Gifts for Spartans

Christmas is right around the corner…

Yes, even a Spartan can go along with internet memes and a few laughs

…and it is customary to buy/make gifts for others to give to them on Christmas day.

Chances are if you’re trying to buy something for someone, they already have a list of things they want. That is fine. However, here is a list I made of a few programs you could get to give to any “health freaks” you know, or fellow Spartans.

I’ll give a summary of each program along with a mini review. And yes, I am affiliated with some of these programs, so if me making money of these recommendations offends you, I don’t much care.

I only recommend programs I have either done myself, or programs made by people I trust and would use myself. So without further ado…

How To Get a Classic Physique:

This is amongst my personal favorites…

…and one I have used myself. I’ve written a previous review about it, so I won’t stay long on it here. The focus of this program is to build a body similar to that of old school strongmen and bodybuilders.

Left: Eugen Sandow, Famous Strongman and Bodybuilder
Right: Matt Marshall, Author of How To Get a Classic Physique

Main focuses are on diet, strength training, lifestyle and conditioning. Also mentions other Spartan principles that I have grown to love, such as meditation and cold showers. Great for someone who already has a passion for strength training, has access to equipment, and knows how to do the basic lifts.

Body of a Spartan:

The name itself is good. Simple and to the point. That’s what this program is.  Focuses primarily on lifting, going in excellent detail how to perform each lift (the program is worth it just for that alone). The workouts seem very modular, allowing you to decide which exercises to do on which day depending on a few basic criteria. By focusing on strength and size, it is also a great base for any aspiring bodybuilder.

Author Victor Pride Before and After. He sure got big and strong.

Costing only $14, with pages upon pages of pictures showing how to perform the lifts, and  simple, flexible, modular workouts, it’s a great program to get for cheap. Especially for those new to lifting. This would probably be my recommendation for anyone new to weightlifting, strength training and bodybuilding.

 The Grow Stronger Method:

The shortest and simplest program on the list. Workouts are also very modular, presenting a few choices that you work on hard. Strength is the primary focus here, in order to build a solid foundation for everything else. It’s designed to be plugged into whatever other routine a person is doing in order to, well, grow stronger.

The principles outlined in this program allow for you to gain strength and not size or gain strength and size. Excellent for athletes to build a base of solid, useful strength, especially for those that want to get strong while not putting on weight. Also very useful for the more bodybuilding types who want to get big but remain strong, all they need to do is plug some of these techniques into their current workouts. As a strength training program for an athlete, or as a program for a pumper to use to build dense and strong muscle, I would recommend it for sure.

So there you have it.

Three simple ideas for gifts to give to a Spartan in your life, or just to grab yourself for your own personal development. Any one of these can be used on their own, or information from them and others can be combined. The principles in each individual one of these programs can keep a person in good shape making progress for years.

Remember above all, these programs are only for those who want to fight through pain and suffering to reap the rewards of their hard work. Don’t get these for sissies who just want to push light weight, not sweat, and take things easy.

These gifts are only for Spartans.

Make Time to Play

Normal people see their workout and job as a chore.

They complain about their job, but say they have to do it. They complain about how boring working out is, if they do so at all.

A Spartan enjoys his workout.

And chooses a job he enjoys.

The normal person is to “busy” to play, or if not to busy, he has “grown up” and thinks it to immature. A Spartan sees his workout as play and enjoys it like a child.

If a normal person works out, they lift sissy weights or walk on a treadmill watching tv. A Spartan lifts heavy weights, wrestles, runs and sprints, or carries heavy objects.

The normal person is reluctant to workout. The Spartan longs for it.

The normal person is stressed out day and night. The Spartan makes it a game, a challenge.

There are many differences between a normal person and a Spartan.

A normal person gets sick every year, is weak, never satisfied, and doesn’t know how to have fun. The Spartan is never sick, very strong, always satisfied, and most certainly knows to have fun.

He does this because he makes time to play. When you play you learn to enjoy life. It makes exercising easy and fun.

