June 22, 2013
[1:45] About of Elliot Hulse
[14:29] Layers of Strength
[19:30] The Biggest Mistakes Most People Make When They Walk Into a Gym
[27:20] The Truth About Deep Breathing and How to Do it The Right Way
[33:36] The Best Exercises to Start with if You Want to Learn How to Lift Heavy Weights
[36:10] Primal Pattern Movements & Pooping
[38:44] Whether Lifting Heavy Weights Can Help with Fat Loss, Cardiovascular Capacity or Endurance
[45:28] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey folks! It’s Ben Greenfield and my guest today is an expert at building strength, at increasing vitality, and at achieving what he calls “becoming the strongest version of yourself.” His name is Elliot Hulse, and he’s really one of the world’s experts when it comes to improving your strength, but doing so in a way that really expands your life and your health. And, he goes way above and beyond just putting some extra muscle on your body, or something like that.
So, Elliot, thanks for coming on the call today.
Elliot: Thank you for having me, Ben.
Ben: You’ve got a pretty rich history in the field of strength and conditioning, and you also kind of spill over into a lot of life philosophy, and even, you know I’ve heard you talk about fertility and things of that nature on Sean Croxton’s SexyBack Summit. And, I’m curious about is how you got started in all of this and how you’ve grown in this field?
Elliot: Well, if I could say that strength and health is the soil from which I’ve grown my entire life, I would. Essentially since the time I was a child, I’ve been in environments and have had mentors, teachers, my parents, all heavily invested in health and strength. I mean to this day my father says you can take everything away from me, but give me my health and strength and I’ll be okay. And, it’s just been a philosophy that has just pervaded every area of my life.
My parents are both from Belize, they’re from a third world country; it’s in Central America. It’s considered a Caribbean country because it’s English speaking. But anyway, they grew up in what we would call a natural organic environment, you know? The country wasn’t really industrialized when my parents grew up there. My dad lived on a farm, and his dad was a pig farmer. And, my father literally spent his days just walking through jungles and eating fruits and roots, and walking barefoot, you know? It’s funny because we have all these different diet and exercise fads, that come and go in industrialized nations, but my father literally really grew up barefoot running, he didn’t need viburnums, or vibrams, and he ate what we now call paleo- just because that’s the way people ate.
Ben: Right, it didn’t have a name?
Elliot: Right, when I introduced a lot of these ideas to him, he kinda laughed at me. It’s, like, well why do we have to eat organic food, it’s like, isn’t that what food actually is. And, he was being facetious cause he realized just how damaged our soil is, our food source is, how polluted it is. But he kind of scoffs at the idea that we have to go out of our way to do what he just did naturally, growing up in Belize.
So he and my mother moved to Brooklyn, New York, of all places, when they first came here, and were thrown right into the concrete jungle and took them a while, both of them to adjust, physiologically, psychologically, emotionally. It was quite the culture shock, but it also shocked their bodies, and over time they grew roots, and they found there place in this country, and moved out to long island where they had me and my three other siblings.
We grew up on long island along with my mom’s brother. My mom’s brother, growing up in the same country as my mother and my father, was tremendously healthy and strong and vibrant, and vital. He was still a young guy so he participated in lots of sports, including gymnastics, marital arts, he ended up becoming a bodybuilder. And you can just imagine being four years old and living with a guy who can do standing backflips, and chop bricks in half with his hands, and all the tremendous things that he did that most people think that only a superhero can do, he was doing in front of me, and I basically, I grew up believing well that’s just what people do. They do backflips and chop bricks and tremendously strong and vibrant and vital.
Of course, DNA had a lot to do with it, genetics, but the environment also imbedded itself into my consciousness and gave me a courageousness with regard to approaching health and fitness, almost an audacity associated with what’s capable, what’s available to us with regards to health. And he began mentoring me at a very young age, me and my brothers. He would show us how to do pushups, and sit-ups, and chin-ups, and climb rope, and do splits, and all types of different martial arts activities, at a very young age, and that…
Ben: How old were you when you were learning how to do those type of things?
