a better life, accountability, action, adaptation, authenticness, awareness, belief, belief systems, better choices, Body shape, care empathy, change, change management, choices, courage, creation, desire, Energy, examined life, forgiveness, game of life, genuineness, happiness, Heretic, hope, Imagination, Leader, life, long-term perspective, love, needs, perseverance, perspective, risk, self, self improvement, self-respect, significance, spirituality, strengths, trust, truth, truths, your life

Our search for Beauty.

Beauty comes in many forms.
Here I am with my beautiful Schnoodle “Mr Fuzzy Cuddles” and the beautifully designed & constructed Sydney Harbour Bridge.
I just love beauty. Brings you closer to the elusive truths you search for in you life.
Truths that ultimately eliminate your ignorance.
Keep searching I say, never let the curiosity within you die.

I love beauty.

I love truth.

I love fortitude.

I love virtue.

I love temperance.

I love the desire for all of us to be true.

To our – self.

To others.

To the wider community.

We wish to be.

It seems nobody is ever turned off by beauty. Beauty, is by definition, engaging, appealing, delightful. A lot of times, people can talk about beauty with passion but sometimes, without much clarity.

Beauty and the experience of beauty can be so personal and selfish that the act of talking about them, sometimes actually ruins them.

I believe beauty is for everyone – you, me and all. We are all searching for beauty. I think beauty is like happiness, love, understanding – it’s what the human being was made for and work towards.

The search for beauty is intrinsic to our nature.


The altar of worship.
Some find their beauty, their truth in Religion of choice.
Their search for beauty is being ONE with the ONE.
Keep searching for your beauty. Your truth.
No one else can take your journey for you, but you.
Be brave. Slay your Goliath.

In my search for beauty, I am not alone. I think we all are searching for beauty. It is part of our purpose, our purpose in life. And since it is everyone’s individual responsibility to fulfill his/her purpose, beauty, then it is also each and everyone’s moral responsibility.

What is beauty?

It could be said to be ‘the science of sensuous knowledge’. I like to look at it as the pursuit of a more beautiful life.

And how do we do this?

How do we make our lives more beautiful? We have to simply strive towards living morally.

It is as simple and as difficult as that!

Holy Shit!

Yes, holy shit indeed. Living morally? How the fu*k do we do that?! I mean, ‘live morally’, it seems like in today’s world, lying and amoral behavior is part of the way people do things. And here I am saying that part of the prerequisites to living lives that are more beautiful, we need to be morally up-right.

Be virtuous.

Shit, that sounds and feels difficult. And, the truth is, yes it is.

As I see it, the building blocks of living morally has foundations in the appreciation of something, in many cases – the appreciation of beauty. You see, when we see something we like (like something/someone that is beautiful), we get positive emotional responses (like desire, hope) which attract us toward that thing.

This appreciation of beauty via the senses then trigger our passions. Hence the connection between beauty and passion. So, the very experience of beauty (in all it’s forms) involves the perception of spiritual good and spiritual truth.

In other words, it is through beauty that we are able to trigger/fire physical reactions to spiritual reality. As creatures of both physical and spiritual dualities, we certainly have physical reactions to spiritual beauty when we feel it.

Think of a time when you heard a beautiful song and your spine tingled. I do all the time, when a particular song/tune/frequency resonates with me. With my frequency. I feel it.

The city of Sydney engulfed by lights at night.
Beautiful.
Millions flock to appreciate beauty in form … through the dazzling display of light.
Some search for their beauty through the light. They search for their ówn light/colour’.
To … light up their own world.
Their world – within, which can be dark sometimes.
We ((humans) have always been fascinated with light/fire. We are all drawn towards light, like a moth to a streetlamp.
We move towards the light., it seems to bring warmth and energy that we crave. It is innate. It is part of what it means to be human.

This deep feeling inside is a reaction, a reaction of passion – a passionate reaction in other words. It is part and parcel of the whole experience of beauty. You can also hear many songs and not feel anything. This does not give you the full appreciation of beauty, matter of fact, I’ll go as far as saying you’re not appreciating beauty.

You’re not appreciating truth. You’re not appreciating the aestheticness of the particular beauty (in whatever medium/form it is in) that is being fed into you via your senses.

The thing is, I feel that if you’re not having an aesthetic experience, you’re certainly not feeling something. If it does not resonate with your heart. You are simply not appreciating beauty.

So, it follows that the beholding of beauty can and does (if permitted to), direct our passions, which in turn, provide powerful motivators for action toward spiritual goodness and truth.

At this point, as you can deduce, we all have a moral obligation to pursue beauty. As St. Paul writes towards the end of his letter to the Philippians –

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8).

