If you’re not familiar with Dr. Charles Eugster, he’s 93 years old and began working out when he was 80-something. He’s a living, breathing example of the kind of life we could all have when we’re older. In this TED Talk, he offers enlightening truths about aging as it currently is throughout the world, and as it could be.
I recently finished reading a book called “Ending back pain: 5 powerful steps to diagnose, understand and treat your ailing back“, written by Dr. Jack Stern, a back surgeon. Here’s the English cover:
And for those of you who are in Romania, here’s the Romanian cover:
Some of you may remember that I dealt with a bout of debilitating back pain in 2015-2016. As a matter of fact, as I write this short book review, I get to celebrate a year of living a fairly normal life again — as opposed to crawling on all fours and unable to walk, hopped up on pain killers and yet still in excruciating pain.
So it is with the authority given to me by first-hand experience that I recommend this book to you. Back pain has become an epidemic nowadays, because of the way most of us live and think, and there’s a very good chance that if you’re reading this and are over the age of 30, you’ve had some back pain. I know 25-year olds who are struggling with back pain. This was unheard of just a few decades ago. Back pain used to be a thing old people complained about. Not anymore.
This book truly does what it promises to do in its title. It walks you through its five steps that help you self-diagnose your back pain, guides you in the process of selecting a specialist to assist with your recovery and gives you solid advice about how to stop the pain from reoccurring.
What I liked about it (and there are many things to like) was its holistic approach. The author doesn’t stress surgery, even though he’s a successful and experienced surgeon. Like me, he thinks surgery is the absolute last resort. Even more so, he talks a great deal about natural ways to treat the back pain. He’s not entrenched in the allopathic approach which, let’s be honest, has failed quite miserably in the treatment of back in recent decades.
What you’ll take away from the book depends on your particular situation, but what I want you to understand going in, is that back pain is a complicated beast that can have many causes: physical, psychological, genetic, postural, mechanical, food, lack of exercise and so on. Your particular back pain, even though it may have the same symptoms as that of someone else, may have entirely different causes. That’s where this book shines: it talks about those causes and helps you to identify what’s really ailing you, what’s at the root of your back pain.
I’ve gained valuable insights through the reading of this book. It confirmed things I intuited when I was sinking deeper and deeper into a spiral of pain and despair and revealed new things to me about the nature of my particular back pain. It’ll do the same for you if you read it in earnest, studiously and with the intent of getting to the bottom of things.
Good luck and good health!
A few days ago, I had my second workout in what amounts to almost a year off due to my back pain. I recorded a short video after the workout, which you can see below. It feels great to be back in the gym, and even though I still have some recurring and minor back pain, I’m undergoing therapy to address it and cannot hold off on going to the gym any longer. Exercise is vital for me.
I get asked quite often how I get my protein as a vegan (raw vegan). First of all, if your diet is diversified enough, you’ll get plenty of protein from the foods that you eat, but if you also work out and you want to add extra protein, here are the sources that I’ve tried.
In the order they appear in the video, these sources of vegan and raw vegan protein are:
In response to multiple requests about my progress with my workouts, I recorded a new video a week and a half ago, where I talked about one of my back workouts.
I’ve been using different techniques for the weighted pullups and chinups and I wanted to share them with you, because they have to do with lower back safety. First, I talked about where it’s good and where it’s not good to attach weights when you do the pullups and also why a popular spotting method for this exercise isn’t such a good idea for the lower back.
Finally, I demonstrated a new lat exercise which I feel works the lat all the way down to its insertion point, developing more of a V-taper. There’s a good chance this exercise isn’t new, but since I figured it out for myself, I’m calling it new — it’s new for me, at any rate.
There’s a second video I made about this exercise, where I show the proper angle of movement. Make sure to watch this one as well:
I hope my advice is helpful to you. Till next time!
Today was Leg Day and the last workout in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Blueprint, an 8-week workout program that he launched a few months ago. I had a great time doing it, although it took me more than 8 weeks to complete it, due to the various projects we’re working on and the fact that we now have a little girl. I couldn’t go to the gym six times a week on a regular basis and made it there 3-4 times a week instead. There were a few times when I was able to go 5-6 times and it felt great.
I made a lot of gains in strength on most exercises. For example, my bench press went up to a 2-rep max of 225 lbs., which is something I haven’t been able to do since college, and even then only a few times. Back then I hovered around the 185-205 lbs. range. I can now deadlift 5 x 315 lbs. I can also squat 2 x 225 lbs. and this was another problematic exercise for me. I can’t remember how much I was able to do in college, but I think this is right up there with my previous max.
I finished the program with a bang, too. I was supposed to try for a 1-rep max on the front squat and I managed 195 lbs, which is more than I’ve ever done. And right after that, I maxed out on the deadlifts as already mentioned above.
I remember how much this program kicked my butt when I started it. I simply hadn’t been doing sets of 30 reps at any weight, and that’s what it started with on the first day and kept on like it for the first three weeks. I was so sore the first few days. I found it extremely difficult, both in terms of pain and stamina, to push through that many reps, but I stuck with it, did every workout and now I’m done.
