Thursday, May 13, 2010

Self discovery through Athletics: Strength

Self discovery through Athletics: Strength

Very honest writing - will help many people on their journey into Heavy Duty Training. Good Job - FittLives. Also, love the theme of your Blog, "Self Discovery Through Athletics," Brilliant!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dieter: Know Thy Posture

An informative and interesting guest post by Tim Collins - Thanks Tim!

You might be wondering what posture has to do with dieting and weight loss. The answer is simply everything. When you are walking straight and tall, with your shoulders down and back, chest forward, tummy held tight and bum tucked under, you look taller and thinner. People will comment on this and make you feel great. Maybe you really have lost weight, you will think to yourself. Invigorated, you will forego a second helping and take a walk after your evening meal. Real weight loss is just around the corner. Your posture influences more than the way that you look to other people, however; it can influence how you feel.

Sitting Straight at the Table

How do you eat your meals? Hunched over plastic tray on the couch is a common answer to that question. When you are finished with this meal, how do you feel? Do you feel gassy, bloated and uncomfortable? Do you have to get up and walk around to start feeling better again? For your next meal, go back to the kitchen or dining room table. Sit in the chair, straight and tall. Put your feet on the floor right in front of you. Now finish your meal and see how you feel. Slumping forward, while you are eating pinches your stomach and does not allow it to do its job at all. Making sure that you are giving your stomach room to expand while you are eating will keep food from backing up during the meal.

Walking With a Slump

Now go to a room with a full length mirror. Watch yourself walk in. Do you see how you slump forward, shoulders hunched over and belly rolling over your waistband? Now imagine a string on your head, pulling it up toward the ceiling. Roll back your shoulders and drop them away from your ears. Tuck in your bottom and hold your tummy firm. Walk toward yourself again. Do you see how much better you look? Now think of how much better you feel as well. When you are slumping over, you are not getting the full deep breaths that your body needs to work at its best. Not getting enough oxygen can cause your brain to be sluggish and make poor decisions. No one is suggesting that a few deep breaths will stop you from wolfing down a piece of chocolate cake, but it might help you to think more carefully about whether you should or not.

Posture Perfect

While you are working on your posture, you are also working on your core muscles, the ones that make up your abdominals and hold your tummy in. The more you work these muscles, the more toned they will become. Imagine you are zipping up some very tight jeans as you pull your tummy up and in without holding your breath in any way. Getting used to engaging your ab muscles will allow you to have better posture and will also get you ready for the next step which is abdominal training exercises.

Written by Tim Collins of Ultimate Fitness Gear, Get Insanity Workout and begin the process for getting ripped.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reconnecting Body to Brain

Hey Everyone - Great guest post by Dan Francis from Ultimate Fitness Gear

Enjoy y'all!


Finding the body/brain connection is vital to weight loss. Your brain controls the systems that trigger the need to eat as well as the sensation that you are full so that you stop eating. Without these sensations and triggers you would either never get the urge to eat and would starve to death or you would never receive the message that you have had enough and you would eat until your stomach explodes. Once you are able to reconnect the two systems back to each other, controlling the amount of food that you eat will become much simpler.

Did you know that it takes twenty minutes from the start of a meal to the point that you are full for the brain to get that message? Now, think about how long it takes you to finish a meal of any size. The faster you eat, the more you will eat before your brain finally sends down the message that you have had enough. Eat slowly, chewing each bite carefully and putting your fork down between bites will allow your brain to catch up and stop you from cleaning your plate.

Music influences the speed at which you eat, as does dinner conversation. Have you ever noticed that you eat more in the restaurants that feature peppy, upbeat music or when you are out dining with your rowdier friends? The music is not a coincidence. They choose the upbeat music so that they can get you to shovel down more food in less time, get you out and get the next set of diners to that table so the calorie carnival can start all over. Restaurants do not really care about your waistline, only their bottom line. The more food they can get you to shove down your gullet, the better. If they can get you to waddle to the door faster, even better for them!

We are tricked by our serving-ware as well. The size of dinner plates both at home and out has become enormous. We put the average sized dollop of food on these plates and we seriously become convinced that we are practically starving ourselves. In order to convince our brain that the serving is the proper proportion, we double or even triple what we should have in the first place. We supersize our plates and it is supersizing us as well.

