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Recomping ???

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 8:22 PM Comments comments (32)
Recomping ???

First, to offer some perspective, let’s briefly talk about bulking and cutting. Bulking is trying to gain weight, and ideally most of that weight would be muscle. When Bulking one intentionally consumes more calories than their body needs, in conjunction with weight training, in order to gain weight with the understanding that fat gain will be inevitable. The idea is to limit fat gain as much as possible while maximizing muscle gain. Cutting on the other hand is the exact opposite. When cutting, one intentionally consumes less calories than their body needs in order to lose weight with the understanding that muscle loss will be inevitable. The idea is to limit muscle loss as much as possible while maximizing fat loss.  

You can see how it's impossible to achieve these two goals simultaneously . You cannot not be in a caloric surplus and a caloric deficit at the same time. 

Now when recomping, the idea isn't to get the number on the scale to move up or down, but to improve body composition. In other words, one isn't interested in weight loss, they just want to have less body fat and improve the appearance of their physique by increasing the size of their biceps, their shoulders, and maybe decrease their waistline. 

Now this is possible with people who are untrained. In fact clients of mine will frequently tell me that their clothes fit differently after several months, but unless their diet is such that it allows them to lose weight, the number on the scale stays put. 

Also, recomping is only worthwhile if you're someone who is unhappy with a particular part of your body, or your physique, rather than how much you weigh . For instance, many dresses are sleeveless. If you're a woman who isn't over weight, you can certainly improve the appearance of your arms without losing or gaining weight, but if you have too much body fat the muscles of your arms are not visible due to the layer of fat covering them. 

In essence, if you're happy with your weight ( but not your physique ) than recomping is for you, but if you're not happy with your weight, than you need to focus on increasing or decreasing your weight. 

As for the exercises you should employ,  the rep ranges should be in the 12-15 range for three to five sets. If someone wants to improve the size of their chest, the exercises should include bench press, incline bench press, chest flyes,  and cable cross-overs. For triceps and shoulders, in addition to bench press and incline press, because those two movements hit the shoulders along with the chest, military press should also be included, and to further isolate the shoulders you can include lateral raises, front raises, and rear delts flyes.  For compound exercises ( bench press, military press, and shoulder press ) a lower rep range ( 6-8 reps, 8-10 reps, or 10-12 reps ) is fine. For back, bent over rows, lat pull downs, single arm dumbbell rows, and cable rows are compound exercises that will hit the back and ,to some extent, the biceps. 

Now isolation exercises for the biceps and rear deltoids of the shoulders are crucial due to the size of the muscle groups in the back. Just relying on compound movements for biceps and the rear deltoids is insufficient because ( since the back is such a large muscle group ) they aren't as involved in those compound movements. They're involved, and it's fine just to rely on them if your goal is simply a full body workout, but if increasing the size of your biceps or rear deltoids is your goal  you'll need more stimulation. For isolation exercises ( lateral raises, front raises, etc. ) one should stay within the 12-15 rep range. This is for two reasons. The first reason is safety. Isolation exercises involve one muscle and one joint. The higher the rep range, the lighter the weight, and the less pressure that is put on the joint responsible for flexion or extension during the contraction of muscle. The second reason is that your body is a machine that's designed to work together. When "isolating" a muscle, you're not isolating the muscle in the sense that the muscle is the only muscle that's involved in that movement. What you are doing is limiting the involvement of any other muscles that are involved in that movement. The heavier the weight, the lower the rep range, so the lower the rep range, the more other muscles will become involved. Obviously, that's not what you want.




How exercise effects fat burn.

Posted on October 7, 2013 at 10:57 PM Comments comments (24)
Many are under the impression that their workout turns them into a fat burning machine 24 hours following their workout. It’s a widely held belief that regular workouts result in accelerated fat-burning around the clock.
 
