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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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Save the fathers of tomorrow.

My son and I. Provide the best blueprint you can of what it means to be a man. He needs you now more than ever. Save him now so that tomorrow's world will be saved too. Vv.

My son and I.
Provide the best blueprint you can of what it means to be a man.
He needs you now more than ever.
Save him now so that tomorrow’s world will be saved too.
Vv.

Boys, young boys need saving.

They are saved by giving them a role model to follow.

When boys have a clear role model they intuitively know how to function when they assume the responsibility of marriage and parenting later on in life.

In my years in the gym and also owning a gym for about seven years, I have seen the effects of young boys who do not have male role models. They seem crippled and have no idea what it is to be a man.

All young boys have a hunger for that – for that role model of what it means to be a man. I have seen it in their eyes, their actions and their passion, their being.

I believe, one of my God-appointed tasks is to ensure that my son will be ready to lead a family, a family of his own when his time comes. To do this, I feel it is my role to equip him with the skills to do so. Why? Because, he, along with the many other young boys of today will be the fathers of tomorrow.

A good foundation of all young boys is to firstly know who they are and what they are. Two key questions. This is enhanced through increased awareness of self, which is ideally, facilitated by the dad.

Young boys then need to observe their role model in action. For my son, this is where I come in (and where all dads play their part with their son). This is when these young minds crystallize what it means to be a man.

This is when the ‘ball is in my court …. And in your court’, if you’re a father to a son or sons right now. This is where the wires of his brain is wired together to form the foundation of his future self.

It is our job to save our boys – the fathers of today to …. save the fathers of tomorrow! It is not the boy’s school’s job or extended family’s job. It is not society’s job and it is not the government’s role. This is not a job to be outsourced to other ‘so-called coaching disciplines’ like the countless activities coaches around today.

No, this is the job of today’s fathers. Period!

This is the role for you (if you are a father), for me. This is a job for what I refer to as today’s silent heroes. Real men, real fathers who are there for their son(s) through thick and thin, that play their role without fanfare or applause.

No, I am not referring to the heroic men who are idealised in the media – the men who go off to war, the men who climb the highest mountains, the men who win Olympic medals nor the men who run the largest of corporations, nor men who travel to other planets. They are good examples of men indeed.

No, I am simply referring to the real role models – dads like you and me. I see us dads who take this role with both hands as no different to those more common exhaulted heroes that make for good stories and tv ratings.

I see dads who strive to be their son’s role models just like heroes like those men who go off to war or represent their countries at the Olympic Games or the like. They are dads who give up their own selfish-bachelor ideals and career-hungry goals to be there for their son(s).

I see dads and fathers who take their role’s full responsibility as today’s silent heroes.

I am talking about the real fathers of today. Fathers who are simply there for their sons. Always. Fathers who provide the support and the impetus and template for the young boys today to be the men, the fathers’ of tomorrow.

The critical question is how are we going to do this, how are we supposed to give them sufficient, appropriate and relevant training to be the man they need to be? The man we hope them to be.

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

I have 5.5 goals for saving by boy. It is my job as his father to model for him the importance of:

  • Knowing and obeying Jesus Christ
  • Knowing and simplifying Godly character
  • Knowing and loving my wife
  • Knowing and loving my children, and
  • Knowing my gifts and strengths and the weaknesses and contribute to the lives of others and have fun doing all of this as well.

I have listed 5.5 as the list is not exhaustive and you could add to the list other goals of what you think means to be a man and a role model. That is totally fine. Every man is unique, yes, but I also believe, every man has more in common with one another than we care to admit and accept.

The important thing is for us to focus our attention on being the best we can be, for ourselves, first, so that our son(s) can get the best of us. This to me will increase the chances that more fathers of tomorrow will be saved.

For their sake, for their future families’ sake, for society’s sake and for the world’s sake, today’s boys need the best role models they can copy from.

Be the best man you can be. Be the best father you can be. For you, and for your future father(s).

The fathers of tomorrow need saving. I believe this so. They need saving before it is too late.

The fathers of tomorrow will only be saved if today’s fathers stand up, stand tall and deliver and lead by example – the example that will provide the best blueprint of what a male role model needs to be…. For their sons(s). Sons that will be leaders of tomorrow.

As you know, the focus for you and me is to strive towards being more of –

A Real Man. A Real Dad. A Real Father.

We are many, we are authentic. We are today’s silent heroes. Continue doing the good work and save the fathers of tomorrow.

Be the hero that you know you are!

 

Until next time,

Be the best role model you can be for you son - a father of tomorrow. Vv.

Be the best role model you can be for your son – a father of tomorrow.
Vv.

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Torn between two hands.

