The keys to build true physical power. Plus…
July 18, 2018 By Billy
The keys to building your physical power are so very important, and there being some real substance to them, they can’t be summarized in just one paragraph with a few bullet points. So give yourself the ten minutes it will take because these are essentials for your overall health and longevity. (Note: this is content that can be found in my book, “Infinity Health Manual“)
You only get one body in this life, so need I convince you of the value in what we’re going to talk about here? The reality is we’ve steered way off course in this modern day and age with what constitutes a truly powerful body. First, when I’m talking ‘power’, I’m talking about far more than just strong biceps, quads, and abs! Ha! It’s about a deeper strength that’s infused with an incomparable life-force that today is seldom experienced. The fact is, the majority of modern exercise is completely missing the big picture. I would like to explain why, and most importantly supply you with the essential keys to fix it; building your true physical power, that is.
Where we got off course
First, let’s consider that we humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but it’s only been relatively recently in our history, with the development of agriculture, that we’ve settled ourselves into villages and, ultimately, cities. Before that, we were nomads, traveling by foot around the countryside in search of food and moving with the seasons. As a result, our bodies adapted to this kind of physical activity. Today, with our modern lifestyles, we’re far less active than we previously were. The bottom line is we do a heck of a lot of sitting, both at work and at home. The modern way of life is not what our bodies were adapted for. And today we see the effects: a commonality of obesity and a host of other issues like heart disease.
The Big Picture
As I’ve always focused on in my articles, our diets are vitally important for keeping our bodies strong. Eating healthy is an essential start, but putting fuel in is only half of it. You’ve gotta pump the handle!..and in just the right way.
Building a fit body through the right exercise does extraordinary things for many aspects of our overall health. Improved strength supports joints and bones and, especially, the spine. The spine, after all, is a pillar of the neurological “superhighway” through which the brain exchanges vital information with the rest of the body, and, in turn, is how the body takes care of the brain. Strong body and posture keep that superhighway healthy.
Other benefits? The obvious one is that exercise boosts our metabolism, thus reducing the amount of fat stored in the body. Leanness alone is worth the moderate effort it takes. Exercise also circulates nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to organs and every part of the body, essentially making everything stronger and more resistant to injury.
Furthermore, strengthening your body helps to eliminate everyday aches and pains. Your body heals faster. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Many people shy away from exercise because of aches and pains, and yet there’s no better way to avoid physical discomfort in the long-term than by strengthening the body! Exercise fortifies the parts of the body around those everyday aches and pains, creating an incubating environment for the healing of the weak areas. Building core strength can lessen back pain, for instance. The increased oxygen-rich blood flow reduces inflammation so the body’s restorative healing life-force can get in there to work its magic. Done properly (as we’ll discuss), exercise essentially becomes physical therapy. I never stopped being amazed when I would witness this at the Ashram Health Retreat where I worked as a trainer for many years. People would experience six days of intensive exercise and leave with their everyday aches and pains gone, or at least substantially reduced.
I’ve experienced it firsthand myself. Years ago, I suffered from a variety of aches. Due to inflammation, I had plantar fasciitis in the arches of my feet, carpal tunnel in my wrists, and pain in my shoulders (thoracic outlet reduction). I went to a series of specialists, some of whom recommended various surgeries. At the time I was wearing braces on my wrists and doing virtually no exercise other than limping around my living room. Finally, a doctor said something startling. “You need to take those stupid things off your wrists and get to the gym!” I took his simple advice and worked with a professional trainer and my aches and pains all went away within a few months. I didn’t need surgery; I just needed to make my body stronger. The impact blew my mind. What a lesson!
Need more reasons to exercise? The data are overwhelming that exercise is a great stress-reducer—quite unlike anything else. Plus, it gives you a sense of achievement, helping to build your self-esteem. How’s that for true power? Not to mention that you’ll pick up some peace of mind just by getting outdoors for fresh air and sunshine, something tried and tested for millennia.
Most people who decide they’re not going to take the time to stay physically active through some kind of consistent exercise have no idea how powerful it can be reflected in the mind and body and what they are missing out on. They lack the comparative experience. But for those who engage in it, they know the benefits can be enormous. Bottom line? The value of exercise is in its ability to significantly enhance life-force, longevity, and happiness. Priceless, wouldn’t you say?