Not so fast, at least not for moderate-intensity workouts. According to Edward Melanson, PHD, and associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado
“ Moderate duration exercise of and hour or less has little impact on 24-hour fat oxidation.”

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20090528/24-hours-of-fat-burning-from-exercise
 
Most studies regarding fat burning—from exercise—have been short-term studies, which spanned only several hours and looked at people who were in an unfed state. Melanson’s team looked at a more true to life scenario where they followed the subjects over a 24-hour period; they exercised and ate normally or they did no exercise and ate.
 
It’s not that we don’t burn fat through exercise; it’s that we replace the calories with the food we eat. Exercise increases your body’s ability to burn fat, but if you replace the calories, you’re back to square one.
 
This information shouldn’t dissuade you from exercise; however, it should let you know that you need to be more realistic about calories and calories out.
 
Melanson's team evaluated fat burning in 10 lean, endurance-trained participants, 10 lean but untrained people, and eight untrained and obese people during exercise conditions and sedentary conditions.

Participants were fed a diet that was 20% fat, 65% carbs, and 15% protein for three days before each session and on the day they exercised or did not exercise. On the exercise day, participants rode a stationary bike at a moderate intensity for one hour, burning about 400 calories.
When Melanson's team measured calorie expenditures, they were higher in each group when they exercised compared to when they did not, not surprisingly, but they found that burning of carbohydrate, not fat, seemed to increase in the 24-hour period after exercising.In the journal report, Melanson reports additional fat-burning studies, including one that compared seven men ages 60-75 with seven other men ages 20-30, with no differences in fat burning between groups for the 24 hours after exercise or no exercise.

Why don't we become long-term fat burners after a good workout?  The most likely reason is that we eat, and what we eat affects fat burning. For instance, eating as little as 240 calories of carbohydrate during the hour before exercise can reduce fat burning during exercise, and the boost in fat burning during exercise can be "blunted" for up to six hours after eating a meal, says Melanson, citing other research.

To maintain their low body fat, endurance-trained exercisers may simply eat less fat than they burn habitually, he says.The study findings are ''dispelling the myth that you can create a 24-hour fat-burning situation after exercise," says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. But, he tells WebMD, the findings were limited to exercisers who did moderate-intensity exercise, and for an hour or less. "These results might not apply to different forms of exercise or higher-intensity exercise," McCall says.

Still, he says, the research results might be a crucial wake-up call. "The point of this study, I think, is [that] he is trying to get people out of that mind-set: 'I just worked out and I can eat whatever I want.'" At least for people trying to lose weight, McCall says, that's certainly not true.Melanson says that the take-home message from his research depends on whether you are trying to lose weight or just maintain. "If you are using exercise to lose body weight or body fat, you have to consider how many calories you are expending and how many you are taking in," he says. The goal is a negative fat balance.

"If your body mass index is below 25, you shouldn't be concerned about losing more body fat," he says.
 

The Benefits Of Resistance Training

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM Comments comments (14)
It’s been five years since I committed myself to become a certified personal trainer.  I began by looking for one of the premier recognized certification programs.  I wanted the best certification and training, so I committed to prepare myself to complete the American College of Sports Medicine Certification program for Personal Trainers.  I spent two years studying, attending personal training classes, participating in special preparatory workshops, getting First Aid and AED Certification, and doing extensive research into becoming a specialist in the field of personal training.  I was successful and have spent the past three years honing my skills as an ACSM Certified free-lance personal trainer.  My clients are varied, ranging from young athletes to retired seniors.
 
Resistance training is not the end all be all of fitness. It’s only one aspect, but it serves as a foundation. In other words, if a person is unaccustomed to physical activity, but wants to start and exercise program, they shouldn’t start jogging, nor should they start doing any type of interval training at high or even moderate intensities. They should start with weights. Lifting weights, or resistance training, strengthens you muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which will prepare your body for the various forms of stress it will undergo during other forms of exercise.  
 
