Category Archives: Fitness

Progress update – Handstands

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but this is just a quick post of my handstand progress and what I’m aiming for.  From a few months ago I couldn’t hold half a second hand stand to now my best in the video about 25 seconds.  Handstands are absolutely incredible for upper body strength.

My goal first is to hold a perfect handstand for a solid minute.  From there I will work on doing handstand push ups without a wall to assist.

 

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Little Dragon quotes

Feel like doing something different this post and posting a few of my favourite quotes from one of, if not, my biggest inspiration and role model – Bruce Lee.  (Little Dragon was the meaning of his Chinese screen name, Li Xiaolong)  To some, Bruce was just a pioneer of martial arts movies.  But he was so much more than that.  A philosopher, teacher, martial artist, actor, dancer, evolutionary, and much more.  Those who know him only from his appearances on screen only see the tip of the iceberg.  He has written a great deal of books, created is own style of martial arts (which by definition isn’t a ‘style’), taught martial arts and so on.  While I could write a great deal about him, in fact I probably will dedicate a post to his life, I just wanted to expose a few of his gems of insight: (in no particular order) [Also I’d like to point out that much of Bruce Lee’s life philosophies quite well tie together a great deal of what I have written about]

‘A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at’

‘I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine’

‘If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else.  It will spread into your work and into your life.  There are no limits.  There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them’

‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times’

‘Real living is living for others’

‘”What is” is more important than “what should be.”  Too many people are looking at “what is” from a position of thinking “what should be”‘

‘The “moment” has not yesterday or tomorrow.  It is not the result of thought and, therefore, has not time’

‘To understand one another, there must be a state of choiceless awareness where there is no sense of comparison or condemnation, no waiting for a further development of discussion in order to agree or disagree. Above all, don’t start from a conclusion’

‘Choose the positive.  You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive.  Optimism is a faith that leads to success’

‘Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it’

‘Flow in the living moment.  We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo’

‘Absorb what is useful, discard what is not.  Add what is uniquely your own’

‘When we hold to the core, the opposite sides are the same if they are seen from the center of the moving circle. I do not experience; I am experience. I am not the subject of experience; I am that experience. I am awareness. Nothing else can be I or can exist’

bruce-lee-kick

Levers

I think I’ll focus an article on one of my favourite movements at the moment – Levers.  I have explained them briefly before but thought I might try a slightly more practical post!  There are several variations and types of levers.  Best of all there is a pretty steady progression through the various types, as I’m finding out.  For those who don’t know what a ‘lever’ is for calisthenics purposes, it’s basically a type of movement where you hold onto something and hold your body parallel to the ground.  The 3 fundamental ones are the elbow lever, back lever and front lever (variations generally relate to one of these).  I might try something different this time and provide lots of photos!

So first, the elbow lever.  This is the easiest of them all because you are able to rest of lot of your body weight on your arms.  Harder to do on flat ground, the way I started was on a dip bar (so if you overbalance you can stop yourself on the next bar, rather than fall to the ground! [yes I may or may not have face planted a few times haha :/]).  You grab the bar with your arms about waist width, palms facing outwards, like this: (Imagining my push up bars are whichever bar you are using)

Elbow Lever - Arm position[

Then jump up and hold yourself, and adjust your arms to line up your elbows just inside your waist if need to.  Now, you control yourself and bring your legs up while lowering your chest and head down, until your entire body is parallel to the ground.  It will probably be a little uncomfortable at first having your elbows dig into your sides, but it gets better.  You will need to lean your arms forward, so they aren’t coming straight up from the bar (note the angle of my arms in the pic below).  You will need to have a solid core foundation before attempting this.  Doing planks regularly I have found helped a great deal for working on this lever.  This is basically what it looks like:

Lever straight back

Note the line showing how you should be in a roughly straight line from your heels to your head.

