Know Your Goal (resistance training redux)

One twin trained for running; the other for field events. I got this great photograph at:

(Rennie, M. J. (2005), Body maintenance and repair: how food and exercise keep the musculoskeletal system in good shape. Experimental Physiology, 90: 427–436. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2005.029983. The article’s entire text is online. Sorry I haven’t figured out how to create a hyperlink yet.

Rennie’s article looks at the then-somewhat-new area of genetic inheritance. He assesses the research at that time (2005) as indicating a 50/50 split between genetic and environmental influence.

Lesson: be careful what you wish – that is, train – for. You can make yourself into many different you’s. Which do you really want? And why?

Rennie’s study also documents experiments showing reduced amino acid absorption in persons around 70 years and older. The article contains a novel tip (for me anyway): eat heavy on protein following exercise. He also says that the ratio of protein:energy should go up for aging persons. That is, protein should make up more of the total calories that older persons consume in a day. The studies show a loss of muscle mass and basic withering after age 50. Question: why? Answer (in part): reduced amino acids getting into the system.

I will continue searching for more up-to-date evolutions of the work of Rennie and others.

But about that resistance training and why I have such problems getting my mind and spirit to cooperate with ‘what’s good for me.’ Here’s an illuminating quote from yoga teacher Rodney Yee:

One of the things we always teach is to use the practice to feel what is. Not to BECOME (caps mine) something necessarily, but to focus on the unfolding of the present moment. There’s so much joy and so much beauty being offered to us in every moment. We always try to emphasize that the practice should illuminate what is unfolding in the present moment, not just what we desire to unfold,

(interview in The Blog by Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D., Mg. Editor, Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee on Finding Your Inner Yoga. Posted: 12/23/2013 11:47 am EST Updated: 02/22/2014 5:59 am EST)

What I’m hearing is that Yee and Steadman Yee concentrate on nowness (or mindfulness), rather than goal-orientation. That is one reason why I don’t like resistance training. The payoff seems to be in the future. The exercise in itself is unpleasant, especially at the point of maxing out the muscle. Yoga is not designed to have this effect.

It’s true that when you start practicing yoga, or when you try new sequences, you can find yourself maxing out. In yoga, however, a good trainer will suggest that you not push. The practice emphasizes interior awareness. The building of stamina, flexibility, and strength is a by-product of continuing yoga, not the everyday goal of a yoga session.

I have to give a proviso. Many yoga sessions are indeed workouts. They feature exercise leaders, not necessarily yoga trainers with an eye toward inner awareness, which requires attention more than muscle exertion.

I suppose this makes me more of an essentialist than a utilitarian: I want the process to be equal in importance to the end-product.

It’s also true that the iron-grasper gets a mental zap, when he or she gets off on lifting a large weight or increasing the number of reps. But this effect is different from what Yee is referring to. The zap seems closely tied to endorphins and the attainment of pre-set goals.

Endorphins are bound to enter this conversation soon, right?

How much zap does a good zap zap, if a good zap is not zap?