a better life, action, attitude, belief systems, Beliefs, better choices, decisions, Goals, self, self improvement, self-image, success, you, your life

Are you the master or slave to your “shadow”?

Each rep of each exercise, executed with constant tension throughout the full range of motion gets you closer to the person you 'imagine yourself to be'. Goal of set: make the last rep as good as the first. An A+ student here - Phil Waugh.

Each rep of each exercise, executed with constant tension throughout the full range of motion gets you closer to the person you ‘imagine yourself to be’.
Goal of set: make the last rep as good as the first.
An A+ student here – Phil Waugh.

In daylight or any light for that matter, you cast a shadow. Even if the sun or light is right above you, your shadow is still there. It is always there. Your shadow here can be likened to your self-image, your sub-conscious. Are you the master or slave to your shadow?

It is an interesting relationship – this one between you and your shadow. Can be likened to a ‘master-slave’ relationship where you would think that YOU are the master and your shadow, the slave.

All actions you take comes from this relationship. Well, many actions can be taken by the master but no action whatsoever can be taken without consulting the shadow.

The shadow or the ‘sub-conscious’ ability of the mind houses your very important ‘self-image’. By the time we are adults, we would have developed a self-image about every talent, every characteristic and every performance we have ever had. Have you ever heard yourself or others state perceptions out loud like – “I’m a lousy cook, I can’t even scramble eggs’ or “I have a terrible memory”. “I’m never on time”. “I can’t stick to a healthy diet”. I have heard many of these self-limiting impositions people have made and believed in my time in the gym.

These all make up your shadow, shaped by your subconscious mind. The important thing to remember is this:

“you cannot outgrow these limits you place on yourself – you can only set new limits within which you must live.”

Results with care. Here, Brad is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise and inching closer to his best self. Managing your 'shadow' better is a giant step towards realising your goals. Vv

Results with care.
Here, Brad is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise and inching closer to his best self.
Managing your ‘shadow’ better is a giant step towards realising your goals. Vv

In my two decades of helping individuals in the gym find the best version of themselves, whether it be in losing weight or in quitting a bad habit, effort alone is not enough to achieve and sustain the goals. You also need imagination!

I always tell my students that they need to “walk, talk, eat, sleep, sh%t, talk, run …. Like the person they need to be, before they become the person they will be.” As there is another important point to remember:

  • It is not what you “are” that holds you back, it’s “what you think you are not.”

I have learned a lot about people and a lot from the many thousands of people I have met over the last two decades in the gym. I love ‘people watching’ and one thing I do know that holds true for every person is this:

  • Individuals DO NOT behave in accordance with reality. Individuals behave in accordance with their ‘perception of reality’.

What is your reality? What is your perception of the ‘truth’?

I have found that if a person does not desire to work on changing his/her self-beliefs that are aligned with the person they desire to be then the change they are seeking will be temporary. This will apply to any worthwhile change, for example weight loss, alcohol consumption or quitting smoking and so forth.

Self-image is fundamental to understanding human behaviour and what I discovered years ago is that if you change a person’s self-image, you change their personality and their behaviour. I think this is a very important part of any mentoring/coaching role, whether it be in a team capacity or on an individual basis.

This is why effort (or will-power) alone is not enough to make a change that is lasting in yourself. Trying to make a worthwhile change at the conscious level by using will-power, will usually result in a temporary change. I have seen this many times with the thousands of gym goers that seek a positive change in their lives. You see them – bursting out of their seams doing all the group classes, sporting the latest clothing gear, looking the ‘part’ but never achieving their goals.

There are many reasons that people fail to achieve lasting change but a big part of it is that they try and take on a new habit for example – going to the gym or give up a bad habit for example – one-pack-a-day smoker for ten years by good ol-fashioned, teeth-gritting WILL POWER.

This is where people fundamentally go wrong: people think that they are masters of their shadow and have not understood that they are in fact slaves to their shadow, the shadow being your subconscious part of your mind. Because they have not spent the time working on their self-beliefs that make up part of their self-image, the conscious mind is still unconvinced.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity. Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity.
Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Reminds me of a client I trained a few years ago. He did very well. He lost around 30kg and built a decent physique. He worked very hard and was a very good student. For about 8 months I reminded him daily of the importance of ‘walking, talking, sitting, eating, sleeping, shi%ting …. Like the person he desires to be”. And for those first 8 months he told me he had it under control and he had mastered this request of mine.

However, I wasn’t convinced he was (even though he had achieved a body-weight he had not been at since he was a late teenager). It was unchartered territory for him.

It wasn’t until he went out and played a round of golf with some of his old mates one weekend that he truly understood what I meant by that statement and what I said was his biggest challenge was.

For the entire round of golf, he was having an extremely bad day and he couldn’t understand why he was hitting the ball that bad. It just so happened that a friend in the group (an ex-Olympian who understood a bit of sport psychology) went up to him and said,

“you are still hitting the ball like you were the guy who was 30kg heavier – the old YOU?”

That was when everything crystallised. He then realised what I had meant when I reminded him of how important it was to train his mind and mastering his shadow. I have said this a thousand times over the last two decades – losing weight is the easy part. What is the most difficult thing to do is convincing the REAL YOU that you are the NEW YOU.

In the case of the example of the smoker, your shadow (self-image) has seen you as a smoker for the past ten years and believes that you will still “see” yourself inside as a smoker.