At first you may be able to hold for a second or two.  That is great because you have the strength for it.  Try to get a photo or video or even someone watching as I found when I first begun I thought I was straight but I had a bend in my body.  From there you just practice as much as possible, holding as long as you can.  Soon you’ll get to 10 seconds easily.  Although I was practicing back levers concurrent to my elbow levers, I found once I hit a 10 second elbow lever I seemed prepared to start trying a back lever.

The back lever I found was the trickiest to start.  This is because, at least while training up to it, you begin with what’s called ‘skinning the cat’.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to harm any animals!  What this means is you grab a bar around shoulder width, and lift your legs through your arms and over the bar so you’re hanging upside down.  This is tricky because you need to arch your back and extend your legs out so they are not quite straight up.  Like this: (Pretending the gym rings are bars in this case)

Skinning the cat

From there, you will normally start with legs straddled as that decreases the difficulty.  You then focus on keeping your body straight and tensing pretty much every muscle as you bring your legs down and chest up.  It’s important to keep your body held straight – this is where a very strong core is necessary.  Once your body is parallel to the ground you hold as long as you can.  I’ve reached about a 5 second hold with legs together so far.  I will probably aim for a solid 10 second hold.  This is how it looks:

Back Lever

Finally, front levers.  I’m yet to achieve a complete one but I’m getting close.  So with this instead of putting your legs through your arms, you just bring them and your body straight up in front of you.  Now there’s a number of ways I’m going about training for this, through advice in person plus what I’ve read/seen online.  Generally I start with tucked lever holds.  The further your legs from your torso in this movement the harder it is.  So therefore doing a lever with your legs tucked is a good place to start.  From here you can start getting one leg out:

Lever progression

1 Leg Lever

Eventually you should be able to do a straddled lever.  Alternatively, you can do ‘lever reps’.  For these you basically pull your body up into the lever position, keeping your body completely straight.  This is incredible for working the lats, or wings to some people :).  Take note – this are incredibly hard and I do not recommend attempting a lever rep without strong lat and shoulder strength.  I will be sure to post a complete front lever when I reach it!

What I love about levers is you can have fun with them in different situations and locations.  Here’s two of my favourite:

Story Bridge Lever2Beer Lever

Of course it wouldn’t be a post of mine without a Socrates quote:

‘Did ya notice how the right leverage can be very effective ? What if I were to tell you that’s what your training, even your life, is about ? Developing the wisdom to apply the right leverage in the right place, at the right time’

Peace out

Exercises, Muscles, Weights, Body

I’d like to tone it back a little bit for this post and focus purely on different exercises or movements and explain a little in relation to different goals.  I’d also like to provide resources for anybody interested in more, because I’ve learned a great deal on all aspects of health and fitness from a very wide variety of sources, and I know there is an information overload out there and sometimes it’s hard to find the good stuff.  And to explain this I think I’ll use my own ‘timeline’ of exercise regimes to outline it all.  This may end up being a fairly long post but we’ll see.  Before I start I will state that most of this article is focused solely on strength gain and building muscle.  As far as the many components of ‘fitness’ as described in my first post is concerned, I have not touched on too many as this article has already gotten too long, I will do more posts on all the other aspects of fitness.  Progressive overload as you see it in this post, however, definitely applies to all areas of fitness.

Well, funny enough I first began with calisthenics, but not nearly to the advanced point I am now.  Before I really got into working out, I was using two books as a guide:  Your are your Own Gym and Navy Seal Fitness (http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Your-Own-Gym/dp/0345528581 and http://www.amazon.com/Navy-Seal-Workout-Compete-Total-Body/dp/0809229021/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374783260&sr=1-12&keywords=navy+seal+fitness respectively).  My fascination to these two books came from a natural awe I have for the special forces (both author’s being from the special forces).  The great thing about both these books, which I still apply to date, are that they are focused solely on body weight exercises.  The aim was to develop total body conditioning to the level of special forces personnel.  So it included exercises and programs to really push you to your limits, and then some.  The Navy Seal Workout was where I first really discovered what a pyramid workout is.  These differ from traditional sets, instead you start with 1 repetition of the chosen exercise, rest between 5-15 seconds, then do 2, rest, do 3, and so on up to a set amount, and then you come back down to 1.  These are incredibly tough and I highly recommend for anyone who wants a challenge or just to try something new.

