The big concept here is that one should not train muscles but
movements. Your body has no concept of muscles, just movements. Even if
you have no intention of ever doing any martial arts
is a great workout and extremely portable. It doesn't need much in the
of equipment. Of course,
you can get snazzy looking dumbells, but machines, weird diets and such
are not to be found here. You'll move better, have more stamina and
just feel good
afterwards. It also is pretty quick and you only need train about half
a day with it.
Throw in 20 - 30 minutes of cardiovascular training and you have a
really great workout.
Another factor is how to push the limit. Going full tilt in a martial arts class is good training, but doing so on a regular basis courts injuries and overtraining issues. Taiso puts the extreme parts of the training in the conditioning, where it can be controlled and you can practice training as hard as you like, with minimal risk of injury. This is one of the most important tricks in being able to stay active at a higher level as you age or try to return after an injury, say.
Many martial arts will train you hard by means of sparring or other work. This has a couple of serious drawbacks. First off, given the chaotic nature of the training, it is very easy to get badly injured. One of the most common accounts of an injury runs along the lines of "we were just sparring when I tried hard to do an X as he tried Y then pop and that was that." Generally, putting the extreme parts of the training separate from sparring lets you learn what your limits actually are. You should always be working well inside of them any time you need to use your art. (And I do beleive that requiring some athletic feat to carry the day will fail pretty reliably.)
differently, I like to train on the edge, but I'm smart enough about it
to carefully monitor my failure modes. It's safer and
gives great results. Also, I emphasize training movements rather than
muscles. The reason is that I think Pareto's Principle holds, viz.,
20% of the exercises give 80% of the benefit. Distilling this down to
the 20% that I think is important gives the motions to be trained.
I don't claim that on lick of this is original. If you have done sports for a while you'll have seen all of these movements elsewhere. I just claim to have organized it in a way that compliments my training.
The main focus of an exercise is doing one of these motions along with maybe some other movements. You can intersperse smaller exercises, aerobic or anaerobic exercises (drop everything when in doubt and jump rope, sprint or do stars, for example) to vary the pace. Four or five such periods constitutes a workout and should take about 3 to 4 minutes for a period, depending on various factors. Remember, there are a lot of possible combinations and your goal is to have a pretty fair amount of chaos as you train. Normally I have more focus one day on bodyweight, partner or weights, depending on equipment and such, or just completely mix and match. A good measure of wear and tear is periods per week. Start with a couple of sessions a week with a couple of periods. You can gradually increase these. After several years of doing this, I can do a session daily with 5 periods per, five days a week, depending on how strenuous I want to do things. In other words, I find that about 20 periods a week is a pretty good goal. I might up this as a training program: Every summer I send myself to "boot camp" (alias shugyo or "ascetic training" in Japanese) for a couple of weeks, consisting of 40+ taiso sets weekly and a solid hour of cardio a day, but this can't be maintained for more than a small march of time.
The first workout after a sicknes or injury is for inventory, not for getting back in shape. You should see how well things move and check for potential imbalances and weaknesses. Start with no weight for the first couple of reps. If that works, then add a little weight. You could add more, but this is to be sure that loads are transmitted correctly, muscles are functioning and so forth. I would consider avoiding the more taxing bodyweight exercises the first time if they affect the injured body part. You want to feel warm and nicely tingley all over.
If you were sick (flu or some other systemic illness), you can have residual muscle soreness. Don't underestimate how much wear and tear a bad case of the chills or a days-long coughing fit can put on you. The last thing you want to do is find that that those two days you spent in the bathroom with that tummy bug overtrained your lower back which will rip on the first highweight exercise.
If this is due to
a local problem, such as an injury or infection, many times you will
uncounsciously conscript other
muscles to help, sacrificing structure and form. If you are or were
limping in any capacity then
a red flag should go up for the workout. Limping even for a few minutes
can involve hundreds of
repetitions which can have a training effect. For load-bearing joints
you have to be sure
that you have proper structure before doing much of anything.