My beautiful wife of almost 12 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

My beautiful wife and co-captain in life of over 15 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

I love life.

Being an avid student of life, I think a lot about life and it’s definitions and prevailing beliefs and belief systems, on all levels.

I think every individual should have a continuously questioning curiosity to everything in life, which includes their existing beliefs and values and everything else. A questioning attitude just like scientists have had and use in their reasoning.

I ask again what it means to be a man?

I’ll say it again, it can be difficult to be a man in today’s world. I believe he is torn between two hands. Let me elaborate. You see, every man – every male strives to meet his basic psychological needs.

“And what are these?” I hear you say.

Well, firstly, I believe it is simply to know and be known. If we keep it simple, in addition to this, every man needs to love and be loved.

He also needs other very important psychological needs. By “other”, I believe men need deep caring relationships with other men. If I recall correctly, I think it was one of the disciples (James I think) who said christians should be encouraged to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other … or somewhere along these lines.

What does this mean for us?

Well, I believe it means that every man should have another man who would have their back. What this boils down to is that a man who does not have at least one other man to whom he can be accountable regarding his failures, hurts and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger.

You witness evidence of this erupting in almost all areas of our society – in families, in schools, in workplaces, in communities, in countries and between nations.

The angry man in our society is caught between an unrealistic ideal brain-washed in to him by previous generations. That is all they knew. They knew no better.

Today’s men strive to live up to this “unrealistic mythical masculinity ideal or stereotype” on the one hand and true masculinity on the other.

He feels the pressure to –

  • Achieve
  • Earn
  • Conquer
  • Win

And in a lot of cases, do all these things on his own. Do it at all costs. Costs to his health, his relationships, his family, his community of friends.

… just to live up to these unrealistic expectations society places on him of outdated stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘real man’. But every man has a vulnerable side. Every man is a Mr Vulnerable too where he also feels the need to love and to nurture those he loves and be loved and nurtured by those who loves him.

But this is an impossible ideal. An impossible dream. As he, today’s Real Man futilely attempts to reconcile the two in his own life. He is torn between being invincible and vulnerable, aloof and involved, self-serving and sharing.

He is torn between two hands.

The roots of this conflict send up numerous shoots of anger-producing tendencies in his life.

Anger tendencies that can be dangerous for the man, the people around him, the community he lives in and the nation as a whole.

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

Men should not be made to feel ‘torn between two hands’. Men should not be made to be torn between these two ideals. Men should not feel they should travel alone. Men should also welcome the vulnerable side of him. Men should accept that sharing this responsibility is one of the best ways to move forward in the direction of a new definition of what it means to be a Real Man in today’s world.

It is not fair on the man and not fair on those he loves. I feel very blessed that the woman who chose me to spend the rest of her life with allows me to be vulnerable. It is “Mother’s Day” today and she is the most amazing woman I have ever met in my life so far. My children are very blessed to have her as their mother. She is my co-captain on our ship through the sea of life.

For the women reading this, please try and listen to your man, really listen. Listen with your two ears, your body, your spirit and your heart. Help him be Mr Vulnerable too, if you’re not already doing so.

And for the man, embrace your Mr Vulnerable. It does not make you less of a man. I believe it makes you more of what it means to be a Real Man. Today’s definition of a modern-day Real Man, what true masculinity really is.

It is one of the most important gifts you can give the little men (our sons) of the future. The young men we entrust to lead and make decisions when we are old and grey and when we are gone and forgotten.

Do it for the future of Man-kind.

 

Until next time,

My daughter and I. I cherish every moment I have with her. She allows me to be Mr Vulnerable too. Vv.

My daughter and I.
I cherish every moment I have with her.
She sees a healthy dose of masculinity in me and Mr Vulnerable too.
Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable. Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable.
Vv.

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Resolve.

Assisting Phil achieve something he desores and cares about. Vv.

Assisting Phil achieve something he desires and cares about.
Vv.

What do you think about most of the time? Every day.

What is your answer to this question? The great motivational thinker and speaker – Earl Nightingale said that –

“we become what we think about most of the time.”

What do you think, is there an element of truth in that statement? Well, what do you think about, most of the time?

If you don’t have an answer to that question, that’s ok, it probably changes every day. What’s important is not that you have an answer, no, what’s important is that you RESOLVE to desire and seek solutions by asking the right questions.

What is important as far as your success is concerned is that you have the desire to want change for the better. To resolve is the first step towards the successful achievement of any worthwhile goal.

You need insatiable desire to win and genuinely be unsatisfied with the status quo. You need to have courage to keep those desires burning and keep fanning those flames, despite the many failures you have had in the past. You need to keep thinking those thoughts that will get you there, every step of the way. This applies to all areas of life.

