“Without system, without method, what’s to teach?” Bruce Lee
You’re reading these words because you’re seeking a better way to strength and vitality. There is a better way.
You know what that is? It’s called something is better than nothing…and if you’re going to do something, it should be the most effective thing possible…and be cheap, easy to learn, and FUN.
First off: no excuses. I don’t want to hear about your bad back, your bad genetics, your bald head.
There are no problems. Only opportunities. Your bad back is an opportunity to learn how you can heal yourself. Your bad genetics are an opportunity to see how you can work with what you’ve been blessed with.
Your bald head? Think of all the time you’re saving–no shampoo, no combing. Lucky you.
Secondly: No victims. Only vicTORS. We must develop a conquering attitude. I will do it. This takes a lot of practice.
See, there’s a mental component. There always is. Just think of how stress can destroy a body. Ever hear the story of Marie Antoinette where she was trying to escape France and in a few short days on the escape her hair turned white? Stress, baby–it does a number on you.
You want to be strong. You want to be vital. You want to move well and be pain free.
- Endurance – your stamina strong to start, strong to finish
- Strength – your capability
- Flexibility & Mobility – The fluidity of your body
Endurance: Strengthening the furnace (the cardiorespiratory system)
Ever been in a house with stale air? Or seen a pond with algae overgrowth? Then you know what stale is like.
A good furnace moves the air through the house and keeps things comfortable.
A good cardiorespiratory program moves the blood and air through the body and keeps it running smooth.
With seven days in a week, and two dedicated the strength, one should be dedicated to cardio. In addition, periods of your strength training days should have a cardiorespiratory component (for example, a finisher or a circuit). You can also just jog and jump rope–even 10 minutes a day will make a big difference.
- You can put a 4 minute finisher at the end of your strength workout. You could do 20 seconds of intense swings followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeated 8 times. This is known as the Tabata protocol. It’s really simple and gets the job done.
- You could just do 5 minutes of as many snatches or swings as you can.
- You could do 5 minutes of Turkish Get Ups
- You can do 20-30 8 count-bodybuilders
Endurance days example:
- 10 minutes of jumping rope (on 40 seconds off 20) followed by a 15-20 minute jog
- 10-30 wind sprints of varying intensities and distances
- One of Steve Maxwell’s “met con” conditioning workouts (look for the omelet)
- Do a circuit of your usual exercise – reduce the weight, and do each exercise after the other with no rest, 1 minute rest between circuits
- 100 swings
What this amounts to is on your two strength days, add a finisher. On another day of the week, do endurance specifically. On your other days, continue to walk and get fresh air and sunshine.
Imagine, four simple exercises, no special clothes, hardly any special equipment, and you’re kick ass strong.
What exercises might those be?
The swing, the goblet squat, the military press, the pull up. You just need a kettlebell and pull up bar. (You can train no shoes and naked, therefore, no special clothing required!)
You can add to this. You can change this. And you should. But the point is don’t let complexity or lack of time stop you from being super strong and in shape.
Movement-based training says, you have a body and it moves. Let’s practice those movements in key exercises and make them stronger.
How does your body move?
- Pull yourself up
- Press a weight overhead
- Hip hinge
- Push up movement
- Bent over row movement
- Gait – walking, running
The way to exercise is to train movements. Think about it. You want to retain your ability to move well, easily, and without pain. So when you exercise, why not train your movements to be as effective and efficient as possible?
Forget about muscles. Sure you want to exercise your muscles, but what you’re really doing is training your body and mind to use your muscles as effectively as possible. That’ll make you move well, feel good, and have plenty of energy and vigor. You’ll also be strong—without needless bulk.
Forget about looks. By training your movements, you’ll developed a balanced, well-built body that’ll look fantastic, and you’ll be spend less time doing it.
Here’s an example approach:
The body pulls vertically or horizontally. Pulling develops the back side of the body, the lats and the biceps in particular. With the big exercises like pull ups and bent over rows, you’re working a majority of your upper body muscles, getting huge bang for your buck.
Vertical pulling involves pulling yourself up, like in a chin up, pull up, or when you’re climbing a rope, a tree, or a mountain. Machines make it possible to do vertical pulling as well, although you’re no longer pulling yourself up, you’re pulling something down towards you—it’s still vertical pulling though.
Horizontal pulling is achieved when you pull something towards you, as in dumbbell row, or pull yourself towards something, as in Jungle Gym bodyweight row. You practice your horizontal pulling when you pull to start a lawnmower. Just think—now you can improve that skill. One pull starts from now on.
The body pushes both vertically and horizontally as well. The pushing movements balance out the pulling movements.
Vertical pushing just involves pressing something overhead. A bodyweight version is the handstand push up.
Most people are familiar with the types of exercises here—the bench press and the push up. I don’t recommend the bench press for the average person, it’s been the cause of a lot of shoulder pain and can exacerbate rounded shoulders (which most people already have anyway). If you can do it correctly, that’s great, I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward. Dumbbells are a good alternative.
Exercises like push ups and one arm push ups are also great horizontal pushing exercises.
Level Change (Leg Exercises)
The legs are often neglected because they take a lot of energy and aren’t as visible as the upper body. They are extremely important, however. Just consider what takes you around from place to place. Yeah, that’s right, your legs.
This is where you change levels and keep your back relatively upright. For example, a squat, a pistol, or a lunge.
This is where you change levels but your back moves more towards parallel with the ground, for example a kettlebell swing, a single leg deadlift, or a kettlebell snatch.
Rotation (Abs / Core)
The “core” as they call it. This is an extremely important area for your back. It is also an important area because all the force the gets generated from the ground up has to come through you stomach without being lost. Of course, it’s also an important area for those looking for six pack abs.
Your abs get worked when you do exercises like one arm dumbbell presses on a swiss ball, or military presses with one arm, or even just swings. If you’re doing push ups, your abs and core are stabilizing you. You can also incorporate ab movements into traditional exercise, for example, by adding a knee raise to a chin up. If you like doing specific ab exercises hanging leg raises, Turkish get ups, and ab wheels are all great. Exercises with a strong stabilizing component like renegade rows are also effective.
Walking, jogging, running, sprinting, hopping, skipping, etc. An important part of your training since locomotion is what gets you from place to place. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You don’t have to lose your ability to walk as you age.
Flexibility & Mobility
Staying flexible is pretty awesome. It just makes you feel good. While you watch other people struggle and stiffen up, you’re nimble and feel great.
There are a lot of ways to stretch. Stretching where you just chill out, stretching where you flex and relax your muscles to force your nervous system to relax, dynamic stretching, and so on. Then there are things like joint mobility and baby crawling.
If you have aches and pains, learning stretching and mobility exercises can eliminate them. This is important restorative work to restore your body to youthful movement.
This stuff is visual. So take a look at the following YouTube videos: