Wednesday, May 30, 2007

See God in Yourself; See a Reason to Exercise.

When I look at my body and when I study my body, I see irrefutable evidence that God does indeed exist. If I were to believe that I wasn't invented by a supreme intelligent being (God), then I'd have to conclude that human beings just came to be. Nature just put this together by a complex set of coincidences. When I look at nature, I just don't see this happening since nature doesn't do things that precisely.

When you look at what nature accomplishes without any intelligence whatsoever, the results are dismal. The actions of plants are proof of this. They lack any sort of intelligence and their only functions are to grow and to reproduce. Both happen without any precision whatsoever. They spread thousands of seeds and at best, a fraction of a percent of them ever amount to anything. As the beings of the natural world start to progress up the level of intelligence, their creations and actions become more precise, more intricate, and more complex. Finally, nature comes to us, the most intellient of them all. We are capable of making things that no animal or plant could ever hope to replicate. Our ability to make the complex and complicated, the intricate and precise is amazing.

If a study of the human body is done, you would see that our bodies and all of the systems in them are anything but random and crude. It is a remarkable creation. It is so well balanced, so intricate and so complex on levels that we may NEVER understand. Just the digestive system alone is amazing in its own right. Now bear in mind we have a dozen more. Even the construction and the functions of the inndivual cells in all of the systems are wonderfully complex. Could we even build something like DNA? We are the most intelligent beings on earth and we can't do it. So, SOMETHING more intelligent had to make us. Nature can't create something like that on its own. Unintelligent nature never has and never will.

Now, with this in mind, how can you NOT exercise? To not exercise and eat poorly strikes me as intelligent as buying a Bentley and never driving it, allowing the rust to pile on from lack of use. It's too beautifully crafted to allow it to rust away from lack of use. Your body is WAY more impressive than any car. Treat it like it is!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weight Lifted Arm vs. Bodyweight Arm

For the past year or so, I've been picking up books on the human body and how it works so I can better understand how it functions and how it relates to my physical culture hobby. In the past month, I've picked up two on motion and muscle which have been extremely revealing in terms of learning about exercise. One thing that has leaped out at me that I want to write a bit about is the arm.

A while back at, I posted about how I feel like one of the key differences between the weightlifted arm and the BW-exercised arm is that the former tends to be bulkier and more "cut" while the latter has a leaner, more slender look to it. So, the question is, which form is more functional? After all, I'm more about how well it works rather than how good it looks.

It didn't come as a surprise when the information that I've gathered so far suggests that the modern standard in weightlifted arms is may well be less functional despite looking more impressive. There are some logical and anatomical reasons that I base this upon. To understand these, we have to understand when it comes to movement, the body is either set up for power or precision based upon need. The more powerful the movement, the less precise it is and vice-versa.

All muscles fibers are bound together in a series of bundles. These bundles are then arranged a in a certain manner, depending on how much power or precision is needed. When precision is needed, they are laid in a parallel manner. When they need a more powerful contraction, they are arranged in a fashion similar to the make-up of a feather (in fact, the term for this, pennate fiber, means "feather" fiber). The muscles of the arm are almost entirely parallel fiber.

The precision construction doesn't end there. It continues in with the types of levers that the muscles and bones form in the arms. Many of the levers of the arm are third-class levers, similar to tweezers, which are obviously more precise than a second-class lever, like a wheel barrow (or in the case of the body, the foot).

So, the desire to bulk up the arm misses the point of the arm. It is important to have power in them but the arms race that has pushed many to 20+ inch upper arms diminishes the usefulness of the arm. One thing that I learned about the arm from boxing is that power isn't generated from the arm, it is transferred through it. The arm is designed to be a precise tool more than a powerful one. To make it a functional part, it should be trained as such. It may not be sexy but it makes more sense.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

George Jowett: Why He's My Favorite Physical Culturist

I have a copy of "The Key to Might and Muscle" that Mr. Jowett wrote in 1926. I bought it about a year ago and I may have read it three or four times. I've read several of the chapters dozens of times. It would be safe to say that it's my favorite book ever written about exercise and Jowett is my favorite author and physical culturists ever. Although he was primarily a weight lifter, I have immense respect for his input on physical fitness because he was one of the very few men who have written on the subject that realized that the mind and the body were of equal importance and one didn't deserve to be developed more than the other. As a whole, the human expericence was so much more rich, fullfilling, and capable when life was lived with mind and body equally well-developed.

My respect and admiration of the man doesn't stop there. He was a religious man who was saw god in himself. Realizing this, that piece of the divine doesn't deserve to linger through life in a weak body. It demands a healthy, strong and capable one. Think about it: If you were to realize that god lives within you, can you make lifestyle choices that you KNOW will harm your body if something so wonderful and perfect exsisted within it?

Since Jowett was adamant about developing the mind and body equally, he demanded that his students develop a strong mind-body connection when exercising. This key to properly developing the body is so sadly neglected these days that it's hard to determine if Jowett was ahead of his time or has the world fallen behind Jowett's time. Jowett had it right either way. Some of his feats of strength probably stand the test of time. I'd love to see a man his weight today replicate his anvil stunt.

He may have been a weight lifter but his teachings translate well into what I do for exercise. He may well have been one of best of the old days. What he wrote about is timeless in its truthfullness. He was a magnificent writer, selfess in his brilliance, and a remarkable human being. The world was blessed to have him and he did right by physical culture.