So, if someone were to ask me,

“So, why do you want to search for beauty … why do you want to experience the beautiful?”

I guess my answer would be along the lines of, “Because its’ beautiful, fool!”

I don’t need to explain my answer or justify any further.

I have a word I have for this – “Kaka!”. It means exactly that – that is just the way it is and no further explanation is needed, as I am not obligate to give you one. They (my kids) hate the word.

However, the main reason for my search for beauty is because in the search, you find truth. Your truth. You see, there is a lot of evidence around us and provided by great thinkers that have come before us. Beauty, draws a person toward immaterial truth and goodness.

Beauty, you see, motivates virtue. Motivates one to lead a virtuous life.

Beauty comes in the human form.
The nude/naked form that is sculptured is one of the most beautiful things to sit back in awe of.
It is a living masterpiece.
On display, from a masterful poser/artist, the human body exemplifies beauty and truth rolled in to vibrating ball of flow of muscle.
It is one thing to admire beauty, that is the easy part.
The hard part is to CREATE beauty. We all have the ability within us.
To create a beauty through the human form is genius.

Searching for beauty is a continuous search for a virtuous life. Perceiving spiritual truth and goodness in the appreciation of beauty inspires a passion for truth and goodness themselves.

Truth, goodness and beauty are all intrinsically equivalent – each is coextensive with the others. Like each leg of a 3-legged stool is dependent on each other to stay upright.

As John Keats wrote many years ago in his poem Öde to Urn”, I think –

Beauty is truth and truth, beauty. That is all there is on earth and ye need to know.”

I would have to agree with him.

Don’t you?

Continue your search for beauty … for your truth.

In that search, you will find that you will live a more beautiful life. One of virtue.

For virtue, itself is, virtue.

Being virtuous is reflected in a man’s conduct or actions and can be said to be his spiritual beauty.

As John Paul II put it, “All men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”

So our goal here is simple: to tap into the synergy of energy, the mutual reinforcement , of goodness and beauty, morality an aesthetics. We have to all try to pursue beauty because that is a critical part of living well … of living a good life.

Keep searching. I know I will be.

Until next time … cheers and ahoy!!!

 

 

The Old Viking Pirate …. & thoughts of beauty in all its forms & the meaning to a meaningful & beautiful life.

Admiring beauty is easy.
Creating beauty is difficult. Beauty through – sound (music); sport (athletics); design (cars, watches, clothes); architecture (buildings); engineering (bridges)
My desire to be my best allows me to continuously work on improving myself daily (physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and socially). This search for internal beauty allows me to CREATE external beauty (in the most balanced & symmetrical physique I can design and construct).
Which is my definition of the sport of bodybuildng (done right). The principles of design, mind-body-heart enhancement; engineering construction; empathy & love; care and a sense of self-imposed purity bubble ….
brings you closer to what beauty and truth is.

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How to get a 30” (77cm) WAIST.

Less abdominal fat is not only poses less health risks for you, it gives you a more aesthetically pleasing physique.

Maybe not every man desires a good ‘set of wheels (gym lingo for leg muscles).

Maybe.

Maybe not every man desires big pecs (gym lingo for Pectorals or the Chest Muscles).

Maybe.

Maybe, just maybe, not every man desires manly shoulders and massive guns (gym lingo for biceps/triceps or arms).

Maybe.

Maybe not every man desires a massive back.

Maybe.

However, I’m pretty sure every guy reading this, dreams of or at least dreamt of having a small, chiselled waist. What society commonly refers to as the “6-pack!”.

Even before we discovered that specific exercises could give you a small waist, there were some men but mostly women trying to make their waists smaller by diet alone. People today, still do. Look around you, what do you see? Men (of all ages) are afflicted with a big gut with waists in excess of 36″ because of lifestyle choices. This not exclusive to men as a lot of women tend to accumulate fat around the hips and thighs.

Women reading this can recall that their Great Great Grandmothers were squeezing themselves into reinforced corsets resembling straight-jackets. All for the purpose of getting that ‘hour-glass’ figure.

That way of doing things did achieve the desired effect in clothes. But, what happened when off came the beautiful dresses and corsets?

BLURP! Let it all hang out!

Gone was the beautiful, small, tight waist and … in place was a spare tyre that Michelin Tyres would be impressed with.

It is the same for a lot of men.

Unfortunately, with our gluttonous lifestyles in the modern world, where every person is ‘hungry for more’ in every aspect of their lives, walking around with an extra spare tyre is the norm. This usually affected men after 30 but these days we see younger men and women suffering from this phenomenon.

