Perspective on Proper Strength Training

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I am not sure how many times I need to say this stuff…Okay, maybe just one more time.

Strength training programs should be comprehensive in nature with the emphasis placed on exercising the major muscle complexes throughout their fullest range of functional motion. The selected movements should include a variety of multi-joint and single-joint exercises, utilizing a good mix of machines and free weights whenever possible, and be safe and relatively easy to perform in terms of technique.

Muscle overload can be applied with a variety of tools: barbells, dumbbells, machines, manually applied resistance, body weight, sand bags, etc. Anything that can create high tension in the muscles can be used.


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A variety of exercise prescriptions can be used provided muscle overload occurs, such as heavy resistances / few repetitions, lighter resistances / more repetitions, minimal exercise bouts (i.e., 1 to 3 sets per muscle group) and / or varied rest time between sets and exercises (i.e., 30 seconds to 3:00+).

Set and repetition schemes may be varied, but the program should strive for intense efforts, accurate record keeping, a system for progressive overload and time efficiency.

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The short version is: 1.) Select exercise tool(s), and resistance / repetition schemes that reflect your current goals. 2.) Perform as many perfect repetitions as possible with the selected resistance. 3.) Write it all down. 4.) Next time attempt to do more than you did last time.

YES!! It’s really that simple.

Now get to it!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: Movements requiring excessive momentum for the execution and/or completion of the lift should be avoided. (More specific information is available upon request.)

 

 

TEN TRAINING TIPS:

Below you will find ten basic tips that will help you get the most out of your strength training program.

1) Train with a high level of intensity.

Intensity is not yelling loud, rather it is the ability to exert maximal effort, and focus on each repetition. At times this may require the ability to train past your comfort zone.

2) Attempt to increase the resistance used or repetitions performed every workout.

This is the application of the Overload Principle. The muscles must be challenged gradually and consistently in order to grow stronger.

3) Ideally, perform one set of each movement to the point of muscular exhaustion.

(There is very little evidence to suggest that multiple sets of each exercise are superior to a single set for strength gains.)

4) Reach concentric muscular failure within a prescribed number of time / repetitions.

If you reach failure well below the recommended time / repetition range the weight is too heavy, and potentially dangerous, it should be lowered on the next workout. If you reach failure above the time / rep range the weight is too light and you should gradually increase the resistance on the next workout.

5) Perform each repetition with proper technique. (see four rep rules)

The workout is only as good as each individual repetition. For maximum muscle-fiber recruitment and safety you should use a slow and controlled rep speed. We recommend a minimum 3-5-second concentric movement (raising) and 3-5-second eccentric movement (lowering). Note: Slower rep speeds are acceptable, and may be quite effective for some.

6) Strength train for no more than thirty minutes per workout.

We find it counter-productive to train with high levels of intensity for over 30 minutes.

7) Strength train 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days.

To keep the body fresh and to avoid over-training you should take time to recover. As long as your strength continues to increase your rest is adequate. Should your strength plateau or slip you may need additional rest, not additional work. Counter intuitively stronger athletes require more rest than beginners.

8) Keep accurate records of performance.

This is the only way we can determine your gains in strength. This also is how coaches can help you individualize the workout for you, as no two athletes are exactly alike.

9) Safety above all things.

We are in the weight room to supplement your athletic skills with strength training. We do not want to risk an injury preparing for our sports. Non-athletes also do not want to risk injury in the attempt to improve their overall heath. Rule of thumb: If a movement is too fast or unorthodox do not perform it

10 To gain weight, consume more calories… to lose weight consume less.

Obviously the calories you put into your body should be healthy ones and the calories you cut from your diet should be done gradually. If you are serious about this concept please contact me for safe tips on weight gain and loss.

*THE FOUR rep rules.

Rule # 1 – Raise and lower the weight through the muscles full range of motion.

Rule # 2 – Eliminate momentum during the raising phase of each exercise.

Rule # 3 – Pause momentarily (stop for a count of 1001) in the muscle’s contracted position and then make a smooth transition to the lowering of the weight (no sudden drop).

Rule # 4 – Emphasize the lowering of the weight (take longer to lower the weight).

