Ramblings: Instruction in Physical Activity and Motor Learning

Note: this is just some random stuff I posted over at Doug’s blog. I thought others might benefit from the information presented in the light of my recent blog posts:

I’ll get another WOW in on Sunday. The great thing about being nose-deep in schoolwork during a short summer semester (5 weeks!) is that it forces you to back off to once per week. Last week my workout felt awesome and I hope this week feels the same. Due to all of the science I’m in I “know” that protein synthesis is maximized with training ~every 5 days but there is more to the equation than just protein synthesis.

I’d like to share 2 ideas with the blog that I’ve picked up so far from my classes. One from Motor Learning and the other from my class “Curriculum and Instruction in Physical Activity.” I’ll start with the latter, which is a comparison of a “Mastery Oriented Climate” versus a “Performance Oriented Climate”:

“Achievement Goal Theory (Ames, 1992a, 1992b; Nicholls, 1984)

Mastery Oriented:
-Task Evolving
-Effort & Process
-Improvement (Intrinsic)
-Cooperation
-Self-Reference Comparisons

Performance Oriented:
-Ego Evolving
-Outcome & Product
-Winning (Extrinsic)
-Outperforming
-Social-Comparisons ”

Pretty cool stuff that in the context of teaching some of the stuff that so many trainees get caught up on has been discussed for years. It should be clear that a shift is needed for those trapped in win(lift more)-at-all-cost-type mindsets.

Even more:

“Adaptive Behaviors:
-Intrinsic motivation
-Adherence when faced with failure
-Effort and ability lead to success

Maladaptive behaviors:
-Extrinsic Motivation
-Giving up/quitting when faced with failure
-Ability leads toward success”

As far as the motor learning component, we discuss so so much that I wish everyone here could learn regarding the adaptations of the nervous system in the face of skill acquisition and lifespan development. I feel that so much of the “bodybuilding silo” could be destroyed by some of this information. The one that jumps out at me the most, especially in a BBS context is what’s called a “Closed Loop Skill” Defined:

“A type of control that involves the use of feedback and the activity of error detection and correction processes to maintain the desired state; used by people to control slow, deliberate movements.”

So where most lifting is open-loop “Ready, Fire!” type of act, slowing down and training to fatigue in a BBS-type fashion requires not only a great degree of intensiveness of effort, but the engagement of self-awareness and tuning in to the proprioceptive feedback from the cutaneous and mechanoreceptors is hard work. Naturally, it’s also slower so when you need to move NOW you can do that but thinking about a BBS-type workout as not only global metabolic conditioning but also as global motor conditioning may help those who don’t quite get why we’re moving so slow.

One of the great things about graduate school, for me anyway, is that I actually try to be influenced by all of my classes in some capacity. Making these “web of life” type links makes it much easier to communicate these intricacies to just about anyone you’d meet. I note this because it seems like a lot of my classmates already know what they want to do (“STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING AT A UNI, BRAH!) and just suffer through to get the MS after their name. If that’s enough to make it “worth it,” awesome, but I am paying damn good money to learn, not just to get letters to tell some college primadonna he needs to hit 2 more sets on the bench press or he’s on the bench or some other macho bullshit.

And an extension rant: isn’t this whole damn endeavor about staying “you” as long as possible? Maybe it’s just me but any activity I do I want to be able to keep doing until I die. I want my activity shelf life to be my shelf life. I don’t look at the 65 year old powerlifter who is recovering from a torn labrum with degenerative discs as some sort of “inspiration” for “overcoming life’s ups and downs.” I see a meathead who made his bed and had to lie in it and won’t ever learn. There is no gold at the end of the rainbow; you’re going to die. You can do it with quite strong with high function, withered from degeneration from disuse, or withered from mechanical degeneration of your own doing.

It’s too bad this whole business has a spearhead of jocks because the people who can benefit look at these guys, who are praised for picking things up and putting them down, often to injury, as slightly insane. As a result they do some functional bullshit and never gain the strength and health benefits possible. Resistance training IS the fountain of youth; it’s unfortunate that those most visibly involved with it think and act like overgrown pubescent boys.

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