Building Strength

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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!

These Mistakes Might be Hindering your Strength Training

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Lifting weights is one of the most effective ways to build a strong, healthy body from the ground up. However, many people self-sabotage and stall progress. Here are ten mistakes to avoid when hitting the gym.

Having unclear goals

Without a goal in mind, you won’t stick with your plan. Do you want to be more powerful, look good naked, or improve your health? Knowing what you want will keep you motivated and help you design your routine.

High reps with low weights

To get the best results, you need to do low reps with the maximum weight you can lift. This is called “lifting to failure.” Otherwise, it’s an aerobic exercise and you won’t build muscle or burn fat.

Not resting between sets

Resting between sets allows muscles to recover so you can lift your max weight in the next set. Rushing through your workout may get you home faster, but it will also slow progress.

Isolating muscle groups

Compound lifts like deadlifts and squats are more efficient and build strength evenly because they activate multiple muscle groups.

Having poor form

Lifting with proper form will ensure you are activating the right muscle groups while also reducing the likelihood of injury. A personal trainer can help correct errors in form.

Choosing the wrong footwear

The best shoes for lifting provide a flat, firm surface to maximize stability. Professional lifting shoes have wooden soles, but other options are available.

Not pushing yourself

Working hard keeps your heart rate up and maximizes the value of your gym time. You can chat with your buddies later over a protein shake.

Avoiding your weak spots

Failure to train your body evenly can lead to lopsided muscle gain, making you uncomfortable and potentially increasing the risk of injury. Don’t avoid challenging lifts if overall strength is your goal.

Neglecting rest days

When you exercise, you create microscopic tears in your muscles that take 48 to 96 hours to heal. Rest is a vital part of becoming stronger.

Avoiding the gym due to insecurity

The worst mistake to make is not lifting at all. Everybody has a “day one” of hitting the gym–get out there and make today your day.

 

The best books on physical fitness (Pt.1)

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Whether you plan to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, or simply put on more muscle, physical fitness is a great lifestyle habit to adopt. Countless studies have highlighted the immense benefits gained from regular physical activity, and there are a variety of ways to get yourself in better shape.

Sometimes, however, it can be difficult or confusing to start or hone a physical endeavor. Times like these may warrant outside advice, motivation, and other forms of intervention focused on improving your experience henceforth. In terms of literature, there are many exercise-based stories and guides worth checking out.

Here are several notable books on physical fitness.

 

“Born to Run” by Ryan McDougal

A highly regarded text in distance running literature, Ryan McDougal’s “Born to Run” tells a story of “a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has ever seen.” Interested readers will have to explore the book to find out what that description entails, but in short, McDougal provides a firsthand account of his journey to solve a nagging foot injury that stunted his running performance. His ventures led him to the Tarahumara Indians, an isolated Mexican tribe with ancient running practices that have made them seemingly impervious to injury. This book is not only great motivation for readers’ own running lives, it is an interesting look at an alternate running ideology.

 

“Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe

“Starting Strength,” written by renowned strength training coach Mark Rippetoe, is highly detailed guide to strength training for beginners. Rippetoe employs his own knowledge of strength training, alongside the input of other experienced coaches and sports scientists, to provide readers a step-by-step guide that is as thorough as it is accessible. This text is a must-read for anyone even vaguely interested in taking up lifting.

 

Strength Training Anatomy” by Frederic Delavier

With over 1 million copies sold, Frederic Delavier’s “Strength Training Anatomy” is another must-have for strength training junkies — both established and new. The text is the ultimate resource for in-depth strength training’s anatomical side, as it explores over 600 muscle illustrations detailing the importance of specific lifts, stretches, and muscle building cycles. This collection provides a full-fledged approach to strength training from both an internal and external perspective.