Archive for September, 2010

Girly weights exonerated!

September 27th, 2010 No comments

I’m going to try to access full-body strength with lighter weights in the gym this week. How convenient that someone pointed out this study from Science Daily.

Basically, the study found that you don’t have to use heavy weights to build muscle — light weights will do, but you have to fatigue yourself. Maybe that’s why the low-weight-high-reps technique hasn’t built muscle in the past: people haven’t done enough reps to get to fatigue …?

I also like the idea that weaker people can build muscle by lifting weights that they can handle.

Now, for you Tai Chi folks in the crowd, I view muscle as an invaluable part of the body structure — an equal partner with bones, tendons and fascia. I don’t want to focus on muscles in isolation, but I don’t want them to atrophy. By the way, when a Tai Chi teacher says “don’t use muscles”, he or she means “don’t use muscles exclusively” or “don’t use isolated muscles”. Cool?

Categories: East meets West, fitness, Tai Chi Tags:

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

September 20th, 2010 No comments

As anyone who has ever done anything around the house knows, it pays to be able to crawl under stuff, lift stuff, step over stuff, get into awkward positions and most importantly, get out of them.

If I want to keep crawling, lifting, stepping and extricating, I have to stay healthy and in shape.

I’m sure Red Green, famous Canadian handyman, would agree.

Secrets of Rejuvenation #12: know your body

September 3rd, 2010 No comments

I’ve found that knowing how my body functions best is key to overall health. However, this doesn’t mean “my body craves chocolate” or “I’m not good at sports”, as those statements would relate more to my mind, habits and choices than my body. No, I’m talking about how my body functions best, based on actual performance data. To wit:

1) I tend to be rather stiff in the morning, 2) in a squash match, I tend to lose the early games and win the later games, 3) even though I may start a workout by dragging my sorry butt into the gym, after a squash warmup, I can run for a half-hour, do some weights, and I’m not tired yet and 4) It takes me a while to get flexible. Combining this experiential data with some test results, namely 5) I have a resting heart rate well below 60 and 6) I have a body temperature below normal indicates that I probably need to warm up more than other people.

So, “big deal”, you say. Yeah, it is, to me, because my old idea of physical exertion was that I would begin with 100% of my available reserves, and working out would only deplete them and tire me out. (Sure, I expected an increase of reserves from workout to workout.) Now, I see things differently: my energy actually increases as I work out, to a point where I need to really push it to get tired, which of course, I eventually do. “Lucky bastard”, you say. Maybe, but that doesn’t matter. “Big deal, then”, you say. Yes it can be, because I’m addressing those of us who believe they are walking around with the most energy they’ll have that day, and exerting themselves will only make themselves feel worse.

(Well … maybe if you’re carrying a lot of weight and everyday tasks make you lose your breath, then fine, but that’s a function of your current level of fitness.)

So I should reframe it: know your body as it is right now. Get some data. Do some physical stuff. But you have to sweat, otherwise the data isn’t very meaningful. Then, push yourself a bit at a time to see just what you can do. Refine and repeat, no?

Categories: fitness, secrets of youth Tags: