In today’s world where training articles are published each day, it is often difficult to distinguish between who is legit and who is a marketing creation. Many of today’s so-called trainers are nothing but desk jocks who live behind the computer and publish articles to the web. Unfortunately for them, real world experience cannot be downloaded or acquired through a weekend certification. As a result, it is no surprise that so many beginners become confused by what is often conflicting information. One so-called expert says one thing, while another says the opposite. The beginner is left with his head spinning, unsure of where to turn.
Therefore, when an accomplished athlete or coach is willing to share knowledge, it is a good idea to listen. A classic example can be found below. Within the video, you will see Richard Hawthorne share his thoughts regarding an exercise that he has mastered. He is truly a deadlifting machine. He has pulled over 600 pounds at a bodyweight of approximately 130 pounds. And while deadlifting may be his specialty, Richard is all around strong.
As for examples, you can see him pull 639.4 pounds below.
And while the keyboard warriors may cry that Richard is built for the exercise, no one pulls over 600 pounds at his bodyweight without a tremendous amount of hard work and consistency. Richard Hawthorne has clearly worked extremely hard and is quite knowledgeable about strength development. Whether you follow all of his advice or not, you can certainly benefit from his example and learn from his experience.
For those interested, you can find additional videos from Richard at the following link:
As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. – Andrew Carnegie9 comments
Over the past few weeks, I have written several entries about training in the winter. It is worth noting however that perhaps the most important aspect of outdoor training has nothing to do with climate. Sure it may be cold in my part of the world, but the weather does not dictate my training.
As evident in the following video, almost everything I do could be done at any time in the year.
Heavy snow may make for challenging running, but sprinting hills in the summer presents its own challenges as well. In either case, I make the most of my surroundings. I am also able to train effectively without fancy equipment.
In the demonstration above, much of the equipment is free or homemade. The pull-up bar is nothing but a piece of pipe. The suspension trainer is homemade. The tire that I strike with the sledgehammer was free. The log used for squats was found on the side of the road. The jump rope was purchased locally for a few dollars. And last but not least, calisthenic exercises such as pushups and burpees are naturally free and can be performed anywhere.
The cumulative effect of these movements and tools makes for a challenging workout regardless of ability. I have been training for well over 20 years and these outdoor sessions still get the best of me. Almost any sequence of movements can be effective if you put forth a true effort. No one will ever outgrow exercises such as hill sprints and sledgehammer swings. It is only a matter of time before they win.
Fortunately, when performed outdoors, you can at least enjoy the scenery while these seemingly simplistic movements creep up on you until you are defeated. And while they may get the best of me, I am bettering myself in the process. I’ll take that any day.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius9 comments
Below is a video of a 70 year old bodybuilder with a physique that would be impressive on a man half his age. The clip is well worth a look, not only to see how incredible this man performs for his age, but also to hear his thoughts about life and training.
There is so much to like about this man’s philosophy and achievements. For starters, he didn’t begin lifting until age 44. Meanwhile, I regularly receive emails from men in their 30s who are already complaining about old age. Sonny hadn’t even started at that point in his life. Even at age 44, he walked into the gym without knowing anything about lifting.
And to the younger readers of the site who may not know, we didn’t have the internet 27 years ago. Sonny couldn’t hop online to read the latest training research. It is safe to say that he learned his lessons in the gym. He paid his dues through hard and consistent work and the results are obvious.
It is also nice to see a man his age who trains as a bodybuilder. I’m sure we’ve all seen gurus today who make a point to regularly bash bodybuilding and anything related to it. I can only imagine the comments that they would make if the video above was of a 30 year old man. I’m sure they would be nitpicking his exercise selection and use of a machines.
Now take a moment to think about these modern age gurus. How many of them will perform at Sonny’s level when they reach age 70? Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the number will be slim. That alone speaks volumes.
And I don’t say this to suggest that everyone should train as a bodybuilder. Personally, I have no interest in bodybuilding. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that there is only one correct way to train however. As I’ve said before, almost anything works if the individual is willing to work and is consistent with his efforts.
Think back to a recent entry that I shared about older athletes who perform bodyweight exercise (see here). From a training standpoint, these men have very little in common with Sonny. The common link is that Sonny and these men all perform at a level that is light years ahead of their peers.
While fitness gurus in today’s era battle it out over who is right and who is wrong, these men prove that there are many ways to skin a cat. There is no single, best course of action that all must follow. It is possible to become stronger and better conditioned with countless approaches. Often times the deciding factor is not the routine that is followed but rather how the individual approaches the routine. How much effort is he willing to give?
