Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Reward / Punishment Cycle II

"Drop and give me 20."

"Last group, another lap."

"I need another 20 minutes to make up for that carrot cake."

Any of that sound familiar? It's training as punishment.

Training as Punishment. This is the more common of the two ideas. It's basically that exercise is a way to atone for, make up for, or earn forgiveness for errors or insufficient effort. It's also a way to retroactively earn an already-taken reward.

The irony here is that a standard gym teacher/coach/disciplinarian approach is to punish those who have the most trouble exercising effectively with addition reps of whatever they do poorly. Can't do pushups well? Then do more of them to make up for it. Didn't run fast? Run more. That'll teach you speed, for sure, all that extra exhausted running. It makes sense when the punishment is aimed at something other than fitness - gut checks in a boot camp situation to see who will quit and who will persevere, to encourage competition where finishing last will result in real world consequences, and so on. But it doesn't make much sense to punish the out of shape with more reps of something they can't do.


Training as Reward. This is better stated as "time off from training as a reward." This is, I didn't eat cake so I don't need to exercise. This is anathema to exercise junkies, but it's also rightly anathema to a training plan. If you are training with a purpose, with an end goal in mind, you can't break up that consistency as a reward for following other parts of that program. Again, no amount of outside action is going to make up for missed gym days, either. Extra sleep, eating extra-well (however you define that), or what have you won't replace a missed squat session or that cardio work you needed to get in. Swapping out one kind of training for another is fine, but that's not punishment/reward, that's making modifications to a training program.

This is a great quote in this article over on Starting Strength that embodies the ideal in training:

"I learned to train with purpose rather than for atonement." (italics in the original) - Gillian Mounsey

It's that "atonement" that gets you in trouble.

It's worth saying this outright: nothing you do in the gym will make up for things you did outside the gym. No training is going to be enough to overcome a poor diet.
Sure, a single cheat meal or an extra dessert during the week will get ground down by a set of squats. But a blip on a healthy eating lifestyle is just a blip regardless of your training. You don't need to punish yourself for it. An conversely you can't punish yourself enough to make up for a bad diet, poor food choice, inconsistency in training, or anything else. All it does is make training punishment.


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big strong kids

My original post got a little garbled, so check out this excellent Eric Cressey discussion of "big, strong" kids over on his blog.

I've trained one or two big kids, who've had trouble dealing with finding out that they aren't really that strong . . .

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Reward / Punishment Cycle I

I was listening to a radio broadcast recently and they talked to an obese person about being obese. I have to admit that a good part of me was just like "okay, so start exercises and don't eat so many cookies." But it's not that easy for people - food has an emotional connection. So does exercise. And it often has a reward / punishment dimension, too.

Food as a reward. If there is one thing I learned from TV commercials, it's that food is a reward. It's an indulgence. You deserve it - worked hard? You deserve a beer. Cleaned the house? You deserve a candy bar. Packed the kids lunch? You deserve a sugar-filled yogurt. Did a man's job of yard work? You deserved two men's worth of fries.

That doesn't even start in on exercise. We know from commercials that you can't even warmup safely or effectively without 2.5 servings (aka 20 oz) of sports drink! If you finish the workout, you need to down another serving, and/or a protein shake or protein bar, and then it's off home for the indulgent food of your choice to reward your good behavior.

You'll see this with parents and kids, too - "if you behave I'll give you a cookie" or "okay, I'll buy you that fruit snack to keep you quiet" (not actually "fruit" either, let's face it).

Conversely, food is also a punishment. There are two big variations to this:

Healthy food is a punishment. After all, if the selling point is "it's good for you" then you must not be able to sell it on its merits, like "it's delicious" or "you'll like eating it." The meme of "healthy food tastes bad, this doesn't taste bad, so it can't be healthy" is an instant classic in TV commercials. Basically every yogurt ad does this.

Food is a way to punish yourself. For people with eating problems, you see this one - I bought this bag of cookies, and I shouldn't have, so I'll just eat all of them now and start back over tomorrow. Nevermind the weight you pack on from those cookies will be there tomorrow and set you further back. Nevermind it's just making yourself feel bad (physically, mentally, and emotionally) for making a poor choice. It's a sunk cost - the $5 for those cookies are gone, and putting those hundreds if not thousands of calories into your body won't make up for that. But it's often "it's too late now, so I'm going to make myself finish these" instead of "why the heck can't I just throw these out?"