So after a few months using these books as a guide, and developing a decent amount of strength (I couldn’t do a single ‘triangle’ push up in the beginning – push up with hands together), I wanted to expand.  About this time I was working out with my best mate a few days a week and I brought up the idea of turning his garage into a gym.  He thought it was a great idea, so over time we started buying bits and pieces – mostly second hand at incredibly good prices (a kilo is a kilo after all).  So by the end we had a good amount of weight, a bench press, squat rack and pull up tower with dip bar.  Basically, as I discovered, everything necessary to effectively train your body.  So I’ll go into a little more detail about this.

When I wasn’t training, I was reading.  I consumed every piece of knowledge on working out I could find.  At first I’d find something and think oh my god this is the secret or the must do thing.  After time, I started seeing trends in the things I was reading, common themes.  What I found to be the most important was this:  at the end of the day, what exercises or regimes you decide to do doesn’t matter, the most important thing is progressive overload.  Second to that, which actually ties in with it, is that muscle stimulation – regardless of the kind of exercise – is all that is necessary.  So, progressive overload and muscle stimulation – what does that really mean?  Basically, your workouts need to effectively stimulate the muscles you wish to build and the intensity should increase as time passes.

One of the biggest problems with the fitness industry is unnecessary hype surrounding particular exercises.  The junk you see in magazines about the ‘must do’ workout or the ‘secret to abs’ or ‘Get big like Hugh Jackman’.  It’s all sales talk and distracts people from the very simple process of building muscle.  The type of exercise isn’t really that important.  Getting the basics right first will then allow you to tailor you’re own workouts much more effectively.  If you’re unsure of what exercises stimulate which muscles, here is an incredible resource:  http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html.  This includes a great deal of body weight, machine, and weight exercises.  I’ll give a simple list of exercises that would hit pretty much every muscle in your body adequately (These more or less comprised the majority of my weightlifting):

  • Bench press
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Pull ups
  • Chin ups
  • Dips
  • Shoulder press
  • Rows

Just these alone will build a solid foundation of total body strength.  But theres no cable flyes?  There’s no tricep extensions?  There’s no CURLS??  I’ll point out that this is a very general list that will, for the majority of people, hit enough of their muscles.  Now I will point out that this does not completely apply to bodybuilding on a professional level.  For them, they’ve surpassed the basic conditioning and their aim is about proportion and size.  In their case, they will need certain exercises that target muscles much more effectively.  However, for anybody beginning to work out, forget about finding the ‘right’ exercise, the ‘right’ workout plan and stick to the basics.  There’s no perfect exercise, no perfect routine.  Just find one, stick to it, progressively overload, and you’ll gain a great amount of muscle and strength.  For the beginning, don’t worry if someone says ‘but you need to do ‘x’ exercise to get big.  The best part is after this, you’ll have a much better understanding of it all and will be able to decide for yourself what other exercises you need or would like to implement.  The idea is to tailor what you do to your goals, not anybody else’s.

For me, I stuck to pretty much just those for almost a year.  I put on a decent amount of muscle and my strength skyrocketed.  But, to be honest, I got bored of the same old iron lifting (I did vary the exercises a lot).  My mind wondered.  And, as it would be, it wondered straight back to body weight.  Except, I learned just how far body weight movements can go.  Before I thought a push up was a push up and a pull up was a pull up.  I quickly learned just how much there is you can do and quickly fell in love with it all.  So I’ll explain a couple of things now that I’m currently working on for a bit of an idea.