Elliot: Oh, I have one memory of being in kindergarten, and my first day at phys-ed in kindergarten, the teacher was teaching us push-ups, and we went in and I was the only kid in class who had done this before. The rest of them were like this was brand new, oh we’re going to do something called push-ups, and their bodies were so weak unable to lift their bellies off the ground. To them, this was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. It was a mess, and I remember just banging out you know, 10-15 push-ups in kindergarten. And to me it was… and doing them in good form, mind you, my hips are the height of my head, my core is engaged, and thinking like, wow, there’s something different here.
Ben: Yes, it’s crazy because it’s almost like we protect our kids these days, we don’t want to fracture their growth plates, or stunt their growth, or something like that. And you know you talk about… you just kind of accepting the fact you know with backflips and breaking bricks with his hand, that that’s what the human body does, and it’s almost like we’re breading a weaker generation in a way is what it sometimes seems like.
Elliot: Oh, absolutely! And mind you, this is like… I’m 34, so this is like 30 years ago. It’s gotten so much worse now where my kids are in Phys-ed, and I don’t even know why they call it Phys-ed, because there’s nothing physical about the lazy crap that they do.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, interesting. So, you were in kindergarten and you were learning all this stuff- where’d it go from there?
Elliot: Well again, my uncle had a huge impact on my adolescence because he started bodybuilding and powerlifting, and he taught me and my brothers how to do the same. So, we played football… I played football and of course being athletic and having great DNA, genetics. I excelled in the sport but a lot of it had to do with the fact that I, again, was that I was the only 14 year old, who was doing squats and deadlifts and bodybuilding and powerlifting while the other kids were going home and playing video games. And I wish I could attribute it to some special inclination towards hard work, in my mind, but, it really was the fact that I had tremendous, a great environment, and tremendous mentors like my uncle, to teach me these things when I could’ve been home playing video games.
So, I earned an athletic scholarship to college. I excelled in college football, won the double A I played, and studied exercise physiology in graduate school because I knew for a very young age that this is what I was going to do. I was going to grow stronger, and help other people grow stronger. It was just the way of life for me, nothing else made any sense. So, I turned it into a career, and I opened my own gym, which I have now, and I also got involved in the sport of strong man, now this is kind of where the story takes a big turn.
Ben: Strong man, like… Is that like the world’s strongest man competition that you see on TV? Or…
Elliot: Ah good point, it’s kind of an obscure sport that something that most people have never even heard of. It’s literally the pinnacle of functional strength and ability. You’ve got to be agile, you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to have good endurance. You really have to be quite an athlete to be able to flip 600 pound tires for as many times as you can in one minute. So, not only are you strong, but you’ve got to be agile, and you also need to have the endurance to continue doing these exercises for an extended periods of time. So lifting 400 pound stones, slipping 700 pound tires, carrying things like refrigerators on your back or things you’ll see, or pulling trucks, you’ll see this on ESPN if you’re watching on Christmas Eve or something. They’ve got these behemoths moving around all these odd objects, and I took a liking to the sport, and excelled in it. Did really well, it was a lot of fun and allowed me to express all my natural gifts.
And, I took it too far. I was at the point where I was poised to be the strongest in America. In my weight class, I had been winning, I had been winning, I had been winning and it was like I became pro, and it was like, man, I can really become the best at this. And that’s a very enticing. When you get that taste in your mouth for becoming the best, there’s a tendency to do whatever it takes, and that’s where I was. My life was just beginning, family and business and stuff. It wasn’t as good as it could be because I was investing so much time and effort into this sport, and I decided to sacrifice my health by using steroids, essentially, performance enhancement drugs, to take it just one step forward, I didn’t need it to win…
Ben: And that’s all legal in strong man, right?
Elliot: Oh, it’s a part of the sport. It’s not like there’s a certifying body that checks you; it’s not like the Olympics; it’s an amateur sport.
Ben: It’s so much different. I race as an amateur Ironman triathlete and we can’t even take aromatase inhibitors, much less any testosterone precursor or creams or injections or lotions. We have to have a therapeutic use exemption, and be diagnosed, with clinically diagnosed, like andropause, or hypogonadism, to even touch that stuff.
