Friday, February 08, 2013
Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
Without getting into a long discourse about electronic innovations and so forth I will restrict my application of the quote to exercise programmes. It seems that almost daily someone produces a forum question on some “new” fitness routine which they have seen on an infomercial or some other form of advertisement. When the substance of the “new” programme is revealed and reviewed it is déjà vu all over again to quote Yogi Berra. It is something remixed, repurposed or resurrected from the annals of the ghosts of fitness programmes past. Let’s make a quick review of the current trends and “flavours of the month” in the fitness world.
No need to even consider the age of this form of fitness and strength training since even a superficial review of Greco-Roman frescos and other art will give it a date from at least that long past.
Any attempt to date when swinging weighted objects came into the fitness options is futile. There are sources which cite the warriors of Genghis Khan using metal buckets filled with rocks as a form of fitness training. Both the Scots and the Russians lay claim to being first uses of cannon balls with handles so choose your own favourite form of nationalism here. The book “The Development of Physical Strength with Kettlebells and without Kettlebells” was published in 1900 and reprinted three times (1902, 1909, and 1916) was written by Vladislav Krayevsky who also founded the St Petersburg Amateur Weightlifting Society (1885).
Rubber resistance bands were a first use of India rubber. They were developed to be use for physical rehabilitation in the mid 19th Century. Not unlike many other forms of physical rehabilitation, Pilates is an example, they worked their way into the general fitness realm. They went through a transition into the resistance being steel springs and became a sport in England referred to as Band Pulling complete with judged competitions based on weight classes. In the 1920’s several books were written on using band resistance for physical training. Many of that era’s strongmen used them to train. The 20th Century saw the return of rubber bands for the resistance probably because getting your chest hair caught in the springs on their retraction was not habit forming.
This training implement was “discovered” by the English when they colonized India. They had been used there and in neighboring countries for who knows how many years prior. They became a standard physical training modality in the British Army during that period and then spread worldwide. I have a digital book in my collection copyright in the United States in 1866 which has a thank you note from U. S. Grant acknowledging the book. Now there is a programme which gets you certified as an Indian club trainer. Whatever
“Early records of strength training date back to 3600 BC when Chinese emperors made their subjects exercise daily (Webster 1976). During the Chou Dynasty subjects were required to pass weight- lifting tests before entering the military.”
“During the 16th century in Europe books on weight training began to surface. Sir Thomas Elyot’s book on the topic was published in England in 1531. Joachim Camerius, a lecturer at Leipzig University, wrote several books in 1544 recommending that weight training should be a key activity offered in the model school. John Paugh published a book in 1728 titled A Physiological, Theoretic and Practical Treatise on the Utility of Muscular Exercise for Restoring the Power to the limbs, which pointed out the benefits offered by weight training for rehab purposes. In the 1860’s, Archibald Maclaren, devised the first formal system of physical training with dumbbells and barbells for the British Army.”
“The early strength pioneers developed numerous devices in regards to strength training including cable machines, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, odd-shaped bars, thick grip bars, weighted boots, isolation machines and various throwing devices. Yet 50 years later there are numerous people who claim to have invented this machinery. In today’s industry there are many systems and people promoting their new systems, which are not really new at all.”
Example: Both the Total Gym and Total Trainer are based on the Pilates Reformer which was created by Joseph Pilates in the early years of his programme.
The material in quotes was extracted from “History of Strength and Conditioning Science” by: Jamie Hale.
This is not an attempt to make an all inclusive comprehensive overview of all the current trends and their well seasoned predecessors it is just an attempt on my part to validate the manta, “what goes around comes
Friday, August 03, 2012
There is a recurring question asked on the boards which makes no sense to me and that question is; what is the distraction you use to “get you through your workout?” What distraction do you use when brushing your teeth, taking a shower or any of the other things you do every day which relate to your health and well being? Note the first four letters of the word, w o r k. Our health and fitness is something we need to work at maintaining if we are going to maintain our health and ability just as we do work to earn a living. If we decide that maintaining our health and fitness is some onerous task we need a crutch to get us through it, to survive it and keep us doing it then we are programming ourselves to fail. Will James said” the energy we send out is the energy which returns” so if we are not devoting our attention and energy to what we are doing when working out what do we have the right to expect in return?
In the hippie era the mantra promoted by Timothy Leary was “tune in, turn on and drop out” however it is not the best way to work out but many do just that. They “tune in” their music, TV, their iPod or cell phone, “turn on” the treadmill and then “drop out” mentally into a mechanical mindless automaton mechanical running or walking motion for a present number of minutes. It is a “Sound of Music” approach to working out, “a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down”. If they are running out of doors they insert ear buds, turn on the tunes and block themselves from the sounds around them and becoming unaware of things going on which can be dangerous if running other than on a dedicated park trail or running track.