Result: The smoker fails his attempt to quit smoking. Puts it in the “Too – hard busket.”

This is where imagination and emotion (or heart) comes in to the equation. I have always believed that effort (will-power and hard work) alone is not enough to achieve lasting results, one needs imagination and ‘heart’. You need to feel the end result you are seeking.

If you don’t change your self-image or shadow then when there is a conflict between will-power and conviction, the latter will always WIN. You can see this in action for example when you know you’re tired but you’re convinced you won’t sleep, you just won’t sleep no matter how hard you try (will-power).

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.

For any worthwhile change to be sustainable and permanent in your personality or behaviour, you should first involve change in your belief-systems and self-image (change the control your shadow has over you). This change in self-image needs to be followed up with a quality plan and quality implementation for any successful change in your lifestyle.

We make decisions (small and big) every single moment of every day of our lives. To me, most if not all decisions in life come down to 2 things:

  1. Plan
  2. Implementation

You need these 2 things if you want to get results. That is easy to understand. It follows then that to achieve QUALITY RESULTS, you need to have a QUALTIY Plan and have QUALITY implementation.

So, a question you would ask yourself is “are you going to be a slave to your shadow for the rest of your life” and use it as a ‘handicap’ or are you going to use this shadow as a springboard to achieving greatness?” However, which way you define greatness.

Scientists agree that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and an experience imagined vividly, emotionally and in detail. This is why your shadow can be used as a springboard to achieving greatness if that is what you choose to achieve.

It is yet another of the many decisions you have to make in your life. A choice.

So, it would follow that you need to “see’ through the eyes of the person  you would like to be if you desire to be the person you desire to be.

You need to take control and manage your shadow if you wish to make any worthwhile, sustainable change in YOU and your life. Let me sum it up in this formula:

A quality plan + quality implementation = quality life.

This is what my framework and the products I have developed help people do. I give them a quality plan (tailored to each individual) and I guide them through quality implementation towards a quality result. So, don’t leave such an important aspect of self-achievement with the ‘lottery of life’ attitude, that a big percentage of the population do – you can see this behaviour reflected in the popularity and increasing prevalence of games of chances, led by the gambling industry.

It is the one thing you have some control over, if you desired it. What is needed from you is the courage to manage your shadow better and become master to it and not the servant. Make a quality plan to change your belief systems for the better and use your shadow (self-image) as a spring board to a better YOU, a better LIFE.

Overcoming many small hurdles on your way to achieving your ultimate goal is encouraging. Progress, any form of progress is a motivating factor. So, don't strive for perfection, instead seek progress ... towards your ideal SELF. Vv

Overcoming many small hurdles on your way to achieving your ultimate goal is encouraging.
Progress, any form of progress is a motivating factor.
So, don’t strive for perfection, instead seek progress … towards your ideal SELF.
Vv

So, if there is one important investment you will ever make and abstain from putting the ‘cart before the horse’ like the majority of people do, is to work on your shadow. In order to do this, you need to understand your shadow, understand the REAL YOU. You need to increase your awareness. The first step to any form of self-improvement.

To do this, to understand – you need to work towards simplifying things. Matter of fact, in the beginning you need to ‘over-simplify’ things to understand things better – to ‘manage your funnel better’.

So, that is your first step, simplify YOU. Simplify your life. Make the complex, simple. Simplify to understand. Understand you and your shadow. Seek to understand the master-slave relationship that exists. Before becoming a master of the many other external things in life, become a master to yourself – your shadow.

Work towards managing this master-slave relationship in your favour. Take better control of your shadow by understanding and changing your self-image, with a vivid, clear, emotional, sensory vision of the person you want to be.

If you have children, watch them play ‘pretend’ games. Understand your shadow by adopting this “lets pretend” attitude, and play the role of whomever you want to be. My kids just don’t go out of character until the pretend game has ended. Imagination is one thing my kids have helped me improve over the last few years of fatherhood.

So continue to work on your imagination and believe in your dreams. Believe you can become a better version of YOU and try ‘pretending’ you ARE before YOU ARE. After-all, your shadow cannot tell the difference between “The real me” and the ‘the one I see’.

Managing my shadow better, helped me towards representing Australia twice at the World Natural Body-building Championships and be placed in the Top 5 in the world in consecutive years. It has also been one of the reasons over 84% of everyone I have ever helped over the last 10 years have successfully achieved their goals or better.

So, don’t be a slave to your shadow. Instead work towards becoming the master that you deserve to be and be the best you can be, for YOU first (in whatever worthwhile goal you have), and by default everyone gets the best of you too. Be the best you can be to live the best life you can live.

Besides, I read somewhere a long time ago that life is like a parachute, you only have one chance to open/live it.

Choose well.

All the best.

Until next time,

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Side Chest pose. Placing: 4th.

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Side Chest pose.
Placing: 4th.

Side Triceps pose in the heat of competition at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Contest held in NY, USA. Represented Australia. Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World. Repeated this in 2008.

Side Triceps pose in the heat of competition at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Contest held in NY, USA.
Represented Australia.
Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.
Repeated this in 2008.

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a better life, action, attitude, awareness, belief systems, Beliefs, Goals, strengths, success

Making a mission impossible, possible.

Retired Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & Leader - Phil Waugh. Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework. > dedication to higher principles - higher standards is something we can all aspire to. > awaken awareness of the principle of higher standards that rests within the heart of every man and woman. Awaken yours today!

