Barbell Complexes?

There is a condition effecting the fitness world called bigorexia but this post isn’t about that. There are a dizzying array of tools, techniques, and products associated with maximizing your potential for athletic success or simply getting fit for short. Barbell complexes are one of those ways. So there are nearly infinite paths and nearly infinite means to using physical culture, considered a lifestyle intervention by modern medicine, to augment and support anything you might want to achieve with bodywork. Its unavoidable, you have to make your own choices.  Your doctor or therapist can’t do it for you.  Making that choice will take some time because its a matter of lifestyle its not a 2-, 6- or 12 week program. You have to continually examine not only your motivation but your capacity and life situation as well.

I’ve found it helpful to consider the different aspects of fitness that training can be tailored for. You can train to increase flexibilty, speed, power, strength and endurance for example but these qualities are synergistic.  As you train one you necessarily effect the others because these are expressions of a human body and not an ideal theoretical human body but your human body. So these are categories or templates for your mind like yin and yang or fire and water in TCM or relative and absolute in buddhist philosophy.  Though its not PC to say it, some bodies develop some qualities “better” than others.  For our purposes knowing this helps us to keep focused on our own personal experiment.  We can of course compare ourselves to others but simply acknowledging that there are genetic parameters as well as questions of time, commitment, experience and goals help us to focus on useful comparisons rather than overly broad generalisations about what we can expect from our efforts.

I bring this up because I spent a great deal of time looking at plans from the standpoint of “I want to develop this kind of body” so I need to train in the way that someone who has this body trains. Besides being absolutly superficial and vain, this approach has nothing to do with me other than my opinion about what looks good. This has potential dangers not only because of perceptual and psychological issues like bigorexia, anorexia and orthorexia nervosa, but we are doomed to fail because we don’t consider any other aspect of our life other than our will to submit (albeit temporarily) to Bruce Lee’s workout plan because we want to be ripped like Bruce Lee.

It doesn’t seem to matter if unlike Bruce Lee, we’re a 6’5″ male of German and Scandinavian ancestory who only has 3 hours a week available to train; has seven children and never trained a day in his life before coming to the conclusion that he has to get down to 5% body fat. The above example is crude and obvious but comparing our self and workout plan with others has subtler faults and the main one is, as I’ve already mentioned, lack of razor fine focus on what we are doing and the process  of making these changes a lifestyle so that we can make the benefits longstanding.

There are a lot of experts in this field it seems. Have a look at them all if you have the predilection.  Some are truly experts and that means you won’t understand a damn thing they say and some are profoundly real and authentic; maybe you can use their advice and maybe you can’t; and others are absolutely useless fakes, in which case you won’t understand a damn thing they say.

Traditionally shiatsu therapist prescribe hippie exercises from Do-in (dao yin), taiji, qi gong or yoga emphasizing qi flow and the feeling of a transclucent body full of light.  These exercises do work for emphasizing relaxation and for balancing posture, mobility and strength. These approaches evolved in a somewhat different context as western life today (strange and unique as that might sound) both philosophically and economically. Because we are so divorced from our bodies (sitting 12 hours a day and drinking 20 cups of coffee) we need work that will get our body to a place where subtle energetic work can actually do us some good.  I’m not saying we have the endurance of peasant farmers and the strength of a Qin soldier but I think its a lot to ask of the taiji form if all we do is sit on Facebook during the week and dance and party on the weekend. As far as qi flow is concerned I can’t really speak to that, the “mundane” benefits being enough for me right now.

Why do you want bodywork? Is that all that you need?  Would integrating certain other lifestyle changes into you daily grind have the synergistic effect of making you pop in all the right places? Are you willing to make a greater effort to focus on your own need for calm, and satisfy it so that the well is deep for others to drink from? Just don’t lose your patience.


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