I wrote this a couple of months back as a guest blog for Tamara at http://www.fitknitchick.com
I have been contemplating heavily in recent weeks about the idea of exercise being a physical form of music which offers parallel sensations and benefits.
Music to my nerves…
I practice strength training for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that the connection it fosters between the thinking me, and the physical me can be as soothing and as formative in my life as music has been. In that sense, the act of strength training is music – physical music.
The body in motion, acting as directed by the mind, cooperatively though under stress, is a kinetic ensemble which can blend to create a satisfying result. That kind of ensemble movement can be to feeling, what an ensemble of sounds can be to hearing.
Being strong is a good problem to have…
The utility of strength training in the modern era is unequalled as a form of exercise. That is just my opinion. However, as a person who has taught exercise beyond traditional strength training, and as an athlete who over a lifetime has practiced and participated in many more genres of sport and fitness, I believe my opinion is worth your consideration.
It may be called strength training, but practiced properly its value extends far beyond strength.
Sticks and stones…
There is no type of medicine that can reverse the inevitable loss of bone density which occurs in people beyond middle age. There are some relatively benign medications which can slow down the loss of bones density, and a couple of more harsh medications that can cease it. None of these medications though, can be taken without inherent vulnerabilities disclosed elsewhere.
The regular practice of strength training can slow down the onset of bone density loss in all ages. So long as the strength training is practiced properly, it comes with almost no vulnerabilities. Tension on muscles equals tension on bones, and regular tension on bones is what helps slow down the loss of density.
Love me tendon…
Strength training makes muscles stronger. And trees are made out of wood. What goes largely unrecognized with strength training, and largely unappreciated, is that strength training can promote tendon strength as well. Tendons are where muscles taper, become increasingly dense, and fuse muscles to bone – just above and just below our joints.
Having stronger tendons offers our joints greater support. For those who experience difficulty with joints due to injuries, arthritis, or other damage, having stronger tendons on each side of the joint can offer needed support.
The practice of traditional strength training, using lighter to more moderate weights, performed slowly, and through a complete range of motion will help tendons become stronger. The support increased tendon strength offers those with trouble joints can be summed up in one word; confidence.
Of all the values associated with strength training, the one that goes the most unappreciated, underrated, and the one which is rarely maximized by the general fitness population, is the transition phase during the lift.
When one transitions from the eccentric phase of a strength movement, to the concentric phase, and maintains absolute control of the weight during this transition, as he applies complete concentration to the muscles involved, true strength is developed. This is the kind of strength that generates confidence as much as it generates power – everyday life kind of strength.
Strength gained from mastering the transition phase of a resistance exercise is most applicable to one’s daily life – much more so than the bragging rights associated with how much weight was on the bar. This can be where mommy strength is created, where the might of a daddy is developed, and where the power of the employee can be cultivated. This is the kind of strength one will appreciate possessing – beyond the gym walls.
(an example of a seamless transition in a strength exercise)
Beyond pop: melody, lyrics, and structure…
A pop song is often underappreciated – just something to be heard as background noise or to pass the time. However, there is much more behind a pop song than most people will ever recognize or appreciate. There are benefits to a pop song far beyond superficial entertainment. When one extracts the multitude of values contained in a pop song; the lyrics, the intentions, and the energy, and applies those values to their own frame of mind, a person’s world can be changed for the better.
Traditional strength training is often considered to be superficial, like a pop song. Lifting weights equals bigger muscles, and more strength – big deal.
Like music though, strength training can offer much more when accepted on a more visceral level. When one extracts the multitude of values, and better understands the reaching benefits of strength training, a person’s world can be changed for the better.
Of course the benefits of strength training don’t end there. With regular strength training, one’s blood pressure can be reduced, attention spans can be increased, and mental acuity can be heightened. Strength training can promote better balance, enhance flexibility, and of course, improve our appearance.
Of course all of that should be music to everyone’s ears. Be well… rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from The Cure, my favorite pop song — EVER! Enjoy…