Diets are a form of food-as-punishment coupled with food-as-reward. You deny yourself the foods you like (punishment!) and force yourself to eat foods you don't that are healthy (punishment!) and then when you reach your goal you can eat whatever you like again (reward!). Not healthy.

We need to get off the food-as-punishment/food-as-reward cycle.

I'm not saying this is easy, but perhaps like the G.I. Joes said, knowing is half the battle: you have to get off this cycle. Food is neither an automatic reward for good behavior nor is it a useful means of punishment. It's just food. If you've got an issue with binge-finishing those cookies you know shouldn't have gotten in the first place, think about this. Remind yourself that food isn't a mechanism for punishing yourself. Don't use food to reward your good behaviors - good behaviors and the healthy life they promote is the reward. Not the ability to have an extra slice of cake because you did spin class today.

Exercise gets the same treatment, really - and I'll examine that more tomorrow.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pullup Science

There is a new(ish) article over on Staley Training about the pullup:

Lat Science: Exploring the Pullup

It's a good article on pullups, although the font and font size made my eyes ache until I zoomed in a bit more.

I especially like the bit about saving a few extra reps in the tank - no going to failure - to maintain "a feeling of confidence and master". I like that a lot. If you leave every session at the gym feeling like you dominated a given exercise, I feel like your progress in it will be superior to leaving it feeling drained and beaten. Confidence matters!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

What you eat Matters

I'm sure you've seen
this report by now - it's been going around. Basically the idea is that while calories matter, what they consist of matters too.

This should surprise no one. Common wisdom is "you are what you eat" and if it's "a lot of non-nutritious food" instead of "sufficient but not too much highly nutritious food" why would you be surprised at poor health?

Want to bet that exercise is the same way? That it doesn't just matter how much you do, but what it consists of? Those are rhetorical questions. Of course it does. That's essentially what this blog is about. You need to exercise, but what you do and how you do it matters greatly.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Product Review: Oslo 2.0 Stopwatch

I need a stopwatch for work and for timed exercises. I had a nice, inexpensive, and ridiculously sturdy stopwatch I picked up in Japan for about 1000 yen ($10 at the time) by a brand called Picco. But it's long gone, left by accident in a rental car and never recovered.

I picked up one of these recently:



Pros:

- inexpensive
- light
- large, easy to use buttons that don't get stuck.
- no need for a "double-tap" to start it, or to come out of dimmed mode (like, say, a cell phone)

Cons:

- large. This is not a con for me, I have big hands and I want a large, easy-to-read stopwatch. But it's not small.
- noisy. It has a "beep" feature for starts and stops, and sometimes I just want to do things silently. There is no option for turning that off.
- battery replacement, if necessary, would require disassembling the stopwatch

The great features of the stopwatch for me is that it both counts up times, with a memory for splits or laps, and does countdowns. This makes it handy for hands-free timed workouts such as EDT, snatch tests, or Crossfit-type "as many rounds as possible in X minutes" workouts.

Recommended.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Minimal Training

John Berardi just put up a blog post about minimal exercise for maximal fat loss. Here it is:

Two Experiments in Exercise Minimalism

I've blogged about this idea before - working hard, but not doing more than you need to get the results you want. It's the idea of not doing more than you need to for your results. I picked it up originally from a judo book - the idea was basically to do the minimal amount necessary to get the maximum possible result.

It's a good idea, and his blog post makes it clear just how little that can be. Just because 3 sets is great doesn't mean 6 sets is better. But you still need to do the work - if you need 6 sets and do only 3, you're not putting in the work necessary. You can't confuse "minimum necessary" with "minimum possible." To paraphrase the Simpsons episode about Flanders' parents, you can't do "absolutely nothing" and expect it to work.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Training Terminology: Single vs. Double Progression

Single Progression and Double Progression.

In single progression, you advance in one variable. For example, if your progression is reps, you might do 3 x 5 x 135 this workout, then aim for 3 x 6 x 135 next workout, and 3 x 7 x 135 on the following one. The sole progression is total reps. A single progression of weight could be 3 x 5 x 135, then 3 x 5 x 140, then 3 x 5 x 145, etc.

