Simple Fitness Concepts

For about 20 years (between 1980 and 2,000), I published a series of fitness books, the three main ones being Stretching by Bob Anderson, Galloways Book on Running by Jeff Galloway, and Getting Stronger: Weight Training For Men and Women by Bill Pearl. During those years I hung out with these athletes and learned a lot. I stretched with Bob, ran with Jeff, and lifted weights with Bill while working on their respective books.

I was thinking the other day about the glut of information surrounding all of us, and wondered if I could offer some simple concepts for each of these disciplines: stretching, running, and weightlifting. A few things you can remember and that hopefully will help you in your quest for fitness.

Stretching There are two stages in stretching: the easy stretch, and the developmental stretch. When you first do a stretch, go into it until you feel tension in your muscles. Then back off a bit and hold it for maybe 10 seconds. Now push farther into the stretch and hold this for maybe 10 seconds. The important thing here, says Bob, is to go by the feel. Focus on the muscles being stretched.

   Try this: bend over from the waist, as if to touch your toes. You needn’t go far down at all, just until you feel a little tension in your hamstrings (back of legs). Back off a bit and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Now, the muscles will be relaxed. Push a little farther into the stretch, always going by the feel. This is the principle for all stretches.The most important thing, says Bob, is to go by the feel.

Running Jeff Galloway was an Olympic runner in the 70s. He, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rogers were the first long-haired runners and they probably started the running boom. Jeff has been writing running books and training people for over 30 years now, and one critical point that he emphasizes now is the walk brea

   In contrast to the go-for-broke training schedules of the 80s and 90s, Jeff now advocates interspersing each training run with walk breaks. This gives the muscles chance to recover, avoids injuries, and doesn’t really detract from the training effect of your run. Jeff says the greatest single cause of running improvement is avoiding injuries.

Weight Training Bill Pearl is a bodybuilding legend: Mr. California, Mr. America, and 4-time Mr. Universe.

A couple of things about weight training:

Speed of improvement Bill says that of all fitness activities, weight training shows results the soonest. Within a few weeks you notice muscle tone, and that’s encouraging.

The overload principle In each lift, you overload the muscles a bit. You lift until it gets difficult (and hurts a little bit). Then you give your body 24-hours to recover and it will rebuild those muscles stronger and take an increased load.
Another principle going here is

Progressive resistance training You progress through heavier weights as your muscles get stronger. In 300 BC, Milo of Croton lifted a calf every day until it became a full grown cow.

   I guess I’m so immersed in doing building books these days that I forgot about all the work we put into fitness books. Hence this flurry of posts on the subject. It also coincides with me starting a workout program. I got out of shape what with a bunch of injuries, but now my shoulder is healed up enough so I can start lifting weights, and does it feel good! Oh gimme back some upper body strength !

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

2 Responses to Simple Fitness Concepts

  1. Thanks for posting this! I particularly need to work on stretching the Acchilles' tendons. Got to be careful not to overdo it on any one go, 'cause I'm terribly stiff there.


  2. Lloyd, thnks for posting this. Some of us are not athletic as you, and I suspose many of us do enjoy your exploits.

    it is nice though, to get a "small" tip every so often (as I have seen others here).

    it gives a bit of encouragement that starting small can possibly lead to a difference.

    and,they are always sensible.

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