Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rhythmic Weight-training

Most people are familiar with “gymnastics” -- but much fewer people are aware of the newer form of “rhythmic gymnastics” -- which is a lot more aestethically pleasing, placing the greatest premium on hand-eye coordination above all else. One is not aware of the effort -- or the skill because the underlying objective, is to make it all seem effortless, and easy. But all the traditional underlying and supportive requirements for athletic performance and excellence are there.

Rather than their apparatus being the usual test of strength like the bars, vaults, and beams, they use hoops, ribbons and balls , which many traditionalists would claim as the reason for their immediate disqualification as a “real” athletic event, because the risk of great bodily harm with a miscalculation is not present -- as they think a true test of their athletic ability demands. Obviously this is the mindset that insists that today’s modern games should maintain the ancient reason for being ot these games for warlike purposes and conditioning -- and anything else is a waste of time and loss of purpose.

That might have been true if conditions remained that life was a daily struggle of each against everybody and everything else -- during one’s very short and brutal existence. But those are not the times and environment we live in -- which to optimize life now requires anyone to consider what kind of life they live and how they can optimize this life

Most people don’t have to haul "sixteen tons" of coal a day -- usually in a prematurely short life, dying of black lung disease. Or collapse dying after running a marathon. So an appropriate question is, “Fitness for what?”

I think the most intelligent answer to that question today, is to see how little one can do and still maintain progress and growth of a healthy human body. For many, that is thought to end as soon as one leaves high school, explaining that any lack of fitness is their “getting old” -- as soon as they leave their teen years. A few may even shake their heads approvingly in agreement -- as though the beginning of the end, commences as soon as there are not wardens to supervise and admonish them 24/7 to do the "right" things.

Maybe that was a requirement too, when most people were uneducated and didn’t know how to educate themselves. The lot of most people back then was simply to follow whatever orders they were given -- by somebody who presumably “knew better,” because they could speak in the secret language we recognize in every field as “the jargon” -- separating those who knew, from those who don’t.

Each field had their own experts -- and own rules, and never the twain should meet. But in a world of increasing exposure to many things, experience and existences begin to fall apart (disintegrate) without great unifying principles achieving integration of comprehension. Traditional weight-training has been distinctively brutish, aggravating and stressful -- without questioning the need to be that way. It can be one of the most graceful, effortless and extremely productive manners of conditioning because of its ability to create whatever movements one can imagine. The trick is to use as light a weight as possible to make the movement possible and easy -- rather than it is traditionally done, to make it onerous, difficult, dangerous and precarious, as a distinction of virtue.

The manner of using weights to move rhythmically, easily and effortlessly is so striking that most others, will stand around and watch because they’ve never seen anything like it before. The more they think about it, they will wonder why didn’t they think of it sooner?


At September 12, 2007 8:20 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Of course, this makes the greatest sense for all those for whom all other conventional exercises are objectionable, including walking. Walking is far from the universal best exercise because many people have trouble just in standing up, or walking for long periods of time. That is particularly characteristic of the elderly, disabled, and extremely weak -- and if walking is the minimal expectation of capability, many have to opt out with good cause.

However, one does not necessarily need to create resistance in order to characterize movement -- as is standard in most measurements of movement (production of power). It can be measured by movement without any resistance as even a more valid indicator of true capacity. The resistance may actually prevent any movement -- as when a load exceeds one's ability. That threshold could be extremely low for many others as to disqualify them from even making the attempt.

Great athletic champions (performers) do much more within the parameters of doing the same thing everybody else is doing. The champion dancer is not so because they do ten times as many dances as everybody else -- but within the same parameters of the one dance allowed all, display ranges of motion the others cannot even begin to imagine -- and if the judges are not fully capable of appreciating that, may even penalize such performers thinking they have broken all the rules when in fact, they have merely set new standards that violate their expectations of the limits of possible.

