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HOW OUR MINDS FIGHT…

HOW OUR MINDS FIGHT THE LAST WAR, OUR BODIES

THE NEXT WARI discovered this overshooting mechanism in the human body thanks to some interesting course of events. In the aftermath of the banking crisis, I received all manner of threats and the Wall Street Journal got wind of it as an article suggested that I “stock-up on bodyguards”. These threats were coming from disgruntled bankers, hence barking wussies and amateurs, so I didn’t take the warnings too seriously: people get whacked first, then you read about it in the newspapers, not in the reverse sequence. But looking into the bodyguard situation I found it easier and considerably more economical to become one, or, better, to look like one. Rather than get lessons, I watched and tried to imitate the workout of a trainer who moonlighted as security person and looked the part. The exercise got me into a naturalistic form of weightlifting, and one that is in accordance with the evidence-based literature. This consisted in short episodes in the gym in which I focused solely on my past maximum lift, the heaviest weight I could haul, sort of the high watermark; the workout consisted in trying to exceed it once or twice, rather than spending time on time-consuming repetitions. The rest of the time was spent resting and, splurging on mafia-sized steaks. I have been trying to push my limit for four years now; it is amazing to watch how something in my biology anticipates a higher level than the past maximum —until it reaches its ceiling. When I deadlift i.e., mimic lifting a stone to waist level using a bar with three hundred and twenty pounds, then rest, I can safely expect that I will build a certain amount of additional strength as my body predicts that the next time I may need to lift three hundred and twenty-five pounds.

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