Explosivelyfit Strength Training

Explosivelyfit strength training builds powerful bodies!

Archive for the tag “strength”

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.

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.

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.

280117 Maximum power output

Maximum power output, as many strength athletes already know, results from using loads in the intensity ranges of 30-40 % one repetition maximum. But the maximal coefficient of reactivity will be obtained by utilizing weight loads in the 30-33 % ranges.

Strength training will increase explosive power. But training cannot be confined exclusively to strength regimens, some of it must be in the power percentages.

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.

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.

191116 Samo samo

191116 Samo samo

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over then expecting a different result each time. This may not be the actual definition of insanity but the concept certainly fits those who are exercising the same way and not seeing the results they want to achieve.

We had supper the other night with a long time friend of twenty-three-plus years who mentioned she was working out. When she told me what she was doing it turned out to be a pretty aggressive combination of cardio and strength training with a heavy emphasis on the cardio portion.

Most people who know me realize that once the fitness and strength topics come up I will have a comment or two about the subject. My wife just rolls her eyes most men would take this as a clue but being a bold person who can stand the wifely heat I plunge right in and put in my dollars worth of opinion.

In some cases, the person may actually be on a good program but most of the time the program has far outlived its usefulness. The reason for this is your body demands a challenge. If this isn’t present then there are only two directions it will go; stagnate or slip backward, neither of which is what any fitness enthusiast want to see happen to their hard-earned gains.

In order to make good progress each session, a change is needed to your routine. And one of the ways to make these changes is to keep track of what you’re doing every time you exercise. It is really easy to fall into a pattern of doing the same thing every time you hit the gym. By looking at your logbook you’ll soon see these patterns developing.

Your body physiologically adapts to the stresses of exercise in this manner. First to the repetitions, next to the sets performed, then to the exercise itself. A variation in any of these three will create a whole new exercise experience, one that will keep you on the positive track to successfully achieving your fitness or strength goals.

121116 Exercise suggestions for those with limited equipment

121116 Exercise suggestions for those with limited equipment

Make a space to work out in that is easy to get to. Get all of your gear in one spot so it is available for immediate use without moving a lot of stuff around each time.

Equipment

  • Bicycle
  • Dumbbells
  • Treadmill
  • Stability ball

Set up the dumbbells in 5, 10, 15, and 20 pound sets. Make sure the collars are on tight and the weights are centered on each one.

The warm up

Begin on the treadmill or your bike at the low end of each of the times. Start out at a walk for 1-2 minutes. As your pulse becomes faster increase the speed and work up to a fast walk or slight jog for another 2-3 minutes. Now slow to a walk for another 1-2 minutes. As you become stronger these times will seem awfully low, once that happens then add 10-25% more to each of them. At some point you will find the ideal warm up time that just feels right for your needs.

Leg rotations

Move your legs in giant circles, forward and backward and then out to the sides. Hold onto something sturdy if you are unsure of your balance. Gradually you’ll want to do these without support to enhance your balance capabilities.

Shoulder series

Do each one of the following 15-20 times each.

  • Wide clockwise circles with outstretched arms.
  • Wide counter clockwise circles with outstretched arms
  • Arms straight to the sides with palms facing the body moving out front and back over head without bending them
  • Arms bent at 90° and then extended rapidly to the front and back to the 90° starting position
  •  Arms bent at 90° and then extended rapidly to the front and back to the 90° starting position

The exercises This is just a minute fraction of the ones that are available.

Column one Column two Column three Column four
  • Dumbbell Military presses
  • Chin ups or pull downs
  • Dumbbell floor presses
  • Dumbbell rows
  • One arm dumbbell rows
  • Dumbbell bench Squats
  • Wall squats
  • Dumbbell dead lifts
  • Dumbbell good mornings
  • Dumbbell side bends
  • Leg Raises
  • Straight leg/stiff leg dead lifts
  • Dumbbell curls
  • Dumbbell Triceps extensions
  • Dumbbell Wrist curls-flexion and extension
  • Thors hammer wrist deviations

.

  • Dumbbell Calf raises
  • Abdominal exercises of your choice

The schedule

Work out five times a week for fifteen to twenty minutes a day. Each day will be a different series of exercises that you choose to do. Start out by doing two sets of eight repetitions with a rest of 30 seconds between each set. Gradually increase up to four to five sets of eight as your conditioning improves. Work quickly but without throwing the weight around. Let your muscles do the work instead of momentum.

Keep your pulse up in the 70-80% target heart rate (THR) range as you exercise. This is found by taking your age from 220 and multiplying the result by 70-80%. Although this is a very common method of finding your THR it is also somewhat inaccurate because the outcomes may be off by as much as 10 percent plus or minus.

Begin your exercise session with the warm up, move onto your choice of exercises from columns one, three and four and then cool down with a few selected static stretches.

The second day of exercise begins again with the warm up and your selections from columns two and four. Follow this with your cool down and you are done for the day. The week ends can be days off or walking for fun sessions. Add weight as these become easier to do each day. The heavier you lift, the stronger you’ll become. The greater your muscle mass the higher will be your calorie expenditures each day.

Schedule sample

Day one from column one, three and four

  •  Dumbbell military presses
  •  Dumbbell curls
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day two from column two and four

  •  Dumbbell bench squats
  •  Dumbbell good mornings
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day three from column one, three and four

  •  Dumbbell military presses
  •  Dumbbell curls
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day four from column two and four

  •  Dumbbell bench squats
  •  Dumbbell good mornings
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day five from column one, three and four

  •  Dumbbell military presses
  •  Dumbbell curls
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Week end off

Day one from column two and four

  •  Dumbbell bench squats
  •  Dumbbell good mornings
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day two from column one, three and four

  •  Dumbbell military presses
  •  Dumbbell curls
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day three from column two and four

  •  Dumbbell bench squats
  •  Dumbbell good mornings
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day four from column one, three and four

  •  Dumbbell military presses
  •  Dumbbell curls
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

Day five from column two and four

  •  Dumbbell bench squats
  •  Dumbbell good mornings
  •  Abdominal exercise
  •  Calf raises

You will notice that each week emphasizes more of one part of your body by doing either upper or lower torso exercises three times instead of two sessions per week.

171016 Exercise form

171016 Exercise form

Exercise is a way to live life to the fullest; however using poor form is a fast way of incurring an injury. If you are using free weights, which are highly recommended over any of the common machines, there are certain techniques to use in order to get the greatest benefit from them and avoid injury. In the next few paragraphs, we will briefly discuss some issues of exercise form to guard against.

The military press: stand tall, avoid a lower back, backward lean, and side to side lean when pressing up. Do the press in front of your face and not behind your head because this is harmful to your shoulders due to the extreme range of motion when the weight is coming down behind the head.

Barbell curls: For the most part, keep your hands close to your outer thighs. Don’t lean backward in an effort to move heavier weight. Keep momentum to a minimum. Keep the weight under control on the downward phase and not let gravity take over in the hopes you will be able to lift more.

Supine lateral raises commonly referred to as flyes: Keep the weight under control and don’t let it drop suddenly because your shoulders won’t tolerate this for long.

Bench press: The number one rule here is to keep your feet on the floor and not on the bench as shown so frequently in the magazines or on YouTube. You have minimal balance control with your feet on the bench.

Use the five-point stance: Both feet on the floor, buttocks on the bench at all times, shoulders and head on the bench. Keep the weight over your elbows by not hyperextending the wrists. Don’t allow the weight to plummet to your chest with hope of bouncing it back up.

Dead lift: Begin by squatting into the start position by pushing your hips backward and striving to keep your lower legs perpendicular to the floor. Keep the natural lordosis in your lower back. Avoid lifting a weight that overpowers your ability to keep your back in the correct position.

Good mornings: Begin with the weight behind your head and on your shoulders (this is easier done in a power rack so you aren’t exposing your shoulders to an unnecessary injury-see the caution in the military press portion), flex your knees ever so slightly and bend over until your head is below your waistline. Don’t go fast on the down phase as this puts a lot of shock load on your lower back at its most vulnerable position in the lift. Instead, lift with control. There is that word again. Be in control of the weight by controlling momentum. You will get more out the exercise and perhaps even avoid an injury in the process.

Squat: Contrary to what many misinformed people may say this is the best lower body exercise in the entire encyclopedia of fitness movements. The things to avoid are rapid drops into the bottom position, knees coming inward on going back up, rounding of the back, not going deep enough, and in some cases, ego lifting with too much weight.

Some people think they are protecting their knees by not going into the full squat. They fail to realize that by not going deep they are exposing themselves to a sports injury when the need to exert force at the full range of motion is necessary to prevent an injury from happening.

Secondly, and more importantly, is protecting yourself in a fall when the leg is suddenly flexed to its extreme such as frequently happens during a fall on the stairs. If the squat is not deep enough then problems start to occur with such simple things a going to the toilet. A ninety-degree squat is not even deep enough to sit in most chairs.

There is strong evidence that at ninety degrees there is a tremendous high load on the patella tendon. If damage happens to this tendon, the individual with the injury is in for a long rehabilitation period. For example, a two hundred and fifty pound person doing a squat with two hundred pounds is putting over 600 pounds of pressure on their patella for an extended period due to the reversal of motion at this dangerous spot in the range of motion.

It is far better to go through this position, go deep and then come back up, than it is doing the high squat stopping at the magic ninety-degree spot.

101016 Gaining muscle with electrical impulses, fact, or fiction

101016 Gaining muscle with electrical impulses, fact, or fiction

Periodically one sees an advertisement for an electrical device that supposedly builds muscles or helps someone to lose weight. Without a doubt, some types of electrical stimulation are beneficial, however; the gains in the muscles are miniscule. The medically approved electrical stimulation devices used in a physical therapy setting or after a surgery to control pain work well. The tens unit comes immediately to mind.

The repeated low intensity shocks produced by these electrical devices can force rapid contractions of the muscles. This repeated stimulation does cause a certain amount of growth in the muscle fibers but even the best of these devices, as used in the medical field, can do only so much. They help to partially stave off muscle atrophy during the rehabilitation.

In order to gain muscle size, strength, and to burn enough calories to lose weight, exercise is a critical part of the equation. Without exercise, these devices are practically useless, especially the ones seen on TV.

One popular, regularly advertised, model found that the stimulation of the major muscles of the abdomen, arms, and legs for up to 45 minutes, three times a week for a full two months produced no significant changes in the participants strength levels, body fat ratio to lean muscle mass, weight , or their overall appearance.

The recommendation from most astute observers is to regularly exercise and follow a sound nutritious diet because getting stronger, bigger, and losing weight does not come with an electrical machine. You actually have to be active and watch what you eat and drink.

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