There are constantly new training methods being made up, new discoveries about nutrition and new mindsets being formed everyday. There are however, some constants in fitness…particularly, resistance training.
One of the first things I notice is, that most guys really get caught up in the amount of weight they are able to….uhmmmm lift. The women don’t seem to find amount of weight to be as important…probably a guy thing:)
Needless to say, I see some really lousy form going on as we males fail miserably at keeping our egos in cheque.( Oh yeah, I also see some lousy form out of women too). Another thing which happens is the lengthening of time relative to the speed at which the exercise reps are performed:) This is worth discussion.
There is a principle called TOL or completely spoken, Time Under Load…now, this is a fairly ancient principle, but one which has concrete results for your physique:)
Accurately defined, this would be the amount of time it takes to perform both the concentric and eccentric portions of one repetition of any given resistance exercise.
Essentially, you recruit more muscle fiber performance to endure a ten second rep than you do with a 1 second rep with the same amount of weight. This is not to say that every rep should be a ten second rep…more aptly, for many, slowing the rep process down just a bit would allow for greater muscle fiber commitment…and better muscle growth:) Also a slower rep would create the opportunity for better form during the exercise.
Another really great concept is called Peak Contraction…this principle dictates that at the apex (very top) of the repetition, that one squeezes the contracted muscle involved to milk out whatever muscle fiber commitment possible to get the most growth potential.
I personally prefer a blend of the 2 above mentioned rules. It allows for muscle fiber recruitment …commitment to the rep…or peak contraction with time under load. So at the top of the concentric portion of the rep you count the rep# plus 2 and release (e.g. 4/2/release…5/2/release).
If this is not enough work for you, there are also what we call negatives. This principle dictates that you have a partner assist you with the concentric,( first), part of the rep…lets say curls…and then you resist the weight all of the way down in the negative or eccentric portion of the rep. If you think thats the easy part…you may be in for a great shock…and some extra growth:).
We could also discuss the angle of attack …line of pull or push. Performing exercises at varying angles, places new levels of strain on the muscle fiber and increasing over-all strength. It definitely helps with muscle growth. So for example, if you are if you are doing doing flat bench dumbbell flies and they are too easy…try using an incline or decline approach. Play all the angles and be a winner:)
There are a lot of ways to measure how strong you have become…doing fast reps could be good if you are doing many of them with no rest,(intention being maximum muscle endurance). Doing slow reps can be good if you are using massive amounts of weight and recruiting maximum muscle effort on every rep. (intention being maximum muscle growth)
Overall strength with weight training involves best efforts through several different strength curves…max growth 4-6 reps set, 2-5 min rest…growth/endurance 8-10 reps/set, 1-2min rest…max endurance 15-20 reps/set, 0-30 sec rest…a person should rotate through these strength curves, one level about every 8-10 weeks …this will ensure good amounts of MATURE muscle.
The important thing here is not whether you are lifting heavy or light weights…but really, whether you are truly lifting it, with proper form, working the targeted muscle and safely gaining strength/muscle at a steady rate.
I see many people trying to lift more weight than they are ready for, by using bad form and…they never grow, sometimes they get injured badly, and mostly, they appear ignorant to seasoned lifters. So, check the ego at the door, be smart, train hard and be well:)
I hope that this article sheds some light on getting the most out of the weights you are lifting. These are time honored principles which have been passed on by successful Professional Lifters and Trainers for our benefit. They have seen me through 20+ years of lifting without injury…I know they will help you too:)
Comments and questions welcome…
Namaste, Steve Lynch, AAS/Holistic Health,CTE, LMT/Trainer