This is part of a series of postings on fitness, health, and dieting. For a chronological list of these articles, please click here.
This book, “Pushing Yourself To Power,” (PYTP) is my favorite book on the subject of exercise and fitness. It is well worth the investment, but only if you get it with the spiral binding. Stay away from the standard binding.
Oddly enough, the paper and the pictures are top quality, but the standard binding is terrible, and the book falls apart in no time.
However, the spiral binding is super and worth the extra five dollars.
This book is actually an updated and modernized version of the old Charles Atlas course. I remember seeing Charles Atlas ads in the comic books and boys magazines during the 1950s. Charles Atlas was the United States best known exercise and fitness figure in mid-20th-century United States.
Those comic-book ads were a bit cheesy, but they stood out among a plethora of other cheesy ads for secret encoding rings, maps to treasure, magnets, fossils, baseball cards, and other items of interest to young kids.
Atlas’s ads showed how a skinny 95-pound hormone-laden young fellow is at a beach with his girlfriend.
Then a well-built muscular bully kicks sand in the young lad’s face, attacking his manhood, and walks off with the admiring girl. Seething with anger and humiliation, the young fellow sends away for the weekly Charles Atlas mail-order course. Charles Atlas said “Let me make a man out of you,” and our young lad, burning with determination, follows the 12-week course.
Some months later, our young hero walks back to the beach, buff body, and gets his girl back. This was just the sort of thing that appealed to those legions of young pubescent males who secretly feel uncertain, awkward, and gangly.
Despite the cheesiness of the ad, the Atlas course was quite good, with solid principles. And John Peterson, referred to by his friends and students as “JP,” has taken the Atlas course, along with similar ones, augmented it with a lot of his own ideas and the ideas of a lot of other famous people. I have the old Charles Atlas course, and JP has certainly made it much more understandable in today’s world with absolutely super photographs in PYTP
Charles Atlas, along with people like Earl Liederman, Eugen Sandow, Bernarr MacFadden, and other were part of what was known as “physical culture” movement in the United States during the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century. JP has managed to repackage a lot of these concepts into a well thought-out and well laid-out method he calls Transformetrics.
In the first part of this book JP gives the profiles of a lot of these influences and explains where he got these ideas. He certainly gives credit to his influences.
I like this approach for a variety of reasons that I’ll go into later. But for now, I’ll only cover a very few basic concepts of building muscle strength and fitness:
- A muscle gains strength by working against resistance. It does not know if the resistance comes from a weight, a spring, a machine, or anything else.
- A muscle is a collection of muscle fibers that contract in response to an order from the brain that travels down a nerve to that fiber.
- A muscle moves a body part by contracting, not by expanding. For example, if you bend your arm, a muscle group on the front part of the upper arm (the biceps) contracts while opposing muscles relax. If you straighten your arm, a muscle group on the back of the upper arm (the triceps) contracts while opposing muscles contract. Muscles only contract. Body parts, such as the tongue or the penis, which expand do not do so by muscle action but by the effect of blood engorgement.
Transformetrics and related systems do not use external apparatus such as machines or weights to provide the resistance. Instead, such systems utilize bodyweight or resistance supplied by other muscle groups.
Transformetrics is not the only system of this type. But in my opinion, one cannot go wrong using it as a base for one’s physical fitness regimen, as I do. And the Transformetrics system has a forum dedicated to this modality of exercise. Although some of the forum members have what I consider to be pretty off-the-wall ideas, one can learn a lot there. My advice if you visit is to take what is of value to you and leave the rest alone. There are some very knowledgeable people there as well as a few who have some pretty strange ideas.
John Peterson himself tries very hard to get his students to find their own answers, specifically suited to their own needs, their own goals, their own strengths and weaknesses. He attempts to lay out certain principles, give examples, and then wants you to adapt to suit yourself. In other words, he’s not at all dogmatic.
His motto is “Be Your Own Best Trainer,” and he tries very hard to help his students become their own best trainers.
One last thing: John Peterson is fundamentalist Christian. (Please Click Here to see correction below) Some people are put off by that. JP, however, is not preachy. Although he does not hide his religion, he doesn’t push it, either.
JP and I have had many conversations on the phone, and we have exchanged many posts on his Transformetrics forum. I happen to be an atheist and very far to the left politically, facts he is well aware of. However, I never felt that he judged me harshly. He tells me that prays for me, and that’s fine with me. I just take the attitude that this is JP’s way of wishing the very best for me, as I wish the very best for him. We all have our outlooks, and intelligent and sincere people can disagree.
In subsequent postings, I’ll get more specific about how you can develop your own exercise and fitness program, what some of the other fitness modalities are, and a bit about another exercise method I sometimes use, the HeavyHands system. I’ll also talk about Greg Magnan’s wonderful VRT Megapump system, which shares a lot of the same principles as Transformetrics, although it comes at the principles from a slightly different angle.. Most importantly, perhaps I can encourage you to do a bit of exercise in a fashion that you find enjoyable, an activity to look forward to.
Originally, this post had the following statement:
That was incorrect, and the Reverend John Peterson corrected this misstatement in this posting on his web site. I regret having misstated JP’s position.