Strength training is not just for athletes
Are you an athlete looking to enhance your abilities? Would you like to increase your muscular size? Would you like to increase your strength? Would you like to boost your self-esteem? Do you want to lose body-fat? Are you a weekend warrior trying to extend your ability to play sports? Are you a stay at home mom who just wants to look and feel better? Are you a forty something male who wants to feel strong and lose some that spare tire? If you answered yes to any of these, you should be training for strength.
Strength training is not just for powerlifters, bodybuilders or high impact sports. Strength training can benefit everyone. At a minimum you should be strength training to ensure your health and overall wellbeing. And I’m not just talking about today, but for the future as well. As we age we lose muscle. This is an undeniable truth. This facet of aging has several negative outcomes:
Losing muscle will cause a decrease in your basal metabolic rate. Muscle drives the metabolism. The more you have the more calories you burn. Conversely, the more you lose the fewer calories you burn. It doesn’t stop here.
The more muscle one loses the weaker one gets. This is logical because the fewer muscle fibers there are to create motion, the less force you’ll be able to produce.
The weaker one gets as a result of muscle lost, the tighter one gets resulting in a loss of flexibility. And as one loses flexibility, they lose more strength, which also creates a loss of muscle. This loss of flexibility coupled with a loss of strength dramatically increases ones risk for injuries.
Are you starting to see what a vicious cycle this becomes?
So, I think my point that despite your genetics, experience, what you know (or what you think you know) about training, strength training is for you.
Anti-Aging, Bodybuilding, General fitness, General training, Motivation, Weight training, Workout programs, Xternal Fitness, Xternal Furci
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Barbell back squat vs smith machine squats
Many strength and muscle building experts will say, the barbell back squat is much more effective at building size and strength. They argue free weight squats are a more natural movement and require much more stabilization and balance, which increases its effectiveness. However, the Smith machine is much easier to learn, especially for beginners, which many argue is safer. I contend that it depends upon the person’s build. If one has long legs and a shorter torso, they will have a very difficult time performing a squat correctly in order to get optimum stimulation for strength or growth. In this case and in others, they would benefit greatly from performing smith machine squats. But what does science have to say? Which is better for gaining strength?
Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada compared the free weight squat to the Smith machine using electromyography (EMG). The purpose of their study was to determine which exercise was better at stimulating the prime movers and stabilizers of the legs (e.g., tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and biceps femoris) and trunk (e.g., lumbar erector spinae and rectus abdominus). Six healthy participants performed 1 set of 8 repetitions using a weight they could lift 8 times, i.e., 8 rep maximum.
Contrary to our hypotheses, muscles of the legs (specifically the vastus medialis and biceps femoris) displayed greater EMG activity during the free weight squat compared to the Smith machine squat, whereas there were no differences between exercises for EMG activity of trunk stabilizers.
Researchers conclude that the free weight squat may be superior to the Smith machine squat for training the major muscle groups of the legs and possibly would result in greater strength development and hypertrophy of these muscle groups with long-term training.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(9), 2588-2591.
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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)
Abs, Back, Bodybuilding, General fitness, General training, Power lifting, Specific workouts, Sports Health and Fitness, Weight training, Xternal Fitness, Xternal Furci
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Round glutes, strong back, bigger hams, The Deadlift
Like the squat, the deadlift involves the largest muscle groups in the body: the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps and erector spinea. And like the squat, it is a very hard, taxing exercise to perform. Consequently, for this reason alone many people don’t use the deadlift in their routines.
The gluteus maximus is utilized most in the beginning of the movement when there is a large degree of hip flexion. The glutes work in unison with the hamstring to extend the hips. The hamstrings, located on the back of the upper thigh, become more involved as you begin to decrease the degree of hip flexion as you raise the weight. The erector spinea, which run the length of your spine on both sides, are statically contracted throughout most of the movement keeping the normal curvature of the spine. A static contraction of the rhomboids and the trapezius muscles help maintain the shoulders. The quadriceps muscles are involved with knee extension.
Extension of the body occurs when the upper body, torso and pelvis rotate up and back. In a properly performed deadlift, this will happen simultaneously with the hips moving forward and the knees extending. Two of the biggest mistakes I see when this movement is performed are locking the knees out before the upper body is extended or allowing the back to “round” and magnifying the kyphotic (upper back) curvature while de-emphasizing the lordotic (lower back) curvature. I need to add that a slight curve of the upper back will present no danger and will happen to most while using heavy weight, but if you look like the hunch back of Notre Dame while performing the exercise that’s a different story.
The main reason your lower back would round, which could cause devastating trauma to the lumbar area, is weak erector muscles. There are various exercises you can use to strengthen your lower back like good mornings, arched back good mornings, arched back stiff legged deadlifts, and reverse hyperextensions, but good mornings and its variation in my opinion are probably the best exercise for this purpose.??????
The Dead lift
Back, Bodybuilding, Legs, Power lifting, Weight training
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