Before I do anything I usually always need to have a comprehensive understanding of whatever it is I am about to do. If you ever saw me on the golf course you would think there is no way I understand anything about the golf swing but, it can be said that I may have over analyzed the golf swing and have read too much or have watched far too many videos.
Now, when it comes to increasing strength I think we all need to have at least a basic understanding of how our bodies grow and adapt through strength workouts. One would think if one set out to do 100 push ups each day, every day, well that would be an admirable goal and one would increase strength and size rather quickly. Sorry folks…simply not true. Here’s why.
Our bodies build strength two ways. The first is through Neural Adaptation. Neural Adaptation is the body becoming more efficient with the movement and recruiting, or firing, of muscle fibers. Think if you were to consistently run down a mountain. On day one you would blaze a new path but over a period of time, you would eventually wear a path into the mountainside effectively making each trip down the mountain easier as time went on. Our neural pathways are no different. When our body sends a message to our brain telling it to use a muscle in a way, and under a load it hasn’t seen in years…well the message will be slow to be received. The good news is our brain is quick to adapt and will build neural pathways to accommodate the request. As we establish a new workout routine and see quick and remarkable results, it is a direct result of these neural pathways being developed and refined with continual usage.
The second way our bodies build strength is through resistance training. When we workout we place stress on our bodies and then our bodies heal and grow stronger. It is important to note when we strength train we are not creating more muscle fiber, we are increasing the size and number of contractile components, which are the actin and myosin within each muscle fiber. So we need to stress our muscle fibers, break them down so when they repair they grow in size to accommodate the new stresses we impose upon them.
So, going back to the 100 push-ups per day. If you are a beginner and do 100 push-ups on day one, great job! When day two and day three come along and you continue to do your 100 push ups, you have not allowed your muscle fibers to heal and rebuild, your effort will be wasted. In fact, you will be better suited to take three days off before performing your next work out of 100 push-ups. Over a short period of time you will notice the push-up workout routine get easier and easier.
Now, if you are an advanced athlete and do 100 push ups each day, they will be quite easy as you will not be stressing your muscle fibers at all, your effort will yield zero physical results. You need to impose additional resistance to show improvement in strength and increase in muscle size. In order to see an appreciable improvement, increase weight by wearing a body vest or have a workout partner place weight plates on your back. You want to be able to add weight so you can perform 5 to 12 reps max. It is within this rep range you will yield the best results. If you can do 20 push ups, you need to add weight as your body has adapted to the change you imposed upon it and you simply must add more weight to see continued improvement in size and strength. Studies prove that doing three to five sets at this rep range will show best results.
For both the beginner and advanced athlete, incorporate this workout method1-3 times per week for each muscle group you are working, no more. Use this method for all your weight training and watch how quickly you’ll see results!