The following is related to an earlier devotional post on “stress”: progress will usually cost you. If you’re not familiar with this series, you may want to review some of the foundational articles and videos on W.A.I.T. training and specific posts on “stress“.
There are 24 such subjects on this website. You can use the search function to read the devotionals and related Scriptures, view training videos, and even watch contemporary Christian music videos on the same subjects. Simply place your smartphone or tablet on the reading deck of your favorite cardio equipment in the gym, or prop it up in a safe place as you and a friend exercise at home, or even project it onto a smart TV through wifi or bluetooth for larger groups.
I offer the applications below and others only as examples of how you might physically express spiritual principles. They are not magical formulas or guarantees. Neither are they substitutes for God’s call to gather with other believers for worship in a local church, to study His Word and pray privately, to fellowship with other Christians throughout the week, or to serve the hurting and lost.
In the metaphor of physical fitness, consider this series as a “supplement” for your spiritual health. I do believe, however, that these articles and related video which simultaneously feed our spiritual, physical, and relational health can be very practical. After all, the Lord created each of us as a body with a spirit for relationships. And remember, always consult a physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Suggested applications for meditation on “stress”:
Stress comes from any situation for which we’re not quite prepared. Few of us really enjoy stress, but going through the difficulties can help us be more prepared when something even more difficult comes along later. We tend to do only what we do well, however. This may be why fitness gurus base their programs on the concept of ‘muscle confusion’. In the same way, if we want real relational fitness in the Body of Christ, we have to do things differently than we did when we lived like the world – even differently than we’ve done them in our ‘Christian’ traditions, as stressful as that may seem.
If your body is used to running 3 miles at an 8-minute pace, try jogging 5 miles at a 10-minute pace or alternating 100 yard jogs with 100 yard sprints (Fartlek training). If you’ve been working with barbells, use dumbbells in the same exercises. If your muscles are telling you that you’ve ‘mastered’ your cardio routine, maybe you could exchange the road for the stair stepper, the elliptical for the stationary bike, bicycling for back-packing, step aerobics for Tae Kwon Do or Tae Bo, etc.
Are you used to a pyramid system, beginning with sets of lighter weight for many repetitions and gradually adding more weight for fewer repetitions? Fred Hatfield (“Dr. Squat”) says to turn that pyramid upside down to stimulate slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle in a more proper order – when you have the strength to move heavy weight at first and when you need to work on stamina at the end. After warming-up, start with 2-3 sets of heavy weight that you can manage for 4-6 explosive reps with a 1-2 second pause at the top. Then cut it by 40-60% and do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps a little slower with a brief pause at the top. Cut the weight again by 40-60& and finish with 2-3 sets of 25-30 very slow reps with no pause at all.
This format is so intense that you may only be able to do one or two exercises that work multiple muscle groups.
You can also alternate your entire workout system: circuit training, occasional negatives (but always with a spotter), swimming, rock/wall climbing and obstacle courses, (with all necessary safety equipment), grass drills, calisthenics, and, of course, certain sports. Whatever you do, the key is to vary your routine about every 4-6 weeks or whenever you plateau.
If we are going to grow, stress must always be part of the plan and the most basic element of stress is change. Whether you change your form or speed on one type of exercise or change your entire routine, Watch God’s creation, especially your bodily disposition of relationship. Does your body show signs of feeling bad, mad, sad or glad? Accept the reality of what you notice. You could also scale your experience from -5 to +5 (or 1-10) to help you realize the intensity of it more clearly. But don’t mull over your current situation forever – Invest in God’s Word. What does He say about ‘fitness’ in the Body of Christ? Team with His people to experience your stress and express His gospel together as you workout.
Remember, stress is about change, and W.A.I.T. training is for relational fitness. Don’t be afraid to change the ways your group relates to build up His Body. Suggest working other forms of exercise into your routine. If everyone is awesome at what you’re doing now, maybe you need a change. Have someone else read for a change. Call on the quiet person in the group, and ask the talkative people to give them the time that they need. Ask every person to give their reflections on the workout. Separate “buddies” and work visitors into your fold. Stress them just enough to help them lean on Jesus!
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