The Super Fitness Challenge
(12 Commonly Asked Questions & Answers)
By Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"
It is a strange paradox of the iron game (a
term used to refer to the activity of bodybuilding and progressive
weight in general) that a majority of males who use progressive
weight training as a means of getting into shape do so for a short
period of time in their lives. Why is this true?
By the time he has completed his basic elementary
and high school education and in some cases higher academics
such as college, the average American male has learned about some
of the methods of progressive weight training and its value for
getting into top shape. Not only that, all but a few of these men
have used a barbell at least once in their lifetime. Some of them
stumbled upon weight training in a neighbors yard, while teenagers.
Others have turned to weight training as a means by which to become
better high school or college athletes. Then there are other men
who dont see the importance of getting into shape until they
advance in years and their body doesnt function quite as efficiently
as it did when they were younger. But regardless of when they were
introduced to weight training it is conservative to guess that 75%
of all men under the age of fifty years have started some type of
training program at some point in their life. Yet, the number of
active weight training men in America is incredibly small, when
compared to the enormous participation in such activities as golf,
bowling or sport fishing. What happens?
Generally, males use weight training for one
of the following reasons: to overcome weakness or a handicap; to
develop an outstanding physique; to become a physically stronger
person; to specialize in Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting;
to stay healthy and physically fit; to succeed in athletics. Each
of these reasons is excellent for starting a weight training program
but it doesnt always keep a person training. As soon as a
person overcomes his physical handicap, he is not usually interested
in going any further with weight training. Both bodybuilding and
powerlifters for example will train avidly during the peak years
of their youth, but begin to resent the 'grind' as they grow older.
Athletes look upon weight training as a means to an end, usually
dont enjoy this form of exercise and discontinue it when their
competitive days are over. So only the 'keep fit' individual is
likely to continue weight training throughout life and in this approach
lies rewards overlooked by all the others.
It should be obvious that a life free of pain
or sickness, with vitality and physical ability is the greatest
gift a person can possess. This blessed state is far more to be
desired than a Mr. America physique, tremendous strength, athletic
titles, great fame or wealth. In youth, we tend to ignore this fact
but as the years pass, the beautiful body disappears, the power
steadily slips away and the athletic triumphs are only dimly remembered.
No one needs to be reminded of the uselessness of the riches or
fame when they are suffering the anguish of sickness or great pain!
No, the only constant, the one treasure that remains valuable throughout
life, is abundant glowing health and fitness.
Fitness, this is one of the most frequently
misunderstood and misused concepts in the realm of bodybuilding.
What does it mean to be fit? This concept became crystal clear to
me one afternoon as I was taking a short rest after having just
completed 20 brutal repetitions in the full Barbell back squat with
slightly over 400 pounds. I was looking out the window of my second
story gym and I happened to notice a well known doctor in our community
jogging by on the street below.
The doctor was of the ectomorph body type, which
indicates that his physical characteristics were of the slender
type with a decent degree of muscularity (this was noteworthy on
his part since he was well beyond the age of 50) and a minimal degree
of visible body fat, all at a bodyweight of approximately 165 pounds
at 6 feet in height.
As I continued to observe the doctor jogging
I had a pretty good ideas that he more than likely was in the middle
of a six to twelve mile run that particular day. I stood amazed
because I knew in the back of my mind, that my 6 ½"
frame and 230 pounds of muscular bodyweight could not even begin
to stand the rigors of jogging that the good doctor was putting
himself though and with seeming ease. Then a provoking thought came
to my mind which would change my concept of what it meant to be
fit for life.
As much as I couldnt keep up with the
doctor and his jogging routine I doubted that he could even do a
quarter squat for one repetition with the 400 pound barbell that
I had just finished completing 20 repetitions with as part of my
warm up procedure. So therein the question must be answered, "Who
was more physically fit?" The doctor who could jog for endless
miles or myself who could do rock bottom Barbell back squats with
400 pounds for 20 brutal repetitions? Perhaps it was neither of
The fitness lifestyle is more than the strength
and power I possessed or the startling cardiovascular endurance
the doctor demonstrated. In addition to the three fitness elements
just mentioned, optimal fitness (Super Fitness) should and must
include these additional elements: flexibility, localized muscular
endurance and balance. It is when these 6 primary pre-requisites
are developed to an individuals maximum potential then and
only then can Super Fitness be realized.
Acquiring a maximum degree of Super Fitness
cannot be accomplished in just a matter of a week or two. You will
have to work at obtaining Super Fitness through the use of exercise
and a proper diet. Perhaps you are the type of person who believes
that all you have to do is "lock in" on a proper diet
only to achieve Super Fitness. This of course is a step in the right
direction but the goal of Super Fitness is greatly enhanced not
only by a proper diet but by additionally combining important types
of exercise as well.
