22 May We Are All Born Athletes
Leaders in strength and conditioning/fitness seem to agree on a basic principle- “we are all born athletes”- What we do as we grow into adulthood, though, determines whether our athletic ism grows or deteriorates. Norman Mailer said it best: “Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less.” He was referring to a person’s character, but what is life if one cannot take what someone smarter has said out of context to prove a point?
A quick and useful biology lesson
Our bodies have the powerful ability to adapt to any stimulus presented. When a person who is untrained starts lifting weights, they seem to almost immediately get stronger within the first couple of weeks. Most people think they are building muscle at an incredible rate because of this surge in strength. This misconception is also greatly contributed to the increasingly smaller t-shirts that most guys tend to buy after their first couple of “kickass” workouts.
This rapid increase in strength, however, slows down around weeks three and four. While this initial increase can be partly accredited to some new muscle mass, it is mostly due to the development of better nerve connections. Basically, the body becomes better at sending commands from the brain to muscle. As a result, the muscle becomes more efficient and can contract with more force and for a longer period of time.
Why Reggie Bush makes more money than you.
Exercise and movement in general develops something called kinesthetic awareness, which is the understanding of where one’s body is in space. An example of someone who has good kinesthetic awareness is an NFL running back eluding and bouncing off men almost twice his size and running sideways for ten more yards before finally falling.
Poor kinesthetic awareness is when the forty year-old (always “just getting back into lifting”) who lives with mom (for her sake of course) does a back squat and bends over so far that one would think he is trying to kiss the hallowed ground upon which his feet tread. Teaching him to “sit back” into the squatting position keeping his chest up would be difficult because of his lack of that sense of how to control his movements. Anyone can, however, learn to move with more fluidity and balance through proper training and repetition of that training — just like an athlete.
And thus, the point emerges.
People usually get bored with the same regurgitated exercises found in muscle magazines that call for three sets of ten repetitions for every body part imaginable. If those same people would do serious research on the exercise programs that top strength and conditioning coaches write for their accomplished athletes, they would not be bored but instead see similar irrefutable results top-level athletes attain through exercise that focuses on movement rather than any one muscle. After all, everyone is born with the same ability to adapt to physical stress. Some just invite the right kind of stresses to grow into more.
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