PAU for NOW
TAKU

The above inspired by the excellent work of the folks at www.strongerathletes.com

Product Spotlight: Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week

Anyone who is a regular visitor to my blog knows that I am always on a quest to find the most efficient and effective ways to attain and maintain fitness. For many years I have been an advocate of brief, intense strength training, as well as a strong proponent for the merits of interval training, and other methods of less protracted “CARDIO” exercise.
With this in mind I highly recommend you seek out the book: Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week by Laurence Englemohr Morehouse, and Leonard Gross. Dr. Lawrence Morehouse founded UCLA´s performance laboratory and wrote sections on exercise and physical conditioning for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He designed NASA’s fitness program for the astronauts. Most notably, he discovered that a combination of exercises-one for short periods of time daily-can provide all the muscle developing, stretching, aerobic stimulation and cardiovascular conditioning most people need. 
 
Dr. Morehouse’s findings revealed that we need very little exercise each day-if it´s the right kind of exercise. Morehouse, advocates vigorous exercise as monitored by your pulse rate, for its beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. Among some of his unconventional ideas, Dr. Morehouse, suggests that 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week, is all that is needed for complete cardiovascular conditioning.
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Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week Exposes myths about physical fitness, intense exercise and strict diet plans and proposes a targeted approach to conditioning based on individual lifestyles and the regulating of metabolic systems.
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PAU for NOW
TAKU
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TAKU’s NOTE: Although this book was originally published 1976, it is well worth finding a copy and giving it a thorough read through.
*All pictures of Astronauts performing strength, and conditioning training aboard the ISS.
 

Olympic Lifting Resurgence (Product Spotlight)

 

Way back in 2008 I wrote and article titled O.S.W. vs H.I.T. With Olympic Style Weightlifting experiencing a resurgence of late, I figured this week I would shine the spotlight on one of my favorite resources for learning about this sport. It’s a book and DVD set written by my coach, and long time friend Jim Schmitz.

 

For those of you who may not be lucky enough to know Jim, or are not familiar with him, here is just a little background. Jim Schmitz coached Team USA in the 1980, 1988, and 1992 Olympics. He currently trains weightlifting at The Sports Palace, a member gym of the Pacific Weightlifting Association in South San Francisco, California. Jim was also the president of USA Weightlifting from 1988 through 1996.

Jim has written and produced an excellent manual and DVD set titled:

Olympic-style Weightlifting for the Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifter.

This set is available through Iron Mind, and is a bargain at around $40.00. This series is the next best thing to working with Jim in person as he offers not just some basic technical instruction in the quick lifts, but specific programs as well as tips gleaned from his 55 years of active involvement in the sport he loves, at it’s highest levels.

For those interested, there are also a series of excellent, high-quality videos on YouTube produced by USA Weightlifting and featuring Jim.

If you have a chance to attend one of his many workshops or certification courses, I highly recommend that you take advantage of your opportunity to work with Jim and find a way to GET THERE! If you are in the SF bay area, take a moment to visit him at the Sports Palace, you’ll be glad you did.

PAU for NOW,

TAKU

Workout Frequency Revised

By Jim Bryan

Early in my weight training career I was training an average of six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I was involved in competition in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building . Sometimes there were non-sanctioned Strongman type competitions. At this time I was chemically assisted but I never felt that it helped. Others did and saw areas of big improvements. But like I said I never felt it helped and don’t recommend it.

Somewhere in 1970 I met Arthur Jones and was exposed to shorter and harder workouts. I was already training hard but the workouts took a long time to complete. I hadn’t learned to “focus” my training yet. Arthur convinced me to stop depending on chemical assistance and showed me how to train harder in a shorter time frame. He also told me about “infrequent training.” After, I was training only three days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. At first it was mostly on free weights and some machines at Christensen’s Health Club, and on mostly free weights and early prototypes of Nautilus Machines in Deland. When I first met Arthur, Nautilus didn’t exist in reality. It was only in Arthur’s mind. Thus, we didn’t have anything special in the beginning to train on. Free weights, Universal machine, Nautilus Pullover Prototype that’s pretty much it. I was happy to be only training 3 days a week and to me this was “Infrequent Training.” Today you have trainers bragging about only working out now and then, or once a month. It has been accepted that this is “Infrequent Training.” I believe things have gotten out of hand with this thinking.

