Building and maintaining muscle (The Financial Athlete #79)

Gyms have no lack of members who lift weights improperly. On top of being unaware of going about it wrongly, these people are convinced they know what they’re doing. To make matters worse, the bulk of them refuse help from a personal trainer. “I don’t need a motivator!”

The learning curve for proper muscle building techniques is steeper than meets the eye. A good personal trainer educates the client on the principles of kinesiology, the study of human body mechanics and anatomy. First the client must learn the basic exercise motions to prevent injury before she refines and refines the motions. After at least several months of regularly scheduled training, she develops her desired level of strength. From then on, her fitness goal for strength changes from building muscle mass to maintaining it. Further muscle development is not practical. How often do you lift a car? Except for body builders and power lifters, less time is devoted to maintain muscle mass than to build it.

My workout with weights lasts not much more than 30 minutes. The shorter duration of the workout makes ongoing resistance training easier to commit to, and it’s enough to generate greater power-to-weight ratio in sports.

How does this relate to investing?

First of all, new investors commonly approach investing like those who lift weights without any idea about body mechanics — in blissful ignorance. This is partly because in the midst of a rising market even a monkey can make money by selecting what to buy with a throw of darts landing randomly on a list of stocks or real estate property for sale. Supply of bananas abounds for this lucky monkey until the market reverses course.

Secondly, a disciplined investor shifts gears mentally from a primary focus on building wealth to preserving wealth. This mental process is no different than the conscious decision the weight lifter makes to redirect his workout from the goal of building muscle to maintaining it. In contrast,an undisciplined investor will risk all his fortune made in an effort to build greater wealth.

Lastly, maintaining wealth requires less time and energy than building wealth ethically, again like maintaining muscle versus building it.

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