In double progression, you advance one variable from the bottom of a range and then change another variable. For example, you might do 3 x 8-12 reps x 135. You start at 3 x 8 x 135, and try to add reps until you reach 3 x 12 x 135. Once there, you bump the weight up to 140 or 145, and then start over again at 3 x 8. You advance the second variable only when you reach the top of your range on the first variable. It only sounds confusing, but it's rather common in practice - you do 3 x 10 x whatever in the gym, and when you can get all 10 reps on all three sets you raise the weight. Then you stick at that weight until you hit your goal reps.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dan John DVD review at SquatRx

Boris gives a detailed review of Dan John's new DVD series over on SquatRx

It's a good review, even if what you take home from it is "this is too advanced for me." The video clips at the bottom of his post are worth watching, just to get a good idea of Dan John's lecturing style.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

15 minutes of exercise

I recently got a request from a friend for a 15-minute exercise plan. Something that can be done at home, in only 15 minutes from start to finish. Here is what I came up with:

Warmup: 2-3 minutes of jumping jacks, running in place, jumping rope,
etc. Get a little bit of a sweat going.

A: Push Press
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/PushPress.html

B: Front Squat
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBFrontSquat.html
OR
Back Squat
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBSquat.html

C: Pullups

Do them on a 4-week schedule.

Week one:
5 x empty bar
5 x bar + something light
3 sets of 5 reps, working up to a heavy set of 5 (where getting 7+
reps would be hard)

(For pullups, do 3 sets of maximum reps with 2-3 minutes off between
sets - palms facing YOU)

Week two:
5 x empty bar
5 x bar + something light
3 sets of 3 reps, working up to a heavy set of 3 (where getting 5+
reps would be hard).

(For pullups, do 3 sets of maximum reps with 2-3 minutes off between
sets - palms facing AWAY FROM YOU)

Week three:
5 x empty bar
5 x bar + something light
1 set of 5 reps (same weight as the middle set of week 1)
1 set of 3 reps (same weight as the middle set of week 2)
1 set of 1+ reps (same weight as your top set of week 2, and do as
many good reps as you think you can . . . when the bar slows down or
you feel yourself struggling to do the lift right, stop)

(For pullups, do 3 sets of maximum reps with 2-3 minutes off between
sets - palms facing EACH OTHER)

Week 4:
5 x empty bar
5 x bar + something light
3 sets of 5 reps at 50% of your best weight in the past three weeks.

(For pullups, do one set of each grip at half the reps of your weakest grip)

Week 5-8 - repeat, but try to get 5-10 pounds more on your top set or
1-2 more reps total for the pullups.

***

That's the whole workout. I'm not certain it will be followed, but I do think it's pretty complete. It's just an example of how I'd structure a very, very short workout with a regular frequency.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Prowler-Only Workout

I needed a minimal-space, short workout today for a client.

Here is what I wrote up:

A) Prowler Squat-to Row x 1 trip
B) Prowler Push x 1 trip
C) Prowler Pushups x 10 (2 rounds) x 8 (2 rounds) x 6 (2 rounds)
D) Prowler Plank x 30s (2 rounds) x 25 seconds (2 rounds) x 20 seconds (2 rounds)


That's it - 6 rounds, about 1 minute rest between rounds.

The Prowler Squat-to-Row involved looped a tow strap around the low handles of a prowler. Squat down, pull back as you stand up. The more explosive the pull, the better. That's your posterior chain and back and biceps and a bit of forearms, too.

The Prowler Push is just running the prowler back to the starting point with the low handles. That's legs and cardio.

Prowler Pushups are just close-grip pushups holding the low handle of the Prowler. I dropped the reps as the rounds went to ensure I got clean reps even as the client tired out (and 10 reps was a bit less than half of what he's banged out for barbell pushups with chains, to give you idea of how tiring this all was together).

Finally the client held a plank at the top of the pushup position on the Prowler.

It worked very well, and we finished with a short bout of steady state cardio to get a little more low-impact work in and get some extra calories burned (because, what the heck, it's been working well for this client).

It's quick but an idea of what you can do with a tow strap, Prowler, running space, and a couple of plates.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Start small, one thing at a time

My friend Tommy posted something on his blog - about writing, really, but it sums up lifting and weight loss all together all well.

You start small, and change one thing at a time.

Target, Forcus, Execute

This guy worked his way up to 500+ points on the deadlift one plate and one rep at a time, too. Not by mistake. Read that blog entry when you find the task of "changing yourself" just too big to start in on.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salt

Two articles popped up recently about salt and blood pressure.

One in Time and one in Scientific American (which is referenced in the Time article). Basically . . . it's very hard to show a conclusive link between sodium intake and health, and even harder to link reducing sodium intake to health improvements.

