We are living in crazy times. About 10 years ago, we were making our first purchases on Amazon, some of us were buying our first iPhones, Facebook was a baby, and Instagram didn't even exist. Today I make most of my material purchases on Amazon (and that stuff often arrives within 24 hours), I use an iPhone X, I check my FB at least 2-3 times/day and read at least a half dozen articles while there, and I try to make at least 2-3 Instagram posts in order to help grow the awareness of the SQUARE 1 System.
Life is physically easy (and promotes softness) for most of us. And because of that, a lot of us are becoming fatter, weaker, less mobile, and physically more fragile.
Yet, if you go on social media and start looking up exercise and movement type posts you will find many examples regarding the extreme edge of performance and aesthetics. We see more than a few examples of guys deadlifting 700, 800, and even some who can pull 900+ lbs! Impressive!! We see 80 year old ladies squatting 2x their own body weight. Yes!! We see parkour athletes nailing nearly super-human gymnastics skills 6 stories above the earth. All of this is very impressive, entertaining, and inspiring. This is all wonderful. I say keep going you awesome freaks of physical prowess!! You folks are the inspirational carrots dangling in front of the rest of us.
I don't have official stats on this but I'd bet a lot of money that most American adult males can't do more than 5-10 legit pushups and at least half can't perform a single chin-up. I'm also guessing that most American adult females can't perform 1 legit pushup and are feel various degrees of guilt or embarrassment that they aren't do any "cardio". Most people just straight up hate exercise and count the lettuce on their Big Mac as a vegetable serving. Most are also quite unhappy with their current physical status (or they ought to be). ~25-30% of Americans are considered totally inactive. ~40% of American adults are obese (not just plain old fat). Obese is defined as grossly fat!! That's a 17.6% increase in the past 10 years. These are scary numbers. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 71.8% of Americans over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese. If you are sitting in a coffee shop right now and you are not obese or overweight, look to your right and look to your left. Odds are that the 2 people sitting nearest you are overweight. THIS IS REALLY BAD!!!!!
So while the physical prowess freaks serve as amazing sources of inspiration for a lot of us, where can the overweight and obese masses start? Most of society seems to be making health decisions using the following question: "I don't want to die so what's the least I can do to not be such a total physical wreck that death is imminent." We're talking super low standards here folks.
I believe that we need to raise the standard and maybe it starts with asking yourself the following question: "What's the least that I need to do to not be a burden?" Is there a minimal standard that we can shoot for to halt and reverse where our society is headed physically? We're talking about the Pareto principle (80/20 rule - 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes; the law of the vital few) applied to health and wellness for the masses.
So what do we really NEED to do to not die?
Survival standards. How long can we go without...
Optimal standards. What would be ideal to become super lean, strong, mobile, and pain-free?
Obviously, an optimal plan as I laid it out, isn't a practical or enticing possibility for most of us.
So what is a practical and realistic plan that would dramatically improve the health and wellness of a large % of us?
The Barebones Project (based on the law of the vital few)...
This plan provides a very practical, reasonable, and useful program that most could actually do (if they so choose). And while I'm no expert in air quality, water quality, sleep, or food/nutrition, this plan is pretty darned solid. My specific area of expertise happens to be in the area of neuromechanics. Neuromechanics is an area that attempts to combine the efforts of muscles, sensory organs, pattern generators in the brain, and the central nervous system itself to explain movement. So for the remainder of this blogpost, I will focus on using a barebones approach to movement.
#4 Barebones Movement.
•Bi- Monthly: Get SQUARE’d up occasionally (most of our clients do well with 3-6 yearly SQUARE 1 sessions. The SQUARE 1 System pinpoints blocked sensorimotor signals that drive our need to compensate with how we move. Compensation, left unchecked, can create all sorts of downstream problems - inflammation, pain, tissue degradation, weakness, poor posture... Receiving regular SQUARE 1 sessions is the best way to keep compensation and its' downstream aftermath in check. SQUARE 1 keeps you in the movement game.