Finally, our sense of smell tricks our brains as well. Certain food smells are proven to make us feel as if we are hungry, even when we are not. One of the most common is the smell of baking bread. Grocery stores that have in-store bakeries will vent the exhaust so that it wafts through the store knowing that many people will be unable to resist the powerful smell. Helplessly, we head to the bakery section of the store and select a loaf of bread, even though we do not need it. The brain is flooded with the sensations that there is hunger, all triggered by one scent.

Knowing all of this, we have to be able to make an effort to slow down, choose slower music when we can or block out what we are hearing when we can not. We need to opt for smaller plates when we are at home and split portions with our friends when we are out. And we need to wear nose plugs when we are grocery shopping!

Article written by Dan Francis of Ultimate Fitness Gear, your top source for the Insanity Workout on the internet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vatican to Finance Adult Stem Cell Research

Vatican to Finance Adult Stem Cell Research

This is a very unusual position for the Catholic Church - highly recommended reading!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heavy Duty Bodybuilding - The Thinking Person's Guide to Physical Training - PART 3

A Sane Voice In The Wilderness

So just as Howard Moscowitz turned the world of spaghetti sauce upside down (in Part 1), Mike Mentzer gave a mighty roar of reason and logic, forcing the worm to poke his head out of the horseradish, and bathe in a new, glorious world of SANITY. Mentzer, like Moscowitz, was about to challenge the orthodoxy, BIG TIME!

A Little History

In 1978, Mentzer did what most thought impossible, won the Mr. Universe in Acapulco, Mexico with the first and (thus far) only perfect score of 300; this after having won the North American Championships the previous year and the Mr. America the year before that. He repeated his perfect score miracle at the 1979 Mr. Olympia (the grand poobah of all bodybuilding events)by winning the heavyweight class, but alas lost the overall to Frank Zane.

These accomplishments would have been endough to propel the young Mentzer to stardom, but something else set him apart - his mind!

A Philosopher, An Intellectual and A Bodybuilder?

I am sure that many of you have read fitness articles from various sources, and typically they are not the prose of intellectuals, rather the writings (some might even say ramblings) of the average Joe. Not that there is anything wrong with the average Joe. Well crafted well thought out musings are, after all, well done, regardless of their source. And when Mike wrote, there was no question that he fit this bill BUT he also set himself apart. Here was a former medical school student determined to be a psychiatrist turned philosopher, devotee/disciple of Ayn Rand, student of politics, art, business AND a bodybuilder. Not your average author of bodybuilding articles in the 1970's - far from it in fact.

Part 3 Continued Next Post

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heavy Duty Bodybuilding - The Thinking Person's Guide to Physical Training - PART 2

"For best gains, they recommend two and even three sessions per day six days a week, with the seventh day off - for sabbath, I suppose. Very scientific." - Mike Mentzer, Heavy Duty I

If you have viewed Malcolm Gladwell's video which I embedded in my last post (and I sincerely hope that you have, since it is both funny AND thought provoking) you would have gleaned an insight into human behaviour, which while not always true, is too often the case, and therefore rather sad; too many of us often think and behave like the stereotypical LEMMING!

Of Lemmings and Men

You are no doubt familiar with the rodent of which I speak. This is the same small, furry creature that is believed (unsubstantiated however) to commit mass suicide as part of their migration. The ole, "Well everybody was else was doing it," philosophy.

Like the "worm in horseradish" mentioned in Part 1, too many of us (and I certainly have been guilty on occassion) have succumbed to this "group thinking" approach. We get caught up in the mob mentality, getting seduced by what seemingly everyone else (of course it is not really everyone, it just feels that way) is thinking and begin to take on their beliefs. Once this occurs, then we are really in the horseradish, we start to make decisions, and worse, take action based on erroneous truths - and down the rabbit hole we go!

Sanity is Not Statistical

Years ago, I heard a speaker deliberate on this concept, "Sanity is not Statistical" as it relates to business and life. He cited the example of the Wright Brothers, those two lone voices of their time who fervently believed that man could fly. The very interesting part of this conversation, that truly gave me cause to ponder, was a statistic that he offered. The speaker said that at the time of the Wright Brothers, the absolute overwhelming opinion, AROUND THE WORLD, was that men could not fly. Literally hundreds of thousands of individuals believed this; people opined this belief in town halls, churches, newspapers, and wherever they gathered. Learned men gave explanations: if man moved past a certain speed his internal organs would implode/explode; if man was meant to fly he would have been born with wings (with accompanying anatomical/biological charts and theories, I understand), just to name two. However, time has borne who was correct; the two versus the countless, regardless of how many voices they had.

