It is a strange paradox of the iron game (a term used to refer to the activity of bodybuilding and progressive weight in general) that a majority of males who use progressive weight training as a means of getting into shape do so for a short period of time in their lives. Why is this true?
By the time he has completed his basic elementary and high school education and in some cases higher academic's such as college, the average American male has learned about some of the methods of progressive weight training and its value for getting into top shape. Not only that, all but a few of these men have used a barbell at least once in their lifetime. Some of them stumbled upon weight training in a neighbor's yard, while teenagers. Others have turned to weight training as a means by which to become better high school or college athletes. Then there are other men who don't see the importance of getting into shape until they advance in years and their body doesn't function quite as efficiently as it did when they were younger.
But regardless of when they were introduced to weight training it is conservative to guess that 75% of all men under the age of fifty years have started some type of training program at some point in their life. Yet, the number of active weight training men in America is incredibly small, when compared to the enormous participation in such activities as golf, bowling or sport fishing. What happens?
Generally, males use weight training for one of the following reasons:
- to overcome weakness or a handicap;
- to develop an outstanding physique;
- to become a physically stronger person;
- to specialize in Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting;
- to stay healthy and physically fit;
- to succeed in athletics.
Each of these reasons is excellent for starting a weight training program but it doesn't always keep a person training. As soon as a person overcomes his physical handicap, he is not usually interested in going any further with weight training. Both bodybuilding and powerlifters for example will train avidly during the peak years of their youth, but begin to resent the 'grind' as they grow older. Athletes look upon weight training as a means to an end, usually don't enjoy this form of exercise and discontinue it when their competitive days are over. So only the 'keep fit' individual is likely to continue weight training throughout life and in this approach lies rewards overlooked by all the others.
A Life Free Of Pain Or Sickness...
It should be obvious that a life free of pain or sickness, with vitality and physical ability is the greatest gift a person can possess. This blessed state is far more to be desired than a Mr. America physique, tremendous strength, athletic titles, great fame or wealth. In youth, we tend to ignore this fact but as the years pass, the beautiful body disappears, the power steadily slips away and the athletic triumphs are only dimly remembered. No one needs to be reminded of the uselessness of the riches or fame when they are suffering the anguish of sickness or great pain! No, the only constant, the one treasure that remains valuable throughout life, is abundant glowing health and fitness.
Fitness, this is one of the most frequently misunderstood and misused concepts in the realm of bodybuilding. What does it mean to be fit? This concept became crystal clear to me one afternoon as I was taking a short rest after having just completed 20 brutal repetitions in the full Barbell back squat with slightly over 400 pounds. I was looking out the window of my second story gym and I happened to notice a well known doctor in our community jogging by on the street below.
The doctor was of the ectomorph body type, which indicates that his physical characteristics were of the slender type with a decent degree of muscularity (this was noteworthy on his part since he was well beyond the age of 50) and a minimal degree of visible body fat, all at a bodyweight of approximately 165 pounds at 6 feet in height.
As I continued to observe the doctor jogging I had a pretty good ideas that he more than likely was in the middle of a six to twelve mile run that particular day. I stood amazed because I knew in the back of my mind, that my 6' ½" frame and 230 pounds of muscular bodyweight could not even begin to stand the rigors of jogging that the good doctor was putting himself through and with seeming ease. Then a provoking thought came to my mind which would change my concept of what it meant to be fit for life.
As much as I couldn't keep up with the doctor and his jogging routine I doubted that he could even do a quarter squat for one repetition with the 400 pound barbell that I had just finished completing 20 repetitions with as part of my warm up procedure. So therein the question must be answered, "Who was more physically fit?" The doctor who could jog for endless miles or myself who could do rock bottom Barbell back squats with 400 pounds for 20 brutal repetitions? Perhaps it was neither of us!!!
The fitness lifestyle is more than the strength and power I possessed or the startling cardiovascular endurance the doctor demonstrated. In addition to the three fitness elements just mentioned, optimal fitness (Super Fitness) should and must include these additional elements: flexibility, localized muscular endurance and balance. It is when these 6 primary pre-requisites are developed to an individual's maximum potential then and only then can Super Fitness be realized.
It Takes Time
Acquiring a maximum degree of Super Fitness cannot be accomplished in just a matter of a week or two. You will have to work at obtaining Super Fitness through the use of exercise and a proper diet. Perhaps you are the type of person who believes that all you have to do is "lock in" on a proper diet only to achieve Super Fitness. This of course is a step in the right direction but the goal of Super Fitness is greatly enhanced not only by a proper diet but by additionally combining important types of exercise as well.
The three main types of exercise that I will be giving particular attention to are Stretching, Aerobic Conditioning and Anaerobic Weight Training. If you are ready to accept the Super Fitness Challenge then I say welcome. Now I'll begin by answering some of your questions.
Regarding Super Fitness.