My thoughts on “Optimal Training”

Three days a week training: I feel that this is the best way to go for most people. It works for body composition, lean muscle improvements, strength, and conditioning. Most people don’t train hard enough to run the risk of over training and three days is not that hard to get in. This can be all weights or a mix of weights and body weight training. Throw in some implements to make things interesting and on your off days get outside and enjoy being active. Don’t be afraid to be active. Practice sensible eating and you should do well.

Two Days a week training: This also works and for very busy people it may be ideal. Also, for the rare few (and I mean few) that train the way we used to in Deland, this is or can be a good frequency of training. Again, you can do all weights or mix with body weight training. It becomes more important to stay active on your non – training days if you are after a “lean look.” You can accomplish your goals of adding strength and maintaining muscle on two days a week training. Some will even add muscle but you need to make these workouts count. Focus your training and try to do as much as you can in the space of your workout. Training should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Some really hard workouts can be completed in 15 minutes and change.

When you are training only twice a week, “conditioning” starts to suffer in my opinion. I recommend participating in some kind of out door activity. Something like jogging, water skiing, swimming, soccer, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, or biking. Get outside, burn some calories, stay fit and stay active. Twice a week can work but you have to practice sensible eating if you want to shed some fat.

Once a week training: I don’t find this to be optimal. Sometimes you can’t help it. Life gets busy and you can only get one a week in. I feel that you can continue to add strength on one training session a week as long as you REALLY focus on weight progression in your exercises. I feel that body composition suffers for most people. You will tend to get fat and your conditioning will suffer, as well as your “work capacity.” You’ll really have to cut your calories if you want a lean look. So much so, that you may find you don’t have enough energy for a HEAVY workout. Your strength can suffer also. It’s around this area that “Infrequent Training” starts to become too infrequent. You better be active as heck if you only workout once a week or you will become…………………………………fat.

Less than once a week training: Look! I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care how many books or articles you have that say you can succeed on this. What you will end up with is ………Books and Articles.

You’ll have very little muscle, and your conditioning will be zero. You just can not do it in five minutes a day whenever you feel like it as some would have you believe, and you can not do it with workouts that never happen. Having the best Fitness Library means zilch if all you ever do is read and talk your workout. You have to work out! You have to raise your heart rate. You have to spend some sweat and effort. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to what and how much you eat. All the best intentions in the world will not make up for lack of effort in the gym.

AND neither will the latest “Fitness Craze.” The experts on the Internet will go on and on about “I use this and I use that” but the bottom line is weight training works. Combine weight training with body weight training and conditioning and just do it. It has worked for over 50 years as I know it and continues to work. Gimmicks come and go but Sensible Strength Training will go on and on. BUT you have to show up, work out, and be consistent! Argue less on the Body Building sites and you will probably find the extra few minutes needed to “Just go lift.” I don’t care how you do it or who’s method you use, “Just go Lift.”

All said and done if you have been training consistently and regularly, don’t be afraid to take some time off to recharge now and then. Best effort equals best results. Not everyone will end up developing “Huge Muscles.” Some will and some won’t. It depends on your potential and effort. AND!!! Women don’t end up looking like a man because they lift weights. So just throw that excuse out the window. Women look good with some lean muscle on them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend Jim Bryan for once again sharing his insights with us.

START YOUR NEW YEAR’S RIGHT…

 STRENGTH TRAINING FOR BUSY PEOPLE

Well it’s that time again…NEW YEARS!! One of the many things that occurs around this time of year is that people make plans to get fit. For all these good intentions, many people quickly give up on these plans, often because they feel they don’t have the time to dedicate towards this seemingly daunting task. If you are on of those people who feels they don’t have time to read this article, let alone set aside time to work out, then this program is for you.

WHY?

Why Strength Train? The primary purpose of strength training, or strength exercise, is to improve muscle function. It will help you develop stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments, enabling you to perform better in all physical activities. Strength training reduces your risk of low back pain, illnesses such as diabetes and degenerative problems such as osteoporosis. It also helps you reach and maintain a proper body composition by boosting your resting metabolism and thereby burning more calories throughout the day, even at rest.

HOW?

