Category Archives: Running

WEEKLY PROGRAMMING according to the Natural Method

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Weekly programming consists of 6 daily sessions of roughly an hour, each divided into one or several takes.
The first 5 sessions are identical to the model described in the DAILY PROGRAMMING chapter.
The 6th session is more specifically reserved for long distance runs, games, sports and manual labor of all kinds.

Example of weekly programming:

Monday: hour-long complete session in 2 takes:
1st take: fundamentals.
2nd take: functional training.

Tuesday through Friday: same.

Saturday: Long distance run. Games, sports, manual labor.

Sunday: rest

Complete your session

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This is one of those philosophical statements with layers of meaning.

The obvious one can be “finish your workout”, or finish what you started, even if not in fitness.

The more subtle one has to do with The Natural Method and what Hébert calls a complete session, a session that addresses fundamental movements as well as functional exercises. Mobility, strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, agility, coordination, dexterity, harmonious and balanced muscular development, as well as breath work.

Even if they were included in the Functional Exercises portion of his book, and the reason I chose to release those chapters as standalone books, swimming and combative techniques (self-defense, boxing, wrestling) are complete sessions.

By issuing a call to action to “complete”  session, I invite you to explore how you can make a training session include all of the elements to, well, make it “complete” (forgive the redundancy).

A good example because I intend on expanding the work to other disciplines or activities, can be surfing.

It’s not hard to break down the activity and see that it is a complete sport, and see how obvious it is:

  1. Balance stimulation (vestibular and visual systems).
  2. Aquatic training.
  3. Environmental resilience.
  4. Fundamental arm positions.
  5. Fundamental leg positions.
  6. Strength training.
  7. Support work.
  8. Core work.
  9. Agility.
  10. Rescue ability (you are connected to a floatation device that can served to aid you or someone in distress).
  11. Cardiovascular endurance.
  12. Speed.
  13. Power.
  14. Multiplanar movement.
  15. Harmonious development of the muscles.
  16. Corrective exercise elements.
  17. (BONUS): developing the skill of reading elements like water movements (waves, tides, currents), wind patterns and how to adapt to a constantly shifting environment.

One could argue that there is nothing natural about surfing: we do not possess the appendages to glide standing up on the surface of water, and have to resort to man-made devices which also are shaped out of various materials to fulfill the ability to, well, surf the waves, and paddle into them before that. By the way, all those points above can be chapters for The Natural Method: Surfing. And it doesn’t have to stop here, obviously. I’ll go as far as I can with what I know, but I also am recruiting others to complete the collection for the aspects I don’t know.

But so is weight training: we use tools to improve what we have.

So, we use the laws of Nature, physics, our physiology and we don’t even think about how all those systems interconnect: the visual, vestibular, muscular etc. Our reflexes are constantly stimulated and repetition is what makes us better and we get to play and have fun.

Natural, in the end, to me at least, means: what comes naturally over time. Key is in the last 2 words: what may not seem natural at first will with rote. So, cross your right middle finger over your index and slap it on your left palm and go do that. Then, once you’re up on that board and riding that wave, close your fist, extend your thumb and pinky, and do a little propeller move with your wrist.

Paperbacks of The Natural Method are here!

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Since many have been asking, and the intention was always there, the paperback versions of the various sections that comprise Georges Hébert’s Natural Method, from his Practical Guide To Physical Education, are finally available.

You may click on the titles or the covers to be taken directly to Amazon to make your purchase. If you are an international reader, just look for them in your local Amazon pages, by book title or searching for my name, Philippe Til.

Book 1: The Natural Method.

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This is the “exposé” of the method, its origins, layout, how to conduct a model session and what it comprises. Also has scorecards, progress tracking sheets and evaluation processes.

 

 

 

 

Book 2: Fundamental Exercises.

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Arm, leg, trunk, supported, suspended, hopping, balance, breathing and equipment assisted exercises to prime the body for function.

