a better life, accountability, action, adaptation, attitude, authenticness, awareness, beauty, belief, better choices, caring, change, chaos, choices, compassion, consciousness, courage, creation, decisions, desire, Energy, examined life, forgiveness, game of life, Goals, habits, happiness, Imagination, life, long-term perspective, love, mind-muscle connection, needs, real man, responsibility, risk, self discipline, self improvement, self love, self-respect, success, trust, Vitality, you, your life

Don’t chase the unchaseable

Me, some of my quirks (showing off my muscles, posing at every and any opportunity and my desire to ‘over’ dress than to ‘under’ dress. Also, my quirk of love for dogs (and in particular, my pirate dog) and animals in general.

Know YOU.

Being different and appreciating & developing your uniqueness can make you stand out in a world 🌎 that is very cluttered.

That is a positive thing if that is what you desire.

Know YOU (your strengths).

Love 💕 YOU (not in a narcissistic way).

Work on YOU (your talents & gifts).

Share YOU (& your strengths ) with those who love what YOU DO (by being the best servant you can) because YOU love others.

And humanity.

With care, trust and compassion.

Choose love 💕 not hate.

Always.

Now, there is a difference between positive thinking and delusional thinking. I have been like a sponge absorbing and educating myself from the University of Life, in all streams of knowledge sources – books, mentors and leaders of various fields, more books, family, friends, strangers … even more books, videos and … more books.

For almost five decades now.

Everyone and everything teaches You something.

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.

Manage your funnel better

One of the skills is to squeeze out irrelevance and “bull-sh*t” as your sponge-like-brain absorbs knowledge and know-how. In other words, in the wise words of an ex-business/life mentor of mine –

learn to manage your funnel better

Here’s one maxim that was mis-leading growing up: –

“You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough.”

Now, like most people, I embraced this maxim at a young age. Along with thousands of other kids, I spent a good chunk of my childhood trying to be the next Rugby 7s star ( in my case, it was the Fijian Rugby 7s legend – Waisele Serevi, on par with New Zealand’s Johah Lomu).

Every day growing up in Fiji, we played rugby 7s and practised the “goose-step/side-step” and explosive lateral movements and ‘dance like a twinkle toe ballerina on a rugby field’ kind of play.

But, there was always someone better.

After giving 100% of my effort for most of my primary and early secondary school life, I couldn’t even make the junior Rugby Team (well, its very hard to crack a team in Fiji as there is a multitude of supreme athletisism when it came to rugby).

I was just one of the many other fans on the side-line, part of the cheer squad for the schools.

backstage with a fellow competitor
I won

Who you already are

The truth: playing a starring role for Fiji at the Rugby 7s or World Cup wasn’t in the cards for me.

I realised early that I CANNOT BECOME anything I wanted to (like I was told to believe) and that I needed to focus on building on who I already was.

Each of us, unique individuals has a greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development – all our individual development is building on who you already are.

While my story may be simplistic, in many cases, I have found (in helping people, helping themselves, find their best selves over the last two decades) is, amongst other key things – aligning yourself with the right task can make things easier.

For YOU.

Even the great Michael Jordan of the basketball courts could not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.

When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, it seems, extraordinary room for growth exists (just like building quality – muscle if your have the genetics for building muscle, like I do  …. Remember, I didn’t have the height gene and so never played basketball but I did have the muscle genes).

Let’s say I didn’t discover bodybuilding when I did. Say, even though I had the potential to build large muscles, quickly and I didn’t train it regularly enough, they wouldn’t develop to World Standard Quality.

However, because I discovered it in my late teens and I did work, they grew. Keeping everything else constant, if I did the work equally as hard as someone without as much natural potential, I am likely to see a greater return on my investment.

And I did.

Representing Australia at the World Natural Physique Championships in New York, USA.
Placed: 4th In the world.
Success = Preparation meeting opportunity. I was prepared.
It also includes knowing what to leave out to allow you to focus on what is important to achieve your goal(s)

Taking the I M out of IMPossible

I was one of two (the Top 2) who was picked to represent Australia at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships – the two best in Australia. Imagine that story – boy from developing country, the Fiji Islands makes it all the way to compete against the best in the world at, not one, but two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in New York, USA.