Retired Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & Leader – Phil Waugh.
Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework.
> dedication to higher principles – higher standards is something we can all aspire to.
> awaken awareness of the principle of higher standards that rests within the heart of every man and woman.
Awaken yours today!

I am going to introduce you to a great bloke: He’s name is Joel.

A current client and friend. I am going to share a story about when Joel made a mission impossible’, possible.  Tom Cruise has made a killing with his versions of the “Mission Impossible” movies, one of which is screening right now.

Yes, these grand missions in these movies are truly impossible and great entertainment, if that is what you’re in to. These are the kinds of stories that sells. Big, grand stories. But, I am going to talk about one of the many miracles that happen to normal, everyday people just like you. Just like all of us.

I am going to share with you a story about how a man, actually two men made one of their impossible missions at that time, possible. One of the thing that is special about Joel is that he is the strongest natural bloke I have ever trained or come across in my life and believe me, I have come across many.

NOTE: Naturally strong means: never experimented with illegal performance enhancing drugs – EVER! Steroid free.

What goes up must go down.  A possible definition of a squat. Summarises most things in life.

What goes up must go down.
A possible definition of a squat.
Summarises most things in life.

Let me share you a bit of his story…

You see, I first met Joel about five years ago. He came in to my gym (I owned and managed a great Family Gym for about 7 years) and enquired about my services. He knew what he wanted and he seemed very determined. My kind of person.

He hadn’t been in a gym for a long time and was not in the best of shape but had the desire to look and feel better. That was a helpful starting point: the right desire, coming from nowhere else but his heart. My job was to do what I do best and help him get to his ‘imagined version of himself’ using one of my products that adopted by unique body re-engineering framework.

And get him there in the most efficient and effective manner with due care and safety in mind, which is the foundation of my framework.

Easy. That is what I have always done, with a great success rate over the last 10 years (over 84% of past clients have achieved or gotten better results than they desired).

It didn’t’ take me long to deduce that Joel was indeed an abnormally strong man. He knew this but was quite modest about it. The interesting thing was that he had not done deadlifts in his life before he met me.

Around that same time, I was also helping an Englishman called James get past a ‘sticking point’ with regards to his deadlifting. James couldn’t seem to lift anything past ‘3 plates’ (on each side) for 10 reps. It was frustrating him to say the least for the last 2 months. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with gym lingo, a plate is a (45lb or 20kg) weight that you slide on to either side of an Olympic bar when doing lifts such as a dead-lift or squat or a bench press.

So, James was struggling to lift past the 140kg (the bar is 20kg too) for reps. He was upset that he had ‘plateau’ (or so he believed) and needed help getting past this point.

I said that I would help him and I did. I told him that the first thing we need to do was to ‘take a step back to take two steps forward’. He was a little taken aback by my recommendation because that plan seemed to contradict what his goal was: to lift more! There I was trying to ask him to lift less.

Life is about choices. Choose well.

Life is about choices.
Choose well.

I explained my philosophy and he understood what I was trying to achieve to help him achieve what he wanted to achieve. He trusted and allowed me to diagnose the issue. It was a combination of technique and mind-set. Once I identified the problem areas, I designed the plan to get him to lift ‘5 plates’ in the dead-lift for 6 to 8 reps.

For those of you who are mathematically inclined, that is 220kg. Not for 1 rep, for 6 to 8 reps!

When I told him what I was going to get him to do (get him to lift at least ‘5 plates’), his first reaction was that of dis-belief, that it was impossible. He was right though, with the mind-set he had at that point, it would be close to impossible for me to help him, help himself achieve it. I explained to him that before he was going to lift what I said he would lift, we needed to re-adjust his mind-set, in particular, his beliefs and belief system.

I put a plan to do just that: to allow James to progressively let go of self-limiting beliefs. Beliefs that only he harboured and grow within him like an unwanted fungus.

The plan worked. In a short 3 weeks, James was already doing a little more than 3 plates (got passed his ‘sticking point’ quite easily). He was on fire, increasingly filled with belief! Before long – I think it was just under 5 weeks of training with me, he was doing his first set of 5 plate dead-lifts, where a set was 6 to 8 reps, not one rep!

James and Joel got to know one another during that period but they probably only met each other once in that whole time. That was intentionally choreographed by me. The reason I scheduled their training sessions that way was that I saw them as potential competitors that could both help each other ‘raise their standards’ and both achieve far beyond what they had ever imagined. I did just that: I slowly pitted each other’s efforts against the other.

Setting his own standards through -  Mind-muscle connection. 'flexing the muscles' in a "most-muscular' pose.  Chris is an A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man.  On his way to realizing  a physique and mind-set he imagines himself having. ... adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering. Vv

Setting his own standards through –
Mind-muscle connection. ‘flexing the muscles’ in a “most-muscular’ pose.
Chris is an A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man.
On his way to realizing a physique and mind-set he imagines himself having: being more of who he already is.
… adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering.
Vv

You see, one week Joel would do 4 plates for the required number of repetitions and I would mention it to James and that would lift James’s game. He would do 4 and ½ plates and so on. This little battle went on for a while. Eventually it was game on!

It became a full-on competition. England v Australia right there in my gym where my two students were going head-to-head on who was the strongest man in the gym.

You have got to understand that these two individuals were genetically very strong specimens. They also manufactured extraordinary belief in themselves in the short time they were with me. This is a story of the many missions impossible, made possible through the POWER OF THE MIND guided with a GREAT PLAN.

