Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rotation for Recuperation - Steve Holman

Rotation for Recuperation
by Steve Holman (1993)

Always use a phase-training approach. "Phase training" means that you cycle your intensity; for example, you do four to six weeks of all-out training, during which you take every set other than warmups to at least positive failure, alternated with two weeks of lower intensity workouts, during which you stop all sets one or two reps short of positive failure. This allows you to completely recover, and therefore gain faster in the long run.

Don't neglect your warmup set or sets.

Use intensity techniques sparingly. When you incorporate forced reps, 1 and 1/4 reps, negatives, rest/pause and/or others into your routine, you up your effort considerably and are more vulnerable to overdoing it. Never do more than 10 of these extended sets in any one workout.

Rely on the big, basic exercises to build size and strength. Multi-joint movements such a squats, presses, bench presses, deadlifts, chins, dips and variations thereof should be at the core of any mass-building routine.

Work harder, not longer. Don't add a lot of sets to your routines. In fact, you should never do more than 24 total work sets in any one session, and it's worth knowing that most lifters will make optimal gains with less.

Always use variation. If you're bored with your workouts (not just getting lazy), that indicates a need for something fresh to make it more interesting.


If you want to make gains as quickly as possible you should make intensity cycling one of your basic tools. You've undoubtedly noticed this training concept in the various periodization programs that turn up frequently in lifting books and magazines. However, talking about it and actually doing it are two completely different things.

Most trainees just never seem to get around to switching to those necessary low-intensity workouts that allow the body's recovery system to complete its job. Here's why:

- When progress is coming at a furious pace, you don't want to cut back your intensity for fear of slamming on the gaining brakes.

- When you're making slow-to-no gains, you reason that the only way to get past the plateau is with more and more gut-busting effort.

Unfortunately, as you may have already found out, if you push yourself constantly without a break you can wind up not gaining at all after a while.

Here is a way to shift into low gear without being fully conscious that you're doing it. You just employ a little psychological trickery, which can go a long way when you're trying to temper the obsession for size and strength that keeps you pushing to the limit every time you lift. It's easy enough to do. Simply overhaul your exercises -- and I mean every one -- every four to six weeks.

By completely revamping your routine, you can still go all-out without really going all-out. Although that might sound contradictory, it's really not if you understand the concept of specificity of training and how your body adapts to high-intensity work. When you incorporate a new exercise into your workout, it usually takes a week or two for your body to get used to it. For the first three or four sessions your coordination improves, and you eventually find the right groove. In other words, during those initial workouts you learn how to efficiently perform the movement so that you contract the fibers in the working muscles or muscle groups more effectively.

You've no doubt noticed how fast your strength improves on a new exercise for the first few weeks. The learning process is part of the reason this strength surge occurs. What you may not realize it that during those two weeks of learning -- or relearning -- an exercise, your intensity is lower, even if you're going to positive failure on the movement. So you can see how changing your entire exercise lineup will automatically lower your intensity a notch or two for a few workouts.

Let's say that you want to follow proper phase-training protocol -- four to six weeks of high intensity training followed by two weeks of low intensity work -- but you just can't corral your motivation long enough to stop your sets short of positive failure. You have a couple of choices:

1.) Do completely different routines every six weeks, pushing every set to positive failure, or at least very close to it. This automatically builds in two weeks of lower intensity work as you relearn the new exercises, which are followed by four weeks of higher-intensity sessions after your coordination and muscle-contracting abilities get up to speed.

2.) Do your favorite routine for four to six weeks, then do a completely new workout for one week before going back to your original routine for another four to six weeks. Here you get a lower-intensity learning phase during the one week of new exercises as well as during the first week back on your old program.

Use this rotation for recuperation tactic to help avoid going stale and to spark more size and strength. It works with any style of weight lifting. Here are two sample mass routines that illustrate the rotation for recuperation layout:


Squats - 2 x 10-15
Semi-Stiff Legged Deadlifts - 1 x 10-15
Bench Presses - 2 x 8-12
Chins or Pulldowns - 2 x 8-12
Bentover Barbell Rows or Seated Cable Rows - 1 x 8-12
Presses or Behind the Neck Presses - 2 x 8-12
Wide Grip Upright Rows - 1 x 8-12
One-Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises or Standing Calf Raises - 2 x 12-20
Lying Triceps Extensions - 1 x 8-12
Barbell Curls - 1 x 8-12
Ab Work - 1 x 15-25


One-Legged Squats or Front Squats - 2 x 10-15
Glute Ham Raises or Good Mornings - 1 x 10-15
Incline Dumbbell Presses - 2 x 8-12
Undergrip Chins or Undergrip Pulldowns - 2 x 8-12
Incline Dumbbell Rows or T-Bar Rows - 1 x 8-12
Seated Dumbbell Presses 2 x 8-12
Lateral Raises - 1 x 8-12
Donkey Calf Raises - 2 x 12-20
Bench Dips - 1 x 8-12
Alternate Dumbbell Curls - 1 x 8-12
Reverse Crunches or Hanging Leg Raises - 1 x 15-25

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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


In the first part of this chapter Path Finder asked The Kid where it felt like he inhabited his body. For reasons you probably consider obvious most people imagine they sit somewhere in their own skulls and direct the traffic. To a large extent this sensation of occupying your body from an area behind your eyes is an example of our world view at work. It is also undoubtedly a result of our heavy reliance on vision. In contrast, my dog probably thinks his nose is the obvious seat of his consciousness.

One of the early comments the Roshi made in Aikido was that the Hara is the center of our being. It was the center of consciousness from which all action radiated. This sounds pretty far-fetched, but all he meant was that we could move our sense of self-awareness from behind our eyes down to our center of gravity. This takes practice, but there doesn't seem to be any reason why one body part should be more privileged than another. The criterion should be functional. Aikido convinced me that it was more functional to emphasize the Hara instead of the head.

Sounds good!

But how do you do it?

Let's go back to the Power Glide. I've already said that you have to feel the Hara, rather than simply enjoy the idea. Feel it you must, but I believe that is too weak an interpretation. You need to bring your awareness to rest within your center as though gravity had pulled it there. Assume the Power Glide posture and begin to sway. Concentrate your awareness into the region of your lower abdomen and hips. Visualize the movement over a level plain. Feel the muscles in your hips and abdomen as they synchronize the motion. Feel the tug of gravity against the mass of your body that centers in your abdomen as it pivots over your feet. With your awareness, follow the flow of resistance down through your legs and, finally, feel the even distribution of pressure across the surfaces of your feet where they contact the floor. While you perform this exercise, breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm. Imagine that your breath is being drawn to the Hara and expelled from it. It is your Hara that breathes.

Sometimes I also visualize a bright, incandescent light which glows and radiates in the Hara. When I inhale, it glows blue-white, like coals in a fire when you blow on them. When I exhale, it still burns strong but with a warm red-orange.

Hara Power

The Power Glide is a basic exercise. We practiced it at each class and were encouraged to practice on our own time as well. And what will this new-found awareness of you Hara do for you? Well, I remember one student's verbal account of spontaneously experiencing the Hara away from class. This guy was a very down-to-earth working man who had practiced Aikido for several years. One night, when he came to class, he was very excited to share what had happened that afternoon. He was downtown just ambling down the sidewalk when -- WHAM! -- his legs felt as powerful as tree trunks rooted right there in the concrete slabs. Along with this sense of being deeply rooted to the Earth, he felt he could move with incredible strength. He said he felt he could have turned to the marble wall of the bank and he stood by and pushed it over. By this time we had witnessed enough which was out of the ordinary in that old shack of a dojo that I didn't doubt him. In fact, what he said about super strength just seemed natural in that context.

Super strength! Wow! That sounds good, where do I send the money?

It's not that simple. The Hara is much more than a gimmick. It is a product of that other world view which placed an emphasis on self-knowledge. Operating from the Hara combines the mind and body. In the sense that a "whole" represents something beyond the mere summation of its parts, the strength of a fully integrated mind and body represents a higher level of power.

The Power Stride

Let's adapt this technique to walking. Once you have begun to develop an awareness of your own Hara through the Power Glide it is an easy step to carry that awareness into more dynamic activity. We'll start with the Power Stride.

Have you ever watched an infant become a toddler; that is, have you watched someone learn to walk for the first time? It's really an eye-opening experience. It takes a lot of practice and determination to motivate around the house on two feet. In the process of learning to do something that you do now without thinking you probably took a lot of knocks, shed buckets of tears, and needed plenty of encouragement. I know I hadn't paid any attention to walking since those forgotten days when I was two feet tall, until I studied walking as meditation.

What you do is break each step into three phases:
- Lifting
- Swinging
- Placing each foot

All you do is pay attention to what you're doing. Instead of daydreaming about power and glory as you stroll along, think about walking while you walk. As you lift your foot, think "lifting"; as you swing your foot, think "swinging"; as you place your foot, think "placing". To begin this sort of exercise just walk slowly, one step at a time if necessary. In a little while you'll be able to maintain awareness at your regular pace.

To begin with, I noticed that I had only one foot off the ground at a time and that one foot's "place" corresponded to the other foot's "lift". Now add the Hara. Following the same induction process which you learned for the Power Glide, maintain your awareness in your center as you walk. Sense the pull of gravity, the resistance, which travels through your legs. Again notice the surface of each foot as it is mapped out by pressure. You are connected to the Earth and its power is flowing through you.

Power Running

Naturally, running comes next. Imagine that you are floating down the road with more grace and energy than you have ever had before. That's what it's like when your running originates from your center. The Power Run differs from the Power Stride in terms of where you focus your attention. Instead of following the placement of each foot, you follow your breath.