A city (New York) that is at the opposite end of development and modernity. An island boy, wearing grass skirts and living the simplest of lives beats the best in the world, with access to the best nutrition and training equipment and multi-million dollar machines and coaching.

Not a bad story I think.

You can take the “I M” out of IM Possible if you identify and work FROM your strengths.

I am living proof of this.

Result of time x hard work => multiple NSW, Australian Bodybuilding Titles and 2 x World Natural Bodybuilding Top 5 placings, two years in a row. I discovered my sport rather late … when I was almost twenty years of age.

Fluke?

I don’t think so.

The old maxim told us by well-intensioned elders of –

you-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be” should be modified to accurately reflect reality as we perceive it:

YOU cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who YOU already are.

Know YOU and your talents/gifts.

Don’t chase the un-chaseable. You’ll waste the most precious gift given to you: LIFE.

working triceps in my gym

Taking the path of most resistance

Do you know what your gifts or talents are? Are you working and doing a job that is working from your strengths? You don’t know?

Well, it seems that many people go through life, living a life, not from a strengths approach for several reasons –

  • They are simply unaware
  • Unable to describe their own strengths …. Or the strengths of the people around them

Because they have been told and have been working on “ their perceived weaknesses or shortcomings” or ‘areas of improvement’ in their corporate jobs, most of their lives.

It seems that from ‘cradle to the cubicle’ we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths, and taking the path of most resistance. Why, why, why!!

Sadly, studies show that the vast majority of people don’t have the opportunity to focus on what they do best. What happens to these people? Well, they’re not their best and … they’re simply a very different person. Studies show that, for example, in the workplace, you are six times less likely to be engaged in your job.

So, when you’re not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you :

  • Hate going to your place of work
  • Have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues
  • Treat your customers badly
  • Tell your friends and family what an awful company you work for
  • Achieve considerably less on a daily basis
  • Have less positive and creative moments

Not ideal and healthy for you, is it?

This is why doing work that you love and working from your strengths is very important, compounded over your lifetime, given that life is the most valuable thing given to you.

side chest in the gym

Some key steps to identifying your strengths.

Ask yourself, what are you really good at? What did you like doing as a child that your kind of enjoyed and had fun doing? Is there anything that springs to mind? Did you find it easier to accomplish a certain task or activity while others struggled?

That could be a talent or gift of yours that has been laying dormant all these years.

Add time (it took me about ten years to get to my first World Championships in New York, USA) and hard work (deliberate, specific skills at your art/in my case, through education and coaching – building maximum muscle with shape and balance & symmetry and being able to show it off on stage and ‘paint a motion picture of the flow of sculptured muscle/art” ) – makes it a strength (s).

As one of my favourite business gurus said (Dr Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005):

“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong ….. and yet, a person can perform only from strength”

So, find your unique gifts and develop them into strengths.

And value the difference that YOU are.

 

You’re welcome,

 

Cheers 🍻 & ahoy!

The Old Captain Viking Pirate 🏴‍☠️⚔️Muscle 💪Monk 🤔😎….& being different/wierd

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.

The best thing you can do to help the world is … to continuously strive to be the best you can be, for you first, then for everyone else.

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Exercise builds your brain power

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

To learn is to Grow

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

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

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

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

Know you.

To learn is to grow.

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

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

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

Multiple feedback loops

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

Become the best Change Agent you can be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all about communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… to ultimately,

balance YOU!

… and balance

Your life.

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

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

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

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

This also allows you to discover your truth.

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

All the very best in your daily choices.

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

Choose well,

Cheers & ahoy!

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

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

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

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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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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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adaptation, basics of training, change, fundamentals, muscles, Strength training

3 important fundamentals to consider when you lift weights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where experience counts.

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

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

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

No two.

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

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

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

To breathe and to breathe properly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frequency of training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training ‘split’ or weekly training routine

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

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

Remember ‘stickability’ is 95 percent of ability.

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

All the best.

Until next time,

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

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

I like this hat.

I like this hat.

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

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

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

It’s a personal thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Train SMART!

Until next time,

VVc_logo_cropped

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