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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resistance Training: Self Resistance

I'm willing to bet you've never heard of this one, but it is so cool...

The easiest way to understand this is by starting with a standard weightlifting move. Imagine you have a dumbell in your right hand. Sit down, and place your right elbow on your right thigh, ready to do a curl. This is an isolation move; it focuses on the bicep, of course.

Now, forget about the weight. Just make a fist with your right hand, then place your left hand over it and press down, resisting the curling motion. Now you not only strengthen the right bicep, but your entire shoulder girdle and your left tricep.

This is self resistance, using one part of your own body to create resistance for another part. Of course, this kind of exercise works multiple muscles at once, which helps promote balance in your development. But did you notice the real strength in this method? Infinite variability. You can create as much or as little resistance as you want, without ever having to guess at what kind of weight to use. You can even change the resistance during the move! This means you can always create as much resistance as you need without fear of getting squashed under a falling weight. And since you can't create more resistance than you have the strength to create, you limit your ability to injure yourself as well.

Is there a drawback? Well, sort of. It's hard to quantify the resistance - that is, you can't be sure that you used the exact same resistance today that you used yesterday, whereas a 10 lb dumbbell always weighs the same. But this is also the method's strength, because you can be sure that you aren't giving your body more than it can handle. The 10 lb weight is the same yesterday and today; but while my body handled 10 lbs yesterday, it may only be able to handle 9 lbs today. Your body changes daily, and you reduce the chance of injury and increase your rate of progress if you match the daily challenge to what your body can actually handle that day.

Again, I'll be coming back to to this method, since a good workout program can incorporate all of these resistance training methods; the variety is good for your body and will help you avoid boredom. But there are more training methods yet to learn.


  1. I have become an expert in resistence training - I've managed to resist the temptation for years ! :-)