Essentially we are combining the breath mediation - Pranayama, learned earlier - with the Hara. This is easier than it might sound. Rhythmic breathing tends to naturally dominate my awareness as I run. It's a matter of necessity! Instead of ignoring the obvious, associate with the process. This was also discussed earlier. If you can't get out of it . . . get into it.

Now you're pounding down the road and following your breath. You are dragging the air in deeply to your diaphragm and expelling it just as completely. You are breathing from your Hara. Let your awareness center in your lower abdomen. Remember that you do this by feeling your Hara and not by thinking about it. Feel your hips as your legs swing. Imagine all the body's movement pivoting on your center; the motion of the arms, the twisting trunk, the swinging legs. Visualize the Hara floating over the road on a smooth, horizontal plain. When I practice the Power Run I immediately feel refreshed, my energy surges and my stride is less jarring.

You need to practice the Hara before applying it to weight lifting. The beauty of these meta-exercises is that they can be worked into your daily schedule if you can't add a special training session in your day. You can practice Hara awareness getting out of a chair, walking down the hall, climbing stairs or simply while waiting in line.

Before integrating the Hara with weight lifting let me point out a couple of things which ought to be pretty straightforward. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Lifting in the 5th Dimension isn't supposed to be a short cut, it is an alternative. I think that a lifter who has a functional command of his Hara will be a more effective lifter.

The Power Clean

Go back to the earlier article and re-read the description of the Clean. Now you should recognize the Hara. Remember when the old man told me I had to get my hips in closer to the bar? That's the Hara. I dynamic lifts like the Clean, which involves the movement of the entire body, the Hara is particularly obvious. In the Clean you counter pose your body mass against that of the iron. Using the Hara in the Clean is more a process of tuning the mind and body to the same channel so that the signal to lift travels efficiently and powerfully in a single direction.

Lifting in this manner, you are calm, alert and poised. Your mind does not wander out the window to what else you might rather be doing. Your posture and form are good because you are moving from the hips. If you've ever seen guys Clean from the shoulders first you know what I mean. They make two movements out of it instead of a single burst. Lifting from the Hara means your feet are firmly planted and you won't wobble. As important as it is that your body remains stable, it is equally important that your mind doesn't wobble. This is what we are just beginning to understand in the West.

Lifting from the Hara isn't something you will appreciate by seeing it. You will understand . . . when you do it! This of course means that you must first discover it. Consequently, the primary purpose at this point is to become aware of your Center.

Entering the 5th Dimension - Step #2

I. The Power Glide

(1) Slow your breathing (Pranayama). Inhale and exhale deeply from the Hara.
(2) Let your awareness sink into the pelvis as if drawn by gravity; feel your weight settle.
(3) Follow the flow on through your legs, which are supporting your center.
(4) Be aware of the surface where your feet and the Earth connect.
(5) Now glide, while maintaining the Hara on an even plain.

II. The Power Stride
(1) Enter calm state by following the breath (Pranayama).
(2) Let awareness sink into the Hara.
(3) Begin to walk slowly.
(4) Dissect each step into three phases:
a. Lifting
b. Swinging
c. Placing
(5) Follow each phase (associate) with your mind, quietly naming them as they occur.

III. The Power Run
(1) As you run bring your awareness to the Hara.
(2) Breathe rhythmically and slowly.
(3) Draw each breath to the Hara and expel it from the Hara.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Postural Defects - Dr. Walter C. Laberge

Correct Those Little Postural Defects
by Dr. Walter C. Laberge (1935)

A sound mind in a sound body is a good maxim. The sad part is that not everyone inherits a sound mind or a sound body or both. We find very few individuals who are absolutely healthy. Some of us inherit certain physical defects, others acquire them through bodily abuse, through faulty habits, through improper nourishment, etc.

The body is built and operates according to definite laws; and discord of the normal physiology can be traced to some disobedience of these laws. Many of the postural defects, though thought small at first, have through negligence and improper care gradually developed into gross deformities of disease. Did you ever hear someone tell a child to stand and sit erect? Probably you've heard it said to many a child, or for that matter many adults. "Straighten up" are words often heard by a child. He will do this; yet it is only an instant before he is back in the same faulty attitude. Many of the afflicted have not succeeded after persistently attempting to do their best. It is a physical impossibility for them to retain a correct posture.

Did it ever occur to you to find the cause of this? Some will say the child or adult will outgrow it. Now let me state right here, if left alone he will NOT outgrow it. As the child grows older and approaches puberty, that critical change from childhood to young adulthood, the entire system undergoes a readjustment, and many defects have a tendency to come to the surface. It is most frequently at this time, and during the following years of adolescence that common and well known affliction develops.

Now let us go to the bottom of most all anatomical and physical defects and ailments, i.e., the spine. The spine is the chief support of the body, and when anything is out of order with it the whole physical organism is affected. When the spine weakens the shoulders become drooped and stooped, the chest contracted and all the vital organs drop below their normal position in the body. Then all sorts of complications set in. Take for example a posture noticed on the average person know as round or stoop shoulders. This position is commonly attributed to laziness and indifference, and a few others may be from carelessness. But there is a class, and this is by far the largest, in which round shoulders are a real weakness in the body. And the weakness is not primarily in the shoulders as everyone thinks. The stoop is the result (an effect) of the real weakness.

Its origin will be found at and just below the waist line, in the lower dorsal and upper lumbar regions of the spine. Here will be found a backward tendency of the spine, a posterior curve, instead of the graceful inward curve at the waist line. This the the real, the original cause of the major portion of round shoulders.

This backward curve of the spine, instead of the forward curve at the waist line as it should normally be, takes away the 'brace' or truss of the spinal column, which is so essential in maintaining an erect posture of the shoulders. It allows the person to 'double up', squeezing the contents of the abdomen at the waist line, and to drop the shoulders, flatten the chest and depress the lungs. The back is one continuous backward bow. When the individual does try to sit straight it is with a constant effort; the normal physiological curves of the spine are not apparent. In other words, it is impossible for him to sit upright.

First then, there is a spinal weakness in the region of the nerve supply to the digestive organs; indigestion of various forms is a common accompaniment. The stomach being cramped and crowded down cannot digest the food properly. The liver cannot wholly eliminate the bile and poisonous matter from the blood, and the system is thus made ready to receive and retain disease germs. The natural action of the intestines is interfered with and the body is filled with impurities. The kidneys cannot thoroughly do their filtering work and this adds much more to the process of gradual destruction.

Second, the flattened chest lessens lung and heart capacity. The upper ribs are depressed, shutting off freedom of circulation to these parts. The lungs cannot expand sufficiently to take in enough oxygen to vitalize the blood, and the heart cannot keep it properly circulating. It is an actual fact that many cases of consumption and other dangerous ailments can be traced directly to spinal trouble. The round shoulders are of course most noticeable, and still the least serious.

Is it a wonder that a child's blood (or an adult's) is apt to be impoverished? Primal causes of anemia are poor digestion and insufficient aeration of the blood.

What, then, should be done in order to correct what the average person calls round shoulders?

From careful observation and study of these cases, it is evident that the treatment resolves itself into the treatment of posterior spinal curvature. Shoulder braces, steel braces etc. have little if any place in these cases unless there is diseased or damaged bone of such severity that the cast becomes necessary; such cases do not come within the scope of this article.

The treatment should be proper exercise movements of a character that would bring about the normal curvature of the spine, exercises that will make and keep the spine flexible, and exercises that will strengthen the appropriate muscles.

The individual must be conscious of the work required of him and act in harmony with his tutor. The individual's part is, in a way, as necessary as the work of the physical trainer or the physician. Usually when the person arrives at an age where pride of physique and gallantry enter as life factors, some individuals soon overcome the postural weaknesses. With others, only correct persistent physical training under a competent instructor will readjust the defect. It is a matter of record that bar bell exercises followed regularly and in a progressive manner bring about better results when the body is free of developed structural defects, imbalances and poor systems of movement.

Some day we will look for the anatomical defects and weak points which are inherited or developed over time and then correct and prevent them, thereby curing so-called inherited tendencies for certain diseases and deficiencies.

Rid yourself of physical ailments and imbalances while strengthening your physique, and you will plunge into life with renewed vigor and activity.

Dynamic Abdominal Health, Part Two - E.M. Orlick

Frank Zane

Joe Weider


For some unaccountable reason we human beings seem to know less about the make-up and functions of our own bodies than we do about our automobiles, radios, etc. To a certain extent this is understandable, for the latter are less complicated. But on the other hand, they are also much less important to our well-being. If a piston seizes or a radio tube burns out due to our ignorance we might be inconvenienced temporarily but replacements can be made, even if at a price. However, if through ignorance we permanently damage our heart or any other vital organ replacement is out of the question and the cost in mental and physical suffering, in loss of working time and even in direct treatment might well be thousands of times greater.

There is nothing of greater importance to an individual than his own life, despite the fact that he may be willing at times to sacrifice this for the benefit of others. It would be a safe guess to say that any sane individual if faced by the choice of giving up his worldly goods of his life would inevitably choose to give up the former. Yet in spite of this, millions of persons are at this very moment hastening their deaths through ignorance, abuse and neglect. It is strange indeed that the self-same individual who is ready to make any personal sacrifice whatsoever to stave off immediate death will do little or nothing now to prevent death at some later date. To see this in another light, let us assume we had the power to look into the future and could determine the exact date at which an individual was destined to die. Let us suppose further that this age was set at 60 years. Now, if we captured this man when he reached the age of 50 or 55 and gave him the choice of facing a firing squad or giving up all his worldly possessions there is little doubt at to what his choice would be. Yet this same individual if told a thousand times during his youth and early adulthood that he was cutting five or 10 years off of his lifespan through ignorance, apathy or self-abuse would be unwilling to make even the slightest sacrifice that he might live these extra years.