Elliot: Yeah, a lot of guys would do that. They’ll get prescriptions and stuff so it’s “legal,” but then again it depends on the sport, and how they want to go about it.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, you got into strong man and did well?
Elliot: Yeah, I did well. And like I said, poised to take it all. And right, I guess I’d say about three or four weeks before the defining event of my career, I popped my bicep. I tore it clean of the bone, and it wasn’t even during training it was while helping my dad, pull up some old trees in his garden. It was after training, but I knew that, the pulling up of roots, wasn’t…. it was kind of like the straw that broke the camels’ back. I had been living an unbalanced lifestyle; I had been training in an unbalanced way, meaning I was just pushing, pushing, pushing, harder, harder, more and more for longer and longer to the point where my body just snapped. It wasn’t just the physical event of tearing my bicep, it wasn’t just that devastating injury. I literally recognized that moment as a burning of the phoenix, if you will. That was a time to destroy that character because the minute that happened I knew that I had to change my ways. I had to become a different version of Elliot Hulse in order to really maximize the potential that is latent in all of us, but I knew was in me, that was being squandered by what’s to the world, would seem, something that’s very commendable. You want to be a winner. We live in a world in a society where winning is everything, and I was a winner.
So, I at that moment I had to detach from that winning character and begin a new journey. And, this is what I teach people today, because even prior to that point, I was a strength coach, and I was teaching people how to become stronger, but the attitudes of the coach are always reflected in his students, and I wasn’t the best coach I could be even though people were getting bigger, stronger, and performing better. What I now have come to learn because of that experience is that strength goes beyond just the neuromuscular, and when I say that I mean, it’s not about how well you physically perform. So even if it’s triathlons, even if it’s swimming, biking, running, or if it’s powerlifting, bodybuilding, whatever the case may be. There is a physical manifestation of what we do, but there are deeper layers of strength that make up who we are, and I invite people to consider and focus on developing who they are.
I’ve created a system to help people navigate this journey of becoming what I call the “strongest versions of themselves” and it consists of three other layers just beyond, the first which is neuromuscularo r athletic if you will. The second is physiological strength. You know, we like to pay attention to things like diet and lifestyle, but usually in a very focused manner, especially for athletes, it’s all about what can I do to increase my performance in that sport. But, what I invite people to do, is to literally step back and look at how it’s affecting your health, are your hormones balanced because you are living a balanced lifestyle or are you overtraining? I know several endurance athletes, and they tend to be some of the most catabolically stimulated people on earth, right. The amount of stimulation because of the volume of work that they are doing is so imbalanced that many of them of recurring injuries, muscular imbalance, they’re always getting sick. Some of them I look at, and they perform well, but I look at their eyes, and I see the dullness, and the lack of vitality that’s there. It’s because there’s this lack of concern for the physiological- for the organ health, if you will. So, I invite people to look at that, and I have constructs to support them in that way.
A step beyond that or bellow that, if you will, is, what I call energetic strength. Your energetic strength is a fancy word that I use to describe your psychology, your emotional lifestyle, how you respond to your environments emotionally and psychologically. Because we would all agree that what’s happening in your mind is going to manifest itself not only physiologically, but also physically, neuromuscularly, your muscles will take on the form of your physiological profile. You don’t have to look any further than to observe someone who’s fearful or depressed, their body looks fearful and depressed, the shoulders will be hyped up, physiologically the heart rate will be depressed, the a respiratory wave will be depressed. In order for the respiratory pathways to be depressed, there’s a restriction of the musculature, across the chest, across the belly, across the pelvic floor, often in the throat, or in the neck. I call them neurotic holding patterns, because we do it, we create these holding patterns, that affect us through our mind, into our tissue, and also physiologically. So that’ really the one that I tend to have the most passion toward, and that’s the one that we have to really consider more so than the others. The others will be an outgrowth of how we see the world and respond to the world.
