Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lifting in the 5th Dimension, Part Ten - Thomas Foote

Frank Zane

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Norbert Schemansky

The Yang Routine (Pushing)
by Thomas Foote (1985)

See the Yin Routine (Pulling) here -

1.) Bench Press:
A bench press is immediate! When the bar is descending toward your ribcage you have to do something about it . . . NOW! The bench seems to be the mainstay of novice lifters everywhere. The first question you're likely to encounter around young lifters is, "How much do you bench?" And so here we are, as it is. With good reason but little long-game importance. The bench press is a nice, holistic upper body developer. Just don't get too serious about it.

1. Lying on your back, compose yourself through deep breathing.
2. Locate your center of power in the Hara. Don't lift the bar before you're ready!
3. As the bar descends inhale and visualize energy flowing into the Hara. Feel it expanding.
4. As you exhale, visualize the flow of Ki traveling through your arms and continuing through the ceiling. Contract the Hara, and sense the energy streaming from it.

The bench is a natural for big singles. Use the Focus technique we talked about earlier for concentrating power:
(a) Visualize the pressure of Ki expanding in the Hara as potential energy builds.
(b) Observe your breathing closely. Watch for the Moment of Power which waits between breaths.
(c) When the Moment arrives - EXPLODE! Release all your Ki in a mighty burst.
(d) Check the weight on the bar and determine, duh, how much does you bench, Bra.  

2.) Centers (also known as the Close Grip Bench Press):
That is what it is. Bench pressing with a close grip. Bra, how much do you Center? It also answers why it follows just now, in this particular routine. You're already in position, you are already there.

1. Basically, repeat the procedure in the bench press, i.e. Pranayama.
2. Center on the Hara.
3. Visualize the ebb and flow of Ki.
(a) with each extension see the Ki fly from your hands through the ceiling. Let the bar be buoy-oh-buoyed to the top by the flow of "water" from your center.
(b) during the down-stroke of each rep sense new energy pouring into your center through your feet. With the down-phase Ki is pumped from the earth into your Hara readying you for the next surge, sailor.

3.) Squats:
Form. It does matter. When I perform a heavy squat I am propelled to the edges of my knowledge in a hurry. My physical, mental and spiritual knowledge.

In the squat you become immersed in effort. Imagine that you are standing, chest deep, in a placid lake. On your shoulders further imagine a heavy barbell. You are about to squat. Your breathing is measured and deep. You check your footing in the soft bottom mud and begin your descent. As your head goes below the surface the situation becomes very urgent. The placid pool holds death. You hold your breath. Driving for the surface and air, the effort is primal, raw, beyond intellect and visceral. You burst free of the surface and an expended breath explodes from your lungs. Are you willing to test yourself again? Is this particular effort really necessary? Of course not! It's irrational. But you feel so alive and vital when under the water, buried in the stress of this one intense moment. Of course you'll try again.

1. Pranayama - slow your breathing.
2. Hara - locate your center.
3. Pay special attention where the soles of your feet interface with the Earth.
4. Visualize the flow of Ki into the Hara.
5. As you descend feel the pressure mount.
6. Focus your total being on that meta-movement when you will know it is time to explode upward.

Weightlifters often grunt and yell when they blast the big weights upward. Martial artists yell, even scream at moments of intense effort (Kiai). This use of the voice is an art in itself. Suffice it to say that the noise you make is a measure of your spirit. Not volume. INTENSITY. From some place within you that existed long ago as it still exists now, although politely hidden. Boy, you're gonna carry that weight!

4. Press:
Descriptive? The world of the Overhead Press needs no words.

1. Slow, deep breathing (Pranayama).
2. Sense the Hara and feel the soles of the feet. Turn the key, lock your position.
3. Visualize the vertical flow of Ki rising through you from your buttocks up through your shoulders. One muscle from feet to face. Let it loose and the bar rises as "water" roars through your arms.

5. Triceps Extension:
Although this is an isolation exercise, to gain the most from it you must put all of yourself into it. Swinging the bar lamely up and down while your mind lopes about the land of fantasy babes won't cut it.

1. Pranayama.
2. Sense the Hara, note the soles of the feet.
3. Visualize the flow of Ki into the Hara.
(a) Let the Ki rush through your arms. The power of "water" straightens the arms and the weight rises with them. The Ki blasts through the ceiling.
(b) As the weight descends Ki surges through your legs into the Hara. The pressure builds for the next rep.

6. Calf Raises:
Don't neglect balance. It's all so common for lifters to neglect their calves and look ridiculous. Weak in the bottom is silly. Really. One way or another, we want to achieve a balanced workout, balanced strength, and a balanced physique. One way or another this Darkness has got to give.

You might notice that, as with the Yin/Pulling routine, we proceeded from the general to the specific. After concentrating on pushing forms such as the Press and Squat, which were very general, we arrived at isolation moves for assistance exercises. Several of the preceding forms have stretched and involved the calves, but now we will seek to exploit them personally. Yes. This time . . . it's personal.

1. Pranayama.
2. Hara - feel your center as the center of being.
3. Ki - visualize and experience the rushing, vertical stream of energy with each exertion.
4. As you sink down feel the pull of the Earth as it tugs at the Hara.
5. Feel the tension in your feet and legs. Energy seeks your center.
6. Visualize Ki rushing upwards through you as you do another successful rep. The weight rises like a cork burst from a damn's wall on a geyser of high pressure water!

Next: Free-weight Play and the Price of Machines. 

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