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  1. #31
    ad5ly is offline Senior Member
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    Here is what I think is going wit da tension - newbies who begin to strength train need to learn tension for safety. As they get stronger and more efficient at lifting with applying tension - the amount of tension they use is less apparent to them because they are better at using it when they need it. The tension that they produce is much higher but less noticable to them because it is not consciencly applied but happens just as a result of completing the lift. It happens because it has to at the right moments in time without consciencly making it happen. Okay this stinks..sorry.hehe!!...Dennis

  2. #32
    danfaz is offline Senior Member
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    Hey Dennis, you're on the right track. When I started out, I found conscious tension to be necessary. As I progress, and my technique improves, I'm noticing I can be more relaxed, but my muscles will tense when needed without any thought. Of course, a very heavy bell is a different story...

  3. #33
    Samuel is offline Senior Member
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    I'm not sure how anybody can argue that you should "just lift it". I'd be surprised to discover someone who can lift a substantially heavy weight and found that "just move it from A to B" is an effective way of doing it. As people have testified in this thread and I assumed to be common experience (maybe I'm wrong?), when you do that and the lift is heavy one of two things usually tend to happen:
    1. You fail the lift completely
    2. In some lifts, you contort, compensate, and generally look awful doing it, potentially at the risk of injuring yourself (massively flexed spine deadlifts, anyone?)
    On the other hand, paying attention to body position and appropriate tension tends to lead to stronger, safer lifts. There's a reason Andy Bolton advises in an article on "How to Pull 1,008 Pounds and Make it Look Easy" (www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_to_pull_1008_pounds_and_make_it_look_easy), that you need to...
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Bolton
    Focus on keeping your arms locked out, flexing the triceps, and generating total body tension ... and you should squeeze the bar as tightly as possible throughout the entire lift
    Personally, when it comes to lifting the most weight, I'll listen to the guy who has lifted the most weight.

    Now... whether this has any negative effects in the body or not, I'm not sure. So let's see if we can investigate it briefly. Here's the relevant quote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Jay
    In the long run habituation to increased (and too excessive) tension levels can cause motor confusion in central command. Besides leading to movement inefficiency because of too high tension levels in the muscles and altered higher order movement commands, the muscles can over time become hypertonic. Prolonged muscular hypertonicity leads to alterations in muscle characteristics through actual structural change via Wolfs law and Davis’ law. Chronic hypertonic muscles exhibit these altered muscle characteristics in the form of mega-fibers (Andersen et al 2008). While “mega-fibers” may sound cool they are however not something to be wished for. Mega-fiber development is accompanied by increased chemo-nociception and pain.
    There are a few assertions in here, but only one citation. And if we check that citation, what we find is that the study investigated the muscle fibre proportions of females with trapezius myalgia (chronic pain). They found:
    "The main finding of the study is that females with trapezius myalgia compared with matched healthy controls have a significantly higher proportion of grossly hypertrophied type I muscle fibers with poor capillarization – “type I megafibers”. While type I megafibers were found in only 11% of the controls, approximately half of the females with myalgia showed evidence of megafibers."
    Okay, that's great. However, they also state (warning - the following long paragraph is just a collection of excerpts, so you may want to skip it completely or skim it roughly if reading studies is not for you):
    "Since Hägg proposed the Cinderella hypothesis – i.e. that work-tasks with prolonged trapezius activation can lead to chronic overload of type I muscle fibers [6] – no solid evidence of this has been put forward. In agreement with previous studies we showed that type I fibers of healthy and painful trapezius muscles were generally larger compared with type II fibers [12], [16] and [18], whereas the opposite has been reported for male forest machine operators and power lifters [10] and [11]. This may reflect specific adaptations to the work demands imposed on the muscle and/or gender differences. ... during intensive computer work where this muscle works continuously at intensities below 5% of maximal capacity [3], only a few of many type I muscle fibers are activated [8]. Thus, in concert with the present findings, hypertrophy of only a fraction of all fibers in response to this type of stimulus would be expected. ... Capillarization of megafibers was poor, indicating increased reliance of anaerobic metabolism. During repetitive low-intensity work-tasks, increased levels of lactate in females with myalgia have been reported [19]. In this regard, it can be speculated that prolonged local acidosis due to poor capillarization of megafibers causes or enhances pain conditions. Hypertrophy can exceed neocapillarization in response to training, when the aim is to increase muscle mass [21]. In such situations hypertrophy is advantageous since it affects mainly type II fibers of motor units producing short burst of high activity followed by long rest periods. However, marked hypertrophy of type I fibers of low-threshold motor units can hamper local oxygen delivery during prolonged low-intensity work-tasks. ... The presence of type I megafibers was significantly associated with age and weekly working hours, indicating a dose–response relationship. Although the present study does not provide direct evidence of the Cinderella hypothesis [6], it demonstrates a higher proportion of megafibers in females with myalgia and that long-term exposure enhances this trend. Whether pain arises from these fibers is yet to be determined. ... In conclusion, females with trapezius myalgia compared with matched healthy controls have a higher proportion of grossly hypertrophied type I muscle fibers with poor capillarization – type I megafibers. We propose that this finding is a specific adaptation to prolonged exposure of a few of many low-threshold motor units."

