Lead us not…

Who’s Your Cheerleader…

The standard of what we call fitness has become skewed and distorted. Priorities are misguided, leadership lacks, and followers are not blind so much as they are just subject to a necessary yet almost random faith in an increasingly complex subculture which, in my opinion, is headed in the wrong direction and does not need to be so complex.

I don’t recall where I was or what I was doing when the screaming trainers of reality TV, CrossFit, and Navy Seals became the leading spokespeople for the fitness industry. Respectfully, I get that reality fitness shows may inspire people, CrossFit looks cool, and Navy Seals are good at killing bad guys in difficult situations.

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None of these though, and I mean this emphatically, are helping people who are truly in need of improved fitness, the way those people need to be helped. Nor do I believe they represent sustainable fitness values. They better represent good marketeering, confusion, and conflicting information.

Most people who seek improved physicality need three things in order to achieve change:

1 – A relatable cheerleader

2 – A basic understanding of just a few principles of movement and eating

3 – A schedule of movement and eating to adhere to

When assembled, these three things can serve many more, far more, than a stellar WOD, some bitchin’ before and after pictures, or a screaming trainer in an unsustainable boot-camp workout. Not that anyone is in compliance with these for the long-term anyway, but that’s my point.

It just seems that people are placing their fitness faith on all the wrong shoulders, all the while overlooking some simple principles and not-so-difficult decisions that are much more useful for changing their physicality than the trends, promises, and good marketeering that dominate the fitness culture of today.

From Confucius to confuse us…

It is a 3,000 year old Confucian ideal that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves on behalf of our families, our employers, and our communities. Society simply functions more efficiently and at a higher level that way. Relinquish our physicality as a collective, and things begin breaking down proportionately as a society.

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This in no way is me being judgmental of those who have lost or decreased their physicality. A quick glance of our culture though, will quickly illuminate a growing disparity. We just have an increasing segment of the population on their way the gym for an unsustainable workout screaming, go big or go home! Yet we have another increasing segment of the population eating moon pies, shooting insulin, and looking for a way out of those behaviors, but looking primarily to the go big or go home set for inspiration. The middle class of fitness is disappearing.

Buddhabuilding: The Middle Path…

At times I have been guilty at being extreme with my personal fitness. Rarely though, unless requested and paid appropriately, have I ever preached or led a client down an extreme or unsustainable exercise path. One of the things that attracted me to the ideal of recreational bodybuilding to begin with is that it’s an old person’s endeavor. Strength training can enhance a quality of life, while also prolonging it, though I see few people or entities teaching strength in moderation these days.

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I would love to see those who don’t exercise do more of it, and eat a little better. I truly believe that would serve our society better. I would also like to see those who lead do a little less screaming, a little less boasting, and be a little more mindful of their leadership. And for those who truly are seeking leadership to help motivate and improve their fitness, I beg you, please let sustainability be the cornerstone term in your search. Be well. rc

Please take a moment to scroll up and rate this essay. Thank you.

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this Prine cover from Stu Larsen and The Once. Enjoy…

Laboratory, Me…

Objective…

To sustain muscle that is functional, strong, flexible, not burdensome, and looks good, without garnering some of the negative consequences which are often associated with recreational bodybuilding, such as aches, pains, stiffness, and spending hours in the gym.

Good news, my previous internal thesis on this hasn’t changed in over a decade, this is just an update. This is a direction I began to head in my early 40s, and lived it pretty well for about 10 years or so,. Then, in 2011 I got a little cocky, and stepped it up.

Boot in the ass…

Through my 40s, my workouts, and physique were on autopilot. After I turned 50 and while training a couple of female bodybuilders, my ego got the better of me and I put myself on an unsustainable path – for a while. Though I did not increase my training volume (sets & reps) at all, I did increase the frequency of my strength sessions; often training for 10 or 12 consecutive days prior to taking a rest day. I also began using creatine for the first time in my 30+ years of training.

My cardio protocol during this period was basically just a hard 2-mile hill run 5 days per week, followed by (10) all-out 70-yards sprints with little rest in-between. On the weekends I would engage in longer trail runs, and distance cycling – up to 40 miles.

After 18 months of pushing hard in the gym, I was using weights on most exercises that I had not used previously – I was a gym strong as I had ever been. I attribute these gains to good note taking, consistent training, a high level of concentration during the workouts, protein augmentation, and to the use of creatine.

Though I did not weigh myself hydrostatically during this period, I’ll suggest that by the end of those 18 months, I had only gained about 2 pounds of lean body mass (muscle), despite that I experienced profound gains in strength during this period. I peaked at roughly 160 pounds, and (estimating) 11% body fat.

Hole in my boot…

Because I pushed very hard in the gym, and with the running and cycling during that 18 month period, I eventually reached a burnout period. My body was just tired – most of the time. Living in a calorie defecate, despite that was not a huge defecate, may have also contributed to the burnout. The weight room became more an altar of obligation than the sanctuary it had been for nearly 30 years. I was experiencing continual body aches which I had not previously known. I was excessively tired through the course of my workdays. I was completely out of love with the ideal of recreational bodybuilding.

