Monday, April 25, 2011

Exercise Doesn't Have to Be Hard, Difficult or Painful

There's never been a requirement that "exercise" has to be hard, difficult or painful, except some instructors think so -- but that thinking, doesn't make it so.

Those requirements are the main reasons, people don't avail themselves of healthy exercise (movements) -- because they've been convinced they have to be hard, difficult or painful, which far outweighs the promised benefits that are seldom forthcoming, and so rightfully, people choose to not do them because the benefits to cost, are not there, and simply get worse with their adherence.

Not surprisingly then, those who could benefit most from even the most minimal of efforts and focus on such matters, avoid them completely -- which is conditioning of a sort we call negative -- or the avoidance of it. And while one can get by for periods of time where it doesn't seem to matter or make a great difference, there eventually comes a time, in which it makes a critical difference in their quality of life -- and seals their fate, for what has increasingly become a major portion of their lives -- because they have shut out from further consideration, the critical path that all of life has evolved to.

That is the categorical imperative to improve or to perish -- which is neither hard, difficult or painful, but has the momentum of billions of years of evolution to make it the natural course of things -- unless we deliberately choose to choose to go against it and override it, which is not unlike a lot of conditioning programs advising one to fight against gravity, time, or the natural flow of events unfolding -- we know as the painful and exhausting struggle against our environment, as though we have to fight and overcome that, rather than appreciating and acknowledging it as the very sustenance of our lives.

So we have to understand what those principles are -- even if we choose to overcome and override them -- as though they were one's mortal enemies, but in the understanding, should invariably come to realize they are the very foundations of our survival.

The ancients call this the flow even before they had discovered such concepts as "oxygen," the circulatory system, and neuromuscular functioning. It was invariably about how to maximize that flow, and not how to stop it -- thinking that by that strategy, they could make it stronger, rather than produce disastrous effects and consequences.

In this, thought could be as effective a limitation as actual physical constraints -- much like the belief that one could not sail far without falling off the earth, even though people had practically been doing so for ages. But those who placed themselves in charge at systematizing the wisdom of the ages, mistook the thought for the reality, and preferred the error as proof of their dominion over nature. And many used to being told what to think as the truth, believed it because they were never instructed in how to discover the truth of any matter for themselves -- which of course, is the scientific method -- rather than simply relying on unquestioning authority and their hierarchies and bureaucracies that have become the powerful institutions of the times.

That is the meaningful science and experience of our lives and realities -- and not just the "correctness" we must all believe, because it is very profitable for the existing status quo to continue. So not surprisingly, one must be conditioned to believe, that the correct path, must be hard, difficult and painful -- rather than easy, obvious, and liberating from all those preconditions of how things have to be.

But once one breaks through those barriers of conditioned limitations, one realizes that the evolutionary bias is towards success and not failure -- which is the reason why things happen. That is very different from what we often want to happen -- or think is happening, because we simply accept what we have been told to believe, and never considered anything else -- especially preposterous notions that exercise doesn't have to be all or any of those things we've been conditioned to believe they have to be.

People don't have to raise their heart rate, sweat, burn a lot of calories, inflict pain upon themselves, get into awkward and uncomfortable positions, buy any apparatus or memberships, or continue to do anything which is not immediately and obviously productive and healthful. You don't don't have to buy into any belief system -- that the hard, difficult and painful is "good" for you, because somebody else knows better what is best for you -- because they presume to know and have been "certified" so -- as though that commercial enterprise was enough to make them authentic.

Many don't care if anything is authentic because they think everything is phony or merely one entertainment over another. They have become so disconnected from any reality, that they scarcely begin to know how to differentiate reality from the commercial message -- having long since been overwhelmed by the promoted messages over any of their own efforts to find out the truth of any matter. Such people are very vulnerable to whatever is promoted to them because they never learned anything else but the consensus as the reality -- and so are so easily manipulated and deceived by those they trust so willingly, and refuse anything else, any alternative explanation.