Many avoid resistance training since it requires concentration to strength train effectively and they find it “boring”. Boring is doing something in a purely mechanical way, going through the motions rather than concentrating and devoting attention to the activity to ensure it is being done in the most positive and beneficial way. While it can be ineffective and boring to do the same set of exercises every workout the number of different ways of doing the same exercises can provide variety and additional challenges precluding the onset of boredom.
Working out to a DVD is a distraction since you will always be at least a half a beat behind the instructor, you have to see the move through to completion before you can execute it or you are trying to both see the move and execute it simultaneously which can degrade the quality of the movement you are attempting to do. Just going through the motions or doing some alternate movement defeats the specific design of the sequence.The distraction would be diminished if the sequence of telling you what to do, demonstrating what you are to do then having you execute it was followed. If you do it enough times then you can imprint it to your memory and execute it in time with the instructor and obtain the full benefit of the exercise sequence.
There is a current urban myth called “multitasking” however the research reality is that you can only serial task. Maxwell Maltz M.D. explained this in his book “Psycho-Cybernetics” published in 1960 based on research done earlier by Norbert Weiner which was published in his book “The Human Use of Human Beings”. Current research has revalidated the earlier works cited above. If the research is accepted then the concept of “multitasking” while exercising loses validity since you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If we cannot read a good book while attempting to monitor the TV or cook a meal without some impending culinary disaster while chatting on the phone why should we assume that we can get a quality workout while diverting our attention to some extraneous activity.
Intensity triumphs over duration unless we are training for an endurance based activity and intensity requires concentration to ensure the proper execution of what we are doing. Concentration precludes boredom, therefore the key to effective workouts is to find something you are willing to concentrate on and ensure you do not put your workouts on autopilot and simply go through the motions
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I was selected by Spark People to be a tester reviewer for fitness products from Best Buy. I was given two products to test and review, the fitbit ultra and a Perfect Portions food scale.
The fitbit ultra.
The product measures multiple fitness related activities and calculates them in the form of a graph. You download the fitbit programme to get started. The instructions are 42 pages in length which are best when printed out for reference. Some of the data has to be obtained from a third party source, blood pressure, weight and blood glucose values for example which are then manually input. There is a seven day free trial of a fitness programme which costs $49.00 which I have not explored. I have used the product for about ten days now and am still learning all it ins and outs.
When used to its full capabilities the fitbit ultra will provide and track a wide range of data which becomes a permanent record on your computer. It also provides instant current read outs of items which it is tracking with the push of a button. In addition to being continuously updated there are 14 apps which can be used in conjunction with the fitbit. The recorder is lightweight, unobtrusive and easy to use for its basic tracking information.
Due to the extent and comprehensive nature of the instruction manual some may find it has a long learning curve to master the full spectrum of its capabilities, apps and use. It requires a computer to input and record the information on a continuing basis.
The fitbit ultra while it may not work well for everyone it is a useful product for a specific profile of potential users. The product can provide both instant tracking and motivation for those who are oriented toward obtaining data to assess their daily activities and fitness progress.
Perfect Portions Scale:
A confession, I am a committed foodie who has used scales to cook with for many years. This scale has bells and whistles that will meet almost every real or imagined need a cook may have. The scale measures or evaluates ten different nutritional elements, calories, calories from fat, carbohydrates (in grams), protein (in grams), fat (in grams), saturated fat (in grams) fiber (in grams), sugars (in grams), cholesterol (in grams/milligrams) and sodium (in grams/milligrams). It weighs the amount of food in either grams or pounds and ounces. Consider it a built in nutritional label. It can be used to evaluate individual foods or entire meals. The scale uses tare weight to insure only the food being measured and evaluated is recorded. It comes with a complete instruction booklet and a booklet listing the nutrition scale, food code book. The scale runs on two AA batteries so it is conveniently portable.
The scale is easy to use, the displays are excellent and the information valuable for anyone tracking their food intake and nutrition. Rather than having to access multiple sources for the information it is all right at hand. In my opinion this is the ideal scale for anyone who wants to lose fat and maintain a healthy diet.
It is one more item to add to perhaps your already cluttered counter top. It has to be visible and easily accessed in order to get the full value of the information it provides. Out of sight may mean out of mind reducing the tracking what is being eaten.
This is a scale which everyone who is working toward fat loss should have and use. Those who simply tracking the nutrition of the foods they and their families are consuming will also find this an invaluable addition. In my opinion this is not a gadget, it is a needed kitchen tool.
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