Think of the years that a person will spend in studying a trade, profession or business that he might obtain the necessities and some of the luxuries of life. In contrast ot this, think of the infinitely less time that the self-same individual will spend in studying his mental and physical make-up, both of which are even more important to health, happiness and a fuller life. It simply does not add up, for here we have sane human beings fighting for life with every means at their disposal and, at the same time undermining the very life for which they struggle; here we have individuals giving their utmost in time, effort and money that they might enjoy the pleasures of life, while at the same time they neglect or destroy those very things which make enjoyment possible.

Some of the things responsible for this paradox are perhaps excusable, but self-imposed ignorance on matters of vital importance to the individual himself certainly is not. Particularly is this true in respect to health and physical fitness, about which so much excellent knowledge is available. In fact one need hardly look for this information for we are almost continually surrounded by it. Our newspapers, the better class of magazines, our book stores, the municipal libraries, the radio, health association publications, and a host of other mediums are continually bombarding the public with information vital to good health. Unfortunately, knowledge cannot be gained by simply exposing yourself to it. It must be assimilated and this takes time and effort, and it must be put into use, and in respect to health and fitness this takes a certain measure of self-discipline.

To return to the anatomy and physiology of the abdominal region. It would be possible to describe these in a vague sort of way by the use of words chosen entirely from the "basic English" vocabulary about which at the present time there is so much talk. However, if something is worth knowing at all it is worth knowing in some detail and, in our particular respect, this involves the use of a fairly wide vocabulary including a number of technical words.

The authors have no desire to appear pedantic and make no excuse for using words which the average individual may not be familiar with. In every trade and profession there are hundreds of technical words which the interested individual must add to his vocabulary in order to understand the field of work in which he is engaged. In matters of health and physical fitness there are also technical words which the individual must add to his vocabulary in order to have a clear understanding of these important fields. A little mental effort and the use of a reasonably good English dictionary is all that is necessary to understand the description which is to follow. Certainly anything as important to you as this is worthy of some intellectual effort on your part.

The Abdominal Cavity

The abdominal cavity is situated in the lower part of the trunk, between the brim of the pelvis below, and the diaphragm above. It is bounded by the vertebral column at the back and by a muscular wall on the sides and in front.

The shape of the abdomen in infancy resembles a truncated cone, which has been inverted. As the individual grows up a change takes place with a definite difference appearing between the sexes. Thus in the adult female we find the original shape reversed, whereas in the male the abdomen becomes somewhat barrel-shaped with a front-to-back flattening.

The abdominal cavity is lined by a membrane called the peritoneum which, because of its moist, slippery surface, allows the visceral a limited amount of frictionless movement. The contents of this cavity have already been given elsewhere but bear repetition at this point. They are as follows: the stomach, the small intestine, the liver the gall-bladder, the pancreas, the large intestine (except the rectum), the spleen, two kidneys, two suprarenal bodies, the abdominal aorta and its branches, the inferior vena cava, the vagi, sympathetic ganglia and nerves, the beginning of the thoracic duct, and numerous lymph nodes.

Drugs, Food Fads and Other Dangerous Shortcuts to Abdominal Health

Shortcuts to wealth and health have, from time immemorial, been strewn with swindlers, confidence men, high pressure salesmen and quacks. A mixture of gullibility and ignorance combined with the desire to get something of value without working for it has made and will continue to make many thousands of persons the victims of unprincipled businessmen and out-and-out racketeers. P.T. Barnum, one of the great showmen of all times and a keen student of human nature, gave classic expression the this when he said, "A sucker is born every minute."

In the days of the traveling medicine show it was comparatively easy for a distinguished looking barker with a gifted tongue to spellbind almost any ordinary group of citizens with the wonders of a special snake oil which was guaranteed to more than half of the known ailments. Today, due to the higher educational standard of the masses, the "medicine man" would find it a difficult task to get Mr. Average Man to trade his dollar for a bottle of cure-all. Unfortunately, the medicine man, or at least his counterpart, has also kept pace with the times and in place of snake oil we have a hundred-and-one equally worthless concoctions bearing high sounding scientific names, supported by glowing testimonials, and deftly associated with real or fictitious big-name individuals or institutions. In place of the gifted tongue we have a host of high pressure advertising mediums such as the barker of old never even dreamed of. Amongst these might be mentioned radio, the press, the billboard, innumerable publications of all forms and person-to-person contracts.

Modern salesmanship isn't the kind you can walk away from as you walked away from the silvery tongue of the marketplace medicine man. It glares at you from billboards as you drive along the streets and highways; it forces itself upon your attention as you read your favorite newspaper or magazine; it blares defiantly at you from your radio or bathed in music and soft-spoken words creep quietly into your subconscious mind. You do not buy according to your reasoned preferences for these are determined for you. You do not buy according to your needs for even these are manufactured for you by semi-hypnotic suggestions, by false interpretations of obvious symptoms and by nourishing whatever hypochondriac tendencies you may happen to possess. The old-time medicine man knew something about human nature but compared to the scientific advertising psychologists of today he was a rank amateur. As a result of all this, some remarkable changes have taken place in the fake patent medicine racket. Whereas the medicine man of yesterday took in only the open-mouthed yokels, the medicine man of today takes in all classes of people from the dumbest to the smartest and where the old-timer filched the odd dollar here and there from the public, the modern 'benefactor of mankind' is filching millions.

To be sure there are in existence many laws destined to protect the public from such rank racketeers but unfortunately, due to laxity or loopholes, their effectiveness is almost entirely lost. Consequently the market is flooded with all manner of magic mixtures -- useless, harmless and dangerous -- purporting to cure everything from bunions to bald heads. Among the most common and also most dangerous of these are the 'obesity cures' and the 'constipation cures' which beat a steady tattoo on our eardrums via the radio and constantly assault our eyes from the pages of magazines and periodicals.

United States Government chemists and also chemists of the American Medical Association have frequently examined and exposed fake patent medicinal cures. For reasons beyond the comprehension of the layman these hardly ever appear in publications other than the more strictly scientific one and rarely name the exposed product outright. There are undoubtedly legal and ethical factors involved but surely there must be some direct way in which the government can prevent the sale and manufacture of products which are worthless or dangerous, despite claims made on their behalf.

On the 'obesity cures' which have been exposed there are two which have become more or less classic in medical literature. These had been advertised very widely and were sold over the counters of many respectable stores throughout the country at fantastic profits to the manufacturers.

One, when analyzed, was found to be made up of one pound of powdered alum, 10 ounces of alcohol and enough water to make up the remainder of the quart. It was estimated that the cost of these ingredients totaled about 30 cents. The sale price to the public was $20.00 per quart.

The other reducing compound was found to be made up as follows: 86.6% ordinary Vaseline, 6.6% salicycle acid, 5.3% menthol and 1.5% of some unidentified material. A three-ounce bottle of this sold for $10.00. Its actual cost was about 10 cents.

How effective are these for reducing weight? You have probably guessed the answer. Like all others of this harmless type, they are absolutely worthless as weight reducers. There are a few advertised 'obesity cures' which, under certain conditions are effective. For example, those which have thyroid extract as their active ingredient are effective in reducing weight where the obesity is due to under-activity of the thyroid gland. Likewise, obesity-curing concoctions containing dinitrophenol (!) may also be instrumental in reducing weight, but both of these drugs are positively dangerous when used indiscriminately and, the latter has been known to cause blindness and even death. It should go without saying that no sane individual would use either of these drugs or any mixture of them unless expressly advised to do so by a very competent physician.

From the above it is obvious that the popular magic weight reducers which are flooding the market today are of two types, the absolutely useless and the positively dangerous. Neither should be resorted to under any circumstances.

In recent years there has been a definite attempt on the part of certain companies interested in the manufacture and sale of laxatives to suggest their products as obesity cures as well as cures for constipation. Such a great emphasis has been placed on this relatively new use of laxatives that many obese persons who have never suffered from constipation have been tempted to try out this shortcut to a streamlined body. To the surprise and delight of many, the use of cathartics was actually followed by a loss of weight. Naturally this encouraged them to take larger and more frequent doses with the result that they soon became habitual users. In time, much to their disappointment, they discover that no permanent loss of weight has taken place. In other words, though the use of a cathartic is generally followed by loss of weight, this is soon made up again. The mystery is easily explained. The cathartic, in addition to stimulating bowel evacuation, also causes abstraction of water from the body. This is responsible for loss of weight but as soon as the individual partakes of water or fluid foods a replacement of the abstracted water commences and in a comparatively short time the body-weight of the individual is the same as it was before.

By the time the wishful weight-reducer gets wise to this he finds that though he was absolutely free from constipation before he is now a chronic sufferer. It he had known that excessive use of cathartics would weaken the muscle tone of the intestines and eventually lead to chronic constipation, you can rest assured that he would not have resorted to their use in the first place. Unfortunately, even after he has become a victim of this scourge, it is highly unlikely that that he would guess that a respectable, widely advertised 'constipation cure' is actually the cause of his constipation and, once again, he becomes the victim of a vicious cycle. Certainly the fake medicine man of today is far superior to his predecessor of yesterday for he not only provides the 'cures' but actually creates the ailments which make the cures necessary.

Despite the fact that there are times when a mild laxative might be in order, the excessive or habitual use of cathartics in any form cannot be too strongly condemned. In addition to creating constipation and failing to reduce obesity the use of cathartics might cause inflammation of the large bowel and, where the individual is suffering from appendicitis, actually bring about his death. If you must use a cathartic for a temporary attack of constipation, then use pure Castor Oil ( 2 tablespoons), or Milk of Magnesia (2 tablespoons). If you suffer frequent attacks of constipation, or if you get a pain in the abdomen, do not take any form of laxative until your doctor tells you to. In the first instance the cathartic would only aggravate your condition and in the second, if the pain is a symptom of appendicitis, it might constitute the last dose you will ever take.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lifting in the 5th Dimension, Part Six - Thomas R. Foote

Finding the Hara

The Power Glide

"This is your Hara," he said, placing his hands over his lower abdomen. "It is your center of gravity. It is also the CENTER OF YOUR BEING!" the roshi continued.

