Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Friends of KSI #1 - The Legend Speaks on Making Your Waist Thinner

We recently received an email question from a long term KSI client, which was the catalyst for a topic in 'The Huddle' Series #1 - How to make your waist thinner http://bit.ly/waistflatter.

Going the extra mile as we like to, we wanted to add even more value on this topic. I thought of my friend Jon Jon (John) Park, son of the Legend Reg Park. The late Reg Park was one of the greatest bodybuilders in my life-time, and a man whose legacy expanded beyond his strength and shape. He was known for his integrity and qualities of a great man, qualities that could do with a resurgence in this era.

So we took our clients question to John Park, who had the rare honor and experience of growing up learning from the Legend. Reg Park was more of an innovator than many people realize. John Park runs a gym in Los Angeles and we encourage all visitors (and locals) to get along and experience the memories on the wall that carry the Legacy of the Legend.

We are honored to be able to share the wisdom of John and Reg, true friends of KSI:

John Park
"Firstly I agree with you that the physiques of the past looked better than they do now. With the rare exception the physiques of today have very little appeal. They look like oversized drug induced cartoon characters with no symmetry at all. In response to your question re narrowing the waist I would have to say that genetics does play a large part however there are certain things that one can do to achieve a tighter midsection, give the illusion of a small waist and prevent it from getting thicker.

The most important exercise one can do is Vacuums which I have been doing daily since I was very young. There are several ways to perform this exercise which is extremely important for strengthening the internal abdominal wall. This exercise activates the internal oblique's which if too developed makes the waist appear a lot thicker. Also no other exercise other than Vacuums works the internal abdominal wall or the TVA (Transverse abdominal muscles) which are not visible and not part of the abdominus rectus structure (six pack). The TVA muscles are triangular in shape and are located on the sides of the lower abdominals and into the pubic area. Why it is important to work these often neglected muscles is because they are attached to a belt like tissue that connects to the lower back so if they are strong, they in turn help with lower back strength.

The easiest way to perform the vacuums is to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor both hip distance apart. Keep your chin tucked at a ninety degree angle and your eyes looking downwards towards your sternum. Keep your lower back flat into the floor, make sure there is no arch. Place your hands so that your finger tips are touching your TVA muscles. Inhale through the mouth and then immediately exhale through the mouth and then draw your navel in towards your spine. Repeat this three times but on the third one hold your stomach in for a count of three to activate the abdominals. Repeat again for a fourth time but hold the stomach in for as long as possible without breathing.

More important than how long you can hold your stomach in for, is how tight you can hold it in. You should feel some discomfort and tightness in your abdominals especially in the lower portion. This whole procedure would be considered one rep and one should do five reps of this. As you get more proficient with this exercise you should be able to hold the stomach in for longer. I am able to do this for one minute each fourth time on each rep but I mostly do it for thirty seconds as it is more efficient and I am not trying to set records for holding my breath. I find the best time to do the vacuums is first thing in the morning on wakening on an empty stomach. Empty your bladder first and then do the exercise.

Once you are able to master this exercise then you should be able to perform all abdominal exercises and vacuum every rep simply by doing the following, exhaling pulling your stomach in and then performing the rep, whether it be any variable of leg lifts, sit ups or side crunches. Most people in my opinion don't work the abdominals correctly they exhale whilst doing the movement and tend to rush each rep. However if you perform the reps in the manner described above you will slow the tempo down, activate the internal abdominal wall and increase the intensity. If performed in this manner the abdominals will fatigue sooner and you will not have to perform hundreds of reps, perhaps twenty to thirty would be your maximum.

There is a progression to this exercise and that is, whilst you are on the fourth one of each rep, to shift your hips in a controlled manner from side to side by sliding your lower back across the floor from side to side keeping your lower back in contact with the floor. Do not do a see saw type motion whereby you are lifting your hips off the floor. By adding this new dimension you will activate the TVA more as well as the internal oblique's.

Another way of performing the Vacuums is rest on your hands and knees and make sure that all angles, your wrists, armpits, chin, hips and knees are at ninety degree angles and your hands, knees and feet should be shoulder width apart. Start with the lower back arched and the stomach lowered towards the floor. Repeat the same technique as the Vacuums lying on your back but every time you pull your stomach in lift your lower back (arched) towards the ceiling. I find this exercise is also helpful if you have tightness in the sacrum as it helps open it up when lifting your lower back up.