Too much weight (including just your bodyweight) then might catch you
unaware and cause an injury.
The importance of structure. One of the absolute worst back injuries I got was from blithely trying to tie my shoe shortly after my hip surgery. I knew I could get into the position and bent over. That worked great. My back muscles were conditioned for when I was really twisted up, and on standing back up they tried valiantly to splint the hip and back with the effect I ripped a whole slew of them. Surgery quickly allowed me to get into a "normal" position, but the muscles "knew" that was impossible. I knew it as it was happening, but there was no way to stop it. I literally hit the floor (my falling practice helped) and was bed-ridden for nearly a week, then needed a good two months before I was feeling like my old self again. I was not doing an exercise, just tying my shoe. Never underestimate the body's ability to learn new ways to move or protect itself.
Jeff's important recovery tip: You will only come to trust your body if you have successes. Therefore, you want to be sure that every practice builds your confidence.
You will not return to a high level of activity if you mistrust your body (will that knee go out again?) You must regain your trust or you will be courting problems. Part of your recovery planning is how to plot successful workouts. Just make incremental changes and stick with it.
I admit that my hobby is working out. So I want to be able to do it pretty much every day. I have some good strategies for always looking forward to a workout and cycling is one of them. The two week timeframe is not happenstance. It has been shown that after about two weeks the maximum amount of adaptation in the body has occurred and overtraining can start to rear its ugly head. Cycling means that you get to have your cake and eat it too.
This conditioning is distributed all over you.
Nothing should hurt unduly. Oh you'll know you trained, don't worry.
it until something burns like in a powerlifting workout leads to the
dreaded overtraining syndrome. In that case, you will
notice this first
in stiffness and vague soreness. There will be no one thing you can
think of that would
cause it. Warming up makes the problem go away, only to return more
when you cool off. What is happening? Your body's ability to recover
from what you are
doing to it has been exceeded. You must cease training the
affected body part
for at least a few days until
all soreness and stiffness is gone. Why? Because you are working on
somewhat damaged muscles
and that bit of damage might lead to a big thumping injury. This
training stresses all of
you and whatever the weakest link is will probably go. Seriously, you
working on what you think is a shoulder exercise and blow out a calf
if it is overtrained.
This is a serious exercise protocol. Never underestimate it.
How I hurt my knee. It is no secret that I have a ginky knee. Let me tell you the story. Back when I was still relatively new at taekwondo I took a university sports class with a fellow named Don Burns, at Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana. Mind you, I was fat and was badly out of shape. Burns was as well, although he had all sorts of important sounding rankings (turned out later these were awarded by his students and were essentially worthless). His idea of getting us to workout was to bark orders at us and really before I knew how to kick well, he was having us do flying side kicks. I landed with my left leg locked out and blew the knee out. He barked at me to get back in there and do it again, and I blew it out a second time. I was in university and the student health service misdiagnosed what was actually an anterior cruciate ligament ACL) tear with a medial collateral ligament strain. For your information, a torn ligament can be re-attached surgically only within the first 72 hours. After that it is not possible to fix it and the ligament dissolves.
It was only later that I had the great and good fortune to meet up with Dr. John McCarroll, a well repsected knee specialist. I got one of the earliest ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) rebuilds, in which the middle of the knee ligament is removed and threaded through a hole bored in the shin, replacing the missing ACL. The reconstruction was pretty successful, although since there was no real guideline for recovery, I was on crutches too long and ended up having to learn how to walk again. On the balance, this meant I made great and good headway when I got a new hip. I have restricted motion and if I don't mind to avoid certain sorts of shearing actions it will swell impressively.
In my opinion, Mr. Burns teaching was flatly incompetent and he showed a criminal negligence for the welfare of his students. This is the origin of my realization that there are no standards in the martial arts, that rank has no real meaning of competence, and that any idiot can proclaim himself a master. I get to think of Mr. Burns everyday as a result of this and it serves as a reminder of exactly how I don't want to train my own students.