The fourth layer is what are you going to do now? I think it becomes a bit narcissistic for athletes of all sorts, in their pursuits of becoming stronger, whatever it is that your sport is. But, I invite people, and my students, to consider how they’re going to serve others, and I see that as a form of strength. I call it presentable strength because it’s how you’re going to… It’s a play on words, but how are you going to offer yourself as a present to the world, a gift to the world, how many other people are you supporting? Because the bottom line is, we all die, we’re here for a short period of time, then we pass away. How many people did you support on their journey of becoming stronger? And, the way that looks is the way you present yourself, and there’s an entire layer that I invest my time and energy into in teaching other people how to grow that I call presentable strength.
So that’s really been it, and I’m on that journey right now in developing into myself. I make no claims, I never assert my correctness in anyway shape or form. Everything to me is an experiment, it’s based on your experience, and we are dynamic creatures consistently growing. And, while I’m doing that for myself, I share with other people so that they can continue to grow stronger themselves.
Ben: Very cool, that’s an awesome history, and right off the bat, tons of helpful information in there. I especially like what you say, about being able to look into somebody’s eyes, and see where the vitality is there or not. And, I don’t know about you, but I find that for me and my training, especially when I’m training for something like an Ironman triathlon, I can for that to myself. I don’t even need a trainer or a coach to do it, I can look at myself in the mirror and look deep into my eyes, and while there are certainly some quantitative measurements you can take like heartrate, or heartrate variability, or even like going out, and seeing what your heartrate or your power or your speed responds. Looking deep into your eyes in the mirror, and just see what they look like, you can get a pretty good kind of horse sense for where you’re at. And, I think a lot of people just ignore that, and don’t even take a good long look at the mirror at their own eyes. So, it’s interesting stuff.
I want to jump into some of the nitty gritty with you Elliot, if we could? Because you’re an expert in strength, and I think that when most people go to the gym, the average person, they go do circuits, or they go lift 12-20 repetitions at like kind of a medium intensity, or they do lots of aerobic exercise, maybe in between their weight training sets, or before and after they do a weight machine circuit, or something like that. I’m curious from a strength training standpoint, how you feel about that kind of workout? And, what you feel, when it comes especially to building strength and this vitality that you talk about, what’s kind of ideal for somebody to be doing when they walk into the weight room?
Elliot: Well the very first question is always, what do you want? Right, so I would never give broad advice. There is a uniqueness to each one of us, but there’s also a uniqueness to what we want to achieve. I’m going to approach this with the assumption that the majority of your listeners are endurance-type athletes? Correct?
Ben: A lot of endurance athletes, and also a lot of people who just want better bodies. People who want to lose fat, that type of thing. Probably more of that, than we get a lot of pure football players and strong men and people of that nature.
Elliot: Okay, well with that in mind, one of the things that we have to end up… one of the things we’ve got to do with our training, is to un-do a lot of the damage that we’ve done with either different forms of training, like for example if you are riding your bike for like four hours a day, I don’t know what’s typical, but if you’re riding for several miles a day, what you don’t want to do is to go into the gym and work the same energetic pathways and the same muscle fiber as that which you already have an overload of. Not only is there a pattern overload by repeating the same patterns, using the same muscles when you use the gym in the same fashion, and make no mistake, we always gravitate to that which we are best at. So, if you tend to ride a lot, you’re going to go to the gym and you’re going to want to do a lot of legs, leg presses and leg curls and leg extensions, and because you’re probably good at it because your nervous system and your muscular systems have grown to become efficient at it. And then the energetic pathway, the energy systems, are going to… you don’t want to repeat again, because if you’re riding for four hours a day, and you go to the gym, and you’re working in the 15, 20, 25 rep range, you’re basically being redundant. You’re doing the same s**t, and not only is it a waste of your time, but you’re further facilitating the imbalances in all of the systems in your body, your muscular system, your nervous system, and the energy pathways. You want to do something completely opposite, so that you can, in baseball terms, this is what pitchers typically say, unwind the body. You want to un-do the damage of pattern overload.
Ben: That’s a very useful way of thinking about it. So, you’re basically trying to step-out of whatever comfort zone that you’ve created in other activities that might be pre-dominating your life.
