Friday, February 03, 2006

It's Not a Matter of How Much -- but How Well

In conditioning, the critical concern should not be how much one does, but how well he does what he is doing -- and that elevates it to a transcendent and transformative possibility.

Practice is for the purpose of getting better -- and not worse, or just to stay the same.

Inattention to what one is doing, makes one do worse -- because one is not fully "there" with all one's faculties. So a conditioning practice that allows the mind to wander into some travel magazine or other distraction, fragments that focus -- and is obviously conditioning the body to do one thing while the mind is doing something else entirely.

The obvious result are the many people who think one thing -- but do something else entirely, and are not even aware of that. So whether they are truly getting better or worse, they do not know, because even the measurement, may not measure anything significant to measure.

All world champions do not go around obsessively checking their pulse to see how well they have done. The heart rate will adjust automatically (autonomically) to the demands of the effort. One need not command the heart to beat faster in response to the challenge; that is a given.

One has to focus all energies to that which is not automatic -- the critical factor that implies all the rest, and that makes a difference.

As the years go by, and even the staunchest proponents of the "burn more calories and use more heartbeats" age, they will increasingly discover that one of the great overriding concerns is the conservation of energy and decreasing recovery ability that is exhausted in any effort.

Any exercise and effort has that cost -- it drains recovery ability, the body's ability to recover from that effort and perhaps add capabilities for future exhaustion (failures). As much as homeostasis (maintaining the current status), another powerful imperative of the human body is to maintain a reserve for extra-ordinary efforts and challenges.

That is the directive given in exercising a muscle to momentary failure -- the present condition is not sufficient. The body has to adapt in increasing its base level capability, or fitness.

Momentary muscular failure is not to be confused with momentary cardiorespiratory failure -- as when happens when a weight is so heavy that it compresses the chest and makes even breathing difficult. Then the failure is not a muscle failure but the cardiorespiratory failure in not even being able to breathe effectively to enable the effort. Many people don't differentiate the two.

For that reason, a weight light enough to permit at least 25 repetitions is "light" enough not to produce that cardiorespiratory failure before the muscle failure. Ironically, most single or low-rep failures are NOT muscle failures but this failure to be able to breathe properly because just holding the weight compresses the chest overpoweringly. If one can breathe effectively, there is a good chance that the attempt will be successful.

Effective breathing will normally predispose and imply the overall success. Once the breathing falls out of sync and becomes difficult and labored, failure is imminent.

Thus, the effort should be timed to the breathing and not the activty forcing the breathing. Time-proven conditioning strategies place this understanding as the essential and critical focus of their activity.

As the breathing becomes deeper and more powerful (not faster and shallower), all other capabilities are enhanced to optimal functioning condition.


Post a Comment

<< Home