Living The Exerciser Lifestyle: Four Defining Practices By Charles Staley
In past articles I've defined and described the differences between exercisers and athletes. This week, I'll present four practices that characterize the self-loathing exerciser mentality.
Don't despair if you're "guilty" of one or more of these practices yourself- in a future article, I'll describe, in detail, how you can rid yourself of exercise addiction - forever. For now, just admit your powerlessness over exercise-dependency, have faith in a higher power, and simply resolve, here and now, to stop exercising. Today can truly be the day that you change your life foreverů
Vegetarianism: No More Protein For You
Think about this for a moment - if you had a case of chronic guilt and were looking for a good dose of punishment, what kind of nutritional approach would appeal to you?
How about vegetarianism? It's really a perfect choice because you can simultaneously deprive yourself of nearly every healthy food that tastes good, and you can atone for your lifestyle sins by helping to save the animals.
I always wondered why people felt guilty about eating creatures like (for example) chickens, and finally it occurred to me that it's misplaced guilt. After all, if you lived in a World where chickens were as big as people, and where people were as small as chickens, you're toast baby, because no chicken is going to put its conscience before a meal.
And if vegetarianism isn't punitive enough, exercisers can further cleanse their spirit by adopting any of several even harsher varieties of nutri-torture, including veganism, raw-food diets, and macrobiotic diets. And finally, truly advanced exercisers can earn their post-graduate credentials in cleansing, fasting, and colonics.
Forced Reps: It Hurts So Good
It's not hard to see why exercisers would be drawn to a tactic like forced reps. After all, it hurts to go to failure, but it hurts more to do forced reps.
And make no mistake - despite the fact that forced reps occur long after your fast-twitch fibers have gone on permanent hiatus, these puppies do hurt - a lot.
One potential downside of forced reps is that they require a partner, however, for exercisers this is actually a plus because it helps to define each person's role- either as the punisher or the punishee.
The fact that forced reps are completely antagonistic to fast-twitch fiber recruitment and athletic attributes makes it even more effective from an exerciser's point of view: exercisers favor tactics featuring a high pain/low payoff ratio, and forced reps are ideal in this regard.
Corrective Exercise: You've Been A Bad Boy
The essence of corrective exercise of course, is correction. This appeals to people who've accumulated a lot of guilt, presumably over years of inactivity and bad eating habits. It's almost as if exercisers feel the need to punish themselves as a way to atone for their past transgressions, real or imagined.
Thankfully for the guilt-ridden throngs, there are plenty of corrective-exercise specialists (who now assume Paul Chek's surname) ready and willing to help them out.
With the careful guidance of these extensively trained professionals, exercisers can re-learn how to sit, stand, walk, breathe, and eat, not to mention exercise. In fact, exercisers can even learn how to examine their own poop for further evidence of past wrongs.
Thank your lucky stars you found a corrective exercise practitioner before you went out and developed upper-cross syndrome from trying power cleans before you were ready.
And a word to the wise: you'll never be ready. So don't even think about moving any kind of respectable weights- we'll need to wait until your poop floats before we can let that happen.
Time Under Tension: Prolong The Pain
The only thing that's more appealing to exercisers than pain is - you guessed it- prolonged pain. Which is exactly what "TUT" provides.
TUT is great for exercisers needing instant atonement, but it's a poor choice for athletes (excepting perhaps Tai Chi and live mannequin competitions).
You might be thinking that I'm making too much of what you'd assume to be a fringe practice, but then again, maybe you've never heard of the Super Slow Exercise Guild.
Now, the beauty of TUT is two-fold: not only does the exerciser receive a big dose of prolonged punishment, he's also deprived of the reward of accomplishment. In the exerciser's mind, accomplishment is a bad thing because it offsets the evidence of guilt- the more accomplishments you have, the harder it is to feel guilty. Compare the experience of say, a powerlifter with that of a Super Slow exercise convert:
The powerlifter goes to the gym to test her deadlift max. She relishes the anticipation of possibly setting a new Personal Record, and takes pride in being much stronger than most women.
As she works her way through her warm-up sets, she basks in the endorphin and adrenaline cocktail now running through her veins, and when her top lift has been accomplished, her confidence is boosted as she confronts her doubts and tests her will against gravity.
The Super Slow exerciser's workout isn't nearly as fun, unfortunately. For starters, super-slow repetitions aren't amenable to fun, worthwhile exercises like powerlifts, strongman events, Olympic lifts, or kettlebell drills. Typically, machines are used, which completely rob the exerciser of any possible sense of achievement.
But remember, this isn't supposed to be fun.
I should point out that I greatly admire the genius required to devise a form of physical activity so completely devoid of fun, pride, self-respect, accomplishment, functionality, and value. It's the combination of machines and super-low speed that makes this possible: most machines feature a cowling that masks the weight stack from the exerciser's view. Couple this with tai-chi-like slow motion, and you've got an activity that very closely mimics non-activity, even though it causes enormous pain.
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