So next time you life weights, don’t be a normal person. Be a Spartan, and have fun. Next time you run, have fun. Make time to play, and your life will begin to improve.

Go have fun!

Inspiration Series Part 4: Master Chief

Inspirations may be drawn from anywhere.

For me, this next one is drawn from fantasy. He has a history, has fought battles, and saved lives, yet isn’t real. He is an icon in modern culture, especially amongst gamers.

That is the trailer for Halo 3, and it features the Chief.

Master Chief is famous for being a brave, skilled and faceless hero who speaks few words.

This image can be very inspiring. Let me give a brief summary of his back story.

At a young age (around 6 years old) a boy known as John was selected by the military for testing of a top secret program called SPARTAN-II. He was replaced by a clone who would later die in an accident, to hid the kidnapping. John was chosen for his physical capabilities (a head taller than other kids and very strong) as well as his mind and luck.

He was then assigned the name John-117, and trained by the military until he was 14, when he was given cybernetic implants to increase speed, strength and intelligence. At this age, he had the body of an 18 year old, and after the implants, was able to easily take on several ODSTs (think Navy Seals of today), killing three, in hand to hand combat.

When he received his armor, he finally looked like the Master Chief we see today. As a matter of fact, his full face has never been revealed. This adds to the mystery and even awe of the character. He also speaks very few words, and is very focused on the mission. When encountering the aliens fought in the games, the Chief quickly made a name for himself, amongst humans as a savior, and amongst the aliens as a demon.

He was so powerful, his enemies called him “Demon”!

Here is another video which shows a bit of his back story:

The reason he inspires me, even though he’s a fictional character, is the archetype he represents. Master Chief is the strong, silent hero who does his duty and doesn’t ask question or boast about his accomplishments.

Because he rarely speaks, his words are valued. Because he uses his superior strength to help others, his actions are remembered.

I am attempting to mold myself more and more to that archetype represented. From watching and studying the Chief, I want to be physically dominant so that when trouble comes, people know I can handle and will handle it. This drives me on to train harder.

I also am trying to use few words, or in some cases none, just as he does. Allow my actions to speak for me, and when I must use words, they will be held high. This encourages me to think carefully about what I say and do.

His bravery and courage in battle, which people recognize and makes them feel safe, is also legendary.

Simply his presence in a battle will raise morale, regardless of the odds.

I too want my past actions to be held so high that my mere presence inspires others.

Finally, his mask. His face is never seen. This demonstrates part of his selflessness. By not showing his face, he is not drawing attention to himself and instead focusing on his job. This is the final piece of the puzzle. We have numerous heroes in games, movies and real life who are all the previous things mentioned, but you see their face. The mystery adds a reverence to the character. And like Batman with his masks, it means that hero could be anyone.

A strong, brave, inspiring, silent, wise and selfless warrior.

That is the archetype seen in Master Chief.

That is what inspires me. This archetype can be demonstrated in any time period, by any person. You don’t need to be cybernetically enhanced or over six and a half feet tall. You don’t need a suit of armor that costs as much as a spaceship. You don’t need to fight aliens on other worlds. You don’t have to be a piece of fiction!

Learn from the archetype, and adapt it to your life. Make your presence, your actions, and your words valued.

This is what I wish to do.

I wish to become Master Chief.

Winter is Coming: Experiments with the Cold

Science works by trial and experimentation. I have been doing just that with the cold. Instead of accepting what others say about it, I took things into my own hands. In short, I found using the cold has many benefits. I used to hate the cold, now I reluctantly enjoy it.

I will cover a few subjects, each briefly. Some I may have already discussed before, others have never mentioned. Number 1:

Sleeping in the Cold

Every night (not counting stormy nights) I have been sleeping with the window open, regardless of how cold it gets. Over the past several weeks of doing this, along with a recent drop in temperature (tonight things got down to 33 degrees), I have observed many changes.