You might think that at this point I would have freaked out, but that's not the way it was. The guy looked so harmless that it was entirely natural just to stand there and wonder why you hadn't noticed your own Hara sooner.

"You will learn," he said, "to think from within the Hara. It will become the center of your consciousness."

He went on like that and I just accepted it as though he was describing the weather. Somehow it made just as much sense to me that consciousness could be located in the stomach as in the head.

Furthermore, the instructor started to demonstrate what he was talking about. Anybody with an intact nervous system could see that he knew something we didn't. I remember how he stood there like a heron on one leg and invited me to push him over. He didn't budge! It was like pressing against a huge tree rooted in bedrock. There he was, balanced on one foot, and I couldn't sway him. Later he would do other things which my 15-year old brain seemed willing to accept -- like throw me across the room and land be with precision -- without touching me.

Like I said, he knew something I didn't and he was trying to teach me what "it" was.

Standing loosely, he held out one arm at shoulder height and asked me to push against it. Naturally I bunched up my 15-year old shoulders, puffed up my narrow chest and PUSHED! He relaxed his arm and I plunged forward onto the mat.

"Now," he said, "keep your arms straight, but push with your hips."

This required that I take a fairly wide stance, flex my knees slightly, and "push" by rocking smoothly forward with my hips. This time, when he relaxed his arm, I stood my ground. It was my first practical use of this thing called the Hara. In addition to being a more stable way to move, initiating the push from the Hara was more powerful!

The Power Glide

In Aikido class we often began our sessions with a gliding exercise. Gently we became familiar with our center and learned to move from this strong posture. Eventually we would learn to initiate action from the Hara.

Take a look at the picture of Path Finder doing the Glide. With both feet firmly planted, he simply shifts his center of balance (the area enclosed by the circle). His weight is transferred first from one leg and then to the other, in a rocking motion, back and forth. The crucial element of the Power Glide is to keep the Hara moving smoothly through a flat plain. Don't bob up and down. Keep the hips moving horizontally.

Now that you've been introduced to a practical exercise -- practice it. Trying to become aware of the Hara should raise some questions. Some things you must FEEL, rather than THINK. The Hara must be felt! If you are sitting, feel the chair press against your body. Feel your feet interfacing with the floor. Previously you've been told it was gravity you felt pulling or pressing against you. What you feel is no more gravity than the printed word "WATER" will quench your thirst. What you feel is a sensation, call it what you will, and foremost it is pure experience.


Now stand up. Feel the sensation on the soles of your feet. Let the sensation map out each toe, the ball of the foot, the arch and tghe heel. Spread your feet to shoulder width and flex the knees slightly.

As you assume the stance the first thing you'll notice will be the tightening of the muscles of your inner thigh. If you have any discomfort in your knees it should go away with practice. This is a gentle exercise but you may require some warmup. Don't push it. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back it is probably an indication that your posture is incorrect. Were you leaning forward? Was your back straight? The back should be straight, shoulders back, and hips thrust forward slightly. When you get it right, it will feel right. Now try it again. Let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Again imagine the hips drawing a straight line as you move without bobbing up and down.

For all this verbal hocus-pocus,
the Hara is not an intellectual concept.
It is not an abstraction.
You will not become aware of the Hara by thinking about it.
You must feel it, and
there are many, many ways to find this feeling.

It is very physical and concrete, but it represents a different way of relating to the world. That's usually what happens when you borrow from another world.

Next: Relocating Awareness . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just Lift the #%@# Weight! - Denis Reno

Klein's Gym

Just Lift the #%@# Weight!
by Denis Reno (2007)

When it comes to crunch time in an important competition you really can't deal with a re-read of the complete instructions for proper technique and physical performance just before you lift!

At most, you can handle about one or two KEY words of action to help you make the lift. And the KEY phrase indicated in the title of this article may work for you. Other single words or phrases will also work for you only if you have been perfectly trained to properly perform the lift. For coaches working with athletes whom they have never coached personally, using keys like 'loose arms', 'strong legs', 'keep it close', 'high chest' usually help to make something positive happen in completing a lift. 'Keep elbows over wrists' during pulls, 'push your feet into the platform' and many other keys from decades ago are still very valuable. But key words specifically used by a technique coach in teaching Olympic (or other) lifting may help complete an attempt.

So, what is really needed for performance of a maximum Snatch or Clean & Jerk in competition?

The answer -- you need "almost perfect technique." Perfect technique in all positions of the lift, perfect technique with light as well as heavy weights, perfect technique over and over again in training. Each and every workout, continual training in -- you guessed it -- PERFECT TECHNIQUE.

-- Learn Balance of the Body, and Upright Posture ('Stand Up!')
-- Learn Balanced Support of Barbell on the Body.
-- Learn Proper Positions of Each Lift.
-- Learn Proper Movements from One Position to Another (partial movements).
-- Learn Proper Transitions from Pulls/Jerk Drives to Catches.
-- Combine Partial Movements, and full Snatches and Clean & Jerks.
-- Practice, Practice, Practice with gradually increasing weight.
-- Along with the Olympic Lifts Do Various Squats and Pulls.
-- Include Physical Conditioning Movements With/Without Weights.
-- Find Yourself an Experienced Olympic Weightlifting Coach.

Proper Coaching - Along with developing overall physical fitness, the coach first teaches body balance and the various positions of each lift. The first thing I usually teach is how to support the body in perfect balance (keeping hips over feet, shoulders over hips), without any added weight, and then with a stick, and then an empty bar. Feel your full foot on the floor. Keep the bar over the hips.

Snatch - We go from holding a bar behind the neck with a snatch grip, then pressing the bar slowly over the shoulders to a locked arm support overhead. We go from standing with a stick/bar held in front high on the torso, to a squat/screw-under to snatch support overhead (stand up on toes, elbows over bar, then drop into squat while rotating wrists and shoulders under the bar). We build snatch balance with overhead squats and "drop" squats. We build snatch strength with snatches from above knees, snatch pulls from the floor to upper thighs, snatch grip shrugs, and Snatches.

Cleans - We first teach the 'elbow turn' or 'screw-under' from the pull to catch position (stand up on toes with elbows over bar, then drop into half squat position while rotating elbows close to the ribs to bring elbows under and forward of the bar which is now on your shoulders). I am convinced that this is most important. Then we teach the clean from the upper thighs. In the same session we teach the pull from the floor stressing the knees moving backwards -- because this causes what we are really after -- 'keeping the angle of the back constant' until the bar reaches the upper thighs. We remind the lifters of their foot's full contact with the floor, including the heel. We stress tightness in the hip/lower back area.

Jerks - We teach holding the chest and hips high. We show the lifter that his tibia (lower leg bone) goes down to his heel. We tell them to feel their full foot and especially their heels on the floor as they partially squat down, and then extend their legs upward to throw the weight up (and slightly backward) over their shoulders. We tell the lifters to catch the weight with straight arms and shoulders reaching up while splitting their legs fore-and-aft with the hips directly below the shoulders and the barbell.

Hips - We key the hip area as the general center of balance for the athlete. We stress keeping the barbell close to the body and felt at the hips.

Legs - We stress using the legs in all positions of the lifts.

Arms - We stress relaxed arms and wrists.

Elbows - Keep elbows over wrists during the complete pull.

Back - We stress keeping the back straight, with lower back somewhat arched. We stress keeping the complete back held tight.

Shoulders - We stress keeping the shoulders relaxed on the pulls, forward or above the chest during the complete pull, reaching up on the Snatch/Clean catch, and reaching up on the Jerk support.

Butt - USE IT! It's full of muscles. It ties the upper body to the lower body.

Workout Program

Only after learning how to perform the lifts do you have to worry about a workout program (I'm speaking about the program for an intermediate or advanced athlete). This will vary the intensity of the weight (percentage of your best lift) that you use, the total load (the total amount of work that you do), variation of intensities and loads (called periodization or cycling) to maximize your strength development over the week, month, year or other period. There are a number of workouts in the various literature. Many of these will work for you as long as you pick/guess the correct maximum (best lift?), go into each workout with a positive attitude, are able to adjust poundages, sets and repetitions up or down depending on your situation for that day, etc.

Don't Be A Stubborn Athlete!

Give a new idea or key word a try! Unless you're a 40+ lifter who has been at it for years, figure that you can make improvement. If you're an older veteran lifter you can improve by trying for that perfect technique. And keep trying new ideas (like more, less, shorter or longer workouts, more rest, a change to a healthier lifestyle).

Enjoy a tough, productive workout.
Tough FUN!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LIfting in the 5th Dimension, Part Five - Thomas Foote


"What was that Hara-stuff you mentioned back there," inquired The Kid. He hoped if he could get Path Finder talking, he might ease the pace.

"For starters," Path Finder called over his shoulder, "where does it feel like you inhabit your body?"

"Well, let's see," The Kid stalled as he warmed to the task. "My feet hurt at the moment."

"Yes, yes," encouraged Path Finder.

". . . but," said The Kid tapping his forehead.

"But," said the old guide.

". . . I'd have to say it's up here in my head," he concluded.

"Right up there behind your eyes, I suppose," said Path Finder.

"Yeah!" The Kid agreed. "Must be the same for you, huh?"

"Well, not exactly,' replied Path Finder.

The old guide seemed willing to let the conversation die a natural death and became more concerned about their path. The surrounding terrain was becoming even more broken. The tumbled boulders lay all about them. The two continued to wind their way among the growing piles of stone in silence.

