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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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?

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.

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)

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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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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Shoulder Boulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good sequence of exercises could include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part of the key: Focus.

All the very best in your workouts.

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

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

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

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

Let loose …

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

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

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adaptation, awareness, body, Body shape, body weight

Bulking up vs building up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, focus on building up rather than bulking up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then ….

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

All the best!

Until next time,

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

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

Life COACH. Valentine Vitality Coaching Services.

Life COACH.
Valentine Vitality Coaching Services.

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

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action, awareness, belief systems, Beliefs, body, choices, Energy, game of life, Imagination, life, long-term perspective, mind, muscles, perspective, planning, respect, self-image, truths, workout, you

Top 3 Keys to a successful workout. Key #2: Elegance.

February 2015. At my old school gym, just about to do a set of barbell biceps curls or  what I would sometimes refer to as 'loading the guns with ammunition'.  Hope you're wearing your bullet-proof vests, take cover!

February 2015.
At my old school gym, just about to do a set of barbell biceps curls or
what I would sometimes refer to as ‘loading the guns with ammunition’.
Hope you’re wearing your bullet-proof vests, take cover!

One of the many things I have learned early in life is that the “big truth” will always beat the “big lie”. The truth is we are more than meets the eye – but having a physique sure makes a difference in how people treat and react to us.

What is that saying that we’ve all heard growing up – “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Well, it is lovely and idealistic but the truth is we all do. The whole world does, every single day in everything we do. Matter of fact it is how one of the many public games is played on this planet. That is one of the many less than ideal characteristics of most human beings – we all judge things we ‘see’ by how they ‘look’.

That is just how we are wired.

Packaging for products is vital to the successful sales as it directly influences consumer purchasing behaviour and ultimately the ‘bottom-line’. Manufacturers know this and marketers get huge dollars for helping them do this.

Now, another thing I have learned in over 23 years in the fitness industry is that Self-perception or how we see ourselves, greatly determines how we look.

You see, “Inner image creates outer image”. Now, I know there are some idealists that may disagree, and that is fine. On the whole, this statement runs true for all of us. But here is one of the interesting things, one of the encouraging possibilities – it is one’s perception of one’s self that creates greater possibilities.

Drop your past when need be, when it does not serve you any longer. Let go of beliefs and belief systems that does not add any value to your current phase of life. Remove beliefs that limit you, beliefs that do not allow you to reach for your best self.

In my experience, another key element that makes up a successful workout is – elegance. I think this is attained if you’re natural and genuine, searching for an artistic approach (sculpturing as opposed to just lifting weights) and having a great appreciation for “balance and symmetry” (another definition for beauty).

Not many people ever get to this level and truly experience the ‘essence of each and every rep of each exercise’. Just as not all golfers ever play as effortlessly as a Tiger Woods or a professional on a golf course, instead with constant frustration of under-performing handicaps.

Just because you can hit a ball with a club does not necessarily mean that you will hit it in the direction of the hole. This is the same as lifting weights in the gym for the majority of people – you see, anyone can lift weights but only a few ever learn the art of body-building and choosing the right exercise (club) for the right moment (set etc).

Elegance in your workouts or the ‘search for balance and symmetry’ is hard to describe but I find it easy to recognize when I see it. You see it when top sports-persons play for example – Roger Federer gracefully hitting returns on the tennis courts or Jonathan Thurston having all the time in the world to kick in rugby league and effortlessly creating a play out of nothing. Or Maria Sharapova gliding across the courts or Usain Bolt bolting like lightening on the 100m track.

It is sheer beauty, ultimate elegance displayed before your eyes. Very few things can beat the feeling you get from witnessing ‘elegance in action’.

Making elegance part of you or what you do is a reflection of attitude combined with aptitude but taken to the HIGHEST LEVEL with the ambition of being the BEST. To achieve this takes the gifts of Energy and talent harnessed with a magnifying focus towards BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE.

It requires hours and hours of not just practise – but deliberate practise with sustained FOCUS over many years.

Elegance fascinates me because I believe there is something eternal about it.

So, a successful workout for me is elegant (efficient, effective and a little sophisticated). This is similar to what we call –

  • FREEDOM … in dancing
  • SELF-EXPRESSION … in relationships
  • Being in the ZONE … in sports
  • EXCELLENCE … in work
  • NATURAL … in family
  • Looking HOT … in Sex
  • MAKING A DIFFERENCE … in Society
  • Getting the JOB DONE …. in business

So, there you go. After 23 years of working out in the gym, and my love of reasoning from and making deductions from patterns observed, my 2nd key to achieving a successful workout is simply: Elegance.

Strive for this if you haven’t already done so.

It is more efficient, effective and reduces the risks of injury giving you longevity and more years of enjoyment.

Learn to learn, again.

Strive towards the new man (or woman) that resides in you, with elegance in mind.

All the best in your journey.

 

Until next time,

Side Triceps. Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Lost by 2 points. Final placing: Runner-up.

Side Triceps.
Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Lost by 2 points.
Final placing: Runner-up.

With my friend and coach at that time - 2 x World Number 1 (natural bodybuilder).

With my friend and coach at that time – 2 x World Number 1 (natural bodybuilder).

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