Elliot: Absolutely! That’s why we go to the gym. We have this tendency to do what everybody else is doing, but we’ve got to look at who we are, what we are, what we’ve been doing, and how to approach it most effectively. And, if you’re an endurance athlete, and you’re somebody used to these ideas of doing high repetitions and long enduring low intensity type activities, which I think most people get involved in exercise even, who want to burn fat, that’s usually where they begin. They begin with low-intensity high-volume work either running or biking or jogging, and then again, they go to the gym and it’s like lightweights with lots of reps. And, there’s nothing with going to the gym, and the gym is my temple if you will. When you step in the gym and I’m there, I will act as the priest of what should and shouldn’t happen, and I’ve stepped in to that place with authority because when you’re doing your sport, when you’re out there riding your bike, I don’t touch it, and nor do I look to change anything you’re doing. You might want to look to talk to the priest of the sport, which would be your triathlon coach or your sport’s coach, in any way, shape or form.
When you come to the gym, my invitation is to leave all that behind, leave it at the door. Now, let me look at you, see what you’ve got, and perceive from there, and really, a lot of times it ends up being a session of undoing damage. Right? So, there’s going to be a lot of, and I know you asked me about strength, and I’ll get there but I need to take you on this journey a little bit because there’s something we need to consider before you could start deadlifting, and bench pressing, especially if you have a lot of pattern overload. Very first thing is, we’ve got to reduce the tension in those muscles that have become tonic due to overuse and stimulations, for endurance athletes and most people in general who sit and drive their car, there’s a lot of flexion activity going, the hip flexors tend to be tight, the upper abdominals tend to be tight, the external cleidomastoid, these are the muscled in the neck, in front of the neck, in front of the shoulders. Other muscles in front of the body become, overdeveloped and overstimulated, because of just our activities and the tendency for the human being to move towards the position from which it came, which is the fetal…
Ben: Yeah, that was what I was going to ask you, that’s that defensive position to which you are referring?
Elliot: Yeah, it’s the fetal position?
Ben: Right, right.
Elliot: It’s our most closed position.
Ben: I think what’s interesting, and this is something that I’m cognitive of just because of how much time I spend hunched on a bike, or running, or even swimming, you see a lot of internal rotation takes place there, because you’re constantly in that defensive position. And, you’re constantly in what you call that fetal position. So, you’re saying, you’re kind of trying to un-do that?
Elliot: Oh yeah! Absolutely! Imagine that your tendency is towards that fetal position, right? And then you go to the gym, and you purposefully stimulate the muscles that push you further and further into that fetal position? I mean does that make any sense?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And it’s interesting, one of the best moves I’ve ever made, this was a couple of years ago, I installed a pull-up bar in the door of my office. And so, every hour, my rule is I’ve got to do five perfect pull ups on this pull up bar. And, it always feels like it opens me up- it keeps me out of that hunched position during the day. And, sorry to interrupt, it’s such an important thing, keeping your body open like that I think that…
Elliot: Oh absolutely! Yeah, I mean, among all the other aesthetic qualities associated with good posture, and the lack of injury associated with having structural integrity because that’s really what you want, you really want to last a long time in your sport, and you want to last long time in life, by being able to keep all your joints in there, in their axis of rotation where they belong, as supposed to poor posture associated with moving them out of their axis of rotation. Amongst that lies is what I believe is the most important, which you couldn’t disagree with me on this one, because if you don’t do it, you die. The most important function of the human being in order to retain its vitality, it’s life, is to breathe. And if the muscles across the face, the jaw, the neck, the chest, the belly, the pelvic floor are tense and tight, your torso is not going to be supple enough to allow a full respiratory wave. And that respiratory wave, which if you look at a baby who’s laying on his back you’ll notice, the belly expands and it moves up towards the chest, and the hips and the head almost move in concert with the torso. If that respiratory wave is damaged, if it’s dysfunctional in any way shape or form, you’re going to experience both physiological, and psychological disturbance. All you have to do to…
Here’s an example of what I mean by psychological disturbance, let me start there, because this one is very obvious and I’ve got a good example. I was watching a show not too long ago on television, and it was all about being an alpha-male. So essentially, they were trying to show these men how to be strong and assertive, grounded, and having good energy so that they can attract people, and be a good leader. Well in that show there was one exercise where they had three guys- there were six guys, split in half, three of them were in a fetal position, basically tucked down and squatted on the floor, and there were three other guys, who were standing up tall, but not only that but they had there had over their head like a Y, and they were leaning back slightly with their mouths open and they were breathing deep. Now this is an exercise that I’ve been using for years, I’ve been teaching people, I call it a bow. But in this show, they had the people do that very thing, which actually, puts tension on and stretches, opens up all your extra respiratory muscles, and by asking them to breathe deep at the same time, they’re allowing this person to really get the full benefit of the respiratory wave as it should be. And, all six of them were standing at a cliff where they were at one point were asked to jump off of, I think it was like bungee jumping or something, and when they sounded the whistle for the six men to jump, the men that were standing with their bodies open and were breathing deep, it took them an average of about four seconds to make the decision to jump. They just leaped right off.