The Kid was comfortable with the lack of conversation. At first he just chewed the idea of "inhabiting his body." He wondered what Path Finder would have answered to the question, since he implied that he didn't just live in his head. Slowly, he became aware of his surroundings and lost interest in philosophizing. The piles of boulders were getting really weird. Huge rocks were balanced crazily in columns of varying heights. Some were quite tall and precarious. In fact, the whole landscape was dominated by giant towers of stacked boulders. Here and there the ground was littered with piles of smashed and jumbled rock, which seemed to attest to the probable life cycle of these formations. It was while scrambling over one of these tumbled rock heaps that Path Finder elected to break the silence.

Pausing, the old guide asked him, "Ever wonder what makes things fall?"

"Oh, that's easy," said his companion. "It's just gravity."

"And you know all about gravity, I suppose?" continued Path Finder.

"I know it's a law," The Kid said with confidence. "Where I come from any school kid knows that stuff."

"Ah, but this is the 5th Dimension" Path Finder reminded him, "and it's not where you come from."

"So what?" he said a little defensively.

"Well," said Path Finder pointing to a particularly tall column composed from square faceted stones and topped by a massive round boulder, "what would you say if I said these were sculptures?"

"I'd say you need to get out of the sun," replied The Kid. "These are a natural phenomenon. They're probably the result of erosion of something like that."

"They're natural alright," said Path Finder. "These are the product of Gravity and I wouldn't mention Erosion around him if I were you."

"Him?" The Kid said, shaking his head with an exaggerated display of doubt.

Just then their trail led around the base of one huge tower to reveal a sight which froze The Kid in midstride.

"Yup,' said Path Finder, as he calmly pointed at the gargantuan figure who dominated their path - "HIM!"

Looming before the travelers was a giant! Not just a giant, but a giant hefting a Volkswagen sized boulder. The great bearded figure, whose arms and legs rivaled the trunks of oak trees, was in the process of "sculpting." That is, the mammoth artist was deftly adding another huge stone to the growing tower.

For a brief moment The Kid had the fleeting impression of a big child totally absorbed, playing with his building blocks. But, just at that moment the great shaggy visage lifted from its concentration and held him riveted with a gaze. Abruptly, the giant dropped the boulder. Among the towering sculptures the crash of the huge stone echoed like cannon fire. The giant strode toward them. The Kid's blood froze like January ice. Desperately he turned to his guide for help. The old man just stood there calmly, his whiskery face split by a broad grin.

In a deep, slow voice which rolled like thunder the giant spoke.

"Old friend," the giant hailed, "what have you brought me?"

Intensely relieved, The Kid saw that the giant was smiling too.

"Gravity," the guide proceeded with introductions. "I'd like you to meet my new traveling partner."

The still shaken Kid extended his right hand which Gravity gravely accepted in a giantish handshake.

"And Kid," continued Path Finder with the formalities, "I'd like you to meet Gravity, our training partner.

Gravity for Granted

Gravity is another one of those pervasive elements of our daily experience which we rely upon, but take for granted. What makes a barbell heavy, anyway? Further, the more plates you slap on the bar, the "heavier" it gets. There is something fundamental going on here which itches for attention. What is this stuff that makes your feet stick to the ground, rocks fall, stomach sag and big hunks of iron smash your toes? When you fully realize that there would be no point to weight lifting without resistance, then it becomes obvious that gravity should concern lifters a lot.

We are immersed in something vital to our interests, which we can't see. What we can do is FEEL gravity. Actually, what we feel is resistance as we interact with our external environment. Gravity enters into our lives as an explanation for the resistance that we feel. And I'll guarantee something -- most folks don't have even a vague idea of what gravity is.

The Law & The Force

First, let's explore the more obvious (objective) Western version of gravity. From my daughter's junior high school science book I learned the following: 'Gravitation is a force which causes all things to be attracted toward the Earth's center." This might have been called the Big Magnet Theory.

This Law of Gravity seems to say that gravity is a force, an attractive force, which gets stronger the more stuff you have doing the pulling. Next, the further apart the two things are, the weaker the strength of the pull between them.

Back in 17th Century Europe this "Law" was hot stuff. Since then at least one other model has proven more useful. For some reason our school system decided my daughter was too young to hear about Einstein.

I guess I can understand the junior high school teacher's position that Einstein was a weird guy. This quiet kid would sit around pondering a lantern and wonder whether or not the light would be visible if he could travel as fast as it did. He probably isn't the sort of person you'd want your children studying. At about the age of 25 Einstein went ahead and described how gravity might work without resorting to the use of mysterious "forces."

Space Bending

Einstein came up with a cleaner model and called it "relativity". When I was a kid by big brother explained it to me like this.

"Look, stupid!" he said, flattering me. "There's no force pulling things down. Different amounts of matter have differing degrees of mass. See?"

"Yeah, sure!" I said quickly, afraid he'd otherwise keep the big secret to himself.

"Okay," he continued, "mass has this strange effect on space . . ."

At this point he paused for theatrical effect, ". . . It BENDS it!"

While my brain was reeling under the prospect of imagining "bent space" he went on.

"Next," he said, "the space around a big planet is warped more than the space around a dirt clod. So, when an object passes through this warped space, its course bends, so that it appears to be drawn toward the center of the mass. Right!?"

"Right!" I said. He was much bigger than me and tended to twist my arm when I needed persuasion.

About 25 years later when I researched this chapter, I read:

". . . the path of a free particle in space and time is determined by geometrical properties of space and that these properties are themselves determined by the masses of the bodies present."

I encountered that description with a strong sense of deja vu.

World Views

Now we've explored two Western notions of what makes weights feel heavy. They either emanate an invisible force or warp the space-time which surrounds them. If both of these options sound wild, that's good. I'd like you to loosen your grip a bit on some of the more familiar thoughts that we pretty much take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Background assumptions about what makes our world tick can all be lumped into something called our "world view." Perhaps the most interesting thing about a world view is that you don't generally know you have one. But it's there, none the less, working all day providing you with a general blueprint of reality.

There are lots of examples of world views which have been scrapped because they couldn't keep up with the demands made on them by changing times. For example, the Earth used to be flat and was trucked around the Universe on the back of a giant turtle. Good ideas like that had to give way, but you can bet your sweet barbell that such ideas didn't die easily.

There's a good reason for going into this world view stuff. You will need a proper sense of perspective before you can enter the 5th Dimension. You also need to realize that there have been many other views of the way things work and that, even now, there exists around this dirt ball called Earth many models of reality. Stranger yet, in some way they are all valid.

Inside View

Earlier on I mentioned lessons learned from Aikido, a Japanese martial art. The first lesson will be to turn your vision inward rather than outward. You will need to look inside yourself at your private or subjective experience. Western culture doesn't train us to do this very well, so don't be surprised if it seems a bit strange at first.

Aikido Lessons

Let me tell you how I encountered "Subject Gravity." When I was 15, my father and I decided to study an unusual martial art named Aikido. I'm not sure what we expected. We'd heard rumors that it was "different." This strange difference was largely attributed to the instructor, who was purported to be a man of unusual capabilities. So we were curious. It's also significant that at 15 I was uniquely impressionable. While I tended to reject everything my parents believed largely as a matter of teenage, I was very open to new ideas. In fact, I don't think I had experienced enough life to begin thinking critically. Instead, I just welcomed new ideas hand-over-fist, with a kind of thirst I would later learn to outgrow.

Our first night at the dojo - the school - was bizarre. Imagine this commonplace scene. My dad and I drove to the edge of town where an old military barracks had been relocated near the highway. In this austere World War II relic, several men gathered, all dressed in what looked to me like white pajamas. These men were "regular folks" who led otherwise respectable and predictable lives.

At some cue they all assembled on the big canvas mat which filled most of the floor space and bowed toward the wall where a framed portrait of some old gentleman hung.

Outside, on the bypass, cars roared as they carried other people to fulfill thoroughly comprehensible patterns. Inside we were preparing to enter the Twilight Zone. Before the assembled men in pajamas, the roshi (our teacher) took a comfortable stance. He looked most unremarkable. The man facing us was shorter than me, which afforded a good view of his balding head. Smiling around and under horn-rim glasses he presented an altogether affable appearance. And he was fat too. So there was this short, fat, balding man in glasses - wearing white pajamas. This was not a cunning figure whose words would inspire doubt in the listener's ear. On the contrary, this "roshi" looked so essentially normal that I was completely unprepared for what followed. Remember, I was expecting stuff about punches, blocks and kicks . . .

Low Intensity Aerobics For Relief of Workout Soreness - Mark Reifkind

Low Intensity Aerobics For Relief of Workout Soreness
by Mark Reifkind (1983)

Most bodybuilders are very familiar with the deep ache and pain that results from intense, heavy workouts. Consistent visits to the "pain zone" can definitely result in gains in size, strength and density. Yet, for the more advanced lifter who is on a split routine these daily visits to the pain parlor can have him alternately stiff and extremely sore in different parts of the body. This can become quite tedious and put a damper on one's motivation and enthusiasm for training. Combine this with a restricted diet and disaster could be right around the corner.

There is a way, however, to drastically reduce the levels of soreness while also losing fat, gaining endurance and generally improving your health, definition and conditioning. But before explaining the soreness reducing exercises the cause of the soreness must be examined.

When a muscle contracts the fuel for that contraction can come from various sources depending on the intensity of the contraction and the total duration of the contraction. A simple yet relevant example would be a set of curls for no more than 10 repetitions. For maximal, short bursts of energy (as in bodybuilding) the primary fuel is glucose (muscle sugar). As the muscle contracts, requiring glucose, the by-product is lactic acid. This process is called anaerobic (or without oxygen) breakdown. The harder and more often the muscle contracts, the greater the production of lactic acid. When lactic acid concentrations are built up to a certain level muscle contraction becomes impossible. This (lactic acid) is the cause of the "burn" in bodybuilding, as well as the soreness that results the next day. The presence of lactic acid (in the form of soreness) the next day also may be an indication that the muscle is not recovered from the workout. By strictly monitoring lactic acid concentrations in the blood, sophisticated track coaches have been able to drive their runners as hard as possible when fully recovered (lactic acid levels down), and ease up when not fully recovered (levels up), thus ensuring total intensity and full recovery.

