My martial arts education has always been colored by the themes of the natural elements and their influence and manifestation in fighting, nature and the human body. It may sound like a bunch of woo-woo to many, but when you develop an understanding of the elements, you will begin to see how complex such a simple system can be.
Just yesterday I was exercising in my backyard and I realized the relationship between the earth element and how I used the earth element to make myself stronger.
When I do push-ups, I use the ground and gravity (earth) to push against, and by pushing off of the earth I contract my muscles and I build strength. The same thing applies to any bodyweight exercise, you are using the Earth and its gravitational pull to work against, and you will build your body.
Nutrition is a major part of earth element’s influence on body-building as well. Everything we eat is grown from the earth, and the animals that we eat receive their own nutrition from the plants they consume. It all starts with the soil and the minerals and nutrients we receive from it through the food we eat.
Another aspect of earth in bodybuilding is the weights we use for resistance training. The weights we use are made of metals, which are refined forms of earth. The metal we use to make weights for lifting are found in the earth, mined and forged into the dumbbells and barbells we use to strengthen our muscles.
The earth element is only one part of body-building, however. All of the elements are present in all things with the exception of the pure form of the element itself.
The water element manifests itself in relation to body-building as hydration and sweat. In fact, our bodies are made predominantly of water so keeping yourself properly hydrated before, during and after exercise is essential. You can even use water itself to exercise by swimming.
The fire element manifests itself as body heat and metabolism. The body burns the energy converted from food or from air to move during exercise. The body temperature increases during exercise and blood flow is improved.
The air element manifests itself in the breath, which is more important to exercise then most people think. The primary source of energy comes from the aerobic energy system (oxygen) and the body uses the anaerobic energy system (carbs and fats) when the aerobic system is insufficient to the energy demand. If you can keep your breath coordinated and supply your body with enough oxygen, then your body won’t have to burn as many carbs or fats to keep you going.
The electrical element manifests itself through your nervous system and its capacity to control the muscles. The nervous system is responsible for sending the impulses to the muscles to contract or relax. It sends signals to every part of the body and not just the muscles during exercise. The organs also have important tasks to complete during exercise like hormone excretion and the production or elimination of other substances in the body.
Hopefully, this article opened your eyes to the concept of the 5 natural elements and how they compliment each other when it comes to body-building. It is also important to keep in mind that balancing these elements is crucial and that an excess of one element can throw one or more of the other elements out of balance.
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