I want you to stand up right now and hit ten rapid Hindu Squats [deep-knee bends for the non-grappling minded.]
Did you do it? Ten hard and fast?
Now, let’s self-assess. How do the legs feel?
There is a possibility that the lungs required you to puff a wee bit and the heartrate elevated, but I wager that the low repetition number has not made any fatiguing demands on your legs. They are probably good to go for another ten.
Since the effects we are feeling are not leg fatigue but maybe elevated heart-rate and respiration let’s hit ten more but…
This time I want you to time them in the following manner.
· Rather than ten hard and fast, let’s go leisurely, drop down for Squat 1 and stay there for one solid minute, then return to standing.
· That’s rep one. Continue on down the line for a total of ten.
I wager the majority who submit to the self-experiment will do the first hard fast squats no problem but will become a bit bored by the next slow ten but…the bodily sensations accrued by the ten will really pave the way for today’s lesson.
Now, whether you did the self-experiment or not, here’s the upshot. The hard fast ten squats will feel noticeably less taxing than the slow ten.
Now why should this be?
After all, in the slow ten we are essentially in a resting position—the deep squat aka 3rd-world squat.
The difference in effort is not one of mere perception it is one of bio-mechanical function.
When we squat with speed the extensor muscles, although no longer required to remain standing, remain under tension all the same to control the rate of descent.
In the fast iterations of the squat where an immediate turnaround is required [rising back to standing] the extensors still under load [or use-utility] are able to increase the present tension and make the rapid rise easily.
In the slower iterations we stop at the bottom and the extensors which were under-tension or load during descent disengage—the tension decays.
To return to standing, we must place them back under load walking the scale back up from 0% use to full use.
Fast iterations of the squat allow the leg musculature to utilize “elastic-loading” where your extensors behave as rubber bands stretched and tensed for use.
Slow iterations are slack rubber-bands that require full musculature engagement with zero elastic aid.
Elastic recoil aids speed and conserves energy. When we run our calf muscles and Achilles tendons do not go to zero-slack as the foot peels off the ground with each stride—there is still a tension loaded in the toes, foot, Achilles tendons, and calf muscles that allow for elastic rebound once the next foot stride is placed.
Sprint 50 yards as hard and fast as you can.
At the conclusion note your internal state. I wager just as with fast squats you will have elevated respiration and heart rate but 50 yards at speed will not be experienced as leg taxing.
Now, cover that same 50 yards but this time take one bounding step and land on a foot—pause for 3-seconds, bound to the next, and so on until the distance is covered.
Important: When making these bounding steps land with a flexed knee, remain in knee flex which one would assume would aid the bounding task, but the 3-second pause allows for elastic decay.
After this is complete, again note internal states. Elevated respiration and heart-rate and…a remarkable increase in perceived leg exertion as compared with the sprint.
Let’s bring this to combat [hell, and all athletic endeavor].
· Any use of stances that advises starting from stock-still by bio-mechanical definition cannot utilize elastic loading for speed or energy-conservation.
· Any footwork of the slow-plodding variety will not utilize elastic load, or at the very least small elastic load assistance.
Static stances and/or slow deliberate footwork is by mechanical definition slower and ultimately more taxing.
I am not advocating, bouncing bounding footwork where the athlete is barely in contact with the ground. That is always unwise. Such “over-activity” can lead to inefficient energy-expenditure via anaerobic pathway and the reduced contact with the ground makes weight transfers and direction changes less efficient.
What we may wisely decide is to find the method of movement that remains cognizant of elastic load to better our speed and reduce relative fatigue.[For more integration of state-of-the art science and indigenous wisdom see this blog and the RAW Subscription Service.]