Yet again (like I have seen over the decades of helping people in the gym), I witnessed first-hand how amazing the human mind is when it is channelled towards a goal that is worth achieving by that human being. Some people would call these ‘miracles’ in some circles. These were just “two ordinary men doing an extraordinary thing”.

I witnessed it with these two gentle, very strong men. A natural talent of theirs.

They went toe-to-toe, besting each other’s personal lift record (which just happened to be the gym record at that time) every week until we hit the “6 plate” zone.

“How much is that?” I hear you say.

Only 260kg!

Not lifting it for 1 rep, no! The lift is only recognised if it is done for 6 to 8 reps. they both did it. It was a draw …. For a short while – less than 7 days actually.

Joel came in one day with the energy and look in his eye that he wanted to take that title. He had the hunger of a starving tiger. We added just 2.5kg on either side of the bar (in addition to the 6 plates that were already on each side). He was going to take the record by a mere 5kg.

He did. He lifted that 265 kg for 6 reps!

His legs were bleeding after that lift. The blood came from both his shins. The bar shaved off his skin from his shins and a bit off his upper thighs while executing the amazing record. This was an extraordinary thing with extraordinary risks.

_O7A6352_C

These two students of mine realized their potential with regards to knowing how strong they were. They both achieved something that they both thought were impossible when I first mentioned it to them.

But they did. They achieved the seemingly impossible. They made their mission impossible – possible.

Fast forward to today and it was only last week that Joel ( who sees me two times a week in the program he is doing) mentioned that he just cannot believe he lifted that record almost 4 years ago. He was not talking about anyone else, he was referring to him. He couldn’t believe that he had done what he had done. Admittedly, he mentioned this dis-belief after just completing his set of 8 reps for 3 plates (140kg). He found it challenging.

Looking back, it would seem that it was impossible but I told Joel that he made the impossible, possible. He still cannot believe he did it today. How often can each and every one of you reading this honestly say that you gave something a try, and gave it your best shot and achieved something that you never thought was possible? How many of you can say that?

Joel did. And so did James. They achieved their BEST when it came to these lifts.

Joel still has the scars on his shins and thighs to tell this story to his kids and grand-kids.

You all have your own unique stories. You all have those special moments in your life so far where you may have given it your best and achieved something you only dreamed of. Maybe, you didn’t win number one or made the podium and that is ok, too. But that isn’t my point. My point is that you GAVE IT A TRY and you DID YOUR BEST.

You tried to fulfil a dream of yours. In my books, you are a champion.

Never stop dreaming of a better you, a better tomorrow, a better life and a better future. Everything you ever had and will ever hope to have, begins in your mind.

A signature winning pose of mine at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in New York. Represented: Australia Placing: 4th in the World.

Achieving a dream of mine at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in New York. Repeated it again in 2008.
Representing: Australia
Placing: 4th in the World.

I know from experience in helping hundreds of people achieve their goals over the years that – If you can dream it (conceive the idea), and truly believe (feel it in your heart) and have a great plan, you CAN ACHIEVE your dream, whichever area in life it is in, provided you WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS.

Start small. Start local. Work to your strengths. Build on your strengths. Don’t waste any more time on your weaknesses. From the cradle to the cubicle, most people devote more time to their short-comings than to their strengths. This approach makes for good story-telling but unfortunately, it is taking the path of MOST RESISTANCE.

Work to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Devote more energy to the development of your strengths to be more of what you are. The reality is that a person who has always struggled with numbers is unlikely to be a great accountant or statistician. Look at the great Michael Jordan, probably the greatest basketball player of all time. He could not be the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.

Each person has greater potential for success in specific areas, and one of the keys to human development is building on who you already are.

Don’t be afraid, sometimes it is best to ‘take aim, fire and then look’. Sometimes it is just better to ‘take a leap of faith’. Don’t let fear hold you back.

It is ok to fail … matter of fact, fail if you have to. Sometimes, failure gives you a better perspective on what it takes to succeed.

47 year old Chris set himself a goal to making the top 3 in his very first contest last year and achieved just that - a 3rd place finish in the MASTERS event.  Months of dedication and focus got him the results he was after.

47 year old Chris set himself a goal to making the top 3 in his very first contest last year and achieved just that – a 3rd place finish in the MASTERS event.
Months of dedication and focus got him the results he was after.

You don’t need to look far for the opportunity. Sometimes, the opportunity lies just ‘under your nose’, in your small, little world. Reflect and increase your own self-awareness. Sometimes, opportunities come clothed in overcoats. Sometimes, it is the day-to-day mundane living that produces the miracle you always had within you.

Work towards being a better version of YOU, putting most of your energy and time into developing your natural talents. Every day. Work on creating miracles within yourself. Seek to find the extraordinary in ordinary experiences by using your natural talents.

Extraordinary room for growth exists, just like it did for these two men in this story.

Seek those missions that you may consider impossible to change (weight loss, less-than ideal personal habits etc.) and try to make that positive change and make that mission – possible. The miracle lies within YOU.

Maybe, try adopting this dream (I use sometimes): think of YOU as being part of the Special Forces of self-development. You aspire to and set higher standards – your standards. Let everyone else that buy in to ‘mission impossible’ mind-set (believing their self-limiting beliefs) settle for the general army. That’s ok too.

Seek help if you need to. It’s never too late to seek help. See what doors that would open up for you.

