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Exercise builds your brain power

The Brain 🧠.
The mind.
I AM.
Use this most complex tool ever created to become a better medium of communication to …. the universe, to infinite intelligence … to consciousness.
Listen to and change your body to listen to and change your brain towards balance & symmetry. A key to happiness.

To learn is to Grow

Given the fact that the body and the brain are intricately connected, why not take good care of both, I say.

I have seen amazing changes in a person’s mental health over the almost thirty years in and around gyms that I have helped people, help themselves, infuse themselves with Vitality – the ‘essence of life .

The positive changes that they have been made to their bodies, within a strategy tailor-designed for each individual, adopting my unique framework to body/mind re-engineering. As the muscles grow and the bodyfat disappears and the body shape changes towards more balance and symmetry, you see a definite change in mind-set.

A big part of the transformation process is increasing the awareness – internally and externally of the willing participant. He or she is being operated on, on the body which in effect, operates on the brain and mind, continuously ‘listening to the body’ and learning more and more about the body.

Know you.

To learn is to grow.

We do this by using the tools in my lab (the gym) – such as resistance training/weights; cardio machines and nutrition changes have caused positive, noticeable changes in their mind-set and mental health.

So, get educated (either on your own or find a suitably qualified and experienced exercise specialist/trainer) and go have your workouts… and build muscle. Your quality of life depends on this.

Champions practise a lot of visualisation and simulation.
To create magic, you need to fuse the worlds of sanity (where you are) with insanity (where you dream/imagine you are, before you are).
That is difficult.
That is one of the key keys.
Don’t stop. Trying. Believing.
Keep on … keeping on. You’ll get there. Everyone always does.
Especially, if you do it with your heart. and ….
with LOVE.

Multiple feedback loops

So, exercise and train with weights and manipulate your nutrition and continuously ‘listen’ and take notice of the multiple feedback loops your body is communicating back to you. Then, assess and respond with sufficient and appropriate actions in a timely basis. Most importantly, you have to adapt as your body (and mind) adapts and changes.

Become the best Change Agent you can be.

Learning to “listen to my body” and use the “instinctive approach “ to SMARTER training allowed me to get down to 4.2% body fat and retain maximum muscle mass – NATURALLY. Ok, I did use black coffee ☕️ (not a band ‘ illegal substance).

i became a master at reading my body’s multiple feedback loops. Essentially, understanding “me” better.

So, that should be one of your goals too – understand YOU better.

What science now knows is that the brain is flexible or plastic – more like play-doh than plasticine. Remember this: it is an adaptable organ that can be molded by input in much the same way as muscle can be sculpted by lifting barbells and dumbells.

Basically, the more you use it, the stronger and more flexible it becomes.

True?
Neuroscience is still at the level of where medicine was in the 1700s
A long way to fully understand who we are….
Who “I AM.

It’s all about communication

Everything you do and think and feel is governed by how your brain cells, your neurons, connect to one another.

You see, your brain is constantly being re-wired and it’s all about communication and how effective and efficient the communication channels are and the key messengers in all this communication are neurotransmitters that transport chemically and electrically, hormones that controls everything you do.

Exercise is the best drug you can give yourself – your body, mind and spirit. A good workout or a good run fuels your body like a drug like Prozac or Ritalin can boost you and your moods.

This is because exercise, like drugs, lifts these neurotransmitters.

Responsible for transmission of critical electrical, chemical & hormonal messages -internal communication

Balance is Key – a balanced brain is a healthy brain and a healthy brain is a happy brain

Exercise, in particular, weight-training, BALANCES these neurotransmitters that can easily lose balance and tilt your moods one way or the other. Balance is key – Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norephinepherine, which if unbalanced over time under unbalanced conditions, causes all kinds of problems.

All kinds of physical problems but also contribute to different levels of anxiety, depression and is even linked to dementia and parkinsons.

Life Tip 101(c) : Keeping your brain in balance can literally change your life, because amongst other things, a balanced brain is a healthy brain and a healthy brain is a happy brain.

Lift weights and exercise to help you, help yourself, create more balance and symmetry in your physique and what you see in the mirror looking back at you. And you need to strive for balance and symmetry in your workouts when you’re in the gym. Your body is the physical manifestation of the extent of balance happening within –

Balancing your neurotransmitters puts you more in control of your body, mind and spirt and move you more towards happiness

… to ultimately,

balance YOU!

… and balance

Your life.

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

Remember: More balance => (leads to) more happiness.