First, levers.  Levers are basically where you hold your body completely straight either hanging from a bar or off the ground.  They require a great deal of core strength, but in a way that stretches throughout your whole body.  The progression of difficulty is generally – Elbow lever > Back Lever > Front lever.  The elbow lever is best done on a straight bar but can be done on flat ground but I first found it harder.  You place your hands about your hip width, and dig your elbows into your sides.  From that you lean your body forward, raise your legs and straighten your body, balancing on your arms.  Doesn’t sound like much but I guarantee on first attempt it will be humbling.  Here is an example, my very first completely straight elbow lever:

Elbow lever smily

It definitely looks pretty cool.  I’m very close to a perfect back lever, and front levers are still a little far off.  These are both performed hanging from a bar, a front lever you bring your legs and body up and parallel to the ground.  Back lever you put your legs through your arms and bring your body down to parallel with the ground (so your body in the back lever is facing the ground).

What has probably become my focus right now is the planche push-up, which I described in detail in my post ‘Mastering Bodyweight and Intrinsic Purpose’.  I won’t explain it all again but I will say I’m getting quite close, in fact here’s a latest progress pic: (Such a pretty face)

newest planche smily

At that point I haven’t quite got complete control of my body and it was starting to come down.  But that is pretty close to the normal starting position (arms need to be straight though), from then you come down forward until your chest is about bar height or even lower, then return to the top, keeping your legs like that.  I’d like to stress that A) I’ve built a very strong push up foundation before this and B) It’s taken a great deal of work on balance and core strength to get here.  But it IS possible for anybody to achieve.

Calisthenics style workouts are becoming increasingly popular around the world, arguably made famous by the ‘ghetto workout’ in New York.  Now, there are ‘street workout’ championships and various ‘crews’ around the world devoted to this stuff.  I believe the biggest one in Australia at the moment is the Bondi Beach Bar Brutes (https://www.facebook.com/BondiBeachBarBrutes).  These guys are great.  A friend of mine also runs his own home gym business here in Brisbane called Raising the Bar, which is tailored specifically to body weight exercises (http://www.raisingthebartraining.com.au/wp/)  This guy is incredibly strong and I’ve seen some things he can do and it’s amazing to see in person.  I can definitely see myself following in his footsteps in one capacity or another.

I think I should end it there before this gets way too long.  I just wanted to dive a little deeper into actual training itself and hope to show people that there are endless amounts of ways to train and keep fit.  It is only limited by your imagination.  The point is that I wanted to get across was that when you start training, or want to try something different, pick something and stick with it for a while, while applying progressive overload.  Don’t worry too much about the minor details or someone saying you should be doing something else.  You can decide that for yourself after time.  The key thing really is to choose based on your goals.  It is your body.  Your own goals should dictate what it does.

Inner Meaning

Well my last post ended up proving to be more profound than I first thought.  So I thought it would be a good idea to continue on with one of the important themes from that.  Being the idea of having an internal purpose.  Two reasons why I want to expand on that.  First, I have just finished reading the book that The Way of the Peaceful Warrior movie was based on.  And it was probably the most incredible book I’ve read to date.  Second, I guess I’d like to provide a little more insight into what having an inner purpose  really means, where it may come from and, through things I’ve learned through that book, how to apply it across your entire life, so that every day you are not only motivated, but happy.  Because happiness is really the secret to life.  And the key to complete happiness is inside you, and it always has been.

The majority of people are trying to find this key in everything but themselves.  They look in their job, they look in their partners, they look in their achievements, their wealth, their kids, even their workouts themselves.  Their external surroundings.  You hear it all the time, and you probably say the same thing yourself.  After watching the movie and the reading the book, I’ve come to realize that happiness is a choice you make, despite anything going on around you.  Now I can tell you’re probably thinking ‘but bad things happen, I got fired, I can’t find a great partner, I’m in debt’ etc etc.  But when you think of things like a promotion, new job, a great wife, you think happiness don’t you?  And that is the fundamental problem – we as humans, label things good or bad, right or wrong.  I’ve realised I probably cannot do justice to the experience learned from this book in one blog post, but I will try to highlight some key points and apply to the intrinsic purpose.