What Are The Definitions Of The 6 Elements Of Super Fitness?
I don't fully understand the meanings of the 6 elements of Super Fitness. I do have a vague knowledge of the types of exercises you mentioned, but could you please briefly define each of these terms for me?
No problem, bodybuilding has its own special jargon. Actually at times it's only discernible to those who are actively involved in it. The following meanings should help you to understand the 6 elements of Super Fitness and the types of exercises more clearly.
- Strength: This is the ability to overcome resistance, which is the actual amount of poundage that a person uses in an exercise. To put it in simpler terms if you apply enough force against an object (such as a 50 pound sack of potatoes) and are able to move it, regardless of how long it takes, then you are exhibiting strength.
- Power: This is basically the same thing as strength but with an unusual twist. Maximum force is applied and with maximum speed so that the object is moved quickly. Summed up power is the amount of work done in a certain period of time.
- Cardiovascular Endurance: In some fitness groups this term is often referred to as Aerobic Conditioning but regardless of which term you favor it is any mild (low stress) exercise which is performed continuously (non-stop) for a minimum of 12 minutes up to a maximum of 1 hour while sustaining your pulse rate at 60% and no more than 80% of your age adjusted heart rate. When you exercise in this manner you will increase the capability of the heart and blood vessels to supply nutrients such as glucose and oxygen to the body's tissues and remove metabolic waste (lactic acid is a chemical substance formed in muscle during exercise caused by the breakdown of glycogen) products from the muscles of the body.
- Flexibility: This is the ability to flex and extend the joints and muscles through their full range of motion. An example of maximum flexibility would be touching the palms of your hands on the floor from a standing knees locked position.
- Balance: Maintaining equilibrium while moving or stationary.
- Stretching: These are slow rhythmic exercises performed in a warm-up routine which promotes flexibility of the body.
- Aerobic Conditioning: This is explained under the term of Cardiovascular Endurance.
- Anaerobic Weight Training: Basically this type of exercise is different than cardiovascular endurance in that most of the training effort exceeds a maximum pulse rate of 80% of the age adjusted maximum rate and therefore the heart and lungs do not have the capacity to deliver the oxygen as efficiently to the muscles with the end result being that such exercise can't be continued for much more than a minute or so before some rest is needed.
Will I Become Musclebound If I Use This Program?
I am not thoroughly convinced that I am ready to begin a Super Fitness program. I am presently supervising the construction of a large shopping complex and I know of at least two to three of the laborers who are employed with us are the big muscle types'. These guys look like they could move the pyramids of Egypt if they wanted to. These guys really look terrific but it ends there because they are the worst workers. Oh yeah, they have the strength alright but they lack stamina and flexibility and are actually outworked by many of the fellows on the crew and most of the gang smokes one or two packs of cigarettes a day and to top that off they are occasionally known to down a six pack or two of beer after a hard day's work.
Those big muscle guys are muscle bound and are quite a joke among the crew. If that's what being in shape is all about then don't count on me ever getting involved. What gives?
I wish I had a dime for each time that this particular inquiry has been brought to my attention. I would be a wealthy man by now and more than likely wouldn't have to be writing bodybuilding books in an effort to make a few extra dollars. That aside, you didn't mention whether or not you actually asked those big muscle types if they in fact worked out with weights or not. It is possible that genetically nature may have blessed them with a bodybuilder's physique and they may have never touched a barbell in their life. On the other hand let's assume for a moment they do use weights to build their bodies.
From what you have observed first hand they have developed at least one of the Super Fitness elements, that being the strength factor. Of course one of the results of strength development is an increase in the muscle mass and along with the increase some type of limitation of the muscle movement is bound to occur. If the bodybuilders had followed the complete plant of Super Fitness and included some flexibility and aerobic conditioning exercises I seriously doubt that you or the rest of the crew would have had a gripe about the quality of work those guys could have done had they followed the Super Fitness plan in its entirety.
Proof that the Super Fitness system is functional to blue collar job employment can be summed up by the sparkling work performance of my friend, the late Chuck Sipes (www.chucksipes.com). Chuck might be classed as a power bodybuilder type. He was 5' 9 ½" and in his prime he weighed 220 lbs. His measurements included arms, 19 ½", chest, 50", waist 32", thighs, 25 ½", and calves, 18". He was particularly known for his massive and powerful forearms, which measured nearly 18 inches pumped.
Chuck was enormously strong and could do such strength feats as a 570 lb. bench press, a full squat with 600 lbs. and a standing barbell curl with 250 lbs. By now I guess it is obvious that Chuck wasn't your ordinary bodybuilder. He was a contest wining bodybuilder who won the IFBB Mr. America in 1959 then went on to win the IFBB Mr. Universe in 1961 and finally the IFBB Mr. World title in 1968 at the age of 36.