It took the other group an average of something about 24 seconds to build up the courage in order to jump. That is a direct flag, that’s a red flag showing you that’s a finger pointing directly to the fact that the physical posture of these people directly impacted their psychology. The courage associated with jumping off was afforded those that had deep respiratory waves and open bodies and the lack of courage, and you could say even fear stimulation in those that were hunched over, crouched down in that fetal position, was evident by the choice that they made when the whistle sounded. So, you can see right there, that is just one example of how not breathing deep, by having the neurotic holding patterns, and the musculature that is associated with the respiratory wave will not only look bad, because anybody with poor posture, it’s not attractive really. You’ll not only, also have a proclivity towards injury because all of your joints are not aligned, but you’re not going to proceed in life, with the courage that those three that jumped immediately did. You’re not going to have the character virtues associated with what is potentially in you. You know? Those three guys, if they put them in front of their respective bosses at work, that have been treating them poorly, or they’ve been wanting to ask a raise for, the three that were in poor posture, they’d be too scare. They would just tuck their tails back between their legs, and bow their head and do as they are told, while the other three are feeling pretty damn good themselves, they are feeling confident or courageous, they might tell their boss where to go, or ask for that raise, or they might approach that girl in the bar, or they might start that business venture, they are going to do the things that lead them forward in life because their bodies are positioned to allow them to do it.
Ben: It’s interesting because actually in the past few episodes of this podcast the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, we’ve been talking a lot about deep breathing, nasal breathing, rhythmic breathing and even focusing on proper breathing while you are whatever, cycling, running, lifting weights, that type of thing. And, it’s amazing how when you are aware of breath, how much differently you feel after you’ve finished a workout. And, I’ve even found when you don’t pay attention to breathing, you actually find yourself more in this fight-or-flight after workout, you know, where you’re not paying attention to your breathing, where you are just huffing and puffing in and out through your mouth versus this deep nasal focused breathing, deep in your kind belly. Whether you are riding a bike, or running up a hill, or lifting the weight of the ground you feel differently after the work out. You feel more like you’ve just finished a relaxing yoga session rather than like you’ve been running from a lion for the past hour.
Elliot: Yeah, I’d imagine and I do believe that the goal for us is to be able to proceed in our entire lives, throughout our entire lives with that feeling. I think that’s always available to us, it’s just a matter of re-patterning the way we breathe really and everything associated with it, in order to carry that with us.
Ben: Now, for people who are listening in, for whom, even stepping into weight room might kind of be intimidating right at first, aside from maybe surfing over to the weight training machine and doing a circuit or something like that, what would you say if you were to want to give somebody… and I know you’re not into targeted prescription, but just a general rule. If somebody were to walk into the weight room and just at least get started in getting stronger and taking advantage of some of these concepts that you talk about, what are some of the best moves that they could be choosing when they are trying to get started with this stuff?