Resistance training (RT) works for everyone.  Age is irrelevant.  What matters is commitment, consistency, and a personal trainer who views each client as unique and has the ability to customize training programs to meet each client’s unique needs.  I begin with my clients where they are and map out a program that guarantees success.  RT is not a quick fix approach, but rather a lifetime approach.   It is, in my estimation, essential to maintain personal fitness and good health as you age.
 
The one piece of advise I give to my clients and am now passing on to my readers is that whatever method of fitness a client decides upon, it has to be something that he or she can do for the rest of his/her life.  Most people cannot do high impact exercise or high intensity interval training (HIIT) as a way of maintaining health for a lifetime.  Some people cannot maintain an “insanity” approach as a lifestyle, but EVERYONE can do RT for the rest of his or her life.   An investment in RT is an investment in yourself and your health. 
 
There are a few people who can work alone and be methodical and successful, but I find in my experience that most people need a personal trainer for commitment, consistency, and sustainability.  My goal for all my clients is to help them attain, maintain, and sustain. 
 
How I work:
·       My fees are reasonable, and I reserve the right to be compensated up front.
·       Clients are responsible to be available for scheduled sessions.  A client may cancel a session with 24 hours notice and MUST reschedule within a week or he or she forfeits the fee.  Special accommodations are always made in circumstances over which the client lacks control.
·       The client must have space available for IHT (In-Home Training).
·       I make every session count so that your money works continually for you.
·       I employ the principles of RT using the progressive overload model so that the client is always developing muscle strength, raising metabolism and increasing fat burning capacity.
·       I recommend at least two sessions weekly.  Three sessions are ideal.  However, a client may combine his or her own personal workout sessions with personal training sessions.
 
 
RT works as evidenced by the results of a client (age 60+) with whom I have worked for one year. Prior to RT, my senior client had been diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteopenia of the spine. 
The client decided to continue calcium supplements, declined medication, and started RT in August of 2012.   The client’s 2013 DEXA SCAN showed a 3% increase in BMD (bone mineral density).  I worked with this client twice a week for one year.  RT WORKS!  It takes commitment, consistency, and a skilled personal trainer.  Results are guaranteed.

EPOC or the After Burn Effect

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (27)
Following cardio or a weight lifting session, your body continues to use oxygen at a higher rate than it did prior to exercise. This sustained oxygen consumption is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The phrase EPOC has been used to describe numerous events that occur while the body returns to homeostasis.  During EPOC, the body is in the process of returning to a pre-exercise state, so it consumes oxygen at a higher rate. This means that calories are being burned at a higher rate.
 
Four things occurs during EPOC:
1) Replenishment of Energy Resources: Replenishment ensues for the immediate source of energy, known as the phosphagen system, which is includes  creatine phosphate and ATP (adenosine triphosphate). In addition, lactate, a molecule produced while performing intense exercise, is being converted to pyruvate for fuel utilization. The body is also replenishing the glycogen stores that were depleted during the workout
 
2) Re-oxygenation of Blood and Restoration of Circulatory Hormones
:
During exercise metabolism, sizeable quantities of oxygen are used to break down food substrates for energy. Consequently, the body continues to utilize energy following exercise to re-oxygenate the blood. In addition, in the post-exercise period, the body restores the levels of circulatory hormones, which increased during exercise, to normal.

3) Decrease in Body Temperature:
As energy is released from the muscle tissues of the body, during exercise, heat is produced, so during EPOC, the body must burn calories in order to return to it’s normal temperature.

4) Return to Normal Ventilation and Heart Rate: Energy expenditure is greatly elevated as the body rapidly returns to a normal breathing rate. Heart rate is also returning to a pre-exercise rate.
 