During those times of contest preparation for the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles Chuck was employed as a lumberjack in the Redwood forests of Northern California. The magic of automation had not arrived in the logging industry yet so each and every job was physically demanding. I have spoken with lumberjacks who used to work with Chuck and they told me that he could put in a full 12 hour shift in the Redwoods and then go and do a brutal 2 to 3 hour workout in preparation for the competitions mentioned.
Muscles will last a lifetime, when correctly developed and Chuck Sipes is a comforting argument to this statement. During his adult life Chuck Sipes was an active mountaineer (member of the American Alpine Club) and at the age of 56 he was known to go on two to four week treks into the rugged mountains in California. The above commentary on Chuck Sipes serves as just one solid example of the merits of the Super Fitness lifestyle. The term muscle-bound' must be put to rest once and for all. There is no such affliction as muscle-bound'a muscle cannot bind a joint. The greatest majority of sports athletes today know the value of weight training and how much it can enhance their performance. Evander Holyfield, the professional boxer has proved its value as well as many of the fighters who enter the Octagon at the UFC. If these supporting comments aren't enough to convince you then you might ask a pro quarterback in the NFL if the 300 pound linebacker is muscle-bound' just micro seconds before a bone jarring quarterback sack!!
The sad fact of the matter is that I know of more individuals who do precious little in the way of exercise at all (and this includes children) and it shows. Countless numbers of these individuals can't even come near touching the floor with their fingertips from the standing knees locked position. These people will say its just poor flexibility on their part but yet if a bodybuilder exhibits this same trait, the ignorant will say "he is muscle-bound". Go figure!
Asking some of these people to do ten pushups or five pull-ups is inviting defeat. It simply can't be done. I am not talking about older men necessarily but teens and twenty year old male and females who can't pass some of the basic fitness assessment tests. In conclusion I must admit that there are occasionally some bodybuilders who do not represent the merits of Super Fitness but I have investigated and found far more individuals who do not follow any mode of the fitness lifestyle and it surprisingly is these individuals who qualify for the term of muscle bound if such a term exists.
Are Bodybuilders All Brawn And No Brains?
That is a pretty good argument in favor of bodybuilding and the fitness lifestyle and I must admit it dispels the myth of bodybuilders being 'muscle bound'. However I am still not convinced to start a Super Fitness program because I have a feeling that bodybuilders are 'all brawn and no brain'. Would you care to comment on this topic?
I would be happy to comment on all brawn and no brain' myth because that is exactly what it is, a myth. To be perfectly honest with you I get the feeling that you are looking for excuses to not workout. It is my personal opinion that individuals such as yourself who feel this way about bodybuilding in general must in some way feel intimidated and somewhat insecure.
Perhaps this has happened because you have tried numerous times to get in tip top shape over the years but have never been able to stay with the program long enough to see any decent results. As a result of your numerous failures in this area of your life you would rather blame someone else for your lack of motivation and shortcomings so to speak.
You aren't the only one in this common situation. Think back for a moment to all the people you have come into contact with over the years and even the past few months who expressed a seemingly sincere desire to lose a few extra pounds and firm up. In attempting to do so they blindly attempted to use any type of the fad of the day' diet and exercise schemes to accomplish their goals. In most cases it would be safe to say that the end results were nothing to speak of.
What amazes me most is the fact that most of these individuals will not even attempt to explore the pros and cons of the fad diet and exercise schemes but yet in the same token will quickly condemn the bodybuilder's fitness lifestyle which has proven itself time and time again.
The philosopher Herbert Spenser once remarked; "One of mankind's greatest faults is condemnation prior to investigation." It is ironic to me that this fault of condemnation prior to investigation is applied to the Super Fitness lifestyle of a bodybuilder but yet it never seems to apply to fad diet and exercise schemes. My investigative research into the subject of all brawn and no brain leads me to believe it is just another myth and I can support my reasons with some capsule comments of the observations that I and many other experts in bodybuilding have noticed over the years.
Probably one of the striking examples dispelling the myth of all brawn and no brain' is the success story of Arnold Schwarzenegger. To make a long success story short he came over to the United States from Europe when he was in his late teens. He had about $50 to his name and had very little command of the English language. One thing he did have going for him was a world class bodybuilder's physique. I suppose that this visual impression accompanied by the fact that his command of the American language wasn't that great could have led some individuals to believe that here was a big guy with muscles and was a tad slow it seemed when he was asked any questions.
Was Arnold all brawn and no brain' or big and dumb as the sayings go? Of course he wasn't. He just lacked the necessary communicative skills to speak fluid English when first came to this country, as would any of us who would go to another non English speaking country and did not know the language.
