Life is like Muscle: It depends on 2 principles:
Let me elaborate ….
What is life anyway? How would you describe it? How would you define it? Would you consider life a process or a system?
If it is the latter, does it depend on input, a transformation and an output? Think of your life, this definition may come close? Does it resonate with your definition?
Maybe, one could define Life in terms of physics as ‘lag time’ or a momentary line of stopping in the progression towards death or entropy. This, I think could be dictated by some other laws of the universe.
If it is the former, a process, does it have a beginning? How is this similar to muscle and muscle building?
Well, most of you know that there are many variables that go in to building muscles, some of which are: diet, training, number of sets, number of reps, rest, etc etc. These are all important in developing optimal performance of muscle, depending on what one’s goals are.
How do you define a workout? Sweating with weights? Intensity? Reps? All correct.
I define a workout as a ‘continuous progression of 15-45 seconds of focused moments’, where a focused moment is what you may know as a ‘set’, in gym lingo.
Now, to WORK a muscle, one must apply a force – a push, pull or a twist. To do this, one simply has to shorten (concentric) the muscle and lengthen (eccentric) the muscle. So, to build muscle, one must apply maximum tension or force on the muscle, and maintain constant tension throughout the full range of motion. If you do this often enough, with consistency and persistence, you would increase your chances of muscle hypertrophy (growth). However, work, work, work and NO REST leads to the exact opposite. You don’t increase your chances of muscle hypertrophy but instead have muscle degradation. A simple case of the old adage: more is not necessarily better or one step forward, two steps back.
Not where we desired.
Don’t despair. There are many variables that go in to optimizing muscle growth. Just like life. There are many variables in to carving out a successful life and you can define success here in whatever terms you choose. Life could be likened to being a juggler. A juggler with many balls, each representing an area of life. We juggle many balls and occasionally, we drop one or two. That’s ok. Tomorrow, wake up. Pick yourself up. Begin again, with all the balls.
It is the same as life. Work, work, work and no play leads to ‘burn-out’. Too much activity and no time for re-creation (re-charging of batteries/ rest), tips the ‘balance of life’ within yourself and may lead to other problems. Some of which could have negative implication and impact on your life. Refer to my earlier blog on the ‘Pendulum of Life’. It is the same for muscle building. Training and working of muscle is the catalyst for stronger and bigger muscles. However, most trainees give training too much importance, compared to two other pivotal components of success –
- sufficient and appropriate nutrition and
- recuperation and rest from training
What you do in the gym provides only the STIMULUS for muscle growth. Its what you do AWAY from the gym that permits your body to repair the muscle damage, and ‘overcompensate’. The compound effect of overcompensation produces “the little extra tissue” which make up more of the sought-after bigger muscles. If you train too often you won’t give your body enough time to repair the broken-down muscle tissue and build the overcompensation tissue.
This is akin to our own individual ‘pendulum of life’ and how we shift from activity and recreation on a daily basis. Too much activity (paid work or unpaid) and no rest/recovery does not produce an optimal self which leads to unproductive existence and runs us in to the ground. Being away from stress/work environment on a regular basis is necessary and is vital for optimal health as being away from the gym is to building and optimizing muscle growth.
So, recovery time between workouts is necessary but only part of the equation for optimizing the anabolic environment within yourself.
Not only do you need to sleep well each night, you need to rest adequately during the daytime, too. Research shows that grabbing a 20 minute nap during lunch not only helps with re-energising you but also keeps the brain young. Healthy sleep has been empirically proven to be the single most important determinant in predicting longevity, more influential than diet, exercise or heredity. Having regular, routine-like sleep is better than catching up on sleep. This may seem like a little point, like a little mosquito, but be careful. Be careful of not taking care of the little mosquitoes because they may bite (refer to my earlier blog: Elephants don’t bite mosquitoes do) and this may cause more serious issues and higher than tolerable risk level for your existence.
Put simply: continuity is vital to muscle growth. Just like, re-charging your batteries is to your own growth in your life. This brings me to my second principle of muscle and life:
Putting aside everything else, what are the 4 most important elements necessary for life? Yep, that’s right, correct on the chemistry – they are the most abundant elements: H, C, O, N. For those of you not familiar with the periodic table, these letters represent the elements: Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen and Nitrogen.
Is there truth in important things being born out of or resulting from order and chaos? Maybe. Maybe not. You decide. Find out more on this topic. Be more resourceful.
In my 21 years of gym experience, I have observed many different styles of training muscle groups. People coming up with many different names for an exercise that had already had an appropriately named name by some bodybuilder, many decades ago.
Building muscle needs to be kept simple and you can’t much simpler than my approach to training: 1. Proper Nutrition 2. Adequate Rest (notice I have said “Rest”, not “sleep”) 3. Sufficient and appropriate Training. All put together with the right mind-set and constant management of one’s “thought-factory”.
Keep it simple.
This statement is used in many fields and whilst a very simple sentence, is quite difficult to apply in practise. Try it. With the plethora of theories and information on the internet, everyone keeps adding to instead of ‘taking away from’ their bank of exercises that maximizes muscle growth and gain. Too many people try to complicate things. Complicated solutions are for complicated people. One needs to keep it simple. That is the art of building muscle and more importantly building the right balance of muscles and muscle flow throughout the body towards a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique. One that is the epitome of physical perfection. One that demonstrates the beauty of the human form, in particular the beauty of the flow of muscle, for example, how the deltoids (shoulders) ‘ties in’ in to the biceps/triceps muscles. Its just simply beautiful. The human form in all its glory.
Back to the topic at hand: Simplicity.
Life needs to be kept simple. Too many people clutter their lives with too many ‘stuff’. Stuff that do not add to their lives. Stuff that, instead takes away from their lives. Takes away from their lives because it clutters their most precious asset – their mind. Physical clutter, clutters the mind. Clutters your ‘thought factory’. Not good. Why? Well, if a factory’s processes are not operating efficiently and effectively, due to bottlenecks in the processing it produces less output but more importantly, produces less of the desired product, one is working so hard to achieve. Not good, I said! Heard of the computer term”GIGO”. For those of you who don’t, it refers to “Garbage In, Garbage out”. Put simply, you create rubbish (mind and body) if you eat rubbish (mind and body) or if you have so much clutter that it just creates complexity which leads to unnecessary stress in one’s life which leads to bad decisions and worse results. For everyone. Become better at filtering out what I call “Junk for the Mind”, like you filter out junk for the body. Look at what the latter has resulted in – one of the worst epidemics that has afflicted man-kind today: obesity. Just imagine the magnitude of problems we are creating by mis-managing junk food for the mind. Very scary thought, I know.
Take a breath and know that there is a way. There is a better way to build muscle just like there is a better way to live your life. Find that way. Life is too short, not to.
One word: Simplicity.