The Benefits of Training 💪🏼
Resistance training improves muscle strength or endurance capacity depending on the training stimulus. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends everyone should take part in resistance training once or twice per week, completing eight to ten different exercises, 10 to 12 reps, one or two sets to maintain good bone and muscle health.
Resistance training improves health by:
Control weight – Burn more calories at rest (BSM – Basal Metabolic Rate) – fitter or more active muscles require more calories even when at rest; Improving bone density – bone is laid down in response to stimulus (overcoming resistance and therefore reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Lessen the pain of arthritis – Help improve range of movement (ROM), slow the progression of condition, help gain confidence to regain independence, improve weight control and reduce the chance of de-conditioning the body.
Reduce the risk of CV disease and diabetes – Improves the action of insulin (can decrease insulin requirement by 50% in type 1 and in type 2 eliminate the need all together) and enhances blood glucose. Reduced chance of developing complications such as vascular deterioration. Slow twitch muscles give the best results for insulin sensitivity so aerobic exercise should be encouraged. ALL USUAL BENEFITS OF RESISTANCE TRAINING STILL APPLY!
Decrease blood pressure – Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the relative risk of developing hypertension by 19-30% - in fact low cardio-respiratory fitness level in middle age has been associated with a 50% greater risk of hypertension, as reported by the American Council of Exercise (ACE). Conditioning the body through CV and resistance training makes general daily activities easier to perform, reducing the daily effort the heart has to make. Exercise also engenders feeling of well-being and confidence that may be lacking following an MI or diagnosis of a serious CV condition.
Resistance training can change body shape, improves posture and enhances sporting performance. It clearly improves strength making everyday activities easier and helps stabilise joints reducing the risk of falls and injury.
In addition resistance training improves mood and enhances self esteem.
A range of equipment can be used to gain these benefits; water, rubber tubing or therabands, isometrics or body weight, free weights and machines can all be used:
Machine weights – Limited balance is required so this makes them a good choice for beginners or the elderly. They are relatively safe and set you into a line of movement.
Free weights – Require a greater degree of stabilising effort, making them a good option to improve joint stability and strength. Because they are independent they promote more functional movements and can be more versatile.
Compound vs Isolation Exercises
The main part of any workout should always focus on compound exercises
Compound exercises involve 2 or more joints moving
They create better force balance between muscle groups, which is more functional (most relate to movements in life)
They create less stress on the joints and stabilizer muscles due to smaller changes in lever length
They are more time efficient
You only need 3 compound exercises to train all the prime movers in your body
Exercises such as leg press are less functional than say squat but still useful because they are time efficient
Isolation exercises use one joint and are less functional and time efficient
Some isolation exercises can be high risk due to the force generated at a joint unaided by normal supportive structures e.g. leg extension vs squat; Whilst a leg extension improves the strength of the quadriceps (a desired outcome), it does so without the normal supportive contraction of the hamstrings. When, however, we complete a squat both the quadriceps (knee extension) and hamstrings (hip extension) are active. This provides superior stabilisation and support to the knee joint. Important for people recovering from a knee injury or suffering from arthritis in the knee.
Isolation exercises should really only used for body shaping.
Strength Gains From Resistance Training
High Intensity – Increase muscle strength and size.
Heavy weights and low reps (less than 8) – Strength gains are optimal where heavy weights and low reps are completed.
Because of the above the muscle is predominantly using the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP-PC or Phosphate System) energy system.
Neuromuscular control and communication – A beginner exerciser will see rapid strength gains, literally from session to session. This can be a fantastic motivator. These rapid gains are due to improved neuromuscular control and communication (neuromuscular gain). As training continues, the cells in the muscle increase in number and size.
Endurance Gains From Resistance Training
Lower intensity but higher frequency – It does not encourage hyperplasia (increasing number of muscle fibres) and hypertrophy (increasing size of muscle fibres) in the same way strength training does. The muscle instead becomes fitter – more able to overcome resistance without fatigue. This is due to the increased number of capillaries being formed to supply the repeatedly contracting muscle fibres, increased mitochondria in the muscle and the development of greater lactate tolerance.
Lactate energy system – Training the muscle for endurance primarily engages the lactate system and hence we sometimes hence we sometimes hear people asking can if we can ‘feel the burn’. This is the lactic acid produced. Endurance training helps build greater lactate tolerance.
Lighter weights and higher reps (20+) – Endurance gains are optimal where this is used and greater training volume is achieved.
Most people want to improve the way they look – This means improving the shape or size of the muscle. This is achieved by increasing the size and number of muscle fibres, increasing plasma volume and therefore lies somewhere between higher intensity strength training and higher volume endurance training.
Hypertrophy gains are optimised where the strength –gaining component of sessions is high and sufficient volume is present. So multiple sets of 10-12 reps (single set exercises will still enable a beginner to achieve results) and more frequent bouts each week will work best.
The challenge is to present clear overload strategies to the body AND periodically change the stimulus. Therefore 6-8 weeks high intensity followed by 6-8 weeks higher volume or frequency of overload will maximise gains.
Picking an ‘ideal’ program’ and just sticking to it, allowing several months to elapse, is a major reason why initial results do not continue. Overtime the body learns to adapt to the training you are doing and although you will still be maintaining your body there will be very slow, if not at all, progression. As well as this your training will become very boring! As the saying goes, ‘variety is the spice of life!’ So modify your program regularly.