More balance and symmetry in body-shape and physique also brings your more closer to our search for beauty, for truth. We all love to appreciate beauty but not everyone can CREATE beauty. I have found that this is a beautiful way to create your BEAUTY, through balance and symmetry – WITHIN, using weights and feedback from the mirror.

Ultimately, I believe (as I have witnessed in all I have helped in over thirty years of transforming peoples’ bodies), Balance and symmetry (beauty) INTERNALLY leads to balance and symmetry EXTERNALLY – a more balanced life.

This also allows you to discover your truth.

A more happy life, because of a more balanced and more happier brain.

All the very best in your daily choices.

Your destiny hinges on the little things your do every day (there is power in habit) and all these actions depend on the desire (heart) to do so.

Choose well,

Cheers & ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate … & training your body/heart  … to train and balance your mind.

Your body is the physical manifestation of your mind.
Your brain is the ‘google map’ of your body.
Your brain and body is intricately connected – via electrical and chemical signals called neurotransmitters, striving to create balance WITHIN.
As we don’t have the capability of operating on our brain physically at the moment, the next best way to do so is (indirectly), by operating on your body.
You do this by changing your inputs and providing training, nutrition and rest stimulus.
And strive for ‘balance & symmetry’ in physique, which creates balance & symmetry in the brain.
Balanced and symmetrical brain = happy brain = happy life.
Your beauty.

Achieving a well-balanced physique should be understood for what it is: a masterful fusion of art and science.
One should improve once’s “BODY Smart”knowledge. this takes time and deliberate practise.
Top 5 in the world, two years in a row at a sport I love ain’t too shaby for an city boy from the beautiful paradise islands of Fiji
If YOU think you can and you BELIEVE YOU CAN … YOU CAN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seems that everyone is suddenly an expert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common denominator: they build muscle!

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

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

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

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

Not smart. Not sustainable.

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

It is as simple as that!

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

So, don’t think. Do!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live, really live.

Until next time,

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

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

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3 important fundamentals to consider when you lift weights.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder. Plan the work - to work the plan. Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby - Phil Waugh.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby – Phil Waugh.

The Rugby World Cup is kicking off in a few days-time with the hosts (England) going up against Pacific Island Rugby Powerhouse Nation, Fiji in the opening match. Wow, what a game that will be. I’m looking forward to watching it.

The Australian Wallabies are hoping they can repeat history and win the title for the third time but they also have to contend with the other countries’ title aspirations too.

One thing is certain, all the coaches of these national rugby teams have tried their very best to simulate the conditions of the games in the World Cup in their training methods. Some coaches and players have been lucky enough to be a part of previous World Cups and some very lucky ones have also experienced what it is like to win.

However, no preparation can prepare you fully for the real thing. The pressure can be quite overwhelming for everyone involved. Some people excel and some crumble (I witnessed this in the two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships I took part in). I’m sure every rugby player clearly understands his responsibilities to himself and then to his team. But knowing your goals is one thing, understanding the terrain and types of conditions you have to go through (and still perform as you planned) is another.

This is where experience counts.

Body-building is no different with the approach (no matter what level you’re at): before you can begin a journey of any kind, it is critical that you understand the terrain. This journey can be likened to one of self-discovery, of increased awareness.

In the journey, you will learn the limitations of your own body (no matter what level you are at in your health and fitness). The players in the World Cup will also learn of their limitations and capabilities in the games they face.

In my experience in helping people over the last two decades, no two people are exactly the same. Believe me when I say that no two bodies are exactly the same.

No two.

With this said, let me highlight 3 of the fundamentals of training you should consider:

Helping Chris close the gap between how he imagines himself to be and what he sees in the mirror. Or in other words: Manifesting the 'unfolding universe' of his 'enfolded' invisible universe (what he imagines/dreams) Vv

Helping Chris close the gap between how he imagines himself to be and what he sees in the mirror.
Or in other words: Manifesting the ‘unfolding universe’ of his ‘enfolded’ invisible universe (what he imagines/dreams)
Vv

To breathe and to breathe properly.

We need oxygen to stay alive. We are all acutely aware of this.

However, how many of us pay close attention to how well we breathe? I have found over the years that many people know a little bit of something but most people don’t do it well. I always tell my students to ask themselves the question: How well am I doing this?

This could apply to everything in life. For example, most people who go to the gym have some idea of how to do a bicep curl with dumbells. Most of these same people don’t ask themselves how well are they doing the exercise. So, a lot of people can be doing it a certain way for years and doing it wrong for all that time.