Everything we learned - very possibly literally - in the 80s and early 90s about health is wrong. Trans fats are not good for you. Saturated fats are not bad for you. Fat in general is vital. Fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs are not guilt-free foods that have no negative impact on your health. Eggs don't raise your cholesterol. And so on, and so on. Remember all of that?

Now it's salt. There is a strong case being made here, between the lines, that we need to make sure we get more potassium. The sodium-to-potassium ratio seems to be important. This is why I keep and use a potassium-based salt substitute - not to reduce sodium but rather to increase my potassium intake.

Also it's amusing that once again the government is behind the curve. New York City is on a big anti-salt kick, which is probably harmless in and of itself. But it's amusing as the difficulty of linking sodium to actual health issues is revealed, and the difficulty of showing a link between reduced sodium and improved health, it's becoming a real regulatory issue.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trap Bar vs. Straight Bar Deadlifts

Jason Ferrugia wrote up an excellent post on his site yesterday, compared straight bar deadlifts with trap bar deadlifts.

Trap bar deadlifts are sometimes touted as a safer alternative to the deadlift. Jason Ferrugia's article addresses that idea, and some uses for the trap bar deadlift.

Are Trap Bar Deadlifts Safer Than Straight Bar Deadlifts?

It's a good article. I actually prefer trap bar deadlifts with my clients, for a few reasons:

- less shin damage. Pulling a conventional deadlift up off the floor (or off pins in a rack) demands the bar takes the straightest, most direct path to lockout. That means it rides right up your legs. The knurling can tear at skin and open up abrasions and cuts. This is a small price to pay for an athlete getting stronger, and it can often be avoided with judicious use of long socks and/or sweat pants, but it happens. Most clients, especially fat loss clients, aren't looking for very unaesthetic bar scrapes.

- easier hand position. For most people, it's easier to find the right spot for their hands on the trap bar.

- I find them easier to coach, for the reasons above - easier to tell people where to put their hands, less shin scraping, and therefore no worries about people trying to push the bar away instead of sitting back into the weight.

- They fit a nice middle ground between the squat and the deadlift. This allows me to cover a larger swathe of territory with one lift, especially for once-a-week or twice-a-week clients.

I do agree with him, though - for most clients, I avoid maximal lifts. But I'm not having fat loss clients pull 1-rep-maximums anyway, nor am I having most older clients pull much heavier than a 5-rep max. So it's a good exercise for that.

The article is worth reading, and it's got Jason Ferrugia's thoughts down in an organized fashion. If you haven't thought about trap bar vs. straight bar, this one will get you thinking.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: The New Abs Diet for Women



By David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker
Published 2010
395 pages

The New! Abs Diet for Women is a recent entry into the ever-growing and very popular Abs Diet series.

This book is essentially the same as the previous version - the Abs Diet for Women - and the original - the Abs Diet. If you've read either of those, you're well on your way to knowing what is in this book. The improvements seem to be largely refinement and polish. This review is written assuming you've looked at my prior review of the Abs Diet.

Nicely, they front-loaded the book with the Abs Diet Cheat Sheet - basically a primer and answer to the immediate question - what can I eat and how much? It's a clever move and they organized well enough that it's an easy photocopy . . . or ripped out page. This gets a lot of what readers want to know and need to know on a daily basis out of the way. That makes the rest of the introduction section which follows much easier to read. You already know where you are going.

The diet is the same as the previous versions as far as I can tell - the "Abs Diet Power Foods" and quite low-calorie diets (1400 kcals is about the norm) with a single cheat meal a week. It'll work, for sure. But it contains the usual misinformation - a whole section on why low-carb diets don't work that seems more based on bashing low-fat Snackwells than low-carb diets, the whole "avoid saturated fat" suggestion combined with getting 1/3 of your fat calories from it (and 1/3 from each of the "good fats"), and the myth about 1 pound of muscle burning 50 kcals a day. Ugh. It's like nothing changed from the previous versions in this respect.

The exercises section shares some of the flaws of a lot of diet books. Exercises get all of two pictures - start and finished - and some limited explanation of technique. Some of them just don't match the picture to the explanation, and the explanation isn't adequate. For example, the squat picture has the start and then the finish - and the woman isn't even halfway down into the squat. But the text says to stop when your thigh is parallel to the ground. The picture doesn't show that, and the text isn't clear if they mean the bottom of the thigh, or the top (which is more likely to actually be parallel). The squat isn't alone in having pictures that don't quite show the form advocated.

