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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Get Healthy and Strong by NOT going to the Gym!

For many, many years I went to gyms.  I lifted weights at the YMCA, and ran on the streets.  I also did some stretching, but it was kind of hit and miss.  Those were my younger days…


Now, I am in my 66th year, and I have learned a lot since I started seriously working out in my 20’s!  In the beginning, I followed the bodybuilding advice of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.  Actually, Frank Zane still had what I consider the ideal physique- not huge, buy very symmetrical.  Even today, in his 70’s, he looks great!  Arnold, well, not so much…


Frank now works out in his own home gym, which is what I have done for the past 30 some years or so.  I found that my workouts were much more intense when done on my own, in my basement- there were no distractions, and I could do them before work in the early AM.  But my physique, while quite strong, had some shortcomings that just got more and more evident over time:


My butt and gut, from heavy squatting, got big- too big!  Sure, my thighs got bigger too, but they were overshadowed by my butt.  And, despite endless leg raises from a bar, along with other resisted ab exercises, my gut stuck out.  In addition, heavy benching actually made my chest too prominent.  I switched to incline presses, which helped that a lot, but my shoulders hurt most of the time, and so did my knees (from the squatting).  Also, the running took a toll on my body as well, with knees, feet, and hips taking a pounding on a regular basis.


I gradually started to transition in my 50’s to what I practice today, and now have learned how to exercise in what I have found to be a very productive, satisfying, and above all a completely home-based manner!  I read about body weight exercise, both calisthenics and self-resisted types of exercises, and started to substitute them in more and more.  And I read on a web page called by a fellow named John Peterson about what he called the ‘Tiger Moves’, which I prefer to call Virtual Resistance Exercise, since the resistance is generated from within the muscle itself, as it moves through a full range of motion.  This last was the key to mastering the bodily physique and to maximize health in an efficient, and very safe manner.


Not only that, but I can do the majority of the work in my living room, with a minimum of equipment, while I watch television! 


Think about that: instead of going downstairs to my dingy basement, which while it has a power rack and lots of equipment and weights, is still- a dingy, concrete and part dirt floor basement!  Now, I watch Netflix programs while I methodically work through my whole body.  And, while I certainly push hard, doing high volumes of leg-elevated pushups and straight-backed sit ups on my yoga mat on the floor, I never hurt my joints at all!


I come down first thing in the morning (that time works the best for almost everyone), and while the sun is peeking up over the horizon through my living room window,  I start into taxing my musculature.  I know exactly my routine, since it covers every muscle in my body, including my neck, wrists, and even fingers in a time-efficient and very satisfying manner. 


After doing the Virtual Resistance exercises over my whole body, from shoulders and arms, legs and chest down to the biceps, I go to the floor and do a series of stretches, mixed with mobility for my ankles and wrists, and even foot massage.  Then, I go to isometrics.  For whatever reason, this type of exercise has become so maligned over the years that it is pretty much dismissed by most.  That is very sad, for isometrics are the single most efficient means of building raw strength throughout the body with a very minimal expense of time!


I use a nylon strap, a moving strap actually, that will resist thousands of pounds of pressure.  The expense is very minimal; actually, I already had mine when I started, so the expense was zero- perhaps you have a towing strap lying around.  If not, they are quite inexpensive- a strap of about 25 feet is perfect.

Set it on the floor, stepping in the middle with both feet.  Then, you can do military presses, upright rows, curls, shoulder extensions, bent rows and squats, one right after another!  I like to do say the military press at shoulder height with both hands, pressing nearly as hard as I can for about 6 seconds, then after a pause to rest 7 seconds, and finally for 8 seconds or longer.  I repeat this at the midpoint of the ‘lift’, and then at the endpoint  And that is it for the shoulder press!  Total time spent, maybe couple of minutes…


Then, I go to curls, using the same protocol, then shoulder extensions, bent over row, upright row, and squats.  I finish up with the ‘bench press’ by holding the strap behind my back, and pressing out first close to my chest, then half-way out, and then near complete extension.  Same protocol as before, making my isometric portion of the workout complete at maybe 10 minutes or so, tops.  And my strength musculature is maxed out!


Finally, I will do rebounding, meaning bouncing on a rebounder as I do the first Virtual Resistance portions through two more cycles, starting at the midpoint, and for the final cycle of exercises at the endpoint.  This covers every fact of training, from cardio to bodybuilding to one-shot strength- all in a modest investment of time, say 30 to 45 minutes total. 


The main point is that this is not onerous exercise, meaning something brutal, that you only want to get through to get it done- not at all!  This way of exercising is like moving meditation- kind of relaxing, despite being strenuous in a not overwhelming way.  When you are done, you don’t feel like falling down or puking; no- you feel great!  Like you’ve been scrubbed and massaged inside and out, and are maxed out in all fitness parameters, all right in your living room.  And, you’ve just seen a (hopefully) great show simultaneously!


Now, sometimes I substitute pushups instead of the rebounding, along with sit ups and hindu squats.  And sometimes I do them all- it depends on how I feel, and my available time.  Often, I will go heavy hands walking through the woods, barefoot this time of year, swinging the tiny weight (5 pounds seems ideal) for 15 minutes later in the day. 


Or, I will go into my dingy basement, and do sets of pushups on my gymnastic rings suspended from the rafters!  This also goes very easily, since the rings make pushups completely comfortable, and infinitely gradable, from legs upraised pushups to flies standing almost upright.  I will finish up with rows from the rings, along with L-sits on them, along with some pistol squats (the rings make it easy to keep your balance and not harm your knee joints since you can lean well back), and even some isometric grip and reverse curl exercises in the power rack.


And this is how I exercise today.  I wish I had known this when I was 26, but at least I do know it now!  As do you.  Workouts not only do not need to be grueling, they are actually more productive if they are briefer, and less taxing of your body’s central nervous system!  Remember- workout hard, but with knowledge and care. 


As in proper medicine so it is in exercise: above all, do not do harm.














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