Explosivelyfit Strength Training

Explosivelyfit strength training builds powerful bodies!

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200317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it (2/3)

200317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it 

In the book Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (page 247), it states that a fluid loss of around 1% of body weight will increase core temperature with a disproportionate rise in heart rate. These increases in temperature causes further fluid loss and the cycle repeats itself.

Plasma volume becomes reduced when sweating causes a fluid loss of 2-3% body mass. The blood thickens, which makes the heart work harder at pumping it through out the body. As dehydration progresses and plasma volume decreases, peripheral blood flow and sweating rate are reduced and thermo regulation becomes progressively more difficult. (Page 509 reference #1)

A 5% dehydration of the body mass significantly increases rectal temperature and decreases sweating rate. There is 25-30% decrease in stroke volume from the heart that is not off set by a higher heart rate so the system output and arterial blood pressure decline. For each liter of sweat loss, the heart rate increases by about eight beats per minute, with a corresponding decrease in cardiac output. “The primary aim of fluid replacement is to maintain plasma volume so that circulation and sweating progress at optimal levels”.

In Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, it (page 247) states that at 7% body weight loss a collapse is likely. Obviously, this is a serious condition if left unchecked.

Ultimately, the strain on the circulatory system impairs the thermo regulation of the body. (Page 507 reference #1)

Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration level as it normally lags behind the body’s needs. Each adult requires from 2-3 quarts of water/fluid daily, less than that, will gradually result in a dehydrated state over a period.

Indicators of the need for more fluid in the body that are relatively simple to monitor are (Page 247 reference #2)

  • Dark yellow urine (unless excessive vitamin intake has occurred)
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Decrease times of having to urinate
  • A rapid resting heart rate
  • Muscle soreness that lingers longer than normal

Normal urine loss for an adult is about 4 times per day for a total of about 1.2 quarts. This means the elimination of 8-10 fluid ounces about 4 times per day. If a person is drinking over and above the normal requirements bathroom breaks could occur more often. If this is not the case, and you are not drinking excessively, perhaps a check for diabetes is in order.

180217 Bend like the willow

180217 Bend like the willow

Being faithful to your exercise and health programs is an admirable trait. But what happens when it starts interfering with your life and more importantly to the lives of those who love you? I’ll tell you. It’s time to reappraise the situation and make some necessary changes.

Most hardcore fitness enthusiasts exercise come hell or high water, no matter what they will find a way to get their exercise session in every day. I know a person who has not missed one single day in over twenty years.

Every day this person did something positive for their health and fitness; even while recovering from major joint surgery. They have pushed to get better by regaining their range of motion and doing isometrics to build the muscle strength back to its pre-surgery status.

Has this dedication caused conflicts in their life? I suspect so. Let’s look at how you can avoid these same issues.

Putting the check on the calendar

I call minimally doing something positive for yourself putting a check on the calendar for that day. The check on the calendar simply means you did something on this particular day to help improve your health in some small way. It doesn’t mean you went all out on the exercises; just that you did a little bit.

Suppose you were scheduled to max out on one of your lifts or run a faster than normal mile but your wife or child became ill and had to be cared for. No one in their right mind would consider taking time off to exercise as planned if a loved one needed their help. You are no different.

Abandon your schedule and help them out. There will be breaks in the day when you can get out the skip rope and hit it hard. Do as many pushups and sit ups as you can in one or more minutes. Do something for yourself, but not at their expense, during the time you’ve got before they need you again.

If you aren’t in good mental and physical shape it’s going to be much harder caring for someone else.

Sometimes it really is better to stop the head long pursuit of strength and high level physical fitness and smell the roses for a brief minute or two before hitting it again. Just don’t take to long…

Prescriptions for strength training

300117 Starting a weight training program

Starting a weight training program.

Are you just beginning to lift weights? If so, then seeking out a knowledgeable coach to guide you along may be the first and most important thing you should consider doing. Check their credentials. Are they certified by a recognized organization such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)? Do they care about you or just your money and the gym membership? Ask them for references. After all, it truly is a buyer beware situation when you are trying to get stronger and are paying out good money for the results you desire.