This idea of hard-easy does not entail passive rest on the easy day as is often imagined. In aerobic (with oxygen) exercise of low intensity (pulse 120-130) which lasts 30 minutes or longer the primary source of fuel is fat! Muscle sugar is almost entirely spared, if the intensity is low enough.

But the important factor for the bodybuilder, full of lactic acid from his intense training, is that in the aerobic breakdown of fat for energy, lactic acid is not a by-product, but a FUEL!

By exercising aerobically, following high intensity lifting (either directly after, or better, the next day) lactic acid levels can be reduced very quickly. This type of program also has the benefits of providing cardiovascular and aerobic fitness, loss of fat (better definition and physical efficiency) and the euphoria that follows long term exercise (the runner's high has been documented).

Bodybuilders afraid of losing muscular size should note that Boyer Coe, the Mentzer brothers, Arnold and Chris Dickerson, among others, all participate in aerobics. That is, not sprinting as hard running or intense biking (judged by the inability to breath normally), which creates lactic acid and should be avoided. Any size lost will be fat, and what bodybuilder wants 20" arms if 5" are fat?

Aerobics will also allow you to consume more food and still lose weight (to a certain point, of course).

But beware! To the average bodybuilder weighing 160 pounds or more running can be very hard on the knees and lower back, especially if one runs on concrete. If you wish to run find a soft dirt of sawdust path. Biking is better as it involves the entire musculature of the leg (running uses primarily the leg biceps).

This can be done daily or on the off days of your workout. You will find that 30 to 60 minutes of aerobics will enable you to satisfy the urge to exercise and allow you to stick to a three day a week program (which most beginners and intermediates should be on). Or, if done following a workout, it can serve as a cool-down and also extend the high of your lifting session.

The aerobics rule is to never get out of breath. Bring a watch and keep your pulse rate between 120 and 130, thus ensuring cardiovascular benefit and low intensity. If you run begin by alternating running until you feel your wind going and then walking until it returns. Spend at least 30 minutes biking, running, walking at a good pace or swimming.

This program will promote greater recovery, growth, and will prime your metabolism while creating energy. Give it a try!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dynamic Abdominal Health, Part One - E.M. Orlick

Dynamic Abdominal Health, Part One (1944)
by E.M. Orlick, M.A., DIP. M.S.P.E.
and Joseph E. Weider (Editor-in-Chief of Your Physique Magazine


Many books and courses on the development of the abdomen have been written before this one. Some of them aren't worth the paper they are written on. Others are a mixture of fact and unadulterated bunk. Most of them have been written by 'muscle men' who professed more knowledge than they actually possessed. A number are merely conglomerations of sentences. Too many are simply epistles of self-glorification. Nearly all of them sell for three or four times more than they are worth.

Facts such as these led to the writing of this book. In it you will find none of the negative features mentioned above. There is no self-glorification, no padding with unnecessary words, no pet theories, no fictional hokum, no hidden advertising. It is a clear-straight-forward treatment of a subject of vital importance to you. Every statement is backed by the most up-to-date medical and physiological knowledge available. All information contained within its pages has its roots in scientific fact. Each exercise has been tried and tested and conforms to the best anatomical, functional and practical knowledge it is possible to obtain.

This book is a direct protest against the inferior type of books which have been appearing in this important field. It will undoubtedly set a new standard for health writers.

-- Stephen Armstrong, Y.M.C.A. Physical Director.

Cornerstone of Physical Fitness

There is perhaps no part of the human body which is more important to health and physical fitness and certainly no part which is more neglected than the abdominal region. For this reason, this book will be devoted almost entirely to this region with due regard being given to its relation to the physical fitness of the body as a whole.

One of the first and most obvious signs of physical deterioration and loss of youth is the sagging waistline. Most men, including many ex-athletes have flabby abdominal muscles by the time they reach 35 years of age. A combination of physical inactivity, overeating and often intemperate drinking soon starts the middle-age bulge on its way. These unfortunates soon find themselves the butt of harmless jokes on the part of their more youthful or more physically fit friends. Those who are sensitive about their appearance and alarmed that the thought that old-age is creeping up on them look around for something they can do. The solution for many is a superficial one, they take to wearing straps or waistbands to hold the mid-region in. Though this might well help to preserve their youthful figures and enable their clothes to fit for a while longer, the end result is more harmful than good. Giving artificial support to muscles already losing their tenacity simply gives these muscles less work to do and weakens them still more, with the result that either tighter of larger belts must be used.

On the other hand, there are those who seek to remedy the condition at its source by cutting out excess drinking and eating, or by doing setting-up exercises in the privacy of their bedroom. In so far as the imbibers are concerned the intentions are good but frequently the habits are stronger. For the over-eater, a combination of honest-to-goodness hunger, as well as habit, upsets his most resolute resolutions. Usually, this is due to the fact that he prescribes his own diet and, unless he is somewhat of an expert in this matter, denies himself foods which his body not only craves but actually needs in order to function efficiently. The tendency to put on weight is in all probability due to lack of exercise and overeating but it may also be due to some glandular disorder. Consequently, a physician would be the best-qualified man to determine the cause of putting on weight and also to prescribe any diets that should be followed.

In addition to cutting down on drinking and attempting to follow a restricted diet, the man who is developing the proverbial 'pot' often looks to exercise as his cure-all. Here again he runs into difficulties. If the exercises are of the wrong type or not strenuous enough, little or no results are forthcoming and, after a few weeks of this, even the most patient man gives up in disgust. On the other hand, he might do the right kinds of exercises but so overdo them that he suffers extreme discomfiture for days after, and again we have discouragement and finally a slump into the much easier path of letting nature take its own course.

Where the mid-line spread, or for that matter, overweight in general is due to overeating, there is only one sane way of reducing and that is through a combination of proper dieting and proper exercising. As already suggested, the dieting problem can be easily solved by a visit to your doctor or at least by following a system of dieting which has the approval of the medical profession. For the sake of convenience, such a system will be dealt with in a later chapter but only those persons who are certain that they are absolutely free from glandular disorders should hope to get any positive benefit out of such a dieting scheme.

In so far as exercise itself is concerned, there are again precautions which must be taken. The individual intending to do the exercises should know first of all that he is free from constitutional defects, particularly heart ailments and hernia, and, as stated before, only a physician is qualified to determine this. Having obtained the physician's approval, the overweight individual, or, for that matter any person who desires to obtain or maintain a strong, healthy, well-formed mid-region can begin to take the necessary exercises. These should be suited to age and physical condition of the individual, should be sufficiently varied to hold the interest of the exerciser and should be of a type which will bring the best results in the shortest possible time. Such a system of exercises, graded according to difficulty and accompanied by profusely illustrated descriptions, is included in the latter chapters of this book.

The importance of the abdominal region to health and physical fitness cannot be overemphasized. As already mentioned, there are superficial disadvantages to the bulging waistline including such things as an ungainly appearance, ill-fitting clothes, self-consciousness, and so on, but there are many far more serious disadvantages which are not quite so obvious. The overweight person by the mere fact of putting on extra weight of no worth puts more work upon his muscular structure thereby decreasing his physical endurance and decreasing his physical endurance while increasing his proneness to fatigue. The extra weight also impairs his muscular coordination, reduces his physical efficiency and decreases the speed with which he can make rapid bodily adjustments to various situations. The increase in fatigue and decrease in speed, skill and relative strength renders him far more liable to accidents and injury than he would be in a more normalized physical condition. In fact, the added fatty tissue itself, considered from a purely physical standpoint, becomes a liability, for in falling, tripping or failing with a physical exertion the pull of gravity on the fat man is relatively greater than when his physique was built of a healthier construction. Consequently, the force with which he strikes the ground is greater and, since the bones are no stronger and the muscles, relative to the bodyweight, are inevitably weaker, the possibility of more serious damage is considerably increased.

The putting on of excess weight and the gradual deterioration of muscle tone tend to set up a vicious cycle from which it becomes increasingly difficult to escape. The decrease in speed, skill, strength and endurance, and the increase in susceptibility to fatigue make the individual less capable of participating in physical activities of any duration, take the joy out of participation and eventually destroy even the desire itself. As can be readily seen, when this happens more weight is put on and the muscles become flabbier still, and so it goes, on and on.

A great deal of the pleasure in life comes through recreational activities of a physical nature that we participate in. Much of our relaxation from the constant pressure of work, study business and everyday living comes through the same source. Many of our social activities and hence the development of acquaintances and friendships are associated with such activities as golfing, boating, swimming, hiking tennis and other forms of 'unwinding' activities, as well as the more competitive team and individual sports. When we allow our muscles to become flabby and put on excess weight we not only kill the joy in these activities but dampen our enthusiasm for them and, because of physical limitations, may eventually have to cease participating in all or most of them. Needless to say, this will have certain negative repercussions on our personality as a whole and hence in our relationships with the many individuals with whom we live, work, and play.

