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  1. #1
    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    Time under tension question

    My goals for working out are to gain strength and straighten myself out, posture-wise.

    I watched a video talking about time under tension for muscle growth. This now explains my lifelong posture, back, symmetry issues, and why I walk around looking like a dork.

    I play a lot of acoustic guitar and sing. So even performing reps as slow as possible, is no match for curling up around the guitar and holding tight for 3 or 4 songs in a row. So effectively, many muscles on the righ side of my body: chest, shoulder, back, side, are under tension for for up to 10 minutes at a time as I'm supporting and strumming, while the left side is mostly tension free aside form the shoulder, while fretting the guitar.

    Being in my 40s, this has been a lifelong complaint, and I'm not sure there is much I can do about it aside from giving up the guitar. And even then, 25 years of this type of tension and build may be hard to reverse?
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  2. #2
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Posture is dictated by neuromuscular training - i.e. the brain tells which muscles to hold tension. It has nothing to do with strength because it doesn't take a lot of effort to hold correct posture. However, whilst a lot of athletes have good posture, there are plenty that don't.

    It's not that hard to retrain but does take time. You probably spend far longer sitting at a desk or doing other things than playing guitar. Just make a conscious effort to follow some basic cues as often as you can:
    - lift chest without arching your back
    - head cocked back, face looking forwards without being tipped (push against car headrest when driving)
    - don't stick chest out, tense abs and draw the sternum down - pushing your lower back into the chair if you are sitting.
    - walk or stand with arms by sides, palms facing the body. Take long strides without excessive rotation of the foot ( i.e. pointing forwards, not away from each other or towards each other)
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  3. #3
    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Posture is dictated by neuromuscular training - i.e. the brain tells which muscles to hold tension. It has nothing to do with strength because it doesn't take a lot of effort to hold correct posture. However, whilst a lot of athletes have good posture, there are plenty that don't.

    It's not that hard to retrain but does take time. You probably spend far longer sitting at a desk or doing other things than playing guitar. Just make a conscious effort to follow some basic cues as often as you can:
    - lift chest without arching your back
    - head cocked back, face looking forwards without being tipped (push against car headrest when driving)
    - don't stick chest out, tense abs and draw the sternum down - pushing your lower back into the chair if you are sitting.
    - walk or stand with arms by sides, palms facing the body. Take long strides without excessive rotation of the foot ( i.e. pointing forwards, not away from each other or towards each other)
    Thank you; much appreciated!

    Am I a wuss if the conscious effort tires me out after awhile?
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  4. #4
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by trtlp View Post
    Thank you; much appreciated!

    Am I a wuss if the conscious effort tires me out after awhile?
    It can feel uncomfortable if you are pushing against tight muscles but you should persist and you will adapt.

    It's possible that weight training will help. If done with full range of movement and balance across antagonists around a joint then it can lengthen muscle bellies. Deep tissue massage and foam rollering might also help alleviate tightness and aches and pain by removing muscle knots.

    If you are looking for a routine, I favour All Pros Simple Beginners routine - with the modification that you replace curls with wide grip lat pulldowns (or pullups if you can manage them).
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    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It can feel uncomfortable if you are pushing against tight muscles but you should persist and you will adapt.

    It's possible that weight training will help. If done with full range of movement and balance across antagonists around a joint then it can lengthen muscle bellies. Deep tissue massage and foam rollering might also help alleviate tightness and aches and pain by removing muscle knots.

    If you are looking for a routine, I favour All Pros Simple Beginners routine - with the modification that you replace curls with wide grip lat pulldowns (or pullups if you can manage them).
    I do something similar to the allpro guide, but more sets and a lot of pull-ups/chin-ups using rings. Which leads me to ask: I've been going strong 3 times a week for 10 weeks, and I can only do 5 or 6 complete pull-ups, and only on the first set. After that I will do many sets of 2 or 3 full pull-ups, with additional partial and negative reps. It's better than only getting 2 complete reps out, but after 10 weeks, I'd think I could get at least 10 complete reps. Dumbbell power cleans are awesome as well.
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Sorry - what was the question?

