Monday, 23 February 2009

General Aims: Cast away your limits, they are illusions

I want to define some of the general aims of this blog. Having been brought up by a father who was a pretty fanatical fitness freak himself, I began emulating him from a very young age. I was always inspired by gymnasts, circus performers and other bodyweight resistance trained athletes whose seemingly disproportionate levels of strength shattered my early ideas of more bulk equals more strength.

For the next eight years I focused on four main exercises with a few variants; sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups and dips. I approached training with a youthful lack of structure and the haphazard "training to failure" approach which as you might have heard previously is "failing to train".

At age sixteen I started rock climbing and have been climbing about three times a week for the past six years. I soon found that my years of bodyweight conditioning had made me ideally suited to the sport and improved quickly. During these years I also began learning Parkour and more recently, gymnastics. Through a combination of these sports, an understanding of sports science and nutrition gradually developed and I came to realise the fallibility of my teenage approach to training.

I picked some of the most inspiring basic bodyweight feats and decided that with discipline and a scientific approach, I -and anyone else for that matter- could achieve every last one of them. I'm still very much a beginner despite years of training and I aim to use this blog to share training ideas and experiences and to learn from the experience of others.

So we will be primarily concerning ourselves with four areas of training:

1) Muscular strength
: The amount of force a muscle can sustain in a single contraction. This is where performing one rep max skills like the one arm pull up comes in. (Though later you can build up to more reps in these).

2) Muscular endurance
: The ability of a muscle to sustain a contraction or make multiple contractions over an extended period. Cardiovascular endurance falls within muscular endurance.

3) Mental training
: This is an area I became interested in after a plateau of climbing ended when I read a book "The Rock Warriors Way" by Arno Ilgner. The book was dedicated to the art of mental training ranging from our approach to training and our sport through to actual mental training methods. I will review this book soon, the only shame is that the tips in this book can be applied to any sport but it was written specifically for climbers and requires a knowledge of climbing terms.

4) Nutrition
: I believe that proper nutrition is imperative for optimal performance and find this to be an interesting area for enhancing performance. However, it is riddled with pitfalls and biased studies and it often seems that there is so much false science funded by the multi-million pound supplements industry that it's easier to avoid it altogether. I experiment regularly with nutrition and will submit reviews of different things that I try. One thing to remember is that some things work for some of us and not for others and that the only way to know what works for you is to try it.

You may well think to yourself "you've been training for years, what can I do at my level?". I recently began training with a guy ten years older than I who hasn't trained a day in his life. He told me that one day he just decided that he was going to get his act together and reach levels of strength that he'd always dreamed of when he was a child. He was one of the first to join the facebook group that later became this blog. Four months on and with a higher bodyweight to lift than I, his strength has multiplied and he is the fittest he's ever been (in his own words). He constantly challenges me every single session. The point is; forget your limits, they exist only in your mind.

Any and all comments, ideas and tips are welcome though please be constructive.

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