Elliot: Well, the very first this is that my invitation is to exercise organically, and that means use the body as it’s been designed to be used. And if you tend to, like we all do, tend have a lot of muscular imbalance due to pattern overloads, sitting a lot, or participating in activities that create the muscular imbalances, my invitation would be to begin experimenting with movements that are completely contrary to that which you’ve been doing a lot of. So, if you have a tendency to always move in the sagittal plane because you’re running forward, that’s what sagittal plane really is, moving forward, and you’re running and you’re biking and you’re swimming, then I would invite you to do some lateral lunges, move laterally, move backwards, move in the transverse plane which basically means move sideways. Twist your body. I’ve seen the most rigid endurance athletes and newbies to the weight room because it’s a first time they are ever exercising, unable to fully twist around. You know you lay them on their backs with their arms out like a T, raise the legs up in the air, and basically just say, hey keep your arms down on the floor and lower legs to one side. And they try to do that, and their entire body flips over with it, there’s not rotational capacity, there’s no suppleness of the tissue throughout torso that allows a good rotation.
Just imagine how much you’re losing physiologically and, like we described, psychologically, with the inability to move laterally and in a transverse plane. Movement is what is essential, not necessarily the stimulation of more muscle or the muscular system, so much as your ability to move and, what Paul Chek calls primal pattern movements, you should be able to squat deep with your feet flat on the floor, you should be able to sit your butt down between your feet, because that’s one of the most important primal movements that a human being can produce. I mean up until the advent of the toilet bowl, this is how we took a s**t, we had to sit down to a hole. You should be able to do that, let’s say the toilet perhaps was invented a couple of hundred years ago, even if you say a thousand years ago it was invented, okay fine, but we’ve been here a lot longer that that. And we’ve been doing for a lot longer that all of a sudden now human being can’t do that and oh, by the way, we have to take all this medication for constipation, all of a sudden. All of a sudden, we’ve got all these bowel disorders and bowel issues. Just imagine the rigidity of the musculature associated with defecation, all the sphincters, the pelvic floor, how rigid and tight they are, and your ability to fully defecate to empty your bowels, we are totally going to be compromised! And so many people grow sick and there’s so many autoimmune diseases associated with people’s lack of ability to fully move their bowels. I invite people to instead of taking medication or getting a surgery, to squat. Sit down and soften the muscles associated with letting your poop out. It sounds strange, but what I’m trying to get you to rap your head around, is that what is happening muscularly, is going to affect you physiologically, and if you’re constipated, guess what? You’re not a happy person, so psychologically you are damaged because you’re not squatting, you see?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, it makes sense. So, by the way I have to ask you, do you use a Squatty Potty?
Elliot: No I actually just, there was just a time where I was just standing on the toilet.
Ben: Yeah, that’s actually what I do, when I’m at airports, when I’m travelling, when I’m at hotels, when I don’t have a Squatty Potty which I have in every bathroom in my home, I actually jump up on the toilet seat and squat, and that’s how I how I defecate when I’m travelling.
Elliot: That’s awesome, I got to get one of those. It’s funny when I first came across the ideas there was nothing available, there was no Squatty Potty, so I kind of abandoned the idea. I was like, I’m just going to have to stand and on the toilet and I got used to that for a little while… but yeah….
Ben: I have a few extra. I’ll have to get your address after the call, and I’ll shoot one over to you.
Elliot: Oh, great!
Ben: So, squatting positions, opening positions, so if somebody walks into the gym and they’re trying to just like, let’s say that somebody is sitting here listening her with a notepad, and they just want to go right now and do some of the best moves, what’s it going to look like in the weight room?
Elliot: You really don’t even need the weight room. Most people don’t really need to. Sit down and squat right now as you’re listening to this. You’ll notice weather or not this is something you need to do. You can, work up to 100 squats, ten at a time, I guarantee you, that’s going to be more of a workout that you’ll ever need with machines for leg extensions and leg curls.
My real invitation here is to recognize that you have everything you need already attached to you in order to exercise efficiently, unless you want to be a bodybuilder or a power lifter, that’s a totally different story. But really, just being able to squat down, to be able to lunge with your own body weight, most people can’t lunge properly, and that’s basically when you step forward and drop your back knee, most people collapse all over themselves just trying to lunge. Most people can’t bend properly at the hips can’t extend properly from the hips. Learn and practice how to bend down picking things up. Pushing, how many push ups you can do. Most people can’t do any push ups, and most people should begin with the opposite of push ups, with like inverted rows or chin ups, if you can’t do 10 chin ups, then forget about the circuit training machines at your gym. Go and learn how to do some pull ups.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of interesting how a lot of people do think you need a second to step in the gym for this kind of stuff, when, well for example, you know, I’ve taught clinics before, specifically for endurance athletes and triathletes, for we’ve got body weight circuits that we do, and it’s amazing how many movement deficits and movement disorders go on peoples bodies, just trying to do something like a lateral lunge for example or even a step back lunge or in some cases just a squat. So, yeah, it’s interesting.
