Full Body Routines
Gain Best With More Rest
Muscle vs Muscle tone
Squat For Your Knees
Testosterone And Too Much Training
Lactic Acid Removal
The Caloric Cost Of Lifting
Medical Experts Recommend Lifting
FULL BODY ROUTINES
Full-body routines have a role in a regular exercise program,
and they're excellent for trainees at all fitness levels-as long as
you know the benefits and limitations. The benefits include being able
to train the entire body with fewer workouts per week, taking up less
total time per workout and per week. When workouts last more than 60
minutes, there are higher dropout rates, so if a whole-body or any
workout takes more than an hour, there's a greater chance of the
trainee's dropping out.
Full-body workouts give beginners an opportunity to experiment
with unfamiliar movements and at the same time develop the fitness
base necessary for more advance routines. A great part of beginning
bodybuilders' improvements in strength comes from the neural
component-learning how to lift properly and learning with muscles to
use effectively during the movement. Because much of the initial
adaptation to weight training is neural rather than muscular, it takes
less overload to elicit an adaptation. In fact, too much overload may
actually put trainees at a disadvantage. While greater frequency of
training and additional sets and reps bring good gains, for most
beginning and intermediate level workouts the difference is usually
small. For beginners the question becomes, why do more than is
necessary for optimal improvement?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has established
guidelines for resistance training for the general public,
recommending whole-body workouts performed twice per week to develop
and maintain muscular strength and endurance in healthy adults. The
recommended minimal session is one set of eight to 12 repetitions to
near fatigue for eight to 10 exercises that condition the major muscle
groups. Beginners can stay on that type of program as long as they
continue to make progress, and as they advance, slowly add additional
sets before moving to split routines or more intricate programs.
After using this routine for a period of months or years,
trainees who desire even greater improvements can implement a more
advanced, split routine. Athletes who use weight training to
supplement their sports may use a two-day bodypart split once a week
to target moderate-recovery workout, in which they train each bodypart
a second time at a lower intensity. Advanced bodybuilders can use
full-body workouts on easy-to-moderate days for recovery and added
variety. They can also use such programs for maintenance training and
time efficiency during the off-season and while traveling
BEST WITH MORE REST
How much time you spend between sets is usually dependent on how
long it takes your workout partner to perform a set plus the time it
takes to change the weights. In weightlifting competition lifters get
three minutes between lifts to prepare themselves physically and
mentally. What is the optimum time for maximum performance? The typical
recommendation is anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. Scientific
data points to midway between the two-two to three minutes.
The primary energy source for lifting is adenosine triphosphate
(ATP). ATP and creatine phosphate (CP) fall into the category of
high-energy phosphagens. The phosphagen systems provide energy for
sports activities that last several seconds and are also involved in all
forms of muscle contraction as a link between fuel sources and the
contraction. The ability to restore your high-energy phosphagens is
therefore crucial for performance from one set to the next.
Research has identified the half time for phosphagen
replenishment at 20 to 30 seconds. This means that after 30 seconds of
rest following a brief, intense set, 50 percent of your muscle ATP and
CP will be restored. Phosphagen stores will be 75 percent restored after
60 seconds, and after three minutes they will be 98 percent recovered.
As 93 percent of your phosphagen pools are restored after two minutes,
most of the recovery occurs within the first two minutes of rest.
Since high-energy phosphagens are of prime importance for optimal
lifting, you want your stores to be back to normal before you begin your
next set. For this reason a rest interval of two to three minutes
between sets appears optimal in order to maintain your energy levels and
get the most out of each set.
Many people train simply to increase their muscle tone without
gaining size. In fact, most women in the gym, many first time female
bodybuilders fear that they'll get big and bulky if they lift weights.
They don't realize how hard it is to put on muscle mass.
So what exactly is a toned muscle? It's simply a muscle that has
been trained and is hard and shapely. Knowing muscle physiology as we
do, we realize the importance of heavy-resistance training in recruiting
all the fibers within a muscle. If you don't lift heavy weights, then
not all the fibers will be trained and the muscle will lack tone. An
untrained muscle appears loose and flaccid and is often mistaken for
fat. In order to train and tone an entire muscle, you've got to lift
heavy weights to work all the fibers. By keeping you total sets and reps
low even when hoisting heavy poundage's, you'll train each muscle in its
entirety without the added bulk that's developed when lifters use heavy
weights with higher sets and reps.
SQUAT FOR YOUR KNEES
How often have you heard people swear off squats for fear they'll injure
their knees? The National Strength and Conditioning Association recently
published a position paper regarding the use and efficacy of the squat
in training, and according to its findings, that often-heard statement
is misinformed. In fact, the paper states, "squats, when performed
correctly and with appropriate supervision, are not only safe but may be
a significant deterrent to knee injuries."
The author refers to numerous recent scientific studies indicating that
weight training and squats in particular improve knee joint stability
and help strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the knee.
Researchers now believe that many injuries to the knee and low back are
the result of incorrect exercise form, fatigue and overtraining. Proper
strengthening your hips and thighs, but it will also enhance your
overall body strength and performance in many sports.
TESTOSTERONE AND TOO MUCH TRAINING
Many negative physiological changes occur as the result of stress and
overtraining. While a threshold level of stress is necessary to elicit
the positive changes that athletes desire from their training-for
example, increased muscle mass and power, an enhanced cardiovascular
system, increased endurance and an improved appearance-when the exercise
is too stressful, they begin to experience those undesirable changes.
Symptoms of overtraining include elevated resting heart rate, loss of
appetite, lethargy, weight loss and irritability, as well as changes in
the testosterone and hormones involved in a stress response.