It’s the same for something as simple as breathing – are you breathing well? Ask yourself the question – “how well am I breathing?” Deep breathing should be part of every person’s daily life from the moment you wake up in the morning. We need to try and flush our lungs with as much oxygen as we can when we are not exercising too.

Understanding how to breathe properly while executing weight-bearing exercises is very important. You put yourself at high risk of injury if you breathe incorrectly. Few people take the time to breathe deeply during the course of the day. The importance of this practise to the quality of your life over time should not be underestimated.

You need to ‘know’ your breathing and understand how to control it – to control its rhythms.

We all know that oxygen is vital to life, it powers your engine room – your metabolism throughout the day. It is pumped via blood to the trillions of cells throughout the human body, taking with it nutrients and the essence of life.

Breathing, proper breathing, breathes more life, more energy in to yourself – your being and is critical to the creation of new muscle.

The philosophy you follow heavily influences whether you achieve your goals in life or not.

The philosophy you follow heavily influences whether you achieve your goals in life or not.

Frequency of training

A critical question before setting out on a journey is knowing clearly what it is that you would like to achieve, similar to what results would you like to achieve in the gym? Another question most aspiring body-builders ask themselves is the age-old question of how much should you train to get the result you’re looking for?

I was asked this question by a student of mine recently and I told him that three days a week is sufficient. Does that surprise you? Well, it shouldn’t if you know what you’re doing and you train with efficiency and effectiveness in mind within a plausible, well-tested philosophy.

I’ve seen it many times before over the last two decades in the gym where men (and women) believe that they need to train five or six days per week to get stronger or increase size. Well, I have one thing to say about that – you don’t need to!

Training six or seven days a week will not triple your strength or double your size. You’ve got to understand another critical thing – muscle grows and your body recovers and repairs itself when you rest. Weight training more than three times a week is simply over-training depending on your experience and age.

Your body and in particular, your muscle tissue is broken down when you train and rebuilds itself when you are at rest. The body is forced to adapt to the stimulus you provide through training and it is in the process of adaptation that the muscle grows. Not before.

Instead of building lean muscle mass and moving towards their desired physical look, most people lifting weights (body-builders) are usually over-trained and even people who have been doing it for a long time are unaware that they are actually losing hard-earned muscle.

Knowing and scheduling in rest days in-between your training days is a key fundamental principle to consider and apply appropriately.

Practise does not make perfect - perfect practise makes perfect. Vv

Practise does not make perfect – perfect practise makes perfect.
Vv

Training ‘split’ or weekly training routine

The ideal ‘split’ for people is a Monday, Wednesday and Friday sessions and from experience, the majority of people like this split. The other good alternative is Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday schedule.

Find one that works for you and stick to it. Having enough sense to stick with something, anything – a chore, a task or a workout training routine – until its completed, pays off.

Remember ‘stickability’ is 95 percent of ability.

Keep these fundamentals in mind if and when you decide to make the journey of self-discovery with weight-training.

All the best.

Until next time,

Abdominals/Thighs Pose at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in NY, USA. Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.

Abdominals/Thighs Pose at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in NY, USA.
Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.

I like this hat.

I like this hat.

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What do Sit-ups and Sex have in common?

Complementing Phil's weight-training session with a bit of light boxing in his body re-engineering program. Student achieving success in one of my programs: Retired former Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain. Champion Results from a Champion Attitude with a Champion Program.

Complementing Phil’s weight-training session with a bit of light boxing in his body re-engineering program.
Student achieving success in one of my programs: Retired former Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain – Phil Waugh.
Champion Results from a Champion Attitude with a Champion Program.

Well, what do you think?

Sweat … heat … smell ?

Before I tell you what they have in common after over 23 years performing them and helping hundreds of people perform it better, let me share with you a story of a member of a gym I used to own for seven years. Let’s call him Bruce.

Bruce had been a loyal member for close to 30 years. He was an intimidating but a very likeable, straight-to-the-point, anti-status quo, intolerant to ‘bs’ sort-of-a-guy.

My kind of guy – I liked him.

Now, I love observing behaviour and it didn’t take me long to see the repetitive nature and predictability of his workouts, which he religiously performed three times a week. He always did his abdominal sit-ups at the end of his workout and I noticed he did his two favourite exercises. They were:

  1. Roman-chair sit-ups (incline crunches off an incline bench)
  2. Crunches (off the floor)

One day, he was in the middle of his workout when he got a phone call. I then learned that he had a new girlfriend and he thought she was quite special. It was early in his relationship but he was already being pressured in to rushing his workouts.

