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Friday, February 2, 2007

Strength

Excercise. I spelled it right. I'm sure I did. Wait. Exercise? Yes. Exercise. So I added a c. That's not a bad thing. It's always been exersize before. No c at all. No size. Which isn't entirely logical, when you think about it. Or entirely illogical. But what does logic have to do with spelling.

Let's start with basics. There's activity. Activity is not exercise. Walking around -- I'm on my feet all day long! It's just movement. Golf. Bowling. Washing dishes. Activity. No embarrassment in this fact. All manner of biological organisms demonstrate a capacity for activity. It's a sign of life. This is a good thing. We are not, after all, inert matter. Most of us aren't. And our activity is of a much higher order than, say, that of mere crystals. We are much more active than crystals. Why, the comparison is ludicrous. But crystals, and some number of humans, do demonstrate a low level of activity. Certainly not exercise. Exercise requires an accelerated heartrate. Crystals don't even have a heart. Didn't you know that?

Exercising once in a while. It's a good thing, I suppose. It's like putting money in the bank, once in a while. In a while, in five or ten years, you might be able to take a vacation. That's a good thing. Same with exercise. I'm sure there must be some good thing about making yourself tired once in a while. I can't really see what the advantage would be. I don't quite see how randomly stressing your unconditioned body every three or four months is safe or reasonable. But I'm sure there must be benefits. Lots of benefits. I'm sure hardly any of the bloodclots and chunks of cholesterol that are pried loose from your veins won't lodge in your brain. Won't lodge -- or do I mean will lodge. Hardly any will lodge. Yes, I'm sure that's what I mean. Hardly any won't lodge -- why, that would mean such rare and erratic exercise might be irresponsible and even dangerous. Absurd. I'm sure your flabby muscles won't spasm and your brittle tendons won't tear. Hardly ever. Yes, overall, I'm sure exercising violently once in a while is a really good and smart and prudent thing to do.

And then there's training. The gradual and progressive stressing of your body according to an intelligently designed plan. So that it has time to adapt, to grow and strengthen not in some haphazard way, not as if you were fleeing wildfires or in a war or something. You know, rational. Warm up. Start slow and easy. Gradually increase intensity, both per session and over weeks and months. Don't overtrain. Work toward specific, measurable goals. Schedule down-time, then set new goals.

Everybody in the world has said to themselves, I'm gonna git in shape! Hardly anyone is in shape. Hmm. It's not about inspiration. It's about motivation, by which I do not mean wanting to do something. Motivation has in it the idea of, um, motility. Motion. Yeah, that's what I mean. It's not about emotion. Emotion is great, and if that will cut it for you, go for it. But that rather makes the issue of working out one of mood. Shall we be subject to our moods? Oh, I don't feel like working out today. To which there is hardly any response. Yes, you do to feel like working out today? That's just a lie. You'll work out or I'll beat your head in with this rock? That's just uncivilized.

Part of the problem is that folks don't have a clear idea of what being in shape means. It really isn't about shape. It's about improved function. There are, after all, the mirror muscles -- the prettyboy muscles that the teenagers see in the mirror and think that's all that matters. So you see these dudes with the big manly pecs and the soft curvy womanish backs. Quite sexy, if you're into that sort of thing. Androgynous. These boys do indeed have the shape they think they want. But they're not really in shape. There are muscles that you can't even see, that are simply super-dooper important. Like your heart, junior. It's all part of that plan I was talking about earlier. Remember?

Ah well. When I'm doing a strength training cycle, I keep it very simple. I am not a body builder. Not about how pretty I am. How could I get prettier? I'm too pretty as it is. I'm looking to increase usable strength -- you know, to improve the quality of my life? So I do a few simple movements.

Whatever you push, you should pull. Muscles work in opposition to each other. If you don't work both functions, you'll get imbalanced, which means you will get injured. Trust me. I'm a genius. If you do crunches, do back extensions. If you do pull ups, do overhead presses. If you do bench presses, do rows. The upper body does only two things: it pushes and it pulls. So push and pull. Easy.

But two-thirds of your muscle mass is below your waist. Oh grow up. So work your legs. Squats, leg-press, -extensions, -curls. You've seen the machines. Oh, by the way, Einstein, use enough weight. When you walk up stairs, you're carrying all your weight on one leg. So why are you doing leg presses with 40 pounds? Think! The point is that the weight room (which I seem to be focusing on) isn't about moving weight. It's about hormones. The clearest way to send the message to your brain to get the hormones working, is to use a lot of weight. Hey brain, I'm really working here, better make me stronger. This is the reason that lifting a pencil a thousand times doesn't give you big sexy muscles. Got it? No matter how big your hot sexy biceps are, they're still relatively small muscles. By engaging major muscle mass, like glutes and quads, the signal to the brain is clear enough to be overwhelming. Your neck will get stronger, just from the extra hormones in your blood.

What do I recommend? Simplicity, as I've said. Squats, deadlifts, chinups and overhead press, dips and rows. Curls? Please. Don't. What do you suppose chinups do? Wrist to shoulder ... why, that's just like curls!!! But you're also hitting the delts and the back and the abs and the shoulders and all the little stabilizer muscles in the forearms. It's a smart and natural movement. Curls are for idiots. Or for prettyboys. I want really big arms. People will be so impressed with my massive muscular manly macho guns. Grr. And just overlook the fact that I have deltoids like a twelve year old girl's.

I can think of no natural movement that curls mimic. Muscles do not function in isolation. It's a nice theory, and if you really want to work out according to the Frankenstein theory, one bodypart at a time, by all means do so. Who am I, your humble servant, to heap scorn and ridicule upon your ill-conceived and gullible hypothesis? And it does indeed work, if you have the genetics for it, and the steroids. But for normal people it's not such a great idea. Don't believe me? Look at the average guys in the gym. They've read the magazines and are doing the prettyboy workouts, and not making any real progress.

Do as few movements as possible, give yourself time between workouts to recover and build, and stick with it. Do more every workout -- either a little more weight, or another rep up to your goal. When you hit your goal reps, of say ten, time to add weight. If you can only do eight reps, keep that same weight and do nine or ten the next workout. Then add weight. Simple.

Strength training makes your bones denser and your skin thicker. It ups your HGH and testosterone levels. It makes you measurably more youthful. It regulates insulin and increases your metabolic rate. You use a hundred calories per day, for every pound of muscle you add. Works out to 8 pounds of fat each year, burned just keeping that tissue warm. That's just off the top of my head.

So what have we learned, today? Well first, and as usual, we have seen how smart I am. I'm wonderful. And I'm hot and sexy, and very masculine. I think that about covers it. Anyone who would like pictures of me, just leave a note in the comments. No, on second thought, email me privately. Yeah.

No, it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I'd be embarrassed if no one leaves a comment. Stupid of you to have even thought such a thing.

What? I'm not insecure. You are.



J

2 comments:

JR Striker said...

A Comment.

Jack H said...

Hurrah! They LIKE me!