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"Strength Is More Than Just Muscle"

Online PT, Training Videos/Articles, Oldtime Strongman

The Muscular Strength System

Nervous System

Here's a video of Otto Arco showing his deep connection with his nervous system for great strength and control.

The nervous system is such a rich, complex network of information for the body for all sensations that the brain can process. Being mentally stressed transfers that information through your whole body. Happiness, anger, any and all emotions register throughout the body, and can add negative or positive vibrations to your body and health. That's why learning to think positively can help you be healthier and happier. The nervous system is also a major component in your strength training, which many people neglect.

Training your nervous system means being ahead of your competition. For instance, when lifting a weight, do you focus on the weight that you are trying to lift or the muscles that you want that lift to strengthen? By focusing instead on the muscles, you get a better feel for the true power of your muscles, and which muscle groups could use improvement. Also, if I asked you to flex your biceps, could you do it? Probably. Now, if I instead asked you to flex your biceps with your arm extended? How about while also flexing the left serratus? The probability is much lower. If you were able to do this, you'd have so much more control, and force, in your muscles than someone else who has the same amount or more of muscle. 

Strengthening your nervous connection with your muscles through things like isometrics and muscle control can make a real difference in how quickly you get stronger from your workouts. Imagine adding 10 lbs or more to your lifts every two weeks. It may not sound like much initially, but it really adds up, and will take you off the light rack quickly.

Training your nervous system is also a very good way to gauge when you're overtraining, and to optimize your vital energy. Of course, feeling muscle fatigue a day or two after a workout is an indicator of a need to rest. But you can also gauge that feeling during your workout. By building muscle and strengthening your relationship with and understanding of the nervous system, you can physically feel when your body has received enough training or when a certain area of the body has not.

Furthermore, strengthening your nervous connections will increase your vital energy. That is the energy that you possess to perform tasks throughout the day; increasing your vital energy will enable you to perform even more, longer tasks throughout the course of the day.

Tendon System

The tendon system throughout the body can prove almost more important than the muscular system. True power development will be in the development of your tendon strength. People like Bruce Lee, one of the fastest, strongest, and most proficient martial arts actors ever, and Alexander Zass, the truly mighty father of isometrics, trained their tendons in addition to their muscles.

Training your tendons is more complicated than training your muscles. Muscle tissue does not require as much effort to break down and repair as tendons do to grow. So growing muscle tissue is a comparatively easy task. Tendons can be thought of as elastic bands than won't be strengthened through constant stretching and relaxing of the bands (reps); the tendons need constant pressure to get stronger. Just like muscles, they also need progressive loading, i.e. heavier weights.

An isometric exercise or a partial lift of a heavy weight can put sufficient pressure on the tendons to strengthen them. Tendons get stronger by getting thicker, and an isometric workout can really thicken those tendons. In addition, blood doesn't flow to our tendons as well as it does to our muscles. Therefore, tendons won't strengthen or heal at the same speed as muscle. However, focusing on tendons in your training schedule will speed up that process, and make your muscular strength system more complete. Paul J. O' Brien, creator of 7 Seconds to a Perfect Body, has some great input on how isometrics really helps develop your tendons.  Here's some video advice and demonstration on how to truly perform an isometric contraction.


System of Willpower/Mental Training

This is the most important aspect of your training. When viewing your willpower as a muscle, it is also something that needs to be trained as often as your body. Aristotle was accurate in saying that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Our true progress and potential can't be determined by one great failure or success. We must not settle to have the motivation for one powerful bout of training, then a month of slacking in order to perform another powerful training bout. That means you're still looking to the deeds of the past, and not doing anything with TODAY. We must be dedicated to improving ourselves, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, everyday. Willpower, fortunately, is a muscle that is rarely subject to overtraining :). There will come many difficult or tempting opportunities in life to stray from the goals we have set, the path we have determined, etc. Exercising willpower won't always mean saying “no” to the things that distract us from the path, but it could mean saying "not now". Building the power of your creative mind by potentially finding ways to incorporate those distracting things into your path could be an example of a willpower exercise.  Yet, if the thing is truly distracting, we must find the power within ourselves (self empowerment and responsibility is key) to cut it from our paths to our important individual goals. Doing so once may be very difficult, but learning to do so repeatedly will increase your sense of self esteem and importance, improve your determination to get tasks done, and to potentially find yourself at your true goals or callings much sooner than you would allow yourself to imagine.

Your internal organs, another part of the system, will be nourished by properly and healthily training the things above.

The energy and complexity behind the muscular strength system is truly one of a near spiritual nature. Learning to strengthen and develop every aspect of yourself to find a path to the pinnacle of true strength is a self-enlightening process. You will learn about yourself and your abilities. You will learn that the training methods and programs are mere tools to help chisel away to the core “you” that you wish to manifest into reality. Discover your own muscular strength system; develop it and earn your strength and freedom.

Bud Jeffries has a great video below on how being tough and strong doesn't have to be complicated. Check it out below.

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