That is the presumption and error of "knowledge" -- thinking one knows, even if it makes no sense in one's actual experiences and life, and to one's advantage and benefit.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Articulation and Expression (Body Language)

The current emphasis on developing the "core" muscles of the body -- develops that which is not (less) necessary to do, while ignoring and dismissing the obvious (glaring) needs of the diminishing (failing) functioning at the vital organs (muscles) of the body, that uniquely manifests the expressions and capabilities of that individual -- which are the articulations and range of movement of the extremities of the head (face and neck), hands and feet -- that gives meaning to the vital connection of hand-eye coordination.

Glute-eye, or even abdominal-eye coordination, has no real-world meaning, because a movement or gesture only becomes meaningful when it is articulated and expressed at the head (face), hands and/or feet -- and not as a gluteus maximus contraction, or "pec bounce." Such movements are entirely contrived -- although it is possible to create any movement and give it great significance -- when it is merely arbitrary to do so.

In the case for "core" development, the rationale is that they are the largest muscles of the body, and so by exercising them, that will ensure the maximum energy expenditure -- rather than the least, or greatest economy and efficiency of movement -- which the masters of every movement and activity, signifies their greatest achievement. Who can do the most -- with the least "apparent" effort -- and not who seems to struggle the most (mightily), just to do the simplest things, or even anything at all. That would not be a pleasing performance to witness.

This is particularly important as one experiences diminishing capabilities and reserves -- necessitating the greatest economies of effort, as would be the case in recovering from life threatening illness, injuries, or circumstances -- that would convey their actual fitness, and not merely exhausting themselves purposelessly at every opportunity. That will not help in conditioning oneself to better overcome the challenges they might face at those moments that determine whether they go on, or life ceases, or goes into irreversible and irrecoverable decline.

For those who have traveled in countries in which a different language is used, "body language" then becomes one's major skill at communications -- including and especially, denoting one's awareness and alertness to an (unfamiliar) environment. We see that most importantly in just passing -- that some are oblivious to everyone and everything else, while others convey a sense of knowing what everybody is doing -- and also respond appropriately.

In sports and performances, that is described as "being in the zone" -- or the largest consciousness and awareness of what is going on -- as though they were actually dictating that reality, and not just being a part, or worse, a victim of what is going on. We call them, "those who make things happen."

But how does that awareness arise, and is determined? It is from our sensory inputs -- located at our head, hands and feet (balance). So not to tend to them as the most important objective of that which is most valuable to maintain and improve -- while diverting those energies and focus to one's glutes (posterior), seems one of the great misplacements of that which is most productive to do -- in favor of that which is really designed and intended not for fine, discriminatory movements, but for support and anchorage to the actual movements of significance, articulation and expression -- which we know as art, music, dance, athletics, writing, thought and all the rest we recognize as a life of great achievement and responsiveness (aliveness).

Again, that is particularly important as people lose that responsiveness with age, and for many, who never fully developed them in the first place -- never thought it was necessary to do so, and instead, thought it more important and meaningful, to know how much weight they could lift with their glutes, or even, leg biceps, which I don't know of any other real application when it would be advantageous to do so.

So what do we want to become good at, and which is most important for humans to do? That would be to communicate as effectively with all the others in the world as possible -- through those faculties we have honed to do so. It is not the treadmill, with a look of disdain and boredom for being compelled to do so -- and not even being allowed to question, "why?"

That is just the old "physical education" of doing what the "teacher" demands, and if not, one will have to do twice as much. That is the price one often pays for letting another do all one's thinking for them -- and never dare to ask, "Might there be another way -- that makes more sense, and is about sharpening those senses, sensitivities and sensibilities -- so that they never abandon us, especially in the times of our greatest needs?

That would be a meaningful sense of "fitness," and a worthwhile conditioning for whatever life brings.

Friday, April 08, 2011

You Don't Need to Stretch, You Just Need to Relax

There is a key concept which most people who "teach" and talk about exercise, need to be familiar with, which is poorly understood, if any attempt at understanding is made at all.

And that is the lesson made by the muscle that always has to function unfailingly and automatically correctly, which of course, is the action of the heart, that alternates a full contraction with a full relaxation (and nothing else is possible), and thus produces the life-sustaining pumping effect. Skeletal (voluntary) muscles that mimic that action, also produce a pumping effect -- that then aids the heart in optimizing the circulation to those areas open and closed in such a manner.

