in life that is also the most difficult to do’.

Still, just try and continue doing so. The returns are far greater to you in the long-term compared to the short-term costs invested in time and resources.

Simplifying the complex in all areas of life is key. This will save you from a lot of re-work and headache later in life.

Observe. Learn the basics. Start from scratch. Stick to the basics. Keep it simple, continuously.

Begin. There’s no time like the present as there is no time to waste.

 

Until next time,

A slight variation to the common 'back double biceps' compulsory body-building pose.

A slight variation to the common ‘back double biceps’ compulsory body-building pose.

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My Top 5.5 Tips to avoiding injury.

Education through a perception of the truth. Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement. Vv

Education through a perception of the truth.
Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement. All done in my programs.
Vv

I have been very fortunate that in over twenty three years of training in the gym I have not been seriously hurt in any way. I am very proud to say that in that time I have not seen a physiotherapist or chiropractor for any training-related injury.

I have always been a stickler for form and ideal exercise execution. Always. Accelerated increased awareness from the guidance from some of the best coaches in various fields such as martial arts, power-lifting, boxing, athletics, squash, soccer, hockey, rugby and resistance-training has also contributed heavily to me staying injury-free.

Mastering the basics in any physical endeavour is paramount to you excelling in and enjoying the experience while doing it. Everyone that I have ever helped over the years get educated in applying the basics of training all the time – not some of the time! This loosely applies to most worthwhile goals in life.

Getting injured is a pain. Apart from the physical pain, one has to endure days, weeks or even months of re-habilitation. It can drain one of mental and emotional energy too and be quite costly if the injury is very serious.

Over the years, I have adopted certain routines with deliberate practise (habits) that I believe decreases my chances of getting injured while training in the gym.

Below are 5.5 key tips to help you lower your risk of injury:

Tip # 1: Aim for balance & symmetry.

My whole goal from the very first time I lifted weights was to build a more balanced and symmetrical physique. I believe this is one of the main key factors in me staying injury-free all these years. This is despite me lifting relatively heavy weights for most of this time (especially the two years when I trained for the World Championships in New York).

For example, a lot of people train the ‘mirror muscles’ more than they do the muscle in their posterior chain (muscles you don’t see in the mirror). This leads to asymmetry and muscle group imbalances.

Not a wise thing to do.

Focusing say, on your chest and shoulders and biceps (the ‘show-me-your muscles muscles) and neglecting your upper back muscles like the traps and rear delts and middle back can spell disaster. The most common gym-related injury for young men world-wide are shoulder injuries primarily because of this.

Muscle imbalances lead to increased risk of injury in the respective joints and muscles.

Besides, why do you want to be the strongest or biggest guy when you can build the most balanced and symmetrical physique for your frame. This is more aesthetic and more pleasing to the eye.

So, leave your ego at the door and work towards a better shape – a more balanced and symmetrical physique. If you don’t, you may regret it later.

Results with care. Here, Brad is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise and inching closer to his best self. He is in total control and 'feels' the muscle being worked. Vv

Results with care.
Here, Brad is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise and inching closer to his best self.
He is in total control and ‘feels’ the muscle being worked.
Vv

Tip #2: Be aware of your breathing technique.

I believe incorrect breathing technique is one of the main contributors to getting injured when training in the gym. Keep this in mind – for:

Pushing motions (bench press; shoulder press) – exhale at the point of contraction (when your arms are furthest away from you)

Pulling motions (lat pulldowns; biceps curls) – inhale when your arms are furthest from your torso.

Breathing also helps you with the next tip.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain - Phil Waugh performing a set of squats. Using good exercise technique(which includes proper breathing) is paramount to success.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain – Phil Waugh performing a set of squats.
Using good exercise technique(which includes proper breathing) is paramount to success.

Tip # 3: Focus!

Concentrating on your breathing and what you are going to do with the weight for those 15 to 45 seconds (a set) is critical to lowering your risk of injury.

Every fibre and cell in your body needs to 100% fully-focused! Don’t get side-tracked by other conversations and mentally block out all distractions. Focusing certainly aids you putting on good lean muscle. Period!