Maximum lifts are to be avoided in any new weight training program. If this is the case then how are you expected to lift heavy if you don’t know how to lift in the first place? The answer is you can’t. So don’t be intimidated into adding more and more on the bar in your first sessions. Learn how to lift, build up a base and then gradually start adding the weight.

Excessive initial loads contribute little to becoming stronger but do expose you to an increased likelihood of injury. A new lifter will do quite well with a load varying in the range of 60-80% of a muscles force generating capability. You may be wondering how this is determined. One of the safer ways is to simply estimate a conservative load and try it out.

Another more frequently used method is to do a set amount of repetitions, i.e. ten, five or three, and then use commonly available charts to determine the percentage weight to use based on the outcome of the multi repetition test. Once the percentage has been figured out then the sets and reps will be a matter of professional knowledge and experience for your coach.

Using lighter weights for more repetitions is generally wiser for the inexperienced lifter. Selecting loads that allow ten to fifteen repetitions for two to four sets in each exercise helps build a strong base to continue future training. This repetition and set scheme will not place an excessive load on the bones, ligaments, muscles or tendons of the new lifter. More importantly it will not cause negative disruptions on the nervous system.

Certainly if the lifter is able to easily lift the selected percentage load for the chosen repetitions then more weight can be added the next session. A minimum of twelve repetitions is the determining factor in this decision to go to a higher load. This process will be trial and error for the first two to three sessions unless the coach is highly experienced.

Once the weight has been figured out then it’s time to set up the training load schedule in one of several ways: Progressive, over load, or step loading.

Progressive is effective for the new lifter for a short time then becomes less productive. The schedule will appear in this fashion. Three to four sets of various loads with a certain number of repetitions. For example, a warm up followed by one set of eight reps, then one set of six and finally one set of four. This schedule is followed for the rest of the training time.

The overload scheduling scheme leads to over training which in turn will lead to staleness, lack of interest and even injury. Many coaches like this as they believe the athlete benefits from the extra work. Not so. The athlete becomes disinterested and fatigued. In this system the load progressively increases every week or even every session. There is no rest built into this loading program and the constantly increasing intensity quickly leads to overtraining and its attendant problems.

The step load seems to be the best alternative for the new trainee in that one load is used throughout the entire sequence of one exercise. In the step load the warm up is completed and then one load is chosen which has been determined by the previous testing. This load then remains for three to five sets until it is no longer a challenge to the lifter. This is co-determined by both the lifter and the coach’s observations of the lifters speed and bar path.

An able coach will also start out the exercise session with a dynamic warm up such as riding a bike, skipping rope (my favorite warm up exercise) or some other active motion type of movement. If your coach starts out with static stretches then it’s time to find one more knowledgeable in the field.

Depending on the sessions some will begin with the larger muscle groups first and gradually work their way to the smaller ones such as the arms or calves. On other occasions the exercises will begin with the targeted muscle groups and work from this point onward.

One final note or two; keep a log of your progress in the weight room it will show you how well you’ve done…or not. If the or not is taking place it’s time to find another coach and begin to make some progress.

230117 General Upper Torso Stretches

230117 General Upper Torso Stretches

Shoulder front

Standing upright with good posture put your hands together behind your back, keeping your arms straight raise them slowly upward to the rear. Hold for a moment then lower back down and begin again.

Shoulder rear

Continue standing with good posture in an upright position. Take one arm and hold it horizontal and parallel to the ground. Now move it across your upper chest so the hand is on the opposite side. With the opposing hand hold the elbow of the horizontal arm and begin pulling in a gentle manner toward your chest. Hold the stretch for a moment and release then repeat.

Favorite shoulder stretch

Stand facing a wall with outstretched arms. Lean into the wall and rest on your hands now look between your arms and lower your head toward the floor. Feel the nice stretch in your shoulders. This can also be done by placing your fully extended arms onto a bench or chair and leaning downward toward the floor.

Floor stretch

Get on your hands and knees. While keeping your arms straight set back on your calves with your buttocks touching them. Put your head between your arms and touch the floor with your head.