Evidence indicates that interval training (HIIT) has a distinct effect on EPOC. Also, it appears that weight training produces greater EPOC responses than aerobic exercise such as jogging.  HIIT disturbs homeostasis more so than cardio at moderate intensity resulting in more calorie expenditure to restore the body to homeostasis. Mechanisms that cause the higher EPOC observed in resistance exercise include elevated blood lactate, and an increase in circulating catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and anabolic hormones.
 

Hormones that affect weight loss

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (12)
Hormones that affect weight loss:
 
Insulin
 
Insulin is a protein chain or peptide hormone that is produced by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. The role of insulin is to lower blood sugar, deliver nutrients into cells that need it, and to store fat.  
 
  • Insulin causes the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose and turn it into glycogen in the muscles and the liver.
 
  • Insulin also prevents utilization of fat as an energy source. In absence of insulin, or when insulin levels are low, the body doesn’t take up glucose and fat is used as an energy source. 
 
  • Insulin controls other systems in the body as well, and regulates amino acid uptake of the body’s cells.
 
  • Insulin has several other anabolic effects throughout the body as well.
 
 
Glucagon 
 
Glucagon (also a peptide hormone) is secreted the by alpha cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. It’s role is to raise blood glucose levels. The pancreas releases glucagon when blood glucose levels are low.
 
  • Glucagon causes the liver to convert glycogen into glucose, which then is released in the bloodstream.
 
  • High blood glucose levels stimulate the release of insulin, which then in turn allows the glucose to be taken up, and used by insulin dependent tissues.
 
  • Glucose and insulin keep blood glucose levels stable.
 
Cortisol
 
Cortisol, also known as hydrocortisone, is a steroid hormone (or a glucocorticoid) produced by the zona fasciculate of the adrenal cortex. It is released in response to stress and low blood glucocorticoids.
 
  •  It’s main functions are to raise blood glucose levels through gluconeogenesis, suppress the immune system, and assist in metabolizing proteins, fats and carbs.
 
  •  It also decreases bone formation.
 
  •  Release is controlled by the hypothalamus of the brain
 
  • Activates anti-stress and anti-inflammatory pathways.
 
  • In several studies, cortisol has been shown to (somewhat) suppress lipolysis or the breakdown of fat.
 
 
Leptin
 
Leptin plays a major role in regulating energy intake, expenditure, appetite, metabolism, as well as behavior. It’s one of the most important adipose-derived hormones.
 
  •  Functions by binding to the leptin receptor.
 
  • Leptin tells the brain that the body has had enough to eat, thus producing a feeling of satiety. Leptin may make it easier to avoid the temptation of higher calorie foods.
 
  • Leptin’s ability to manipulate bone mass was first recognized in the year 2000. Leptin can affect bone metabolism.
 
  • Leptin receptors are in the hypothalamus and the hippocampus.  Leptin deficiency has been proven to alter brain proteins and neural functions in obese mice.
 
  •  In humans, low circulating plasma leptin has been linked to cognitive changes associated with anorexia, depression, HIV and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Is A Calorie Just A Calorie ?

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 6:04 PM Comments comments (6)
Is a calorie just a calorie? Well, yes and no. It’s true (in order to lose weight) that you have to eat less calories than you need to maintain your current weight, and--it’s also true--that if you consume more calories than you require to maintain your current bodyweight, you will gain weight; however, it’s not entirely that simple. The types of foods you eat can also effect how much weight you lose, or how much weight you gain.  The ratio of macronutrients in your diet, meaning the amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, can also have an affect on your weight loss goals.
 
First, the amount of carbs that are consumed can effect satiety levels. Satiety levels  will effect how much we eat, so a high amount of carbs in our diet can prevent or hinder weight loss. The amount of protein in our diet also plays a part. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscle. Muscle—being the most metabolically expensive tissue in the body—is a big factor is the speed of one’s metabolism. The more muscle one has, the more calories they burn throughout the day, even at rest. Fats are calorically dense. Fats have 9 calories per gram where carbs and fats have 4. Now the obvious way that fats can derail your weight loss is that too much fat consumption will often mean too many calories, but fats can thwart your weight loss goals in other ways.
 