T.he success story of Arnold Schwarzenegger (www.schwarzenegger.com) is truly one of the most inspiring in the annals of bodybuilding history. Arnold realized that the $50 in his pocket and the lack of mastery of our language that some priorities must be set. First he must secure employment since bodybuilding on the professional level wasn't self-supporting in the 1960's. This priority was met when Joe Weider gave him work at the Weider headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Joe was instrumental in encouraging Arnold to enroll in some academic college courses which would improve his communicative skills. As time went on he also enrolled in some courses of business management which would be of immeasurable value to him later in his life. The name of Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most recognized name in the sport of bodybuilding and to the general public (and right behind him is The Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno. Visit: www.louferrigno.com).
This is no accident for he went on to become one of the most successful (if not the most successful) bodybuilder in history, having won every major title available from the amateur NABBA Mr. Universe in 1967 and a 3 time winner of the prestigious Professional NABBA Mr. Universe in '68, '69 and '70. Arnold then went on to win the echelon of world physique contests by becoming a winner of the IFBB Mr. Olympia for an unprecedented 7 times. If Arnold's story ended here there it is enough proof to dispel the myth that bodybuilders are dumb but it didn't and hasn't.
One of Arnold's goals early in his life was to become the world's premier bodybuilder and he certainly did that in a fashionable way but this 'high achiever' wasn't done yet for he became a top draw actor on the silver screen. One of the obvious rewards of his hard work in these various pursuits is the financial gain. It would be a fair assumption to say that he is a multi-millionaire. A far cry from the $50 of pocket money he came to this country with years ago wouldn't you say? Arnold Schwarzenegger has proven to be one of the finest ambassadors in bodybuilding. A comforting argument to the myth of all muscle and no brain' I salute Arnold the bodybuilder, the businessman, the actor and not to be forgotten, the family man.
There are other top names in bodybuilding who have utilized their physique talents and intelligence to become successful businessmen. One more that quickly comes to mind is Frank Zane (www.frankzane.com).
For many years Frank taught academics in various schools from Pennsylvania to California and in fact holds California Life Teaching credentials. He holds two bachelor's degrees, one in education and one in psychology. It was during his involvement in academics that Frank was winning some rather impressive national bodybuilding competitions.
Frank retired from academics in the late 70's and began pursuing professional bodybuilding on a full time basis. He won the competitive, tough and highly acclaimed IFBB Mr. Olympia contest 3 consecutive years (1977, '78 and '79). He and his wife Christine have gone on to establish a thriving and successful business (Zane Experience) with a daring and practical new approach toward the combining of weight training, stretching, ab-erobics, floatation and deep relaxation, nutrition and motivational techniques for both men and women. It has been career changes like this that have allowed Frank and Christine to enjoy life and financial freedom as never before.
The list could go on and on relating to the successful men and women who have used their minds and muscles to become achievers. This not only applies to bodybuilders but those involved in other amateur and professional sports as well. If for some reason there is still some doubt in your mind about the all brawn and no brain' myth, then let me share with you one more argument dispelling this myth.
One common denominator that each of the two (Arnold and Frank) shared was that each used scientific weight training program to achieve their goal of winning first place in the various physique competitions. In order to accomplish this task each of these men had an intellect and knowledge of proper nutrition and supplementation, on- and off-season training schedules, the contest winning attitude, the actual contest diet, posing requirements, and on it goes. Obviously a bodybuilder must have a higher than average degree of intelligence to monitor all these facets at once. Bodybuilders: All brawn and no brain? Hardly!!
Will My Muscles Turn To Fat If I Quit The Program?
I have heard that when a person quits training with weights that his muscles will turn to fat and I don't want that to happen so I doubt that I will ever train with weights. What do you have to say about that?
It isn't true. Muscles don't turn into fat when a person quits training and by the same token fat will not turn into muscle when training with the weights. Pound for pound fat and muscle does have similarities in that each contains water, protein and fatty tissue but in different ratios and calorie values. The following chart should give you a crystal clear vision of what I am talking about.
As you can see from the above chart one pound of muscle is almost 3/4 water whereas the same amount of fatty tissue is almost exclusively fat. These differences and the individual calorie differences would seem to suggest that these are two opposite types of tissues altogether and serve the body in different ways.
Muscles turning into fat is almost like a cosmetic optical illusion. When a person is younger it is natural to strive for the top, working to extremes and enjoying the maximum rewards of heavy weight training. A couple of rewards that are evident is that you can take in quite a few more calories (and who doesn't enjoy eating a little more) without having to worry about gaining extra pounds of body fat and the muscles of the body are usually visibly 'well defined'.
As the years go on and the responsibilities of raising a family of your own, holding down a fulltime job to meet society's demands of paying rent and buying food, etc., interest in weight training begins to fade until it finally flickers out.
Now the dilemma of the ex-weight training man or bodybuilder comes into focus. Because you are no longer training your energy requirements are dramatically reduced and though you may be aware of it for some reason you are still taking in the same number of calories each day as you were when you were training with the weights.
