April 18, 2014

Adjusting Your Workout For Stress

Happy Friday!

I hope your week has been as exciting and productive as mine has.

I’ve been very busy building new workshops for my trip to Australia in a couple weeks.

I can’t wait to share my new workshops. I feel I’ve reached a point in my life where my inner-understanding of the life process is at its peak, which makes it easier for me to synthesize all the methods I’ve used to heal my own pain and challenges in hopes that others can experience the inner-freedom that I enjoy.

In my blog today I’ll share:

1. How to adjust your workout for stressful times.

2. The joy of effective exercise toys.

3. A piece of art I created for one of my best friends, and certainly one of the best and most authentic students of my teachings.

Adjusting Your Workout For Stress

Today in my vlog, I share some of the methods I’ve used over the many years of my world travels teaching holistic health.

Living out of suitcases and hopping all over the globe can be a very stressful experience for the body-mind.

To keep myself fit and healthy on the road, I had to use my knowledge of how to cultivate life-force energy, yet not burn myself out.

When we are tired or stressed, we can make the mistake of thinking we have to do our workouts as written, but that approach often elevates stress levels above and beyond what the body-mind can effectively respond to.

The result is that instead of looking and feeling better, or gaining strength and improved functional performance, you start feeling dried out and drained…soon, you need more and more coffee, tea, and find yourself nibbling on chocolate, sweets, and other items in search of quick energy.

All the while, you start watching your skin age, your motivation diminish, and your sex drive sag…

Having been on the professional lecture circuit for 25 years, I would naturally see many of the same presenters at different conferences as I traveled the globe.

More times than I can count, presenters sought my advice because they were having health problems. I’ve seen some of them get cancer, some get chronic fatigue, some suffer severe mental-emotional stress reactions, many aged rapidly right in front of me.

And many of them became so emotionally flat that they just disappeared off the lecture circuit.

I have watched MANY elite athletes fall deeply into the trap of identifying themselves by what they do, instead of who they really are.

When an individual’s sense of self is based on what others think of the, there is a deep (and dangerous) drive to keep behaving the way they did when they were younger and more vital.

This stops working well when the individual’s self-management skills aren’t sufficient to balance the stress of their “love me!” strategy.

Sooner than later, their athletic performances begin to suffer, and the same people that once pet them and put them on a pedestal have found a new idol to pet and adore.

This perceptual loss of love can, and often does cause a deep sense of isolation and often is perceived as failure. The common reaction is to try harder and harder.

Along with that urge to be loved, there is an unconscious driver within that reaches with desperation for any potent, pill, or injection that will support their narcissism, for their narcissism can’t create self-assurance unless others feed their ego.

This is a dangerous trap that can be avoided with education.

Today, I’ll share some “education” that allows anyone a chance to maintain a healthy state.

When our exercise motives are part of a conscious act to balance, we progressively shed the need for other’s constant petting, and begin to love and appreciate ourselves.

We can look into our own eyes in the mirror and say “I Love You!” and mean it. We have come to the point where we realize that love is a circular experience that starts within, and ultimately completes itself in return.

This is why I often tell my students and patients that love is like a boomerang – what you put out always comes back in like-kind.

Adjust WO for stress blk bd

Here is a quick review of the learning objectives I cover in my video today:

1. Increased stress = decreased workout volume:

Intensity maintains strength and mass: The trick to keeping strength and mass during stressful periods is to cut back on total work volume (the number of sets or the overall duration of a workout), while maintaining intensity.

It is the intensity of our exercise that signals the body to maintain muscle mass and neurological strength.

Adjust your workouts to “what feels good”, and be honest with yourself (as opposed to being addicted). Leave the gym before you are tired!

Neurotonic Training: Neurotonic training is a method I learned from Charles Poliquin way back in the 90’s while we were working together on workshops, and consulting.

The method requires that you choose a load of relatively high intensity (2-8 reps max for weight lifting) and only do half the reps you could do if you pushed yourself to the max, as would normally be done in training.

The overall number of sets should be adjusted to match your authentic energy levels and readiness.

Again, the key here is to keep the intensity high, which stimulates the release of androgens (anabolic hormones), and enlivens the body quickly.

If you are doing neurotonic training correctly, you will leave the gym feeling enlivened and ready for your day!

