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Let's talk about self-resistance exercise

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  • Let's talk about self-resistance exercise

    Place your right wrist over your left wrist, thumbs upwards. Press down as hard as you can with your right while resisting with your left. Feel the contraction up through your arms, shoulders, and chest. Repeat at different heights for each arm, or release just enough tension in one arm so that you can move it through a full range of motion, all the while exhaling for 7-12 seconds. Do a few of those and tell me you aren't starting to feel it. This is one of the main ways, apparently, that old school bodybuilders like Charles Atlas and Eugen Sandow trained.

    Can anyone tell me why this is a waste of time, and why it won't make me stronger or bigger? Why a 30 pound dumbbell is different from 30 pounds of resistance from my other arm?
    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

  • #2


    • #3
      What you describe sounds like an isometric contraction protocol. Instead of having a fixed joint angle, like your elbow in your example, you could also move your arm through and entire bicep curl while resisting with the other arm. That is a self resistance exercise as opposed to an isometric contraction. Charles Atlas used bodyweight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squads) and self resistance exercises. He actually did not use isometrics.

      Swoboda was also a huge supporter of self resistance.


      • #4
        Reminds me of an exercise my sister had me try.

        Plant both feet firmly on the floor, about hip-width apart or just a bit wider. Now with all your might try to pull your feet together. Obviously you're not moving them, but it works every muscle from your feet to your butt. It's pretty cool. I sometimes remember to do it when I'm standing at the polisher or tester at work.


        • #5
          This is good. This is encouraging. I am, after all, a cheap man.
          You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


          • #6
            I have no fancy sciency basis for saying this other than "hey, sounds plausible" but doing self-resistance exercises as you describe in the OP presumably has the bonus of giving both arms the workout, as opposed to doing a curl on one side with a weight... maybe involves more muscle groups too...

            Don't get TOO encouraged, you have to stay grumpy, Grumpy!
            "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


            • #7
              I like it in theory, but imagine it would be mentally very demanding to push yourself as hard as you'd need to in order to make significant gains with this training method.

              I say you train this way for 6-8 weeks and report back on your findings.
              "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

              "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

              My blog:



              • #8
                Al is absolutely correct about the difficulty of getting the mind to provide enough resistance. Proponents of these self resistance methods refer to this as the "mind-muscle" connection and the true root of strength. I've heard them talk abou tales of super human strength in times of crisis and how that's just the mind throwing off what it thought was possible and just doing what needs to be done.

                I've dabbled in this area a bit and can get a very solid workout from it, though I still hit weights to change modalities and keep interest. I can say that it does take a bit of practice to "get" it and you probably will struggle at first.


                • #9
                  i find that moving my body against gravity in different ways does a fair bit to build strength. i really like the book Body Weight Exercises for Extraordinary Strength by Brad Johnson. a lot of the pictures look like Al_K's there.

                  I also like yoga. Most of these things are just various body weight exercises. You can see me building some strength and flexibility as i do Dragonfly Pose in this video blog.

                  So, it is an inexpensive way to exercise. I also like the efficiency of parkour and freerunning. I separated them out because they are two distinct philosophies, but come from the same history.

                  What i like about all of these is that they do not require any equipment real equipment. most of what you need to work can be found in a playground, and in the case of yoga, just on your floor. I suppose all you really need for yoga is a level space.


                  • #10
                    ok that dragonfly pose is ridiculous! how good are you !
                    I will try when im 10 kg lighter
                    and suddenly my 10 months of bikram feel completely dusted !


                    • #11
                      10 months of bikram is rocking out! it's a great practice.

                      and thanks. we have fun. once you get the twist down, it's easy. navel to spine! navel to spine!
                      Last edited by zoebird; 11-15-2010, 11:08 PM.


                      • #12
                        and tx to u .. but im sure that after 10 mths i couldnt get close to it .. it hurts my poor little brain to even try to visualise it !


                        • #13
                          well, i think that is one of the drawbacks of bikram's series, there isn't an arm balance. Not that i recall anyway.

                          crow pose is the first spot where we really discover that arm balances are about core strength, not about arms. then, the next hurdle is just the twist. if you can do a twist--so long as it is deep enough--then you are pretty much there. after that, it's all about leverages.

                          but don't worry. my blog will grow. I've got Tim's sequence coming up (my buddy Tim is our web designer and i love him. not love-love, but i love him. kwim?) which is about opening up the lower back and hamstrings. And then, i plan on tossing in a few other requests that have come in from clients and friends.

                          If you have any, don't hesitate to ask. I'd love to continue to make fun videos with my Flip! i love my flip! technically, it's my husband's flip. but i understand it WAY better than he does.


                          • #14
                            u are right .. now arm balance ..
                            i may try this in my office .. i fear strange looks ....


                            • #15
                              ok so i cant even get into the setup
                              more respect to you !!