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Jim Pickles

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Jim Pickles last won the day on July 10

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  1. Yes, thank you for pointing that out. I've been trying the exercises following Olivia's cues, and the improvement is massive - and immediate. And now it is preserved in a new session, even if I go straight into it. I get to pretty much to where Craig is in the video (though I havent videoed myself yet, so cannot be sure). Many thanks indeed - my students will be very pleased, as I am. All the best, Jim.
  2. @Kit_L Thanks. Here are pics of the first two I mentioned - I won't show the ABH because there's nothing special about it. I put a red belt around my hips that was horizontal when I was standing, so you can roughly see the tilt of the hips though it will I guess move around a little bit. 1 is the TA exercise with knees to chest, 2 is the TA exercise with legs raised (not vertical as I imagined), 3 is the glut exercise on my good side. Assuming the belt is a reliable marker the hips are indeed tilted up at the front in no. 1, and a little less so if the legs are raised. Maybe that explains why the second is much easier, though I am not sure because the difference in the pelvic tilt is small. In 3 the thigh is neutral with respect to the pelvis, so I'm not sure why that is so difficult (even though I can do it a bit on this side). However your comments about the ABH express what I think I was feeling my way towards in a fumbling uneducated way - that the lack of ability went beyond the lack of strength. In other words, its due to lack of correct activation, a.k.a. lack of skill. I worked though Olivia's video again with the cues. For the upper body, there was a massive difference, when I first did it with arms down, then aeroplane arms, then arms up. It showed me how to progressively incorporate the different groups of muscles that contribute to the action. I guess if you just go straight into it, you only feel (and therefore activate) the muscles that do most of the work, and this means you neglect the others - and in a complex structure such as the back they may in fact contribute as much or even more than the main ones worked by going straight into it. I've not been able to do partner versions yet, but will try when I have the chance. Many thanks indeed for your help and insights. I'll try it with my class next week and see how they find it. Jim.
  3. Thanks. Some of them are near the end range - maybe - but the arch body hold is not, and I am still wondering why that is so difficult.
  4. I have a few exercises that I use with my students, that I call the “impossible exercises”, Well, they’re not exactly impossible, but its difficult to do them much, or we can do much less than we imagine we ought to be able to do. One is the transversus abdominis activator – lie on the back, arms crossed over chest, knees to chest, and then raise the sacrum a little bit off the floor. Surprisingly difficult. I get my students to learn the movement if they cant do it, by flinging the legs up a little bit and then getting the deep abdominals to come in at the end to give the legs and sacrum a little kick along the way. I hope this gives them the feeling of what activating the TA is like, so they can concentrate on that and enhance it. Why is it so difficult? This exercise is much easier if the legs are raised vertically instead (lying on one’s back). I think this shows why – when the knees are to the chest, the pelvis is tilted up towards the head at the front, so the TA is already shortened, so its difficult to make it contract more. Not sure if this is correct though. Maybe in that position other muscles can come in. Other impossible exercises are done on the front. One is a glut activator – lie on the front, one knee bent up to chest, other leg out straight behind. Then lift the straight leg off the floor, using the glutes – without bending the knee. I can do this on my flexible side, but only sometimes on my other side, and in neither case can I go far, or hold it for a long time. Many of my students can’t do it at all. To make it easier for them, I then get them to raise their hips up on a block, and then they can do it. Why is it so difficult? When standing, and not working against gravity, we can take our leg back at the hip much further than we can when on our front. I am not sure why, but it may be that with the knee bent to the chest, the pelvis (as in the previous case) is tilted up towards the head at the front, so the hip joint of the leg going back at the starting position, is already extended beyond its normal neutral position. So naturally it is more difficult to take it further. Again, I am not sure if this explains it fully. Another difficult one is the arch body hold. I and many of my students can passively (with our arms) push up quite high into a cobra. However we find it difficult to raise the upper body in the arch body hold more than a short distance, and difficult to hold it for a long time (though we are working on that). Why is the active range so very much less than the passive range? I think it might be just lack of strength (even on these people who are already stronger than the average). However it is a common gymnastic/contortion exercise to arch the upper body high just with back power, so the muscles are there – just not strong enough in us. Whether normal people need them that strong is another matter. Still, its frustrating that we are so bad. Same with the legs in the arch body hold. The active range is far less than the passive range (and unlike the earlier cases, the pelvis is in neutral, so there is no pre-contraction at the starting position which might explain the poor lift). Again, maybe lack of strength. If anyone has any views on this I’d appreciate hearing them, and whether they think my analysis is correct, because it is frustrating that we are so bad. If anyone cant understand the starting positions, I can post photos if needed. Thanks, Jim.
  5. I suggest changing what foods are your favourites. Gradually reduce the amouts of your favourites, and increase the amounts of the healthy ones (non-starchy vegetables, fruit, non-fatty meats and fish) instead. Cheese and other milk products are supposed to be non-fattening, for reasons unknown (I dont know how true this is though). Have the previous favourite ones only as occasional treats. Maybe the new ones will become your favourite ones over time. Perhaps. It maytake a couple of years to get to where you want to be, I suggest. I must admit, it is easy for me to say this, as I dont have a problem with weight control.
  6. "all of the front of the back leg on the floor" - really? - does that include all of the front of the thigh? That sounds a big ask. It means the angle between the thighs of the front and back legs must be about 210 degrees. Most people cant get beyond (or even to) 180.
  7. There used to be a topic for dramatic or unusual poses, but I cant find it, so am starting a new one. I hope I've got the identification right, as I've never seen it like this before.
