It must be a Tuesday thing, but somehow at this point every week I am ready to just start throwing bombs at people in the hope that knocking them out cures them of their stupidity, at least for a little while. But more likely it’s probably that I watch Biggest Loser on a Monday night and then struggle to get to sleep because I’m so riled up at the sheer dumb assery involved in whatever they jokingly call training.
See, people want to try to make things better. It’s a problem with man. We see things and try to improve upon it. We farmed to grow food and then we started rationalizing that if we put our crops in climate controlled green houses we could eat that food we craved so much year round. Then we started thinking that maybe we could grow it faster by adding certain chemicals or fiddling with its DNA a little and next thing you know we’re eating a tomato that probably causes cancer. Nothing beats organic produce farmed seasonally or meat fed its natural diet of grass and allowed roam free.
When it comes to exercise we’re no different. Modern man is all about comfort – put a roof on it, turn the AC on and make sure to be seated at all times. So what do we do? We take exercise – a thing that we’ve always done outside and in a standing position and made sure that every single variation of getting sweaty we can think of is done seated, inside and with the AC on. Has it improved it? Not at all. In fact, looking at obesity statistics it’s fairly obvious that we’ve made it worse.
While we’re busy trying to make things better and slip sliding back two steps at the same time, if we just stuck to the original form of things we’d be so much better off. We keep trying to reinvent fire. We’re the caveman who doesn’t accept that it works and spends our time looking for better fuel, a different type of stick – anything to make it work better – yet we’re always in the dark because we don’t have a working way to get the fire started. Meanwhile there are those who saw something that worked and stuck with it – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
We all know that machines are awesome, right? They make everything better. We’ve got machines to switch TV channels for us because that two foot walk to do it ourselves was too much. We’ve got machines to wash dishes and to dry clothes, because those jobs were too hard as well. And when it comes to the gym we’ve got the lot. We’ve got machines that balance the weights for you and others that allow you to watch TV while you peddle away inside in the comfortable climate controlled environment. We’ll know we’ve really gone all in when you see exercise bikes come with remote controls to change the channels while riding.
But have a look at the fittest guys and girls – how much machine based training do you see them doing? And I don’t mean the fittest looking, I mean the fittest – those with strength, endurance, flexibility and good movement. You know what they’re doing? They’re doing compound lifts like the clean, deadlift and squat. They’re running – top fighters from as far back as you can find have always valued road work yet somehow today’s crop of MMA fighters (mostly the ones who lose) seem to think you can get in shape without running. Tito Ortiz has said that he believes that running is excellent for teaching the body to absorb the impact of fighting. Ali felt it gave him the stamina needed for long fights into the championship rounds. Dan Gable felt a long ten mile run gave his wrestlers the edge. Strength and endurance – true functional fitness.
Along with lifting heavy and running you know what else the fittest are doing? They’re doing mobility work of some kind. Whether this is yoga, Primal Move like we teach at Read PT, hard flexibility work like martial artists and gymnasts do or another system like Z Health a smart athlete knows to look after their recovery and mobility too. After strength, endurance and movement they’re done. The fire is lit and they can sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of their lives.
So let’s look at the best fire building methods out there:
The RKC – viewed worldwide as the the gold standard in functional strength training. All of our sessions at Read Performance Training are built around the kettlebell and the RKC system. Contained within are not only kettlebell lifts that allow people to get close to the barbell lifts drills and techniques that allow us to get people to higher level of lifting skill quickly. This is important because many people lack the necessary tools to lift correctly and by using the RKC system we are essentially teaching them how to make fire.
Progressive Calisthenics – What could be more functional, more primal and more foundational to our fitness than learning how to use our own bodies correctly? The answer is nothing. Combined with the kettlebell our system of advanced body weight training combines the brilliance of Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning as well as Coach Sommers’ Gymnastic Bodies Foundation series we have a tried and true method of getting you from rubbing sticks together for fitness and strength to cooking with kerosene. The strength and suppleness gained from smart body weight training beats any so called functional exercise done in a gym setting.
FMS – There’s a reason I host all FMS events in Australia – it’s because this thing works. It’s the squat of movement. It forms the basis of our functional pyramid as it allows us to create sound foundational movement skills to build strength, speed and endurance on. Any trainer telling you they’re into functional training who isn’t FMS certified is having you on. Trying to build a fitness fire without the FMS is like trying to start a fire without tinder. It is the basis for everything and is why we screen every single client at Read PT.
Running – I’ve heard all the stories. All the lies. All the claims that we shouldn’t run because it’s too hard on the body. For years I believed them too. But we evolved and became apex predators because of running – we can out run any animal on the planet eventually. Failing to recognise and embrace this incredibly primal movement from our ancestry is foolish. 750,000 years of human evolution has hard wired running into our DNA. We ran as kids without all the fuss about running methods and technique coaches – there we go trying to make the fire better again – yet as adults we are supposed to get taught to run? I believe that as long as you take it steady and slowly progress you’ll be back running pain free within six months no matter the shape you started in. And talk about a fat blaster! There’s no exercise on the planet that will burn the fat off you faster or get in you fighting shape than running.
So quit experimenting with sticks. get back to basics and get that fire burning! Lift for strength, mobility work for movement and run for endurance. Simple enough for a Spartan warrior. Aroo!!