She wanted him to spend less time in the gym. She thought that 3 times per week for 45 minutes at a time was too much time. He told me that she was always interrupting his workout when he was doing his abdominals.

I asked him how many repetitions he did for his abdominals, and I learned that he did about 400. I asked him how long he took and he said it could be anything between 10 and 15 minutes. It was a third of his workout time!

Too much if you asked me.

I thought it was quite excessive for the goals he was trying to achieve. I asked him to perform a number of repetitions. He was doing them but was not focusing on the technique. A lot of technique goes in to training every muscle group and the abdominal region is no different.

I asked him if he would like to learn an alternative approach. An approach that would reduce the number of repetitions to 30 which would mean he would spend less time in the gym, his new girlfriend would not be so irritated and he would spend more time with her.

He was hungry to learn my alternative approach.

Well, I told him that I did not ‘work’ my abdominals directly and don’t do anywhere near the number of repetitions he did but I had a ‘6-pack’ and he didn’t.

30 reps done properly. That's all you need to do in the gym

30 reps done properly. That’s all you need to do in the gym

If I was preparing for a body-building contest, I would maybe work them directly at least once per week in the last month leading up to the contest. Otherwise, they (the abs) get are indirectly worked every time I lift weights. It is the most worked muscle group in my body because of the way I approach every rep of every set of every exercise.

I don’t do anything near the number of repetitions that he was doing. 400 was excessive.

So, I told him to reduce the types of exercises he performed from 2 to 1. Let’s get you to remove the roman chair sit-ups”, I said. Let’s simplify things.

He was a little apprehensive but he accepted the change if it meant spending less time in the gym and because of his desire to spend more time with his new love was exemplary. I admired him for this.

I told him it wasn’t how much you do, it’s how you do it. An important key is the breathing technique during each repetition, something he was not aware of and was not practising.

My goal was to show him how he could do 30 ‘good’ sit-ups and not 400 and ‘feel’ the difference. He performed it as I directed and could not believe the intense feeling he was feeling only after ten repetitions.

He was convinced.

He couldn’t believe that he learned a more efficient, more effective way to work his abdominals after over 30 years of training them a certain way. That is why ‘practise does not make perfect as a person could be practising something all his life but practising it WRONG.

Instead, PERFECT PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!

Brings me to the one similarity that sit-ups have in common with sex: that it is QUALITY rather than QUANTITY that matters.

Just like Bruce, every person I have ever trained have been made aware of how to ‘work their abs’ with quality in mind. They all have felt the difference and have spent less time doing it and unnecessary repetitions. Less time, better results.

Be YOU. No one else can do better than you at being YOU.
Being the best you can be is probably the single most powerful thing you can do to improve the world.
Just find YOU and then …. improve you.
Sculpturing a better you with weights helps re-shape your physique but also your brain wiring.

A winning formula!

Now, most of you know how to ‘work’ your abs and muscles by now. Here are a few pointers for you when doing sit-ups:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Breathing correctly to maximize benefit is essential (breathe out at the point of contraction)
  • Lay on a flat surface (preferably on the floor) with your legs up and ankles crossed, with your hands behind your head.
  • Breathe out as you lift your head towards your knees
  • Go as far as you can, keeping your tummy tight (focusing on your exhale on the upward phase and inhaling as you return to the starting position).
  • Repeat 30 times.

It is very important that you don’t pull on your head as you come up, and you should keep your shoulders and back relaxed. Your hands are meant to be behind your head for support only.

An Efficient, Effective and Safer way towards a flatter, tighter, stronger mid-section. What more do you need!

Go ahead and make this change. See the difference.

One crunch – one rep at a time with quality, not quantity in mind. And remember, practise does not make perfect. Perfect practise makes perfect.

Just like sex.

Enjoy!

 

Until next time,

 

Cheers and Ahoy!!

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate … & his thoughts and words on similarity between working your abs and sex.

Each rep of every set of every exercise is an opportunity for a person to connect with the muscle group he or she intends to. The right mix of tempo, control, continuous tension and feel is critical. Executed properly, under an experienced eye, allows one to bridge the muscles with the mind. Practise does not make perfect. PERFECT PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!