It happens mostly in those sporting events in which "judges" determine the quality of performances -- which works well when the judges' ability exceed the competitors. When freakish abilities present themselves, the usual initial response is to penalize those occurrences because they so violate one's sensibilities in exceeding the norms of expectations -- they instinctively feel that something must be wrong, though they are not sure what it is because they have never encountered such an occurrence before.

That thought may occur to many people witnessing rhythmic weight-training for the first time although they cannot help but be mesmerized by such a strange quality of effortless and even transcendental movement. It seems to be the movement of angels.

At September 14, 2007 4:35 AM, Blogger Ali la Loca said...

I used to do rhythmic gymnastics!

At September 14, 2007 9:58 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I wish there were more "sports" that had this premium of expression over risk of injury -- which seems to be the current fad of "extreme" sports, in which a large part of the objective seems to be to destroy one's body or one's apparatus.

Rhythmic weightlifting has been around for a long time as seen in the strongman acts of the Moscow Circus etc. and Cirque Soleil is moving in that direction, where you see exhibitions of greaceful, effortless strength.

The typical American demonstration of strength (power), is for a guy to break boards, break ice, bluw up a hot water bottle, rip a telephone book -- all destructive rather than useful, creative, constructive.

Strength, power and beauty is also how one manifests and demonstrates (exhibits) it -- and that is also expressed in the appearance of that body (form follows function).

One can tell that in all the expressions; many people express themselves in words as though they were battering everybody else with a blunt instrument hoping to pound some sense into everybody else's heads. That's not what a computer (word processor) is for.

Of course I'm mainly referring to those crude and insensitive types who have to rely on political correctness manuals who are found in every newspaper editorial triple-side LaZyBoy with rage and resentment transfixed on their faces.

At September 14, 2007 11:03 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

For those who demand "effort" as their barometer of doing something, the way to do it in weightlifting/weight=training is to do at least 25 repetitions of a movement, whereupon it becomes increasingly more difficult with each subsequent repetition -- but using light weights, can be done relatively safely.

The problem with most advice on weight-training is to limit the repetitions to 8-10 "or one is using too light a weight to get the benefits" -- while in fact, such a low number of possible repetitions increase the risk of injury greatly but allowing little chance of obtaining maximum "pump" -- unless one is consciously restricting the flow back towards the heart, by maintaining constriction rather than maximizing flow in effecting a maximum contraction alternated with a maximum relaxation.

One is the natural pump of increasing the flow while the common usage in low-repetition, heavy-weight training is to produce that pump (failure) by restricting the flow back to the heart because of increasing constriction (contraction) produced by maximum effort under duress. The style produces "failure" -- not only of the individual muscle being worked, but of the entire system.

Low-rep muscle failure is usually not true muscle failure but a failure of cardiovascular and even skeletal/connective tissue failure. Doing 25 repetitions or more ensures that the wieght is not too heavy for those failures to occur prior to the muscle targeted to receive maximum flow.

On the other hand, there is little advantage in doing more than 50 repetitions -- because one has established the proper cadence for prolonging that activity indefinitely.

One does not need to use heavy weights for the weights to feel heavy. The ideal number of repetitions would be 25-50 -- to achieve 90% of the benefits. I no longer advise people on the 90% of effort to achieve the remaining 10% increases in results. I'm interested in the 10% of effort that garners the 90% of results.

In most of what one does in life, this same truism seems to hold. What is the 10% that gets one 90% of the benefits -- because there is no absolute certainty yet that is what most debates and controversies are over -- 10, or even 1% -- while the world falls to pieces all around them.

If one has a lifetime sinecure in which productivity or anything else does not matter, then one can undoubtedly consume one's life in that manner arguing over the minutia that in the large picture, doesn't make a difference and constitutes a waste of time.

The five minute daily workout, is the 10% that returns 90% of the benefits of a conditioning program. Rhythmic weight-training once a week would address the remaining 10%, yet give one the appearsnce and impression of one who must always exercise because those are the results possible with a state-of-the-art, exercise/conditioning program.