    I don't know about you guys, but what I'm reading here is not anything that supports the idea that high tension during lifting will result in the development of these 'mega-fibres'. There's a leap of faith that needs to be made from high tension lifting to hypertonicity, and also that this hypertonicity is of a similar sort that it will produce these mega-fibres. I'll admit to be getting a little out of my depth here so I can't rightly argue the exact mechanisms of these things, but it seems to me that there's still a lot of speculating going on, and mixed evidence. At this stage I think it's a far stretch for anyone to suggest high tension on heavy lifting will cause this condition. Especially since Kenneth's own reference cites another study where such an effect wasn't found in elite powerlifters.

    And that's just talking about the one citation and the mega-fibres. Do we have any support for the claims of reduced efficiency and motor confusion? I always become suspect when someone bothers to put in references for some of their claims but not others. I'd like to hear more about this, because right now I'm not sold.

    Don't get me wrong, Kenneth is clearly a smart guy. But there are plenty of smart guys who lie through their teeth to make some money, especially in this industry. It's a sad state of affairs, but we simply can't assume that Kenneth isn't cherry-picking research, interpreting results in a skewed fashion and making unsupported leaps of logic to present a new paradigm that distances himself from the RKC and tries to convince you to do the same.


    Now, to move all the way back to the original post and topic. First, listen to Brett. He's smarter, more knowledgeable and more experienced than me. With that out of the way, I'll humbly put forth my understanding of an RKC approach:
    -Firstly, there is a scale from light to heavy with an increasing requirement for tension. This is obvious on the level that heavier bells need more force to move thus need more muscle recruitment thus more tension. This is no different from what Kenneth and others are saying.
    -On another level to the above, however, all bells should be pressed with good form. This means that along that scale you may need to start consciously adding tension in other areas to plug the leaks. The focus should be on pressing with good form, so only add tension when and where needed. This should be the general approach: lift with perfect form. And perfect form isn't defined by tension, but position. If you have to add tension - add it; if you don't - don't. Lift with perfect form.
    -That having been said, sometimes with a lighter bell you need to practice high tension. If you don't practice it first, you probably won't have the clear presence of mind to apply it properly when you come to a heavy bell. Has anybody here had an experience early on where with a sub-max bell they could perform a completely high tension lift, but then when they went to a max bell they found that they got slack here or loose there? I have. I remember going for a PR at my RKC and failing miserably, and one of my teammates said "your glutes were completely relaxed and you didn't clench your other fist". Went for it again later and paid attention to those two things, and made the press. Remember what Master RKC Mark Reifkind tells us: "It's all easy 'till it's heavy". So you need to practice high tension too, and the only way to practice it is on lighter lifts. You don't do this all the time, but you do sometimes - and probably more often as a beginner.
    -And don't forget your fast and loose drills to shake out the tension between reps.

    So, I would suggest that you can absolutely press in a loose, relaxed fashion. Especially on high reps, it's crucial for conserving energy, minimising fatigue and being able to keep going. But if that's all you ever do, I'm reasonably confident that it's all you'll ever be able to do - loose, light, high rep presses. If you want to press a lot of weight, you need a lot of tension, and you need to practice that from time to time.

