Monday, August 18, 2014

“In the end it's not about how many breaths you took. 
In the end it's about the moments that took your breath away.” 
― Volksweisheitheit

Breathing While Exercising

If exercise is basically movement carried to a higher level of intensity, doesn't breathing change too? Yes, definitely, because you are placing an increased load on the body and when you do that, you'll have an increased heart rate, a higher demand for oxygen, and numerous other changes that occur. Some inexperienced trainees start an exercise by holding their breath, as if they were going to dive into water and swim beneath the surface.  Maybe that's for fish to do but not for a human needing a flow of air!

Holding one's air is called a Valsalva maneuver and can result in a dangerous jump in blood pressure and sometimes even bursting some of the blood vessels in your eyes and brain.  This can result in visual disturbances and headaches.  If you are a heavy lifter of weights, sometimes a temporary hold of breathing is natural.  It may result in only minor and transient increased blood pressure.  But experienced weight lifters know that a Valsalva maneuver can be harmful if carried out for longer periods of time and so they may do it only for a short time.  

As a general rule you should breathe out on the hardest  part of the movement and in when the easiest stage of the movement occurs.  To state the general rule, exhale while lifting and inhale when lowering the weight.  On the other hand, two stalwarts on strength training, namely Dr. Stuart McGill and the late Dr. Mel Siff, stated that "careful instruction as to the technique of a given exercise will automatically result in the body responding with the optimal muscle recruitment strategy throughout the duration  of the movement."  My interpretation - follow the general rule, always exhale on exertion and inhale on the easier stage of the exercise.  The important point is to allow a constant inflow and outflow of air as the intensity increases without holding your breathe for extended periods of time.

Another method of breathing that worked for me when I used to jog was to breathe in and out in cadence with the song by Disney, "It's A Small World"

it's a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we're aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun 
And a smile means friendship to everyone. 
Though the mountains divide 
And the oceans are wide 
It's a small small world 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

 "I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
-- John D. Rockefeller

Super-Slow Exercisings (SSE)

Back a number of years ago, a lad by the name of Ken Hutchins developed the Super-Slow protocol that differs from traditional strength training. When a muscle is contracting  it shortens and is know as the "concentric" portion of the repetition and when it lengthens it is called the "eccentric" portion of the repetition.  Example, in a bicep exercise, when you pick up the weight to curl it, the muscle contracts, and is in a concentric state.  When the weight is lowered, or lengthened, this is called the eccentric stage of the exercise. Now in traditional strength training the time to curl the dumbbell would be about 2 seconds and the time to end  or relax  the muscle, the time would take about 4 seconds.  In super-slow training the timing would be about 10 seconds to curl the weight and the same time for the eccentric movement.  When you do any movement in resistance training, you have to use a lighter weight if you hold the muscles longer in the concentric stage than if you hold it for 5 seconds. The main reasoning for super-slow strength training is to maintain the muscles in greater tension for a longer time period than in traditional strength training.  The muscles "fatigue" and the repetitions are fewer in SSE because the movements of the exercise are so slow a lower weight is necessary.

So what is the practical use of SSE?  For a senior person or as a variation from traditional strength training it has it's place.  Seniors are safer with lighter weights and the chance of dropped weights and the resulting harm it can do to the trainee, is reduced.  The total length of the workout is usually shorter as fewer sets of the same exercise are completed.  The "fatigue to failure" of the muscles exercised results from the slow movements in both concentric and eccentric stages. As explained many times in this blog exercises should be varied, with different tempos, weights (resistance), equipment (barbells and/or dumbbells), or rubber bands.

In both SSE and traditional strength training, muscles strength, size and efficiency of movements results
and you may want to incorporate SSE in your workouts.