The psychological implications in the above sentences are many, but there are others which are not so apparent. Physical weakness and physical deformity, even in the form of being underweight or overweight, can and often do lead to inferiority complexes of various intensities. The 'fat' person is almost always sensitive about his excess weight and, particularly so when this develops after reaching physical maturity. He becomes the butt of numerous quips and jokes and though he may put on a good front and laugh them off, they nevertheless leave their mark. His obviously poor physique, ill-fitting clothes, ungainly appearance, loss of grace, poise and dignity all have some negative mental effects. The knowledge that he is definitely inferior to others and even to his own previous standards, in any sphere of physical activity, tends to undermine his his self-respect, weaken his self-confidence and take the edge off his normal aggressiveness. Such a combination of negative factors might well warp his personality and eventually give rise to an inferiority complex with far reaching detrimental consequences.

However important these mental aspects might be, there are the even more obvious physical aspects to be considered. In the abdominal cavity are contained such vital internal organs as the stomach, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, suprarenal bodies, the small intestine, the large intestine (with the exception of the rectum), the inferior vena cava, the abdominal aorta and its branches, the beginning of the thoracic duct, numerous lymph nodes, the vagi, sympathetic ganglia and nerves.

Even to list the possible diseases and ailments which are associated with these vital organs would be a lengthy tack. They are not by any means all caused by poor physical condition or a sagging abdominal wall. Nevertheless, the general state of health and particularly the muscular health of the abdominal region does influence susceptibility to disease and dysfunction and plays an important part in the speed and effectiveness of recovery.

The main function of the abdominal muscles is to hold the viscera in place. When the abdominal muscles become weak and saggy a prolapse, or falling down, of the viscera takes place and we have what is commonly called visceroptosis. The individual who has become the victim of such a condition almost invariably begins to complain of indigestion, gas on the stomach, constipation and whatever else his untrained mind can pick on as the root of his frequent attacks of discomfiture and pain. It is possible that one or more of a number of these things might be the immediate cause of his suffering but it would be wiser to look upon these as symptoms of something even more basically wrong.

Unfortunately, the average person rarely does this. If he suffers pain in the mid-region and discovers that his bowel movements are difficult and infrequent, he invariably turns to some kind of laxative for relief. In most cases, the laxative has the desired effect and the sufferer is satisfied that the cause of his constipated condition has been effectively dealt with. In due time he suffers another attack and more laxatives are used and so it goes with the attacks gradually occurring more frequently and with increased severity. The sufferer, due to lack of knowledge and high-pressure advertisement, has become the victim of another vicious cycle. The constipation is temporarily relieved by laxatives and cathartics; the laxatives and cathartics weaken the muscle tone of the intestines; this leads to severer and more frequent attacks of constipation; to relieve these the sufferer must use stronger or larger doses of laxatives and cathartics; these in turn weaken the muscle tone of the intestines still more until chronic constipation, with any number of accompanying complication, may result.

To the uninformed all this seems to have little to do with obesity and visceroptosis or with weak and flabby abdominal muscles but there is a very close connection. To understand this relationship one must know something about the make-up and action of the intestines. Any good textbook on anatomy and physiology will give the reader a very complete picture of the part that these organs play, but for our immediate purpose a brief description should suffice.

When we partake of some food, it is masticated and insalivated and then passes down the esophagus into the stomach where a good part of the digestive process takes place. On leaving the stomach the contents go through the pyloric orifice and pass into the small intestine. For about 10 inches this is known as the duodenum proper. This is a tube-like structure with a diameter averaging about 1.5 inches. It is laid in the middle of the abdomen and looks like a series of tangled loops. The small intestine leads into the cecum, which is actually the beginning of the large intestine. The large intestine, like the small one, is tube-like in form. It is five feet long and is divided into the cecum, the colon (ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid flexure), and the rectum.

The two intestines have one very important feature in common. The walls of both contain a muscular coat made up of one layer of longitudinal and one layer of circular muscles. The contents of the intestines are moved by means of the latter layer of muscles. These ringlike muscles contract one after the other setting up a peristaltic wave which literally squeezes the food along the tube. In the small intestine this is doubly important for it not only moves the food along but also brings it in contact with the digestive juices.

By the time the the contents of the small intestine reach the beginning of the large intestine all or most of the digestible material has already been absorbed. The materials which remain, namely water, undigested food, parts of the bile, certain mineral matters and the mucus from the inner lining of the tube, go to make up the feces. Then these enter the large intestine they are carried along to the middle of the transverse colon by the peristaltic action already described. Then a backward peristaltic wave results and the feces are carried back toward the cecum. The resulting backward and forward movement not only mixes the contents thoroughly but allows most of the water to be absorbed, changing the feces from a liquid into a soft tissue.

When the feces eventually leave the transverse colon, the peristaltic action carries them through the descending colon and finally into the sigmoid flexure where they remain stored until their presence excites a desire for expulsion. When this takes place the peristaltic action in this particular part of the intestine is again set into motion and this, coupled with the aid of the diaphragm and the muscles of the abdominal wall, forces the feces into the rectum, past the external ring of voluntary sphincter muscles and out through the anus.

When food in excessive quantity is taken, its stay in the intestine is prolonged. This gives the many bacteria which can be found here an opportunity to work and, as a result, either fermentation or putrefaction take place. Though this is bad enough, the excess food leads to excess fat which in turn places a great deal of extra work on the kidneys. How important this is is apparent at once when we learn that the kidneys are responsible for maintaining the normal composition of the blood, not only in regards to sugar and salts, but also in respect to the nitrogenous wastes.

Excess fat in the abdominal region and any displacement of the viscera (visceroptosis) also tend to slow up or impede the movement of the feces in the large intestine. Besides allowing fermentation or putrefaction to take place this causes a bulking of the feces and places an extra strain upon the muscular walls of the intestines. When the circular muscles are stretched beyond their normal limits they tend to lose their tonicity and with it their contractibility. Consequently, the peristaltic action, which is so all-important in moving the feces, is greatly weakened and we have a general slowing down of this part of the waste-eliminating process. As with excessive eating, this leads to an abnormal degree of fermentation and putrefaction with well-known detrimental results.

In addition to all this, flabbiness of the abdominal muscles, whether or not accompanied by obesity and visceroptosis, has a two-fold detrimental effect. The abdominal muscles are of importance in the movement of the feces and in the act of final evacuation. When these muscles are weak, the above mentioned actions are considerably slowed down and again we have bulking, fermentation and putrefaction. Finally, the normal everyday actions of the abdominal muscles are also important to internal health for through these the internal organs receive a thorough-going daily massage. Where the abdominal muscles are weak and flabby this beneficial toning up effect is greatly reduced and there is a tendency toward what might well be called visceral sluggishness.

Among the lesser evils associated with visceroptosis, sagging abdominal walls, and obesity in the abdominal region is a postural condition which might be called functional lordosis. This is, in effect, a hyperextension in the lumbar region, in simpler words an increased inward curve of the spine in the hollow of the back, together with an increased tilt of the pelvis. In some rare cases this condition is the result of a definite structural defect, but in the cases which we are considering it is merely an artificially assumed position which has certain compensatory advantages. This in visceroptosis and abdominal obesity, we have excess frontal weight which tends to throw the sufferer out of his accustomed balance. To compensate for this he leans further back, with the result that he not only increases his lumbar curve but develops a duck-like waddle in his walk. Where the abdominal walls are sagging there is not only a tendency toward an increase in the tilt of the pelvis but also a tendency for the individual to lean backwards thus tightening his abdominal walls by simply stretching them to a point where they actually feel taut. This simply adds to the artificially exaggerated curve in the lumbar region and in no way strengthens the abdominal walls.

By now even the most skeptical individual ought to be convinced that the abdominal region is truly the cornerstone of physical fitness. However, lest even the slightest doubt to this effect be entertained, we present a few conclusive facts culled from statements emanating from the Unites States Public Health Service: "There is a great excess of mortality among overweight persons, whatever the age. Heart disease deaths among persons over 45 years of age who are 50 pounds overweight are 18% higher than those of normal weight. Kidney disease deaths take the heaviest toll of persons 50 pounds or more overweight irrespective of age. Cerebral hemorrhage or apoplexy occurs much more frequently among those who are overweight." In support of this we have the following statement from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company: "It's an unfortunate fact that excessive fat places a great deal of extra work on the heart, kidneys, and lungs; work from which there is no relief." That is why overweight can be a threat to health. Figures show that people over 45 who are 20% overweight have a death rate 50% above average.

From the above facts and those which preceded them, it can be readily seen that not only health and physical fitness but even life itself may depend to a great degree upon our desire and ability to fend off the related evils of obesity, sagging abdominal muscles and visceroptosis.

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

The Gateless Barrier
by Thomas Foote (1985)

The way to Shambala, as The Kid was coming to realize, was not without obstacles. First he was expected to leap fallen bridges, then his guide materialized objects out of nowhere. Thus lost in thought, The Kid failed to notice that he'd been trudging into a deepening gloom -- at midday! Suddenly a great wall, whose shadow captured light like a huge net, rose awesomely before them.

"What is this?" whispered The Kid.

"The Gateless Barrier," answered Path Finder. Seemingly unconcerned, he sat down in a comfortable cross-legged posture.

In the false night of the great barrier, The Kid advanced to the wall and ran his hands over the rough, unyielding boulders.

"We'll never get through this," he whined. "We'll never see Shambala!"

Patiently Path Finder addressed him. "Don't you recall I said to have faith in yourself? Now just sit down and do as I say." Reluctantly, The Kid sank down in a squatting position beside the old guide.

"If we are going to cross this barrier," Path Finder explained, "we must observe our breathing."

"Come again," replied the uncomprehending Kid. "I need to scale a wall and you want to sit and watch your belly rise and fall."

"Listen!" hissed Path Finder with sudden urgency, "or be lost. This is the 5th Dimension, not the Outer-Lands with which you are familiar."

Grudgingly, The Kid admitted to himself that the old man had a point.

"Okay," he conceded "show me your stuff."

"Just sit here calmly," instructed Path Finder. "Now as you breathe, observe the breath as it rushes past your nostrils. Try to inhale deeply, feeling the pull from the Hara . . ."