Context Switching

And so Mentzer noticed about bodybuilders, their teachers, gurus, and their elder statesmen. A little like Lemmings (OK that may be a little harsh), but certainly within the realm of sanity is not statistical, the aforementioned clung to the old axiom of "everyone is unique so everyone's training must be differnt" with a little of the ole "if one aspirin is good, 12 must be better" context switching (if training once per day, three days per week is good, then 3 times per day 6 days per week must be better)thrown in for good measure. After these ingredients were all included in the stew, what was the result? A veritable den of confustion for the young and novice trainees; since each "expert" had their own version of the above,bewilderment, chaos and desperation filled the hearts of young bodbuilders everywhere.

A Sane Voice In The Wilderness

Part 3 ties it all together - I PROMISE!

AG Spinelli

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heavy Duty Bodybuilding - The Thinking Person's Guide to Physical Training - PART 1

"To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish." - Yiddish Proverb

As I was reading a blog earlier today,Kelly Diels' CLEAVAGE (not what you think), Ms. Diels was excited about an upcoming presentation being given by author, intellectual, and generally all around interesting dude, Malcolm Gladwell. So excited was she about his upcoming visit to her fair city, that she posted the following YouTube video on her site (I have done the same here for you, in case you have yet to experience Mr. Gladwell's wit and charm).

I had seen this video before, and since I too am a fan, I watched the video again, and it struck me as to the parallels between this subject matter and Heavy Duty Bodybuilding training.

In a nutshell, Gladwell talks about his hero, and from the sounds of it, good friend Howard Moscowitz who is a famous (infamous?) market researcher, responsible for revolutionizing the spaghetti sauce business (the stuff in jars sold in grocery stores), amongst other accomplishments.


In a nutshell, before Moscowitz' research, essentially all of the spaghetti sauce at retail patterned itself after what Gladwell refers to as "culturally authentic." That is to say, the overriding belief was that all Americans wanted a tomato sauce patterned after a more traditional Italian sauce, which was by its nature thinner, was not meant to sit on top of or "adhere" to pasta, but rather to lightly flavour the past as it sank to the bottom. As the video explores, Moscowitz determined that fully 1/3 of all Americans preferred a "chunky" version of tomato sauce; one that was was able to sit on top of the pasta and become a more integral part of the meal. 1/3 is a large number - and over 10 years Prego (whom Moscowitz was consulting for) made over $600 million based on this revelation alone and changed the way the food industry thought about what they offered to their customers.

So how does this apply to fitness training, especially bodybuilding? Stay tuned.

AG Spinelli

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Among our stories, some are of famous businesspeople such as Walt Disney, John D. Rockefeller and Sam Walton, and others are of renowned thinkers such as Aristotle, Einstein and Gandhi. Still others are of people you may never have heard of but whose accomplishments are also quite impressive. Each triumphed over their own skepticism and that of others. After all, who did these people think they were to have such bold dreams and tackle such visionary ideas? The answer is they were people with human frailties just like you and me."
-Dick Kazan of Kazan Today

The above is from the mission statement page of Dick Kazan's terrific website, Kazan Today, located at Mr. Kazan is a true renaissance man, who has developed a website that truly helps people.By giving his readers factual information about others who have succeeded, Mr. Kazan allows them to find a story that resonates with them in some way, giving them one more tool that helps spur them on, even when they are frozen with fear, doubt, fatigue, or whatever. Remember that action is either the antidote or the main component of the antidote to many obstacles. Check out his website, I highly recommend it!!!!
Till next time -

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Hello to everyone and welcome to FITTLIVES - where our goal is to make a meaningful contribution to individuals' lives as a fitness and wellness resource for all. We will strive to enrich peoples' lives and empower individuals with tools that in making their physical lives better create the "spill over effect" and make other parts of their lives better as well. There is real power in this, if you only know to look for and acknowledge it.

We welcome your comments and suggestion and wish you every success in all your pursuits.