Firstly, my sleep has improved. Something about cold, fresh air invigorates the body as you sleep. At night I would take very deep breaths and feel that coolness come in. Naturally, better sleep would improve the rest of my day. Waking up earlier, needing less sleep, being more productive, more energetic, etc.

Second, I have found the cold air helps muscle soreness. One night, my arms were sore from exercising at the park and heavy lifting at the gym. Throughout the night, my left arm was right next to the open window, fully exposed to the cold. My right arm remained on the other side of my body, shielded from the cold. When I awoke, there was no more soreness in my left arm yet my right arm felt almost the same as before. This persisted throughout the day.

Finally, my body’s ability to remain warm has increased since exposing it to the cold nightly. I have less need for jackets and warm clothing throughout the day. Just like a muscle, the body’s ability to resist the cold can be trained. Sleeping in the cold and breathing in the cold air is one very effective and simple way of doing that.

My next experiments were:

Cold Showers/Ice Baths

I’ve talked about cold showers before. However, that does not prevent me from mentioning them again, nor discussing baths as well. Everything that a cold shower does, an ice bath does better.

Possibly the  biggest benefit of cold showers/ice baths I have noticed is increased resistance to the cold. When taken regularly, the body is capable of adjusting so well that the water quickly seems to go from “cold” to “very cool”. For instance, every ice bath I take I have to add more ice to make it feel as cold as the last one.

Recovery is also greatly increased. When you step out, your entire body is pumped with vast amounts of blood through every muscle. The fight to remain warm hardens and heals the body, while at the same time keeping the skin and hair healthy (the exact opposite of a warm bath/shower). When in warm water, you feel soft, tired (relaxed) and get dried up. When in cold water…

Try these out yourself.

This post was simply a quick update of my experiences. My health, energy and productivity have increased thanks to taking advantage of the cold. Remember, winter is coming. Use it wisely.

Break the Addiction: Surviving

We are highly focused on surviving. Google the term “how to survive” and there will be hundreds of millions of results. I did it and received 337 million. Evidently, it is a very big topic. A very common mindset.

The problem with that mindset is it never ends.

At what point to you stop trying to survive, and actually enjoy your life?

Let’s take a look at the average American consumer. He works a 9-5 job, makes payments on his house (or apartment) and car. He may or may not be still trying to pay off student loans from college. He wakes up each morning not wanting to go to work. He stumbles out of bed, needs coffee to finish waking him up, and begins the dreadful drive to work. Why does he do all this? To survive.

After all, he “needed” the job to pay off the debt on the car and house he “needed”. He “needs” to go to a normal job to make a steady pay check. He also “needed” to go to college so he could get an education that could provide him that steady paycheck.

Eventually, this somebody will pay off his debt, move up enough in life, and be “free” to enjoy his life and retire. Right?

The problem is, everyone is doing that. Everyone is following the rules. That means there is competition. Competition from thousands of other zombies who are just trying to survive. Go to work, do what you’re told, follow the rules, bring home the money. Work each day to guarantee survival in the next.

How many people can make it far following the rules? Not many. Most of the incredibly successful people out there made it because they didn’t follow the set rules. So if you want enjoy life, if you want to stop surviving and start thriving, you should stop following the rules as well.

In the movie Braveheart, there is a quote that goes something like this:

Every man dies, not every man really lives

There is serious truth to that. After all, the only thing we are guaranteed here on this little planet is the moment we’re in. That is the only thing! We aren’t guaranteed a next year, a tomorrow, or the next second. We aren’t guaranteed survival.

This moment is all we have in life!

Everything we “own” was likely made by somebody else and can be taken away from us. As you follow the rules trying to survive, society could collapse, or you could be robbed, or your house burnt to the ground. None of that is a guarantee.

However, you are guaranteed the the opportunity of the moment.

Don’t waste it. If what you are doing to survive isn’t satisfying you deep down, stop doing it. All you worked for could be taken away in an instant by a force outside of your control, and you would be left devastated.