Another way of performing this exercise is to stand bent over with your feet hip distance apart and your hands resting on your knees and go through the whole procedure.

Incidentally in preparation for a competition, Frank Zane would stand upright in front of a mirror every day and vacuum for up to an hour in various positions sideways, front and back and he would incorporate this when practicing his posing routine and regulate his breathing whilst doing this. When you are able to master the Vacuum technique, you should be able to do this whilst sitting, standing and even walking which I would call semi Vacuums. You don't necessarily go through the whole procedure of performing the reps.

Another technique that Zane used to incorporate whilst training which I learnt from my dad many years ago, is too inhale whilst doing certain exercises. I know this is contrary to the norm of exhaling on the effort and would not do this when performing squats, dead lifts or chest presses but if you are training purely for aesthetic reasons and not necessarily strength, then this technique is very helpful. When you think about it when you are exercising and you exhale whilst performing the concentric part of the exercise, especially if you are using heavy poundage's, your waist and stomach distend. Doing pull downs in this manner is very effective as you are exhaling on the upward (eccentric) portion of the exercise when your abdominal cavity is lengthened and stretched out and hence there is no distention. I would also strongly urge you not to use any weight whilst doing abdominals for the same reason.

In short the more you contract a muscle specifically the stomach, the tighter it will ultimately become.

Best of luck."
--John Park

Monday, July 7, 2014

Thank you for helping me get back in to exercise pain free and keeping me there

I recently received this email:
"Hi Ian, 7 years ago I bought your Get Buffed books and did the programs in get buffed 1 and 2. When I did these programs I was in the best shape of my life. After that I made a program of my own when I bought the book 'How to Write Strength Training Programs, yet still in great shape and getting stronger.

Then some where along the way I decided to look in to power lifting and xxx and using exercise technique from the book xxxx. I started to get minor injuries and weakness with certian muscle groups. After a year of incorrect lifting and programing with little core work (because the progarms said don't worry about it. and I listened?!?!!?!) I herniated my disc.

I look back today at my lifting career and thank you for all your knowledge and for writing the get buffed books. Those books single handedly are the best books on training I have. I thank you for sharing you training ideas, and exercise techniques.

After my injuries I still use Get Buffed 1 and how to write strength training programs all the time to stay pain free today.

Thanks for everything you do in strength and condidtion, I will always reference your work because it is the gold standard, your methods are unrivaled.

Thank you for helping me get back in to exercise pain free and keeping me there." --Andrew
To which i responded with:

Andrew – thanks for your email, and great to hear that 7 years ago you got your hands on some of the best training advice available. And great to hear that this resulted in the best shape of your life. This is no surprise because the Get Buffed!™ content and programs are based on decades of application and refinement with large sample sizes of athletes in long-term programs, and including multiple sports.

The programs and content in GB and my other books and educational content are not selected because they are trendy – in actual fact, when I first release my ideas, they are anything but trendy! Take my suggestion to stop doing walking lunges – I am receiving the typical stones being thrown at me when I challenge the habits of the masses driven by the misguided recommendations of ‘experts’. What they do ultimately become is the new trend, as evidenced by the popularity of my bodyweight an other unilateral movements in the GB program, the universal application of my speed of movement (using digits to communicate lifting speed), control drills to activate prior to strength training, and my lines of movement concepts – quad dominant, hip dominant, horizontal and vertical pulling, to name a few.

The programs and content in GB and my other books and educational content are not selected because they support the beliefs of my peers – in fact, quite the opposite. Take my suggestion in the late 1990s that the chin up was not adequate to balance the work of the bench press, and that a horizontal pulling movement (my lines of movement concept) was in fact the true opposing movement, yet was totally absent in the popular programs and guru advice of the time. In fact, that stirred such a hornets nest that things got really ugly in the US, with people being threatened not to attend my seminars. The programs and content in GB and my other books and educational content are not selected because I wanted to be sensationalist – I don’t mess with the careers and potential of Olympic and other high level athletes – there is no room for error at this level. So rest assured ideas such as do abs first, the concept of loading is over-rated, lower volume training, reverse periodization - these we all created in response to long term application with no tolerance for error.