Your desire, your window to your soul should yell out to the world that you want something special for you – in spite of your past failures. In spite of your blood line or home life. You simply need the desire to win! Better still, if you could … travel into the future, what would your legacy look like? The quality of life in your family tree for generations to come will hinge on the choices you make with your family today.

This is why I have always believed that one man/woman can make a difference. A difference that will be magnified over time.

Striving towards the best version of you is a very worthwhile goal. Desire. Seek. Get. Vv.

Striving towards the best version of you is a very worthwhile goal.
Desire. Seek. Get.
Vv.

I hate to use the word ‘motivation’ because it is one of the most mis-used terms in the modern language. It is over-franchised, exaggerated, over-promoted and greatly mis-understood. People have asked me countless times over the years how I motivate people that I help.

I usually reply by saying that I don’t do that – that I don’t motivate people. The motivation comes from with each person. I just provide a vehicle (my unique framework to body re-engineering) to help them achieve their goals more efficiently, effectively and safely.

You see, everything you do (which stem from the thoughts you have), everything we all do, whether positive or negative, intentional or unintentional is the direct result of motivation. So, you need to be careful what you think, every day.

Motivation comes from ‘within’. It is a force, a burst of energy that moves us to action and is not external, it springs from inside you.

You need to summon great motivation to keep on your path, despite past failures, doubts and naysayers. Remember, history is littered with many greats that turned past failures in to successes, for example, the great Winston Churchill was a very poor student but look at what a great leader and speaker of men he became.

Psychology tells us that you can only really be motivated by two things:

  • Desire
  • Fear

They are poles apart. The first is positive and the second is negative and lead to opposite destinies as fear looks at life through the prism of the past and desire looks to the future.

Viewing life through the lens of desire, you are less likely to look at risks as restrictive. You will see risk as opportunity and will not fear the penalty of failure. This is because your dominant thought, the thoughts you think about mostly, is to be better and you desire better.

To win.

I’ve always believed fear should never be used as a reason for quitting; it is only an excuse! Most importantly, from my experience and from my observations of other people’s experiences, you should never be afraid, to be afraid.

Experience the emotion (being afraid), summon the courage and do what you are supposed to do anyway, that will help you realise your desire, your goal.

Another thing I have learned is that if you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. The opportunity may slip from under your nose – seize it while you can. Mountains may never be climbed, seas un-chartered nor happiness ever achieved if you waited for everything to be ‘just right’.

Ultimately, when the going gets tough…. The tough gets going as the saying goes. Never quit on life but most importantly, challenge yourself and strive to ‘win over yourself’ when the going gets tough. Like I sometimes remind my clients – “when it gets harder, you get tougher!”

Side Triceps.

Side Triceps.

Please don’t confuse what I am talking about with the seemingly insatiable desire in many parts of modern society that seem to associate drive, motivation and initiative only with materialism and materialistic power and gain. No, far from it.

What I am talking about is simply ‘personal achievement’ and the honest pursuit of individual excellence. This desire comes with the help from above, from God. My family includes in our daily prayer, the request to God to help us, help ourselves be the best we can individually be – for ourselves, first, and then for everyone else.

Putting aside any thought of material gain for a second, there is a certain pure personal pleasure that only comes with achieving the difficult. To do this, history has shown us that all winners have a very high level of motivation. Just like any other skill, this is something that can be learned and made in to habit, with effort.

So, eliminate doubt. Success is not reserved only for the talented. Talent is over-rated. Don’t think success is only reserved for those with high I.Q or for the rich and famous. It is not even in the best equipment, not even in ability.

Ultimately, success comes down to you and your thoughts and what you think about every day. You become what you think about mostly, as Earl Nightingale said many, many years ago.

You have one life and you have one important choice – to build your life around desire rather than fear. So, choose well, my friend. Like I alluded to earlier, out of desire comes the most important driver and that is ‘energy’. This to me, is part of my overall philosophy of life and that is Life is about energy management. The extra energy to make an extra effort, to ‘go the extra mile’ is a vital key to success.

It is through the increased energy for your desire that you keep the drive and motivation, focus and persistence. It is through the extra energy that you develop ‘grit’.

You find that energy by looking within with God’s help or your spiritual side, not without.

So, there is no time to waste, make haste and make big plans, not little ones. There is magic in your thinking. In particular, there is magic in thinking big.

From me to you – Mr/Ms/Mrs Big, RESOLVE to re-align your daily thoughts towards your desires, not fears and ….. THINK BIG!

All the best in your journey through your life.

