Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Everything Old is New Again
There are legions upon myriad upon beaucoup ways to work out -- if you look around, you'll find books, courses, videos, personal trainers, all manner of instruction in ways to enhance your physical being. Pay your money, take your choice.
Many of these "new" systems, are, alas, simply recycled methods with new names and some tiny spin. The latest, most up-to-date, you-heard-it-here-first! systems.
Yeah, science marches on, we know the whys and wheretofors, but the principles of exercise and staying fit are essentially pretty simple: Eat less, exercise more. Do something that causes you to work up a good sweat. Train for the specific things you want or need. If you want to move heavy things around, lift weights. If you want to run a marathon, jog a lot. If you need to be able to put your ankles behind your head, yoga ...
The new age sellers nod, but say their way will allow you to do it faster, easier, and more efficiently. Probably some of them are right.
P.T. Barnum, were he alive today, would probably walk around in a permanent state of dazed disbelief. A sucker born every minute? How about ten a second? He'd have to hire a fleet of trucks to fill his money bin.
There's a machine, ads for it in Discover Magazine, that supposedly does it all -- strength, fitness, flexibility. Only takes four minutes a day. Four minutes, that's it. It really, really works, they swear.
Even if it did? There's a little drawback: It costs a tad more than a set of kettlebells (another old toy that has made a comeback) or the 110 lb barbell set down at Sears.
Check out the ROM. Go here, they'll send you a free DVD.
You can have one delivered for a mere $14,615.0o
Thing is, there have been strong and fit people as long as there have been people. Look at the statue of the Farnese Hercules, and you can bet the model for that didn't take anabolic steroids, nor spend fourteeen grand on a Rube Goldberg toy.
When I was a more serious weightlifter, I used to read the muscle 'zines. Foremost among those then -- and now -- were the Weider magazines, from Joe and Ben Weider. Joe was a pioneer in the bodybuilding field, and along the way, came up with a list of principles on how to do it right.
Cocentric, eccentric, overload, ascending sets, descending sets, push-pull, circuit -- you name it, Weider had principle for it. Started out with a few, but built steadily on them, until there were many. And, just in case you might possibly come up with something new, he had the best one of all: The Instinctive Training Principle. This basically meant, "Anything you come up with on your own? That's mine, too." Could have been subtitled "The Everything Else Principle ..."
Give credit where it is due, Weider had some training chops. All of the major bodybuilders up to and including lately were, at one time, training with his system. People would break away, usually to sell their own courses, but any big-name bodybuilder you ever heard of -- Ahnahl, Lou, Lee Haney, they trained at Gold's or World's, and they did it with the other Weider boys.
But, in the end, the principles are simple, and all the rest? That's mostly packaging.
Look at that picture of Hercules up top. How you figure he managed to get that way? Maybe it was the Weider Lucked Out Principle ...