Start working on making all your little (and big) ‘mission impossible’ in your life, possible. Take them on, ONE-BY-ONE!

Remember: you may not be able to be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are (aligning yourself with your strengths), just as this story of Joel and James shows.

All the best.

Until next time,

"Back Double Biceps" in the heat of competition! Placing: 2nd in Australia

“Back Double Biceps” in the heat of competition!
Placing: 2nd in Australia

~~Life COACH~~

~~Life COACH~~

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action, awareness, belief systems, choices, Energy, Goals, long-term perspective, long-term strategy, muscles, planning, risk, Strength training, Vitality, workout, you

No Brain, No Gain.

_MG_9779-1

I love a lot of old school training philosophies. Most are simple, to the point and cut out a lot of irrelevant stuff – things some of us refer to as ‘BS’.

While I adopt some of these fundamental training principles in my training I always assess the relevance of anything towards my goals and my needs. For example, assessing the legitimacy and relevance of a saying I have heard over the years:

“No pain, no gain”.

Put simply, I don’t fully agree with this. While I agree in simplicity for most things, I think this statement is too simplistic and too ‘black and white’. There are many ‘grey’ areas that should be considered especially in regards to the “risk-to-benefit’ ratio of exercises chosen.

It’s working out with your ego not in check. I have always believed that if one of your aims is to train in such a way to get the most benefit out of the time invested in your workouts, then you should leave your ego at the door.

Also, I think it is quite a negative slogan and should be replaced by something that is more positive and relevant to today’s every-day-person – like maybe:

No brain, no gain. Don’t train.” for the thinking bodybuilder.

I believe everyone who ventures in to this world and lifts any weight to assist themselves towards a better version of themselves, is by definition, a body-builder (whether you’re a grandmother lifting 1kg weights or a powerlifter squatting 200kg.

Everyone should strive to be a ‘thinking body-builder’.

To truly benefit from this, one should learn the basics of old-school training techniques with selected exercises that give optimal results, with safety in mind.

You must choose the right system of training for your specific goal in order to get the most benefit from your workouts in the shortest time. Ask yourself what is your top 3 goals and then narrow it down to the most important goal. Is it strength? Is it power? Is it a combination of strength and muscular growth?

You see, what I have found in over 23 years in the gym is that most people don’t have a plan, no, most people have what I refer to as a ‘goal’ or objective and their training program is haphazard at best. They try so many things at the same time, while all the while, hoping that they will strike it lucky. It is quite evident that similar patterns of behaviour happens in other areas of life too for some. For example, you see this in the popularity of games of chances – like lotto and gambling machines, despite the extremely low probability of hitting a jackpot, people still participate, losing more and more of their finances.

I have asked many gym enthusiasts over time, questions regarding why they have adopted a new ‘fad’ of training. I might ask them why they work out a certain body part first or do certain exercises before another in their routine, or what their goal is in doing 50+ repetitions on an exercise they either have an illogical answer or no answer at all.

Or, they are just doing it because their friends are doing it. Very sad indeed as they may not have considered the risks they are putting themselves under by following blindly.

Most people go about their training in a manner similar to someone who tries to bake a cake without any recipe laid out for them. They know bits of information, for example they know they need some sugar, some flour, some butter and need to put in in the oven. However, they have no clue about the temperature they need, how long they need to bake it for and other smaller, but important ingredients that go in to a beautiful looking and tasting cake.

Chaos results in the kitchen and frustration and higher risks of injury prevails in the gym. Not smart at all.

The human body and mind is a very sophisticated machine and to re-engineer it without a plan from an informed person is like building a house or an extension to a house without an Architect’s plan. It is fraught with higher risks.

Wasted effort. Wasted time. Very inefficient. Ineffective and unsafe. Not ideal indeed.

What you need, and what most people around the world need is a ‘working plan’. This is what smart training is all about. Increase your awareness of yourself, determine your needs and then seek help.

Here is a check-list of my 9.5 key factors to consider when you are selecting a type of workout or workout schedule:

  1. Your main goal.
  2. An honest assessment of where you are at – key KPIs on your health and fitness status.
  3. The duration of the program (3 months, 6 months, 6 weeks?)
  4. The rigidity of exercise execution (what emphasis is there on strict form).
  5. Rest time between sets.
  6. Total number of sets performed (per exercise; per muscle group and per workout).
  7. The amount of weight to be used (start, during and end of exercise).
  8. The tempo (speed of individual sets – at the start, during and end).

9.5 The number of reps (per set – at the start, during and end).

So, let me say it again, before seeking help from a suitably qualified and experienced professional, make sure you at the very least, think about what your main goal is. The professional could help identify your destination and help you formulate a plan that would give you answers to the above key variables.

And why would you want to do all this?

Well, you would not go and see or get advice from a plumber if you needed help with your tax return now, would you? I would hope your first port of call is an experienced qualified Accountant.

Become a thinking body-builder, no matter what age you are or how experienced you are.

And remember…. No brain, no gain – no train.

All the best!

 

Until next time,

VVc_logo_cropped

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adaptation, awareness, belief systems, body, choices, Energy, Goals, long-term strategy, mind, muscles, perspective, planning, truths, workout

Top 3 Keys to what I think a successful workout is. Key #1: SIMPLICITY.

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What my definition of a successful workout is would most likely be very different to yours or anyone else’s. It means a different thing to different people – number of sets done; how much weight you have lifted; how quick you have performed the workout etc.

It’s a personal thing.