To order his work, check out:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bodybuilding, Then and Now

Bodybuilding's Best, 1900

Bodybuilding's best, 2007

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

How I put Together my routine

I generally don't like strength training routines for one reason: They often read like putting together a gas grill or something of that nature. They just give a bunch of steps and reps without much explanation as to why you're doing what you're doing. I've been reading up on how the human body works a lot in the past year or so. Now, I'm nowhere near an expert but some of them don't seem to address some very important aspects of how the human body works.

Some of the things I try to address when I exercise are as follows:

1. Fast and Slow Twitch Fibers... You have both in every, single muscle bundle. Slow enables your muscles to work for extended periods of time without fatigue. Fast allows for fast bursts of intense activity. People's ratios vary but I like to do exercises that are modestly intense and some that are very intense and last only a short period of time.

2. Tension Integrity... It's common to think of the skeleton as a foundation or a rigid structure but this is incorrect. The skeleton without muscle and tendon attachments would simply fall to the ground. The skeleton has no secure, interlocking attachments. The muscles provide them. The muscle's tension provides placement and attachment for the bones in the skeleton. Proper tension between agonist and antagonist muscles is paramount. Without it, you're not really strong. So, I like to exercise muscles from multiple angles and directions to assure that the muscles have proper tension from all sides and angles.

3. Mind-Body Connection... It's the most important aspect of any workout. The exercises that you're doing should be done to establish complete control over your muscles by your mind. The ability to control the muscles at will makes remarkable things happen. I've spoken at length about it in the past so I won't repeat myself but I had to mention since I'm including elements of what goes into my thinking when I work out.

Here a sample of an arm routine that I did recently:

1. Handstand Pushups, 8 reps
2. Pullups, 10 reps
3. Biceps/Triceps contraction, max tension, 5 reps
4. "The Milo" isometric set, from John Peterson's IPR

I repeated this set 3 times.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What's Wrong with Modern Fitness?

I mentioned back a few weeks ago that I had no problems with weight but I have huge problems with those who teach others how to use them. I could easily extend it to the entire fitness world in general. It's a horrible shame because nearly 2/3 of the country is overweight and of that slim 1/3 that are a healthy weight may not be working out properly. What is so wrong with the fitness world? Well, here are the things that grate on me most of all:

1. THE DEPENDENCY! Once, my wife had a personal trainer. She was definitely an intriguing personality. Charming, but California-style pushy. She definitely didn't believe in my BW-only approach to fitness. Apparently, I just couldn't get big and strong with this stuff. I NEEDED weights. Well, I wasn't in the mood to debate at the time and I just posed the question to her: I travel a lot. What am I supposed to do, not do anything? No answer.

That's just a piss-poor way to look at getting fit. Truth is, you don't need anything outside of your own body to get into shape. If you like weights and machines, more power to you. The question is, what are you going to do when you don't have access to either? Are you destined to wither away to soft flesh because you can't get to your precious gym with your scared equipment? The key to being successful in anything is being able to improvise and adapt. Getting fit is no exception.

Let's be real here: These people pettle dependency. They make a lot of money keeping people dependant on them for fitness. I'm not against anyone making a dollar (I'm a hardcore capitalist and Conservative Republican) but I have a huge problem with people doing with detrimental lies. Their job is to get people healthy. It's not to sell them dependency.

2. NO MIND-BODY CONNECTION! I mentioned this earlier too in the Bobby Pandour post as well as alluding to it in other posts. If you read most fitness and muscle magazines, you'll come across endless routines that do certain things for certain body parts for certain times of the year, blah, blah, blah. 80 years ago, the bodybuilders and weight lifters (physical culturists, as they were called) were actually very intelligent people who put great thought and effort into the exercise that they did. They realized is that if the mind was directed towards the muscle(s) that they wanted to work, their strength was unlimited.

Those days are long gone. The modern bodybuilder will pile dozens of pounds of iron on in order to force the growth of their muscles rather than direct their mental energy to force growth. Their blown rotator cuffs, arthritic knees, and ruined backs reveal the results (Joe Weider had to have his back reconstructed). The legendary George Jowett never worked out with dumbbells heavier than 25 pounds and I doubt few, if any, could replicate is famous anvil-lifting stunt (For those of you that don't know, he lifted a 168 lbs anvil off the ground by it's horn, placed the flat top on the palm of his hand, an pressed it overhead with one hand. It was his signature stunt. He was 5'8" and 210 lbs at his peak.) I rarely ever read about the mental connection to exercising in any magazine that old-timers like Jowett preached regularly in their writings. This is key to effective exercising and the fitness world threw it away years ago.

3. CHEMICAL ENHANCEMENT! This is the biggie. One thing that Charles Atlas managed to do was to preserve the holistic nature of the old physical culture in bodyweight exercising. This may have been to the detriment to BW since the supplementation and steroid use in weight lifting propelled it to the mainstream and helped relegate BW practically to the dust bin of the fitness world. Trouble is, the health and longevity associated with the the old physical culture days was lost in the process and that is the most troubling thing about the fitness world.

The Modern fitness world sold everyone on their style of working out with these chemistry experiments gone bad and convinced that world that was the image of health and strength. The world has reeled back some from the Arnold-style bulk of bodybuilding but the damage is done. Performance enhancing drugs and supplementation is firmly entrenched in every athletic endeavour. It's not healthy, it's that simple. Still, the world looks to it as a physical ideal and it pushes people to buy such witches brew such as HGH, Creatine, branched chain amino acids, winstrol, andro, myoplex, and the list goes on. What is supremely ironic is that these poor bastards are dropping dead in their late 40's and early 50's. 80 years ago, when the average life span was 47-50 years old, the weight lifters/bodybuilders were living into their 70's and 80's!

To be continued...