One of the overall points the hero of the book had to learn was that a warrior takes action.  The master says ‘the warriors acts, the fool only reacts’.  It is through action that the warrior finds happiness.  And that term also means the action of choosing to be happy.  Now, to apply this to your intrinsic purpose, I’ll try making a comparison to the reactive fool and the active warrior.  The fool will react to social cues such as ‘you’re overweight’ ‘Ryan Gosling is soooo sexy why can’t you have a body like his’ and so on.  So, they react by going on a diet, working out, getting fit and all the rest.  They really give it their all, idealizing this outside influence a la carrot and the donkey.  But it generally doesn’t last.  They are trying to live up to external ideals, that may not even be synchronized with what they really want.  And so it is very easy for them to give up, saying things like ‘I’m okay with my weight’ ‘I can’t possibly look like Ryan Gosling’.  And the cycle can often repeat.

Now, in comparison, the warrior will act for no other reason than the action itself.  The choice of action reflects the warriors inner purpose.  For example, Dan in Peaceful Warrior is a gymnast.  In the beginning, he explains to Socrates (Soc) how hard he trains to try making the Olympics and that is his dream.  Soc, in the movie adaptation, in very few words breaks him down.  Dan says, in a very assertive and domineering voice – ‘I train 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year’.

Soc: ‘Why so much?’

Dan: ‘Are you serious?  I’m a heartbeat from making the qualifiers’

‘Qualifiers for what?’

Dan (Smugly): ‘Well, you ever watch the Olympics?’

‘Nope’.  And that was it

Well, you’re probably thinking who cares if he doesn’t watch the Olympics because millions of people do.  But the actual lesson is profound.

Dan was using these outside influences to motivate and give purpose to his training.  He was ‘chasing gold’.  But it is all an illusion, those things cannot really bring you happiness, and it’s the act itself that brings you real happiness.  What happens when you receive your gold medal?  That single moment in time is quickly passed by and can then make you feel empty inside.  Try applying this to yourself now.  Think back to any achievement you received an award or trophy for, even grab that trophy and feel it in your hands.  How do you feel?  Does it make you feel happy inside?  Do you feel like your now doing what it was you won the trophy for?  My guess is it doesn’t really bring any feeling to you.  In the end, it’s a piece of metal.

In Dan’s case he naturally loved gymnastics so the act of doing is all that is really necessary.  Once he realized this, his training evolved.  He devoted, and I now follow this principle, each training session to the act of training for training alone.  It wasn’t focused on winning a prize or making the qualifiers.  Because these external forces are beyond your control and will come and go.  However training, in whatever it is you choose it to be, exists every single time you do it.  It cannot be taken away from you any more then it can be given to you.  It is you.  This can apply to any single thing you do in your life, and in this case, to properly apply it to your workouts, you need to shift your focus from any external motivation and look inside you for the reason.

For myself, I love Futsal.  And as a player, I have finally evolved the way I play in an incredible way, because I now play for the sake of playing itself.  It doesn’t matter to me if we win or lose, doesn’t matter if the ref makes bad calls or I get injured.  Where not so long ago I would get angry or try to start fights very frequently.  But none of that makes a difference now.  As long as I’m playing (playing is most certainly a form of training) I’m at peace, and I will choose to be happy no matter what happens.  So I want you try this in your own life.  Think of something you like to do, be it sport, a hobby, work, whatever it is.  Break it down.  Do you do it because you want to win, because you want money, because you want fame?  If so, try to step back and think why you actually enjoy doing it.  Doing this you will surely learn whether you are doing something because you genuinely enjoy it or if you are really only doing it for some reward or recognition.  If the former, try to forget any result and enjoy each time you are doing it for doing it alone.  I guarantee you will not only find happiness in doing it, you may also find that you end up achieving more than when you were focused on just that.