Towel stretch

The old standby for working the shoulder range of motion is the towel stretch. Starting with a bath towel or dowel rod slung over your shoulder and dropping toward the floor hold the top with one hand the bottom with the other in your other hand. Now you can go one of two ways: either pull down with the back hand or pull up with the hand at the top. In both instances, the pull should be gentle as your shoulders are in a vulnerable position and easily damaged. A soft pull is what you are looking at achieving, just enough to stretch the shoulders. The ideal is to be able to touch your hands together in the middle of your back. This may be nearly impossible if you are heavily muscled.

Chest
In a standing position interlace your fingers on top of your head. Now move your elbows and hands to the rear.

Chest favorite

Standing next to the wall, a door frame or better yet a power rack, reach behind and hold onto the surface. The stretch begins as you turn your shoulders and upper torso away from the wall, door or power rack. This works really well with the power rack.

210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

If you are using a pedometer, keep in mind that step counts are not particularly accurate when it comes to high-intensity exercise measurements or of the quality of this type of exercise. You will be far better off getting a good heart rate monitor to track your exercise intensity. Once you have the monitor then set your sights on getting the necessary amount of minutes each day of cardio exercise.

The current recommendations of aerobic training are five days a week of moderate paced exercise for thirty to sixty minutes a day or at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week. On the other hand, if you are already doing this amount then up the ante and go for twenty to sixty minutes a day of vigorous-intensity exercise for at least seventy-five minutes a week.

160117 Is your heart on top of your training?

160117 Is your heart on top of your training?

Do you know if you and your heart are training at a sufficient level to make progress by encouraging the heart muscle to get stronger? If not then the next time you train try counting your heart beats and find out where you stand. This is a quick and dirty way of finding out if you are on track to achieving higher levels of fitness.

To begin the test make sure you have the right equipment on hand. You will need a clock with a sweep hand or a digital one with an internal stopwatch or better yet an actual stopwatch. As soon as you are finished exercising take your pulse. Do not wait even two to five seconds to do so or the results will be misleading. Now that this figure is noted take your pulse again in exactly one minute; not a minute and two seconds but precisely one minute. If for example you decide to count right after your exercise is done and do so for one full minute then the second minute would begin immediately with not interruptions between the two.

The next step is to subtract the second reading from the first and then divide the answer by 10. The resultant answer is then compared to the following chart to determine your level of cardio overall physical fitness.

If your calculations come up less than the number 2 then you are in poor shape and need to work out a bit more and a bit harder by upping your cardiovascular workouts. Raise the target heart rate percentages up into the 70% HR for your age and gender.

Numbers between 2-3 indicate a fair fitness position but it definitely could be improved with higher workout intensities.

Good readings start to appear between 3-4 and get even better at ranges of 4-6. Superior fitness is indicated when the numbers are above 6.

If you are already in superior shape then the dividend number changes. In this instance take your pulse immediately after exercising as before and then again at the thirty-second mark. Now rather than dividing by 10 you will divide by 5 to arrive at the answer.

If you are concerned about overtraining take your pulse three mornings in a row as soon as you wake up. If by chance you are entering the overtraining phase of things your pulse may be up higher than normal. Some of the literature suggests these higher pulse rates can be as much as ten beats more per minute than normal. If this is the case then it’s time to lower your level of training until your body has a chance to recover.

070117 Following the Pro’s Routines by Jon Miller

070117 Following the Pro’s Routines by Jon Miller

I liked this post so much that a long time ago asked Jon if I could use it on my site and he gave me his permission to do it. It is still valid, thus the posting here.

I thought about all the people who go pick up bodybuilding magazines and base all they do from the information they find there. It’s a very unfortunate situation. I say this because bodybuilding magazines do have some good information. However, not all the information is good.

The main items that are not good information are the pro bodybuilder’s routines. You know what I’m talking about. Every single issue has more than one of these.

“Yes, yes, I know what you’re talking about, Jon. But what’s so wrong with them?”

To put it bluntly, the articles are full of crap. First of all, we have probably never seen one of these articles that lists a pro’s real training routine. I have even spoken with a few different people who told me of their days in California where people would look at magazines and say things like, “I know that’s not how he trains, I have trained with him before!”

