Posts Tagged ‘Resistance training’

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Yesterday, I touched on the topic of testosterone and how it relates to muscle growth in response to resistance training.  I then provided reasoning as to why women should not fear the possibility of “getting too big” from resistance training: Women naturally have anywhere from 10 to 20 times LESS testosterone than men, and this is going to act as a big time limiting factor as far as muscle growth is concerned.

I’m sure my ever-compelling reasoning convinced you that you should NOT fear the weight room, but just because it’s not going to hurt you, is it really going to help?

There are two major reasons that women should seriously consider adding resistance training to their current (or future) workout routine:

1) Bone Health-  The incidence of osteoporosis is growing at alarming rate.  The International Osteoporosis Foundation finds that well over 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and approximately 85% of those people are women.  It’s believed that that figure could be as large as 15 million people by the year 2020.  According to “Resistance Training for Health,” published by the American College of Sports Medicine, “Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD). This loss makes the bones more susceptible to fractures. These fractures can lead to decreased physical activity and possibly increased susceptibility to further health problems and mortality.”

Bone health should take on the up most importance to all of us, but with such a high incidence in the female population, women must be especially pro-active in slowing the onset of osteoporosis.

Resistance training, it has been shown, is one of the most effective ways to combat bone density issues such as osteoporosis.  Several studies have shown that the stress placed on the bones and joints during resistance training promotes bone repair and formation.  For example: “In a comparison of BMD between female weightlifters, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and orienteers, Heinonen et al. (1993) reported that the weightlifters had the highest weight adjusted BMD in the distal radius, lumbar spine, distal femur, and patella.”

There is reason to believe that the stress placed on the body due to lifting weights promotes greater bone health than doing cardio alone.

2) Body Composition- This is the one most people are already thinking about before they even think about an exercise routine: I want to lose fat, tone up, look and feel better.  When people say they want to “tone up” what they mean is that they want get leaner by reducing their body fat.  To do this, many women take the route of doing as much cardio as possible.  They will get on the elliptical or treadmill for extended periods of time and then head home without ever touching a weight.

Let me first say this- there is nothing wrong with doing cardio.  It’s great for your heart health, and you are burning calories.

However, you are really taking a long and often unsuccessful route if you want look your best.  There are a few things to understand here.  First, if you perform resistance training, you are promoting the development of lean muscle tissue.  Muscle is a very tight and compact tissue when compared to fat, which is much “flabbier.”  In fact, if you had one pound of muscle sitting next to one pound of fat, the fat would take up about 3 times as much space.  Now imagine that we’re talking about around your mid-section or your hips.  If you can replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle in that area, you’re going to look noticeably more lean.  In order to develop that mean muscle, however, you CAN’T just run until you’re blue in the face.  You have to overload, or really challenge the muscle to elicit the response of muscle development, and that just doesn’t happen when you’re doing long-duration, steady-state cardio.

The next thing to consider is that muscle actually burns calories!  If you increase the amount of lean muscle on your body, you will burn more calories throughout your day without even lifting a finger.  Compared to fat, muscle is a very active tissue and requires more energy to maintain.  A greater energy requirement means a greater caloric burn throughout the day.

There are many other obvious benefits to strength training that are not gender-specific, such as improving strength, improving posture, etc.  But the two reasons listed above should be reason enough for any woman reading to at least consider adding some resistance training to their exercise program.  Read On….

Check back soon for some great new exercise videos, and be sure to check out the brand new Functional Athletic Training Store!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
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I cannot not even estimate how many times I’ve heard some form of the phrase “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to bulk up,” from females who are either interested in starting an exercise program, or who have an exercise program but aren’t liking the results they’re seeing.  So is it true?  Are you really going to bulk up when you do resistance training?  Girls this article is for you, and I’d like to take some time today to explain why you shouldn’t worry about “getting too big.”  Tomorrow I will give you some incredibly important reasons to use resistance training in your work outs.