The “love handles’ as they are affectionately referred to is lugged around with them. Usually deposited around the waist-line.

If you’re a man, do you like carrying this extra weight around with you every single day? Be honest now? Apart from the increased health risks you become increasingly self-conscious of the layers of ‘smoothness’ accumulating around your waist. Not a desired look, I would imagine.

I’ve always said it is body-shape, not body-weight that matters. Are you an apple or a pear shape? You see, although being fat is an important health risk, where you carry your fat is even more important!

A smaller waist improves your shoulder-to-waist ratio and so gives you more of the elusive “x-frame”

Men and women need to be more concerned with the ‘waist-to-hip’ ratio. Excess abdominal fat carries with it a higher risk of insulin-related metabolic problems: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes amongst others.

One other great thing about getting a tighter mid-section is that you improve your overall body-shape, moving towards the elusive “x-frame”. Smaller waist makes a man’s shoulders appear bigger and overall appearance more aesthetically pleasing.

So, you can see, by shooting for a slimmer, tighter waist, you are improving reducing your waist:hip ratio and hence reducing your overall life risks but also making yourself look more attractive. Full-stop! Aiming for a 30” waist is very important, don’t you think?

Here’s are a few of my 30” Waist 101 tips for getting started. The tips here should help men aim for a 30″ waist and women a 23″ waist. Possible? Of course it is! :

Steve Reeves – the Hollywood “Arnold before Arnold” came along. The original muscle movie-star.
Steve Reeves, a Mr America & Mr Universe winner.
He had coat-hanger-straight-shoulders, trim waistline and diamond-shaped calves and topped it off with rugged good looks and perfect hair do.
He went on to start in Hollywood blockbusters like Hercules and Morgan, the Pirate.
To this day, Reeves is held as the archetype for the aesthetic physique.

 Who can get abs?

Almost anyone can get rid of their spare tyre around their waist if they had a strong desire to do so and acted on a good quality body re-engineering plan. I’ve had abdominals and a tight mid-section even before I set foot in the gym

Obviously, some people will find it more difficult than others. Of the three body types – ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorphs, the endomorphs find this task more difficult than the other two. I fall smack-bang in the middle, I’m a mesomorph and then the guys and girls on the other end of the spectrum, have a skinnier, more lighter frame – the ectomorphs.

So, to put simply, anyone and everyone can have a tight mid-section if they really desired one.

 

Do you need to do a thousands of sit-ups to get a 6-pack and 30” waist?

Short answer: No, you don’t.

However, remember, abdominals are muscles, just like triceps, biceps, pecs and lats. As such, they have to be developed with just as high an intensity in your training as you do the others.

Sure, I may have been blessed with a narrow waist, but that never stopped me from giving 100% effort to perfect my mid-section.

I do two exercises and 3 sets of each of them for 10 reps each. A total of 60 very focused, quality reps. So here it is for those of you that like numbers:

Exercise Sets Reps Alternative Exercises
Hanging leg raises 2-3 20 – 30 Twists
Bench crunches 2-3 20 – 30 Hanging knee raises
 

 

It is a good idea to change exercises as often as possible. As the great 8 x Mr Olympia would say, “Don’t whip a tried horse!” meaning, you can’t make progress if you are pushing your body too hard or too fast.

 

What type of exercises is suitable to have a small waist?

Right from day one, I have always done two abdominal/waist exercises as main-stay: the bench crunches and the hanging leg raises. I’ve always split my abdominal workout into two distinct phases – the upper abs and the lower-part.

I like to keep things simple. Steve Reeves found the crunch as his best exercise for a good mid-section as well. The best results are gained when you perform the crunches with focused attention.

Another very important thing that I do to keep my waist small and tight is that I do not add any additional weight when working my mid-section. Why would anyone do that? Adding weight would increase your waist width, as abdominals, like any other muscle group would increase in size, wouldn’t it?

Steve Reeves had such a tiny waist that he would look great from every angle.
I just love this pose from the Master Poser.

What’s the best time of day to work your mid-section?

Any time of day is ok.

However, I find the mornings to be the best time when you are on an empty stomach (before breakfast).

What equipment would a beginner require?

You don’t need any special equipment as on a more basic level, you can do the exercises I have always done on the floor or on a bench.

Most gyms have a chin-up machine where you could hang from while doing leg raises.

How long will it take to get a 6-pack and a 30” waist?

That would depend on two things:

  1. How much fat or spare tyre you’re carrying around your mid-section at the beginning of your journey.
  2. How strict you are on your nutritional plan

What diet will give me a 30” waist?

By now, every Tom, Dick & Harry out there is a personal trainer and/or some so-called ‘Expert’ could tell you a little bit about losing fat. One of the popular paths people go down is that of ‘low-carb’ diets.