The three main types of exercise that I will
be giving particular attention to are Stretching, Aerobic Conditioning
and Anaerobic Weight Training. If you are ready to accept the Super
Fitness Challenge then I say welcome. Now Ill begin by answering
12 Commonly Asked Questions regarding Super Fitness.
I dont fully understand the meanings of the 6 elements of
Super Fitness. I do have a vague knowledge of the types of exercises
you mentioned, but could you please briefly define each of these
terms for me?
No problem, bodybuilding has its own special jargon. Actually at
times its only discernible to those who are actively involved
in it. The following meanings should help you to understand the
6 elements of Super Fitness and the types of exercises more clearly.
Strength: This is the ability to overcome resistance, which is the
actual amount of poundage that a person uses in an exercise. To
put it in simpler terms if you apply enough force against an object
(such as a 50 pound sack of potatoes) and are able to move it, regardless
of how long it takes, then you are exhibiting strength.
Power: This is basically the same thing as strength but with an
unusual twist. Maximum force is applied and with maximum speed so
that the object is moved quickly. Summed up power is the amount
of work done in a certain period of time.
Cardiovascular Endurance: In some fitness groups this term is often
referred to as Aerobic Conditioning but regardless of which term
you favor it is any mild (low stress) exercise which is performed
continuously (non-stop) for a minimum of 12 minutes up to a maximum
of 1 hour while sustaining your pulse rate at 60% and no more than
80% of your age adjusted heart rate. When you exercise in this manner
you will increase the capability of the heart and blood vessels
to supply nutrients such as glucose and oxygen to the bodys
tissues and remove metabolic waste (lactic acid is a chemical substance
formed in muscle during exercise caused by the breakdown of glycogen)
products from the muscles of the body.
Flexibility: This is the ability to flex and
extend the joints and muscles through their full range of motion.
An example of maximum flexibility would be touching the palms of
your hands on the floor from a standing knees locked position.
Balance: Maintaining equilibrium while moving or stationary.
Stretching: These are slow rhythmic exercises performed in a warm-up
routine which promotes flexibility of the body.
Aerobic Conditioning: This is explained under the term of Cardiovascular
Anaerobic Weight Training: Basically this type of exercise is different
than cardiovascular endurance in that most of the training effort
exceeds a maximum pulse rate of 80% of the age adjusted maximum
rate and therefore the heart and lungs do not have the capacity
to deliver the oxygen as efficiently to the muscles with the end
result being that such exercise cant be continued for much
more than a minute or so before some rest is needed.
I am not thoroughly convinced that I am ready to begin a Super Fitness
program. I am presently supervising the construction of a large
shopping complex and I know of at least two to three of the laborers
who are employed with us are the big muscle types. These
guys look like they could move the pyramids of Egypt if they wanted
to. These guys really look terrific but it ends there because they
are the worst workers. Oh yeah, they have the strength alright but
they lack stamina and flexibility and are actually outworked by
many of the fellows on the crew and most of the gang smokes one
or two packs of cigarettes a day and to top that off they are occasionally
known to down a six pack or two of beer after a hard days
work. Those big muscle guys are muscle bound and are quite a joke
among the crew. If thats what being in shape is all about
then dont count on me ever getting involved. What gives?
I wish I had a dime for each time that this particular inquiry has
been brought to my attention. I would be a wealthy man by now and
more than likely wouldnt have to be writing bodybuilding books
in an effort to make a few extra dollars. That aside, you didnt
mention whether or not you actually asked those big muscle
types if they in fact worked out with weights or not. It is possible
that genetically nature may have blessed them with a bodybuilders
physique and they may have never touched a barbell in their life.
On the other hand lets assume for a moment they do use weights
to build their bodies.
From what you have observed first hand they have developed at least
one of the Super Fitness elements, that being the strength factor.
Of course one of the results of strength development is an increase
in the muscle mass and along with the increase some type of limitation
of the muscle movement is bound to occur. If the bodybuilders had
followed the complete plant of Super Fitness and included some flexibility
and aerobic conditioning exercises I seriously doubt that you or
the rest of the crew would have had a gripe about the quality of
work those guys could have done had they followed the Super Fitness
plan in its entirety.
Proof that the Super Fitness system is functional to blue collar
job employment can be summed up by the sparkling work performance
of my friend, the late Chuck Sipes (www.chucksipes.com).
Chuck might be classed as a power bodybuilder type. He was 5
9 ½" and in his prime he weighed 220 lbs. His measurements
included arms, 19 ½", chest, 50", waist 32",
thighs, 25 ½", and calves, 18". He was particularly
known for his massive and powerful forearms, which measured nearly
18 inches pumped.
Chuck was enormously strong and could do such strength feats as
a 570 lb. bench press, a full squat with 600 lbs. and a standing
barbell curl with 250 lbs. By now I guess it is obvious that Chuck
wasnt your ordinary bodybuilder. He was a contest wining bodybuilder
who won the IFBB Mr. America in 1959 then went on to win the IFBB
Mr. Universe in 1961 and finally the IFBB Mr. World title in 1968
at the age of 36.