Because you are no longer stimulating the muscles with vigorous exercise the muscles begin to diminish in cell size and the consumption of more calories than you need will contribute to some rather large gains in body fat. Some of the body fat forms a layer between the skin and the muscle cell (which has diminished in size due to lack of exercise. The 'use it or lose it' philosophy is very evident at this point.)
It is evident to see that the combination of decreasing muscle tissue and the marked increase of body fat (especially the layer between the skin and muscle) will give the distinct and visible illusion of muscle turning to fat. It is more than likely that you will lose bodyweight (fat and some muscle tissue) rather than gain it (body fat) when you cease training altogether, but it will basically depend on two things:
- Your level of physical activity in relation to your daily food (nutrient) intake: overeat (taking in more calories than you expend) and remain inactive for a number of days, weeks or months and you can count on gaining body fat. Eat less (taking in less calories than what is required for your daily energy expenditure) while staying somewhat active and you should lose a substantial amount of body fat.
- Very few bodybuilders cease all form of physical exercise. Many top contest-winning bodybuilders will lighten up on their training schedules somewhat when they retire from active competition but they never totally cease all forms of exercise. They train smart and eat right.
The dilemma and illusion of muscles turning to fat can happen to a person who has never followed a systematic exercise program in their life. Here's what happens. A person is generally more active in their teens and early 20's but as the years go by it seems that people become less active and just do not find the time to pursue those activities that they once enjoyed. The body seems to sense this and as a result the metabolic process tends to slow down and existing skeletal muscle tissue diminishes ever so slowly while the percentage of underlying body fat increases.
The deceptive part of this whole process is that it happens in some cases without showing more than a 5 to 10 pound gain on the bathroom scale and most of the time a gain of this nature is of little concern because there is very little change in the physical appearance either to the person who gained the weight or to the average onlooker. The reason that the change (decrease in muscle tissue and an increase in body fat) wasn't physically obvious as it was in the case of the ex-weight training man because this person more than likely never had any semblance of a 'defined' physique at any time on their life.
So with this in mind, the next time someone remarks to the fact that they have not gained more than 5 to 10 pounds over their ideal bodyweight in the past 15 to 20 years you then might want to ask them if they are following any type of systematic exercise program and if they are not then there is a good possibility that they have replaced decreased muscle tissue with more body fat.
Aren't Freaky Bodybuilders Considered Grotesque By The General Public?
My wife and my son's fiance happened to be browsing through a current issue of one of the more popular bodybuilding magazines the other day and I couldn't help but overhear their comments. They were using words such as grotesque, ugly and narcissus, so it was more than obvious to me they weren't reading the articles but were in fact directing their criticism towards toward the pictures of the top male and female bodybuilders in the magazine.
I knew that they would be asking me some questions pertaining to what they observed and sure enough before long the heat was on. They said that the male physiques were grotesque and that the guys probably suffered from a Narcissus complex (the state of being in love with your own image). The only term they used for the female physiques was "ugly". I couldn't counter their claims because I am just a weekend bodybuilder who trains once a week so I don't really know much about the sport itself. I do thoroughly enjoy reading bodybuilding magazines and their photo layout of the male and female bodybuilding fitness stars. What is a person supposed to say in defense of these rather derogatory remarks about bodybuilders without getting into a full-blown argument with family member or friends?
It was a wise decision on your part not to go to the defense of the bodybuilders since you were fully aware of the fact that you really didn't know much about them. As the saying goes "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
Now to answer your question. It depends on what a person's definition of grotesque and ugly is. To the average person who has no knowledge of the sport of bodybuilding and what it takes to get to the major leagues of bodybuilding competition then the bodybuilders in the magazines could very well be grotesque and ugly. Granted some of the top guys are almost unreal in appearance but this is usually only the case at the peak of contest training and it is at this time that the pictures are taken for magazine publication. When the contest season is over the biggest percentage of the top bodybuilders are quite normal in appearance though they will always be bigger and more defined than a normal person.
While I must address the issues presented by your wife and future daughter-in-law, I must state here and now that there is a tremendous following in bodybuilding circles who enjoy the massive, vascular and ripped physiques of the top super-stars in the iron game.
Most of the bodybuilding magazines are supported by a large group of 'hardcore readers' who enjoy the muscle studded physiques of the champions and if the magazines begin following the whims of the average man on the street and started including more and more photos of the sleek and slender physiques in the place of the top champions then before long the magazine would cease to exist because the bottom line is that when a hardcore bodybuilding type is looking at the pictures he/she wants to see muscle and plenty of it and if they don't then they will probably discontinue the present magazine for another one which offers them what they are looking for.
There are plenty of top caliber physiques which offer the viewer flawless proportions, shape and definition. Some that quickly come to mind are Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray and who can forget about some of those in years past such as Bob Paris, Frank Zane and the immortal Steve Reeves of Hercules fame?