Research shows that testosterone levels are temporarily decreased as a
result of overtraining, while serum cortisol levels increase. Cortisol
is a catabolic steroid hormone that's released as a result of physical
stress and is involved in the inflammatory response. In runners and
cyclists testosterone levels decreased by 50 percent and cortisol levels
increased approximately threefold after intense competition.
These changes are disadvantageous for an athlete, especially a
bodybuilder who's trying to pack on muscle mass. Bodybuilders,
therefore, should follow a more prudent training approach to avoid
crossing the line from adequate to excessive training. Keep track of
your body's signals and avoid the pitfalls that come from training too
LACTIC ACID REMOVAL
One of the byproducts of weight training is lactic acid buildup. Lactic
acid levels increase following high-intensity exercise that is primarily
anaerobic-for example, sprinting and weightlifting. High levels of
lactic acid stimulate the free nerve endings around the muscle fibers,
which results in the burning sensation you feel after high-intensity
training. A recent study tested massage and light exercise as compared
to inactivity to see which form of rest, active or passive, was best for
removing the lactic acid from the trained muscles.
During a 50-minute period after the subjects trained, they either rested
completely, got a massage or performed light exercise at 35 to 45
percent of their max, after which the researchers measured their lactic
acid levels. The results showed that both massage and light activity led
to significantly lower blood lactate levels than complete rest. With
light exercise, however, the lactic acid levels dropped lower than both
the massage and rest groups at 15 and 30 minutes, yet at 50 minutes
there was no difference between the massage and light exercise
groups-both exhibited levels that were half of those seen in the rest
group. The researchers concluded that massage and exercise remove lactic
acid better than rest. Furthermore, the effects of exercise are rapid,
while those of massage are gradual.
THE CALORIC COST OF LIFTING
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to how many calories a person
actually uses during a resistance-training workout. While there have
been many studies done on the various forms of aerobic exercise,
resistance training and energy expenditure hasn't been a popular
research subject. Aerobic exercise is continuos in nature; Weightlifting
is intermittent, with reason it is more difficult to control the caloric
expenditure for weightlifting.
Depending on the type of resistance training, the average caloric
expenditure for a 150-pound weightlifter ranges from values of 5.5 to 6
kcal/min for Nautilus and isometric-resistance exercise to 12.5 kcal/min
for circuit weightlifting. Isotonic, isokinetic and hydraulic forms of
resistance training fall in the range of 9 to 10 kcal/min.
Remember, however, that this represents the caloric cost of lifting, not
of the entire time spent in the gym. Using a mean value of 9 kcal per
minute, we can estimate that a typical hour workout, in which one- third
to one-half of the time is spent resting between sets, would result in
an expenditure of between 180 and 270 calories. A comparable hour spent
walking would expend 325 calories, even though walking has a lower
caloric cost (5.4 kcal/min).
Don't let these values mislead you, however. Aside from the health
benefits of resistance training, the additional muscle mass boost your
overall metabolic rate, which cause you to burn more calories,
throughout the day than you did in you less-lean condition.
When sprinters do intervals on the track, they often jog between repeats
rather than stop completely. Cyclists, too, intersperse short jumps or
sprints within a training ride to enhance their explosive power.
If the rest period after such intense effort involves active rest, it
improves recovery. When exercise continues at a lower intensity, a
pumping action of the working muscles aids in the removal of waste
metabolites, including lactic acid. The light activity also maintains a
higher metabolic rate in the surrounding muscle fibers, which causes
those fibers to utilize the lactic acid.
Similar light activity should prove advantageous for weightlifters both
for recovery between sets as well as recuperation between workouts.
Although the high energy phosphagens play a key role in supplying energy
during weightlifting, studies have also shown that active rest
intervals, as opposed to passive rest, lead to superior performance in
repeated, short-term, high-intensity power activities. Future studies
may prove the advantages to what bodybuilders have practiced for a long
time: a light flexing of the muscle after each set. So rather than
sitting around waiting for your training partner to finish a set, start
moving, lightly flex your muscles, and reap the benefits on each
Will leg extensions selectively strengthen and develop the inner portion
of the quadriceps, the vastus medialis? Many trainers experience fatigue
in the inner quad while performing extensions, yet research does not
back up the ideal that such fatigue actually takes place.
Scientists examined the strength and fatigability of the vastus medialis
and the vastus lateralis during leg extension exercise, and the study
provided no evidence of selective fatigue of the medialis. In fact the
results indicated that in 57 percent of the subjects the vastus
lateralis fatigued at a significantly faster rate. Leg extensions also
seem to strengthen both regions at similar rates, and there is no
selective strengthening or development of the medial region with this
exercise. Leg extensions appear to be an optimal exercise for overall
lower quad development, and unless you change your leg or foot position
to change the line of pull, they will work that lateralis as much as the
The medical community is finally beginning to recognize the benefits of
weightlifting, something readers of this magazine have known for years.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently altered its
exercise guidelines to include strength training along with aerobic
exercise. For years the ACSM recommended a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes
of aerobic exercise three times per week for healthy adults to maintain
cardiovascular fitness. That recommendation now includes at least two
sessions of moderate-intensity resistance training per week.
The ACSM prescribes a minimum of eight to 10 exercises that work the
large muscle groups, with each movement done for eight to 12
repetitions. While this program won't turn out Olympia competitors, it
will improve people's fitness levels and increase the general public's
awareness of the benefits of weight training. Strength training should
go hand in hand with cardiovascular training to provide a more balanced
approach to fitness. The new SACSM guidelines bring us one step closer
to that goal.