During those times of contest preparation for the Mr. America and
Mr. Universe titles Chuck was employed as a lumberjack in the Redwood
forests of Northern California. The magic of automation had not
arrived in the logging industry yet so each and every job was physically
demanding. I have spoken with lumberjacks who used to work with
Chuck and they told me that he could put in a full 12 hour shift
in the Redwoods and then go and do a brutal 2 to 3 hour workout
in preparation for the competitions mentioned.
Muscles will last a lifetime, when correctly developed and Chuck
Sipes is a comforting argument to this statement. During his adult
life Chuck Sipes was an active mountaineer (member of the American
Alpine Club) and at the age of 56 he was known to go on two to four
week treks into the rugged mountains in California. The above commentary
on Chuck Sipes serves as just one solid example of the merits of
the Super Fitness lifestyle. The term muscle-bound must
be put to rest once and for all. There is no such affliction as
muscle-bounda muscle cannot bind a joint. The greatest
majority of sports athletes today know the value of weight training
and how much it can enhance their performance. Evander Holyfield,
the professional boxer has proved its value as well as many of the
fighters who enter the Octagon at the UFC. If these supporting comments
arent enough to convince you then you might ask a pro quarterback
in the NFL if the 300 pound linebacker is muscle-bound
just micro seconds before a bone jarring quarterback sack!!
The sad fact of the matter is that I know of more individuals who
do precious little in the way of exercise at all (and this includes
children) and it shows. Countless numbers of these individuals cant
even come near touching the floor with their fingertips from the
standing knees locked position. These people will say its just poor
flexibility on their part but yet if a bodybuilder exhibits this
same trait, the ignorant will say "he is muscle-bound".
Go figure! Asking some of these people to do ten pushups or five
pull-ups is inviting defeat. It simply cant be done. I am
not talking about older men necessarily but teens and twenty year
old male and females who cant pass some of the basic fitness
assessment tests. In conclusion I must admit that there are occasionally
some bodybuilders who do not represent the merits of Super Fitness
but I have investigated and found far more individuals who do not
follow any mode of the fitness lifestyle and it surprisingly is
these individuals who qualify for the term of muscle bound if such
a term exists.
That is a pretty good argument in favor of bodybuilding and the
fitness life style and I must admit it dispels the myth of bodybuilders
being muscle bound. However I and still not convinced
to start a Super Fitness program because I have a feeling that bodybuilders
are all brawn and no brain. Would you care to comment
on this topic?
I would be happy to comment on all brawn and no brain
myth because that is exactly what it is, a myth. To be perfectly
honest with you I get the feeling that you are looking for excuses
to not workout. It is my personal opinion that individuals such
as yourself who feel this way about bodybuilding in general must
in some way feel intimidated and somewhat insecure.
Perhaps this has happened because you have tried numerous times
to get in tip top shape over the years but have never been able
to stay with the program long enough to see any decent results.
As a result of your numerous failures in this area of your life
you would rather blame someone else for your lack of motivation
and shortcomings so to speak.
You arent the only one in this common situation. Think back
for a moment to all the people you have come into contact with over
the years and even the past few months who expressed a seemingly
sincere desire to lose a few extra pounds and firm up. In attempting
to do so they blindly attempted to use any type of the fad
of the day diet and exercise schemes to accomplish their goals.
In most cases it would be safe to say that the end results were
nothing to speak of.
What amazes me most is the fact that most of these individuals will
not even attempt to explore the pros and cons of the fad diet and
exercise schemes but yet in the same token will quickly condemn
the bodybuilders fitness lifestyle which has proven itself time
and time again.
The philosopher Herbert Spenser once remarked; "One of mankinds
greatest faults is condemnation prior to investigation." It
is ironic to me that this fault of condemnation prior to investigation
is applied to the Super Fitness lifestyle of a bodybuilder but yet
it never seems to apply to fad diet and exercise schemes. My investigative
research into the subject of all brawn and no brain leads me to
believe it is just another myth and I can support my reasons with
some capsule comments of the observations that I and many other
experts in bodybuilding have noticed over the years. Probably one
of the striking examples dispelling the myth of all brawn
and no brain is the success story of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
To make a long success story short he came over to the United States
from Europe when he was in his late teens. He had about $50 to his
name and had very little command of the English language. One thing
he did have going for him was a world class bodybuilders physique.
I suppose that this visual impression accompanied by the fact that
his command of the American language wasnt that great could
have led some individuals to believe that here was a big guy with
muscles and was a tad slow it seemed when he was asked any questions.
Was Arnold all brawn and no brain or big and dumb as
the sayings go? Of course he wasnt. He just lacked the necessary
communicative skills to speak fluid English when first came to this
country, as would any of us who would go to another non English
speaking country and did not know the language.