Until next time,

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

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Dreaming big and thinking big helped me twice represent Australia against the best natural bodybuilders in the world at that time.
Side Chest pose.
Placing: 4th.

back double biceps In the thick of competition. Placing: 2nd Asia-Pacific Championships.

back double biceps
In the thick of competition.
Placing: 2nd Asia-Pacific Championships.

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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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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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12.5 of Life’s Living Tips to live by.

 

Checking for tracks on the ground for past visitors?

Love life and life will love you back.

That wide?

Life Tips – too many to count – that wide.

I am sure by this stage in your life you have come across many health tips and are practising some and have not even considered others for whatever reason.

There is certainly no magic formula to optimum health and fitness but you can make your life a little more liveable by doing a few things a little better.

What you are today is to some extent the cumulative compound effect of the habits you have decided to make a part of your life. Wonderful, I hope.

I have listed some health and hygiene habits I practise daily and I would like to share them with you. These are only 12.5 tips. I have found these tips to be both true and effective in cultivating outstanding health and fitness habits.

Habits that have added to my life and I am certain will positively add to your life rather than subtract.

Have a read and see if you think it beneficial to your life. It has been to mine so far:

  1. Drink water first thing upon waking with a hint of citrus:
    1. Try drinking a glass of water (250 ml) upon waking in the morning. If you can, try squeezing in some lemon and a drop of honey.
    2. Drink 1 litre of water per 25 kg of bodyweight. So, a 75 kg person should be drinking a minimum of 3 L of water daily.
  1. Brush your teeth after every meal:
    1. If you can, brush once after every meal and once before going to sleep at night. I eat at least 6 times per day and I brush at least 4 times per day.
  1. Eat a balanced diet:
    1. Concentrate on a diet of good wholesome food.
    2. Try to do without white-based flour products and sugar.
  1. Chew well:
    1. Digestion starts in your mouth as you’re well aware.
    2. Make it a little easy on your stomach muscles and digestive juices by chewing your food well. Take your time and enjoy the essence of each food you consume.
    3. Try not to talk too much while you’re eating and focus on your food more. You should remember that it is not only important to consider quantity and quality of source of your food. You should also ask yourself how well your body is absorbing and assimilating all the food you’re eating.
    4. Liken your digestive system to that of a factory. Have you asked yourself how much ‘wastage’ your digestive factory is incurring? How much of the input (food) you’re taking in is actually being used for and by your body? How efficient and effective is your digestive system? Well, you can reduce your ‘wastage’ significantly by simply chewing well or better than you are currently doing.
  1. Apply good moisturiser to your skin after you shower at night:
    1. Aim to use a moisturiser that has Vitamin E and soborlene for improve health and elasticity of your skin.
    2. Stay away from other combinations.
  1. Get enough fresh air and direct sunlight every day:
    1. The health and vitality of you and your body (and mind) needs the sun’s rays. Even if you’re very, very busy at work try and take at least 20 minutes out to get some fresh air and sunlight.
    2. Be sure to use a good sunblock too (if you’re fair skinned).
    3. For people living in countries with very little sun, it is vital for your vitamin D production, the presence of which is necessary for your immunity against common ailments in addition to other benefits.
  1. Do your plumbing (#2s) in the morning:
    1. Try and get in to the habit of ‘sitting on your throne” and excreting your waste in the morning before work or your work out.
    2. My children and I refer to this activity as the ‘boom-boom’! Call it what you will, train your body to do its plumbing first thing in the morning.
  1. Keep your mind calm and have a positive attitude:
    1. At all times, everyday.
    2. Strive to never lose control in all areas of your life.
  1. Make your exercise sessions a pleasure not a burden:
    1. Use the hour in the gym as your ‘meditation hour’
    2. Your time to work on your internal muscle and external muscles
  1. Train at least three times per week:
    1. Weight training in the gym is a must. The benefits to you is a no-brainer!
    2. Follow your weights session with 20 to 30 minutes cardio of ‘power-walking’ ( I will elaborate in a future blog about how I do this and why I think this is one of the best forms of cardio you can do now and in to your old age) on a treadmill or outside.  
  1. Get adequate rest daily:
    1. Make sure you get sufficient sleep every day

12.5 Keep good posture:

  1. At all times – when seated and standing.

There are many more of “Life’s lessons” to live by hence the “12.5” (not exhaustive in any way) tips but these are some simple ones that come to my mind as I write this and could add a little more life in to your years. It could add more vitality to you. Take it as a reminder, a catalyst or whichever way you want.

One of my goals is just to make you more ‘aware’. The rest (action and adaptation) is up to you.

More vitality … better energy … better opportunities …. Better life to you.

 

Until next time,

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

An old school pose.

An old school pose.

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