I took 6 weeks off, and relaxed my diet.

Reboot…

When I restarted after my layoff, I could not fully engage again. I wondered if I was trying to force something that wasn’t there. My body was still feeling the effects of pushing too hard for too long with not enough fuel. My strength training was uninspired, and down to 2-3 days per week. I also switched my cardio from running and sprinting, to walking on a treadmill at 15% grade at for 30 minutes 6 days per week. Since I hate running, and enjoy treadmill walking, this protocol will remain ongoing – it is sustainable for me.

Before I dug in to earn my way back into sustainable shape, I decided to take one more layoff – this time for 3 weeks with intent to reframe my mind as well as body, and contemplate what I was strength training really mean to me — to my essence.  During this phase I lived off Little Caesar’s, microwave burritos, Modelo Especial, and came to the eventual conclusion that I want my workouts, and eating to be sustainable always — but I already knew that, I just needed to remind myself of who I am. Definitely gained some body fat, but with no guilt whatsoever for having done so. When enough was enough, the weight room and vegetables began calling me once again – this time with a smile.

Despite the layoff, and the relaxed eating schedule, I jumped right into training with the heaviest weights (in most movements) that I have ever used. My emphasis of increasing poundages has been more focused on my primary compound movements (denoted below as 5 sets of 5 reps). On the lighter, one-dimensional stretching, and isolation movements (denoted below by as 3 sets of 8-10 reps), I have been using challenging weights, but have refused to sacrifice form for the sake of increased weights, or additional repetitions.

I have been rotating through an 8 workout cycle, on a 4 days on, 1 day off routine. My workouts, listed below, take less than 45 minutes each. My eating has been consistent with my last peak, the only exception being that I am maintaining bare minimum calorie defecate. As previously mentioned, my cardio has been limited to treadmill walking.

These workouts have not lent themselves to any excessive fatigue, or achiness. I attribute this largely to a relaxed cardio schedule, a little more food, and reduced strength session frequency. I remain convinced that, for me, too few rest days, as well as excessive running intensity had more to do with my previous aches, and lethargy, than my strength training has.

Lastly, within the scope of these workouts, I rest only long enough between sets to stretch out the muscles being worked during a particular movement. Example: After every set of a hamstring exercise, I stretch my hamstrings for 30 seconds. I rest long enough to stretch, and stretch long enough to rest.   Again, these sessions taking less than 45 minutes.  Routines below.  Videos below routines.

Chest/Triceps #1

Incline Bench Press Free Bar 5×5

Pec-Deck Flies 3×8-10

Flat Triceps Extension 4×5

Overhead Triceps Extension 3×8-10

 

Back/Biceps #1

Wide Grip Lat-Pulldown 5×5

T-Bar/Long Bar Row 3×8-10

Bench or Machine Bench Curls 5×5

 

Shoulders/Calves #1

Overhead Shoulder Press Free Bar 5×5

Cable Lateral Raise 3×8-10

Seated Calf Raise 5×8-10

 

Legs #1

Prone Leg Curls 3×8-10

Leg Extensions 3×8-10

Smith Machine Squats 5×5

 

Chest/Triceps #2

Machine Incline Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Flies 3×8

Triceps Pushdown 4×5

Triceps Overhead Cable Extensions 3×8-10

 

Back/Biceps #2

Bent Barbell Rows or Cable Mid-rows (I prefer cable due to an ongoing shoulder injury unrelated to lifting. Fuck running) 5×5

1-Arm Cable Rows 3×8-10 Raised Deadlifts 3×8-10

Concentration Curls 5×5

 

Shoulders/Calves #2

Dumbbell Overhead Press 5×5

Dumbbell Later Raise 3×8-10

Standing Calf Raise 5×8-10

 

Legs #2

Leg Press 5×5 Standing

Lunges 3×10

True Squats 2×20 (moderate weight)

Chest/Triceps #1

Incline Bench Press Free Bar 5×5

Pec-Deck Flies 3×8-10

Flat Triceps Extension 4×5

Overhead Triceps Extension 3×8-10

Back/Biceps #1

Wide Grip Lat-Pulldown 5×5

T-Bar/Long Bar Row 3×8-10

Low-Back Extensions 3×8-10

Bench or Machine Bench Curls 5×5

Shoulders/Calves #1

Overhead Shoulder Press Free Bar 5×5

Cable Lateral Raise 3×8-10

Seated Calf Raise 5×8-10

Legs #1

Prone Leg Curls 3×8-10

Leg Extensions 3×8-10

Smith Machine Squats 5×5

Chest/Triceps #2

Machine Incline Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Flies 3×8

Triceps Pushdown 4×5

Triceps Overhead Cable Extensions 3×8-10

Back/Biceps #2

Bent Barbell Rows or Cable Mid-rows (I prefer cable due to an ongoing shoulder injury unrelated to lifting. Fuck running) 5×5

1-Arm Cable Rows 3×8-10

Raised Deadlifts 3×8-10

Concentration Curls 5×5

Shoulders/Calves #2

Dumbbell Overhead Press 5×5

Dumbbell Later Raise 3×8-10

Standing Calf Raise 5×8-10

Legs #2

Leg Press 5×5

Standing Lunges 3×10

True Squats 2×20 (moderate weight)

Where this should lead…

My goal weight is 168 pounds bodyweight at roughly 14% body fat by May 30. Through my self-experimentation and note taking through the past 12 years or so, I believe this to be sustainable, ongoing. I would like to maintain these workouts and this condition at least until my early 60s, with few modifications, and only occasional layoffs. This should not put me anywhere near a state of depravity. We shall see. Pictures to follow – maybe.

