The Body Transforming Laws of Muscle Tension

The Body Transforming Laws of Muscle Tension

    The Body Transforming Laws of Muscle Tension

    Muscle tension is the active ingredient in your workouts and it’s responsible
    for the results you want. So if you want to get bigger and stronger, or get rid
    of joint pain, your ability to produce and control muscle tension is the path to
    those results. Since it's so important, let's get right down to what tension is,
    what it is not, and the natural laws that give you the power to control it.

    Tension Law #1
    It’s all in your head

    Muscle tension is the product of your neuromuscular system. That very term
    neuromuscular highlights the origin of tension and how you control it. When
    your muscles contract, they are responding to an electrical signal they are
    receiving from your nervous system. The origin of that signal is your brain.
    It's crucially important to understand the origin of muscle tension because it
    gives you the power to control your tension at the source. Without this
    essential awareness, your ability to produce, and control, muscle tension is
    left up to chance and hit-or-miss workouts.

    You can feel this process in action right now. As you're reading this sentence
    take a moment and flex a muscle, any muscle in your body. You don't even
    have to contract it very hard, just tense it up and hold that tension for a few
    Take a second and feel that muscle contracting. Note the sensation and savor
    it like a connoisseur. Now let it relax and release the tension. I know it's a
    simple exercise but observe that there was nothing external (other than these
    instructions) that made your muscle contract. There wasn't a fancy weight
    machine or heavy piece of equipment, that made your muscle turn on. You
    weren't practicing a sport or exercise technique either. You make the
    conscious choice to put tension into that muscle and hold it there for a few
    seconds. I also didn't tell you which muscle to contract; that part was up to
    you. It was a completely conscious choice on your part to help you
    understand that all of the instructions in this book are dealing with the
    deliberate pro-active use of creating and producing muscle tension.
    The bottom line is that you cannot make any muscular gains without first
    working toward a stronger visualization of your training first.

    Tension law #2
    Producing muscle tension is a learned skill

    It took me a long time to understand this lesson after years of sub-par
    workouts. I always wondered, why would a set of squats make my quads
    burn one workout, but then I would hardly feel those same muscles working
    during the next workout? Sometimes, an exercise could feel very different
    from one set to the next or even change over a few reps.
    It was always a mystery until a fellow trainer gave me a simple exercise to
    help me with some chronic knee pain I was experiencing. As it turned out, I
    had poor tension control in my hamstrings, and he gave me a simple
    isometric technique to make my hamstrings stronger.
    At first, it didn't feel like the exercise was doing anything at all. Even so, it
    was a simple exercise, and I could do it any time I was standing so I got in
    the habit of practicing it throughout the day. It took about three weeks of daily practice before I started to notice a slight tingling in my hamstrings.
    After another few weeks that tingling had grown into a full on burn. After a
    couple of months, I started to notice I was using my hamstrings more when I
    would stand up out of a chair or climb a flight of stairs. As my tension control
    improved the stress on my knees disappeared.
    Since then, I've noticed several other of my muscle groups that have suffered
    poor tension control. My biceps, lats, hips, abs, and shoulders also had a poor
    mind-muscle connection. I've been making steady progress, but I always start
    with a slow trickle of tension in the muscle that eventually grows as I keep
    practicing. What's more, I know I can continually improve my tension
    control. I started working on my hamstrings three years ago, and I'm still
    making progress. Just like any skill, tension control is always something you
    can improve on and should strive to do so.
    The biggest challenge with tension control is that we all tend to use our
    muscles in a habitual, near-subliminal fashion. People usually don't think
    about how they use their muscles in everyday activities like walking,
    standing, or going about their daily chores. They operate their muscles
    primarily on autopilot, which makes it particularly challenging to reverse old
    habits and make progress.
    Teaching improved tension control has been one of the biggest challenges
    I've faced as a personal trainer. How can I possibly teach someone how to
    improve something they aren't even aware of and can’t even feel? That's why
    I've compiled my best tension control exercises in this book. They will help
    you learn how to improve your tension control as quickly as possible.