The success story of Arnold Schwarzenegger (www.schwarzenegger.com)
is truly one of the most inspiring in the annals of bodybuilding
history. Arnold realized that the $50 in his pocket and a lack of
mastery of our language that some priorities must be set. First
he must secure employment since bodybuilding on the professional
level wasnt self-supporting in the 1960s. This priority
was met when Joe Weider gave him work at the Weider headquarters
in Los Angeles, California. Joe was instrumental in encouraging
Arnold to enroll in some academic college courses which would improve
his communicative skills. As time went on he also enrolled in some
courses of business management which would be of immeasurable value
to him later in his life. The name of Arnold Schwarzenegger is the
most recognized name in the sport of bodybuilding and to the general
public (and right behind him is The Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno.
This is no accident for he went on to become one of the most successful
(if not the most successful) bodybuilder in history, having won
every major title available from the amateur NABBA Mr. Universe
in 1967 and a 3 time winner of the prestigious Professional NABBA
Mr. Universe in 68, 69 and 70. Arnold then went
on to win the echelon of world physique contests by becoming a winner
of the IFBB Mr. Olympia for an unprecedented 7 times. If Arnolds
story ended here there is enough proof to dispel the myth that bodybuilders
are dumb but it didnt and hasnt. One of Arnolds
goals early in his life was to become the worlds premier bodybuilder
and he certainly did that in a fashionable way but this 'high achiever'
wasnt done yet for he became a top draw actor on the silver
screen. One of the obvious rewards of his hard work in these various
pursuits is the financial gain. It would be a fair assumption to
say that he is a multi-millionaire. A far cry from the $50 of pocket
money he came to this country with years ago wouldnt you say?
Arnold Schwarzenegger has proven to be one of the finest ambassadors
in bodybuilding. A comforting argument to the myth of all
muscle and no brain I salute Arnold the bodybuilder, the businessman,
the actor and not to be forgotten the family man.
There are other top names in bodybuilding who have utilized their
physique talents and intelligence to become successful businessmen.
One more that quickly comes to mind is Frank Zane (www.frankzane.com).
For many years Frank taught academics in various schools from Pennsylvania
to California and in fact holds California Life Teaching credentials.
He holds two bachelors degrees, one in education and one in
psychology. It was during his involvement in academics that Frank
was winning some rather impressive national bodybuilding competitions.
Frank retired from academics in the late 70s and began pursuing
professional bodybuilding on a full time basis. He won the competitive,
tough and highly acclaimed IFBB Mr. Olympia contest 3 consecutive
years (1977, 78 and 79). He and his wife Christine have
gone on to establish a thriving and successful business (Zane Experience)
with a daring and practical new approach toward the combining of
weight training, stretching, ab-erobics, floatation and deep relaxation,
nutrition and motivational techniques for both men and women. It
has been career changes like this that have allowed Frank and Christine
to enjoy life and financial freedom as never before.
The list could go on and on relating to the successful men and women
who have used their minds and muscles to become achievers. This
not only applies to bodybuilders but those involved in other amateur
and professional sports as well. If for some reason there is still
some doubt in your mind about the all brawn and no brain
myth, then let me share with you one more argument dispelling this
myth. On common denominator that each of the two (Arnold and Frank)
shared was that each used scientific weight training program to
achieve their goal of winning first place in the various physique
competitions. In order to accomplish this task each of these men
had an intellect and knowledge of proper nutrition and supplementation,
on- and off-season training schedules, the contest winning attitude,
the actual contest diet, posing requirements, and on it goes. Obviously
a bodybuilder must have a higher than average degree of intelligence
to monitor all these facets at once. Bodybuilders,All brawn and
no brain?. Hardly!!!
I have heard that when a person quits training with the weights
that his muscles will turn to fat and I dont want that to
happen so I doubt that I will ever train with weights. What do you
have to say about that?
It isnt true. Muscles dont turn into fat when a person
quits training and by the same token fat will not turn into muscle
when training with the weights. Pound for pound fat and muscle does
have similarities in that each contains water, protein and fatty
tissue but in different ratios and calorie values. The following
chart should give you a crystal clear vision of what I am talking
As you can see from the above chart one pound
of muscle is almost ¾ water whereas the same amount of fatty
tissue is almost exclusively fat. These differences and the individual
calorie differences would seem to suggest that these are two opposite
types of tissues altogether and serve the body in different ways.
Muscles turning into fat is almost like a cosmetic optical illusion.
When a person is younger it is natural to strive for the top, working
to extremes and enjoying the maximum rewards of heavy weight training.
A couple of rewards that are evident is that you can take in quite
a few more calories (and who doesnt enjoy eating a little
more) without having to worry about gaining extra pounds of body
fat and the muscles of the body are usually visibly 'well defined'.
As the years go on and the responsibilities of raising a family
of your own, holding down a fulltime job to meet societys
demands of paying rent and buying food, etc., interest in weight
training begins to fade until it finally flickers out.
Now the dilemma of the ex-weight man or bodybuilder comes into focus.
Because you are no longer training your energy requirements are
dramatically reduced and though you may be aware of it for some
reason you are still taking in the same number of calories each
day as you were when you were training with the weights.