But if one maintains a constant and prolonged state of contraction OR relaxation. that will minimize the flow, resulting in an "anaerobic" condition, because blood is the carrier of the oxygen -- but if one prevents the flow, or doesn't maximize it during exercise (exertion), those areas become anaerobic (without oxygen), which means the muscle must fail, because the nerves effecting it, require oxygen to function -- just as the brain does, and the activity must cease because critical levels of maintenance are breached.

That was the whole rationale for advocating that exercise be "aerobic" (with oxygen) -- so that it could be maintained, because the optimization of the circulatory efficiency, increases one's performance and momentary abilities to continue and improve -- rather than cause them to deteriorate and fail prematurely, just when one might need them the most -- which of course, would not have much survival value, or fitness.

So the critical understanding is, how does one produce this alternation of fullest contraction with fullest relaxation -- of any, and especially all the muscles acting in a coordinated and integrated effort to produce maximum power (focus) in a single action (movement) -- whether that be throwing a shot put, rowing a boat, or simply, "making a muscle" (getting into a desirable shape).

The objective in all those activities, is to achieve the greatest economy and efficiency of movement possible, which is in observation of the great principle of the conservation of energy, while maximizing it when recognizing the right moment to do so -- and not just leaking energy indiscriminately at every opportunity to do so -- at arbitrary and random moments, which are more likely to be a degenerative, rather than desired condition and abilities.

This kind of mastery of one's movements, gives one a greater control and sense of control in one's life -- so that there is not an increasing sense of despair in their abilities to do anything, or make a difference, that eventually becomes a dominant theme in one's life -- that one excuses as "getting old" -- even just getting out of high school. Then of course, everything is downhill from there.

But it's even simpler than that, because all one has to do is understand what produces a maximum, and full contraction in a muscle, or/and every muscle, and what is not that, is the relaxation. So one is either moving towards a fuller contraction, or by default, one isn't.

This is a critical understanding -- as when I first introduced the idea that in cardiopulmonary resuscitation -- pumping air out of the chest cavity is all one needed to do to effect breathing, because then, the atmospheric pressure will automatically (re)fill the lungs -- as I would demonstrate on my self-inflating Thermarest air mattress. That's why the previous version of resuscitation efforts were effective also -- until replaced by the CPR and mouth-to-mouth breathing as two distinct efforts rather than the one of pressing down and lifting up the arms to expand the chest volume -- alternately.

Because once the initial rush of air has already refilled the emptied (compressed) lungs, there is little advantage to blowing more air in -- which is what one is doing, as soon as the pressure is released from the chest. The important part of breathing is not breathing in, as it is usually taught, but breathing out as fully and completely as possible (through the nose designed for it), and in the relaxation from that effort, air automatically enters the lungs -- that have been evacuated of the "old" air. But no amount of inhalations, will cause the old air, to leave the body -- first, as the precondition for filling the lungs with new, "fresh" air.

That is economy and efficiency of movement -- through a better understanding of the process. Lacking that understanding, the effort is misplaced -- to doing what doesn't need to be done, while ignoring what would make a significant difference.

Stretching a muscle, makes the lengthening of the muscle the effort -- rather than its contraction, and the cessation of that effort (movement), is the relaxation, but not vice-versa. Most exercise instructors and kinesiologists are unfamiliar with what produces a full muscle contraction -- thinking that it is the resistance (load) that makes it so, rather than that
it is the movement itself into its greatest contraction, that produces the most resistance against further contraction.

Bodybuilders usually get half of it right. Their unique problem is that they do not allow their muscles to relax alternately but maintain a constant tension (contraction) that impedes the flow (back to the heart), and thus engorges a muscle until it ultimately must fail because of this anaerobic condition.

But usually before they achieve that condition, the constant neck constriction accompanying their efforts, will reduce the (blood)flow to the brain, causing the cessation of all effort -- until at least normal operating conditions are restored (rest and recovery).