As far as the women looking ugly that just may be a form of jealousy on your wife's and future daughter-in-law's part. I don't know to which female bodybuilder they were referring to in the magazine but I think it is safe to say that there is only a very small percentage of the women who have taken on the physical appearance of their male counterpart. Again, like the men in the magazines the women are only in super hard condition just prior to and during competition and this is what comes across in the magazines.
Aside from the competitions these women are a little out of the ordinary when compared to most women in everyday life in that they are firm and sleek and can really do justice to a nice pair of designer jeans or swim suit apparel.
I have no idea what type of physical condition your wife is in so do not take this next criticism personally but in most cases the women who sit in the seat of judgment of women bodybuilders in general usually look like a three hundred pound porker in a 100 pound stretch suit!!!
Granted I am not found of a woman, who if you would put a hard hat on her head and gave her a lunch pail to carry she would look just like some of your buddies at the construction site. The type of woman physiques that appeals to me most are the Rachel McLish & Cory Everson types, both former Ms. Olympia's back in the 80's (whom I consider to be two of the ultimate female bodybuilders ever, but there again these are my personal preferences).
The final issue I will address is that some of the bodybuilders suffer from a Narcissus complex. I haven't heard that term mentioned in quite some time but that certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't exist and with that in mind I would like to share with you my thoughts on this personality trait as it relates to bodybuilding in general.
I think it would be safe to say that probably two-thirds of the people who use weights do so in an effort to develop an attractive physique. You might have picked up on this fact already but the attractive physique has become a trademark in the bodybuilding and fitness industry and is naturally the industry's best selling point.
Developing a body that looks good is an admirable reason for weight reason for weight training but it is one that too often matures into a king size Narcissus complex! The victim finally spends more time looking at his muscles, feeling them, measuring them or talking about them, than he does in actual exercise. It is a fact, that the modern gyms and health clubs are not complete without at least one solid wall of mirrors for the pleasure of its patrons.
This type of man avoids heavy weights for he can't 'get a pump' with them. He never lifts for he might strain one of his carefully cultivated muscles. Running or jogging is out, as it will cause him to shed superfluous pounds. Athletics take too much time away from the gym and a beach is no longer for swimming, but is an ideal place for strutting and showing off his physique to anyone who would care to look.
In the final analysis, his world becomes limited to the mirror, a tape measure, his torso T-shirts, his physique photos and, in some cases, the posing platform. It seems kind of senseless, doesn't it? You can be assured, it seems a lot worse than that to the general public!
The number of actual bodybuilders who suffer from the Narcissus complex are extremely rare, and I would be willing to bet that there are more non-bodybuilders (both men and women alike) who don't mind sneaking a look at their reflection in the mirror along with the primping and fussing that goes into looking more appealing before going out into public.
Will Bodybuilding Make Me A "Real Man"?
I don't understand how bodybuilders develop a Narcissus complex anyway because I have always heard that 'weight training builds men'. Isn't that true?
Well that seems to be a fond delusion but nothing could be any more misleading than that statement! If a man of great spirit, fearless heart and rugged mentality, but lacks only physical size and power, obviously weight training will make him a man. A fellow who on the other hand lacks character, who has no courage, no intestinal fortitude or owns a weak mind, could physically become a Herculean Adonis and he still would not be a man! It's a fact weight does build men but only from the physical standpoint.
Will Weight Lifting Make A Woman "Huge"?
The other evening my wife turned on the television and there bigger than life was the IFBB Ms. Olympia contest. For the past year I have been preaching the benefits of weight training to my wife but her response was always "I'm not interested" and "It doesn't appeal to me." Well finally, I thought, she can now see first hand the benefits that weight training has had on this star-studded cast of women bodybuilders.
She watched the entire show without making any cutting comments, so far so good. She then clicked off the television and proceeded with her comments. "I would never want to develop the muscle size those women displayed tonight and I will never ever use weight training as a means of getting into shape if it means getting huge muscles." With that rather blunt statement she turned and marched off to the bedroom. Rather than start an argument I didn't say anything, but instead I am writing to you asking if you can help me convince her to give weight training a fair shake, just once?
I'll see what I can do to help you. Rumor has it (I don't have any available research to support the theory) that television camera's can distort a person's figure and as a result that person may look 10 to 15 pounds heavier on television than in person. Optimum stage lighting and various shadow effects can also contribute to an exaggeration of muscle size and definition. If this is the case then these women couldn't possibly have the extreme muscle size that your wife thought they had.
One of the key factors which influences muscle growth is an exciter' in the body called testosterone. Testosterone is a powerful hormone stimulant and it only takes an infinitesimal (immeasurably minute) secretion to affect rapid muscle growth. Both men and women have this hormone but not in equal amounts. Pound for pound women only have 1/20th the supply of a man. This means that if a man has problems with gaining muscle size with his existing testosterone levels then a woman who has 1/20th of that amount will have even more problems gaining muscle size to any marked degree.
