Tai Chi Crosstraining
Posted by majutsu on June 10, 2010
In the spirit of conjugated periodization, a term made popular by Louie Simmons and Westside Powerlifting, I have added Tai Chi to my training.
I currently train in the Westside method for bench, squat and deadlift, equipped. I am particularly focusing on bringing up the bench and the squat right now. Westside powerlifting uses maximum effort day and a dynamic day. Maximum effort means to achieve a one-rep maximum on a particular movement. It is important, however, to get enough volume in reps to provide growth. So I usually go from 80 – 95% of my one-rep maximum in a progressive manner. Maximum effort movements for bench right now are floor presses or a shirted (open-backed poly-ply – Titan) bench. Maximum effort movements for squat are box squats, rack deadlifts or good mornings. Dynamic is to improve one’s explosiveness and speed. Methods of training this modality include using bands or chains. Bands and chains have relatively more pull at the end extension of the movement than at the bottom, encouraging the lifter to explosively blow past the beginning and middle of the movement to fight the increased resistance at the end, developing speed. I do shirted bench and box squats with bands and chains.
Also, powerlifting involves training one’s GPP (General Physical Preparedness). I do this through walking with my wife and the dogs at night, swimming, and most recently, Tai Chi.
I have always been interested in Tai Chi. I have done yoga and martial arts, but never Tai Chi somehow. Tai Chi is a part of Kung Fu that is a “Soft Style”. There are soft styles and hard styles. Hard styles involve striking and blocking. Soft styles involves yielding, re-channeling aggressive energies, taking control of them, and adding the slightest directive tap at a vulnerable moment at a precise time. Tai Chi is very flowing and circular. Practically, I feel it has benefited my lower back and knees, strengthening my squat, as well as helped me to feel the communication of energy between different parts of my body, strengthening my bench by providing a better power transfer from my legs to my chest.
Chi is an interesting concept too. Chi is basically life-energy. Freud called it libido and saw it infusing career choice, aspirations, art and philosophy, as well as sex. Ancient mystery groups thought there were seven “bodies” to a human. The three of greatest importance here are the mineral body, the animal body, and the vegetable body. The mineral body is the sphere of physical materialism. The animal body represents our everyday consciousness, the mind. The vegetable body, as represented by your solar plexus, i.e. stomach, is the point where the animal and mineral body interact. Plants, living things, are certainly not mineral like rocks or animal like a deer. They are a tie between the worlds. Tai Chi focuses on this vegetable body, the subtle shell of man that enables magic.