a better life, action, adaptation, awareness, balance, beauty, Beliefs, better choices, body, Body shape, brain, change, Change Agent, change management, choices, creation, decisions, Energy, examined life, game of life, habits, happiness, hope, Imagination, life, listening, long-term perspective, love, mind-muscle connection, muscle building, muscles, needs, perspective, recreate, responsibility, self, self discipline, self improvement, shape, Strength training, symmetry, taking action, Team work, trust, workout, you, your life

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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abdominals, balance, Body shape, bodyweight, choices, diet, Energy, fat, shape, waist

How to get a 30” (77cm) WAIST.

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

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

Maybe.

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

Maybe.

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

Maybe.

Maybe not every man desires a massive back.

Maybe.

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

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

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

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

BLURP! Let it all hang out!

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

It is the same for a lot of men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Who can get abs?

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

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

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

 

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

Short answer: No, you don’t.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any time of day is ok.

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

What equipment would a beginner require?

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

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

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

That would depend on two things:

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

What diet will give me a 30” waist?

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

Admittedly, these are quite effective.

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

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

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

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

Learn patience.

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

Repeat.

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

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

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

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

Make that decision today.

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

Don’t just get fit, get a physique!

 

Ahoy until next time,

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

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

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authenticness, awareness, balance, basics of training, beauty, better choices, Body shape, choices, Energy, Goals, long-term perspective, mind-muscle connection, muscle building, muscles, risk, safe training, symmetry, synergy, time, training, Vitality, workout, workouts, you

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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a better life, adaptation, awareness, better choices, body, change management, diet, eating, Energy, fundamentals, habits, self, self improvement, truths, you, your life

Do you have a sweet tooth?

Keep it simple.

Keep it simple.

I have helped hundreds, even thousands of people re-engineer their bodies towards what they imagine themselves to be for over two decades now. I have learned many things about human beings.

One observation that stands out is that every individual is unique and what may work for someone, may not work for another. They journey with me through the various programs adopting my unique framework as I customize each program for each student.

Body re-engineering is about many things but I believe it is fundamentally about hormonal management. We are all hormonal creatures after all and I believe we are not ‘in control’ of ourselves as much as we think we are.

What do you think? Do you think you have full control over you? Can you hide your sadness when you’re sad? Can you resist laughing when you recognise the humour in something someone said? Can you resist food cravings when you start thinking about them?

Educating a top national sprinter of the importance of proper nutrition for recovery & optimal performance

Do you have a sweet tooth?

There are quite a few variables that directly affect how well you manage your hormones, in particular, the amount of insulin circulating in your blood. When you get better control of this, you move towards achieving metabolic control. And this is KEY. The quickest – and actually the only – way to achieve metabolic control is to restrict the amount of metabolically active carbohydrate you put in to the system.

It is as simple as that!

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.

However, knowing is one thing and doing is another.

If you’re like most people, you probably have a sweet tooth or you don’t mind having chocolate every now and then. Unfortunately, for many, one sweet treat begs another and the unhealthy devotion to sugar can and does last a lifetime for the majority of people.

I believe we’re all sugar addicts, it is just a matter of the degree to which we indulge in this habit.

What I have found is that the craving can quickly disappear if the temptation is ignored. It is probably the most difficult habit to break, because it is everywhere and in almost everything edible. Our body and our brain craves it!

So, taking in to consideration the difficulty of ridding sugar and sweet from your diet and going ‘cold turkey’, I have listed a few possible choices and the relative grams. I have also indicated ‘how’ to consume these so as to lessen the impact on insulin receptors in your cells.

Abdominal/thigh pose with the top 2 Natural Bodybuilders in the world in 2007.
I achieved a 4.2% bodyfat level. I didn’t win the World Title because the other 3 guys were leaner than me (<4%).
Having a good understanding of sugar , the different sources and the effect these sources have on your blood is one of the keys to sustainability in sugar consumption

You can have sweets or chocolate if you must. I have listed only two examples of ‘snacks’ to give you some idea of quantity and approximate carbohydrate content (you can add to it with your choices). The important thing here is the steps I have listed after the short list below:

Sweet/chocolate

  • 1 milky way (miniature) – approx. 5g of carbs
  • 1 mars bar (miniature) – approx. 8g of carbs

As you want to lessen the insulin response to sugar, try doing this prior to enjoying your treat:

  • Drink a large glass of cold water 15 to 20 minutes before. Some research has shown that it reduces hunger which could mean you eat less.
  • Have a bowl of greens (long beans, broccoli, spinach)
  • Have it with coffee (if you’re having it after dinner)
  • Have it with some protein (if you’re indulging between meals)

Bodybuilding Pose: “Hands on hips – Most muscular”.
My formula for Abs/6-pack:
ABS = diet (the Right diet)

Before I go, my best advice to you is to drink ‘til you drown (but don’t drown). Drink water when you wake up, drink before meals, in between meals.

Drink, drink, drink! But, don’t drink while you eat as it hinders optimal digestion. If you do drink – sip, don’t gulp and limit it to less than a glass!

So, don’t just think about your sweet and mentally punish yourself. If you’re honest enough to accept that just like me and the majority of humans, that you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and have a treat or two and keep the pointers I have listed above in mind prior to eating them.

Sweets/sugar/carbohydrates/snacks is not the enemy, the mis-management of it, is!

You don’t need to torture yourself any more than what is already dished out to you by the world. Have your sweet in moderation and enjoy it … simply because you love yourself and you love the feeling you get when the hormones are released when you consume them and … well, you deserve it.

Best of vitality to you!

 

Until next time,

Setting his own standards through - Mind-muscle connection. 'flexing the muscles' in a "most-muscular' pose. Chris is an A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man. On his way to realizing a physique and mind-set he imagines himself having. ... adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering. No risk, no belief - no nothing! Chris also enjoyed weekly 'snacks' along his journey. Vv

Setting his own standards through –
Mind-muscle connection. ‘flexing the muscles’ in a “most-muscular’ pose.
Here, Chris, a very busy and successful businessman working towards achieving his goals. An A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man who looks fantastic in a business suit. 
… adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering.
Chris achieved his goals in 5 months in one of my uniquely tailored programs just for him.
Chris also enjoyed weekly ‘snacks’ along his journey.
Vv

 

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a better life, action, adaptation, awareness, balance, beauty, choices, Energy, game of life, self improvement, symmetry, taking action

Simple is beautiful. Complex is not.

Keep it simple.

Keep it simple.

I love simple. I love simplicity.

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

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

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

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

How? We’ll keep it simple!

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

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

Because SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

My Top 5.5 Tips to avoiding injury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip # 1: Aim for balance & symmetry.

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

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

Not a wise thing to do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #2: Be aware of your breathing technique.

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

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

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

Breathing also helps you with the next tip.

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

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

Tip # 3: Focus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip # 5.5: Apply correct training principles.

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

  1. Simplicity
  2. Continuity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best in your training this year.

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

Cheers and Happy January to you!

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

Shoulder Boulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good sequence of exercises could include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part of the key: Focus.

All the very best in your workouts.

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

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

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

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

Let loose …

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

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

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