Because you are no longer stimulating the muscles with vigorous
exercise the muscles begin to diminish in cell size and the consumption
of more calories than you need will contribute to some rather large
gains in body fat. Some of the body fat forms a layer between the
skin and the muscle cell (which has diminished in size due to lack
of exercise. The 'use it or lose it' philosophy is very evident
at this point.)
It is evident to see that the combination of decreasing muscle tissue
and the marked increase of body fat (especially the layer between
the skin and muscle) will give the distinct and visible illusion
of muscle turning to fat. It is more than likely that you will lose
bodyweight (fat and some muscle tissue) rather than gain it (body
fat) when you cease training altogether, but it will basically depend
on two things:
1. Your level of physical activity in relation to your daily food
(nutrient) intake: overeat (taking in more calories than you expend)
and remain inactive for a number of days, weeks or months and you
can count on gaining body fat. Eat less (taking in less calories
than what is required for your daily energy expenditure) while staying
somewhat active and you should lose a substantial amount of body
2. Very few bodybuilders cease all form of physical
exercise. Many top contest-winning bodybuilders will lighten up
on their training schedules somewhat when they retire from active
competition but they never totally cease all forms of exercise.
They train smart and eat right.
The dilemma and illusion of muscles turning
to fat can happen to a person who has never followed a systematic
exercise program in their life. Heres what happens. A person
is generally more active in their teens and early 20s but
as the years go by it seems that people become less active and just
do not find the time to pursue those activities that they once enjoyed.
The body seems to sense this and as a result the metabolic process
tends to slow down and existing skeletal muscle tissue diminishes
ever so slowly while the percentage of underlying body fat increases.
The deceptive part of this whole process is that it happens in some
cases without showing more than a 5 to 10 pound gain on the bathroom
scale and most of the time a gain of this nature is of little concern
because there is very little change in the physical appearance either
to the person who gained the weight or to the average onlooker.
The reason that the change (decrease in muscle tissue and an increase
in body fat) wasnt physically obvious as it was in the case
of the ex-weight man because this person more than likely never
had any semblance of a 'defined' physique at any time on their life.
So with this in mind, the next time someone remarks to the fact
that they have not gained more than 5 to 10 pounds over their ideal
bodyweight in the past 15 to 20 years you then might want to ask
them if they are following any type of systematic exercise program
and if they are not then there is a good possibility that they have
replaced decreased muscle tissue with more body fat.
My wife and my sons fiancée happened to be browsing
through a current issue of one of the more popular bodybuilding
magazines the other day and I couldnt help but overhear their
comments. They were using words such as grotesque, ugly and narcissus,
so it was more than obvious to me they werent reading the
articles but were in fact directing their criticism towards toward
the pictures of the top male and female bodybuilders in the magazine.
I knew that they would be asking me some questions pertaining to
what they observed and sure enough before long the heat was on.
They said that the male physiques were grotesque and that the guys
probably suffered from a Narcissus complex (the state of being in
love with your own image). The only term they used for the female
physiques was "ugly". I couldnt counter their claims
because I am just a weekend bodybuilder who trains once a week so
I dont really know much about the sport itself. I do thoroughly
enjoy reading bodybuilding magazines and their photo layout of the
male and female bodybuilding fitness stars. What is a person supposed
to say in defense of these rather derogatory remarks about bodybuilders
without getting into a full-blown argument with family member or
It was a wise decision on your part not to go to the defense of
the bodybuilders since you were fully aware of the fact that you
really didnt know much about them. As the saying goes "It
is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your
mouth and remove all doubt."
Now to answer your question. It depends on what a persons
definition of grotesque and ugly is. To the average person who has
no knowledge of the sport of bodybuilding and what it takes to get
to the major leagues of bodybuilding competition then the bodybuilders
in the magazines could very well be grotesque and ugly. Granted
some of the top guys are almost unreal in appearance but this is
usually only the case at the peak of contest training and it is
at this time that the pictures are taken for magazine publication.
When the contest season is over the biggest percentage of the top
bodybuilders are quite normal in appearance though they will always
be bigger and more defined than a normal person.
While I must address the issues presented by your wife and future
daughter-in-law, I must state here and now that there is a tremendous
following in bodybuilding circles who enjoy the massive, vascular
and ripped physiques of the top super-stars in the iron game.
Most of the bodybuilding magazines are supported by a large group
of 'hardcore readers' who enjoy the muscle studded physiques of
the champions and if the magazines begin following the whims of
the average man on the street and started including more and more
photos of the sleek and slender physiques in the place of the top
champions then before long the magazine would cease to exist because
the bottom line is that when a hardcore bodybuilding type is looking
at the pictures he/she wants to see muscle and plenty of it and
if they dont then they will probably discontinue the present
magazine for another one which offers them what they are looking
There are plenty of top caliber physiques which offer the viewer
flawless proportions, shape and definition. Some that quickly come
to mind are Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray and who can forget about some
of those in years past such as Bob Paris, Frank Zane and the immortal
(the late) Steve Reeves of Hercules fame?