Body fat is another issue that must be addressed. Women simply have a greater percentage of body fat (necessary for child bearing, etc.) and it is the extra fat, especially between the skin and muscle which actually blurs' an otherwise 'defined' muscle.
The women your wife saw on the Ms. Olympia program are a very special group of women, the cream of the crop, who represent the very best in the high tech field of professional women's bodybuilding. Less, and note I said less, than 1% of the women who begin weight training will ever reach this lofty super-star status. Literally hundreds of hours of special dieting and muscle blasting techniques are required to attain the crystal clear definition and diamond hard physiques represented at that contest.
It is a common failing of a man who is a dyed-in-the-wool bodybuilder, to want his girlfriend or wife as the case may be to train with weights. I call it a failing', for it is usually a lost cause! A young bride or girlfriend will tolerate the new exercise program, simply to please the man in her life. Seldom, though is she likely to continue training and a few months later, she will giggle in memory of her brief 'fling' in the gym.
Despite propaganda to the contrary, few wives or sweethearts of the iron game really train regularly. This delicate situation can be remedied if it is done in the proper way and the following suggestions should help you along.
Women can train with weights in basically the same way as a man, but never expect them to use the same program, sets and exercises that you find effective; they don't need as much exercise and become bored with too many sets and worry about straining (it should be noted here that women due to their physical characteristics should never perform an exercise for less than 8 reps).
For the time being forget about those exercise movements for the arms, shoulders and back. Ladies are vitally concerned with the bust, legs, hips and waistline only. Don't waste their energy and test their patience by including work for any other area, unless they are especially deficient in a particular body part. Above all, don't try to push them; the female body will respond to moderate exertion, doesn't need great resistance. Give them plenty of variety! Women prefer fifty different exercises in a week to repeating ten only. Finally but most important make their training joyous. Use well-made, attractive equipment, have the gym clean, bright, pleasant, adding music if possible. Try to be congenial, tolerant and patient while you instruct her weight training session and don't forget, you talked her into this!!!
One of the beauties about weight training for men and women is that is can be tailored to your own unique individual needs and capacities. Maybe you don't want to be built like 4 time Mr. O Ronnie Coleman or the 2002 Ms. O Juliette Bergmann, (chances are you don't have the genetics to ever reach this level of development anyway) that's fine, but accept the challenge to be the best you can be by training to meet your individual goal of superior Super Fitness.
What Do I Need To Do To Get Started?
Suppose I do decide to accept the Super Fitness Challenge, what advice can you give me so that I get started out right?
The very first thing I tell people who are serious about starting a Super Fitness program is to go and get a complete physical examination. The examination should include a Maximal Exercise Tolerance Test, the purpose of which is to measure for cardiovascular fitness and to determine the presence or absence of cardiovascular disease.
Components of the complete physical examination should include a Computerized Nutritional Assessment and Evaluation, Underwater Weighting and Skin Fold Technique to Determine Ideal Bodyweight, Maximal Performance Treadmill Stress Test, Blood Pressure Tests During Exercise and Recovery.
Regardless of your present physical condition and age, the complete physical examination is a priority one situation before beginning any exercise and nutritional protocol that I or any bodybuilding coach (personal trainer) might advise you on.
What If I Don't Have Much Time Or Equipment?
Right now I don't have any leisure time to fit more than 10 to 20 minutes of exercise a day at max into my hectic schedule. I don't own any exercise equipment and I am not in to traveling distance of a health club, so you can see that my options are rather limited. There is a public pool a couple of blocks from where I live though if that is any consolation. Do you have any shortcuts to fitness that would help me?
There are a couple of things that I can think of that will help you get into some kind of shape. A few years ago a Dr. Frank I. Katch and his brother Victor (both of whom hold EdD, and PhD in exercise science and physical education respectively) developed a unique formula for increasing muscular endurance. The formula is based on the Exercise/Rest principle and it goes something like this. As a starting point you must pick out a non-apparatus exercise such as a bodyweight only pushups (any non-apparatus exercise will suffice, one legged squats, dips between two chairs, sissy squats, bent knee sit-ups, leg raises, crunches, etc.). As a sidenote Pavel Tsatsouline illustrates some very unique non-apparatus exercises such as the Dive Bomber Pushups and The Rocking Pistol etc., in his new 10-video set titled: MARTIAL POWER: Hard-Hitting Combat Secrets from the Russian Special Ops.
The Exercise/Rest principle is divided into 5 stages of progression and with each one composed of six actual workout days.
Using the one legged squat as an example; begin by performing this exercise for as many ultra strict repetitions as possible within a 10 second time frame. Now rest for exactly 10 seconds; after the 10-second rest, immediately begin to perform some more one legged squats for 10 seconds, then another 10-second rest. Continue this 10 seconds of exercise/10 seconds of rest for an additional 9 more complete cycles.
One Legged Squats: Most likely you won't be able to go down this far at first. Just go down as far as you can with each rep.
