(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here)
If you’re reading this blog post it’s very likely that you’ve found my YouTube videos while searching the internet for information about strength training, fitness, health or inspiration.
Today, anyone with a desire to learn may very well attain a level of mastery through the discipline of self-study using the Internet.
Although I did not have access to the Internet until I was almost 18 years old, I became thrilled by the hope for personal advancement though weight lifting and athletics, so I studied every library book and magazine I could get my hands on (kinda like searching YouTube or Google today).
With all of the information I was learning, and mentorship from my uncle, I began transforming my body at the age of fourteen.
By age nineteen I weighed two hundred twenty-five pounds and could sprint a 4.34 forty-yard dash.
The fact that my own discipline and hard work paid off with bigger, stronger muscles was addicting. Strength training not only helped me build a stronger body, it helped me build a stronger character.
But like all good things that are taken too far I let strength training become an unhealthy obsession; likely due to my inflated and misplaced “Hero’s Attitude” towards life (but we’ll talk about another time).
I began to see the increase of pounds lifted by barbell, and the winning of strongman trophies as an increase of “WHO” I am as a person. This is not very different from many of my colleagues who are personally identified with having six-pack abs or 20 inch biceps.
At one point I even allowed my bodyweight to balloon out of proportion.
At my most inflated, I stood at 5’9 and weighed 247 pounds; until my bubble burst when my left biceps tendon snapped.
Just like any other medicine, exercise can be used to heal as well as to hurt. When used inappropriately and out of proportion, exercise might not only ruin your posture and joints, poorly prescribed exercise programs will have negative effects on your physiology and psychology as well.
If we’re on the journey of becoming a stronger version of ourselves, we cannot afford to waste time addressing physiological or energetic pathologies created by our own poor exercise habits.
For example, how frustrating would it be to find out that your horrible back pain (which is ruining your sex life because you can’t even lay in bed with your woman without extreme discomfort), is the byproduct of going to the gym four times a week WITHOUT stretching properly or strengthening your deep core muscles?
Statistics say that 80% of us experience back pain at some point in life… so be prepared; especially if you’re not training towards sound structural integrity, as well as good physiological and mental equanimity.
You deserve to live your life through a more intelligent, intuitive, expressive, aggressive and attractive body.
The kind of body that can experience the thrill of lifting a three hundred pound stone off the ground, as well as the deep ecstasy of a sexual orgasm.
The kind of body, which can sit silently for an extended period of time, but can also think deeply and critically on the challenges in one’s own life.
You deserve to be a stronger version of you, in whatever you choose to do.
If you’ve been with us long enough you are at least familiar with the therm “The Four Layers Of Strength”. I’ve discussed this four fold process for “becoming a stronger version of yourself” in videos, blog posts and reports in the past.
In this article I will give a brief overview of each of the four layers, in the future I will continue to elaborate on each layer and support you with resources on growing stronger in each.
Remember, if becoming a stronger version of ourselves is the mission, then The Four Layers Of Strength is the map.
#1. Neuromuscular Strength
As each layer is built on top of one another (like a 4-layered onion), it is important to remember that just as the deeper layers effect the outer layers, the outer layers also have equal effect on the deeper layers.
In other words, strengthening your muscular system also deeply effects your physiological and energetic strength. How you hold, cary and express yourself through the muscular system can either vitalize or deaden the health of your internal organs and mind.
We want to build strength, but we want to build it in proportion to our structural integrity.
We don’t just want to add slabs of beef to our frame, we want to construct a more structurally sound body with maximum leverage strength. But, if building muscle mass is a priority for your sport or overall health, then we make program changes to increase hypertrophy.
You will have bigger, stronger, more expressive, aggressive and attractive muscles.
#2. Physiological Strength
The easiest way to describe the global impact of poor physiological strength is with the cascading effects of gut inflammation.
Inflammation of the colon shuts down your nervous systems impulses throughout your deep abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Core weakness leads to pelvic instability, which creates back pain (the same back pain that’s causing your girlfriend to feel abandoned by you).
To continue, your body feels bad, your relationships are suffering, and your also missing days at work.
It would really suck to find out that the root of all these problems is your over consumption of one of your favorite foods.
We not only consider diet in the realm of fat loss, but also in its impact on your whole being.
Physiological Strength also encompasses sleep and life rhythms, hydration, stress, breathing and thoughts (although now we’re digging into layer three).
#3. Energetic Strength
The field of psychology is perhaps the best place to begin when speaking about what I refer to as “Energetic Strength”.
