I have always struggled to workout. I was born pre-mature with low lung capacity and have always felt winded and burning in my lungs before my muscles tire out. Because of this, any sort of workout routine feels like I put in so much effort and don't get the results that I want. When I started doing Ki-Hara, I found that I was able to get massive results with minimal effort and it felt so good. Suddenly I had muscle tone and the body I'd always wanted and I didn't even break a sweat. Why is this?
Resistance stretching allows us to get maximal returns with very little energetic demand on your body. You most likely won't break a sweat and your heart rate stays down all while building muscle tone and gains in flexibility. It allows people who are not in shape to easily and effortlessly build their level of fitness without the feeling of exertion you would get with personal training. It's great for people who are recovering from injury or suffering from illnesses that won't allow them to do a traditional workout. It's also great for athletes who are already doing intense workouts in their regular practice. This is all because Ki-Hara requires a low VO2 max. In this article, I will explain the science behind VO2 max and why it's beneficial to do Ki-Hara based on a low VO2 requirement.
VO2 is a measurement of oxygen consumption. More specifically - it is the measure of how much oxygen that your body uses to convert food into energy. If you consider each breath like filling up the gas tank on your car - your VO2 is how much gas is in the tank. The gas is converted into energy and your car runs. How far it runs depends on how full the tank is (VO2). In your body this translates to how much oxygen you breathe in at any given time.
Your VO2 max, on the other hand, isn't how much gas you have, but how big your tank is before it overflows. VO2 max is the maximum possible VO2 that you can achieve. If you're a distance runner, your VO2 is the amount of oxygen you need to keep moving and the higher the VO2 max - the higher the VO2 can be. Just like if you're taking a road trip - the bigger the tank, the farther you can go without having to refuel.
So, let's take a quick look at what actually happens during oxygen consumption. You inhale a mixture of elements of which oxygen is only about 20.95%. Your lungs expand to pull the air in. The oxygen is pulled out and diffused into the blood by the capillaries. The heart pumps to push the blood to the muscles. Your muscle cells, with their own respiratory system, pull in the oxygen and start a chemical process of creating ATP (adenosine triphosphate - our body's energy source). When we exercise, we use ATP to feed the muscles - the harder you workout, the more you breathe to put more oxygen in your tank and create more energy. If you exercise regularly, you're more likely to have a higher VO2 max (bigger gas tank) than someone who does not exercise regularly and can create more ATP with each breath. Distance runners especially train to increase their VO2 max so they can run farther. For someone with a low VO2 max, they would get winded easier and not be able to workout as long. Basically it's all about how much you make use of each breath.
Eccentric training (or the stretching phase of Ki-Hara) is associated with being able to achieve greater results with strength training with a lower VO2 max.
If you've experienced Ki-Hara through a workshop or private session, you know that the Ki-Hara workout almost seems ineffective - you barely break a sweat and you're hardly ever out of breath. Yet, the next day, you feel strong, powerful and quite possibly - sore. You get an intense workout with immediate and obvious increases in strength development - with a low demand for oxygen. Thus - Ki-Hara requires a really small gas tank.
Why would we want that? Well... if you're training for a marathon, you're increasing your VO2 max through your running regimen. Ki-Hara will not increase your VO2 max for running, but the V02 requirement for Ki-Hara is so small that a marathon runner can do their long run on Sunday and still do a Ki-Hara workout (and thus great strength gains) without worrying about running out of energy (ATP). On the other end, Ki-Hara is great for someone who is post-rehab and most likely not at a high VO2 max or at low fitness levels. While you might not be able to do a traditional strength training workout, you can do Ki-Hara with the same (or better) results, reduce the risk of injury, gain more strength and do it all with minimal exertion.
In my practice, this means I can work on someone who's not in shape and get great results without having to first increase their cardio health. For athletes, it means that not only does Ki-Hara increase their strength, reduce the risk of injury and help with recovery - it's also not as taxing as other forms of strength training. Athletes don't have the energy to add to their already intense workouts - so Ki-Hara is a nice addition because it can help them without depleting their source of ATP.
In conclusion, Ki-Hara is a fantastic workout for all levels of fitness. Because of the low demand for oxygen, people of all ages, health and fitness levels can do this workout with higher results than the effort put in. If you haven't experienced Ki-Hara, please go to www.stretchchi.com for our private session, class and events schedule. Or try it online today by subscribing to our youtube channel www.youtube.com/c/StretchChi.