Eventually, it is the ONLY program that can/will be done. It was developed with the needs of the most disable, weakest, even terminal persons in mind -- but those principles also work in world-class athletes also -- but not the conventional thinking that what works for the world champion works for everybody else -- because that individual is obviously an exceptional person. You can't take the exception and extrapolate that to the general population -- but you can take what works for even the most hopeless individual, and it will also be true for the world champion also.

So the conditioning paradigm promoted by the physical education experts, as one would predict, is 180 degrees backasswards. Which is about par for most mass (public) education. That doesn't seem to deter them though; they're just there to pick up their paycheck -- doing and understanding as little as possible.

At September 14, 2007 11:12 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I did not say that what DOESN'T work for the weakest will work for the world champion -- as one is likely to be misconstrued today -- so poor are most people critical reading and comprehension skills are (liberal and professional) studies.

I only said what I actually said -- and not what journalists would like to twist, distort and manipulate it to mean in propagating IGNORANCE as the News. What is important is not the opinions about the facts, but actually knowing how to determine a fact.

At September 15, 2007 9:48 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

A lot people get rich exploiting the problems of other people, and for many, they have no qualms about perpetuating that condition. That is their job security -- the problems of the world. No where is this more true than in the health care professions -- in which the system needs a steady stream of patients. Schools require students ignorant of what they have to offer -- even if they have to perpetuate that ignorance themselves. The most familiar exploiter of needs and dysfunctions is the mass media that creates incessant and unrelenting needs as an essential part of one's personalities, so that people are always in these quandaries of desiring MORE regardless of how much they already have.

Of course a few people legitimately don't have enough -- and those few are exploited so that those with plenty already, can get much more. The guy at the bottom gets his 10% increase but the guy at the top gets his 10% increase that is equal to the bottom guy's 100% -- rather than addressing the essential problem of the unfairness.

But the real equalizer is information -- and how that is controlled and suppressed in this and every other authoritarian society. With good, useful information, 90% of the problems disappear -- but people have to value that above their perennial advantage in transactions and exchanges.

With that primitive mindset, the ideal is not an exchange of fair value for fair value, but to get an unfair advantage, and ultimately, get something for nothing.

At September 17, 2007 6:57 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The answer should be obvious:

"Six out of 10 Britons would rather die than exercise"

Exercise doesn't have to be designed to be what people don't want to do. It can be just as easily designed to be something people do want to do -- that makes good sense and immediately allows them to feel better -- and not just the promised, "you will feel better when you stop," which intelligent people will recognize not to begin.

Our cultural conditioning is loading with such traps, deceptions and manipulations so that people just avoid the whole sphere of activity rather than get coerced into accepting what they instinctively recognize not to be true.

Exercise doesn't have to be that way. That's why making an exercise rhythmic seems to be one of the requirements for making an activity (exercise) enjoyable -- as dance and music tend to be. it's not that one has to crank up the volume to ear-splitting levels to get the heart-pumping and produce a fight or flight response.

The body has its own flow and rhythms -- even without the music. The cadence is important in every repetitious movement -- so that one develops a strategy for personal resource management. One of the essential requirements therefore, must be that a movement be prolonged enough activate those considerations of body efficiencies -- which then, is the integration of mind and body in engaging any task.

This is an important lesson in life as one is happier and more effective when all their faculties are engaged in asingle focused task and objective -- rather than indifferently and begrudgingly doing one thing while the mind drifts to pleasant thoughts of what it would rather be doing.

Such fragmentation and disintegration of doing and thinking, is destructive -- pitting mind against body rather than the recognition that mind is body. The muscles are part of one's brain.

That is called body sense or body intelligence -- so that every part of one's being responds and solves a problem, and not just a brain disconnected from the body. How we envision the being greatly determines its responsiveness and fitness. Healthy people are smarter -- for obvious reasons, and not in spite of their optimal functioning.


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