Each rep of every set of every exercise is an opportunity for a person to connect with the muscle group he or she intends to.
The right mix of tempo, control, continuous tension and feel is critical.
Executed properly, under an experienced eye, allows one to bridge the muscles with the mind.
Practise does not make perfect. PERFECT PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT!

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot. You can see that I carry my ‘6 pack’ with me wherever I go. So, I don’t need to drink alcohol … I’m always drunk ha ha ha !

My claim: – The world’s BEST Energy & VITALITY Coaching Conversationalist –

 

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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,

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Drink ‘til you float.

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The title does not refer to what some of us did in our youth with beer and the various other types of alcohol. No, I am talking about: water, and consuming more of it.

As part of my effort to prove to you that eating well takes less time than you think, here is my 2nd tip in my series of blogs that will outline my Top Ten Tips.

TIP # 2: Drink a minimum of 3.0L water per day.

When you wake up, go to the toilet and relieve yourself first thing, drag yourself from the bathroom to the kitchen sink and pour 12 glasses of water (approximately 250ml per glass) in to a larger flask or water bottle. The water bottle should be able to hold 3.0L of liquid, in this case – water or H2O (for the chemistry inclined).

Approximate time needed to do this: 3 minutes or 180 seconds.

Can you take 180 seconds out of your ‘busy’ day to do this very important task? You bet you can! This is the 2nd Tip to “Tip-Top” shape and all it takes is 3 minutes.

So, back to my previous blog, when we add the 3 minutes to the time it took to do the first habitual tip (which was less than five minutes), you have an accumulated total of 8 minutes. Yep, eight minutes to invest to a more healthier – YOU.

What to do after you’ve filled the water bottle? Put it in the fridge to cool. Why? Because, you are going to take it with you to work and be ready to drink from it throughout the day until you finish it.

Why is this tip valuable to your body and worth your time investment?

Water makes up more than sixty percent of your body’s mass. It is vital to your health and vitality and without sufficient water intake, you could put your life at risk. If you didn’t know this, sometimes when your body tells you that it is hungry, a lot of times, it is actually asking you for more water. It is telling you, you are thirsty.

Why? Well, if you are not aware of this, the body does draw a lot of its water from the food you eat.

So, when you constantly sip water throughout your work day, in addition to its health benefits, you will feel fuller. And when you drink before, during and after every meal, it reduces your appetite, especially during the rest of your day.

There are many studies done on what the recommended daily amount of water an average person requires and generally, there is a consensus that a person should drink anywhere between 8 and 10 glasses (250ml) per day. Great!

The question I would like you to ask yourself is this: are you currently drinking that many? Be honest. I am certain that many (maybe you included) are not drinking anywhere near the recommended daily allowance.

If you’re staying physically active (and I am presuming most of you reading this are active), having a little bit more (12 glasses) is wiser, giving you a little buffer for the additional energy output you expand during exercising.

Most of you know that the moment you realize that you’re thirsty, it’s a little too late. The body, by that stage has already lost approximately 4-5% of its total water. Now, you should note that your energy output is heavily dictated by the amount of water or hydration level you have at any point in time. Losing just 1 percent of your body weight in water (approximately 1kg to 2kg) can decrease your overall energy output by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Now, that is a significant reduction in potential energy output. It will affect your vitality. You will notice this lack of energy in your training sessions. You can see that dehydration puts unnecessary stress on your body, on your organs. Your body goes hunting for water in other places – within the body itself. Where do you think it will find water? Yep, you guessed it – your kidneys, your stomach, colon and also, where you least want to lose it – your hard earned muscles.

All that muscle you have been working hard in the gym for months. Years, perhaps. Being catabolised. Not good. Not what you desire. You want to work hard to build muscle and then hang on to whatever muscle you have. Muscle is precious. Preserve it as best you can from it been cannibalized by its own body.

From a health point-of-view, your organs are put under unnecessary stress than it already has and does not work at its most effective and efficient selves. Your brain requires adequate water to allow you to focus and think at its optimum. A lack of water can also relate to recurring headaches and migraines. I have seen a reduction in these ailments over the years with my clients, the frequency and intensity of such drops.

From a muscle point-of-view, muscles that don’t have sufficient water will mean that your lifts in the gym due to a reduction in your strength levels. This would mean a less than your best effort which would translate in to less potential for muscle growth. No growth means no progress. No progress ultimately leads to an empty, unhappy feeling in your gut. This remains true not only for muscle but for almost all areas in our lives – not experiencing a step-by-step progression towards whatever goal you are working towards.