I didn’t measure my body when I started. I really should have. It would have been great to see my progress that way. All I can tell you is that my weight is up a bit since the last time; it’s now at 187 lbs. Not a big increase but then only I know how busy I’ve been and how little I’ve eaten. Most days I got 2-3 proper meals when I should have eaten five. Such is life when you take on too much. I’ll tell you one thing though: doing renovations on your house as you live in it and also having to act as the general contractor for said renovations is a pretty surefire way to go cuckoo, especially when you need quiet time to work on your business and your other projects.
Here’s the bright side though: I didn’t go cuckoo, gained muscle mass and strength and finished the program! Yes!
Last but not least: thank you Arnold for a wonderful program!
I got a really good question about my Wonder Smoothie recipe this morning, one that made me wish I would have included the info right in the original post. The question was:
“I was wondering if you would do a breakdown of your post-workout shake (reason for specific ingredients, e.g. baobab, alkaline water, methylsulfonylmethane, suma root etc.)”
To that effect, here are the main reasons I put each of those ingredients into the mix:
- Chlorella/Spirulina: detox and protein
- Mesquite: vitamins, minerals and lysine
- Gynostemma: strength, endurance, digestion
- Baobab: antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Suma Root: muscle building, endurance and healing
- Triphala: digestion and cardiovascular functioning
- Rose Hip: antioxidant
- MSM: joint health
- Coconut Butter: healthy fats, metabolism booster
- Hemp Seeds: healthy fats, bioavailable protein
- Sesame Seeds: minerals
- Alkaline Water: detox and recovery
- Raw Honey: immunity, healthy sweetener
- Raw Protein: high quality bioavailable protein from plant sources such as brown rice, pea, hemp, amaranth, quinoa and more
As you can see, my Wonder Smoothie is packed full of goodness to nourish the body, help it heal after workouts and support its growth.
I have to tell though, if you don’t get the recipe right, it’s going to taste awful. So play with the recipe until you get it to the point where you can drink this and then always make it the same way.
Drink the smoothie right away after making it — this isn’t one of those drinks that keeps for hours. It spoils after a half hour. And don’t drink it too often, otherwise you’ll tire of its taste and won’t want it anymore. Once or twice a week is enough.
Here’s to your health and continued growth!
I thought it’d be worthwhile to take a photo from December 2012 and put it side-by-side with a photo taken this month (December 2013).
If you’ll remember from a previous post, I am a raw foodist. I was also slowed down for a couple of months by an ankle fracture which required two surgical interventions. And yet, this was my progress. I’m satisfied with it.
I plan to grow even more. There are certain measurements I want to reach. I am so glad I started bodybuilding again.
Here’s a triptych where I included a shot taken in March of this year.
Happy New Year!
This is a second whole body workout I wanted to share with you (here’s my first one). I reached new maxes in this workout on the clean and press, deadlift and t-bar rows. I did the following exercises:
- Good Mornings
- Clean and Press
- T-Bar Rows
- New max on the clean and press: 60 kg or 135 lbs
- New max on the deadlift: 130 kg or 290 lbs
- New max on the t-bar rows: 60 kg or 135 lbs plus barbell
I need to mention that I used unorthodox form on the t-bar rows, which can lead to injuries if you’re not experienced. So don’t do it like I did it unless you know why I did it that way (hint: it has to do with the way the old school bodybuilders did it).
Enjoy the video and I hope it motivates you to push further in your exercises!
During this workout, I trained my legs with the following exercises:
- Front Squats (5-6 sets)
- Regular Squats (1-2 sets)
- Leg Extensions (5-6 sets)
- Hamstring Curls on the exercise ball (both legs and one leg at a time)
- Leg Presses (4 sets)
- Donkey Calf Raises (3 sets)
- Sitting Calf Raises (2 sets)
I also (unexpectedly) reached new maxes on the front squat, the leg extensions, the leg presses and the donkey calf raises and in the video, I talked about how gains come when you don’t expect them to (as long as you put in the work to get your body ready for them). I also talked about how we perceive weight and how we tend to let pre-conceived notions dictate to us how much weight we can or cannot lift. It’s important to approach each set with only the expectation of getting the most benefit out of it. Don’t pre-program yourself for any specific weight, because who knows how much you can truly lift? Why limit yourself?
Hope you enjoyed the video!
Here’s a recent arms workout I did, filmed by Ligia:
I performed the following exercises:
- Warmed up with standing dumbbell curls, followed by regular sets of the same,
- Triceps rope extensions,
- Standing curls with preacher bar,
- Concentration curls,
- Alternate sets of prone and supine triceps pulldowns and
- My original variation on one-arm preacher curls: the one-arm cable biceps curls.
It was fun! And afterwards I naturally drank one of my Wonder Smoothies.
Here’s one of my chest workouts, captured on video by Ligia recently. I warmed up with standing cable flyes, followed by the workout, which consisted of incline dumbbell presses, dips, machine chest presses, lying cable flies and incline dumbbell flyes.
I talked about each exercise in various detail, giving advice gleaned from my experience. At the end of the video, I extended an invitation for bodybuilding-related questions. I’ve got about nine years of intensive experience in the gym, on both animal and vegan diets, and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t along the way. If you’ve got some questions, I may have the answers.
Till next time!