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Monday, March 8, 2010



“Ours has been called an “Age of Complexity” with intellectual confusion as its primary characteristic. This is the result of people not learning to think in terms of fundamentals and principles. A system of thought based on fundamental principles serves as an intellectual blueprint that enables one to answer specific, concrete questions. Without such a fundamental base, questions continue to arise with no method for answering them, whether the subject is ethics, politics, training – or nutrition.”

- Mike Mentzer

When I first read the above passage, I immediately returned in my mind to a time when Mike and I were just beginning our friendship and he spoke to me, with a passion that I suspect few have ever experienced, about the relationship between Volume and High Intensity Training.

To Mike, the importance of this subject was paramount above all things when it came to training, since it was really the cornerstone of HIT (High Intensity Training). This was the umbrella concept, the main concept, under which all the other concepts existed. Without truly understanding this premise, and applying it, it really didn’t matter how well his students understood the more minor (relatively speaking) principles of HIT; they would be doomed to struggle for progress in the quagmire that is today bodybuilding world.

Mike told me many times, with the same passion, that bodybuilding was a science; in fact he viewed it as a subset of the larger body of medical science, much like the study of anatomy, biochemistry, genetics or pharmacology, to name only a few. Therefore, it almost infuriated him that the current crop of bodybuilding gurus, as did the crop that preceded them, were still regurgitating the same old doctrine, “Everyone is different, so everyone needs to train differently.”

Therefore, Mike very much approached bodybuilding as any scientist would any experiment. That is to say, as in any properly conducted experiment, the elimination of multiple variables is the goal, so as to leave us with one variable, which can then be studied and proved or disproved. Said another way, there is a PRECISE amount of exercise required to bring about the desired change and improvement; less would be ineffectual (to varying degrees) and more would be overtraining, which would be detrimental to progress and will even retard one’s current physical state.

Consequently, let us begin with the repetition, or rather the confusion about repetitions, and their logical, proper application. We have all heard one current bodybuilding flavour of the month or another espouse their preference of how many repetitions they use, but with no real science as to why that number was chosen. Mike was very clear on this point; a set (made up of a number of repetitions) should be terminated at the point of momentary muscular failure; this is the point at which the individual cannot do another repetition in the same form as the previous repetitions, without calling other muscles or outside assistance in to play. This indeed is the trigger or the switch that sends a signal to one’s physiology, spurring on muscular growth and progress. Doing more than this is like continuing to press a light switch once the light is already on; applying more force will not make the light brighter and if continued, will eventually break the mechanism.

Moreover, once we have understood this concept, then the next logical question would be, how many sets? Mike wrote about this many times, and the logic was so simple that it was brilliant. Since most bodybuilders never really explained how they came to choose the number of sets that they were performing, how could they really know what was working and what wasn’t working. For example, if one was performing 5 sets of a given exercise, how could they be sure that 5 was either enough or too many – was 3 correct, perhaps 2 more would be needed? Remember what we said earlier about eliminating multiple variables so that only one remained that could then be evaluated. This is the basis of all scientific experimentation and reasoning, regardless of the discipline.

Therefore, if we were to begin to decide how many sets to do, and determine if this number was effective, we should begin at the beginning, as Mike told me. Obviously, choosing “0” sets would be ludicrous, since doing nothing will produce nothing. If we chose two sets however, we would be making the same error of multiple variables that we just spoke of – so the only logical place to start would be doing one set to momentary muscular failure. Yes dear reader, one set to initiate that trigger or switch that we spoke of earlier, and no more; the PRECISE amount of exercise to product the desired result, which can then be measured for its efficacy.

Always remember what Mike said in his first book HEAVY DUTY, “The fact that the principles of anatomy and physiology are universal, and not subject to arbitrary change, is what makes it possible for medical science to exist as a viable discipline. In other words, if every individual’s cells, organs and muscles were constituted and functioned differently, doctors couldn’t make diagnoses, perform surgeries, or dispense medicines.”

Dear reader, Mike Mentzer led his life with a main purpose: to shed light on the ill conceived bodybuilding doctrine that has existed for decades that literally keeps people frustrated and spinning their wheels. THERE IS A CORRECT WAY to train for maximum results and measure those results precisely, allowing one to cut through the fog of misinformation that is today’s bodybuilding world.

Mike Mentzer was my friend and teacher and I plan to carry on the work he started – Stay Tuned!
AG Spinelli