A slight loss of concentration could lead to less than ideal execution of exercise leading to increased levels of risk of injury.

I have developed quite a few formulas relating to peak performance over the years and one of the most important ones is:

“Focus = Results” (a shortened version of my formula).

Tip # 4: Always assess exercise execution with ‘risk:benefit’ ratio mind-set.

What I mean by this is that you need to increase your awareness of the exercises and work on improving your risk assessment of the exercise relating to:

  • Exercise choice and safety – a particular exercise that may be safe for someone may not be for another.
  • High-risk lifting – improper execution of certain exercises can increase levels of risk for very small increments in benefit. The range of motion of exercises need to be tied in to the ‘risk:benefit” ratio of the exercise and the trainee’s goals

Always avoid “high-risk’ lifting. This relates to variables such as excessive weights; excessive number of repetitions; excessive range-of-motion and so forth.

Tip # 5.5: Apply correct training principles.

I’ve always believed that building muscle is like LIFE. It relies on two principles:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Continuity

There are many principles to building and keeping muscle and after 23 plus years in the gym I have concluded that the two above and this next two principles – 3) control and 4) feel are key towards lowering your risk of injury.

All beginners and intermediate trainees or less experienced gym enthusiasts should master these before ‘going heavy’.

When you keep it simple and focus on the full range of motion of the exercise with continuous tension, you increase your ability to build good, quality muscle.

Because you are 100% focused and are using the right weight for you to correctly execute the exercise, you have better control and feel. This allows you to ‘work the muscle, not the joint’.

If you can’t control and feel the muscle being worked, you’re not building muscle, only ego.

A lot of people still aspire to the ‘No pain, no gain’ maxim but I think you should not follow this. Listen to your body: never do anything that hurts and don’t train if you hurt yourself or suffer from an existing injury.

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets. A 'set' as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec 'focused moments'. Focus + heart + visualization ===> results. Vv.

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets.
A ‘set’ as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec ‘focused moments’.
Focus + heart + visualization ===> results.
Vv.

Most injuries happen over time, through cumulative effect of muscular discomfort and micro-scopic tares and inflammation of tendons and ligaments around the joints. Most injuries are the result of an imposed force exceeding the structural strength of the involved body-part.

Don’t copy the super-stars and genetic elite who look and train the way they train because most of the time you don’t know their full story and so this may give you a false sense of direction and could lead to injuries.

Those who don’t do away with the maxim ‘no pain, no gain’ and try to train like the super-stars usually regret it, sooner or later. A better maxim to adopt is ‘No brain, no gain”.

Strive to Train SMART. What I mean by this is that I have always promoted a more conservative approach to training. My own experience and what I have learned from observing countless other trainees – has taught me that a more conservative way to training is not only the most effective but also the safest way to train not only in the short-term but more importantly for your long-term health.

Strive to stay injury-free. You’re in the gym to work on making that person you see in the mirror (you!) – better. Not for ego.

You want to still be doing this activity and off-setting the on-set of ageing (by building muscle) well in to your 80s and 90s if you live that long. It will certainly add quality to your life. Like I have said before, Muscle is the potion of youth!

All the best in your training this year.

Embrace my Triple A to self-improvement: be more aware; take appropriate actions and adapt accordingly to reach your goals in life.

Cheers and Happy January to you!

 

Until next time,

Just like friendship, genuine muscle requires a lot of time and hard work to be built and sustained. You do this by adopting an 'adaptive strategy' of self-tuning. Vv.

Just like friendship, genuine muscle requires a lot of time and hard work to be built and sustained.
You do this by adopting an ‘adaptive strategy’ of self-tuning.
Vv.

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awareness, basics of training, beauty, better choices, Body shape, change management, choices, Energy, fundamentals, muscles, recreate, self improvement, shoulders, symmetry

Shoulder Boulders.

Retired rugby legend: Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & True Leader - Phil Waugh. Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework. Working towards improved balance and symmetry in his life.

Retired rugby legend: Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & True Leader – Phil Waugh.
Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework.
Working towards improved balance and symmetry in his life.