This is the reason that a new fad of "accentuating the negative" (relaxation) phase doubly hard as the contraction -- makes no sense at all, as a productive and healthful training strategy -- designed as it is, to ensure and speed muscle and system failure -- by eliminating any opportunity for relaxation.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Conventional Exercise Doesn't Make One Stronger -- They Merely Eliminate the Weak

The major problem with using a competitive model as the prototype or paradigm for achieving one's greatest fitness (capabilities, health), is that the intention of the competitive paradigm, is not to make the weak strong, but simply to eliminate the weak from further participation. That is the whole purpose of competitive athletics -- to determine who is the strongest (most suited to that activity), and not to make the weak, strong, or stronger. That is the very reason, the weakest drop out, are eliminated, or are injured, and are discouraged from further participation.

Many of those dropouts however, do go on to make themselves stronger -- to understand and overcome their weakness, but premature competition, would discourage rather than aid them in the process, at that vulnerable stage. So it is not surprising that many who who do go on, choose not to reveal themselves as the ultimate prodigies, and even go into s
eclusion and under cover, not to reveal their activities, intentions, and current capabilities, so that they can singlemindedly focus on finding a way to overcome their weaknesses and/or handicaps.

That is not unsurprisingly, how many get into "bodybuilding," of which the "before" and "after" transformations, are legendary. Often ignored however, are those who are so naturally gifted in this way, that they have the ability to effect this dramatic transformation, "instantly," first because they have the genetic disposition to, but also because they learn how to maximize that effect. Such individuals can therefore effect a this striking "before" and "after" transformation, in a single workout -- and that quality, distinguishes a champion bodybuilder, much more than their comparisons before they "pump" up.

In fact, many will deny that there is a difference between their before and after conditions -- to maintain the general public's illusion that they are "always," or "naturally" that way -- rather than it is an intentional objective. The lesson of the bodybuilders, should not be discounted because this is so, but should rather be encouraging for anyone wishing to "get in shape" -- that it is to a great extent a learned (conditioned) skill, and not a permanent condition of the body. One can immediately get into shape, if one learns to do so -- because that's what muscles do, change its shape -- depending on one's understanding and mastery of that control.

Thus, one of the pioneers of "scientific/medical" exercise machines, Arthur Jones, observed, even the best shaped people, were merely "well-shaped fat" -- which is the existing muscular ability, to shape whatever body mass they have. Other studies have thus noted, that body-mass measurements and indices, will often show that the most muscular as the fat rather than fit, because they can carry 300 lbs. of body mass (which is off their charts) while being perceived as muscular, while on the other hand, there have been very strong individuals, who saw no need to "look" in the preferred muscular shape they advertised to the world, and in fact, felt uncomfortable and did as much to downplay and hide their prodigious strength, mass and abilities, and achieving the reputation as being unduly modest and humble by it.

Those are familiar as the type that camouflage their true capabilities (identity) -- rather than revealing it, and their weaknesses for any opponent or antagonist to exploit -- as a basic strategy of their own fitness for survival and advantage. We see that ploy often on the Internet when people pretend to be less smart than they actually are -- hoping by that, to gain an advantage, or to draw in those who look for those vulnerabilities in others. But while one can pretend to be less smart than one is, it is much more difficult, to pretend to be smarter than one actually is. That can not be faked, though many think they can -- until they run into those with the ability to assess these things accurately .

And so if one desires an accurate assessment of any individual's truest capabilities, one needs to understand the range from its worst to its best, and not settle on an "average," as the actualization of that potential -- which is usually deceptive as any information of significance. For many, that is simply knowing what everybody else "knows," because somebody else told them, that was all that could be known, and so they "think they know everything" -- even if it doesn't work for most people, and requires more time, energy and expense, for little and even worse results.

We most commonly see that in government and institutionalized solutions that require more money and manpower each year -- and becomes its own reason for being. And so they come to accept a solution that simply makes things get worse -- because of their investment in the problem, and not its solution, or elimination. That is the profitable health care strategy of chronic, long-term deterioration defined as "normal" aging. The alternative to such health care, would be health -- which is something else entirely.

Almost no money goes into that discovery because it is not profitable to do so -- except personally, often from absolute necessity of having to. That's also when the best effects actually become more apparent -- but usually not even attempted, and so the condition attenuates, because there is no way to make a person stronger, with as minimal expenditure of recovery ability as possible -- because the very premise of conventional exercise, is to waste as much energy as possible, as though it was an unlimited resource and the whole objective was to burn as many calories as possible -- as though that was an intelligent thing to do, in/under any condition.