Super Human Radio‘s Carl Lanore devoted a show recently to the training and philosophy of Bruce Lee. What can Bruce Lee teach us about striving for phenotypical expression excellence? Everything, my friend; everything. Maybe not by way of training specifics (unless, of course, you happen to be a martial artist), but certainly by way of overriding philosophy. Absorb what is useful from any source, discard what is not from even the most revered of sources. Emphasis mine. I can ascribe wholeheartedly to the Bruce Lee theory of attaining the pinnacle of Physical Culture without ever necessarily feeling the need to duplicate a Bruce Lee workout. Different goals necessitate different methods; the psychology of intensity, though, remains the same.
As an interesting aside, I noticed that in the stack of mail that Meesus TTP brought in Saturday, was my (new) copy of Lee’s The Art of Expressing the Human Body. I say “new” because I had an old and tattered copy of this book that I’d long since given to a friend who was just embarking on this wonderful journey that is Physical Culture. I can’t wait to re-read the material with the wisdom that I’ve gained over those (10+…wow time flies!!) years since I’d last read it. And by the way, the book is compiled and edited by none other than John Little, who teamed with Doug McGuff on the two mighty-fine pieces of work Body by Science and The Body by Science Question and Answer Book (information, here). Tight-knit and intimate group within this wonderful world of Physical Culture.
Below, Lee’s daughter talks about her daddy’s book.
And be sure to check out this wonderful piece, the Warm Marble. It’s one of those “keep in your back pocket” works (like The Iron, by Henry Rollins) that are good to pull out every now and again to remind yourself of just why it is that we stick to this satisfying — though, at times, arduous — path of Physical Culture.
A need to document reps? Hell, a need to even count reps?
Let’s face it, for those of us who are are pure Physical Culturalists (as opposed to specialists, i.e., competitive Oly lifters, for example), programming schemes in general, and repetition counts in particular, are little more than a psychological crutch and/or a convenient to convey the fact that, yes, effective weight training is seriously hard work. What if all we ever did in the gym was to match a given weight to a given movement (or vice-versa) and bust friggin’ ass with it? Here’s the deal: I’ve got training logs dating back to when the gym-rat clown pants were considered the pinnacle of cool (yikes!), but what the hell do those notes really matter to me now? Yeah, it’s kinda cool to look back at some of that stuff , in a nostalgic sense; my physical body, though, could give a damn. I mean, if you ascribe to the 7-year total turnover theory (as I do), then I’m not even the same physical body now as I was then, so of what relevance are those numbers to me now? What if it was just me…and a weight…and the challenge of pressing (for example) that damn weight overhead, any way possible, and as many times as I could, within a certain time limit. What’s the time limit? I don’t know, pick something that fits with your schedule — 1 minute, 15 minutes…24 hours, whatever. Just you, a load and a movement; wherewithal and, most importantly, intensity. Did our ancestors worry about rep counts, tempos, smart programming or energy systems? Of course not. They simply had to face-down a life challenge…or die trying…simple as that.
Now I’m certainly not advocating the abolition of smart programming and rational exercise selection in favor of a full-on, out-of-the-hopper approach; what I am saying, though, is that we can swing too far to the other side — the mechanical and all-too predictable side of the continuum — if we’re not careful. We run the risk of putting “the program” ahead of what really matters, which is how much intensity we bring to the table.
Here’s how this plays out, at least for me, in the real world: a couple of times a week I’ll have a loaded bar that needs to be broken down between clients. Let’s just make this real easy and say that I’ve got a 135 lb loaded Oly bar nestled nicely in the power rack, and 30-minutes before my next client. Now I pick a movement I haven’t done in a while; power snatch, say, or RFESS — or hell, even bicep curls, if I want to channel my inner Arnold. Now, how many reps can I squeeze-in in that half-hour? Not that I’ll ever write this stuff down, or factor it into my subsequent “normal” workout considerations (I let Autoregulation take care of accounting for that). This is more play than anything else, and it keeps my body, as well as my mind, fresh. And just because these “opportunities” aren’t documented, much less tracked, in no way means that my body doesn’t revel in the challenge and respond accordingly. Like rings within a tree trunk, the body I occupy today is marked with the results of these impromptu sessions; documentation written in flesh and blood.
And now on to a couple of “documented” workouts –
Monday, 11/29 (Rosedale studio)
(A1) trap bar deadlift/bent over row/deadlift combo: 265 x 10/5/10; 315 x 10/3/10 x 3 sets
(A2) floor press: 135 x 10; 185 x 6; 225 x 6, 6
Wednesday, 12/1 (Westlake studio)
(A1) CZT seated overhead press (neutral grip): hyper-rep x 5
(A2) manual resistance front raise: hyper-rep x 3
(B1) negative-only CZT pull-down (neutral grip): hyper-rep x 5
(B2) blast-strap scarecrows: 3 ugly reps
(C1) rear foot elevated (and suspended) split squats: bw x 10, each leg
(C2) CZT leg press: hyper-rep x 3
The above is an example of integrating the ever-versatile CZT equipment into various pre-exhaust methodologies. Video clips of Skyler kickin’ my ass on this one coming soon.
The Austin-area “exercise sommelier” strikes again, here ; a wonderful pairing of Mentzer-inspired HIT, with some good ol’, local Paleo grub 🙂
I’d be curious to see what those unscheduled/undocumented workouts look like – as well as their frequency. Is this a daily thing? Don’t hold out on me, Keith!
It varies; a couple of times per week for the most part, though. I’ll start posting those up every now and again, when the opportunity strikes. They’re nothing special, really — kinda like my random fixie rides through the Austin-area “urban jungle” 🙂
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Heh; clever, my friend 🙂
Great article honey! I totally get what you mean about taking the opportunities & working them in, whether they get on the books or not. They make a difference. On another note, thank God clown pants are a thing of the past!
I think they’re comin’ back in style!! 🙂 Time to bust out my old ones!
Rollins on “The Iron” . . . what a great essay.
My man Henry says it all in that piece.
I absolutely am not trying to be troll here!, but yes, I love The Iron essay by Rollins. I did a write up of that last year regarding giving it to kids getting picked on, and turning to role models for smart kids like Doc McGuff, etc. You cant be smart and lift weights!, or, you can lift weights and be smart! Too bad kids and adults sometimes have these misconceptions that somehow being smart and strong are two states that can’t and shouldn’t be strived for by us all.
Hey Keith, thanks for sharing that article by Henry Rollins. I hadn’t read it before, but am glad I did just now.
We all need that reminder every now and again; Henry’s piece is one of the best. All of us in the iron game are exercising demons of some sort or another.