So, Elliot you have so much information, I mean I could pick your brain forever on this stuff and you also did some great presentations on that SexyBack Summit where you really got into this the while concept of fertility and libido, and hormones, and a lot of what you talked about kinda stemmed from us being in that constant defensive position kind of teaching your body to open up. But, I know that you’ve got a lot of resources out there. If people want to learn more specifically about this whole concept of opening up your body, where’d be the best place for them to go, as far as resources you have out there?
Elliot: Well, I’ve made so many videos about this, and there’s only so much that I can offer through videos and great podcasts that you’re providing people. But, the very first thing that I’d do is invite you to explore some of the videos that I’ve offered people in order to break down and really feed you in a consumable way, the ideas of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen, they’re really the people that I studied the most with regard to what I call energetic strength. If you search YouTube and this is going to sound funny, but if you search “Elliot Hulse breathe into your balls” or “truth about deep breathing” you’ll find some of my videos where I’m actually offering you techniques and exercises and stretches that support you here. But, like I said also, if you’re really, really fascinated with these ideas, the core from which I received them are from Wilhelm Reich who’s a student of Sigmund Freud’s, who realized that talking to people doesn’t help. It’s not about what’s happening in their heads, it’s about what’s happening in their bodies. And, he really delved into the autonomic nervous system and how our psychology cannot be transformed until our body is transformed. And a student of his was also Alexander Lowen, and I really love Lowen’s work. But, what I’ve also done is I’ve taken some of the concepts that I’ve learned through them and also some of my mentors, who I see regularly, and I’m developing an advanced course, that I call Advanced Energetic Strength and that will be coming out probably in another month or so.
Ben: Cool, cool. Well if you shoot me an email when that comes out, I’ll put it up on Facebook page for listeners, and I got to tell you that I kind of thought we were going to talk today a lot about, dumbbells and barbells and how to press properly and deadlift form and all that stuff, but this whole conversation kind off ended up taking a turn towards what I think is a lot more useful information for folks from a starting standpoint because you can find some of that other stuff kind of a dime a dozen around the internet on whatever, T-nation or bodybuilding or wherever else. But, this whole concept of getting yourself out of that defensive position, opening your body, and also not getting stuck in those movements patterns that you’re comfortable with I think those are some of the big takeaways that we have for people and if you are listening and I’d encourage you to take this stuff to heart, and I’ll also put a link to some of Elliot resources: his YouTube channel, his website and everything, and the show notes of this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com so check it out if your listening in. Elliot, thanks so much for coming on the call today!
Elliot: Oh, it was great, it was a lot of fun Ben.
Ben: Alright, well cool, well folks this is Ben Greenfield and Elliot Hulse and we’re signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
In today's podcast interview with Elliot Hulse (the amazingly strong dude pictured above), you're going to discover how to get unstoppable strength for your body and mind – the type of strength that is the #1 key to performance, fertility, fat loss, endurance and more.
As an former college football MVP and currently a competitive Strongman, Elliott uses his real world experience and in-the-trenches knowledge to teach you how to unleash your true strength, speed and fitness potential while making your body and mind as strong as possible, and he spills all his secrets in this interview. Topics we discuss include:
-The truth about deep breathing and how to do it the right way…
-How to “breathe into your balls” and why it works, whether you're a man or a woman…
-The biggest mistakes most people make when they walk into a gym…
-Whether lifting heavy weights can help with fat loss, cardiovascular capacity or endurance…
-The best exercises to start with if you want to learn how to lift heavy weights…
-What's a sample workout routine if people want to get stronger and get these other benefits of lifting heavy without spending tons of time in the weight room?
Resources Elliot mentions during this episode: