Explosivelyfit Strength Training

Explosivelyfit strength training builds powerful bodies!

Archive for the tag “fitness”

080817 Heart Rate Calculation Options

080817 Heart Rate Calculation Options

By Danny M.O’Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

Effectively training in your target heart rate zone will result if greater physiological adaptations within your body. Knowing which formula to use in figuring out the best heart rate zone depends on how accurate you want to be in the calculations.

Here are three options to consider.They range in difficulty of using them from easy to slightly less easy.

The most commonly used formula is to subtract your age from 220. This supposedly results in your maximum heart rate (MHR). However, this can be off as much as ten percent plus or minus beats per minute in the final figure. Once you have figured out your MHR multiply this answer by 60-80% and you will have your exercise target heart range. As an example if you are 30 years old your MHR would be 190 beats per minute (BPM). Multiplying this by 80% will set your target heart rate at 152 BPM. The majority of your training time will be spent at this heart rate.

  1. Bear in mind the reason this formula will not be accurate as the same calculations are supposed to be used by both the elite as well as the sedentary. To even the most causal observer this will not be in the best interest of either person. In the first case the heart rate may fit the elite but be far in excess for the couch potato. My advice is to learn and use one of the following.

The Karvonen formula is a better option to use and it is figured out in the following three step formula:

  1. Age predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR). Figuring this is the same as before, i.e. 220 minus your age equals APMHR.
    c. Maximum heart rate minus resting heart rate (taken as soon as you awake) equals heart rate reserve (HRR).
    d. Now take the heart rate reserve and multiply it by the percentage of exercise intensity, 60-80%, add the resting heart rate to this figure and you will have your target heart rate for training.

The most precise target heart rate formula is the one devised by Tanaka:

a. 207 minus 70% of your age will yield your maximum heart rate.
b. Maximum heart rate minus your resting heart rate equals your heart rate reserve.
c. Heart rate reserve multiplied by 70% plus resting heart rate will result in the target heart range for your exercise period.

180717 Stable and unstable surface bench pressing

180717 Stable and unstable surface bench pressing

Research scientists in Norway examined the electromyographic activity of the muscles used in the bench press on both stable and unstable surfaces. They compared 6 repetition maximum loads on three different surfaces. One series on a bench press bench, another on a balance cushion and a third on a Swiss ball. Admittedly, the volunteer numbers were small, at only sixteen; however, the results showed that a more stable platform insured greater EMG activity, which relates to greater strength development.

The EMG probes monitored the biceps brachii, deltoid anterior, erector spinae, oblique external, pectoralis major, and the rectus abdominus muscles.

In relation to using the stable bench, this 6-repetition maximum was approximately 93% greater than when doing it on the balance cushion and approximately 92% greater than for the Swissball. In fact the contribution of the pectoralis major was approximately 90% using the balance cushion and only 81% using the Swissball, triceps activity was approximate 79% use the balance cushion and only 69% using the Swissball.

The relationship to the balance cushion, the EMG activity of the pectoralis major, triceps, and erector spinae, when using the Swissball was 89% and 80% respectively. However, the activity of the rectus abdominus showed more involvement when using the Swissball when compared to both the cushion and stable bench.

The researchers concluded that the stable bench produced a greater 6 repetition maximum than was achieved with either the cushion or the stability ball.

Unless there is a specific medical reason to be doing bench presses on a cushion or stability ball you are going to get more out of it on a stable bench than a cushion or stability ball. If, however, you insist upon using unstable surfaces to bench on, the next best option is the cushion with the stability ball being used as a last resort.

270617 The Myth of Spot Reduction Exercises


270617 The Myth of Spot Reduction Exercises

Spot reducing exercises do not work and if your trainer is pushing you to do hundreds of sit ups in the effort to tighten up your abdominal muscles and in turn reduce the circumference then find another one. In a study performed by people doing over 5000 sit ups in a twenty seven day period it was found that size changes in the adipose cells of the abdomen were similar to the size changes in the glutes and the subscapular regions.

The training did accomplish one thing; it reduced the size of the adipose cells in all three locations not just the stomach.

