Wednesday, October 31, 2007


One of MY favorite exercises, the hanging leg raise, really does the job! I think I'm talking mostly men here, as women typically don't have the upper body strength for this, but some do I'm sure.

Start out by just grasping the bar and then lifting your knees to your chest. (I always finish up this way after doing the straight-legged version). Then, when you've progressed for awhile, do them like John e. Peterson (aged 55 years- just like me! ) does in this video- straight up and over your head! Although I would recommend doing fewer and slower... (more intense that way).

But hey, that's just me.

Do these maybe once or at most twice per week. Very intense! Just like chin ups, pull-ups, and other full range, isotonic-style exercises- you need to rest and rebuild.

But the beauty of isometrics is... you can do them every day. They actually rejuvenate, and energize you-I'm not kidding here- and the inroad they incur into the muscle group exercised is minimal enough, that daily training is no problem.

I've got to get some pictures of isometrics you can do daily here, online. But the best versions I've seen so far are in the book by John e. Peterson called Pushing Yourself to Power.

it's even spiral bound for easy reference while exercising.

Highly recommended!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


What a glorious fall day today! This is the kind of day everyone wants to be a mailman. Sunny and warm with a light breeze carrying the earthy scent of fallen leaves. A time of the season that comes and goes all too quickly. Living in the country has its definite advantages. At least for those who just let the leaves fall, like me, and don't worry too much about getting them raked up. What's the hurry? They'll be gone all too soon anyway. Might as well just let the dog enjoy rolling in them while he still can, and maybe take a roll or two myself.

I've been listening to one of the best audio books I've heard in a long time: Books that Made History: Books That Can Change Lives. Put out by the Teaching Company, I request that my local library buy these books, and they usually do.

The professor who delivers the lectures, in all of the Teaching Company offerings, is the best teacher they can find in that particular subject. They cover every subject imaginable, but this particular book review, from the Bible to Winston Churchill to 1984 by George Orwell, is one of the best I've heard to date. For instance, the professor compares in one series of lectures, Abe Lincoln to Pericles of 5th century BC Athens... illuminating!

We exercise so that our mind and body can better enjoy and cope with the beauties and challenges of life. After all, I am virtually certain that both Pericles and Socrates practiced isometrics as part of their training as "citizen soldiers"!

Monday, October 29, 2007


If you read my post yesterday, you'd think:

"Jay! If aerobics are not the way to go, I guess I should lift weights. Right?"

Well... kind of, but not really...

I started out with weight training. You get real results all right. But you also really strain your joints and connective tissues, and you have to be really careful; especially as you age. And the stronger you get, the MORE dangerous your training becomes since you start dealing with really heavy poundage!

You need to start working out less, and still less frequently, since the overload on your body is progressively more intense as you get stronger. Personally, I progressed from the standard multi- set training day after day(with injuries getting more and more frequent)- to HIT (High Intensity Training) done every 3 days at first... then 5... then once per week.

When even this was too much, I went to Superslow training, once per week. Ken Hutchins is the brain behind this protocol of training: Very grueling, yet effective as can be! 10 seconds up, 10 down, on each and every rep.
I still like superslow protocol on chins and dips.

Next, I slowed it down even more by going to static contraction training as prescribed by Sisco and Little. I'd press into the pins (on my power rack, natch!) with the bar maxed out to my ultimate poundage and only move the bar through my strongest range of motion and then push into the immovable pins for about 5 seconds.

Sisco and Little recommend you only do this workout about as often as you'd get a haircut to
assure adequate recovery time. And it does work! You get remarkably stronger... at holding a maximum poundage in your strongest range of motion.

this is truly a "one trick pony" type of accomplishment:
There is very little carry-over of either full-range strength or in the improvement of your physique!

I report this after having done the "Static Contraction Workout" for well over a full year.

And so I've gone from doing a conventional, fast-paced rep, multi- weight training exercise program, multiple times per week, to high- intensity weight workouts, 2X per week, to Superslow workouts, 1X per week, to partial lifts, once every two weeks....

So, where am I now? What really works?

I've come to a complete STOP!

Isometrics. Almost daily. And "Power calisthenics": pushups, situps, chinups, & dips. And "Dynamic Visualized Resistance", as described by Charles Atlas in the 1930's (and the Greeks in 500 B.C.!)

As I said previously: Our future is in our past.

I'm sure you didn't expect it to be so far in the past

Don't worry: I'll give you some real exercises soon. For now, just try to do pushups, as many as you can, in sets; until you reach 100 for the day. Then take a day or two off. Then, do it again, with fewer sets. (Instead of 20 sets of 5 pushups, try for 10 sets of 10... throughout the day...)

This will really improve you "aerobically", strength-wise, and also aesthetically.

Back to the future!


Sunday, October 28, 2007


You Too can be a Runt!

This should have been the motto of the aerobics movement. The only thing SURE to occur from running "LSD", or "long slow distance" as was advocated way back then in the early 1970's was:
  1. A huge reduction in muscle mass
  2. Injured joints and connective tissue
  3. A mistaken penchant for refined carbohydrates as "the ideal food" for health
As time has shown us, these prescriptions for health have been disastrous!

Since those halcyon days of the 1970's:

  1. heart disease has increased immensely
  2. joint problems are endemic
  3. nutritional ideas of health are disastrous

Before the 1970's, in America at least, and Europe, the ultimate goal of "health and fitness" would have been, in this order:
  1. strength
  2. health
  3. aesthetics, i.e. "how you look"
  4. "wind", i.e. "aerobics"
After the "Aerobics mania" the order would be:

  1. "wind/Aerobics"
  2. skinniness
  3. "wind"
  4. the goal of looking like an anorexic starvation victim/fashion model

If we were to return (as I believe we will, since we must!) to the time-honored paradigm of health, we would be far better off! Since the classical times of Greece and Rome, STRENGTH was the goal. And, if you achieve strength, (in the classical/vintage sense of achievement as was done in the pre-steroid/drug era), you automatically gain the other three legs of the fitness "stool"!

Work hard enough at strength using bodyweight style exercises such as push-ups, leg raises, "hindu" squats and push-ups, along with self-resisted isometrics, and you will automatically
also gain
the end results of health, aesthetics or beauty, and "wind"!

Aerobics threw the "baby out with the bath water". Aerobics are important, but probably the most automatic, and therefore the LEAST important aspect of fitness.

Do you want to be healthy, look good, and be truly fit?? Incidentally, you'll also have "good wind"....

If so, check back tomorrow. I will start you on your fitness journey:



I live a vintage life. From the 100 year old farm house my wife and I live in, to my 45 year old Ford F100 green pick-up truck, the past is my day to day reality. Even the dog, Charlie, at fourteen and a half years, is nearly an antique! (Please note I spared my wife a similar comparison.) Seriously though, there's a lot of work and maintenance that goes into the upkeep of our farmhouse and various vehicles, including a JeepCJ5 and an old John Deere tractor. But it's satisfying work and it recaptures an era that should never have ended in the first place! Here in our valley in Wisconsin, we manage to hang on to that time when the pace was slower and life was simpler. At 55, I'm only a week away from my official retirement date as a mailman, but I plan to keep working for a few more years. Hey, I want my daughter to get the best education she can at the best college I can afford!

In a sense, I think of myself as already retired... but working! Let me explain:
No longer a union officer, no longer actively engaged in constructive change... I carry my route, greeting all my patrons who have become my friends as I've been on the same route for over 16 years. I'm also able to enjoy listening to my many podcasts as I walk my appointed rounds.

So now I find myself on the threshold of baby-boomer morphing into Senior citizen. It's inevitable: but not only am I ready for this change, I'm thankful for it as well. My plan and goal is to live a long, healthy, fulfilling and self-actualized life. To live up to my God given potential. Who wouldn't agree with that? But how to accomplish it is another matter!

I've got more than a few passions where health and fitness are concerned. I started out in my teens with long distance running- Ken Cooper's Aerobics book was a big influence for lots of us. Unfortunately, instead of preserving the nation's hearts and fitness, it mainly achieved the destruction of the nation's joints...

Anyway, I've progressed, never losing sight of my fitness goals over the long years. I've tried LOTS of things, and I plan to tell you what I've learned within my future blogs. I also plan to insert other things of interest I have gathered up over the years; things that hopefully will help you as well. My daily life, and that of those around me will also be a part of what you see here, and I'm sure my wife's photos will help brighten these pages.

I think you'll enjoy my "vintage lifestyle", and what I've learned along the way. This is my own humble answer to Whole Health. As is the case in most of life:

Our future is in our past!