    BTW, fast jerky movements like power cleans don't help with tissue condition - they are more likely to create knots. Like I said, it's better to favour smooth full ROM movements without using momentum to complete the movement.
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    Registered User TheViking1992's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by trtlp View Post
    I do something similar to the allpro guide, but more sets and a lot of pull-ups/chin-ups using rings. Which leads me to ask: I've been going strong 3 times a week for 10 weeks, and I can only do 5 or 6 complete pull-ups, and only on the first set. After that I will do many sets of 2 or 3 full pull-ups, with additional partial and negative reps. It's better than only getting 2 complete reps out, but after 10 weeks, I'd think I could get at least 10 complete reps. Dumbbell power cleans are awesome as well.
    So what exactly are you doing? And how much have your other lifts gone up?
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  8. #8
    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheViking1992 View Post
    So what exactly are you doing? And how much have your other lifts gone up?

    I do a pull movement every workout, since I want to strengthen anything to do with climbing. So either pull-ups/chin-ups on rings, with enough sets to get me to 40-60 reps; or, rows using the rings. Rows go as many reps until I can't get anymore reps out for about 6 sets.

    I do a leg movement each workout; Dumbell squats, barbell dead lift or power cleans. I'm limited to 120lbs in weight, so I'm now increasing reps as I cannot add more weight.

    I'll rotate in 1 or 2 chest, tricep, shoulder or calf exercises depending on what is still sore, how much energy I have or what I last worked.

    I'm shooting towards enough strength to do one one armed pull-up or a muscle-up. I understand gaining weight is not conducive to either of those, so I'll be happy with one.
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    Originally Posted by trtlp View Post
    I'm shooting towards enough strength to do one one armed pull-up or a muscle-up. I understand gaining weight is not conducive to either of those, so I'll be happy with one.
    So what your current bodyweight? If it's more than 120 lbs, the obvious problem would be weak grip strength...
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    Originally Posted by trtlp View Post

    ...
    Being in my 40s, this has been a lifelong complaint, and I'm not sure there is much I can do about it aside from giving up the guitar. ...
    There is another alternative, but it's pretty challenging. Learn to play left handed.
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  11. #11
    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheViking1992 View Post
    So what your current bodyweight? If it's more than 120 lbs, the obvious problem would be weak grip strength...
    My grip isn't titan like, but I fail mostly a the top of the movement. I can do many half pull-ups.

    Oh, and I think I am 180#.
    Last edited by trtlp; 08-15-2016 at 10:18 AM.
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    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    From reading a bit on the web, it sounds like my inability to do many pull-ups is because my back and posture is jacked, and I am not properly engaging the important muscles.
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by trtlp View Post
    From reading a bit on the web, it sounds like my inability to do many pull-ups is because my back and posture is jacked, and I am not properly engaging the important muscles.
    OK, I see what you are asking now. I didn't get what you meant in your earlier post.

    I don't think lack of progress in pullups is related to posture. When you have been practising pullups for more than a few weeks or months, your mind muscle connection will be pretty strong and you can't not engage relevant muscle chains.

    Lack of progress is more likely because you either need to increase training volume and eat to gain muscle - or lose some bodyfat to reduce your bodyweight. Either will work - I've seen 150lbs guys who are good at pullups and 200lb guys who are good at pullups. They took different routes to the same goal - i.e. to gain muscle in the lats and the biceps to improve strength to weight ratio.
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  14. #14
    Registered User trtlp's Avatar
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    SuffolkPunch,

    Thanks for all your thoughts on my thread here. I did some reading along with your input, and I'm in a mess.

    I'm 44, but have been off and on with weights since probably 15. But I see a lot of actions have messed me up over the years. Thinking back, I would often hold my left side - especially shoulder under tension, because I felt lopsided. My left shoulder is like rice crispies and has been since I was a teenager. To add to that, I noticed yesterday, doing dumbbell presses, that I don't grip the dumbbells tight, but rather let them rest in my hands. So I do a set like that, and my shoulder is snap crackle pop; do a set squeezing my hands very tight, no noise.

    Also, I would always hold my left arm out from my body and lift shoulder up (in social circumstances), as if to compensate for the lopsidedness in my body. So 30 years later, that's kinda how my body is - sort of curved and out of whack. I'm better at realizing this, but it's quite a procedure to straighten myself out and get my core right, even when just sitting. It's amazing how much better a set of dumbbell presses feel when I make sure I am straight, like how you mentioned a good example of posture.
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  15. #15
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Def. consult a sports physio and most likely look into deep tissue massage.
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