One interesting thing about fat is that the body is more efficient at storing it. That makes sense because that’s is the main purpose of fat: it’s stored energy.  When storing 100 calories of fat, your body will burn 2.5 calories. When converting carbohydrates to fat, and then storing it, your body burns 23 calories, so limiting you fat intake, in a sense, gives you a bigger margin of error, or at the very least decreases fat storage.
 

Older age doesn't cause a decrease in testosterone in Men. Poor health is likely the cause

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 11:01 PM Comments comments (17)

I see a lot of ads for testosterone replacements aimed at older men. Low test levels are a common problem with aging men. Experts say that after the age of 30, testosterone decreases by 1% each year, and with that decrease, men can expect loss of muscle mass, fat gain, lack of energy, and worse of all, a loss in libido. By age 40, decreasing test levels diminish the quality of a man’s sleep
 
 Testosterone does decrease with age, but is this change really inevitable? It’s a fact that resistance training forces your body to release more testosterone, and the more muscle groups that a lift involves, and higher the intensity, the more testosterone your body releases in response to that stimulus. So are dwindling testosterone levels--associated with age--something that can be avoided? Research says yes.
 
Two study centers in Australia recruited 325 men over the age of 40 (the median age was 60) who had self-reported excellent health with no symptoms or complaints. Blood samples were taken from these men nine times over a three-month period. Men who took medications that affected testosterone were excluded from the study.
 
Obesity had a mild effect on test levels, the investigators reported, but age had no influence on testosterone levels.  The slight decline in blood testosterone among older men, commonly associated with nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and low sex-drive, may be caused by symptomatic disorders that accumulate during aging. Heart disease and obesity where among those symptoms.
 
In short, the message for patients, and their doctors, is that older men with low testosterone levels do not need testosterone replacement therapy unless they have diseases of their pituitary gland or testes.
 
The decrease in testosterone is not the cause of many of the problems men face as they age. The decrease is merely a symptom of poor health, so when it comes to testosterone, use it or lose it. Stay active. Incorporate resistance training into your workout routines, and make sure to include compound movements into your regimen.
 

Clean food versus Dirty Foods

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (19)

There’s this concept in the fitness industry regarding food, or society for that matter, and that concept is clean eating. What is clean eating? How do clean foods differ from dirty foods? Foods that are widely considered clean are: veggies, whole grains, fruits, and lean cuts of meat. Dirty foods are typically fatty foods, or food that are high in sugar. 
 
Most people would consider a burger, whether it has vegetables on it or not, as a dirty food, but they would consider steak a clean food. Most people would consider a baked potato a clean food, but French fries would be considered dirty, or junk food, by just about everyone, but why? Burgers are made out of beef, just like steak. Fries are merely sliced potatoes. How can the name, or how the food is cooked, make it a “dirty food?”  A potato will have the same amount of vitamins in it whether it’s baked or fried. The only difference is the calories. The higher amount of calories CAN lead to obesity. Notice I emphasized the word CAN. Foods like French fries don’t have to lead to weight gain.

Now another question regarding burgers and fries is saturated fat. Saturated fat isn’t unhealthy.  The notion that saturated fat is harmful is merely a hypothesis that has never been proven. Saturated fat was first indicted (scientifically) in a highly influential paper called “ Atherosclerosis” in 1953 by physiologist Ancel  Keys, Ph.D. He wrote that while the death rate, in the US, was decreasing, the number of deaths attributed to heart disease was doing the opposite.  His explanation for this was a comparison of fat intake and heart disease mortality in six countries: The U.S., Canada, Australia, England, Italy, and Japan.  The US had the highest fat intake and the most deaths from heart disease. Conversely, Japan had the lowest intake of fat and deaths from heart disease.  The other countries fell somewhere in between. Keys referred to this correlation as a “remarkable relationship” and started to publicly link fat intake with heart disease. This was eventually referred to as the diet-heart hypothesis.
 