Admittedly, these are quite effective.

They virtually guarantee to help you get lean, however, they can backfire if you don’t understand the right way to apply the low-carb format to training, protein intake and other important variables that will help determine your success in getting rid of the beer gut and keeping it off.

Another angle of the tiny waist of the Amazing Legend that is Steve Reeves.
Steve Reeves had a 29″waist. He also had amazing proportions and was “Mr Balance & Symmetry”. His neck, calves and arms all had the same measurements: 17 1/4″ exactly.
He was the original Sultan of Beauty (Balance & Symmetry)

Here are my Top Five Diet Tips to losing your gut:

  1. Reduce your carbs by half. This would allow you to lose between half a kilogram and 1 kilogram per week.
  2. Reduce portion size. This is a good one especially if you are fuzzy on how many grams of carbs you are currently taking. Take the path of least resistance and simply cut your portions of carbs in half.
  1. Bump up your protein. That will be good for muscle fuel during your workouts.
  1. Cheat with vegetables. Great way to offset the cravings and feelings of deprivation.
  1. Drink adequate water every day. Water helps you lose fat. Period!

Learn patience.

One thing I have learned about building muscle and about many things in life – you can’t rush it. You need patience. You’ve got to put in the work, the effort. Hard YAKA … eat … rest … recover… Grow.

Repeat.

There is no reason for you to over-train in pursuit of a 30” or ripped abs. Leave your ego at the door if you want to build muscle and a balanced aesthetic body.

I’ve always believed in patience and doing things right, from the start and doing it right, not some of the time – but, ALL THE TIME!

Follow my advice and you’ll walk a straight-and-narrow path towards a 30” waist but more importantly, a physique-building success. Right now, I boast a <32″ waist, on a good day, <31″. This does not happen by chance. I put in the hard work, the hard YAKA. Just like you need to as well.

Change your way of thinking. Adopt the new habits necessary on a daily basis and stay focused on your end goal whilst enjoying the journey there. You will get there. Believe.

Make that decision today.

Make the decision to help the most important person in the world to you: YOU.

Don’t just get fit, get a physique!

 

Ahoy until next time,

The old Captain Viking Pirate … & his thoughts on getting a 30” waist or 6-pack!

My number 1 body builder/body engineer ever!
Mr Bob Paris.
Simply wow!
For more than 30 years, the public waited for the second coming of Steve Reeves.
It came in the form of Bob Paris.
No one has carried that torch in recent years. Flex Wheeler has come close but even his physique has flaws.
My pick is Shawn Ray.

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The Gym, Reps, Sets, Synergy and Workouts.

You perform your reps, sets and workout with one of the tools – dumbells, when you search for that ‘elusive pump’ feeling in the gym.

In my almost three decades in the ‘iron game’, I have learned many things.

About gyms, about people, about different training methods and styles, about perceptions, about limitations, about the mind, and about muscles, fat loss and body sculpturing.

I have learned a lot, filling my domain knowledge of subject areas that have always been fascinated about. And still am.

The Gym

I’ve always believed the gym was a micro-cosim of society. It is a metaphor for Life.

It does not represent reality – it tells (beautiful lies) about people. What it basically says, in my opinion, is I’m bigger or better than I really am. It is a kind of fantasy world.

But the gym is also not pure fantasy – it voices and indirectly describes and reflects, the real world (outside) by people the same people that make up the gym, by inventing little worlds that resemble it, loosely or closely.

I find it fascinating because, like Forest Gump said of life – “life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That is exactly how I feel before each visit to the gym. You never know what you’re gonna get, like who will be there, what equipment will be available when you need it, whether the gym will be “packed to the rafters” or quiet and empty.

No, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The gym alters reality to allow us to ‘see’ reality better.

What I find most interesting is that the gym lies (if it is a good gym), to reveal the truth to you (about the world outside the gym).

Each person in the gym has their own history, their own story, if you pause and ‘listen to what they’re not saying.’ Each person’s story is a metaphor for an aspect of the Real World.

The gym, in a sense, and among other things, is allegory. What it gives you (if you’re willing to listen and look and feel) is the real world – indirectly.

Maybe, that is why the gym is appealing to many of gym-goers world over. Maybe, it just allows us ‘let be.’

It allows the world each person is creating within their minds to come into being for themselves and everyone else in the gym … by leaving the real world (outside) well enough alone.

Just for those minutes or hours they are in the gym.

The gym allows each user the ability to create their own worlds in their minds. That is one of the reasons why, I think the gym has been so appealing to me all these years because it is fundamentally, how real life goes.