The Strength Training program below has been designed using research performed by Dr. Wayne Westcott and Rita LaRosa Loud, along with their staff at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. In an effort to make exercise more appealing to those who are truly in need of its tremendous benefits, Dr. Westcott set out to prove that strength gains can come with minimal time and commitment. The number one complaint and excuse for discontinuing a strength training, or exercise regimen, is TIME. As you will find in this article, Dr. Westcott and his colleagues were able to prove that significant changes can occur in a person’s musculature and strength with a program lasting as little as 24 minutes, performed just two to three times a week.

 RESEARCH OVERVIEW:

Over the past several years, Dr. Wayne Westcott and his colleagues have conducted several research studies with adults, seniors, and children consistent with the American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines. With every study, Dr. Westcott has continued to uncover protocols that deliver results to the masses. In every program, the participants experienced excellent gains in muscle strength and impressive improvements in body composition. On average, the adult exercisers in these particular studies increased their muscle strength by over 40 percent, added about two and one half pounds of muscle, and lost about four and one half pounds of fat over an eight week training period.

The results from the shortened programs are at least as good as those attained using other exercise protocols, indicating that a basic and brief strength training program can be highly effective. Perhaps just as important, participants have been pleased with both the exercise process and the training product, with over 90 percent continuing their strength workouts after completing the program.

BASIC STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM:

Participants performed one set of each exercise, with a weight load that could be lifted between 8 and 12 repetitions. Each repetition was performed at a moderate movement speed (about 6 seconds) and through a full movement range. When 12 repetitions were able to be completed in proper form, the weight load was increased by a small amount (5 percent or less). The participants chose to train either two or three days per week depending on personal preference. The studies have shown almost 90 percent as much benefit from twice-a-week training as three day-a-week training.

The basic training program used is relatively time efficient, depending of course on the recovery period between exercises. Assuming about a minute to perform each exercise and about a minute between exercises, the workout requires only 24 minutes for completion.

20 SECOND STRETCHING BETWEEN EXERCISES:

The flexibility component of the program generally consisted of interspersing stretching exercises with the strength training movements. The participants experienced excellent results by performing a 20-second stretch for the muscle group just worked. For example, the leg curl exercise was followed by a 20-second static stretch for the hamstrings muscles.

The research has shown that adding stretching exercises to the workout may have duel benefits, enhancing both joint flexibility and strength development. The participants who did static stretches following their strength training exercise had greater increases in hamstrings flexibility and strength than the participants who did strength training exercises only. Because the participants typically took a 1-minute break between exercises, the 20-second stretches did not lengthen the overall workout duration.

STRENGTH TRAINING GUIDELINES:

 FREQUENCY

Train two to three days per week on an every-other-day schedule. Taking back-to-back strength training workouts is counterproductive because the muscles do not have sufficient recovery or building time. Two training days per week produce about 90% as much strength and muscle gain as three weekly workouts.

DURATION

Train with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions on each machine. At 6 seconds per repetition a set of strength exercises should take about 50-70 seconds. When the proper weight-load is used, this provides excellent stimulus for strength gains. The Strength Training Circuit should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete once you know what adjustments and weight you need for each movement or machine. Until then, it could take 45 minutes or so to complete the circuit.

 INTENSITY

The weight-load should be heavy enough to fatigue the target muscle group with 8-12 repetitions.

 SPEED

Perform all movements slowly, approximately 6 seconds per repetition. Take two seconds to lift the weight-load, and take four seconds to lower the weight-load. Slow training increases the strength building stimulus and reduces the risk of injury.

RANGE

Perform all exercises through a full range of pain-free joint movement. Full-range training ensures greater muscle effort, joint flexibility, and performance power.

 PROGRESSION

Gradually increase muscle stress by adding approximately 5% more weight whenever you complete 12 repetitions in good form. Progressive resistance is the key to continued strength development.

 CONTINUITY

Proceed from machine to machine, or exercise to exercise in order and in a timely manner. Work the muscles from larger to smaller groups, which aids in efficiency, and provides better overall training effect.

MAINTAIN REGULAR WORKOUTS

Consistency is perhaps the most important variable in developing and maintaining physical fitness. Two or three non-consecutive workout sessions per week on a regular basis are recommended for maximizing muscular fitness.