At the time, many scientists were skeptical of Key’s claims. Jacob Yerushalmy, Ph.D.( founder of the biostatistics graduate program at the University of California at Berkeley) pointed out that while the data from the six countries supported the diet-heart hypothesis, statistics were available from twenty-two countries. When those countries were analyzed the apparent link between fat intake and heart disease vanished.
 
You’ll notice that Keys didn’t take the caloric intake of each population into account. The US has the highest amount heart disease, but the U.S. also has a high rate of obesity. Now, is that because of fat intake or caloric intake overall ? It’s well known that the US is one of the fattest nations on the planet.  In just the last twenty years portion sizes in the U.S. have increased by 20%.
 
The problem is that most people carry on their daily lives with no concern as to how many calories they consume. Couple this with becoming accustomed to larger portions, and it’s no wonder that fatty foods are considered dangerous. People simply consume too many calories. This is the real culprit obesity and heart disease, and not whether I baked my potato or sliced it up and tossed it in the deep fryer. Most people don’t measure, count calories, or weigh their food. That’s the problem. They eat until their hearts content and pray to whoever their God is, if they pray at all, that it’s not too many calories. When they go on a diet, they avoid calorically dense food in the hopes to lose weight. If they lose weight, it’s by accident.
 
Look at weight loss programs like Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Their whole motto is you don’t have to give up the foods you like to lose weight. You can still have burgers, fries, pizza, cake or whatever else your heart desires. Now, why isn’t the CDC all over them for promoting unhealthy eating, and subjecting people to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes just to make a buck? It’s because all those problems come from eating TOO MUCH food. You can have all of those goodies that you like; you just can’t eat them indiscriminately. If you can fit a burger into your caloric needs, dig in. If you want to have some dessert and you go over you caloric needs; well if you’re keeping track of the amount of calories you’re taking in, you can make the proper adjustment to the amount food you take in the following day, or you’ll have a clear picture of how many extra calories you need to burn off during your next workout.
 
A lot of people scoff at measuring their portions and tracking their calories, but tracking my calories allows to me to be even be more flexible with my eating when I’m dieting, and with apps like My Fitness Pal it gets even easier to count your calories.
 
 
 
 

Primary, Assistance & Auxiliary Exercises Explained

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM Comments comments (177)
Generally, there are three categories  that all movements fit into: primary, assistance, and auxiliary. Where certain exercises fit in these categories depends on the type of activity you're training for ;however, the principles behind them are fairly universal.

Primary exercises are always multi-joint compound lifts. These are the lifts many people use as a measure of strength. These movements are essential to any resistance training program because they recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers allowing you to lift the most weight possible. These compound lifts, which are the bench press, military press, the squat, rows, and the deadlift  will target virtually every muscle in your body.

The bench press targets the chest, the front head of the shoulders, and the triceps. The military press works the front head of the shoulders and the triceps. Rows target your traps and your lats.  The squat works your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your lower back, and the deallift targets your lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

Assistance exercises are usually still compound movements, often involving dumbbells, bodyweight, or other variations on the classic lifts. Assistance exercises help build muscle and have functional importance in sports, but they're titled "assistance" because they also contribute gains in strength on the primary lifts. You can go heavy on these exercises, but, chances are ,you won't use more weight than you use for the primary counterpart. Some examples of these assistance lifts--for the chest--are the dumbbell bench press, push ups, dips, as well as close grip bench press for the triceps. Assistance exercises that help increase your military press, would be dumbbell shoulder presses, hand stand presses, and bent over lateral raises--which help build stabilizing strength. Assistance exercises for your lats, and traps, would be single arm dumbbell rows, cable rows, chin ups, and lat pull-downs.