"The What-a?" interrupted The Kid.

"Later," continued Path Finder with ill-concealed exasperation.

"Don't get tense," replied The Kid. "If you'll just say what you mean and forget the fancy words, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it."

Rolling his eyes, Path Finder took several deep, slow breaths before continuing.

"Now, let's see . . ." the guide said, "where are we? Oh, yes, observe your breath as you inhale. Then watch the tide reverse as your lungs empty. Try to breathe naturally. When voices chatter in your head -- don't try to stop them. Just let them in one door and out another. Don't hold on or follow them out the door. Just return to the rhythm of your breathing."

"Sounds easy," concluded The Kid. "Now was that anything to get upset about?"

"Of course you're right," murmured Path Finder. "There's one more thing. Pay particular attention to the moment when the tide of your breathing changes from in-rush to out-wash. This is a very special moment . . ."

"Got it!" replied The Kid. "Now let's get with it and stop all this chatter."

"Gratefully," grunted Path Finder, becoming as still as a stone. Together the two wanderers sank into a deep silence. Only the slow, deep breathing of the two men disturbed the darkness below the great wall.

Suddenly, The Kid was roused from his quiet contemplation by a stabbing light.

"Hey, Path Finder!" he shouted. "Look at the wall. There's a big HOLE in it. Is this more of your conjuring, like that screwy compass?"

"Not at all," the old man observed. "This time it was your own magic."


What's the stuff about a Gateless Barrier? Ask yourself, "What do barriers do?" They divide things. This particular barrier is very tricky. It divides your own experience of simply being into two parts -- the experience of Mind and the experience of Body. This divided state is what we call "normal". The bad news is that to accept being divided is like living with a chronic disease. Everyone you know has the same disfiguring sickness and as far as you know, that's the way it should be. The good news is that the Gateless Barrier is also a solution to the problem.

It's a wonder to me how smoothly this image of a barrier can serve a dual purpose. It is basically a riddle and when you find the solution you can pass to the other side. In order to reach the 5th Dimension in your lifting, it is necessary to get past this particular barrier.

At the beginning of this chapter, The Kid was faced with a seemingly impenetrable wall which lacked a gate. That's the way it is for someone who has never been whole, but rather, has only known themselves as a separate mind and body which mysteriously manages to occupy the same space and time. The Kid was lucky -- he had a guide. Path Finder showed him how to find the Moment of Power, when space/time is frozen and you can pass through the barrier into the 5th Dimension.

The trick is to enter the right state of consciousness, something that can be done through meditation. The weird thing is, once this is done, the barrier is never really breached, instead it redefines itself. Now you see it as it really is -- GATELESS! The way through is wide open, in fact it always was. There never was a gate. The separation between mind and body was an illusion.

The reason for getting beyond the Gateless Barrier is simple. Weight lifting in the 5th Dimension is different. In the normal world, where the mind and body are experienced as separate, you can't bring your total power to bear. You are divided. At the best of times, the wall dissolves and the two halves communicate. Your lifting improves. This can happen under stress, like when you are going for a new maximum in a lift. The experience you have is of being very psyched. Your mind is focused on just one thing -- the lift. Nothing distracts you and when the time comes you ram it home, and it was easier than you expected. Such moments are great, but can you count on them? That's why you need to get beyond the wall.

Once you reach the other side, the journey isn't over. There's a lot to learn in the 5th Dimension as you'll see in later chapters. For now we need to take one step at a time and begin by learning to cross the barrier. It is done during the Moment of Power, which I stumbled on by accident.


There I was doing dips. Slowly, I lowered my body between the parallel bars. Reaching the bottom, the stretch in my shoulders could definitely be felt. Then came the decision point, when I had to press myself back to the starting point. I could feel the pecs taking the load, then the deltoids took hold and finally the triceps fired and I was up.

On that particular morning another guy was waiting his turn at the dipping bars. While I worked, I could hear him grumbling about the work to come. We were close acquaintances in the strange way of people who have the same workout schedule get to be. That is, I didn't know his name, but I knew enough about him to was philosophically about exercise.

"Try focusing your attention," I suggested, "on the moment when you decide to press up."

He looked interested in anything that might reduce the pain.

"It's kind of like meditation," I continued. "Instead of paying attention to the work you're doing, going up and down, watch for that moment where you make the transition between the two phases. The turnaround."

I don't know if my acquaintance ever made much of my advice. He went on to run marathons and gave up weights. I had surprised myself, however, by voicing the connection between Dips and Pranayama. I had, indeed, been meditating on the Moment of Power for some time, without consciously seeing the connection.

Breath of Life

'Prana-what?" you might ask. "Sounds like a new flavor of yogurt."

Wrong. It's a form of meditation that was devised in ancient India. In Sanskrit "prana" means something like "breath" -- and more. It refers to some kind of life energy that can be derived through breathing. The whole thing, "pranayama," refers to a "science of breathing and represents a whole school of yogic meditation.

It seems the ancient Indian scholars made the spectacular discovery. If they suffocated someone the victim died. AH-HA! They realized breath was necessary for life. Thus, they reasoned, when one breathes, one inhales the vital energy which sustains life. They went on to discover ways of "breathing" oneself into immortality, but it was so long ago that everyone forgot how (perhaps due to hyperventilation). However, we are left with some neat breathing exercises, one of which has special significance for weight lifting because it will lead us to the Moment of Power.

Let's examine a specific form of Pranayama. We'll call it simply "following the breath," which is a good operational definition. All one needs to do is follow these simple instructions:

1) Sit down comfortably
2) Breathe naturally
3) Observe the process

An alarm should have gone off in your head at the mention of "simple instructions." Haven't you encountered those reassuring words in the directions for assembling Christmas presents and then spent frustrating hours getting it wrong?

This form of meditation would fit into either Type 2 - passive/inclusive, or Type 4 - passive/exclusive, depending upon whether or not you do it with your eyes open. Either way it's an exercise in "peeling the onion," that is, association.

You will notice that "meditation" really just amounts to paying special attention to what you are doing. You associate with the task at hand rather than dissociate from it. Breathing is one of the simplest and purest activities through which to study raw experience. Associating very closely with it is often described as "observing" it. What it means is that you pay very close attention to all the sensations of breathing as they occur. That is, you "feel" the air rush past the nostrils, and you "feel" the diaphragm drop while the abdomen expands. You may visualize the prana/energy rushing into your abdomen as you inhale. Before the process reverses, you will notice a transition.

As Path Finder pointed out, between the phases of breathing there is a very special moment. Ancient yogis learned to watch for this moment because they believed it had special properties. In the 5th Dimension it is called the Moment-of-Power.

The Crossing

Recognizing the Moment of Power requires great subtlety. To notice it means you're refining your technique and improving your powers of association. This moment has "special properties." At this moment the dualism of mind and body is least apparent. It is at this moment that mind and body are "yoked" and a special wholeness is experienced. The Gateless Barrier is suddenly "gateless" and you may freely enter the 5th Dimension.


We've been talking about "following the breath" in order to become tuned into the Moment of Power. In one sense, you are using your ability to direct your attention and pointing it at a special event -- space between breaths. This is a basic exercise in association.

The next step to lifting in the 5th Dimension is a simple extension of the first step. Your faculty of "attention" must be focused in a special way on each repetition as you exercise.

Each repetition consists of two phases, one aggressive and one submissive. Between the two there is a singular instant where transition from downward energy to upward energy transpires. One simply focuses the attention on the transitional point, without interfering with the flow of energy. This is not as easy as it sounds. There is a natural tendency to interfere with the flow. During Pranayama it takes the form of slowing the breath and self-consciously prolonging the pause between inhaling and exhaling. It takes practice to let the breath come and go naturally, while remaining intent on observing the Moment of Power. In like manner, I'm not suggesting that sagging there at the bottom position of a Dip is a special event. Don't just hang there, waiting for enlightenment to arrive like a bolt of lightning. You have to keep the momentum and timing natural. There is a sense of rhythm to any set of good reps and you don't want to lose it. But this doesn't preclude watching for the instant. It takes practice, just like Pranayama, but once you "feel" it you'll recognize it. The pull of wholeness is very strong.

Altered States

Now we've progressed from focusing on breathing to focusing on doing reps, where I've said that you'll discover something. Just what does "it" feel like? That's a real tricky issue, but a very important one. First off, realize we're talking about something you will feel, rather than hear. Words are a little inadequate at such times. Imagine trying to tell someone who has never eaten a banana exactly what to expect. Remember, you are expected to communicate the experience of eating a banana so well that this person will recognize one by taste alone. The Moment of Power isn't a banana but it is an experience. When your attention is calmly, yet sharply tracking your every move during a rep, there is a change in your consciousness. By degrees, depending upon your skill, your mind and body become less separate. As the barrier between mind and body dissolves, the experience becomes more intense. You become the activity. If you are bench pressing, then BENCHING is all that is happening. There is no longer any "you" doing the benching and thinking about how to bench properly. There is no subject/object split. You become the benching!

This sounds a little odd, right? It should. The 5th Dimension is an altered state of consciousness. We are talking non-ordinary reality. It should also sound effective. In 5th Dimension you are not distracted. You are not doing two or three things at once, like benching while listening to your partner discuss last night's activities at the tavern, or listening to the music cranking out of the gym speakers, or thinking about how you should use your lats when benching. Instead, you have willed yourself into a natural high. You are truly psyched and your lifting will show it.

Entering the 5th Dimension - Step #1

Phase I - Observing the Breath
(1) Sit comfortably
(2) Breathe naturally
(3) Focus attention on "space" between breaths

Phase II - The Moment of Power
(1) Observe breath between sets. This is the induction into the altered state of consciousness.
(2) While lifting, focus attention on "space" between reps.

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