If weight reduction is your goal then add in strength training and cut back on the endless cardio sessions. Muscle burns more calories per hour which at the end of the day means more expenditure of energy and better utilization of the caloric intake. This adds up to consistent weight loss if followed correctly.

230517 Adaptation of Bone to Exercise

230517 Adaptation of Bone to Exercise

By Danny M. O’Dell, MA.CSCS*D

Background information-briefly stated

Bone is considered a connective tissue that when stressed, deforms and adapts as a result of the load. To meet the strain imposed upon the external structure caused by the bending, compressive, torsional loads and the muscular contractions at the tendinous insertion point’s osteoblasts migrate to the surface of the bone.

At the point of the strain, immediate modeling of the bone begins. Proteins form a matrix between the bone cells. This causes the bone to become denser due to the calcification process occurring during the growth response to the load.

The new growth occurs on the outside of the bone to allow the manufacture of new cells to continue in the limited space with in the bone itself. This outer layer is commonly known as the periosteum.

Adaptations take place at different rates in the axial skeleton (skull/cranium, vertebral, ribs, and sternum) and the appendicular skeleton (shoulder, hips, pelvis and the long bones of the upper and lower body-essentially the arms and legs). This is due to the differences in the bone types- trabecular (spongy) and cortical (compact) bone.

100417 Acute Hormonal Responses to Varying Protocols in Men and Women

A recent study by William J. Kraemer and associates showed the hormonal response benefits of three separate types of maximum heavy resistance training protocols. This group examined the response effects from the bench press, sit up and bilateral leg extensions exercises based upon percentages of the maximal ten repetition, five set scheme with a two minute rest between each set.

The three exercise program variances were:

Heavy maximal 10 repetition maximal (10 RM) loads of five sets of ten repetitions with a two minute rest in between the sets.

Submaximal heavy resistance 70% of the 10 RM.

Maximal Explosive resistance of 40% 10 RM

The results were pretty clear after the study was finished as to which protocol released the greatest amount of growth hormones. There was a significant increase in the serum growth hormone after the heavy maximal ten rep/five sets were completed. And, this was true in both men and women, but more so for the men than the women. Serum testosterone significantly increased in the men, but not the women and only while engaging in the heavy maximal sessions.

Since these two substances are critical to long-term adaptations of strength and power this study may help in the long-term process of inducing greater muscle hypertrophy and maximal strength development.

Adapting the heavy loading hypertrophic type of exercise sessions appears to foster growth in the muscle mass for men if they use the heavy maximal load for ten reps and five sets with the suggested two-minute rest in between sets. These hormonal responses seem to be related to the amount of muscle mass activated in the exercises. Using the submaximal and the explosive maximal loads did not elicit increases in the release of these hormones, as it was not strenuous enough to the organism.

Neural control and the achievement of higher rates of force development are fostered, at least in the men, with the explosive maximal loads. Whereas in the women the responses after exercising with explosive maximal weights did not seem to be that clear cut. For women it would seem best to train with the explosive maximal and the heavier maximal loads.

010417 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise. (2/2)

010417 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise.

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS*D

Let us briefly discuss a few of these and the way in which they are applied during the recovery process. Use these various modalities between sets or between days of training. Experiment until you have found the ones that work best for you.

Use of the various means of recovery should be included as a part of the over all design package of your work out plan. You will find some that fit you very well, just as some exercise seem to be tailor made especially for you. However, keep varying the different modalities, as your body will soon accustom itself to those, which are applied most frequently. The benefits will diminish if they are over used. The bottom line on the issue is this: just as you change your exercise selections around each training day so must you change your recovery modes around.

The most intensive recovery methods are utilized after the heaviest workouts. Apply the recovery modes not just directly after the workout, but later in the day after your body has adjusted to the stress of the training session. Wait at least three hours before starting the recovery process. If you wait 6-9 hours, the recovery is made much more effective and will raise the work capacity higher the next day.

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.

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

Posture, just the word brings to mind standing at attention with your head up, shoulders back and chest out. In reality it is more than this.

Body posture is both dynamic and at the same time a static action. In fact balance and posture are closely intertwined and in many cases are the same.