    Tension law #3
    Your muscles are being conditioned 24/7

    Your mind controls your muscle tension and, your brain is one heck of a
    habit-forming machine. In fact, you've been conditioning your tension control
    habits ever since you were a toddler and have continued to do so to this day.
    It's a myth that exercise is the only time you're training your body. The truth
    is, your body is continuously training every second of every day. So when you proactively control your muscle tension and perform an exercise, you're
    not turning on some switch marked "condition body." You're always
    conditioning your body; it's just that your workouts are when you're
    purposely controlling the direction of that conditioning.
    I find this idea both liberating and scary at the same time. On the one hand,
    it's good to know you don't have to move mountains in your workout to make
    your body change. You're already changing, all you need to do is guide where
    you want your physical changes to go. However, it's also somewhat nervewracking
    to know that everything you do is telling your body how it should
    perform and behave. You never get a day off as your neuromuscular system
    is undergoing constant renovation, and it doesn't take much for things to start
    headed down the wrong path.
    Nevertheless, I find understanding this lesson is very motivating because
    even the smallest tension control habits can make a big difference over time.
    You're always one workout, set or rep away from steering your physical fate
    in a more positive direction.

    Tension law #4
    There are only three variables in controlling muscle

    There are a million different ways you can perform physical activity. From
    yoga to Yo-yo and powerlifting to power walking, you can apply muscle
    tension in an infinite number of ways. You can lose yourself down an endless
    rabbit hole trying to contemplate all of the different ways you can use your
    So I'm going to make things simple for you. I'm assuming you're reading this
    book because you primarily want to a) make your muscles stronger and b)
    make your muscles bigger. If you want anything other than that, this is not
    the book for you. Granted, GSC can help improve athletic performance,
    decrease joint pain, improve posture, and help you burn fat but if those are
    your primary objectives I recommend starting with my first two books,
    Fitness Independence and Smart Bodyweight Training.
    But, if the strength and size thing is your objective, then there are only three
    things you need to concern yourself with from the standpoint of physical
    training. The first of which is that all-important tension control because
    it's impossible to stimulate a muscle to get bigger and stronger if you struggle
    to engage it in the first place. Naturally, this is why so much of the GSC
    workout strategy focuses on tension control and muscle activation.
    The second variable is the amount of tension you can put into a muscle
    which often correlated with weight. While weight is a big influence on the
    resistance against a muscle, there are several other factors to consider. The
    technique you use and your environment can also influence how much
    tension you can put into a muscle. You can even change the amount of
    tension in a muscle, even if the weight you're lifting is the same, due to focus
    and concentration. So it's more accurate to claim that a weight you lift
    influences the amount of tension in a muscle rather than directly correlates to
    The third variable is the amount of time your muscles are holding the
    tension. Usually, this is measured by how many reps you can perform or how
    long you can do an exercise. However, don't forget the speed and range of
    motion of a rep can influence how many reps you do relative to time. Doing
    three deep, slow push-ups may produce the same time under tension as doing
    15 short and fast reps.
    So if your goals are to build muscle and strength, then you have a
    straightforward set of criteria you're trying to satisfy with each workout.
    #1 Become more skillfully proficient in putting tension into a given muscle
    or muscle group
    #2 Establish a standard amount of tension in the muscle or muscle group.
    #3 Push the work capacity of your muscles through progressing how long
    those muscles can hold that amount of tension.
    Those are the three objectives of powerful muscle and strength building
    workouts. The entire objective of GSC is to help you accomplish all three as
    effectively as possible.
    As an added side note, you can now assess the value of any exercise variable
    as it relates to those three objectives. If you ever run into a question about a
    program, technique, or product, all you need to do is ask yourself how it can
    help you improve either tension control, tension quantity or tension duration.
    If you're unsure if or how it can help you improve either of those three things,
    then chances are it won't help you build muscle and strength.

    Tension Law #5
    The muscle tension hierarchy

    Lastly, it's super important to understand what I call the muscle tension
    hierarchy. This series of steps is what each GSC workout is based on, and it's
    the key to paving the path of least resistance to the results you want.
    The hierarchy states that you can only produce tension towards a particular
    objective once you have proficiently improved the lower levels of the
    hierarchy. It’s presented here in a pyramid to represent the basic principle of
    building a strong foundation to produce a higher result.
    This progressive approach is evident all throughout nature. From trees to
    mountains, you can even see this idea in effect by building a sand pile the
    next time you're on a beach. If you want to build a higher pile, you also need
    to build a broader and more stable foundation. If you continue to dump
    buckets of sand onto a pile, the mound will broaden its base as the mound of
    sand grows higher.
    The same idea holds with the muscle tension hierarchy. The wider and
    stronger you build your foundation, the higher you can progress your muscle
    and strength.
    Let’s explore the different levels of the Muscle Tension Hierarchy in more
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