The problem is that most of these articles are written by ghost writers. These ghost writers create the articles. Then the pro bodybuilder (who is under contract with the specific magazine publisher) is credited with the article. They throw in a few pictures, put their name at the end and voila! And the mags sell like crazy. Please believe me, I’m not making this stuff up. This is common knowledge in the bodybuilding world.

The main problem with these training routines is they will over train you big time. For example, a shoulder routine will usually consist of 12-16 sets of exercise for one muscle. Way too much! You could make it work by using 2 of the 3 or 4 sets per exercise as warm-ups, but most people do not know this. They just go into the weight room and start pumping out 12-16 hard sets (usually after too few warm-ups, if any at all). It will take no time at all until a person becomes over trained and probably injured. These routines would be able to hurt you even if you were pumping yourself full of illegal steroids.

Another problem is that now days these articles are written more to advertise some nutritional supplement products. Many times it’s more like an advertisement with a little bit of horrible training advice thrown in. People see that this huge guy claims to take this product and follow this routine. “Look, he’s huge; I better do it, too!” Yep, I’m sure there’s not a big money industry behind all this…

So, since I have ripped on these magazines, I will say that there is some good information in them as well. Usually the diet information is good. They push the idea of eating smaller, more frequent meals. They always tell the importance of high protein and moderate carbohydrate intake. Some are even getting better about accepting fat into diets. Just get past each magazine pushing its own product and you can see good information to use.

The point is to remember these magazines’ main objective. Keep a close eye on them. Remember that the articles are almost always just another ad for their products and/or their professional bodybuilder. Look past the stuff that you know is junk and absorb only the good basic information. Keep this in mind, enjoy the pictures and be on your way to a strong healthy life.

191216 Moderation is NOT the key to getting stronger

191216 Moderation is NOT the key to getting stronger

Moderation in all things in life has been the advice of many a parent over the years. It is almost a certainty that you have been exposed to this as you grew up. In most cases the saying has merit but not when it comes to getting stronger. When it comes to getting stronger, throw moderation[1] out the window. Your muscles don’t act in a moderate manner, so why should you?

Now just because I said to throw moderation out the window I did not say to throw caution out with it. Use your head while you train or suffer the consequences of your imprudent actions.

The all or nothing theory of muscle activation

Before we move on let’s review the all or nothing theory of muscle activation. This states that when a specific set of muscle fibers within a motor unit reaches its threshold of activation either all of the fibers in that unit fire or none do. There is no such thing as a ‘maybe firing’. This is similar to a woman being pregnant; she either is, or is not…there is no middle ground.

Once this concept is understood it’s time to consider what happens when the motor units are all firing to move the weight. Without something to protect the body from excessive loads it would be possible to damage the integrity of the joints.

The protective joint sensors

The body has built in feedback loops to help protect it from harm. The most significant are the Golgi tendons and the muscle spindles. Both of which are ultra protective of the joints. Resetting the levels of activation for these protective mechanisms may be the key to greater lifting achievements.

The muscle spindles are located, actually intertwined within the muscles themselves and can sense when the muscles are being stretched (lengthened) rapidly. When this happens a signal is sent to the spinal cord which then tells the motor neurons to tighten up, i.e. to ‘reflexively contract’. (Strength Training, Brown, L. E. et al 2007). This helps prevent the muscle from being over stretched to the point of injury. However this only works during rapid lengthening of the fibers. A fiber that is slowly stretched doesn’t receive the signal to contract and is thereby susceptible to damage. The opposite reaction to the muscle spindle comes from its counterpart in the joint protective association; the Golgi Tendon.

The Golgi tendon, located at the junction of the tendon and muscle fibers intersection, senses when there is high tension on the tendon. When this sensation of excess is noted a signal is immediately sent to the spinal cord to inhibit further contraction of the muscles attached to the tendon. Additionally another signal is sent to the antagonist muscles telling them to contract. Here in lies the problem of moderation.

It may be that the Golgi tendon response is set too low. Readjusting this could be the answer to greater strength outputs. But this is dangerous territory as injury is just around the corner if the limits are pushed to far upward and the joint is damaged by a disproportionate, in relation to training experience, weight. The question before us now is how can we make these two seemingly incompatible protective devices work for us, and not against us, in our training.