    And apologies for what turned out to be an exceedingly long post. I appreciate it if someone actually made it the whole way through.
    Last edited by Samuel; 05-30-2012 at 06:13 PM.

  4. #34
    DTris is offline Senior Member
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    I made it Samuel! Nice post, if long winded.

    On the World of Warcraft forums they would say this wall of text crits for 9000! Next time try leaving a blank line between every 3rd to 4th sentence. It helps readability.

    Hardstyle really is like a good martial art IMO. There must be relaxation but there must also be tension, and the ability to switch quickly between high tension and high relaxation.

    I think what Kenneth was saying was simply that always being highly tense is a bad idea. Which I think is kinda common sense.

  5. #35
    bwwm is offline Senior Member
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    Samuel - I think Kenneth is trying to distance himself from the RKC, and that's fine. I don't know if I would have worded it that way, however. He has his opinions, I'm willing to hear what he has to say, and put it in context with my own personal experience, what the RKC has to say, and what other's have to say. I wouldn't put him in the class of 'smart guys lying through their teeth'. I have found his earlier books to be valuable, and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with in the long run.

    I like the start of your post. The middle bit I think we differ. I definitely agree with you on the 2nd half of your post.

  6. #36
    Samuel is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTris
    I made it Samuel! Nice post, if long winded.

    On the World of Warcraft forums they would say this wall of text crits for 9000! Next time try leaving a blank line between every 3rd to 4th sentence. It helps readability.

    Hardstyle really is like a good martial art IMO. There must be relaxation but there must also be tension, and the ability to switch quickly between high tension and high relaxation.

    I think what Kenneth was saying was simply that always being highly tense is a bad idea. Which I think is kinda common sense.
    Yeah, I tend to type a lot. I like the sound of my own text, so to speak.
    Apologies about the formatting, I'm usually good with this, but I didn't bother breaking up the study quote with paragraphs like I should have, which is why you get that awful giant chunk in the middle there.
    In regards to always maximally tense - yes, that is common sense. But the point is, I don't know of anybody anywhere that promotes maximal tension all the time, yet his article is couched in terms of 'common mistakes'. I don't think it's a far stretch to interpret this as a dig at the RKC.

    Quote Originally Posted by bwwm
    I think Kenneth is trying to distance himself from the RKC, and that's fine. I don't know if I would have worded it that way, however. He has his opinions, I'm willing to hear what he has to say, and put it in context with my own personal experience, what the RKC has to say, and what other's have to say. I wouldn't put him in the class of 'smart guys lying through their teeth'.
    I'm also wlling to hear what he has to say. For what it's worth, in addition to being an RKC, I've done R-Phase and am going back later this year for I and S. I have nothing against Z-Health or Kenneth for leaving the RKC and focusing his efforts in that area. That's his decision, and everyone should be able to assess the worth of all ideas on their merits not any 'political' bias. My concern is that he is precisely not doing that and painting out RKC principles to be worse (in terms of 'correctness' or potential harm) than they truly are. In that regard, I didn't meant to suggest he was the one lying through his teeth, but that there are people like that, and it's possible Kenneth is somewhere between them and a purely honest entirely science-minded person. Integrity seems to be in short supply these days. Or maybe I'm just being cynical.

  7. #37
    wilneedheart is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieJay View Post
    What am I trying to do? I would like to get the most natural press I possibly can.
    What reply would you give to a Russian if they approached you and asked for your help to speak English in the most natural way they possibly could?
    Last edited by wilneedheart; 05-30-2012 at 07:35 PM.

  8. #38
    CharlieJay is offline Member
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    I see what most people are saying here and I agree. Lately, I have been letting go of a little bit of the tension and it feels a lot better. The reason that It was hard for me to break through this is that I always looked to Pavel for an ideal press example. I tried to copy his press on ETK to a "tee" and it never really felt quite right. When I tired this "loose" version, it felt really smooth, almost mechanical. Plus, I could lift a lot more which made me feel pretty good! hahahaha.

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