 

 

 

 

Book 3: Functional Exercises.

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While the term “functional” is rapidly losing popularity, primarily out of misuse and/or overuse, exercises that involve walking, running, climbing, swimming, throwing, lifting, fighting, jumping are exactly what “functional” should be, or as Hébert would classify them: indispensable utilitarian, meaning you have to be able to do them in order to be strong to be useful, whether it is for yourself, your community or your country.

 

 

Get Lost!

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We all know today’s 1st world concerns are more about “did my text go through?”, “my cell phone reception sucks”, “this data coverage is too slow” or “why did my food take more than 3 minutes to prepare, ugh!” rather than being worried about a predator chasing us or foraging/hunting for food for our survival.

As a result, there is a wide open market to promote caveman workouts and lifestyles, which we market and promote with certainty rather than speculation. That’s cool, I’m up for a little fun away from the conveniences of modern living, without pretension 🙂

Note: this post is not about roughing it, it’s about having a little fun in a perfectly controlled environment, with a calculated element of risk that can be surpassed with human intellect.

So, after having some fun with basic calisthenics, I went on a run along a path, then broke off said (nicely laid out bicycle) path and went “off road” (into the forest, but still on a laid out path, as I even saw lampposts to illuminate a dark path in the evening).

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I encountered other runners, people on their off-road bicycles, a deer and her two fawns, even a coyote, which was probably the riskiest aspect of the run, next to not having bug spray on or no water. I was a little apprehensive because Wile E. didn’t run away, we made briefly eye contact until I remembered you make eye contact with large felines, not canines (per my guide in Tanzania). I kept cool, slowed to a walk but kept on, knowing he’s afraid of me, and he took off leisurely.

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Nothing extraordinary, but the interesting lesson for me happened afterwards and it was interesting to recall Laurence Gonzales’ book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies And Why. In his book, Gonzales mentions that younger children (I think up to about 7 years old) are more apt to survive in the wild than adults. Kids are instinctual: they’re cold, they seek warmth. They’re tired, they rest. They’re scared, they hide. Adults try to map everything or try to make sense of things, and push.

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How does this relate to my run? Well, I’m from California, where cities are grids and I know where the ocean is. I was in a natural reserve park in Minnesota, where my bearings mean nothing (even if I can look at the sun for bearings or look at my iPhone’s compass, I still had no clue where I was). So, I tried to retrace my steps and look for familiar marks. And at some point, I zigged when I should have zagged and lo and behold, I wound up on an extra mile loop where I returned to where I saw Wile E. Coyote.

Twice.

No panic, I had time, I had a phone with full bars and no place to be, and running kept the bugs away from me (they only attacked when I slowed down). I got lost, and it was fun. But only when I stopped trying to make sense of things (in this case, how my “grid mentality” bearings were confusing me) did I find my way. It seems I should do the same with my life.

Natural Method Kid Parkour

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A little while ago, I posted some clips of my (now) 5 year old son who was jumping from a height that makes most parents cringe, as if I was a bad dad risking my child’s health.

Some are natural athletes, others are made to be athletes. Some are genetically gifted, some still won’t look as good as the fitness models and movie stars despite smart, dedicated and disciplined training. Looks aside, we can all develop running, jumping, climbing and other skills. For when our daily environment doesn’t provide the stimulation or equipment to achieve a high skill level, a method is there for us, a system, and that’s what Georges Hébert created, and others since applied, by “reverse engineering what the best athletes do naturally”, to quote Pavel Tsatsouline.

Without further reading, watch this 3 1/2 min video of my son who developed his skills over the years. You’ll see that the jumps I posted a few weeks ago now will look less impressive, because they’re almost “expected”, after you see the training in his early walking stages that brought him to where he is today. Fast forward to the future in your mind. Maybe I’m not the bad parent, maybe I’m the one who prepares him…

You can get all three books by clicking this link, by the way:

Buy all three books on Amazon by click here

Über Fitness part 2 (final)

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Are you a well-rounded athlete if you are the top guy in your sport?

