Saturday, July 16, 2022

Time Under Tension

Is lifting weights enough to build muscle?

Many people believe that simply loading up the resistance is enough to guarantee that muscle will grow -- no matter what they do with it thereafter.  It's as though they believe that muscle growth occurs because they load plates onto a bar, and it doesn't matter what they do with it -- rather than the more accurate picture that what they do, is far more important than how much they've loaded onto the bar.  

This is particularly true when trainees are older -- and don't get the fabulous results of younger trainees.  But is the difference because they are older -- and not as it is more likely to be, that they perform their movements in a perfunctory manner -- because they are old, and so is excusable in that way?  That they can still move at all, is considered perfectly acceptable and admirable, and not that they need to pay even more attention to rigor in the performance of everything -- and that is the reason people grow old prematurely -- when they adamantly stop caring, and think there is no difference.  At that stage of life, they are entirely accountable to themselves -- and nobody is going to grade and correct them on their performance, and so they give up caring -- and if nobody else is going to care, why should they themselves -- because they are only in it for the praise and rewards.

If nobody else is going to reward them for being in peak performance, why should they care?  That is also true of many of the talented performers who are past their peak popularity, or when they simply cannot delude themselves that they are up and coming prospects any longer.  That great motivation to fulfill their "unlimited" potential has passed, and they are faced with the lifelong grind into obsolescence and obscurity.

Of course the great champions of every sport and activity face this fall off even more agonizingly than the many who never were.  Many get lost in life once they are no longer at the top -- and then even act in ways to speed their own self-destruction and immolation.  Life for them is unbearable and insufferable without the constant attention and adulation -- and without it, they implode in a vacuum of meaninglessness and lack of purpose.  If they don't reinvent those motives for themselves, they face a life of torment and addiction -- to obtain that same high, but that doesn't lead to some higher meaning and purpose -- but only a path to a certain end -- with no escape or turnaround.  It is a one way street to oblivion -- and they no longer care.

We are all like that -- to a certain extent -- and becomes more obvious as the years go by.  Maybe the philosophers and psychologists talk a good game -- until in the end, they too give up.  So how to be an ever renewing fountain of hope and aspiration is the quest even the best have to confront eventually.  Some people just hope to be so busy and distracted they have no time for such thoughts -- and so when such moments of truth confront them full on, they have no answer for themselves.  Life is just one more distraction and entertainment -- they hope never ends.

But surely and certainly, it does end -- and never on their terms.  The best they can hope for, is to be blindsided -- and go as they lived, clueless and uncaring to the end.  Such lives are the opposite of what we hope ours might be -- intentional and deliberate -- and so there is a reason why things happen, and not just a blur of one thing from every other.  That is the clarity we hope to see in life -- to see things clearly, for once in our lives.  And once we have a glimpse of that, and know what it is, we can move towards the light, and not plunge further into the darkness and abyss.

So all we know is that the light and clarity is good -- and strive to move into it as completely as possible.  In the other possibilities, nothing ever makes sense -- even when the words may sound plausible for a while.  But then one wants something more than just nice-sounding words that mean nothing -- like Plato's shadows on the wall.  They are not reality -- although they sound a lot like it.

The productive part of exercise is not how much weight one places on the bar prior to performing a movement with it -- but the movement itself -- regardless of the weight, or apparatus employed.  The key concept is "time under tension" -- which again sounds nice, but few have thought to consider what it actually means.  Time under tension only begins where most people are already quitting -- or think no further movement is possible.  It is in extending the range of movement at that point that causes the most severe muscular contraction possible -- which is exactly where most people never go, and actually condition themselves not to.  That would be in straightening the arms and continuing to push beyond that resting point (bone on bone lockout) -- that most regard as the furthest extent of that movement, at which point they immediately lower their arms rather continuing to push further in the direction of the fullest contraction.

That contraction, is also compression -- contraction meaning to make a volume smaller, and by that, forcing as much as the residual fluids to move back towards the renewing organs of the heart, liver, kidneys etc.  Otherwise, the fluids remain in the tissues at the extremities, where the deterioration of the head, hands and feet are noticed by most as the aging phenomena.  The fluids have to carry the waste products back to the purification organs, or the toxicity builds up, destroying the nerves and capillaries in the characteristic manner in which modern, and particularly sedentary people age -- because they produce very few contractions that a hard-working person would normally -- since the particular work of humans, is done with movements at the head, hands and feet.

That is where human evolution is designed and optimized for movement (work).  Lacking that need for actual physical work, the next best thing is exercise designed with such movement (activation) uppermost in mind -- specifically and deliberately to produce contractions from the furthest muscular insertions at the extremities of the most articulate organs.  Otherwise, the result is the familiar edema, lymphedema, lipedema of a rapidly failing (aging) body -- which is the retention of fluids and waste products in the tissues, with no way of being deliberately, intentionally and systematically eliminated -- as Nature intended.

In light of this reality, no amount of drugs and medical appliances are going to be able to substitute for this deficit -- that Nature has provided so well for.  Nor the wrong kinds of exercise -- that do not address this critical part of the circulatory effect, but instead, is misguidedly focused on making the heart work exclusively harder -- until it ultimately has to prematurely fail -- as many top exercisers (proponents) have manifested.

The heart works perfectly -- with no need for intervention; it is all the other muscles of the body that are doing nothing to contribute to the health-maintaining critical function of optimizing the circulation.  That is the need for exercise -- and how to go about it productively.


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