I may sound like a broken record, but it is worth repeating. How you do what you do matters more than what you do. Countless real world examples validate this simple, yet often overlooked fact. Don’t get lost in paralysis by analysis. Find something that you enjoy and pursue it with relentless passion. The results will follow.
All the so-called “secrets of success” will not work unless you do.19 comments
I am often asked about variety in regards to exercise selection and programming. For example, some question how I perform the same exercises year after year without succumbing to boredom. Others question the value of variety. They are afraid to change exercises as they fear losing the gains that took so long to achieve. As a result, they have essentially concluded that boredom is an inevitable consequence. In their eyes, it comes with the territory so you must persevere through it.
Fortunately, it does not need to be that way. Yes, I am all for perseverance but you don’t need to continually persevere through the exact same exercises and routines. It is possible to include variety without disrupting a routine that has worked well for you. Variety does not mean knocking everything down and starting from scratch.
Variety can be much more subtle. You don’t need to abandon an exercise that has worked well for you. Often times, variety may simply mean performing a slightly different variation of the same movement. An example of this concept can be seen below.
I have performed standing rollouts for years. I hardly remember when I first used the exercise. Yet after all this time, I still benefit from the exercise and enjoy it. The reason for that is simple. I don’t limit myself to a single variation. I mix things up on occasion with new or different challenges. Even simply changing my scenery can be enough to provide a new spark.
Yet regardless of the variation I use, the physical benefits are relatively similar. I am not reinventing the wheel. I’m just using a different set of wheels on occasion to keep the ride interesting. And clearly standing rollouts are just one example of this concept. Subtle forms of variety can be applied to countless exercises and routines.
Variety could mean changing your running route. It could mean changing your grip on the pull-up bar. It could mean performing handstand pushups from rings instead of handles. It could mean performing an exercise with thick handles instead of a standard bar. It could mean occasionally working with dumbbells instead of a barbell or vice versa.
We could go on and on with examples. In each case, we are not trying to fix something that isn’t broken. On the contrary, we are looking to spice things up to stay mentally fresh while helping to prevent physical plateaus.
I’ve subscribed to this simple concept for years and I’m still going strong. I can’t even fathom the thought of being bored in the gym. With a regular dose of creativity, boredom becomes unimaginable. It is everything but an inevitable consequence.
Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety. – Francis Bacon7 comments
I often receive questions about hypothetical scenarios. For example, last week someone asked what I would pick if I was limited to three exercises. Another person asked which homemade tool I prefer over all others. Earlier today someone asked what bodyweight exercise I would pick if I was limited to one. I could go on and on with similar examples. These types of questions have filled my inbox for years.
Unfortunately for those asking, I rarely spend much time addressing such questions. I don’t waste time hypothesizing about things that will never happen. Sure, such topics may make for an entertaining discussion, but why would I ever consider losing my creativity?
One of my primary beliefs in regards to exercise is that we are not limited by the tools around us. If you confiscated all of my equipment, I am still confident that I would find a way to train effectively. Regardless of what I have (or don’t have), my mind is always seeking out new and different challenges.
And it is this creativity that I believe needs more widespread attention. Why even entertain the thought of being limited by anything? Whether you are an athlete or coach, your goal is not to find a way and then restrict yourself to it indefinitely. On the contrary, our goal should be to continually evolve and learn. Best is, and always will be, a moving target. It is not something that is achieved and then statically locked forever.
Whatever makes sense for you today may not make sense in another month or year. As I’ve said many times before, answers regarding training questions often depend on several unique factors that are specific to the individual and change over time. Therefore, if I was forced to answer the questions above, my responses would likely change each year. As is often the case, it depends.
Fortunately, I will never be forced to choose a handful of movements. Rather than pretend to be for the sake of a catchy article, why not instead demonstrate options that others may not have seen before? That was largely the goal of my recent demonstration of office chair standing rollouts (see here).
And as you can see, our creativity does not need to end with a chair. Below is a brief demonstration of standing rollouts with a sled. The idea came to me randomly while training outside. The day that I filmed the video was the first day that I tried the exercise.
So here we have an example of a movement that is beneficial and can be performed with almost anything. If you took away my ab wheels, I wouldn’t be concerned. I could use the office chair that I’m sitting on now or I could walk outside and grab a sled. Once again, whatever I have or don’t have, I will find a way to accomplish what I set out to do. If more people viewed their surroundings with this mentality, excuses about lack of space or equipment would become obsolete.
In summary, rather than asking what I would do if I was forced to limit myself, why not instead ask what can be done with objects that no one else has thought to use. More people thinking like that will lead to more people with more options that are readily available without breaking the bank.
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. – Arthur Schopenhauer3 comments