You see, most people proceed each visit to the gym with ignorance and uncertainty; then they get glimpses of the ‘truth’ – their truth, or moments of understanding. And, if you’re like most people, you rarely (and usually too late) get to ‘see’ the whole version of reality.

The gym is, maybe, the TRUEST REALISM.

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all. The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home. That’s me on the extreme left.

 The workout.

Every workout is got to be about some part of the body or … I guess, these days, the ‘whole body.’ Every workout has got to be about something at the very least.

It doesn’t take much to do a workout – less still to do a set or just a handful of sets. In terms of action, I mean.

A workout to me is more than just a number of sets or selected exercises performed for a pre-selected number of repetitions. To some, a workout in the gym with traditional weight-training equipment is akin to a meditation hour or so. No, a workout is the pattern of a thing, a living thing – its rhyme and reason. It is what a moment or a memory or silence is about, if that makes any sense.

A workout does not need to be scientific. There are many types of workouts and I have tried and experimented with many over the last three decades.

To me, a workout is the genius of a thing. A workout could comprise just about anything, it may even be nothing. A workout is what you experience to write the story you are writing in the gym.

The Sets

A Set is simply, one tool a gym enthusiast might use to fulfil his goal to achieve a workout, the workout he or she imagines he is going to do. The set is, to some extent, a form of a workout in itself which uses action as its mode, usually in the form of a slight discomfort or pain.

The set intricately and closely connects one exercise to another, usually through a causal chain, ending in a moment of pain and pleasure or what I refer to as ending in a climax.

I have done thousands of sets since I began lifting weights in my late teens almost thirty years ago. To me, a set is a miracle and a mystery. A set is the track from somewhere to somewhere else – the start and the beginning of a mii-project, a small journey.

It carries the performer from silence to understanding, from nothing to something.

A set to a workout is like a river is to a whole catchment. Namely, everything. The part serves the whole; it is what the whole comes down to.

It is the point, the ‘dot.’

Sets alone or sets performed in no particular order mean something to the enthusiast but not much. I find that when I am doing a set, I am telling a part of my story, my life because what I am striving for ultimately is, meaning. And how does meaning arise when you’re doing a set?

It arises when I put the repetitions required to perform each and every set into an order in which I have learned to recognise a pattern of relationship (through the many thousands of sets and workouts I have performed over the last 3 decades).

I then derive meaning.

Over the years, I have learned to recognise relationships between sets and causality. We all have that gift for seeing and attributing meaning patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and workouts when recalling. We do this for almost everything in our lives, it is just easier on our brain as the brain relies heavily on autopilot, ultimately to conserve energy.

We humans, make sense of life that way, by learning how things interact, what causes what. The only thing is, like anything else, learning so, takes time.

Climaxing at the end of a set is one kind of pleasure, a lot of time, with pain thrown in to the mix. The completion of the pre-determined number of sets is not the point of the workout.

So, the point of a workout as I see it and story-tell, is in the ‘feeling.’

It is the feeling that allows one to build and soak in the ‘essence of the exercise.’ And how do you get the essence? That involves much, much more than just lifting a weight against gravity and moving the weight from point A to point B.

I will save that ‘find the essence of the exercise’ to another blog.

Providing a little bit of assistance. My pupil here ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise.
All relationships require work and time .
Sometimes, its the little things, that determine your success in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Reps

Reps, is the shortened version of repetition. Part of gym lingo. It is the basic unit of a set and the building blocks of your workout. It is the number and tempo that dictates what kind of set you’re doing and the feeling you get at the end of the set (if you get any at all).

Not every rep is the same, just like not every golf swing is the same, using different clubs for different strokes.

Performing the rep is when you ‘get your hands dirty.’ It is when you feel the blood pumping excitedly through your veins. It is when you sweat. You sweat to earn those muscles. The rep is when you experience what I call a ‘continuous progression of focused moments.’

Some people call this meditation.

Everyone is at varying levels of meditation and are, ideally, working towards improving their meditation ability or what we, bodybuilders refer to ‘mind-muscle’ connection.

This is when you ‘feel the essence’ or what Arnold calls the ‘pump’. It is an elusive thing and not many gym rats get to experience this climaxing moment. It is the holy grail of lifting weights. It is one of the factors that separate real bodybuilders from the gym rats.

So-called self-help gurus have, for decades now, spoken about how one can ‘get in touch with one’s inner-self. Well, I have news for everyone, bodybuilders, real, authentic bodybuilders have been their inner-self for over a hundred years now.

Bodybuilders have a very highly level of understanding of getting in touch with one’s inner-self, because you couldn’t really get any more any ‘in touch’ with yourself then getting in to the individual cell, with vitality-infused blood.