Using this approach, I’ve actually had many personal best lifts on the road! The first time I hit 500 pounds in the deadlift was in the middle of a four-month seminar tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The experience made me realize that I had been over-training at home. After that, I became much more aware of how to keep myself growing stronger and feeling better.

Thanks for the great tip Charles! I hope you still use it too!

2. Reduce Complexity: Complexity ultimately means increased neurological demand on your brain and your entire nervous system.

For example, if I were to give you an exercise such as walking lunges with a twist while holding a medicine ball or kettlebell, the balance, coordination, and agility demands would be so high that just trying to coordinate it all could be draining when tired.

By reducing the exercise to a simple lunge, or even a split-squat when tired, you could experience the joy of exercise, while letting your cognitive mind rest.

Less Exercises: Another very simple, effective way to reduce complexity is to simply do fewer exercises in a workout.

If your workout normally has four exercises in it, take the two that you feel are most enjoyable or effective relative to your immediate needs and work on them.

If you are really tired, try just doing one exercise well. This process allows the exerciser to experience how they feel and become aware that…”less is more”.

Big Bang Exercises: “Big Bang Exercises” is a term I created when I had a full head of hair . Big bang exercises are exercises that:

A. Work the body in multiple planes of movement, and/or

B. Activate large numbers of muscles at once.

A big bang Swiss ball exercise is the Supine Lateral Ball Roll (see my book, How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy! for lots of great big bang exercises).

This exercise works the body in all planes of movement at once, and is like a whole workout in itself.

Doing three sets of Supine Lateral Ball Roll is about equal to doing nine sets of simpler exercises on a Swss ball.

Therefore, in just three sets of total work volume, you can get a great training response in as little as ten minutes!

That leaves plenty of juice to support your daily activities, as well as having the satisfaction of knowing that you are loving and caring for your body-mind effectively.

The deadlift is the KING of free-weight exercises in my opinion. If you want an exercise that will effectively load every muscle-joint complex in your body, the deadlift is the perfect choice.

Many times in my life, I was too tired to do much in the gym, so I’d just warm-up for the deadlift and agree with myself to only do what feels good.

You’d be surprised how freeing it is to go into a gym knowing that all you have to do is one exercise. One exercise done well, and within the limitations of your authentic energy capacity can do miracles, while exercising out of habit or addiction and doing more, can leave you tired and wired.

Therefore, when you need active rest, choose one or two big bang exercises. Squatting, lunging, and standing cable pushing or pulling are all examples of big bang exercises that give a lot for a little investment.

3. PLAY, don’t “WORK”!

Anthony Above Head

It is very common for those that love exercise to fall into a love-hate relationship with their own training program.

This experience is akin to having a relationship with a partner that is great in bed, but drives you crazy for the other 23 hours left in a day! You are excited about the intimate connection, and are pulled toward it, but you come to feel the angst of the afterlife of the experience.

Soon, you find yourself more concerned about the afterlife of the experience and the dread, and less excited about “the sex”.

Well, if you and your sex partner were to agree to play for 24 hours together, then the sex wouldn’t become glue that holds a stressful (often unproductive) relationship together.

It would be grease, lubricating the relationship! (learn more about how to manage a healthy sexual, intimate relationship with your partner(s) in my MP3 audio titled, “There are 2 Kinds of Sex.

One of my most favorite self-management tactics when tired and in need of healing exercise is to go to the gym after making an agreement with myself to not do anything that doesn’t feel fun.

Sometimes, I make an agreement with myself not to do any exercises I’ve ever done before! I simply go into the gym and express my self through active art.

Try doing something on one leg, upside-down, or mixing modalities such as a Swiss ball and a cable machine. Not only does this grow your creativity and take away the stress of having to meet a specific training objective (such as a given number of reps and sets at a specific intensity), it enhances your creativity.

Interestingly, while doing research for a project many years ago, I found two completely different studies that revealed the serious lack of creativity the average person has today.

One study showed that the average person only eats 10-12 foods consistently for their entire lifetime! Shit-howdy!

That is very sad from a nutritional perspective and certainly makes me glad I’m not having sex with such people…missionary position until you die and find yourself surrounded by…missionaries that died the same way!