Other offenders - presses are done seated, upright rows are done at all (they put the shoulder in a bad spot, under a heavy load), leg extensions (ugh!), and more. Nicely, there is a no-crunches ab exercise section, which is a real plus. The book doesn't quite come out and say some people regard crunches as a slow path to lower back injury, but it does acknowledge you may want strong abs without doing any crunching. So at least they show you the how even if the why is absent.

The workouts are typical of the series - circuits and higher-rep exercises, and emphasis on free weights (good!) and cables exercises (also good), but the occasional odd machine thrown in (leg extensions being the most glaring example). Again, they will work, especially combined with the diet and sufficient zeal.

Rating:
Content: 3 out of 5. The diet will work, and the exercises are generally good. Enough errors, not fixed since earlier editions, drag it down.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. Well put together, easy to read, and easy enough to follow the workouts.

Overall: An okay entry into the Abs Diet series, and an okay diet-and-exercise book. Not a bad choice but there are so many better choices for women, such as Rachel Cosgrove's book.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Why I really miss Japanese onsen

The sauna is an excellent recovery tool, post-workout. No kidding, the best days I had were when I'd do MMA for about 3 hours and then head to the onsen with my coach and just soak in a hot pool and then sit in the sauna for a bit. You'd feel wrecked but sleepy and content . . . and fantastic the next day.

Joel Jamieson just put up an article explaining how to systematically use a sauna for recovery.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Exercise one arm, help the other

Chris over at Conditioning Research found this study.

Here is the wrap-up of the abstract:

"Data support observations that the repeated bout effect transfers to the opposite (untrained) limb. The similar reduction in MF between bouts for the two groups provides evidence for a centrally mediated, neural adaptation."

MF being "median frequency."

Two take-home points in this abstract:

- exercising one limb does positively affect the other. Have a hurt arm, bad shoulder, bad leg? Exercise the other one and transfer will occur.

- central adaptation to exercise occurs along with specific, peripheral adaptation. Basically your whole body gets better when you exercise, and one limb will "transfer" effects of training to the other (presumably because your nervous system is adapting).

So when you've got a hurt limb, there is provable benefit to laying off that one but still working on the other one. That's been common wisdom for a long time but it's nice to see more research supporting it.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Accounting

These articles are not training articles. But they're invaluable for a business owner or would-be business owner. For everyone else, consider them part of your basic financial fitness training.

Accounting For Meatheads Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Beat the Gym



by Tom Holland
Published 2011
308 pages
$19.99

This book is aimed at recreational lifters. In concept, it's a good idea - a book that'll guide you around a gym, from classes to weight room, from contract to quitting.

Generally, the book's section on contracts, negotiations, and dealing with the free personal training session and it's hard sell tactics are excellent. He's absolutely right about checking out the whole gym, using the facilities you intend to use. His advice on negotiating seems spot-on, too - clearly he's been on both sides of the counter, selling and buying memberships. He's straight up about the fact that a gym generally can't support all of its members actually training; you're not a customer but a consumer to be sold to and then send on your way.

It's the execution of the training portion that's not so good.

For example, the book defines a few terms oddly. Just one example - a "dynamic warmup" is riding on a bike for 5 minutes. That's not the common usage, however, where a "dynamic warmup" is contrasted with stretching and is used to denote mobility drills.

The book also goes into detail on exercises. But generally this detail is just a pair of pictures (start, finish) and a few sentences describing the form. No real coaching cues are included, it's just a basic description. In addition, the book recommended Smith machine squats (which force your body into the machine's motion path, rather than conforming to yours), and all squats stop above parallel.

The book gets some bonus points for recommending people avoid upright rows and behind-the-neck pulldowns, and for adding back extensions and internal/external rotation exercises . . . but minus points for recommending machine leg extensions to avoid knee injury. While leg extensions are useful for injury rehab, and many bodybuilders swear by them for leg development, they are also notorious for putting the knee in a bad position under heavy stress!

The usual "1-4 reps for power, 5-8 for strength, 9-15 for toning" recommendation shows up. Er, toning? It's not well-defined in the text.

The books also emphasizes slow, deliberate reps, with a more bodybuilder-ish approach of time-under-tension than anything else. Not very slow, but not fast, either - which isn't going to help if you stay in that 1-4 reps for power, range. You can't get fast by always going slow.

