Friday, May 20, 2016

SHTF Self-Education Series Tuesday Book Review: The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline

As a diversion from the usual crop of categories that I blog about here and in the interests of diversity, I am reviewing a book that was given to me by a Colonel who I served in Iraq.  Without divulging him, I will just say that he is a physically imposing guy who has a life story that legends are made of.  He could regale the troops with song, a story woven expertly or quote Wilford Owen in depth. I owe him much.

The copy I am reviewing comes from my personal library, ca. 2004 and is "The Naked Warrior, Master the Secrets of the Super-Strong using Bodyweight Exercises Only", by Pavel, published by Dragon Door Publications, Inc.  ISBNs# 0938045555 / 9780938045557

The book today is by Pavel Tsatsouline, titled "The Naked Warrior".  I chose it for this week's book review because it focuses almost entirely on the use of body weight exercises and is applicable for old and young, male and female alike.  It is what I am using to overcome some of my own combat earned disabilities.  It is not easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is, right?

Pavel is an interesting character. A former Soviet Special Forces instructor who emphasizes low tech/high concept approaches, he has a depth of knowledge that is worthwhile getting to understand.  He holds a Soviet Physical Culture Institute degree in physiology and coaching.  Well known in many fitness circles, he has been interviewed by CNN, Fox, AP and other major media.

I remember that day in Iraq when some young 2nd Lieutenant dragging the Colonel's sea bag with a few kettle bells in it along with a stack of these books arrived in our Headquarters building.  The Colonel then took the seabag from his Lt to bestow its contents upon us as his indirect way of encouraging us as only he could. The kettlebells were a welcome and interesting change for us all as we worked them into our PT routine.  As such, PT was really the only release from long days and occasional indirect fire.

There is a certain elegance in body weight exercise, that concentrated focus on developing core strength and the low/no cost of the materials.  Kettle bells are optional, not necessary.  The main activity in this book that is damn hard to achieve is a move called "the pistol squat".  This involves pressing oneself up on one leg and surely is not easy, though it looks simple.  Right now, I'd call it a personal goal and an aspiration, not an achievement that I have yet made.

Perfection of the Pistol Squat is a worthy goal
Exercises like body weight exercises have many benefits for both men and women.  The resistance provided by your own weight through these techniques helps to build stronger, denser bones.  Bones under gradually increasing stress adapt and strengthen themselves in meaningful amounts and in important ways.  Medieval English longbowmen are instantly recognizable in graves due to the specific skeletal adaptations to the rigors of their specialty.  Each stress on a bone causes the body to react by adding more bone mass to points of stress.  This fact is exploited in modern resistance exercise regimens as illustrated by Pavel.  We all need stronger bones, especially women as they age.  Every little bit helps preserve flexibility, mobility and life itself!

 There are many online introduction to Pavel "Strong First" training videos, with and without kettle bells available on YouTube

Core strength is more than just abdominal muscles.  While these look good, the multiple layers of muscles in your back are just as critical, if not more so to core strength, mobility and flexibility.  Having strong back muscles around your spine helps ward off injury and keeps everything in place.  Having that strength and kinesthetic sense will help prevent slip and fall injuries as you get older and improve your quality of life.  Imagine avoiding the chronic pain of back injury for the rest of your life!  You don't need to lift a lot of weight, just work at it steadily to build/regain what is your rightful health.

As testosterone soaked as this subject is, I am firmly of the belief that women are BETTER at body weight exercises than men.  EGAD!  Seriously - women have notably better fine motor control and better kinesthetic sense than men do.  Kinesthetic sense is the mind's ability to know where all its body parts are in relation to the whole.  Body weight training is excellent for women because women can do this in the privacy of their own home, without any equipment at their own pacing and leisure.  There is no one to "judge" you or make you uncomfortable as you gradually work on building up your core strength and bone density in the privacy and security of your own home.  It is a journey and not a destination, a journey towards your own health and well being that you are in direct control and management over.  All it takes is the commitment to begin!

A Yoga Mat is nice for comfort, but not necessary
It can also double as a pretty decent shooting mat !

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Pavel discusses why long rest periods are important for building strength

Don't forget to stay hydrated - even when working out in the comfort of your own home.  Kinzi Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle is highly rated.

On a final note, most people are aware that strength and stamina training are integral to the military member's daily regimen, but to further emphasize that strength and stamina training are important for everyone and there is no upper age limit to "begin" strength training, I will leave you with this article published in Prevention magazine that quoted UCLA research confirming that strength training will in fact, save your life:

"...If your dumbbells are getting dusty under the bed, it's definitely time to drag them out. UCLA researchers looked at data from almost 4,000 Americans 55 and over and found that those with the most muscle mass had a 20% lower risk of early death than those with the least.

"We've discovered that your body composition—the percentage of lean muscle mass versus body fat—seems to be a better predictor of longevity than the go-to BMI screening," says lead researcher Preethi Srikanthan."
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Thanks for visiting, reading and hopefully sharing.  You may enjoy some of Partyzantski's previously published book reviews listed HERE.

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Fix. Bayonets.

Never Retreat.  Never Surrender.


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