Posture affects not only how tall you will grow and how well your internal organs function but your activity and sports performance as well.

Briefly stated, posture can cause positive or negative alterations in the structure of your bones. Problems with your posture cause muscle imbalances, flexibility issues and damage to your joints if continued long term. The results of these changes are back, shoulder and neck pain, all of which, if caused by poor posture, can be alleviated with a conscious awareness of maintaining good posture.

Early on in a person’s life when the body is still developing is the ideal time to establish good posture habits. Doing so allows the body to build a strong useful platform for daily activities and participation in sports.

Good posture means your internal organs have room to grow and be healthy. Improper alignment in the structures of your body puts undue stress on the rest of it causing chronic strain which translates into chronic pain. Some study results have associated chronic pain as being a contributing factor to arthritis later in life.

The spinal column is the supporting base for your entire body and as such needs to be strong and powerful to endure the stresses placed on it throughout the day and for the remainder of your life.

The spine should be solid and flexible (within normal range of motion) while at the same time maintaining the four natural curves at all times. Strengthening the spinal column and the muscles that attach to it will help keep your posture correct and you feeling good about yourself.

110317 Posture and the relationship to strength

110317 Posture and the relationship to strength

The display of strength is influenced by the joint angles of the operating links in the chain. These angles, as would be expected, change with movement. Because of this change, the length of the muscles varies throughout the movement, as does the angle of attachment to the bone.
This means the muscles ability to produce more, or less, force is determined by the angle as the leverages and “moment of muscular force changes the mechanical conditions of work.” This postural condition may benefit strength output if the “force potential of the muscles is used fully” but it can also be “hindrance when only part of their maximal tension can be used.”

Based strictly on observation it is clear that strength is affected either negatively or positively by various postural changes. As an example, most athletes are able to lift more weight in the dead lift than in a straight leg dead lift. This is a classic case of minor changes in the positioning of the links in the chain leading to tremendous strength advantages. In other words if the legs are bent and allowed to participate in the lift much more is hoisted up. It only stands to reason that the more muscles involved the more will be lifted.

Maximal force output at the working joints is truly dependent “upon the position of the system’s links relative to the proximal joints.” For example, the force developed in extension or flexion of the knee joint is determined by the angle at the hip joints. Thus, maximal force in hip extension in the seated position was found to be at an angle of 160° in the knee joint.

“In the leg press (lying on the back)” there was no difference “in knee extension force”…found at hip angles of 100° up to and including 140°’s. “Knee extension strength increases by 10%-12% if the torso is inclined 20° to 25° backward from the vertical with the subject seated in a rowing position. Thus, to produce maximal force in a movement, one must consider anatomical stability and ensure that at crucial moments posture enables the muscles to develop maximal external force.


Try different stances, different hand grips, and different joint angles during your lifts to increase your power output capacity. Just because Ed Coan or Fred Hatfield squats, a certain way does not mean it will be as effective or efficient for you to do likewise.

Postural changes, however slight, may make big differences in how much maximal force you are able to produce. Try it and see for yourself.

Final note: If you are considering a personal trainer or are training in a local health club, ask about the certification status of the staff. The qualified trainers will be happy to show you their credentials. Remember, it’s your money and more importantly your body, so go with the qualified instructors so you get correct guidance.

* The source of the information comes from the American Physical Therapy Association book entitled BODY MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR. The authors are Marilyn Moffat, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA and Steve Vickery. It is an excellent book that discusses the many systems of the human body.

060317 Shoulder posture

060317 Shoulder posture

An ideal alignment will have the line of reference passing midway through the shoulder joint as it travels downward. The arm and shoulder position depends on where the scapulae and upper back positions are. In a normal, i.e. correct alignment, the scapulae will be lying flat against the upper back. This position is roughly located between the second and seventh thoracic vertebrae with about four inches separation. Even this separation depends on the size of the person.

Positions of the scapulae, other than that described, will negatively affect the position of the shoulder. This particular misalignment of the Glenohumeral joint will in many cases set the athlete up for an impending injury.

Post Navigation