Does specialization make you better than general fitness?

These two questions are leading because their phrasing most likely steers you to the answer “no”, especially if you are educated in the field of fitness, or at least well-read.

Athletes, more specifically professional athletes, tend to have imbalances because of overuse patterns and the demands of the sport. The resulting specialization creates not only imbalances, but potentially limitations. Of course, we can argue that some sports offer some sort of all-around balanced development, but in general, the hyper focus on the task to accomplish makes it difficult for a sprinter to run a marathon, a bodybuilder to fight in the ring, or a gymnast to be a good diver (the latter example because gymnasts are taught to always land on their feet and the concept of going head first after some flips doesn’t compute).

We could discuss that with the Crossfit games, the displays of athleticism are tremendous (and I guarantee you the competitors’ training is anything but WODs), but that would be perceived as a cheap way to get readers 😉

Back to Georges Hébert and his Natural Method, since it’s still an unknown subject to 99.99% of the fitness population. His goal is all-around athleticism: a balance of speed, endurance, strength, mobility, skill and functionality. According to Hébert, games, sports and manual labor are the finality of physical education. These forms of physical exercise are useful for the following reasons:

  • They augment the general physical value of individuals and extend what can be called “physical knowledge”.
  • They entertain the “taste” for physical activity by breaking up the monotony of methodical training.
  • They help perfect agility, develop a sense of practicality, promote ingeniousness by giving complete freedom to individual action.
  • They satisfy a need for variety and pleasure by providing a release from methodical training.
  • They demonstrate functionality and bring out the advantages of good physical preparedness. Greater success is achieved, indeed, even more in the various branches of physical activity as one is better prepared thanks to methodical training (strength and conditioning).

So, what are we learning with Hébert’s Natural Method? Is it yet another secret sauce never revealed to you until now? While I could say if it’s new to you the answer is yes, the reality is that it’s a method that withstood the test of time, and that if you are a fitness enthusiast, your skills and abilities deserve the right to rekindle with your body’s natural desire to move well, as it is engineered to do so. Forget fat loss, muscle gain or some other specialized goal. All of that comes naturally, and it is so much more than just the moves posted on various social media. The philosophy behind the method is very wholistic and revolves around 3 major points:

  1. Hygienic action (not about being freshly scrubbed, read Book 1 if you want to know what that means in details about cleansing the system through air baths, circulation etc).
  2. Functionality/Utility.
  3. Mental benefits.

We all need that, we tend to forget those aspects too frequently, and that’s what the Method is also about 🙂

Workshop Syllabus Bulletpoints

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Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

THIS IS A “REFRESHED” POST INITIALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY OF 2015:

If you are reading this and want to register, click here and bring a friend and get a special discount of 2 people for $229 (save $129 on the second admission, or almost $65 each).


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I realize many these days tries to come up with some new method of training. Marketing gimmicks are running amuck on the ole “Interweb”. There have never been more public “secrets of fitness” than in the last 2 years, if I were to believe the numerous newsletters I get from people telling me they have the secret(s) I am missing in my training.

The best tools for training are your body and things you can get your hands on, to lift, put back down, throw, catch, climb on etc. The best tools for weight loss are your silverware and that hole in the bottom third of your face, or quarter depending on your facial symmetry. (Thank you, James Neidlinger, for “the best tools for weight loss” arsenal tip from your recent Facebook post).

To placate the skeptics or explain to the curious, below is what we’ll cover on October 24 at The Natural Method Workshop, in Los Angeles, CA, at The Gym @ Hayden.

It first starts with the upright posture which aligns and prepares the body for movement. Without a strong upright posture the movements taught will not be as effective. Once we are comfortable with the upright posture then we can start to explore movements in the entire kinetic chain.