Auxiliary exercises are isolation movements that are best for getting a pump and bringing weaker body parts up to speed. Some examples would be front raises, lateral raises, and rear delt flyes for the shoulders. Pec deck and pullovers for the chest, and Kickbacks and Skull-Crushers for the triceps

Know the difference between the movement categories. Exercises you choose to do, when you do them, and what kind of rep/set scheme you use are critical factors in your success or failure. For auxiliary exercises, the optimal rep range is around 12 to 15 reps. Since you're isolating a single muscle with this type of lift, you're also isolating a single joint. The lower the rep range, the heavier weight. The heavier the weight is, the more pressure is put on the joints, and since only one joint involved, putting a lot of pressure on the joint increases your chance for injury. It's less risky to go heavy on compound movements when more than one joint is moving under the load. Also, the heavier the weight, the more surrounding muscle groups will get involved, so it defeats the purpose to use heavy weight, with low reps, when you're trying to isolate a muscle. 

For beginners, the rep range should be 12 to 15 reps regardless of the type of lift that is being done.


Here is the order in which you should do these lifts:

  • 1st Exercise - Primary
  • 2nd Exercise - Assistance
  • 3rd Exercise - Assistance
  • 4th Exercise - Auxiliary

Primary movements are the most important, and require the most energy, so you should do them first. Your assistance exercises should be done next, and your Auxiliary exercises--since they require the least energy--should put the finishing touches on your workout.


Lifting heavy isn't necessary for building muscle

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM Comments comments (130)
The common consensus is that lifting heavier weights for relatively lower rep ranges is better for building muscle than a lifting relatively lighter weights for a higher number of repetitions. Now for pure strength gains, a weight where one can only perform three to five repetitions is best, but for muscular growth, rep range isn’t really relevant providing that you’re completing at least six reps with proper form. Using rep ranges any lower than that trains your central nervous system which will allow you lift more weight; you will see increases in muscular tissue, but if you’re lifting strictly for muscular hypertrophy this rep range is less than ideal.  

 For optimal muscular growth, it’s about time under tension and muscular fatigue. It’s doesn’t matter if you lift a weight eight times or twenty-six times.When using a weight where you can only complete eight repetitions, as compared to twenty six repetitions, the tension will be greater, but the time under tension will be less. Using a weight that you that allows you to complete twenty-six repetitions will result in less tension, but the time under tension will be much greater. In the end it all evens out.  As long as the last few reps are difficult, you’re providing enough tension for muscle growth. Whether you’re using a weight where you can only complete eight repetitions, or a weight that you’re able to complete twenty repetitions, your muscle gains will be the same.     

 “The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, challenges the widely accepted dogma that training with heavy weights -- which can be lifted only six to 12 times before fatigue -- is the best avenue to muscle growth.”   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430105358.htm               

In the study several experiments were performed on healthy, young, male subjects in order to measure how their legs muscles responded to various repetition ranges over a ten week period. After determining the maximum weight that each subject could lift one time, each subject was instructed to train at a different percentage of  his one rep max for each leg. These three programs were as follows: one set at 80% of their one rep max; three sets at 80% of their one rep max, and three sets at 30% of their one rep max. Typically, the heaviest weights were lifted eight to twelve times; the lightest weights were lifted twenty five to thirty times.               

After the ten-week period, three times per week, the heavy and lightweight groups saw substantial gain, as measured by an MRI, with no discrepancy (in the amount of muscle gain) among the groups. The groups that used the heavier weight gained a bit more strength, which is to be expected, as the heavier the weight is (relative to a person’s strength level) the more the central nervous system is trained. Muscle gain, however, was the same. The group that trained for a single set showed about half the increase in muscle size seen in both the heavy and light groups.               

Older adults, and people who have had injuries in the past, should be thrilled with these findings as they can reap the same benefits from resistance training as their younger counterparts, or those with less of an injury history.               

Remember, as long as you’re squeezing out those last few reps you’re on the right track. 

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