No progress – you get de-motivated. Progress – you feel motivated. The latter feeling is preferable, I believe.

We are all ‘goal-seeking’ animals, so make this 2nd Tip of my Top Ten Tips to a healthier you a part of your daily life. Take action and start making this habit a part of your life. Today. In a week, see how you feel.

There is power in habit.

It takes approximately 8 minutes of your day to carry out these two habits. Give your body, your life what it needs. Simply, because you’re worth it. The compound effect of making these two tips habit is contribution to a better quality of life in your future.

You’re now Aware. Apply Action. Adapt accordingly.

 

Until next time,

 

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So, what is “Light Weight” anyway?

Back Double Biceps - few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships Result: 2nd in Australia.

“Back Double Biceps” under the watchful eyes of my coach at that time (2 x Australian Champion, Mr John Daniels) – few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships
Result: 2nd in Australia. 

If you’re familiar with bodybuilding and bodybuilding history, there is a former Mr Olympia (one of only 13 men who have won the best-built body title in the world over the last 50 years), that made the phrase “Light Weight” part of gym lingo and folklore.

He was none other than Ronnie “The King” Coleman. An eight-time Mr Olympia, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger who won it seven times. Phenomenal achievement!

So, what he considered “Light Weight” would be someone else’s heavy (actually, it would be 99.9% of all gym goers definition of “extremely heavy”). This is what I am talking about here today.

I have heard many people ask the question “what weight should I use?” It really is a very individual thing. What may be less heavy for someone, may be too heavy for others. If you’re unsure of what weight to use, it may be wise to do a little “pre-exercise” planning.

Now, what I am going to explain below may be considered by many to be ‘quite obvious’  but for some, it may not be so. Here’s what I mean, for a beginner:

Steps before lifting weights –

  1. Start with the bare minimum, in terms of poundage (leave your ego at the door)
  2. Progressively increase weight with each set of the exercise
  3. Stop when you reach a poundage that allows you to strictly perform the exercise within the required number of repetitions.

For example, some of the basic gym tools:

Dumbells.

  1. Start with 1lb dumbbells and work you way up incrementally – either 1lb or 2lb increments
  2. Where the increments switch to 5lb increments, apply steps above accordingly.

Barbells.

  1. Start with just the bar (no weight added). A standard weight bar could weigh anywhere between 5kg and 9kg. An Olympic bar would weigh 20kg (~ 45lbs).
  2. Once the bar feels too light, start adding 2 ½ lb plates on both ends.
  3. Increase weight incrementally by 5 pounds.

Medicine balls.

  1. Start with the lightest (once again, leave your ego at the door). It may be 2 or 2.2lbs.
  2. Once you feel strong enough to move up, do so. Keep in mind, however, that medicine balls typically increase in 2-pound increments ( 6 to 6.6 lbs, 4 to 4.4 lbs etc).

So, there you go.

Figure out how much time of your 86,400 seconds each day you can devote to a work-out (hopefully a minimum of 3,600 seconds twice a week). Find a results-specific workout type you would like to put your body (and mind) through and then just do it!

Don’t be afraid of the gym. You don’t need a degree in exercise physiology. If you’ve ever resented anyone for their physique, you can stop now. I want to let you know that sometimes the bodies that have earned your exercise envy may not be more committed to working out than you are.

It’s just that they’re smarter when it comes to HOW they work out.

Now it’s your turn.

There is no secret to getting in great shape. It is not how much time you spend exercising (there is a bare minimum though for every goal) but it is taking the time to exercising properly. Executing each exercise in proper functional manner, continuously asking yourself the question –

How well am I doing this particular rep of this particular exercise?”.

Not knowing how to.

Not executing exercises with good form could be disastrous. One simple slip in form can transform a useful exercise into a useless one. The problem areas in your body are progressively neglected and you continuously stress and overwork muscles you would rather avoid or work less.

Don’t you sacrifice your ‘safety umbrella’. Sets you up for major postural problems in the future.

Remember, overworked and over-stressed muscles ( like shoulders for men ) lead to muscle imbalances which lead to (over time) – injuries. Injuries, yes. Some of which you cannot afford to have.

Seek help from a suitably qualified and experienced professional for guidance if you’re unsure.

Train safer. Train smarter.

You’ll enjoy the next 40 or so years in the gym, better.

 

Until next time,

 

Relaxed with dumbells.

Relaxed with dumbells.

 

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

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