Time equals muscle

A highly overlooked, but very useful tool for progressive resistance training is – Tempo. I will even go one step further and call tempo an essential tool for attaining optimum results from weight training. Yes, it’s true one can attain results performing reps just like every other hack in the gym, but I’m talking about optimum results.

If you’re going to spend the time in the gym, why not get the most out of it. The biggest reason most people who weight train don’t use tools like tempo is shear laziness. Performing a set to momentary failure, to the point where you can’t possibly get another rep is grueling. Few people have what it takes to train correctly, achieving 100% intensity. Hence, the legions of frustrated people in gyms across the US. Like any endeavor, doing your best takes hard work, focus and dedication.

So what is tempo? Tempo goes hand in hand with “time under tension” or TUT. TUT is simply the amount of time a muscle in under tension. To develop the optimum amount of muscle in the shortest amount of time, a set should last between 20 and 60 seconds.

Tempo is the speed of your reps. It is expressed and recorded by three or four digit numbers representing the seconds required to complete a rep. Example: 402 (four, zero, two) or 50X0 (five, zero, explosive, zero). Using the bench press, the first digit is the speed in which the weight is lowered (negative). The second digit is the amount of time one pauses once they’ve reached their chest. The third digit is the amount of time one takes to raise the weight (positive). The forth digit, if used, is the amount of time one takes before lowering the weight again. If an “X” is used, it means explosive, or as fast as possible.

Designing Your Workouts

Is it really necessary to count each rep in order to build strength and muscle? No. Is it necessary to lift under control and to vary your speeds to get the best most rapid gains per your genetics? Yes. When you perform an exercise under control, the muscles are truly doing the work. ?Slower?, not ?slow? speeds make the muscles work harder by eliminating momentum and bouncing. There?s nothing impressive about performing a bench press by allowing the weight to drop, bounce off your chest and then barely being able to complete the lift.

If tempo is used properly, the target muscle group is truly performing the exercise. Tempo forces one to lift in a very controlled manner, but like any training tool it should be used as an adjunct to your weight training program.

  

Fitness Myths Busted

Is performing cardio the best way to lose fat?
There are 3 things to keep in mind about cardio when trying to get leaner. One is that it doesn?t build muscle. Two, it doesn?t preserve muscle while losing weight. Both are extremely important if your goal is not only to get leaner, but to stay that way. As we lose weight the body does not discriminate where the weight comes from. We lose muscle along with fat, especially on a low calorie diet. And performing cardio accentuates this phenomenon.

Lastly, unless you enjoy cardiovascular training, it?s just not worth the time. The work to benefit ratio is dismal to say the least. Unless you?re willing to bust your butt and perform 60 ? 90 minutes of cardio a day, which will hinder your muscle building capacity, cardio is not worth it.

Will training your abs using the right exercise our equipment give you washboard abs?

Is reducing your calories the best way to lose weight?

If I’m not sore a couple of days after a workout, did I not train hard enough?

Get the answers to these and other common fitness myths in my Fitness Myths Busters article.

  

Squat and dead lift vs stability ball exercises for core activation

Unstable Surface Training (UST) has moved from being used almost exclusively in rehabilitation to becoming common place among personal trainers and strength coaches. One can’t go to a gym and not see somebody training on a Bosu ball, stability ball, wobble board or foam pad. It’s so popular entire books have been written on this type of training. But do not be fooled by its popularity.

UST is not popular because it works, but because of a tremendous media campaign. The fitness industry is always looking for something new. They know here’s huge money in marketing a piece of equipment and/or workout program.

Performing exercises on unstable equipment can be challenging no doubt, but research has not shown that the type of balance, and core stability developed through UST will transfer to any sports skill. Performing exercises on unstable equipment will make an individual proficient at performing resistance exercises on unstable surfaces but will not improve sports performance. Is UST training even necessary?