I must admit a few things before I share my ideas about this sensitive topic. First, I am not an expert in psychology. It is a field of great interest to me, and I enjoy reading and studying a myriad of perspectives and methods that might personally help me grow in my journey.
So, everything I say in regards to Energetic Strength is an outgrowth of my extensive research, including years of professional analysis, courses and certifications, reading lots and lots of books… and of course, self-experimentation (of which I’ve been an addict since I began strength training over two decades ago).
There are two very resourceful perspectives that I’ve grown attached to on my journey of growing Energetic Strength. First, comes out of my studies and practice of various internal martial arts, yoga, and bioenergetics.
Simply put, we have the ability to control our mind and character by coming into closer contact with how we move and breath at a very subtle level. I call this level “energetic” because we are no longer moving from just a muscular standpoint, we are moving at a deep nervous system level (so like energy in electrical power lines).
Our most subtle, yet overt movement of energy is found in breathing and respiration. So, we work towards deeper respiration through a variety of means, including sitting meditation… as well as dynamic meditation, yelling, jumping or dancing.
I call this approach “Bioenergetics”. (much of my research comes out of the work of Alexander Lowen MD, Peter Levine PhD, Robert Scaer MD, Gabor Mate MD, and Osho.
The other resourceful perspective is far less tangible than bioenergetics, it has even been called “mystical”.
This is where I discovered the idea of the “King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover” being spiritual or archetypal entities which might guide our lives in some mystical way.
This is the realm of religion, symbols, mythology, and what some people call God (and what many others rightfully call Science).
Our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions become our habits, our habits become our character, and our character… well, just look at your body and life.
“You become what you think about most of the time.” – Earl Nightingale
I don’t have an official name for this approach, but when I speak about Sprit, God, Archetypes, The Universe, or The Collective Unconscious I am speaking about this aspect of Energetic Strength.
Many of my ideas come from both Abrahamic and Eastern Religion, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Napoleon Hill, Alan Watts, Osho, Carl Jung, Robert Moore, Mercia Eliade, and Socratic Philosophy. The Tao Te Ching, Rumi and Hafiz.
And I give tremendous gratitude and acknowledgement to the work Max Plank, Albert Einstein, and Niels Bohr for giving science a new language to begin exploring these mystical realms in the 21st Century.
Energetic strength MUST be discussed if we are to become a stronger version of ourselves.
It’s a vary dark and confusing part of human existence, but we are better off discussing it in the light of day rather than casting it into the shadow (where this deep and powerful layer of strength rests for most people).
#4. Life Mastery Strength
It’s taken me many years to decide on a name for this layer of strength, mainly because I was not ripe enough to understand exactly what I was doing (not that I’m 100% sure now either lol).
The best way to wrap your mind around the concept of Life Mastery Strength, is to think ahead to your funeral.
While you’re laying there in the casket, who is there to celebrate your life? What will they say about you? How many people have incredible stories about their experiences with you? How will you be remembered?
This does not mean that you need to become the next Martin Luther King, Jesus or Steve Jobs; it means that you lived a meaningful life which has had at least some positive contribution to this world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way,
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to learn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
WHO are you? (a stronger version of your existence, or regret and sadness)
These are The Four Layers Of Strength which we are always keeping mind of.
Our vision is for a stronger YOU, a stronger me and a stronger human existence.
We have the frame work of The Four Layers Of Strength to become a stronger version of ourselves.
If we’re ready to take action, then we might need some support, mentorship or coaching.
According to Robert Moore in The Archetype Of Initiation, when “the call to adventure” arises in us and we are beset to jump in, there are three things one must come to obtain.
The first is a “space”, or community of others who have been on, or are still on their journeys of growing stronger. These are your brothers, sisters and mentors.
The second is a “process” to follow which will give us new perspectives and be a map for our journey. We need tools, maps, education, and a system to follow.
And third, we need a mentor.
I have spent my life searching for mentors to give me the tools and perspectives I need while on my journey.
My life is what it is today, because I have mentors, coaches and teachers.
Some of these mentors, I have only read their books.
Many of them have died over 100 years ago.
And a very small percentage of them, I have visited weekly for several years; but all of my mentors have helped me on my journey.
My vision for you, is that you find all of the right mentors, coaches and teachers at just the right times in your life… when you need them the most.
This has been my prayer for myself, and I extend the same prayer towards you.
Keep Growing Stronger,