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Grunting: The Dreaded Free Weight Room
By: The Icon Diet Reader

By: The Icon Diet Reader

I am new to the world of the gym. Having resolved to make my health and fitness a priority, spending time at the gym is becoming a staple in my weekly routine. While I find that I am getting well acquainted with different exercises and exercise machines, there is one area of the gym that I fear to tread.

Behind a partial wall, tucked to the rear of the building, away from the cardio machines, spinning rooms and yoga mats, is the free weight room. When I work the weight machines I am a stones throw from the free weight room, not close enough to really see what goes on in there, but definitely close enough to hear what goes on in there.

They say if you sit long enough in one place, the whole world will pass you by. This may be true, but if you sit long enough near the free weight room, you see a whole other world of gym patron pass you by. Into this mysterious room disappear giant men, their poor t-shirts barely able to contain their burly mass, arms propped out by massive lats; Amazon women with bodies of iron and physique most men would sell their mothers for. They disappear behind the wall and for a good while they vanish. All that remains is their grunting.

From the free weight room issues forth a chorus of hissing and grunting that would put any tennis player to shame. Now being a novice in the gym, I can only assume the grunting issues forth under the Herculean effort needed to heft such tremendous weights. On my side of the wall, the weight machine side, we are a quiet lot. The only break in the peace is the occasional clang of a poorly executed rep. In fact, on my side of the gym we are so quite, that no one even notices when we come and go. We are like gym ninjas – stealthy and quite. I would like to think that we choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall. Of course, really this is totally untrue. I choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall because I am totally ignorant of free weights.

Talking to a friend of mine who swears that while he loves to use free weights, not all of his kind, are grunters. He does however, insist that free weights are an excellent way to expand your work out. If done correctly, free weights allow you to work a wide range of muscles through a full range of motion, unhampered by any physical limitation often present in a machine. Further, lifting free weights forces your body to develop its stabilizers. These muscles help with balance and support. Another key component of free weights is that there is no size restrictions. That is, you have to be able to ‘fit' a weight machine. If not, you cannot use it. Free weights are, according to my friend, an essential aspect of any weight training regime.

I still sit near the free weight room to see the goings and comings of the gym giants, but I have made an appointment with a personal trainer to get introduced to the world of free weights. According to my trainer, good form while using free weights is vital for safety. Injury is possible if not used correctly. I look forward to my first foray into the unknown. I am excited to see what lies behind the wall. My trainer assures me that somewhere behind the wall, there are normal people like myself all taking advantage of free weights. More importantly, grunting is not a prerequisite. Apparently, there are free weight ninjas too.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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