To me, a successful workout is when my mind, body, heart and soul becomes ONE. It is when I become one with the weight I am lifting, when the machine or free weight becomes an natural extension of me. It is when I am at one of my most vulnerable points: when I feel I am strongest and yet so weak.

A successful workout to me is a stepping stone to a vision of how you imagine yourself to be. It is a building block you have placed on the bridge that takes you from where you currently are to where you would like to be. Like a chameleon, a successful workout teaches you more about yourself along the road of re-engineering a better you – through constant adaptation.

It is through adaptation that one generates muscle – good, quality, clean muscle. Individual muscle groups that ‘flow’ together like a champion team where no player is bigger than the team. It is about the fusion of art and science; of chaos and order; of a constant cycle of destruction, repair and love.

Many things go in to a workout but if I had to sum it up with my Top Key Variables, after 23 years of slugging it in the gym, my perception of what a perfect workout are:

  • Simplicity (basic)
  • Efficiency and effectiveness ( I call this ‘elegance’)
  • Orderly (chaotic but purposeful – and slightly sophisticated)

I would like to elaborate on one of these key factors in this blog today: SIMPLICITY.

Don’t copy-cat other peoples’ workouts you may glean over from the internet. This limits your capacity to truly be YOU. Developing a strong sense of whom and what you are about nearly always contributes toward making the right choices with exercises in your workouts. Keep it simple as I believe this ensures success, not only in the area of body re-engineering but also in other areas of life.

Simplicity is simply ‘pure and uncomplicated’. It is being authentic to yourself.

It is freedom from distractions and ‘fluff’. This includes not getting caught up on how ‘fancy’ the gym you’re training at is; not being so in awe on the types of equipment your gym has or the exciting new lighting colours; not focusing on how much weight you lifted or how many repetitions you performed.

No, this is not simplicity – this is more clutter! Unnecessary clutter, which you don’t need more of in your life. You need to always remind yourself to make the complex –simple.

Simplicity is when a workout has a basic design – it has ‘old school’ basics perfectly blended together with a modern-twist and exercises that assist with daily life, with safety in mind. It is a perfect fit, like the way a perfect glove fits your hand. Every exercise is chosen and executed with an alignment with your ultimate physical goals – of where you desire to be.

Simplicity is working out with a clarity of purpose and with the best choices of exercise that reinforces that clarity and cutting out all the “Bull@hit”!

So, I strive to achieve a “successful” workout each and every time I enter the gym, being fully aware of the energy levels at any point in time. Simplicity and the other two key elements are in my mind before, during and post work-out. It is this combination which is a perfect blend of orderliness and chaos that brings me closer to a perfect workout.

And it will do the same for you, if you try. Try again if you fail the first time. It might take a little getting used to, but you will get there. Never, ever give up (something I remind my children when they are facing a challenge and want to throw in the towel).

The key thing is to keep things simple. Any fool can get complicated; it takes a genius to be simple – uncluttered. Find that genius in you, if you haven’t already.

Now, I hope you understand a little bit more about what I consider an ideal and ‘successful workout’. It is partly this focus that helps me and further increases awareness in and educate all my current and past pupils. With my unique framework, I am very grateful to be in a position to help people help themselves find their best selves.

Become aware. Apply sufficient and appropriate action. Adapt accordingly.

Train SMART!

Until next time,

VVc_logo_cropped

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action, awareness, body, Body shape, Energy, Goals, habits, long-term strategy, mind, muscles, planning, respect, risk, workout

Take care of your “set of wheels”.

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA. Represented: Australia. Placing: 4th. Repeated this in 2008.

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA.
Represented: Australia.
Placing: 4th.
Repeated this in 2008.

Now, I know some of you may love your cars and affectionately refer to them in many ways, including a ‘set of wheels’, and I am sure many of you take good care of your set of wheels. Let me tell you a story about the first time I heard that phrase.

One day, early on in my body-building years, during a break from my ‘set’, I gazed out the window and down at the cars parked on the road (the gym was on the 1st floor), when the owner, came up to me and said –

“Son, you’ve got a good set of wheels there.”

I said “umm, no none of those cars there are mine. I jogged to the gym”.

He laughed and said that he wasn’t referring to the cars as he looked down at my legs. He pointed to my legs and said –

“those wheels – you’ve got a good set of wheels!”

I was a little embarrassed about the mis-understanding but I thanked him for the compliment.

Over the last 23 years of training with weights in the gym, I have managed to invest more time in those wheels he was referring to and the other body parts, with the goals of – balance and symmetry in mind. Sculpturing the most proportional physique that my genetic potential would allow. This harmony of the ‘flow-of-muscle’ has helped me represent Australia twice at the World Natural Body-building Championships and placed in the top 4 in consecutive years.

In all this time, I can proudly say that I have managed to stay relatively injury-free and have not seen a physio or chiro in that time for any serious injury. One of the contributing reasons is that how much weight I lift has been close to irrelevant to building my muscles and being considered one of the best natural body-builders in the world. What matters is QUALITY not QUANTITY. I have a ‘safety-first’ approach to training that does not hinder me or my client’s achieving the goals they desire.

I have never allowed the amount of weight I lift to be a critical factor of my progress. What mattered to be me has always been two things:

  1. Control
  2. Feel

If I am not feeling the muscle and am not in control of the weight I am lifting then I am not building muscles in the most effective way. I am not maximizing my muscle growth potential. I always believed that to build good, quality muscle, one has to ‘leave ones’ ego at the door of the gym’.