  1. Arm Movements: positions at hips, shoulders, chest, neck and derivatives, as well as why we do them, what they do and how.
  2. Leg Movements: various “bends”/flexion/slits. Combine with 1.
  3. Suspension: hang and do leg stuff. Or lie down if you can’t hang to get similar benefits*. Btw, that noise also works your Dear Abbies. And hits the body parts from 2, like, hard, and from 1, but differently. And yes, that’s some aspects of pull-ups, but not limited to. This isn’t a class on pull-up variations.
  4. Support Movements: stuff that looks like push-ups, but isn’t limited to. This isn’t a class on push-up variations, though you may recognize or learn some.
  5. Balance Movements: equilibrium. Although symmetry is also balance, this is more literal. Combine with 1 and 2.
  6. Hopping Movements: not jumping. Hopping. Not like a bunny. More like jump rope (without the rope), or skipping as some call it. Not skipping like a kid, though I recommend you do that. It’s fun and beneficial and my friend Paul Daniels once taught a class where some people forgot how to do that. Combine with 1.
  7. Trunk Movements: the torso, the thoracic stuff, aspects of the core. Flexion, extension, twisting, rotation. Combine with 1 & 2. Wakes up your vestibular system. You need that.
  8. Breathing: why cover that last? Because now, we get to redo everything 1-7 but make it even better.
  9. Add tools and repeat 1-7 with 8 throughout.

And you’ll learn how to weave it all together for durations of 5, 10, 20 minutes or whatever time you need/have/want and whatever goal you aim for.

So, people, get ready to move, well and throughout the day. (quality and quantity guaranteed). And when we’re done, you’ll be tired and happy and free. Like getting some. And the next day, you’ll feel it before you’ll get to talk about it.

This is just a taste of what can be achieved with the method.

Ideally I would love to teach the method over multiple days covering other movement qualities like: walking, running, climbing, throwing, lifting, rescuing, swimming without water, jumping and more. But in 8 short hours, you get plenty of coverage of the fundamentals so you can explore and even program.

*benefits vs goals will be explained. Benefits are things that stay the same, no matter what the goals are. Like opening up the chest vs building a bigger chest.

On Running and Walking

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Captain Obvious here reminding us of a few things, basics only. Not talking about Marathon training or sprinting at a Track & Field meet. General Population needs, rather.

There’s running and there’s walking.

Running is faster than walking.

Walking is the most efficient method for bipedal locomotion, the one you can do the longest with minimal exertion.

Running can be done at different speeds.

You can jog, or you can sprint.

If you run for distance and time and you are gassed at the end, you ran too fast to sustain the determined distance or length of time.

When you sprint, you train for speed (velocity), in an all-out effort, and you don’t really breathe much during, therefore you can’t sprint for a long time or a long distance, and you need a lot of time to recover.

Cheetahs run fastest and shortest distances. Catch a prey quickly, and they live. Antelopes run slower but can run longer; if they stay ahead long enough or zig zag well, they live. Elephants walk for very, very long distances.

Manage your effort accordingly.

Just trying to say: look at your walking/jogging/sprinting differently, from a fatigue management standpoint rather than what fitness level you are looking to achieve. Own each category, then decide the course of action for the more specific goal (i.e. marathon…)

Captain Obvious, signing off, providing a sneak peak into Book 3 of The Natural Method (all-around athleticism in all categories, no micro goal).

For new or soon-to-be new dads

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Fitness Tips For New Dads - Cover

Your world is about to change, or recently has, as a new dad.

Sleep will become a hobby, sex a memory and the feeling of hangovers semi-permanent.

Yet, you will experience more love for another person than you could think possible, while feeling like you’re going to lose your sanity.

Don’t worry, you will make it. We all made it, somehow, or the species would be extinct.

Because there are a lot of resources out there for new moms, but not enough for new dads, I put together this little book with simple options that worked out great for me and tested it twice (after the second child). There can always be more added to it, but this will be a great start.

Coming out very soon!

 

Fitness Tips For New Dads - Cover