One of the most painful sights I see on a man is small shoulders.

When I say ‘small’, I mean that he or she is genetically small on the upper torso width, and I am not talking about ‘lat width’ here. Admittedly, shoulder width is limited by a person’s clavicle width. The smaller the clavicle width, the smaller the shoulder width.

Some blokes accentuate this problem though. In the gym, they focus on their chests, arms and back and forget about their shoulder widths – the very thing that adds to the elusive ‘x-frame’ that every man strives for in shape in his life.

The elusive ‘x-frame’ is somewhat a rare commodity in the modern-day masculine shape. If a man has a narrow clavicle width, he starts out with an disadvantage but he does not have to stay that way. How could he address this problem? Well, the smartest thing to do is to lift weights and to build the shoulder muscles. And what are they?

Well, firstly – they help define (from a physical point of view) what a true man is. I know this statement is rather old fashion and somewhat controversial, but I believe it still holds true. A man’s man is partially defined according to the shoulders he has on him.

Obviously, this is not the only point of ‘being a man’ but it does contribute to the aura of what it means to be a man. Secondly, no man in his right mind would not want bigger shoulders than he already has. In my opinion, the bigger the better. Bigger is better in this aspect. Full stop!

The shoulder muscles are used every time you push or pull or twist your upper torso. That means every time you use your arms. They are some of the most used muscles in the body since you were a toddler.

The shoulder muscles are composed of three distinct muscle heads – the posterior, the medial and the anterior deltoids. All three heads need a good delicate balance throughout. This can be enhanced through weight training.

A good sequence of exercises could include:

  1. Barbell presses.
  2. Barbell upright rows.
  3. Dumbell side lateral raises.
  4. Rear dumbbell later raises.
  5. Dumbell shrugs.
The pursuit of harmony (balance & symmetry) poses a few challenges to help us get closer to its achievement. To achieve order and beauty one needs to strive to wade through chaos (disorder) in everything one does.

The pursuit of harmony (balance & symmetry) poses a few challenges to help us get closer to its achievement.
To achieve order and beauty one needs to strive to wade through chaos (disorder) in everything one does.

Like I said earlier, one of the most painful sights (from an aesthetic point of view) is to see a grown man with less than ideal shoulder width. Most men fall short of the ideal ‘x-frame’ width. Most men have the choice to do something about it. Most men can help build those shoulder boulders with a application of a well thought-out weight-training program.

Another important point I would like to stress is that what is most important is not that you have ‘big’ shoulders. No, anyone can have big shoulders! What is most important is to develop the ‘caps’ on those shoulders. Shoulder width is all about ‘caps’, not so much muscle meat.

So, work on your width with weights. Yes, I encourage that.

But when you do, remember to build those ‘twin caps’. Remember to ‘cap’ those delts (short for deltoids). There’s a lot more to just lifting weights when it comes to sculpturing your physique. Like I have always said, anyone can lift weights, but very few ever learn how to sculpt a physique, just like anyone can swim, but very few can swim like an Olympian.

Part of the key: Focus.

All the very best in your workouts.

All the very best in your search for balance and symmetry. All the very best in your search for beauty. As Keats said “Beauty is truth and truth, beauty. “ How true. You get closer to beauty through the search for balance and symmetry or elegance in all areas of your life.

The physique is one area/aspect. Keep it simple.

So, build those delts, those shoulders but most importantly, build those ‘caps’. It is those caps that will help you attain that elusive ‘x-frame’.

Awaken the sculpture, the artist in you. Build those shoulder boulders!

Let loose …

 

Until next time,

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA. Represented: Australia. Placing: 4th. Judged criteria heavy on balance and symmetry.

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA.
Represented: Australia.
Placing: 4th.
Judging criteria heavy on balance and symmetry.

Back Double Biceps - few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships Result: 2nd in Australia. Here, you can see the "x-frame" and shoulder boulders in action. Takes years of focused work.

Back Double Biceps – few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships
Result: 2nd in Australia.
Here, you can see the “x-frame” and shoulder boulders in action. Takes years of focused work.

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