As far as the women looking ugly that just may be a form of jealousy
on your wifes and future daughter-in-laws part. I dont
know to which female bodybuilder they were referring to in the magazine
but I think it is safe to say that there is only a very small percentage
of the women who have taken on the physical appearance of their
male counterpart. Again, like the men in the magazines the women
are only in super hard condition just prior to and during competition
and this is what comes across in the magazines.
Aside from the competitions these women are a little out of the
ordinary when compared to most women in everyday life in that they
are firm and sleek and can really do justice to a nice pair of designer
jeans or swim suit apparel.
I have no idea what type of physical condition your wife is in so
do not take this next criticism personally but in most cases the
women who sit in the seat of judgment of women bodybuilders in general
usually look like a three hundred pound porker in a 100 pound stretch
Granted I am not found of a woman, who if you would put a hard hat
on her head and gave her a lunch pail to carry she would look just
like some of your buddies at the construction site. The type of
woman physiques that appeals to me most are the Rachel McLish &
Cory Everson types, both former Ms. Olympias back in the 80s
(whom I consider to be two of the ultimate female bodybuilders ever,
but there again these are my personal preferences).
The final issue I will address is that some of the bodybuilders
suffer from a Narcissus complex. I havent heard that term
mentioned in quite some time but that certainly doesnt mean
that it doesnt exist and with that in mind I would like to
share with you my thoughts on this personality trait as it relates
to bodybuilding in general.
I think it would be safe to say that probably two-thirds of the
people who use weights do so in an effort to develop an attractive
physique. You might have picked up on this fact already but the
attractive physique has become a trademark in the bodybuilding and
fitness industry and is naturally the industrys best selling
Developing a body that looks good is an admirable reason for weight
reason for weight training but it is one that too often matures
into a king size Narcissus complex! The victim finally spends more
time looking at his muscles, feeling them, measuring them or talking
about them, than he does in actual exercise. It is a fact, that
the modern gyms and health clubs are not complete without at least
one solid wall of mirrors for the pleasure of its patrons.
This type of man avoids heavy weights for he cant 'get a pump'
with them. He never lifts for he might strain one of his carefully
cultivated muscles. Running or jogging is out, as it will cause
him to shed superfluous pounds. Athletics take too much time away
from the gym and a beach is no longer for swimming, but is an ideal
place for strutting and showing off his physique to anyone who would
care to look.
In the final analysis, his world becomes limited to the mirror,
a tape measure, his torso T-shirts, his physique photos and, in
some cases, the posing platform. It seems kind of senseless, doesnt
it? You can be assured, it seems a lot worse than that to the general
The number of actual bodybuilders who suffer from the Narcissus
complex are extremely rare, and I would be willing to bet that there
are more non-bodybuilders (both men and women alike) who dont
mind sneaking a look at their reflection in the mirror along with
the primping and fussing that goes into looking more appealing before
going out into public.
I dont understand how bodybuilders develop a Narcissus complex
anyway because I have always heard that 'weight training builds
men'. Isnt that true?
Well that seems to be a fond delusion but nothing could be any more
misleading than that statement! If a man of great spirit, fearless
heart and rugged mentality, but lacks only physical size and power,
obviously weight training will make him a man. A fellow who on the
other hand lacks character, who has no courage, no intestinal fortitude
or owns a weak mind, could physically become a Herculean Adonis
and he still would not be a man! Its a fact weight does build
men but only from the physical standpoint.
The other evening my wife turned on the television and there bigger
than life was the IFBB Ms. Olympia contest. For the past year I
have been preaching the benefits of weight training to my wife but
her response was always "Im not interested" and
"It doesnt appeal to me." Well finally, I thought,
she can now see first hand the benefits that weight training has
had on this star-studded cast of women bodybuilders.
She watched the entire show without making
any cutting comments, so far so good. She then clicked off the television
and proceeded with her comments. "I would never want to develop
the muscle size those women displayed tonight and I will never ever
use weight training as a means of getting into shape if it means
getting huge muscles." With that rather blunt statement she
turned and marched off to the bedroom. Rather than start an argument
I didnt say anything, but instead I am writing to you asking
if you can help me convince her to give weight training a fair shake,
Ill see what I can do to help you. Rumor has it (I dont
have any available research to support the theory) that television
cameras can distort a persons figure and as a result
that person may look 10 to 15 pounds heavier on television than
in person. Optimum stage lighting and various shadow effects can
also contribute to an exaggeration of muscle size and definition.
If this is the case then these women couldnt possibly have
the extreme muscle size that your wife thought they had.
One of the key factors which influences muscle
growth is an exciter in the body called testosterone.
Testosterone is a powerful hormone stimulant and it only takes an
infinitesimal (immeasurably minute) secretion to affect rapid muscle
growth. Both men and women have this hormone but not in equal amounts.
Pound for pound a women only have 1/20th the supply of a man. This
means that if a man has problems with gaining muscle size with his
existing testosterone levels then a woman who has 1/20th of that
amount will have even more problems gaining muscle size to any marked
Body fat is another issue that must be addressed.
