Hi John, I’m 43 y.o male , 1.85 m , 80kg , i discovered Tom Venuto’s BFFM ebook last February and by applying his program got rid 10 kg of fat and now I am at about 12.5% BF and in the better shape of my life from a BF point of view . I want to drop some more fat (to less than 10% BF) and put some serious muscle on as next goals. What I realized reading your blog (but this is something i always felt intuitively) is that I miss the mobility part in my fitness, I’m much less mobile and efficient from a functional stand point that i would like and this limits my potential obviously. I liked very much your holistic philosophy to fitness and watching your videos it’s clear you have much wider freedom of body movement than most of the gym attendants or bodybuilders. I’d like a muscular body but not a stiff , just bulky one as those i see too often in the gym , I want to be ripped , muscular AND flexible/coordinated/functional. So I would like to ask you, what do you advise me to add to my training routine (which is weight training + cardio 5 days per week )?
I find that everyone wants the same thing – people not only want to look good, they want to BE good. By that, I mean be able to perform real life activities very well. People want a functional aspect to their fitness, and they want to feel athletic without being labeled an “athlete” or “fitness freak.” For example, men want a ripped, muscular body that is “lean and mean,” not big and bulky. Men want a body that is functional and capable of handling real life tasks with ease. Men don’t just want to look powerful, they want to be powerful, and most importantly, feel powerful. And that brings us to…
The holy grail of fitness goals: Look good and BE good!
Sadly, today most fitness programs are modeled on classic bodybuilding-style programs. The bodybuilding boom had a huge impact, and left our culture confused about what being fit means.
Training like a bodybuilder in the gym doesn’t make you a bodybuilder, but if you are training with a bodybuilding-style program, then you’ll get bodybuilding-style results – perhaps only to a lesser extent than those who take it to an extreme and compete. Even if you’re not competing, you’ll still experience some other “side effects” for following a bodybuilding-style routine.
Sure, you’d be very big: have huge guns, a wide and meaty back, and tank-tread abs, but what else would you likely have? Lack of general athleticism for starters. Just like any sport, bodybuilders are extreme specialists, and they get VERY good at one thing – developing their physique in a certain way to appeal to the judges of their show. Like any other sport, this specialization has some consequences.
Consequences You Pay For Training Like a Bodybuilder
A lot of things happen to your body when you train like a bodybuilder. Along with building big muscles and shaving off bodyfat, a few consequences are the development of adhesions (aka scar tissue) on soft myofascia tissue, calcification of the joint capsules, and gradual dis-integration of the nervous system, among other things. This downward spiral of ill-effects eventually leads to a loss of mobility and flexibility (ie becoming “muscle bound”), which leads to poor coordination and agility. Basically, bodybuilding-style training will dis-integrate your natural movement potential, and will result in a gradual loss of general athleticism.
Even if you don’t train like a bodybuilder who is preparing for a competition, but if your program is modeled on their strategies, you will experience these consequences, too. Some people are fine with this, and I have no problem with it myself. I admire and have a lot of respect for the bodybuilders I know. I’m just not going to keep quiet about the risks.
Now, with that said… let’s get to answering Massimo’s question: what do you advise me to add to my training routine (which is weight training + cardio 5 days per week )?
Adding in extra physical activity is a great idea, but I have an even better one.
First, I would ask yourself, what can you get rid of that may be contributing to the problem in the first place? Let’s try to prevent the problem before it even starts. If your training program is leaving you feeling inflexible, immobile, and uncoordinated, then it sounds like you need a different program to achieve your new goals. You’ve solved the fat loss problem, now let’s focus on getting back to natural movement and general athleticism, which will lead to less bodyfat and more functional muscle. There are any number of ways to do this, and I can recommend a few…
1) Start a strength training program that directly focuses on mobility and general athleticism and all the attributes that go along with it (agility, coordination, balance, power, endurance, etc.). The Circular Strength Training (CST) system is the perfect solution for this because it puts health first as the priority (then followed by mobility, functionality, attributes, and finally physique). This is the program I have used for the past 3 years that has helped me achieve my fitness goals and maintain general athleticism and a body perfectly structured for exploring natural movement (I’ll be getting certified to teach CST in August). I’ve always said that a beautiful physique comes as a by-product of abundant health, and that’s certainly the case with CST training.
There are a ton of ways to get started with CST, so I’d recommend that you invest in Intu-Flow, FlowFit, and a clubbell program. Clubbells train the body not only in 3 dimensions, but in 6 degrees of freedom. They are one of the best strength training tools for building functional strength that is applicable to real life demands. You can find a lot more information about all of these resources by searching my blog. The magic of the CST system is in its comprehensive nature and the how the 3 wings interact with one another to produce a superior training effect (3 wings of CST = joint mobility, clubbell athletics, and prasara yoga). It would be best to create a training program that incorporates all 3 wings to maximize your results.
2) Pick out a hobby that is inherently athletic, and practice and play regularly – you have almost unlimited options here: basketball, soccer, martial art, triathlon, football, ultimate frisbee, rock climbing, gymnastics, parkour, or MovNat. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll add in a note that it’s a good idea to practice and play several different activities to try and prevent over-specilization and the problems that creates.
3) If you want to keep your current training program, that’s fine, too. I’d just recommend you supplement it with some joint mobility exercises, and some compensatory movements to help build and maintain natural movement. I’ve tried almost every well-known joint mobility program there is, and I have come to love the Intu-Flow joint mobility system far above the others. If you can’t afford the package deal, then just get the DVD’s. Just practicing this one program alone will make a HUGE difference in how you feel and how well you move. I do an intu-flow session almost daily. I’d also supplement your program with some form of Prasara BodyFlow yoga to get deeper into your range of motion. Here are some Prasara resources, each with a different emphasis and focus:
4) Finally, if you just want a one-stop-shop solution for your goals with no guesswork involved. If you just want to be told what to do, then I’d recommend either the TacFit program, or the Bodyweight Exercise Revolution, which has all 3 wings of CST programmed into each session.
Again, I’ve got a lot of free resources covering joint mobility, prasara yoga, bodyweight exercise, and clubbell training right here on the blog. Feel free to explore the tabs above or use the search feature in the top right corner.
To your health and success,
P.S. The TacFit program will likely give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to functional fitness training: