Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advanced Routines: Doing Less -- Better

After one is familiar with the possibilities of the range of movement they do not articulate now from day to day because of the decreased needs for such movements in contemporary living, and do articulate them a certain number of times each day as the necessary requirement for maintaining and even enhancing that range, a few adept and enthusiastic trainees wonder if there is anything “more” they can do.

Rather than suggesting the “more” one expects to hear in terms of increased repetitions or resistance, the greater progression is achieved by actually doing less -- better. That is, instead of doing that range of movement for 50 repetitions, what is now suggested is that one REDUCE the number of repetitions -- but at the extremes of the range, hold that position for a second longer -- so that while the fullest range has already been achieved, further contraction continues with no discernible additional movement.

But at such extremes of the range of movement, the natural resistance to further muscle contraction, increases the effort needed merely to maintain that position -- for a moment longer. This is the obvious disconnect that a machine that measures or requires movement, will therefore fail to be meaningful -- but the awareness of this possibility, increases that intensity of effort dramatically and productively, even beyond the action of the heart to instruct.

This is the realm of possibility that the heart muscle does not have -- this ability to pause at the extremes -- because it must move from one extreme to another unfailingly. That is the singularly reliable movement and work of the heart -- while the skeletal/voluntary muscles have the capacity and luxury of determining the range as well as the pace -- at will.

For that reason, the heart rate is usually used as the measure of circulation when actually, no such consequences are implied, or even necessary. That was apparent 40 years ago when isometric exercises became an overnight rage and was as quickly abandoned -- because when all the muscles are maintained in a prolonged period of contraction -- circulation virtually stops while the heart rate increases dangerously.

The mistaken parameter of measurement, and its undoing as a valuable conditioning model, was that the exertion was measured by the length of time that maximum contraction could be maintained -- rather than just momentarily and safely for a second.

That natural instinct and pace for most unconditioned movement, is not to pause at all, but to immediately move in the other direction as soon as the most extreme range is attained and using that resistance to rebound in the other direction. When such momentum is eliminated, the amount of effort (work) required to move to extremes and hold them for even one second, increases geometrically, which one notices, increases the intensity of that contraction noticeably -- and one may become aware of this sensation for the first time, beginning with this one second pause -- and movement in and out of it.

The original suggestion in isometrics was holding the contracted position from 3-5 seconds, which because of the competitive impulse to do “more,” in the wrong parameters -- became 6-10, and then 12-20, and then many passed out before suffering too damaging effects.

A one-second pause seems to be well within the range that can be maintained safely and productively for virtually everyone, while eliminating the rebound effect -- to make such movement, immeasurably “better.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The State of the Art Today

People familiar with my videos from around 15 years ago, wonder if I’ve done anything “new” lately, and though I’ve thought about an update from time to time, it would not be a significant upgrade from those insights -- that the critical focal points of movement, are at the furthest extremities, which are the notable markers of vitality in people, that is readily apparent both in the functioning, as well as the appearance of responsiveness.

I’ve even gone so far as to propose that if one does nothing else, a minute of full range head movement, probably makes the largest difference in what one can do to immediately and instantaneously effect a dramatic change in one’s functioning (fitness) -- and particularly for those who have difficulty either getting out of bed, and thinking/functioning well immediately upon awakening. It is even suggested that the head-turning movement can be done before even getting out of bed.

Once one is up, and is inspired to further ensure, their functioning at all the other extremities, I suggested 5 exercises would be necessary to further ensure that the three extremities of the head, hands and feet, would be addressed in their fullest range of direction approximating 90 degrees in each movement.

The one-minute workout ensures one optimizes their present functioning capacity, while the five-minute additional will be enough to improve continually at 1%. However, there are those to whom, 1% of steady, lifetime improvement is not enough, and they demand more -- even sometimes, vowing to do whatever is necessary to obtain the fastest results -- which cannot be sustained at those drastic levels of improvement for very long, or indefinitely.

That is well recognized by those at the highest levels of those achievements because any organism doesn’t have unlimited capacity for improvement, and change, and in fact, will then run into every organism’s innate desire to maintain and consolidate itself at whatever level it presently is. Real change requires a tremendous adaptation and drain of resources to meet even once -- let alone try to attain permanently.

But that little bit of change is absolutely necessary to retaining and maintaining one’s vitality and vibrancy -- the management of which, is called “recovery ability,” or the frequency and intensity at which one can tolerate very significant shocks to the present system before actually breaking down beyond recovery. Obviously, this is not a factor for those who seldom if ever, pose this kind of stimulus to their being and becoming -- but those at the extremes of experience, are very aware of this relationship and balance.

This constant challenge and exhaustion, often requires those who train at such levels to take frequent breaks from their training -- and many unfortunately never come back, and avoid all exercise and conditioning activities because they are so conditioned to thinking that it has to be so draining in order to be effective.

Thus, the question is, what level of improvement can be sustained maximally, pretty nearly indefinitely. That improvement rate is somewhere between 1-10% -- which can be achieved by simply adding two further movements, to the six I’ve described previously, as improving at a sustainable lifelong rate of 1% -- and upping it to a tolerable 10%, providing more rapid gains, while still being able to be done daily.

Anything of higher intensity, cannot be sustained at a daily frequency -- or there will be the familiar burnout, which makes cessation inevitable.

Those two additional movements are simply to raise ones one’s arms from the sides directly overhead, while flexing the wrists at the top, to effect the contraction that provides the resistance all the way down the arms and particularly to the deltoids and developing those muscle structures of the shoulders that are generally not effected by contemporary urban living, which causes the familiar lack of development in most.

The other movement that would bring one up to the maximum sustainable level of daily improvement, would be the opposite of the “back exercise” in which one begins looking at one’s toes and ends looking at the ceiling, while moving one’s bent elbows backward and towards one another, while rotating the writs palmward. That is to say, the focus of the movement would be beginning looking at the ceiling, and then rotating the head downward so the one ends looking at one’s toes -- while straightening the arms and rotating at the wrist towards the knuckles, and pressing the shoulders down, and noting the air evacuating the lungs steadily through the nostrils.

Those two additional movements, are largely responsible for giving one the bodybuilder’s look of overly developed shoulders and hardened, chiseled adominals. For most people, except those interested in actually competing in bodybuilding (physique) contests, will be all they have to do to look like bodybuilders who spend their entire waking moments obsessing about such things -- with the least amount of time and effort.