Instead, focus on thriving. Thrive in the moment. Enjoy it, learn from it. Go fail. Go take a risk. Don’t be afraid to do something against the rules (I said rules, not laws) if it means you are actually living life.

Live life knowing that you aren’t guaranteed another moment. Learn to always be learning and experiencing life, even when sick or in a low. Live in such a way that if someone asks “how are you?” you do NOT answer “good” or “same old same old”!

Live life in such a way that when someone asks “how are you?” you can reply to them “Amazing!”

This is thriving.

Remember, you will die. You aren’t guaranteed another moment. Stop surviving. Start thriving.

Break the addiction that sucks everyone else in!

Live your life!

Break the Addiction: Food

Is it actually possible to have an addiction to food?

After all, we do need food to survive. If we don’t eat, we die; it’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Now I’m not saying that if you stop eating you will become immortal, but eating won’t do that either. As a matter of fact, every person that comes in contact with food dies, so in the end it doesn’t really matter.

Addiction to food is a problem very, very few people will admit even exists. I have found the moment I say I have broken my addiction to food someone replies as if I am trying to kill myself. Whenever I hear someone complain about missing a meal and I honestly, and seriously, tell them they need to break the addiction, they believe I am joking.

The argument always is “you need food to survive. Don’t starve yourself!”. The worst is “Oh, but you need to eat. You’re already really skinny”. After they state their opinion, I sit back and watch them struggle to make sure they never miss a meal, even if the last one had all the nutrients and energy they need for the day. Or worse yet, I sit back and watch them think they “need to eat” so go buy some crap food and shove it down their gullet.

Here is the honest truth:

In most “civilized” or “first world” countries, such as the USA, we eat far, FAR more than we need to.

And ironically, we also consume far fewer nutrients then we need to. Breaking the addiction to food is designed to solve both problems. The best way to do that is fasting. That means consuming no food for a period of time. I guarantee once you can do this for a week, eat nothing for an entire seven days, your addiction to food will be nothing like it was before.

Here are some steps I’ve taken and implemented personally over the last several years:

  • Regular fasting (upwards of a week)
  • Skipping meals (intermittent fasting)
  • Eating higher quality meals (keeps you satisfied for longer)
  • Eliminating snacking (no eating between meals)
  • Only eating when I actually am hungry (not just because it’s “time to eat”)
  • Not eating when I’m satisfied (means either stopping when I am no longer hungry, or not eating if I don’t feel the need)
  • Thinking of eating as an opportunity to improve health (as opposed to eating because I should)
  • Physical exercise (listen to your body and it will tell you what and when you need to eat, can also prevent hunger in the first place)
  • Keeping busy (a big reason many people over eat and are addicted to it is because they are bored)

Incidentally, taking these steps also helps burn extra weight, adds good weight, improves focus and discipline, gives increased performance while limiting laziness, and improves overall health. The trick is learning the real importance of eating, and not eating for eating’s sake.

The best way to learn the importance of eating is to simply go a period of time without eating. When you come back to it, every bite will mean something. No longer will eating be a pass time, it will be tool.

Break the addiction.

Improve your health.

Eat wisely.

Inspiration Series Part 3: Eminem’s “Not Afraid”

 

I keep a lookout for information, wisdom and inspiration all the time. If I hear a useful tidbit or piece of advice I remember, regardless of who it’s from. If I draw inspiration from a music video outside the realm of my normal music, I don’t turn that away either.

A particular music video did just this, and that is Eminem’s “Not Afraid” video:

Note, video contains language that some may not approve of. Be warned.

I will attempt to briefly explain one particular way I see the symbolism in this video, the reason it is so inspiring to me. Hopefully it will be for you too.

The video starts with Eminem standing on the edge of a building in the middle of a city. And obviously, that looks dangerous.

Looking at where he is now, we assume he is in danger and possible even suicidal. No sane person would stand on an edge like that, they could get hurt. It’s risky. There’s no security. It appears foolish. But this isn’t the whole story.