I have seen it since I started lifting weights all those years ago and I still see it today, sadly, in increasing numbers amongst youth today – people using too much weight.

Aiming to build better wheels by using too much weight for movements like squats is like trying to bench too much, bouncing the bar off your chest and generally with very poor form. Not good at all. Flat Bench pressing with too much weight has been the primary reason that shoulder injuries is the most common injury sustained by men world over.

Not worth it, not good.

Why would you want to do that – overestimate how much weight you can lift or perform countless repetitions of a particular exercise with very bad form and for no particular purpose? Most people unfortunately use a scatter-gun approach to training and hope that what they are doing will get them to their goals.

So, back to my set of wheels analogy story, unless you just happen to have very strong legs and can train with huge poundages easily and copy the mass monsters you see on you-tube, there is just no need to try to squat 600 to 800 pounds.

As with any other body-part, use the appropriate amount of weight for the set/rep scheme you’re using, no more and no less. You need to remind yourself that you’re in the gym to train the muscle, not to impress the people around you with how much weight you can lift.

I have always said you should aim to “work the muscle, not the joint”.

So, it follows that if you’re aiming to build muscle and a more aesthetic, pleasing physique, remember that the actual amount of weight you use is irrelevant. You’re body-building, not power-lifting or weight-lifting or any other modern-day activities that are “off-shoots” of body-building, where measurements and numbers play a pivotal role. Knowing how much weight you can press or how many repetitions you can perform is how millions of weight-training enthusiasts all over the world, injure themselves.

Work on your set of wheels and build them with control and feel, with continuous tension and simplicity. Maximize muscle and minimise risks to knee joints.

Take care of your set of wheels, don’t damage them beyond repair. You don’t want to have to replace your knees and hips too early in your life.

Build your brawn with brain. Remember: You’re in the gym to help yourself, not hurt yourself.

Train hard. Train SMART.

 

Until next time,

Back lats spread a few weeks prior to the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles. Placing: 2nd in Australia.

Back lats spread a few weeks prior to the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles.
Placing: 2nd in Australia.

A slight variation on the compulsory "Front Double Biceps' bodybuilding pose. With this one ... I'd say you reach for the stars. Contest: 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in NY, USA. Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.

A slight variation on the compulsory “Front Double Biceps’ – a signature pose of mine.
Contest: 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in NY, USA.
Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.

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action, adaptation, awareness, change, choices, dreams, Energy, game of life, Goals, Imagination, life, long-term perspective, mind, perspective, time

See what can be, not just what is.

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We’ve all grown up hearing that lovely line from some aunty or uncle, trying to sound wise and encouraging, but all the time not knowing what it really means –

“where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

I have thought about this affirmation over the last 40 years and I have to say that I don’t fully agree. Here’s why –

The above affirmation is lovely, but it is somewhat delusional. Affirmations such as this are great and kind of motivating for some and that is wonderful.

However I think that one should not forget that affirmations without discipline and persistence is useless.

What I am trying to say is that affirmations without a strategy is rubbish and wish-full thinking. Now, this is very different to ‘positive thinking’.

Matter of fact, merely stating an affirmation without a strategy is the beginning of delusionary thinking. A total opposite of positive thinking. This is why I think that affirmations mentioned in the wrong context can be more than mis-leading, it can cloud peoples’ perceptions of the truth and they may become increasingly un-aware of themselves.

Not a helpful place to be in.

Sometimes, working harder DOES NOT LEAD TO BETTER RESULTS. Sometimes, every incremental work done after a certain point gives diminishing returns. You simply don’t get any better. You don’t improve your position. You basically stagnate and hit a plateau.

It can be likened to building muscle in the gym. After a period of quick growth early in their training career, most gym enthusiasts hit a ‘plateau’ and don’t seem to make any more progress despite training more, eating more and so forth. No matter what they do, there is no visible physical change to their physique. A good example where working harder does not lead to better results.

Very frustrating indeed!

“But, what do you do then?” you must be thinking.

Well, I believe that sometimes you need to just cut out all the detail and clutter. Sometimes, to go to the ‘next level’, you need to cut out all the ‘red tape’. Yes, cut out all the red tape, all the clutter of over-analysis in your head – your mind!

“And how do you propose I do that?” I hear you say.

Well, the simple way is best: DO NOT use any willpower!

Yep, use no willpower.

If you’re solution-oriented, you will find that your logical side of your brain will be conjuring up ways to solve the problem and impose a certain thinking on your inner-being. It is very easy to succumb to this, heck, you’ve been doing that for most of your life. Working harder, with tonnes of willpower but seeing no end in sight.

Working harder is not the answer.

Just like the person in the gym trying so hard to put on muscle and spur on growth but to no avail. On the surface, working harder seems like the less risky and smarter option to achieving a certain goal.

Not so. Imagination is key.

From my observations of and deductions made from the many individuals who have successfully completed any one of my programs, those that adopted the use of their imagination more, tended to achieve the results they desired.

I encouraged them to visualize the end result very vividly and to also imagine the emotional gratification (how they would feel) of the freedom state of being they had wanted. Sometimes, it is very important to resist the urge to thinking logically.

Sometimes, what is needed to get the job done is not more willpower or more effort. No, sometimes, what is needed is more profound than that: SIMPLICITY. Simplicity through IMAGINATION. If there is one thing you would want to work hard at when you hit a road-block or plateau, I suggest you work harder on your imagination.