The relationship between strength training and muscle activation

Since we know that the smallest and lowest threshold muscle motor units activate first we have to figure out a way to bypass this process. Secondly we have to figure out how to reset the Golgi Tendon response so more weight can be lifted. Is this a possibility? Yes to a certain extent it is. The answer is through proper training practices.

Periodization of the training load intensity, volume and rest to work ratios will allow this training effect to take place. Remember only those motor units that are recruited to lift the weight are trained. If they aren’t activated they won’t be exposed to the stress of the training. Recruitment of the type two fibers is the goal for the strength athlete.

The order of recruitment is thought to be genetically fixed however this may be altered by using heavy weight and/or placing a high power demand on the muscles. Variations in the recruitment order and small changes in fiber type composition are also thought to be possible through a well designed training program.

A competent strength coach will be able to design strength program for you that meets the needs of the prior discussion. If you are interested and motivated enough to follow through with the plan you will reap the benefits.

Summary:

Resistance training, i.e. strength training can be a valuable asset in your sports activity program. These strength cycles will generate changes in the physiological make up of the body if they are properly planned. Moderation is not what will elicit these changes. Only maximal training effort will lead to maximal change in the muscle fiber recruitment and composition. The plan should involve periodization principles for the greatest effect and outcome.

[1]] Moderation is a relevant term in this context. Don’t be stupid with your weight training or you will get hurt.

171216 Sport and lifestyle activity-range of motion exercising

171216 Sport and lifestyle activity-range of motion exercising

Your joints and muscles are meant to function within standardized degrees of movement, commonly referred to as the range of motion (ROM). The stronger you are within these ranges, the better protected you will be in preventing injuries from occurring. Therefore when doing your exercise routine keep in mind the following two guidelines:

1. You gain the most strength within the range of motion (ROM) at which you exercise.

2. The smaller the range of motion you in the joint, the less will be the carry over strength throughout the rest of the movement.

The basis of every quality strength training or fitness program relies, in part, on these two premises. As an example, let’s look at the squat while explaining these principles.

Many lifters do short range squats, known as high squats, in the gym. They get into a machine or in rare cases under a bar and drop down a few inches and call it good. In many instances this isn’t even to a parallel position, let alone below parallel where they should be before starting back up again. Depending on the load of the bar or on the machine, strength may be increased within this small range of motion but its unlikely this will happen.

This range of movement is too little and does not support normal living activities such as sitting down in a chair and then getting back up. If the strength is not developed within a range that is vital to living an active lifestyle then it is not useful. This group of fitness enthusiasts would be better served by going deeper in their squats, thereby getting a transfer of useable strength into their daily lives. This naturally leads in to the second principle.

An individual or strength athlete will become stronger when training the full range of motion. This expands the strength curve and transfers more useable muscle activity across greater degrees of the joint angle. Greater degree angles of strength protect the joint from injury, especially at the far ranges of motion.

The take home message is don’t cut yourself short with limited range of motion exercises.

121216 Fitness 101-starting out on the right track

121216 Fitness 101-starting out on the right track

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi

For many years now it has been the experience of fitness trainers that certain steps must be taken in order to ensure a successful transition from a sedentary life style to a more active healthy one. These progressive measures include ensuring the fitness program considers the individual’s medical background.

Once the background information is gathered it’s up to the trainer and the individual to sit down and map out a plan that will meet the expectations of the trainee. This will include, at a minimum a cardiovascular component, a flexibility piece and a strength element. Not all will be worked each session; instead they will be incorporated over time as adaptations to the regimen take place.

Many a person has started out training with a bang, only to drop out because their enthusiasm overwhelmed their body’s ability to keep up. Discouragement sets in and pretty soon one session after another is skipped. It doesn’t take many of these missed sessions before the person gives up.

On the other side of the coin is the person doing too little to make much of a difference. Each exercise session must be challenging enough to elicit positive physical and mental adaptations; otherwise it is simply wasted time.

A person who exercises far below their capacity, regardless of training experience, will only generate frustration with the lack of progress.

The degree to which your central nervous system is involved in the training plays a big part in determining the success or failure of achieving your goals. The more stimulation, up to a point, the more you get from the training.

Intensity and persistence are the keys to achieving your fitness goals.

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