Note that the exercises have a fairly equal blend of barbells, dumbbells, machines, and cables. Despite what nonsense floats around out there, there are values in all of these, so I use them all to my advantage.

As always, if you have specific questions about exercises, their values and applications, please contact me, via this website. Be well… rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from The Billy Nayer Show.  Enjoy!

Downshift…

Preying for change…

I’ll begin this by stating in clear terms; I have no problem with the killing of, or the eating of animals.  So long as those animals have been raised humanely by organic methods, or have been caught in the wild by methods which will not significantly reduce populations or threaten the species, I’m good with it.  Man has been eating other animals almost from the beginning, as animals have also been eating other animals, including man.  All who are born, are born as a potential snack.

What I can no longer do, what I am no longer willing to accept, is to eat animals raised inhumanely, sustained callously, and slaughtered brutally.  Between the callousness of their surroundings, the hormones and antibiotics they are reared with, and within the filth they are raised in, high volume animal farming is something I can no longer support.

Shake up in the cabinet…

As I have cleared the last of my farmed meat from my freezer; beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp, and as I have used my last egg given by a caged chicken,  I now begin a process that will have me obtaining most of my protein from plant-based sources – even if those sources contain GMOs.  I would rather eat genetically modified soy curd, than an inhumanely raised chicken, or farmed or threatened fish. Or to put it more succinctly, I would rather have more GMOs in my diet, than OMGs.

As I can access and afford it, I will also include protein derived from un-caged chickens, unchained dairy cows, grass-fed and humanely slaughtered beef, bison, and whatever game and fish I catch, or my friends are willing to provide to me.

This is not a stand against eating Bambi.  If Bambi is in the right place at his wrong time, and ends up on my dinner table, I ‘m down.  This is a stand for how I believe we should conduct ourselves as a species, and as the stewards of this planet.  I am no longer willing to accept the way many corporations raise, slaughter, distribute, and market animal food sources.

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Guess who is coming to dinner…?

Sensationally speaking…

I understand the video below is social media sensationalism at its best.  I also understand that it’s real – nothing seen in it has been contrived.  These, and similar methods of animal processing are all around us, and have been for decades.  It is only social media that has many of us seeing red for the first time, over seeing red for the first time.  Seeing this video was simply the final push I needed to take this personal stand I have been on the verge of for more than a decade, but have selfishly resisted.

Judge Not, Roy Bean…

In this decision I am not passing judgment on anyone else, nor am I advocating similar actions by others.  The complexity of our food system – of our society has expanded to a point where answers and truths can no longer be established by outside sources.  In this era of increasing complexity, I truly believe that the best answers and the best truths we can depend on must come from within.

Sadly, people are certain to judge me on this decision.  There will be jokes cracked, social media friendships threatened, more than a few snickers.  That’s on them, not on me.  Though I don’t believe I will waiver on this, as I have not wavered on not owning a vehicle, I certainly won’t attempt to predict the future – I consistently suck at it.

 Restaurant not impossible…

Though I expect making these changes might offer some challenges in the beginning, I’m not too concerned about the adaptation process.  My weak link though, will be in restaurants. I eat out often, sometimes several times a day.  Most everything I eat in restaurants I have deemed acceptable until now.  That definition has changed.

Most of what I order in restaurants has been chicken or egg based.  My friends may roll their eyes as I add tofu or textured vegetable protein to a garden salad at the local diner.  Perhaps not as much if I just thrown a little ground bison that salad, and call it good.  We shall see.  Regardless, eating out will need to be modified.

Did somebody tell me that the restaurant chain, Chipotle, offers tofu...?

Did somebody tell me that the restaurant chain, Chipotle, offers tofu…?

The hustle to keep up the muscle…

Lastly, as a lifelong weightlifter, bodybuilder, and weekend athlete, I have raised myself to be the ultimate carnivore.  I have eaten red meat most every day of my adult life, often by the pound, with a belief that animal protein, beef in particular, is a requirement for strength, energy, and forging a tasty aesthetic.  This is going to be tested to be sure, since my bodybuilding aspirations remain intact.

If my strength, energy, and aesthetic suffer for a lack of feedlot beef, farmed fish, and caged eggs, my soul certainly will not suffer.  In these days, and in these times, my interest lies much more with soul-building than with bodybuilding.  Be well… rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this by The Alabama Shakes. Enjoy…