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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Do NOT Train with Weights- Brachiate!

More heresy- stop weight training? Get flabby and soft?? Well, how about stopping damaging, dangerous heavy weight lifting, and replace it with a type of strength training that is far safer, more beneficial, and will leave you with a body that is not only fit and healthy, but aesthetically pleasing as well.
I mean it, friends- I have literally tons of weights in my basement, that nowadays I never touch. Well, not never, because there is one exercise that you do need to use a barbell for that is wonderful- essential actually for your back health and strength- The Jefferson Curl. I just stand on a platform, and slowly perform the lift for 10 reps, slowly and methodically, stretching out until the bar is below my raised feet. I’ll put a video up on in the show notes, so you can see it first hand.
And sometimes I’ll do lateral raises with small dumbbells or plates, but I generate most of the resistance from within, by flexing deliberately as I move, superslow fashion. But that is it. And now I am 64, and more muscular and stronger than when I was 10 years younger or more, and lifting very heavy on a regular basis. How can this be?
Gymnastic rings!
Yup, these things are the best tool you can possibly find to really build your body and fitness. Safe, convenient, (I have them hanging in the middle of my basement from the rafters, and I can just walk down and start into ring pushups no muss, no fuss.
If you want to go light and high reps to really infuse the blood into your muscles for a pump, you just walk forward, decreasing the “lean” into the rings. Or, you can go back as far as the rings strap reaches, and go “heavier”. And it you really want to go heavy, you can elevate your feet on a bench or platform. Infinitely variable, and the changes from exercise to exercise are instantaneous.
For instance, I usually start with a light, high rep set of pushups, where I am standing at just a slight angle, and do a set, followed immediately by flies in the same position. Then, I just back up, and make it harder for another two sets. Back again- you get the idea. I think high rep pushups done like this on the rings are the best total body exercise ever. Strength and endurance all together, along with complete safety.
Let’s say you do heavy bench presses. Even if you have a spotter or a power rack for safety, you are definitely damaging your joints. Don’t argue- you are. The compression of the weight on your body, coupled with an incomplete motion of the shoulders leads long term to damage- rotator cuff surgery, at the very least. Pushups, especially on the rings, puts the shoulders through a complete range of motion, strengthening them, not damaging them. It’s just a much more natural movement pattern.
Think of our primate cousins- what is it they all do? They brachiate, which means they use their arms to hang from trees, swing and stretch. With gymnastic rings we add this evolutionary exercise back into our modern lives- I honestly believe that without brachiating, in some way in our daily life, we are not giving our whole upper torso and back what they need to stay healthy and strong! It’s ancestral, our bodies need and expect it, just like sunshine and real, non-processed foods.
I also do lots of pull-ups on the rings, and rows, along with L-sits, where you just hang on the rings, holding your legs out in front of you. And, pistol squats are wonderful on the rings! Anyone can do a pistol, safely, holding the rings in your hands for balance, and leaning back a bit. The backwards lean would be impossible without the rings, and is the only way to do a pistol, or one-legged squat, that is safe on the knee joint.
I also do pushups on yoga blocks in the living room, and with elevated legs on the Perfect Pushup rotating handles. But the rings are the best, the most effective, and really, the most fun. Get a pair- they’re about $30 or so, and hang them up in your basement, garage, or from a tree or playground set.
Go ahead- sell your weight set. Take the money, and get a set of gymnastic rings. This is not the type of exercise equipment that will just become a clothes hanger- when you walk by, I guarantee you’ll want to use them- it just feels good.

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