Benefits of CV Training
The benefits of cardiovascular fitness are many but really fall into three main areas:
CV fitness benefits health. Simply walking for 30 minutes every day can be great for your health. This can be in one block, or taken in 10 minutes chunks, but it must cause you to become out of breath.
CV fitness is great for, well, fitness! It increases the ability of our lungs to work well and our breathing mechanics to become more effective and efficient so that we can take in oxygen (and expel carbon dioxide) more efficiently. When our heart and circulatory system works properly we are better able to transport nutrients including oxygen around the body to where it is most required. Indeed to the extent to which the body can shunt blood to where it needs to be is an important adaptation to CV training, as is the amount and efficiency of red blood cells and particularly haemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body. Once the oxygen gets to the working muscles then the degree to which the muscles can use it is the final determinant of cardiovascular fitness.
Improves the hearts ability to supply the body with the nutrients it requires both at rest and during exercise:
Increased heart and lung volume
Increase total blood and haemoglobin volume
Increase stroke volume
Increase Cardiac Output
Decrease resting heart rate
Hypertrophy of the cardiac walls
Improves the muscles ability to respond to workload:
Increase number and size of mitochondria
Increase strength of connection tissue
Improves overall health:
Decrease blood pressure (if high)
Increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol profile
Decrease body fat
Decrease total cholesterol
Decreases low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol profile
The F.I.I.T. Principle
The FITT principle relates mostly to CV training and describes 4 ways to progress or change a CV program
Frequency can be increased; this means doing it more often. For example, if you run 2 times per week, start running 3 times
Intensity can be increased; this means doing it harder. For example, if you run 4km in 20min, try running 4km in 17min
Time can be extended; this means doing it for longer. For example, if you run 4km in 20min, try running 5km in 25min
Type can also be varied, which involves changing the way you do CV training, like swapping your run for a cycle.
Benefits of Stretching
Spending time on this part of your training is invaluable. Stretching tight or short muscles enhances posture and recovery. Stretching muscles after they have been working (shortening) during resistance exercise will prevent unnecessary adaptive shortening. Stretching also helps dissipate lactic acid that accumulates during cardiovascular exercise, preventing muscle soreness and again aiding recovery. Importantly assisted stretching aids relaxation and helping you feel of well-being.
Stretching is an important part of a weekly program for good health
Improves blood flow through the muscles
Prevents muscles from shortening
Improves recovery from workouts
A more specific stretch program can lengthen muscles and develop range of motion e.g. developmental stretching stimulates the muscle to physically ‘grow longer’
MYTHS AND FALLACIES
You cannot tone a specific muscle to reduce fat in that specific area to make the muscle stand out. You cannot choose where to lose fat from.
The last place fat goes on will be the first place it comes off, while the first place is the last place to lose it from.
Doing abdominal crunches will not burn fat from your stomach. It will only develop appealing abs if fat is generally first lost from the body.
Compound hypertrophy workouts and high intensity CV will be the most effective way of losing the weight. E.g. Squats, rows and presses with serious cardio training are the best way to develop abs you can see.
There is no specific rep range for toning. Using low weight and high reps doesn’t tone.
When people say they want a toned body they usually mean they want muscle definition. This means increasing the size or shape and removing fat from the area.
As fat cannot be trained to disappear from any single area but does so generally and independent of will or intent, a good toning workout is hypertrophy resistance training mixed with healthy nutrition and some high or long intensity CV to lose body fat.
Women get big if they weight train:
Testosterone and Growth hormone are responsible for muscle mass. As women generally do not have as much of this as men, most women will not develop size no matter how much they try.
By completing a modest resistance training program as part of a weight loss plan will however preserve lean muscle mass during periods of calorie reduction and may add shape to muscles. However, to achieve this will require a hypertrophy not muscle endurance program.
You do not need supplements to get results. It is not necessary to supplement with protein or eat large amounts of protein to develop strength or increase muscle mass. Certainly supplementation has no effect on muscle mass. It is effective training that develops muscles. Protein aids recovery.
Supplements are exactly that, they are to supplement something that is missing in a diet and there is nothing your body needs that you cannot get in your normal diet. Most of the time a balanced diet is adequate to provide for such recovery.
A hundred pounds spent on Personal Training will yield far greater results than spending it on supplementation.
Supplements may be a convenient way to boost intake of certain nutrients, but by no means essential.
Not for beginners, elderly or children:
Beginners, children and older adults can lift weights as long as we follow a few simple guidelines for safety
Older adults bodies adapt similar to a younger body, just a little slower and may have a few more conditions to allow for
Children can weight train, just not to failure and not to expect shape changes to their body
Children run, climb on play equipment and lift their body weight, jump off things requiring strong legs and much more. Weight training is a great way to help improve these abilities
It will create a lifelong positive attitude towards fitness for children.
It will improve muscular and skeletal strength, muscular self control, improve bone composition and bone mineral density to help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis in later life.
Lifting weights reduces flexibility:
Lifting weights does not reduce flexibility, not stretching after a workout reduces flexibility. Weight training creates a stimulus for muscles to shorten, so even just a light stretch will prevent shortening. It is possible to have big muscles AND long muscles.
Muscles turn to flab when you stop training:
Muscle is muscle and fat is fat. It is composition that changes
If someone with a high muscle mass stops training, the principle of reversibility states they will lose muscle mass
Decreased muscle mass leads to a decreased metabolism. So if someone continues to eat the same amount of calories with a slower metabolism, they will get fat as they lose muscle.