Feel the essence, I say!

Fully focused!
A true warrior & champion. Phil applying principles in one of my programs and adopting my framework.
Focusing on making every repetition of every set of every exercise as ideal as possible.
Practise does not make perfect – Perfect practise makes perfect!
Photo: Retired Champion Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain & NSW Waratahs Captain and player in action under my watchful eyes.

Synergy

Sets alone or sets carried out in no particular order could mean success … but very little: Second set, 8 to 12 reps, power on the positive, control on the negative with a 2-1-3 tempo! Oh, I get it. A workout is completed; sense of achievement arise. How does that happen? It happens because the gym enthusiast/bodybuilder puts the sets in an order in which he has learned to recognise a pattern of relationships and so can derive satisfaction and purpose. It happens because of the innate human avidness of the human GIFT for seeing and attributing meaning to patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and body and spirit (dare I say, speech).

We humans make sense of our life and in the world we live in by learning how things interact, what causes what. The way every cause has its effect; the way every action has its actor, its object and its consequence. So, most gym rats learn that for every

What I am trying to say is that put a man and woman who like the look of each other in a place together and what you’ll get pretty soon, among other things, is someone doing something; and someone doing it back; and two people doing something together. What you get is ‘synergy’.

Sex; a relationship; perhaps issues. What you get is sets performed – simple, compound, complex and compound-complex, fragments and fractals.

What you get is synergy.

Anyone can ‘lift weights’, but unfortunately, not many can lift weights with synergy. And how do you do you make those reps, those sets perform their alchemy and achieve synergy and purpose.

I have found that one can learn the many different types of training ‘techniques’ and ways of lifting without ever knowing what the essence feels like. Just like you can understand the whole scheme of evolutionary history, without ever knowing why a minah bird moves exactly, and with such intelligence, as it does – why that is necessary and how it came to pass.

Achieving and feeling the essence and flowing with synergy in your workouts is another lively mystery.

A tip: one needs to learn rhythm. This comes after years of deliberate mind-muscle-heart-spirit practise. One of the greatest joys of doing a workout is not just achieving synergy but also making music within.

That is when you get hold of ‘that mystery’ and master that miracle within.

Good repetitions of good sets of good exercises performed well, amongst other variables, performed with synergy and music .. .makes for a good workout.

And the more balanced and elegant one’s sets are, the sounder they are structurally, the better one’s workouts will be.

You approach what I refer to as the ‘state of beauty’ … an enlightened state that brings you closer to balance and symmetry, a state of finite bliss. A state of enhanced balance and symmetry, when done correctly.

Not many gym enthusiasts ever get to that state. That is ok, most don’t. … and most don’t know how to, either.

 

Until next time,

Captain Viking Pirate Vaughn-Van-Valentine (VvV)

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

Collage of members of my gym in action … many, many years ago.

Quality Plan + Quality Implementation allowed Team Valentine (my wife & I) to beat the best in the sport here in Australia and stand on the stage against the best in the World.

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Eating and drinking in excess this Christmas and New Year can help you lose weight – a lot of weight!

Muscle is precious. Build muscle then, do everything you can to preserve it.

Muscle is precious. Build muscle then, do everything you can to preserve it.

Don’t believe the headline – eating and drinking in excess this Christmas will not help you lose weight!

But I am making a point as to how we can become needlessly fearful (because of all the conflicting views out there) of exercising with weights or eating certain foods or doing just about anything.

Everyone seems to have an ‘opinion’ these days with the proliferation of social media and a lot of these views have insufficient and inappropriate evidence (scientific) to back them up. This applies to almost everything, but especially, weight/fat loss and exercise and eating and drinking, because well, we all do these activities, more or less.

It seems that everyone is suddenly an expert.

Anyone can show how, by selectively citing some scientific research and blowing it all out of context, you can build a case for any argument, including the subject heading that I have used.

If you have a small amount of scientific nous, it is super easy for someone to give an opinion and by selectively citing some scientific research (based on some ridiculously small sample) and blowing it all out of context. You see this quite regularly on mainstream media as the ‘sensationalism’ of these stories sells ratings.

Below is the start of my view on fat loss and body re-engineering …

If you need to lose fat leading up to the festive season and summer (in some parts of the world – like Sydney, Australia) – build muscle. Naturally. Full stop!

There are countless weight-loss programs on the net and every where you go and read. Terrific for increasing awareness. However, fat-loss plans and weight-loss plans that don’t include strength training, fundamentally, rob the body of muscle.