Women simply have a greater percentage of body fat (necessary for
child bearing, etc.) and it is the extra fat, especially between
the skin and muscle which actually blurs an otherwise
The women your wife saw on the Ms. Olympia
program are a very special group of women, the cream of the crop,
who represent the very best in the high tech field of professional
womens bodybuilding. Less, and note I said less, than 1% of
the women who begin weight training will ever reach this lofty super-star
status. Literally hundreds of hours of special dieting and muscle
blasting techniques are required to attain the crystal clear definition
and diamond hard physiques represented at that contest.
It is a common failing of a man who is a dyed-in-the-wool
bodybuilder, to want his girlfriend or wife as the case may be to
train with weights. I call it a failing, for it is usually
a lost cause! A young bride or girlfriend will tolerate the new
exercise program, simply to please the man in her life. Seldom,
though is she likely to continue training and a few months later,
she will giggle in memory of her brief fling in the
Despite propaganda to the contrary, few wifes
or sweethearts of the iron game really train regularly. This delicate
situation can be remedied if it is done in the proper way and the
following suggestions should help you along.
Women can train with weights in basically the
same way as a man, but never expect them to use the same program,
sets and exercises that you find effective; they dont need
as much exercise and become bored with too many sets and worry about
straining (it should be noted here that women due to their physical
characteristics should never perform an exercise for less than 8
For the time being forget about those exercise
movements for the arms, shoulders and back. Ladies are vitally concerned
with the bust, legs, hips and waistline only. Dont waste their
energy and test their patience by including work for any other area,
unless they are especially deficient in a particular body part.
Above all, dont try to push them; the female body will respond
to moderate exertion, doesnt need great resistance. Give them
plenty of variety! Women prefer fifty different exercises in a week
to repeating ten only. Finally but most important make their training
joyous. Use well-made, attractive equipment, have the gym clean,
bright, pleasant, adding music if possible. Try to be congenial,
tolerant and patient while you instruct her weight training session
and dont forget, you talked her into this!!!
One of the beauties about weight training for
men and women is that is can be tailored to your own unique individual
needs and capacities. Maybe you dont want to be built like
4 time Mr. O Ronnie Coleman or the 2002 Ms. O Juliette Bergmann,
(chances are you dont have the genetics to ever reach this
level of development anyway) thats fine, but accept the challenge
to be the best you can be by training to meet your individual goal
of superior Super Fitness.
Suppose I do decide to accept the Super Fitness Challenge, what
advice can you give me so that I get started out right?
The very first thing I tell people who are serious about starting
a Super Fitness program is to go and get a complete physical examination.
The examination should include a Maximal Exercise Tolerance Test,
the purpose of which is to measure for cardiovascular fitness and
to determine the presence or absence of cardiovascular disease.
Components of the complete physical examination
should include a Computerized Nutritional Assessment and Evaluation,
Underwater Weighting and Skin Fold Technique to Determine Ideal
Bodyweight, Maximal Performance Treadmill Stress Test, Blood Pressure
Tests During Exercise and Recovery.
Regardless of your present physical condition
and age, the complete physical examination is a priority one situation
before beginning any exercise and nutritional protocol that I or
any bodybuilding coach (personal trainer) might advise you on.
Right now I dont have any leisure time to fit more than 10
to 20 minutes of exercise a day at max into my hectic schedule.
I dont own any exercise equipment and I am not in traveling
distance of a health club, so you can see that my options are rather
limited. There is a public pool a couple of blocks from where I
live though if that is any consolation. Do you have any shortcuts
to fitness that would help me?
There are a couple of things that I can think of that will help
you get into some kind of shape. A few years ago a Dr. Frank I.
Katch and his brother Victor (both of whom hold EdD, and PhD in
exercise science and physical education respectively) developed
a unique formula for increasing muscular endurance. The formula
is based on the Exercise/Rest principle and it goes something like
this. As a starting point you must pick out a non-apparatus exercise
such as a bodyweight only pushups (any non-apparatus exercise will
suffice, one legged squats, dips between two chairs, sissy squats,
bent knee sit-ups, leg raises, crunches, etc.). As a sidenote Pavel
Tsatsouline illustrates some very unique non-apparatus exercises
such as the Dive Bomber Pushups and The Rocking Pistol etc., in
his new 10-video set titled: MARTIAL POWER: Hard-Hitting Combat
Secrets from the Russian Special Ops. (Visit www.dragondoor.com)
The Exercise/Rest principle is divided into
5 stages of progression and with each one composed of six actual
Using the one legged squat as an example; begin by performing this
exercise for as many ultra strict repetitions as possible within
a 10 second time frame. Now rest for exactly 10 seconds; after the
10-second rest, immediately begin to perform some more one legged
squats for 10 seconds, then another 10-second rest. Continue this
10 seconds of exercise/10 seconds of rest for an additional 9 more
Written down on paper 10 cycles of the Exercise/Rest
principle looks like this:
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
10 Seconds of Exercise 10 Seconds of Rest
This stage consists of 6 workout days as will stages 3,4, and 5
and begins with 10 cycles of work and rest. The difference here
is that you will perform 15 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of
rest per cycle.