Written down on paper 10 cycles of the Exercise/Rest principle looks like this:
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise, 10 Seconds of Rest
This stage consists of 6 workout days as will stages 3, 4, and 5 and begins with 10 cycles of work and rest. The difference here is that you will perform 15 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
20 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
30 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
30 seconds of exercise and 5 seconds of rest per cycle.
To briefly summarize, here are the necessary steps for successfully completing the 5 stages of the Exercise / Rest principle.
- 1) Each individual stage (1 thru 5) consists of 6 workout days. The workouts can be performed on consecutive days or you can do the workout every other day.
- 2) Begin each new stage on day one by doing a minimum of 10 non-stop sequences of the Exercise/Rest principle, then on each scheduled workout day then after be sure to add two additional non-stop sequences (as in the detailed stage 1 example).
- 3) Always do as many ultra strict repetitions as possible during the time of work phases.
What If I Already Get A Lot Of Exercise At Work?
I have a couple of friends of mine who say that they get plenty of exercise at their place of employment. One of them is a secretary and the other is a steel worker. What's a good way to convince them that they still need exercise in addition to their work?
I have heard these comments myself from time to time. The first thing these people must do is not to confuse work with exercise. Granted some work is like physical exercise and you would only have to follow your steel worker friend through one of his normal 8 to 10 hour shifts to realize this.
I have worked in the capacity as a longshoreman and as an employee for a commercial airline in ramp service (unloading and loading baggage & cargo). Both of these jobs were physical demanding, however you must realize one thing and that is most jobs are of the external nature meaning that we do it because society demands that we pay rent, buy food, etc.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a specific activity which is performed to perform internal changes (increased metabolic efficiency, energy, strength and health) and external changes (visual increased muscle size and muscularity) in our body. Most work related tasks don't bring about these evident changes.
Should I Do Cool-Down Exercises After My Workout?
I have noticed in your books on bodybuilding (Mass!, Raw Muscle and Anabolic Muscle Mass) that you place a great deal of value on warming up the muscles prior to performing most bodybuilding exercises. I am wondering if you place as much value in cool down exercises after an exercise schedule has been completed?
During physical activity such as the performance of a daily bodybuilding schedule, be it mild or strenuous there is a marked increase of the blood flow to the particular muscle being worked. This means that there will be a reduced blood supply to the heart. If a person becomes sedentary immediately after strenuous exercises, blood vessels constrict, which in turn traps or dams the blood supply in the muscle and doesn't allow for adequate blood flow to the heart and the end result might be a heart attack in some cases. Cooling down at one time was thought to relieve muscle soreness but recent research indicates otherwise. Take a tip from runners and swimmers and gradually cool down after your workout with some stretching, etc.
What Is Power Walking?
I am an avid walker and as a result I show more than a casual interest when this subject is mentioned. Recently I heard someone refer to the term of "Power Walking". Can you explain to me just exactly what power walking is?
You aren't alone when this method of exercise is brought up in one's conversation. Back in 1982 Psychology Today (October 1982) conducted a survey to determine what the primary source of physical exercise was for active people. The results of the survey were startling to say the least, because 49% of the men and 55% of the women surveyed said they enjoyed some form of walking.
I'm not speaking of the mere act of walking that a person does to go from the house to the car, but rather a brisk walk which brings the human stride into play. This can only be accomplished by walking briskly for at least one long or several short distances each day.
Getting back to your initial question regarding power walking, the late Steve Reeves, a Mr. Universe title holder and silver screen star, developed and refined brisk walking as we know it one step further into a revolutionary aerobic technique which he aptly termed power walking. The basic concept of power walking is to walk as fast as you can (within your allowable aerobic training capacity of 60% to 80% of your targeted heart rate), taking as long strides as possible, rhythmically breathing in and out 3 times in perfect time with your strides. Further more, the time, distance traveled, degree of incline of the walking terrain and the amount of resistance (weighted belt, wrist and ankle weights approximate 20% of your bodyweight) carried are three more very important factors to power walking success.
Power walking offers advantages over other forms of aerobic participation. To begin with it puts much less stress on the joints and feet than jogging and as an added feature it can help prevent shin splints by strengthening the tibalis (dorsi flexors) on the front of the lower leg. A book titled; "Power Walking", by Steve Reeves and James A. Peterson, PhD was published back in 1982. It has been out of print for years but The New POWERWALKING Book Is Coming. Prior to his passing on May 1, 2000 Steve Reeves and George L. Helmer started laying the book out and now three years later it is ready for publication. Visit www.stevereeves.com to learn more about "Power Walking".
A Final Comment
As with most things in life the complication of the 12 answers I have provided in this article are not actually complicated or magic, but are really quite simple and logical if you think about it. There are three types of people in the world: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
Be a person who makes things happen!!! It is with this thought that I wish you the very best in your quest for Super Fitness.