Now, you don’t want to do something that robs the body of muscle because the process of ageing does this anyway. Ageing, is partly, by definition, the deterioration of muscles due to the reduction in protein synthesis.

Weight-training to build muscle ‘off-sets the on-set of ageing’. It is the potion of youth. It keeps people younger, longer. I know, because I have witnessed these people who seem to look and act five, ten, fifteen and twenty years younger.

The common denominator: they build muscle!

I’ve always told everyone I have ever helped over the last two decades that every kilogram of muscle is a fat burning dynamo! Yep, a fat-burning dynamo.

If you compare your body’s metabolism (the rate at which it ‘burns’ calories) to that of an engine of a car, when you build lean body mass (muscle), you increase the engine size and power of your body. Your car engine (metabolism) goes from, say, a 1.8l engine to a 4.0l or even an 8.0l engine over time.

Muscle loss reduces calorie requirements, makes fat loss more difficult, and creates increased obstacles to the maintenance of a lean body, once the excess fat has been lost.

Fundamentally, your ‘life-force’ (or vitality) will be sucked out of you and you will literally feel like cr&p! Every single minute of every single day. Now, why would you or anyone for that matter want to feel like that every single day. I could and still can’t understand why people still do this to themselves. Instead of doing ‘life-affirming’ actions, they instead do ‘life destroying’ actions.

Not smart. Not sustainable.

Put simply, and to sum up – always remember, to help maintain a lean body, build muscle.

It is as simple as that!

However, like some philosopher once said, “the easy things are also the hardest things to do”.

So, don’t think. Do!

If you can dream and imagine a much more improved physical version of you and believe in executing a plan to get you there, by all means go for it!

With 8 x Mr Olympia - "The King", Ronnie Coleman. Now, this man built and carried on his frame an unbelievable amount of muscle - 300lbs worth of it!

With 8 x Mr Olympia – “The King”, Ronnie Coleman. Now, this man built and carried on his frame an unbelievable amount of muscle – 300lbs worth of it!

And don’t worry if you have never entered a gym in your life or you haven’t done anything since your late teens or early twenties. It is never too late to start.

Regardless of your age, or how out of condition you may think you are at present, I believe it is never too late to start an exercise program. The power to decide rests in your hands (literally when you start lifting weights in a gym to help the person in the mirror – YOU).

You can transform your fitness and muscle strength at any age, along with your appearance, and health. I believe this is important because from my observations as a coach over the years, when people’s image improves, their performances improves too. Feeling good about yourself is an important part of being a well-balanced human being.

Make that choice – for you or a loved one. Make that choice to help you so that you can enjoy not just a long life but a good quality life by lowering the risks of early on-set of age-related physical and mental diseases. Respect and love the most important person in the world to you – YOU, first.

That way, by default, everyone gets the best of you, too.

You have one life, make the most of it all the best in the choices you make. No one else can make them for you, so choose well.

To assist in the quality of your life right now, consider improving on these:

  1. Eat – well composed, portioned meals, more frequently. If it is green leaf (and not a frog), include it in your meals.
  2. Water – drink adequate levels of water daily. An average adult should aim for 3L per day.
  3. Move – a combination of weight training, cardio and stretching done two to three times per week.
  4. Enjoy yourself – don’t forget to have fun and laugh at least once a day.
  5. Socially engage with your community in person.
  6. Get, learn and apply the basics (of life) right so that YOU can ….

Muscle is precious. Build muscle, then do everything you can possibly to do to preserve what you have. You will thank your lucky and wise stars as you age.

Don’t accelerate the ageing process as age does it for you anyway. Build muscle, as if your life depended on it (and it does). Build muscle as it is your personal preventative insurance against age-related diseases as your life ticks on … tick, tock, tick, tock!

Then, watch your energy, mental state and vitality soar to new heights and ….

Live, really live.

Until next time,

Be the best you can be for you, first, then by default, everyone gets the best of you. Vv.

Be the best you can be for you, first, then by default, everyone gets the best of you.
Vv.

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a better life, adaptation, awareness, balance, basics of training, beauty, Body shape, Energy, Fitness, fundamentals, habit, habits, injury, long-term perspective, muscle building, safe training, strengths, symmetry, training, workout, you

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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adaptation, awareness, body, Body shape, body weight

Bulking up vs building up.

Using my framework to help individuals of all ages, shapes and sizes to help themselves become THE BEST they IMAGINE THEMSELVES TO BE. Photo: an A+ pupil Phil Waugh - retired Legend of Rugby, Ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain. Knowing is potential power. Doing is Real Power. Knowing the right time to apply both is essential to goal achievement.

