Getting in Touch… With Yourself!

bicep_curlMore to the point is getting in touch with your body, it’s function, and what it is supposed to feel like when moving it’s parts. Many out-of-shape people can’t relate. They don’t have complete sensory experience because their bodies aren’t capable of it. Before you can ride a bike, you’re unable to “feel” what it’s like to ride a bike. Even if you’ve got someone helping you stay up on two wheels (or four, in the case of training wheels), your body isn’t doing it with ease. Instead, you’re struggling, twisting, contorting much of your body, trying to balance, your face muscles and neck possibly even straining due to effort, fear, concentration, or all three. Body awareness. If you don’t have any, you can develop it. When you do you’ll feel things you’ve never felt before. You’ll be aware of the muscles in your butt contracting as you walk. That was one of the most exhilarating things to me in graduate school as I walked thru campus and realized something new about my body. And that was just the beginning. It feels good to stretch, reach, twist, expand, squeeze, push, pull, throw. As long as your body is moving the way it’s supposed to. With efficiency. Fluidity. Economy of motion and effort. If you’re not in tune with your body, if you’re not athletic, you can still develop your body-awareness skills. You’ll have to learn what to do and how to do it. And focus on the feel. Once you learn, like riding a bike, your body will never let you forget. Learning the basic function of the muscles by using them in basic ways allows you the most basic body function skill. Athleticism. You won’t have to work very hard doing anything you want to do with your body that requires physical effort. You can just do it. Live it. You can participate without thinking about it. Whether it’s climbing over rocks or swimming, walking, jogging, playing (with your kids), throwing, lifting, carrying, or riding – you’ll be able to do it, you will have used your muscles in a similar way before. The way you become the master over your own physical self, the way you become “athletic”, is by using weight training, or resistance training. Resistance training means any movement that allows you to move your body or a part of your body through a normal functional range of motion while experiencing some resistance to that motion. Free weights are great, and workout machines are as well, being engineered to fit the body and allow motion in a way that may not be possible with free weights that use only gravity to provide the resistance. The absolute key to it all is doing it correctly. Enough emphasis can’t be placed on learning the proper way to perform the exercises. Doing so will dramatically enhance your progress, regardless of your goal. When my brother and I first started workout out, we would perform bench presses by bouncing the bar off our chests to reverse directions as we began to push the weight up. An experienced-looking bodybuilder walked over to us once and suggested that we try using lighter weights and pausing on our chest before we pushed the weight up. He said that we’d feel weaker at first and might not like using lighter weight, but that in two weeks we’d be lifting more than the heaviest weight we were lifting using our previous technique. He was right. I’ve paid close attention to proper form ever since. In addition, performing exercises in a manner that allows for the fastest strength increases also happens to be the safest method. And you’ll more fully understand what the exercise is supposed to make the muscle feel like. “Feel” is a key term here. Concentration on proper form while learning an exercise will allow you to focus on the physical sensation you should feel, similar to learning a golf or tennis racquet swing. But using proper mechanics for the motion is essential to understanding the sensation. When you understand the sensation, you’ll be able to duplicate it faster when you change something about your workout, making a new workout effective right away. Besides making your workouts more effective, understanding muscular sensations will enable you to go to any gym, sit down on a foreign-looking piece of equipment and do two repetitions of the exercise to determine whether it was designed and constructed properly. And understanding the sensations will allow you to understand your body, how it moves, how it functions. You’ll be athletic, if not a good athlete. And you’ll be the master of your own body! For those of you interested, the scientific field is biochemistry, and the term that has to do with muscular sensation and establishing the proper “feel” is neuromuscular control.  Also Neuromuscular pathways,  and Bioelectrical pathways.

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