When I was younger and my testosterone levels were higher, I kamikazed my way through gym workouts, writes Jim Gerard.

Come pulled muscles, fatigue, or flu, I stuck to my split-routine regimen, methodically cranking out each set, mindless of any distress signals my body was desperately flashing. The results, of course, were overtraining, injury, and - often - disenchantment.

From The Body Sculpting Bible For Men
Hatherleigh Press February 2002. Order details here
These days, I might walk into the gym, climb onto a recumbent bike and, after a few seconds, sense that the revolutions are over and that I should eschew cardio. Or when doing a military press, I'll feel a slight twinge in my war-weary deltoids and adjust my form to something less orthodox. Once in a while, I'll even wake up and just feel that the day would be better spent curled up with a good book instead of a set of dumbbells.

My new training philosophy keeps me injury free, and it's boosted my energy without sacrificing size, tone, or conditioning. It's based on one key concept: Listening to my intuition.


Web 10 defines intuition as "quick and ready insight," the power to secure knowledge directly, without rational thought.Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz, physician, medical intuitive, and author of Awakening Intuition (Three Rivers Press), says, "Intuition is a product of our brains, bodies, and dreams -- the capacity to make correct decisions with insufficient information."

In the sporting arena, intuition can manifest as a near-mystical awareness of the positioning of teammates and opponents. (Think: David Beckham making a no-look pass.) Or, Schultz claims, it can be an intensified perception that borders on the clairvoyant. "For example, Hockey player Wayne Gretzky sees in his mind's eye what's going to happen before the game even starts. He's always in the right place at the right time. Many world-class athletes are like this, as are great doctors and other notable people."

Lynn Robinson, a motivational speaker and author of Divine Intuition: Your Guide to Creating a Life You Love (DK Publishing), says, "If you're human, you have intuition," but adds that each of us gets it in a predominantly different way. We just have to discover how it's wired in our brain. "It could be a gut feeling, bodily sensation, emotion, sound, fleeting symbolic image, or dream. It can also come through words. Your body may tell you, 'This exercise is not good for you,' or 'Stop your workout now.'" (Tip: That voice that urges you to "Take the class with that blonde guy who's got pecs to die for" is not your intuition.)

Although intuition is often relegated to the New Age bin with the rune-throwing alien-contactors, Schultz insists it has a scientific basis: "It's a product of our brain's connection to our body. The brain's orbital frontal area and temporal lobe combine all the senses to give us that sense of inner knowing." And it has a historical pedigree, adds Schultz: It was part of the curriculum of ancient Greek medical schools.


Most people acknowledge the existence of intuition, but not everyone knows how to tap its wisdom or put it into practice. Douglas Brooks, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer based in northern California, claims that "Intuition has to do with common sense and listening to your body, yet it's the hardest message to communicate to clients."

All too often, intuition only comes with age and experience. When you're young or beginning an exercise program, you may not be attuned to your intuitive wavelength. Michael Bahrkey, an acquisitions editor in the scientific division of Human Kinetics Publishing, says, "I don't think people listen to their bodies on a formal basis, especially when they first start exercising." And yet, Bahrkey says, studies of marathon runners showed that those who did pay attention to bodily hints (such as changes in breathing) performed better than those who tried to talk away (or otherwise ignore) pain and fatigue.





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