Category Archives: Training for women

Strong But Not Useful: Strength Categories

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Albeit fun.

If I could ask Georges [Hébert] to lighten up, I would, and he would probably tell me “I am! That’s the whole play finality of The Natural Method, mon frère!”

The reason I’d ask him to lighten up is because it’s totally cool to have fun and specialize in one aspect of strength if that’s your bag. I ain’t knocking your strength with his/mine or someone else’s.

Much like Power is Mass X Acceleration, an 8-plates back squat below parallel or a 48″ box jump require a different level of power. Some say “you need to squat heavy to get more power for your jumps”. I can’t squat 8 plates right now, but I can jump that “cold” and I know a few friends who can squat 8 plates easy, but can’t jump that. We’re different and that’s OK!

“A remarkable specialist in only one category, but poor in others, like a weight lifter or wrestler who cannot run or climb, or a runner or boxer who cannot swim or climb, isn’t strong from a “complete” standpoint.

On another hand, one who excels at entertaining or hobby sports (as in games of all kinds: football (soccer), tennis…; or gymnastics on man-made apparatus: high bar, trapeze…), but who ignores swimming, self-defense or has fear of heights, isn’t strong from a “useful” standpoint.

In short, to be strong consists of possessing a sufficient aptitude in utilitarian indispensable (a.k.a functional) exercises for everyone at any age and not to solely excel at entertaining fun exercises or of secondary utility”

So,a little redundancy, or rather, “rote” and let’s have Georgey break down the categories:

Functional Exercises of everyone at any age:

  1. Walk
  2. Run
  3. Jump
  4. Climb
  5. Lift
  6. Throw
  7. Fight (boxing or wrestling, natural means)
  8. Swim

These 8 categories suffice to achieve the highest level of physical development and to handle any difficult situation life throws at us. Walking, Running and Climbing constitute the prime natural exercises; they are the most indispensable of all.

That’s all going to be in the long awaited and delayed book (not my fault, serious!)

Sports or exercises of secondary utility (for select individuals and not necessary for everyone or all ages):

  1. Fencing
  2. Horseback riding
  3. Rowing
  4. Shooting
  5. Weapons self-defense (stick, knife…)
  6. Any artificial means of transportation requiring the use of the legs: cycling, skating, skiing, stilts…

Sports or exercises having no functionality for everyone or all ages:

  1. Anything requiring man-made apparatus: high bar, rings, trapeze, pommel horse, parallel bars…
  2. Any acrobatics, with or without the use of equipment.
  3. All games: soccer, hockey, tennis, cricket…

Remember, we are dealing with functionality for ALL POPULATIONS at ANY AGE, not fun, entertainment value or carry-over. We could probably argue, and successfully at that, the benefits of surfing, of playing rugby which develops both speed, agility, endurance, strength, power etc. That’s not the point.

The point is to raise the average, which is dismal in most countries I have to say. We as fitness enthusiasts live in a bubble we our social media feeds tend to show us our own interests, and few of us walk around national supermarket chains observing the decline of the population. Get them walking, running first, add some minor jumping, throwing and grow from there.

The Shape Of Breasts

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Here is an excerpt (unedited or proofed yet) about the shape of breasts and how society viewed them a century ago, according to Georges Hébert, when it relates to judging or appreciating beauty in women.

“The shape of the breasts is considered wrongly by many as a criterium of beauty in a woman. “The breasts, that the whole woman”, we have heard in stupid refrains. In reality, the shape of the breasts only makes up one element of general beauty, and its importance is only secondary when compared to essential body parts: the abdomen, the chest, the limbs, etc.

It is, if we may, one of the first attributes of beauty among young women, but not in the adult woman, as of all her attributes, it’s the least durable.

This process, a little too simplistic, which consists of judging the beauty of a woman according to the shape of her breasts comes without a doubt from the following fact: on an under-developed trunk, skinny or fat, the breasts first catch the eye, because, as a rule, these organs present defects of which the most common ones are exaggerated volume and sagging. They thus appear to have a capital importance, because their misshaping alone breaks the general harmony of the body.

On a well developed trunk, on the contrary, with well-defined muscles, normal breasts barely get any attention.  

