Here is a case in point… 

I called my Dad the other day to check in with him… 

He recently started “lifting weights” after years of hounding from me (I also trained him for a couple of years where he admits to being in the best shape of his life).  You see, he is losing muscle mass by the minute and I am getting worried. 

Why would I be worried?

Well, his body is important.  How many people have you known who have broken hips, knees, wrists, ankles from falling or trying to lift something only to drop it on their foot and so forth.  My grandmother has had three hip replacements and two knee replacements. 

My late mother-in-law broke both her leg and wrist from tripping and falling. 

What does this have to do with Self Preservation?  I will get to that in a sec…

But first, I think there is a MAJOR misconception of my fathers’ and our generation for the use of FUNCTIONAL strength.  Here are the facts…  My dad will ALWAYS need to:

  • Lift a load (think box or firewood) off the ground
  • Lift a load above his head – like putting a piece of plywood on top of his car
  • Be able to do a squat (like tying his shoes) – how many people have you seen struggling to get out of a low chair?

Bottom line is he will always need to pull something, lift something, push something… etc. 

Yet, somewhere the fitness industry got lost.  Functionality has been replaced with “Bosu Balls” and “Core Training” and other fancy gadgets that have no relation to any sort of movement you would perform in real life.  It is sissy training at best yet makes the trainer look REALLY smart because they have 20 different variations of a tricep extension….  nice!

Both will make you look good but the fancy stuff will create a “Paper Dragon” who will crumble under any substantial load.  The fact of the matter is that “selectorized” equipment (equipment with the pins) like you see in many gyms create imbalances at best and potential injury at worst.  Plus they can be complex and intimidating…  you don’t need it.

Nothing replaces putting load or weight on the body and having it move that weight.  No machine.  No new invention.  Nothing you will see on a late night infomercial… 

Nothing but good ole’ fashion weight lifting. 

So I asked him, “How are the weights going?”

“Great!”, he said. 

“OK, what type of things are you doing?”

“Well,” he began “I got some fitness magazines and have been doing some exercises out of there.”  I started twitching but remained calm. 

“Alright I said, how much weight are you using?”

“8 lb dumbbells!” he said happily. Then added, “I can REALLY feel it!”

I had my eyes closed for so long that I nearly drove off the road…  Consider for a moment that the simple suitcase he will bring with him on his next trip will weigh considerable more than 16 total pounds.  He will have to move that suitcase in a variety of different directions. 

So I asked him 2 questions…  First, “Are the dumbbells PINK?”  And second, “If you squeezed your butt cheeks together for 30 seconds you would “REALLY feel it!”  “How much closer would you be to getting in shape?!”

Now we had a good laugh and everything was in good fun BUT it represented a huge problem… The problem of education and myth…  Are we working on form or function?  Although the guys in the fitness magazines are very pretty, it is a known fact that they lack FUNCTIONAL strength.  Simply put, being able to lift a weight off the ground and raise it over their head. 

I get to see him next week…  and that is where part 3 comes in. 

He thinks that he needs to get in his car…

Go to some heated / air conditioned “fitness facility” to “workout”… 

Work with fancy “fitness equipment”…

And look at guys in spandex…  nasty.  That is reason enough for me to cancel my membership… 

We are going to get jeans on and some boots and WALK OUT HIS BACK DOOR…

Go out into the woods.  THAT is where he will get the best workout he has had in years…

More to come…  stay tuned.