•Monthly: Physically test yourself. For various reasons, it's important to test yourself. It gives us an objective measuring stick for how we are doing. It can show us when we are doing well and when we are doing poorly. It can be a motivation tool. Example ideas: How much weight can you trap bar deadlift for 3 reps, 5 reps, 10 reos? How far can you farmers carry half your body weight in each hand? How many chin ups can you do? If your progress has stalled, you'll find out and be able to make appropriate adjustments. Once you can perform them, I personally love chin-ups (or pull-ups) as a test because it is a nice combo test of strength and leanness. If I get weak, my chin-ups go down. If I get fatter, my chin-ups go down.
•Weekly: 2 days/week - strength focused routine on our 2 rudimentary patterns.
Sample program #1:
Mondays and Fridays / Wednesday and Saturdays
*Trap bar deadlifts. 2-5 heavy sets (4-6 reps with your 6-8 reps load).
Rest 2:00-4:00 between sets.
*Farmers carries. 2-5 sets (30 seconds with your 35-40 sec load).
Rest 2:00-4:00 between sets.
Sample program #2:
Mondays and Fridays / Wednesdays and Saturdays
*Squats. 2-5 heavy sets (4-6 reps with your 6-8 reps load).
Rest 2:00-4:00 between sets.
*Sled push. 2-5 sets (20-40 yards with a load that you could only push 50 yards).
Rest 1:00-2:00 between sets.
Sample program #3:
Program #1 routine on day #1
Program #2 routine on day #2
•Daily (or more): Convert "passive stretching" to "active stretching". Use extreme ROM isometric contractions into every single joint position/action every day and more.
Passive stretching (where you use external or internal force to assist your joints to move beyond ranges of motion of which you can actively achieve without assistance) is sort of "junk food" for your brain. While there is a growing body of research that seems to be finding that passive stretching decreases muscular performance (lower power outputs) and increases injury risk, I have other reasons to "hate" on passive stretching.
At SQUARE 1, we use proprio-neuro response muscle testing to detect very subtle changes in our clients' nervous systems. It was an integral tool for developing SQUARE 1 and it is an integral tool for running the SQUARE 1 sessions. Over the years, I've tested the neuro responses to well over 1000 different stimuli. One very interesting finding is this... I have never found neuro-response muscle testing to detect passive stretching as a "safe" stimulus. Hence, "junk food" for the brain. Conversely, I have never found neuro-response muscle testing to detect active stretching (using only your own strength and control of your agonist muscles to move into extreme ranges of motion) as an "unsafe" stimulus. Hence, "health food" for the brain.
As a recap for being physically healthier (less burdensome) using a Barebones approach...
1. Drink more water.
2. Get more sleep.
3. Eat real food.
4. Get strong by focusing on "GET UP" and "GO" movements.
5. Stop passive stretching. Start active stretching.
6. Find and hire yourself a SQUARE 1 pro and use them as your body mechanic.
YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reverse osteoporosis and muscle weakening as you age! Age related tissue deterioration is a natural process in the human body. Our physical degeneration is accelerated by our modern, convenience-based, and sedentary lifestyles. All of our muscles, tendons, and especially our bones, weaken and become frail because we don’t provide the stimuli required to remain strong and youthful.
But here is the good news… these effects can be halted and even reversed with basic strength training. “Strength Training” may sound scary to some people, but I can assure you that there is nothing to fear and much to gain. The goal of strength training is to safely expose your body to a tolerable level of mechanical stress in order to adapt to that stress so that your muscles, tendons, and bones get stronger. The “USE IT OR LOSE IT” principle applies here. Even better news is that strength training does not have to be done every day. The majority of the benefits of strength training can be achieved in two days/week with 1-hour workouts!
We have already helped many local residents with developing strength. Keep in mind that developing your strength is as much for your family and friends, the people you need to take care of and help for as long as possible, as it is for yourself. It is very difficult and even impossible to take care of others if you are weak, achy, and tired all the time! Choose strength!
To substantiate some of the claims I am making, check out this article from Harvard.
At SQUARE 1, we specialize in pain reduction and strength building to improve our client’s lives. We encourage you to contact us to learn about our affordable private and small group strength training options so that you can live a better life.
SQUARE 1 Strength Club Director