Mastering Bodyweight and Intrinsic purpose

As I described in my post ‘Working Out’, having a clear purpose for training each day is best form of motivation and inspiration.  I also hinted at my current purpose:  Advanced calisthenics.  In simple terms that means bodyweight movements.  In more detail, it means bodyweight movement that look impossible, and are very much impossible in the beginning.  Now this post was suppose to be just about my training at the moment, but as I was writing I felt there was a natural progression into a deeper look into ‘purpose’.

I thought I’d go into a little more detail as to what I’m working on, where I get my ideas from, and provide some examples of some things you may like to try yourself.  I don’t want to try convincing anybody that they should drop the iron at all, but you might find you really like some of these movements.  So my training has now evolved into a more open ended view.  I don’t think of ‘chest and arms’ Monday, ‘back and legs’ Wednesday and ‘Shoulders and abs’ Friday anymore (very basic example of bodybuilding ideology – not to be taken as a ‘serious’ routine).  Instead, I end up training between 1 and 3 times a day.  My primary focus now is on movements, not body parts.  In this way, I can, and do, train whenever I feel my body can take it (Listening to your body is essential for avoiding injury).

For example, one move I’m working on at the moment is known as a planche push up.  This is basically a push up where your legs do not touch the ground.  Yep, just thinking about it will make you think how is that even possible?  Well when I first tried, I almost faceplanted into the ground.  However, I’ve learned a bit more about it and different ways to train for it.  This move takes an incredible amount of core strength and upper body strength, so I work on them whenever I can.  Core work at the moment consists of L-sits and planks.  As for upper body strength, I tailor that around some of the other movements I’m trying to learn at the same time, to integrate them all together.

For direct strength relating to this movement, I work on ‘psuedo’ planche push ups.  This is the same kind of movement except your feet are on the ground, or elevated.  To distinguish this from a normal push up, you put your hands much lower than normal, down around your hips.  I use push up bars to help with this but on the ground you generally need to put your hands facing outwards depending on wrist flexibility.  In this way, you can progressively work on the upper body strength needed, increasing the difficulty by either placing your legs up higher or using a weighted vest.

Concurrent to this strength training, I will also do specific training, basically by just attempting to perform the move.  So I’ll push my legs up into the air and work on either holding myself on the top position as long as I can, or really focus on keeping my body tight and bringing myself down slowly.  I will upload a video of where I am at currently tonight.  But if you wish to see what I’m talking about, just Youtube ‘planche push up’, you’ll find endless amounts of videos.  My current resource for new ideas and training is by a calisthenics master in America called Al Kavadlo.  He has an incredible resource of videos and articles on his blog at http://www.alkavadlo.com.

So, because my training methodology has completely changed, and I’ve shifted the focus from hypertrophy into strength and movement training, I generally avoid fatiguing my body too much.  In this way I can do some form of training morning and night every day.  I cannot always push myself excessively hard, and some days I’ll just take it easy and work strictly on balancing and core work, but the point is I guess that with this clear purpose I have, I am always motivated to train.

I wanted to explain a little more about my training to make you think a little more about why you train and what you wish to achieve.  I briefly described goals that a lot of people have that are not a very good purpose.  The best example is to ‘pick up chicks’.  This is by far the worst reason to train, and it’s not just because of the vain aspect – working out is inherently vain – but that’s not a bad thing (by that I mean it is always about improving yourself).  Why this is terrible is the fact that working out, putting on mass, ‘shredding’ does not in any way guarantee increased attraction from the opposite sex.  And so what happens to someone with this purpose who after working out for a while, hasn’t seen any or much progress in that department?  They quit, because the purpose just isn’t even real.  The key point I’d like to make from this is that your purpose should be completely intrinsic, something from within you without any external influence.