Using my framework to help individuals of all ages, shapes and sizes to help themselves become THE BEST they IMAGINE THEMSELVES TO BE.
Photo: an A+ pupil Phil Waugh – retired Legend of Rugby, Ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain.
Knowing is potential power. Doing is Real Power. Knowing the right time to apply both is essential to goal achievement.

I have heard many, many reasons of wanting to lift weights from people in the gym over the last 23 years. Many myths are still being propagated too.

There is one such myth that still exists regarding the approach to take to building muscle and that is – “bulking up”.

A lot of men think that “bulking up’ equates to putting on muscle. They think it is the best or only way of building up their muscles. They think that just because they have put on 5kg in a month means that they have built 5kg of muscles.

I have news for you: It does not work that way!

I see it all the time, young men (and dare I say women, too) believing the myth that if they go through a ‘bulking up’ phase, they would see extra muscles when they trimmed down.

In my 23 years of weight training I have put on close to 15kg of lean body mass – not weight, muscle! That’s just over half kilo of lean muscle per year. Not much when you view it this way aye?

Yeah, but taking the ‘tortoise approach’ to building muscle is not the key message. Building up is important, yes, holding on to the hard-earned muscle is more important. Remember this: build it up, then do everything in your power to hang on to those precious muscles.

You see, in all these years, I have not gone out and purposely aimed to ‘bulk up’. I have always seen myself as a work-in-progress and have always been (and still am) in the ‘building up’ stage even after all these years. There are just different phases of ‘building up’.

Muscle does not convert in to fat and fat does not convert in to muscle. Period!

You should not try to gain weight just for the sake of it in an effort to look bigger or ‘bulk up’. Building quality lean body mass (muscle) takes time and patience and relies heavily on genetic pre-dispositions.

With the goal of bulking up, it would highly likely be that a high percentage of your bulk weight would come from unwanted fat. Yes, you will put on bulk and weight but you will look ‘smooth’ and fat deposits will settle on areas of your body that you may not be happy about.

When you have a mind-set of ‘building up’ your muscle density, you encourage your body to become more metabolically efficient because every hard-earned muscle ounce you build becomes a ‘fat-burning dynamo’! Your engine room or metabolism (the rate at which your body burns energy) gets bigger and bigger. I could liken it to a small car engine (say a 1.8L) compared to an 8.0L or a V8.

Fully focused! A true warrior &  champion.  Focusing on making every repetition of every set of every exercise as ideal as possible.  Practise does not make perfect - Perfect practise makes perfect! Photo: Retired Champion Ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratahs Captain and player in action under my watchful eyes.

Fully focused!
A true warrior & champion.
Focusing on making every repetition of every set of every exercise as ideal as possible.
Practise does not make perfect – Perfect practise makes perfect!
Photo: Retired Champion Ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratahs Captain and player in action under my watchful eyes.

More muscle equals more engine power (even at rest)!

Huge difference in energy consumption and power output. Huge difference in body composition and ultimately body shape. The mirror would reflect this.

You feel better, you look better and you wear your clothes better. You make the clothes ‘look good’!

Working out with the goal of building up a physique is far safer and a smarter way to go about your weight training than simply aiming to bulk up just to trim down later. You don’t have to work hard to lose what you put on in the first place.

So, focus on building up rather than bulking up.

Keep your training continuous and simple. Aim to put on good, quality, lean body mass (muscle). It might take longer but it is better. So what does it take? It takes vision (of a better you), a workable plan and the work ethic (discipline, consistency and persistence) to execute, with patience.

We all know that life is not a dress-rehearsal. Do you live every day like it was your last? Ask yourself: Have you got what it takes?

To build muscle, remember to leave your ego at the door of the gym and remind yourself that it is body-shape, not body-weight that matters.

Compare, say, a 75kg person with 15% body-fat than a 75kg person with 35% body-fat. They both weigh the same, but they will have totally different body-shapes and the latter person would more than likely have higher health risks.

This is why only focusing on your body-weight and not your body-shape (body composition) does not give you the full picture. Always aim to increase your muscle : fat ratio.

So, aim for building up rather than bulking up and help yourself manage one of your physical health and life risks.

Build up that engine room. Build up that ‘revving power’!

Then ….

Drive safely through the roads you decide to take as you journey through your life.

All the best!

Until next time,

Side triceps pose. Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles. Placing: 2nd.

Side triceps pose.
Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles.
Placing: 2nd.

Life COACH. Valentine Vitality Coaching Services.

Life COACH.
Valentine Vitality Coaching Services.

All B&W photos by: Robert Walsh of Robert Walsh Photography. Visit: “www.robertwalsh.com.au” and see how this great artist may be able to help you. Vv.

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