In fact after the stone-throwing slowed down, it was ‘interesting’ to watch (in some cases the most vocal critics!) publish these very same concepts. Books, programs, courses.

You decision to leave the path of my concepts is not totally surprising. I believe that most training decisions (by end users and ‘professionals’ – and I use that latter word lightly!) is more influenced by marketing, scarcity and conformity than by the objective reasoning promoted in science. I have no hesitation in acknowledging my weakness in marketing, and in many ways I don’t want to compete. I have seen completely incompetent people with no experience, to whom the market has spoken because they couldn’t get work training athletes – position themselves as ‘experts’ through marketing in this information era, and I refer specifically to the post 2000 era. How do they do this? Deceit turbocharged by powerful marketing techniques I suggest, and I dedicated my 2010 book ‘Barbells & Bullshit’ to educating about. (see below – I have given you a complimentary copy of the e-book version)

Quite simply, and to use a saying (of which I am prone to doing!) often the empty vessel makes the most noise.

So you got drawn away as do the masses to the new shiny object that ‘everyone’ else is doing, and surprise, surprise, the long term implications were less than what you were hoping for.

To read your words, which I do receive regularly, is encouraging.
“I look back today at my lifting career and thank you for all your knowledge and for writing the get buffed books. Those books single handedly are the best books on training I have. I thank you for sharing you training ideas, and exercise techniques.”
Because I have shared so openly (at least until recently) and honestly. I understand many don’t want to look under the hood of their own industry, with implications for even the end user as you have found out, however for me it has been painful watching my material being plagiarized by those whose sole intent was personal gain. I believe the world it worse off for the actions of these charlatans, some of whom are still feted in professional circles, at least for now.

For me the material in the Get Buffed! series is a by-product of my experience training athletes. As you know it’s a very powerful by-product, so you can imagine how powerful the original intent athlete preparation methods are.

One of the major goals I set my self a few decades ago was to ensure no athlete in my care is injured, and if they are, that I rectify their condition immediately.

So the injury prevention focus in all my training programs is strong, supported by a long list of innovations in injury prevention and rehab (I dedicate a few chapters in the KSI Level 1 ‘Legacy’ Course to this subject alone).

You are an example of a person who has benefitted from this, evidenced when you write:
“After my injuries I still use Get Buffed 1 and How to Write Strength Training Programs all the time to stay pain free today.”
For this I am very happy for you, and I know this material will serve you for life, serve your kids and their kids.

What I am concerned about is the dilution of my works by those who have plagriazed them, as they have lost their power to serve. We are in a world where I believe injuries from training are reaching epidemic levels, and much of what I set out to do has been dissolved by certain individuals who put their needs ahead of the world.

So I am very happy for you that you have returned to the integrity of my works. I am also appreciative of any person who carries on my mission and vision through appropriate sharing the accuracy of my training information backed up ethical referencing. For example the publishing house I worked with recently, only the second publishing house in the world who during the last decade plus have sought my permission to reproduce my concepts, and sought my guidance and approval for how to reference and credit them. When you consider how many books have been published by people who knew or should have known better diluted the intent of my work and amnestically omitting to reference, you may appreciate how low the integrity of the world in which you live in is.

Many will say ‘Ian, shut up and live with it’. I say you are drinking from this well, you are eating from this table. You are paying the price with your bodies, your health. It is not just about me. It is about my children, it is about you, and your children. Do you really want to live in a world, and raise your kids in a world, where the dominant value is deceit, where you will get injured from the training you do because no-one had the courage to stand up and say ‘that’s not right’?

I believe your actions is acknowledging the below go further than you relationship with your maker, I believe you enhance the conditions for all humans when you write the below, and I thank you for this:
“Thanks for everything you do in strength and condition, I will always reference your work because it is the gold standard, your methods are unrivalled.”
And in your final statement, when you say:
“Thank you for helping me get back in to exercise pain free and keeping me there.”
It reinforces that this is my goal, this is my mission and vision, that you enjoy the fruits of your training in an injury-free way. Thank you. To say thank you with more than words, I have just invited you to complimentary access viewing of my seminar ‘What you wish you were told before you got started’, which is for the end user market pursing getting bigger, stronger and leaner, of course with my inseparable focus on injury prevention for life! This is from our growing collection of e-videos: http://subscriptions.viddler.com/kingsports Enjoy!

Ian King