These purposes are not only the most powerful, but also the most true to you.  However, it will often take a huge shift in mentality to bring about this.  What I mean by that is, often when you first think of working out, you think ‘yeah working out, it’s good for me, I’ll feel better etc etc’ but deep inside you actually don’t care enough.  And you set about training hard, you buy new equipment, and you really dive into it.  But, soon enough, you’re too tired to train, you had a bad day at work and want to just lounge around watching tv, and before you know it, you’ve stopped and you think ‘ah well I can’t continue now…’  This vicious cycle can repeat over and over for many people.  It is imperative to have a complete intrinsic shift.  And it is not easy.  However it can be the best thing you ever do.  This will in itself move your focus away from ‘oh man it’s 2 weeks into training and I’m exhausted’ to ‘I cannot wait til my next workout I am going to dominate it’.  Stop thinking of the pain, the hurt, how ‘hard’ it is, and think about what you are achieving and what you can achieve.  And what you can achieve is limited only by what you believe.

‘Working out’

So I think I’ll start my first post under Fitness as a little bit of a reflection of my training mentality over the last 1.5-2 years and how it has progressed.

It all began early 2012.  My mate and I decided it’s time to get serious about ‘working out’, and he had a nice sized garage not being used for much else so we just went about buying bits of gym equipment over time.  Our first?  A pull up tower, the ones with a bar for chin ups, pull ups and dips.  To be honest if this wasn’t our first piece of equipment I may not have ended up sticking to it.

Why?  Because the first day I could not for the life of me complete 1 single pull up.  It grabbed my ego, uppercutted it and threw it in the gutter.  My friend and I were amazed at how incredibly difficult it was.  But the great thing was from that very moment I promised myself I would dominate this tower.  I didn’t set any time frame, I just said I will not give up until I make pull ups look easy.  And, within 1 year, I went from less than 1 to  over 10, and can do 1 rep with +25kg’s.  The point I’m trying to make here is that I feel working out requires purpose.  What is your reason for working out and what do you wish to achieve?

The great thing is your goal is constantly moving forward.  At first my overall goal was to put on mass, because at 6’10 and 65kg’s I was borderline anorexic.   I’m now getting above 75kg’s, and while I personally feel pretty small still it’s not important any more.  I’ve moved my goal, and I’m currently working on advanced calisthenics.  I’ll probably go into more detail in another post and provide some links.  But I guess what I’m trying to say is always train with purpose, even if that purpose changes.  Make it your drive to succeed.  And you will always succeed if you are working towards it.

Now I mentioned my ego before because I feel there is far too much ego involved at commercial gyms.  Training is always relative to your own strength.  And ‘competition’ is good in so far as you stick to what you can lift and increase progressively.  To paint it, my friend and I have two other mates who work out else where.  Every now and then they’d come to our home gym to train.  And my mate would always say ‘okay man we gotta bring our A game and lift more than them!’ kind of thing.  Personally, I don’t care for this.  Working out is not a sport (not including competitive lifting or, dare I say it, crossfit), and thus competition should not become a part of you training.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with seeing who can do the most, but when you go and jack up your weight to try matching somebody else, that’s in it’s basic form, an attempt to instant gratification and a crash course to injury.

I hear people all the time, and you probably do to or even say the same things: I don’t have time to work out, I couldn’t be bothered, I don’t need to work out, I have more important things to do etc etc etc.  These people do not have a purpose for training, or their purpose is not a strong one (I’ll post about this another time), and no amount of motivation can help them.  This is because they don’t want to make time, they will find the tiniest reason not to train.  Oh I’m a little tired today I’ll go tomorrow.  (Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with skipping a day here and there when called for).  And so maybe these people start on a ‘new me’ phase, and get motivated to work out.  They feel so good at first, put up motivational Facebook statuses and what not.  But it doesn’t take long for them to stop.  They miss a workout, then 2, then 3, and then all of a sudden they just stop.

So next time you’re going to the gym, think about your purpose for going.  And devote every single workout to achieving this purpose.  Be it achieving a 2x bodyweight deadlift or 1 armed chin ups (a goal of mine), use it to drive you every day.  I guarantee keeping this motivating force you will never ‘not have enough time’.