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With Zhan zhuang, physical training comes from the internal activity of post standing.
This physical training requires the fine tuning of the amount of physical strain on which the practitioner can build his Zhan zhuang training program, from beginner level up to the highest level, increasing gradually the physical strain in his exercises.
This fine tuning is a sensible point which you should pay a constant and careful attention. In one hand, if the physical strain is not sufficient then you may not get the expected benefits. In the other hand, if you are overtraining you may hurt yourself and be forced to interrupt your training.
Finally these extremes are the boundaries that we want to avoid so let's see more details about setting up the right level of physical strain in your training.
It is only through conscious stimulation of nerves and muscles that the practitioner will obtain desired reaction from his body. This reaction is in fact the contraction/relaxation of muscles involved in training. And from these contractions cycles will appear physiologic functions changes such as blood circulation increase, respiratory and heart rate acceleration, etc.
If the physical strain is insignificant and training time short then you are in the situation of insufficient strain.
The major disadvantage is that it is almost as you are not training at all so that you'll get no obvious results from your training.
During post standing, you feel your internal body relaxed and comfortable, breathing regular, pulse slightly rising: this amount of physical effort is what we call "Stabilized level of strain". It is to patients, convalescent and old people.
Here stimulation is still in a reduced level but allows controlling better nerve system. This promotes better control of skeletal muscles, a better regulation of cardiovascular and respiratory functions, but also enhancing immune system.
This level of strain is consolidating general physical conditions of the practitioner.
During post standing training, the internal body is slightly aching, tingling, swelling.. Bones/muscles are in continuous cycles of contraction/relaxation activity, pulse and respiratory rates are keeping a steady growth on a long period of time. This is the Incremental level of strain.
You can feel very obviously how your body is stimulated and how physiological functions are changing, in the same time this is the best condition to get curative regenerative effects for the body.
If physical strain is exceeding what your body can decently bear, you've reached the "Excessive level of strain". During your practice, you will feel as unbearable pains in joints or muscles. Even after your training session you may feel particularly exhausted, temporarily impotent, insomniac, losing appetite, slow to recover etc.
Nerves and muscles require from patient to be continuously stimulated in order to maintain the targeted changes in physiologic functions. If during your training program, you interrupt it for any reason, then as your internal body is less stimulated (bones/muscles stopping contraction cycles) and changes of physiologic functions are decreasing with the length of this interruption.
You can easily verify this decline of physical condition when in a same posture you will experiment aching, tingling, swelling as in the beginning level.
From these five levels of physical strain, you can qualify the physical straining as you progress in your training program.
For example in your beginning level Zhan zhuang's levels of strain with both legs squatting down and bending:
♦ 2 cm bending angle is the Stabilized level,
♦ 4 cm bending angle is the Incremental level,
♦ 6 cm bending angle is the Excessive level.
Later with regular practice 2 cm is no more effective to bring any physical strain, and then you have the following levels:
♦ 4 cm bending angle is the Stabilized level,
♦ 6 cm bending angle is the Incremental level,
♦ 8 cm bending angle is the Excessive level.
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