Plyometrics get a mention, along with a warning that you need a certain base of strength and ability to do them. But no mentions is made of what base you need. So how to you judge if you are ready or not? All you know is you aren't ready when you start . . . maybe . . . and have no idea how to know when you are and how to program them in.

Rating:
Content: 2 out of 5. Rife with small errors and big errors.
Presentation: 3 out of 5. While the book is well-organized the exercises lack details, the workout lists lack page references and thus require a lot of page flipping, and the illustrations don't communicate particularly well.

Overall: I wanted to like this book. I really did. I'd love to have a book to recommend to gym-going friends and acquaintances. A book I could say "Get this book, listen to that guy, and you'll do fine from walking in the door to the end of your workout." But this book, as close as it comes, has too many errors that keep it from really reaching that point. If you're deciding on a gym membership, though, that section is great - borrow the book, read that section, and then move on as a stronger negotiator . . . and get another book to become a stronger trainee.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Yoga Supersets

My sister discovered this and sent it along.

10-Minute Yoga Supersets

Essentially, instead of moving between poses and then holding them for a single long hold, you alternate between 3 poses that work opposing muscles and do that for multiple repetitions. Technically, this is a tri-set not a superset, or a circuit, but "superset" is a fairly vague term and it can be used to cover tri-sets and giant sets (4 exercises) without confusing things.

This is an interesting idea for a few reasons:

It bridges the gap between isometric holds (yoga poses) and isotonic movements (calisthenics). While yoga does involve movement, it's generally movement into a static posture that is held for anything from a short time to an extended time. Calisthenics are isotonic exercises, in which muscles and joints move through a range of motion against resistance. Some of these poses are quite strenuous to get into, so doing so repeatedly makes them more of a calisthenic exercise than a yoga pose.

It bridges the gap between yoga and gymnastics. Floor gymnastics exercises look a lot like flowing from pose to pose, and so will this. A planche pushup is really just a very difficult pose combined with motion. So is an L-pullup.

It accepts the idea that strength is built in motion against resistance, not just statically in a posture. You'll occasionally hear about yoga lengthening and toning muscles, how you don't strain joints moving weights, or other nonsense. You don't get that here. You get instead the idea that yoga poses are strength training, and it can be done statically for one long rep or repeatedly for many reps to gain strength and endurance in motion and not just endurance in position. You can even add resistance, and the article suggests how for each pose. Hmmm...resisted bodyweight exercises. So a dip with chains or a pushup against bands isn't really that far off from yoga, really. I'm not surprised but it's nice to see that.

You get better at what you practice. So yogi will get better at holding poses if that's all they do. Your body will adapt to that and then it'll stop adapting unless you make it harder. You might be great in postures but have a hard time getting into postures. This is practicing the latter. Additionally, it's forcing your body to adapt to more than one kind of stimulus. Besides static holds you are telling it you want to move with strength and do it repeatedly. It will adapt to this, too, but it's harder, and it's probably easier to load.

The only thing I really twitched at in the article was the end of this paragraph:

"Bodybuilders and exercise physiologists have known about the benefits of the superset technique for years, and it’s time we brought it onto the mat. Supersets are three back-to back sets of 5 to 30 repetitions, each done utilizing opposing muscle groups until you can barely finish the last few moves. This will trick your muscles into creating more muscle fibers to handle their new responsibilities, even if you’re not working out all the time."

The phrase "trick your muscles" is about as correct as "muscle confusion" is - you don't need to trick or fool your body. You aren't doing it, even if you pretend you are. What you are doing is demonstrating a need to your body and it'll respond to that need. It's not fooled . . . it would be fooling your body if you somehow found a way to get it to build muscle without challenging it by doing strength-based exercises. The phrase "creating more muscle fibers" is inaccurate. Muscles grow either by hypertrophy (increased muscle fiber size, and increased non-muscular supporting structures and fluids) or hyperplasia (splitting one fiber into multiple fibers). There is no evidence that human muscles undergo hyperplasia, so "creating more muscle fibers" is just inaccurate. A better way to explain this would be "This will force your body to compensate by increasing your muscular size and strength" rather than "Trick your body into creating more muscle fibers."

All in all, I can't see how adding this would be a bad thing for a yogi's workout. It fills a nice little gap - bodyweight movements/strength training/cardiovascular exercise - that exists in normal yoga. Which isn't to say yoga isn't hard, or won't make you strong, or improve your cardiovascular fitness. But it's not going to work exactly the same was as doing bodyweight exercises in a no-rest superset will, as the (experienced yogi) author notes in the article.

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