Researchers from Appalachian State University compared trunk muscle activity during stability ball and free weight exercises. The stability ball exercises utilized were the quadruped, pelvic thrust and ball back extensions. The free weight exercises were the squat (SQ) and deadlift (DL). During all exercises muscle activity was collected using electromyography (EMG).

During the study trunk muscle activity during SQ and DL’s was equal to or greater than which was produced during stability ball exercises. This was true even when 50% of the 1 rep max was used during SQ and DL. The role of UST is again shown to be in question.
(Journal of Strength Conditioning Research 22:95-101,2008)

  

People are befuddled

The question, “What’s best workout for building strength and muscle?” has been the subject of heated debates for years. My answer is always the same. There is no one workout that is the best. There is no one workout that works for all. However, there are training principles that do apply to everybody.

Anatomically and physiologically we are identical. A bicep is a bicep and has the exact same function from person to person. An aorta is an aorta. Our anatomical structures may have different shapes and sizes, but they all function the same. This holds true for all tissues in our bodies from blood to hormones. If this weren’t true medicine could not exist. How could an anesthesiologist do his job if everybody were different?

Therefore, in order to get bigger, stronger muscles the same stimulus is needed. That stimulus is short, intense training sessions. Why short? Because we have known for centuries the body can either train long or train hard. A perfect example is to compare distance runners to sprinters. Because of the types of training, one is emaciated looking and one is muscular. Remember you can not sprint a mile. Is it difficult to run a mile, yes? But it is essentially impossible to run a mile with 100% intensity.

The other factor one needs to take into consideration for building bigger, stronger muscles is recovery. How much or how often can you train? Or better yet, how much “should” you train? Here is where the differences in genetics lie. Our muscles need the exact same stimulus in order to cause a chain of events that forces them to adapt by making bigger stronger muscles. However, the rate at which we are able to recover from these intense bouts is as different as the shapes and sizes of our bodies.

So what are you to do? If you’re training using the typical muscle building routine, which is 3 or more working sets per exercise and 4 or more sessions a week, and not getting anywhere, change it. First, reduce your sets per exercise by half and only train each body part once a week. If you still don’t make gains or you plateau after a short while, reduce your sets again. Remember, if you’re training with 100% intensity and you’re not making gains, you’re not recovering.

More is only better when it comes to sex and money.

  

More is only better when it comes to sex and money

The duration of exercise is the volume or number of sets performed. Intensity and duration have an inverse relationship. Meaning, the harder you train, the less time can be spent training. This is because we have a finite amount of fuel available to carry that level of stress. This is not a choice or an opinion; it?s fact.

Let?s take another look at a sprinter versus a marathoner. By definition a sprint is: To move rapidly or at top speed for a brief period, as in running. The key words here are ?top speed? and ?brief?. A sprinter runs with all out effort or 100% intensity. Because of this all out effort, which is a tremendous amount of stress on the body, the duration of the movement is brief. Now it becomes clear why a 400 meter run and longer are not considered sprints. Although some do consider the 400m a sprint, runners are not running with all out 100% effort as in the 100m or 200m sprints. Point being, one can only exert themselves with 100% effort for so long.

In the case of marathon runners, they train at a very low intensity. Because of the inverse relationship between intensity and duration, unlike sprinters, endurance athletes can train for extended periods of time. This is not to say endurance training is not difficult, I am merely pointing out the physiological fact the body can only train so hard for so long.

This brings us to the second way most people train too much, but the most common; too many sets. Although training hard is the best way to move forward, some people are under the impression that doing more is training harder. This couldn?t be farther from the truth.

Training all out, poses extreme demands on the body’s resources, which are governed by genetics and in limited supply. Because of this finite supply, the body will not allow you to train ?too hard? for too long, and gives clues you are reaching your limits. Once you reach failure performing a set, or run out of gas during a workout, you?re simply not able to train any harder. It doesn?t matter what you do at this point, the body is done. Performing anything more than what is optimum, will hinder your progress. Yet, at this point, most perform more sets with reduced weight or reduced intensity because of the more is better mentality. Do not get caught in this no win cycle.

  

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