The other study looked at exercise. Well, what do you think it found with regard to exercise variety in the average person?…

The study revealed that the average person only knows 10-12 different exercises, and no more! Missionary position again…

For God sakes, people need to let their hair down, take their bras off, and get naked with themselves more often.

People often say that “Paul Chek is wild, crazy, out of the box, has lost his marbles”…and I say to those making such comments, “at least I’m not dying inside of social conformity and my lovers don’t need to buy sex toys to compensate for a man with five thumbs on each hand!”

Therefore, if you are tired in the gym (or in the sack), play, don’t work!

You know when you have a great lover because fatigue doesn’t mean that we roll over and play dead. It means that you cuddle up, look into each others eyes, and breath each other into intimate Union. In no time, what was laying there like a dead snake is charged by the life-force of your lover and gives you something special to have and to hold .

The same is true of the gym. Don’t go there to work (work is overrated). Go to the gym to be creative, to play, and to make love with yourself.

If you can’t make love with yourself, you are very likely to be walking around the world constantly looking for someone to be creative for you.

To one who is naturally creative, being in a relationship, or in a gym with someone that is creatively dull and needy weighs heavier than fatigue.

I hope you enjoy my vlog today.

Creative Boys and Their Toys!

Speaking of being playful with exercise, here is my buddy Ben Madden, former Australia Strong Man Champion.

Ben is a big, and very powerful man. He use to be a policeman, and believe me, having Ben after you would be more scary than being chased by a Grizzly Bear!


Ben and I both love lifting stones, and about anything functional and creative. Ben recently sent me the photo above of him playing on a Pogo Stick. Ben commented to me about how amazingly dynamic, fun and challenging the Pogo Stick is.

I certainly had a giggle when I heard that, and for a good reason:

Paul on Pogo Stick

I use a Pogo Stick in my training when I need a little “exercise holiday” too. Here you can see me teaching Natalia Mammadova, one of the worlds top volleyball players how to use the Pogo Stick.

This little exercise toy is a ball of fun, and really helps develop dynamic balance and creativity.

I recently shared a photo of some of my most current rock art creations with Ben (we like to inspire each other with our creations). He wrote back to me and shared this great little story:

“My first ever functional training session was back when I was 16 years old with my cousin, pushing his beaten up old car in the local football club car-park.   A few people stopped to ask if we needed a hand, to which we replied:  “no thanks, we are training” At the time i was training for basketball.

I continued to do car push and other large scale training sessions in public places throughout my strongman career and would often get asked if I needed a hand, and then “what was I training for?”  Id reply, “Australia’s strongest Man competition”

After finishing strongman competitions I continued to do car push training, and it is now one of my favorite things to do. We continue to get asked if we need a hand to push start it, but reply, “no thanks, we are training”.  Then comes the “what are you training for question” to which I reply “life”

Your rock art photos never cease to inspire me…..Thank you!!
Bigger hug

Thanks for sharing Ben. You are a great inspiration to me Bud!

Love And Becoming One Together

Speaking of making love, playing, and having fun, I personally get great joy and spiritual growth from expressing myself artistically.

In my practice as a shaman, I often use art therapy to help stabilize, open, and/or expand people psyche.

Jason & Jacquie's Mandala by Paul

The art piece above is one I created as a gift to one of my best buddies just before he was getting married to his amazing, beautiful lover and best friend (now his wife and the mother of their first child together).

I asked their souls to give me a vision that would express their union and life in love together. This is what their souls suggested I draw for them.

The image is of them as two beings intertwined as one life-form, a tree. Behind them is the rising sun and above, the stars are looking in. The being on the left represents a spirit guide that came to me to support creating the vision for them with the right combination of colors and forms to activate their subconscious minds, enhancing their awareness of the beauty, depth, and possibilities created by the marriage of their souls in love.

Why not join me and my buddy Jason this weekend with some color and paper or canvas! We will be practicing the art of creative self-expression, of adding life to life together this weekend.

We’d love knowing that you are sharing in the experience with us. God knows that doing the same old thing over and over is boring. That’s why NONE of you are the same!

I hope you all have a fun-filled, creative, joyful weekend and that you take time to truly love yourself, and make love.

Love and chi,
Paul Chek