20 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
30 seconds of exercise and 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
30 seconds of exercise and 5 seconds of rest per cycle.
To briefly summarize, here are the necessary steps for successfully
completing the 5 stages of the Exercise / Rest principle.
1) Each individual stage (1 thru 5) consists of 6 workout days.
The workouts can be performed on consecutive days or you can do
the workout every other day.
2) Begin each new stage on day one by doing a minimum of 10 non-stop
sequences of the Exercise/Rest principle, then on each scheduled
workout day then after be sure to add two additional non-stop sequences
(as in the detailed stage 1 example).
3) Always do as many ultra strict repetitions as possible during
the time of work phases.
I have a couple of friends of mine who say that they get plenty
of exercise at their place of employment. One of them is a secretary
and the other is a steel worker. Whats a good way to convince
them that they still need exercise in addition to their work?
I have heard these comments myself from time to time. The first
thing these people must do is not to confuse work with exercise.
Granted some work is like physical exercise and you would only have
to follow your steel worker friend through one of his normal 8 to
10 hour shifts to realize this.
I (Dennis B. Weis) have worked in the capacity
as a longshoreman and as an employee for a commercial airline in
ramp service (unloading and loading baggage & cargo). Both of
these jobs were physical demanding, however you must realize one
thing and that is most jobs are of the external nature meaning that
we do it because society demands that we pay rent, buy food, etc.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a specific
activity which is performed to perform internal changes (increased
metabolic efficiency, energy, strength and health) and external
changes (visual increased muscle size and muscularity) in out body.
Most work related tasks dont bring about these evident changes.
I have noticed in your books on bodybuilding (Mass!, Raw Muscle
and Anabolic Muscle Mass) that you place a great deal of value on
warming up the muscles prior to performing most bodybuilding exercises.
I am wondering if you place as much value in cool down exercises
after an exercise schedule has been completed?
During physical activity such as the performance of a daily bodybuilding
schedule, be it a mild or strenuous there is a marked increase of
the blood flow to the particular muscle being worked. This means
that there will be a reduced blood supply to the heart. If a person
becomes sedentary immediately after strenuous exercises, blood vessels
constrict, which in turn traps or dams the blood supply in the muscle
and doesnt allow for adequate blood flow to the heart and
the end result might be a heart attack in some cases. Cooling down
at one time was thought to relieve muscle soreness but recent research
indicates otherwise. Take a tip from runners and swimmers and gradually
cool down after your workout with some stretching, etc.
I am an avid walker and as a result I show more than a casual interest
when this subject is mentioned. Recently I heard someone refer to
the term of "Power Walking". Can you explain to me just
exactly what power walking is?
You arent alone when this method of exercise is brought up
in ones conversation. Back in 1982 Psychology Today (October
1982) conducted a survey to determine what the primary source of
physical exercise was for active people. The results of the survey
were startling to say the least, because 49% of the men and 55%
of the women surveyed said they enjoyed some form of walking.
Im not speaking of the mere act of waling
that a person does to go from the house to the car, but rather a
brisk walk which brings the human stride into play. This can only
be accomplished by walking briskly for at least one long or several
short distances each day.
Getting back to your initial question regarding
power walking, the late Steve Reeves, a Mr. Universe title holder
and silver screen star, developed and refined brisk walking as we
know it one step further into a revolutionary aerobic technique
which he aptly termed power walking. The basic concept of power
walking is to walk as fast as you can (within your allowable aerobic
training capacity of 60% to 80% of your targeted heart rate), taking
as long strides as possible, rhythmically breathing in and out 3
times in perfect time with your strides. Further more, the time,
distance traveled, degree of incline of the walking terrain and
the amount of resistance (weighted belt, wrist and ankle weights
approximate 20% of your bodyweight) carried are three more very
important factors to power walking success.
Power walking offers advantages over other
forms of aerobic participation. To begin with it puts much less
stress on the joints and feet than jogging and as an added feature
it can help prevent shin splints by strengthening the tibalis (dorsi
flexors) on the front of the lower leg. A book titled; "Power
Walking", by Steve Reeves and James A. Peterson, PhD was published
back in 1982. It has been out of print for years but The New POWERWALKING
Book Is Coming. Prior to his passing on May 1, 2000 Steve Reeves
and George L. Helmer started laying the book out and now three years
later it is ready for publication. Visit www.stevereeves.com
to learn more about "Power Walking".
A Final Comment
As with most things in life the complication
of the 12 answers I have provided in this article are not complicated
or magic, but are really quite simple and logical if you think about
it. There are three types of people in the world: Those who make
things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder
Be a person who makes things happen!!! It is
with this thought that I wish you the very best in your quest of
The Super Fitness Challenge.