Well that’s all you need to know. For more ideas on how to create efficient workouts check out these past articles: One and Done I Want It All 

Thanks to Dr. Wayne Westcott for allowing me to share his research here on my blog.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Ten Commandments of Training

1. Have a Plan

It is important to have a list of goals and the steps to reach the goals. Doing this is the key to self confidence and motivation. Keeping a log of how you do in following your plan helps to see what does and does not work for you. This will help you to create better plans in the future. The best logs include not only information about strength and cardio training but nutrition, sleep and motivation as well.

 

2. Train in cycles

Plan a 6 – 12 month training cycle. It is difficult to maintain top shape or train at maximum levels all year around. We all need periods of physical and psychological recovery. Build an adequate base of endurance and strength before adding work. Peaking for sports performance means increasing workout intensity as well as sharpening technique. This type of training is only used for short periods of time, (4 to 12 weeks), to prepare for competition. After a period of competing there should be a period of reduced training, rest and recovery leading into another cycle of base and strength building which should see you improving on your previous personal bests.

3. Use the Hard/Easy system

For training effect to take place, a period of overload needs to be followed by a period of rest, during which the actual adaptation to the stress takes place. Exercise physiology research has shown that the hard/easy cycle for training needs to be 48 hours or more. It has also demonstrated that alternating hard and easy workouts is more effective training than doing the same workout each day. Thus alternating hard and easy days is appropriate training for all fitness participants and can maximize results while minimizing burnout. The most common beginner mistake is to do the same intensity and the same duration every day.

4. Train specifically

Ask yourself, does this training make sense for the activity I’m planning to do? If not, do something that makes sense. Adaptation needs to be specific to attain your goals. You must train duration specific energy transport systems and you must train volume and intensity specific neuro-muscular responses. This means if you are a boxer, don’t train like a marathon runner. And if you are a marathon runner, don’t train like a power lifter.

5. Don’t train any more than you have to

Efficient trainers are healthy trainers. There are no bonus points for doing a longer workout than you’d planned. Most injuries seem to occur when people feel good and over do it. Remember that how you feel is a poor physiological measure of how you are. Err on the side of conservatism. If you feel bad, do less. If you feel good, stick to your plan. Don’t do more. Always emphasize quality over quantity.

6. When doing cardio, Focus more on speed and intensity over distance and time

The risk of injury from over-training must always be factored against the gains made. By focusing your “aerobic” training on speed and intensity over distance you will receive the maximum physiological improvements possible in the minimum time. You train all the energy transport systems you need for aerobic endurance by alternating bouts of more intense speed-work with active recovery periods, during any cardio activity. By combining intervals alternating slow periods and short fast periods you avoid the risks (not to mention the boredom) associated with the high stresses of long drawn out cardio training sessions.

7. Add variety

Varying a number of aspects of your training avoids injury and keeps you mentally interested. For strength training try experimenting with different modalities such as resistance bands, sand bags, medicine balls etc. For cardio training as well as trying different equipment you can vary pace, distance, courses, terrain etc. For an intense and challenging twist try cross training by combining alternative cardio and strength activities into brief, intense and challenging circuits. This type of training can directly increase your overall fitness and resistance to injury and burnout allowing you to train consistently for long periods.

8. Make your training enjoyable

If you are not enjoying the training, you will not be able to maintain your commitment. Variety, mentioned above, will help. Also consider things like a once a week fitness “adventure” where you try something you have never tried before. Take a class you have been curious about or explore a martial art. Join a sports team an outdoors training group or a run for fun group.

9. Hire a Coach or Personal Trainer

At least educate yourself on training techniques and your body’s responses so that you can coach yourself. If you cannot follow the rules and need more help, hire a Trainer or Coach. A Trainer / Coach should help you set up and follow a program based on your ability and your goals. A Couch / Trainer’s primary goal should be to keep you healthy and motivated.

10. When in doubt, rest

This is the golden rule of training. Do unto your body as you would have it do unto you. Listen to your body. If it is saying, “I’ve got a problem, what now?” The usual answer should be to take a day off, either your head or your anatomy need it.

PAU for NOW

TAKU