Stop. Take stock. Rest.

Imagine more by dreaming more. Become a kid again. But when you dream, dream big. There is magic in thinking big. Feel the end-result you’re seeking. Visualize and try to simulate the emotions you would feel when you achieve the goal. Don’t be blind to the power that rests in you.

See “what can be”. Not just ‘what is’. This way of thinking contributed significantly towards me representing Australia at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in NY, USA and ranked in the Top 5 in two consecutive years. The power of imagination at work.

People who go through my programs remind themselves in their journey towards their BEST, that ‘you’re better than you think you are’. They learn to stretch their vision.

From the many people I have helped over the years, I have learned many things. One thing I have learned in the successes and failures is that the result a person achieves is dependent on belief and capacity. It boils down to this:

“How much you can do depends on how much you think you can do”.

When you believe you can do more and dream big, your mind shows you the way. From my observations of people over the last 23 years in the gym and the little miracles I witness almost every single day, I have no doubt that capacity is a ‘state of mind’.

So, BELIEVE. Dream better, see ‘what can be’. Dream big. Use your imagination. Practise. You’ll find a way, this way. You don’t need more will-power to find a way. You have tonnes of that already if you’ve lived this far.

Be the BEST you can be in your mind – for you, first. Then, for others.

Achievement follows.

Until next time,

Paul V1

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action, awareness, Goals

The inspiration in YOU.

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It has only been a few hours in to the New Year’s first day and I have just woken up. I sit here in my bed typing this blog.

My kids have woken up, got their dose of holiday chocolates from me and are watching their favourite morning cartoon tv. My wife is reading articles on her tablet.

A typical day in the Valentine household in this phase of our life.

We witnessed a fantastic New Year’s Eve fireworks display on Sydney’s Harbour bridge and surrounding areas at 9pm last night. Our children loved it. My son asked to be lifted on to my shoulders on our 3 minute walk home and fell asleep by the time we returned. What a day and night it was for both of them. Stimulated on all their senses to the nth degree.

The day before, I met an old University mate at a local tavern for a few drinks and catch up as we watched Australia play test cricket on the big screen. The venue was packed. You didn’t have to strain very hard to overhear other patrons’ conversations. There were all sorts of topics – relationships, politics, the state of the economy, the state of the world and personal affairs and so on. One particular conversation struck me for the briefest of moments and it went something like this:

“Where did the year go aye mate?” I heard the person sitting in the table to the left of me say.

“I don’t know, just been so busy” came a reply.

“Yep, very busy for me too” confirmed the first speaker.

Got me thinking.

Got me thinking about time and moments and the insatiable desire to ‘rush’ through life.

As I reflect on that piece of conversation and the year that has been I ask myself questions about the speeded up, frentic culture that most of us live in our modern world and the best use of our time, of our 86,400 seconds of each day.

Most of us talk about being ‘busy’ like it was an Olympic sport. Everyone seems to be going through their day and subsequently, their year ‘busier’ than everyone else they know. So much so, that if they weren’t doing something productive, wise or useful, they would experience a sense of panic.

Have you sensed that panic?

Whilst I can understand the desire to be busy, or at least looking busy (most office workers would know this especially if there is an ‘open plan office layout’), I argue that going at ‘full throttle’ all day, every day, may not be the best use of your time.

It is important to slow down and take stock.

Maybe, just maybe you should consider just for a moment, the best use of your time at this time of the year is to do absolutely nothing instead of being ‘busy’ or looking busy to get the most out of your 2015. Yes, that’s right – do absolutely nothing before you start working on your New Year’s goals and resolutions for 2015. I am sure you and most people you know aim to or are working through goal-setting for the year already.

Sometimes, when you slow down and pause or stop for a little while, you increase your sense of awareness. This increased awareness taps in to the wisdom that is in each and every one of us and reveals answers to the questions you need answers to.

You need to be a little patient. It is worth the wait.

However, this takes a bit of courage as you need to exercise a bit of humility to admit that “you don’t know the answer” to everything and in particular, that ‘you don’t know what to do with the moment you’re in”. This takes a bit of practise. It is not as easy as it sounds.

When your subconscious mind accepts that it does not know all the answers, it sets forth a series of steps that allows this inner wisdom, this inner voice inside of you to spring forth. You just need to do one thing –

You need to quiet the mind.

By quietening the mind, you give yourself the best chance to allow that voice, that source of inspiration in you to reveal itself to you. You don’t need to wait to be inspired by people who climb Mount Everest or complete marathons. You don’t need to wait to be inspired by survivors of cancers or other killers of our time – God bless them. No, you don’t need to wait to be inspired by your teachers, your spouse, your partner or your coach. No. You don’t need to wait to get inspiration from quotes thrown about on various social media sites.

No. You just need to learn to be a little bit more patient, slow down and pause. Pause long enough to allow you to quiet the mind.

And listen.

Allow the inspiration in you to spring forth. It may take a few minutes but sometimes it may take a little longer. Be patient.

Doing absolutely nothing, not being busy, may just allow you to tap in to the inspiration – the wisdom that is in you and every one of us. This may just be the very thing that you need to help you to springboard you towards achieving your goals and New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 and beyond.

You may surprise yourself with the wealth of wisdom and the inspiration in you.

All the best!

 

Until next time,

Side chest.

Side chest.

Paul V2 (1)

 

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