After reading the title of this article, you might be saying “I’ve heard of working-out, but what is this working-in you speak of?” Well simply put, working out uses or expends energy and working-in promotes or builds energy in the body. There is always an opposite (yin and yang) effect with everything. In this case, working out is yang (catabolic) and working in is yin (anabolic). Working-in is a coined phrase by Paul Chek of the C.H.E.K Institute, which follows the ideas and practices of tai chi, qi gong, and yoga to build energy and rejuvenate the body.
Doing exercises that cultivate energy in the body are so important because it helps bring balance to the mind and body. There are so many stressors that people are faced with everyday. The obvious ones are work, money, relationships and family, but how about circadian stress (not getting enough sleep), nutritional stress (eating processed and unhealthy foods), electromagnetic stress (you have a cell phone, computer, TV and microwave, don’t you?) and finally – physical stress (working out). All of these factors can add stress to our body and of course too much of anything is never good. To give you an idea, think of a cup of water being half full. The water represents stress and the cup is your body. Well, keep adding water (stress) into the cup (body) and eventually there is going to be a big mess to clean up (pain, disease, cancer, etc…).
Don’t get me wrong, working out is important and can be very beneficial, but not if your cup is almost full from everything else. Also, the type of exercising you’re doing is extremely important. Cardiovascular exercise is so over abused these days due to marketing and false information; people are doing more harm than good. Just think about it… if you jump on the treadmill and run for 45 minutes, you are putting 45 minutes of stress on your body. But if you go to the weight section and do a typical 4 sets of 10 with 4 exercises (depending of your rest and tempo), you are only doing about 15-20 minutes worth of work, therefore putting a lot less stress on the body and also increasing your anabolic hormones in the process.
So how does one work in? You let your breathing dictate your movement instead of letting the movement dictate your breathing. Let’s use the squat as an example. When using a moderate to heavy load to squat, you would typically inhale before going down into the squat, followed by exhaling on the way up. However, when you’re working in, you would perform what’s called a breathing squat, which has you inhaling as your stand up (supination) and exhaling as you go down (pronation). The speed of descent and ascension will be determined by your breath. As you exhale - go down into the squat; when you feel the need to inhale – stand up… it’s that simple. This technique can be applied to any movement pattern. If you are doing it right, you should be able to work-in on a full stomach with no problems or discomfort. Also, you should NOT sweat or feel tired afterwards (feeling relaxed does not mean tired) – if you do, slow down! Again, you are building and storing energy, not using and losing it.
Finally, now that we know the why and the how, let’s look at the when. Good news… you are able to perform a work-in exercise everyday! More specifically, let’s say your feeling sluggish after a long day from sitting at that desk, but you really, really want to do something – this is the PERFECT time!! You’re going to get the benefit of building energy and pumping the system at the same time. You can get creative with it by doing a small work-in circuit by itself or throwing some in at the end of your regular work-out session to calm the body down. Keep an open mind and have fun with it.