Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Moving in the Right Direction

Most of the exercise movements, as well as apparatus, are designed to move in the range of hyper-extension rather than hyper-contraction, and it is this latter range, that produces a very powerful circulatory boost -- removing toxins otherwise stagnant in the tissues, and allowing fresh nutrients in, because of that removal.

That is the whole meaning and purpose of the circulatory function -- and not merely working the heart as hard and as fast as it can, and having no idea why. The circulatory system is a system, with every part of it, playing its own essential role -- that can be enhanced to its optimal effect, and not merely overworking its strongest link. It’s the weakest link that breaks down -- and needs to be addressed.

In most cases, what is monitored and measured, is that which is simply the easiest thing to measure, rather than what is most significant to measure. In earlier times, that was simply seeing the most weight one could lift; then people selling measuring devices, realized heart monitors were an untapped gold mine, and convinced everyone they had to have one -- presumably to obtain that vital feedback they’d have no idea of otherwise.

So that became a compulsion -- along with poundages lifted in the bench press -- as though those were indicative of anything. Most talented athletes don’t monitor their heartbeats as a priority in whatever they are attempting to do; it is implied in the attainment of whatever is their focused objective. Heart rate and breathing, are what they have to be -- to enable and empower the greater effort, and are not ends in themselves, as that school of fitness promoted, as though fitness was an end in itself, without an actual focused objective -- like IQ that can only be measured, but never actually manifested, demonstrated and observed in actuality.

That is all nonsense.

So the range of movement that is most meaningful and useful to develop, is the range that is not performed by most exercise movements and machines -- because such machines would be difficult, if not impossible to build.

A good example is the performance of the barbell curl, which is lifting a weight by bending the arm and bringing it up to the shoulder. That is the usual range of the exercise to develop the biceps -- however one will note, that at this top position, the biceps is not really contracted fully but can actually be relaxed -- yet hold that position indefinitely.

However, when that bent arm is then rotated so that the elbow moves towards the ceiling, an unmistakable greater contraction takes place that seems ten times as powerful as the contraction thought to be completed by the simple bending of the arm -- even without holding a weight or providing any resistance.

The movement itself is a powerful muscular contraction -- that the former movement, usually performed, seems now, obviously not a significant contraction at all. That is the reason most exercises are relatively ineffective -- while just a few of these really powerful contractions that even most “fitness buffs” are unfamiliar with, have a very powerful and instantaneous transformative effect that can not be believed by those who have never moved in this range.

And it doesn’t matter how much they have moved in the less effective range -- that doesn’t shape their body in this very effective manner, because as copious as they have been, it is movement in the wrong direction (range).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Positive Approach to Exercise (Life)

Recently, I had a whim to observe and participate in a “senior” exercise class, and later in the day and more severely in the next, I noticed I had pulled a muscle just in doing one of those innocuous “senior”-friendly movements.

On relaying that information to one of the regular participants, his reflexive reaction was that it was because I didn’t do those movements regularly -- as the reason for my slight injury, without considering for the moment, that such a movement causes an injury, in an otherwise fit and extremely flexible person.

The most obvious culprit, was the directive to touch one’s toes before swinging one’s hands overhead -- which immediately puts one in an injurious position that one would never be in ordinarily, because of the risk of injury. It would not be the proper beginning position to do any lifting (or any other work).

If one gets into such an extended hyper-stretch, one should especially not explode out of it into another position, but such a hyper-range is harmless if there is no violent movement (contraction) out of it. That is the proper role of such stretching movements -- to fully relax, and further relax -- and NOT bounce dynamically out of it, because when the muscles are greatly relaxed (hyperextended), it offers no additional support and strength to the structures, which is a great part of the function of muscles, even beyond providing movement. (Hyperextension is not to be confused with simply being relaxed -- which is about halfway between hyperextension -- yet that is precisely the range in which most exercise machines enable/measure movement!)

Most people are not aware of this supporting function of muscles because the only emphasis is placed on the action to provide movement in an easily visible and measurable manner. That’s why it often mystifies people that an adept of many Eastern physical culture practices can seem to do something, while apparently not doing anything. All the action is within the body -- as opposed to being obvious and easily visible externally. That is true whether there is external work being produced, or merely, internal “work” -- but it is this internal work that builds the body, and not the external movement of weights, balls and other trajectories.

When people are clear on this, maintaining and ensuring the health and well-being of the body and its functioning, is really quite simple and easy to effect. It is the confusion and diversion to the importance of the external movement and its measurement that becomes counterproductive to one’s efforts. Therefore, much of what one may do to maintain their health, is the source of their injuries and problems.

If I did not do the swinging toe touches, I would not have such an injury (and that should be a requirement in the design of proper movement), rather than the unwitting insightful observation, that the reason I did have an injury, was “because I didn’t do it regularly.”

With proper exercise, the risk of injury should rightfully be reduced to zero -- rather than increasing. Many conditioned in the mentality of punishing their bodies and selves for the proper motivation and effort, do nothing else until their bodies “give-up,” and declare “no more,” and one retires to a life of complete avoidance of all productive activity and the all-too-telling “human blimp” appearance.

That is easily avoidable by understanding proper conditioning techniques -- rather than working against that understanding -- even under the personal supervision of "certified" trainers.