As many of us know, there are two general categories of exercise: aerobic, also known as “cardio,” and anaerobic which is generally load-bearing or the expenditure of energy in bursts, like sprints. You need to get the heart rate up with sustained aerobic activity, but you need to build muscle via anaerobic activity, too. By building muscle with load-bearing exercise, your body naturally burns more calories on a consistent basis. You’re building a bigger engine which requires more fuel! So the priority isn’t necessarily losing weight, it’s building power which produces a leaner body.
There’s one particular exercise that, for the money, is the most efficient in combining both cardio and load-bearing activity: hiking. After all, trekking up and down hills is just what our ancestors did. The distances we are capable of hiking are commonly underestimated. During the one-week program at the Ashram, we’d hike with the guests ten to fifteen miles a day for six days straight! And not everyone was always the most fit. But again, hiking this kind of mileage is what we are adapted to do.
Of course, generally speaking, we don’t have the time to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace two or three days per week can have a tremendous impact. You’re getting your heart rate up and lifting your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one. Plus, you’re exercising the largest muscles in your body— namely your gluteus muscles and quads in your legs—which therefore has the most effect on your metabolism. And you’re strengthening your core, too. When you’re hiking over uneven terrain, you’re also exercising your smaller, stabilizer muscles—lots of little muscles that all add up. There’s a lot you can cover by just walking up and down hills.
Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and navigating hills. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t working so hard. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. Do you live somewhere flat? No worries. A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.
As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best gym exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-force lifts” or “anti-death lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form. Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is an ancient exercise; thus our bodies are well adapted to do them. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet? Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started. And why not work with a trainer? I do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice, the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this. My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.
As mentioned, I highly recommend working with a fitness trainer. What you learned in PE class just isn’t going to cut it if a deeper power for the sake of your longevity and life-force is what you’re going for. And going to the gym on your own and doing the same routine day in and day out only does so much. It’s much more effective and time better spent to shake things up. The variety of fitness activities is endless, and changing up the exercises you’re doing on a regular basis will make you stronger faster. A trainer knows best how to do this, and it needn’t be time-consuming. With the right kind of intensive exercise, you can get a lot out of a single hour, or even less. Believe me, I’ve seen the results firsthand through trainers I have worked with, and by my own experience as a trainer at the Ashram. I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in people of all body types and starting out at all different levels of fitness.
Find the trainer who believes in sticking with the free weights. Free weights have exponentially more impact than machines. Remember that core and lower-body exercises are the most important since, as we discussed above, they’re the biggest muscles. Men especially tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. Again, we’re talking about ‘power-building’.
Keep in mind you don’t have to work with a trainer every day. Why not start with just two days a week? Of course a good trainer will teach you how to work out on your own, too. I’m confident you’ll be very impressed with what you get out of it.
The other days of the week? Hike or go for power walks! I am very much a believer in fast-paced walking. Too easy for you? Try carrying three to ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits—sports that you like to play. Being physically active should be enjoyable, something you look forward to. Yoga, soccer, pottery (well maybe something a little more strenuous), swimming, and biking—they’re all good. Need I share my opinion of the contact sports like football that invite injury and wear and tear on the body? Get creative. Join a softball team. Take up tennis. Play ultimate frisbee. Dance! (This one is among my favorites.)
Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. On the note of diet, I recommend a sturdy dose of easy-to-digest protein following your workout. Naturally, and for the sake of purity and potency, I’m a fan of my post-workout smoothie with Infinity Protein, which is a blend of organic hemp and brown rice protein infused with muscle-enhancing herbs. And of course the Infinity Protein Bars too, which are hands down, the best bars in terms of both pure ingredients and flavor. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the right chemistry with your diet and then pump the handle with exercise, with the restorative nutrition to follow.
As a motivating factor, it’s always helpful to remember your physiological health is intimately connected with your mental health – that’s your peace and happiness. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern-day stressors and still maintain a general sense of wellbeing. It’s the strong mind and body together that build true power, and there’s no moment like the precious present to jump onboard. I say we go for it.
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Yours truly, and at your service always,
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