  8. "... because the aging population changes its use profile so predictably (most people, anyway). We simply do not know which is the cause and which is the effect. The jury's still out on that one, I'd say." I agree entirely. Yes, people are reluctant to do what they find difficult, and things become difficult with underuse. I dont know any studies that address this issue, though maybe there is some indirect (and hence less reliable) information out there. A "proper" study would involve assigning people randomly to two groups, making them do different sorts of exercise as they got older, and then assessing after a decade otr two. Pie in the sky if that was going to happen. As for the other issue, as neural input is so important at keeping the fast twitch fibres activated properly, clearly it needs realistic exercise, which means, as you say, doing it early to get maximum effectiveness. However I like your suggestion of doing different types on different days, and I'll take that up. The fast stuff at home (when I can do it at any time I want), the slow stuff at the gym, at a time chosen so that the chatterers arent sitting on the machines for ages.
  9. @Kit_L Kit - the loss of type II fibres in ageing has been mentioned in many places - I found this early on in a quick look through my saved papers - its mentioned on the 6th line of the section headed Epidemiology and Pathophysiology. As for training, I am aware that the get maximum speed from a muscle, one should test at the beginning of a session, rather than at an end, because the fast fibres tire faster. However, to strengthen a muscle, isnt it true that one should overload it? My logic is that asking it to do something (that only it can do) once it has been exhausted is a way of encouraging it to do more. This may deal with the muscle fibres themselves; the neural innervation pattern is another matter, as that is probably developed best when undertaking its optimal pattern of activity. Happy to be guided on this. I need to so some reading on this, since I just made it up*. But I want to be sure that I include lots of resistance training, as that has been shown to be effective. *Disclaimer. Cho et al 2022 sarcopenia review.pdf
  10. What Kit said. Also, as we get older, one of the first muscle changes is reduction in fast twitch muscle fibres. That is one reason why jumping etc gets worse as we age. This needs to be countered by fast twitch exercises - as Kit mentioned, jumping UP onto something is excellent, because there is less of a problem with the landing. As part of my routine, after a maximal muscle workout with lots of slow eccentric contractions (which I hope has clobbered the slow twitch fibres, and led to recruitment of fast twitch fibres), I then stress the fast twitch fibres further with jumping up, which I hope gives them the signal to get stronger, or at least, stop getting weaker. I dont know if this is the best way though.
  11. Can she push her feet against a wall to stop the sliding? Either that, or sandpaper on the butt.
  12. The shirt hides it, but the curve of the front of the chest, and the crease in the shirt at the back, show that most bending is occurring in the thoracic-upper lumbar region. If you were mainly bending in the lumbar region, the biggest bend would be below where your bare tum is showing.
  13. I used to do a fair amount of backbending when I was younger. Firstly, well done, you have very good thoracic flexibility. Next, I'd say its good that you are doing forced exhalations, because the emptier the lungs are, the more chest flexibility you willl have. But I suspect that the way you are doing it, as a series of hard puffs, is not leading to full relaxation and may not be emptying the lungs as much as you can. I was told instead by a contortion trainer to use long slow "Whoooooo..." outbreaths. In the bend, breathing for any backbender becomes a limitation, because the ribs become immobilised. Instead, people move to abdominal breathing, using the lower (floating) ribs which move out sideways. Look at videos of backbending contortionists who have their middles bare. In any case, the stress of backbending and the difficulty of breathing means there is a strong tendency to hold the breath (even partially) and retain some breath in the lungs, which has to be countered. I'd say the soreness in the back is a sign that the cartilage is getting damaged or at least stressed. Not a good idea. I'd suggest going more gently, and keeping out of the range that does this. Eventually it should improve as the tissues adapt, though at some point you will come to an absolute limitation (from the facet joints pressing together - and you dont want to damage them). Jim.
  14. Update. What seems to be working best for me is weekly 1 set 8 reps, with 30 seconds rest in between reps (I'm trying to make this shorter so as to reduce the times on the machines). I'm using the weights that were maximal with moving quickly, but with a fast contraction phase and with a slow (12-15 sec) eccentric phase. Legs and upper body. Afterwards I do maximal leg stretches. I know the total number of reps is low compared with what most people would suggest for most training. but this (technical term here) buggers me. I also take nearly a week to fully recover, so if I go harder its going to interfere with other activities. If total time under tension positively affects strength, then this way I actually have more total time under tension than with my usual routine of fast 8x3. I havent upped my weights yet to see if my maximal strength has changed, as I want to settle into the routine before making any changes. I hope the maximal stretches after each session will take advantage of any possible increase in flexibility. As before, I am particularly making sure my form is correct, and that I dont collapse during the final moments of the eccentric phase (before, I was just going back to the start as fast as possible). No DOMS, but some muscle weakness in recovery. Any comments appreciated. The long recovery times (nearly a week) may suggest I'm going too hard, but if I used lighter weights I'd have to go more often, so I'd still be recovering most of the time. Besides, often I cant go to the gym more often. @Kit_L re "the ultimate form of this training" and static stretches - as I understand it, the critical point about eccentric contractions is how the myofibrils "let go" of the contraction during the eccentric phase, and this is what causes the muscle damage (and, hopefully, the signal to remodel). Any comment? Many thanks, Jim. Update this week: getting easier, so I'm getting stronger, but I'm not increasing the weights yet.
  15. @Jason I encourage my students (and myself) to pause at the end of an exhalation. Our relaxation routine (done lying) includes instructions like: as you breath out, imagine the breath draining out down your body, down your legs, and out through your feet. Follow the breath down your body with your mind. As you go deeper into the relaxation, pause a moment in full exhalation, and feel how your mind is empty, before breathing in again. Imagine the breath rising up your body." There is no mention of when to stop breathing in and starting to breathe out (that comes naturally). Lengthening the pause at the end of the outbreath (and the focus of the mind at the feet, with thoughts stilled) are encouraged. I (and they) find this very relaxing.
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