They are well molded onto the chest and solidly anchored to the pectorals that they look as if being entirely part of these muscles. In the preceding case, they seem added to the chest, which seemed inconvenienced to carry them.

The same observation could be applied to the basin and buttocks, which always appear too big when the trunk is muscularly atrophied.”

Have we learned anything? I do believe Georges is right: a fit, muscular, lean woman’s body will draw more attention as a whole, without specific focus on any area, as she will project an attitude of health, strength and beauty at once, not limiting her to esthetics, but to the Holy Trinity of fitness and attractiveness, intellect notwithstanding of course.

 

Latest peek at photos from the upcoming book

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Because pictures tell a better story.

Many thanks (chronologically based on photography sessions) to Nick Bustos, Patrick Hartsell, Melody Schoenfeld, James Neidlinger, Ron Jones and Jennifer Winkelman for making yourselves available amidst all of your activities and busy lives to be part of this fitness project, shot by Antje Anders.

I also want to thank Throwdown and XFit Brands David Vautrin and Ted Joiner for lending us their facility and equipment!

Here is a sampler of jumping, lifting, throwing, climbing, fighting as well as some fundamental/basic educational exercises from the upcoming book based on Georges Hébert’s training program design.

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The impact of abdominal training on health, strength and beauty

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A little excerpt from the section on abdominal training, its importance and impact on health, beauty and strength, from Georges Hébert’s book:

The importance of abdominal muscles is capital, from an esthetics standpoint, as well as from strength and health standpoints.

 When their development is insufficient, the abdominal belt is soft and mushy. There is a risk of herniation as a result of any effort, even of low intensity, after a fall, a simple misstep, a coughing spell, etc.

The internal organs (stomach, liver, intestines) improperly supported collapse under their own weight and make the belly protrude. The more this protrusion is pronounced, the more out of place the internal organs are in relation to their normal position. The resulting swelling render any effort hazardous. [PIC]

 Severe constipation, without success from medical prescriptions or pharmaceutical drugs, sometimes has no other cause than weakness in the abdominal musculature, or a simple lack of muscular training in that area, which helps promote waste elimination.

 Breathing movements are always incomplete if the straight abdominals, exhaling muscles by excellence, are weak.

 A woman’s most important natural act, childbirth, is all the more facilitated that the abdominal muscles are powerfully developed.

 As we just mentioned, not only do these muscles provide a shield for the anterior section of the body from ribs to iliac crest, but, additionally, any effort, be it pulling, pushing, lifting, etc., activates them more or less. Natural actions themselves: forced exhale, coughing, sneezing, shouting, defecation and finally childbirth, cannot occur without their engagement.

 The future mother who keeps her abdominals “in shape” can continue well into her pregnancy, without risk, all sorts of natural and functional exercises, just like females in animal species. Her pregnant belly is reduced in volume, as a result of the firmness of her abdominal belt. Delivery is produced with extreme ease, in the fashion of active primitive women, without the necessity of a midwife. She is able to immediately resume her activities. Her stomach suffers no misshaping.

Abdominal weakness, by contrast, produces excessive pregnant belly volume. Any work or training becomes impossible early on, because of the nuisance caused by the belly’s distension. A simple walk often causes great fatigue. Any intense effort is dangerous.

Childbirth, in that case, is painful; it necessitates many days of bed rest for the organs to settle back in.

After delivery, the belly remains distended, like an empty sack, with stretch marks.

Such is the physical inferiority of the civilized woman, inactive with no abdominal muscles, in relation to her primitive counterpart. When she delivers a child, she is treated as if she were ill. The natural act becomes delicate and dangerous instead of being “easy” and safe.

In Antique statues, the power of the abdominal muscles is striking in men as in women. The abdomen is a true muscular fortress. Sculptors understood the capital importance of these muscles, and their work proves they were considered like the primary attributes of health, beauty and strength.

 We can say that in civilized societies, the abdominal muscles of men, like women, have become weaker and weaker as the practice of natural and functional exercises, which would develop them, dropped: throwing, climbing, etc. The wearing of corsets, among women, has been a new cause of abdominal weakness.

 Several generations will be needed, through training, before we can see the return of remarkable and powerful musculatures seen on Antique statues, especially when it comes to oblique muscles. Only a few athletes have such perfect development.