If I could give you a one word reason as to why women will not bulk up like guys do it would be: Testosterone

What is testosterone? 
Testosterone is  hormone that promotes muscle growth.   The brain sends a signal for testosterone to get released from the testes (men) or the ovaries (females).  When this happens, the released testosterone travels through the blood stream and into the surrounding tissues, including the muscles.  When the testosterone reaches the muscles it has an “anabolic” or muscle-building effect.  Without getting too scientific about it, your testosterone levels have a very direct effect on the growth of your muscles.

Resistance Training and Testosterone:
One of the reasons that people associate working out in the gym with muscle growth is that resistance training causes an increase in testosterone levels, which in turn leads to the aforementioned anabolic effect on the body’s muscles.  According to The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, men experienced a significant rise in blood-testosterone concentrations following a high-intensity resistance training bout.  NSCA also found that the heavier the resistance, the more testosterone produced.  After 2+ years of resistance training with very heavy weights, men saw a noticeable change in their testosterone levels.

Why women shouldn’t be afraid use resistance training:
The next time you walk into your local health club or rec center, take notice of where all the women are at.  For the most part, you’re going to see a lot of women doing cardio and a lot of women doing some kind of mat exercises like abdominal work or stretching.  There will be some exceptions of course, but you will see only a very small percentage of women in the weight room.  One common reason for this is what I referenced earlier, a fear of getting bulky when their goal is to lose weight and lose inches.  The reason women SHOULD NOT worry about this:  According to Bill Kreamer in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men.  15 to 20 times LESS testosterone is a HUGE difference.  If you are also careful to keep your sets in a normal 8-12 rep range, you will ensure that resistance training does not greatly spike your testosterone levels.

That’s all for tonight.  Check back tomorrow as I will give you some important reasons to start doing resistance training as soon as possible if you want to reach your goals.

Thanks for reading!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
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Yesterday, I explained the core muscles’ general responsibility to stabilize the spine in all directions. I then showed you one of the most basic core stabilization exercises, the forearm plank.

By all means, you can improve your core strength by a great deal by performing forearm planks.  However, there is a way to take your core training to a whole new level, and the results are not only rock hard abs, but an improved posture, enhanced athletic performance, and a reduced risk of injury.  The first thing you must understand in order to develop a dynamic core is what the phrase “dynamic core” actually means.  In this case, the word dynamic refers to the ability of the core to react to varying levels of force at any given time.  Take for example a football lineman.  When a defensive tackle rushes for the quarterback, he gets usually gets blocked by an offensive lineman:

The defensive player’s core muscles, more than any other muscles in his body, must react EXTREMELY quickly to the offensive player hitting him.  His muscles do not have time to contract in a slow and controlled motion like you see in a sit-up or crunch.  The core musculature must react in a flash to whatever varying degree of force is placed on them.  For this reason, traditional abdominal exercises such as sit-ups or crunches are extremely ineffective at developing a sports-specfic core.

So, if you can’t use crunches or sit-ups or other traditional ab exercises, what can you do to make your core reactive and dynamic?

The perfect solution to this problem: Resistance bands.

As a band gets stretched, it’s resistance gets progressively harder.  This is different from almost all other types of resistance, such as free weights, body weights, machines, etc.  By using a band as resistance, we are altering the force placed on the body based on how far the band is stretched.  Lately, I have been experimenting with a TON of different exercises that use bands to get the core dynamically reacting to the resistance placed on it. There are a few things I love about these exercises:

-They’re all extremely sport-specific

-They’re performed standing, which is specific to sports and life in general

-They allow for strengthening of other areas of the body while strengthening the core

Here is the first video in the “Developing a Dynamic Core” series- Let me know what you think!

Here in Cleveland, Ohio, we are running out of nice days.  Soon the temperature is going to drop and the snow is going to start falling.  As such, you’re not going to be able to get many (if any) outdoor workouts.  That’s why I wanted to post this video.  I’m asking everyone who reads this blog to get outside this weekend and do some physical activity!  It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just do something- go for a run, take the dog for a long walk, or…you could do what I did:

Head up to a local playground, and experiment with some functional movements.  Playgrounds are filled with hidden ways to do tons of basic and advanced movements.  If nothing else, this can break up the monotony of going to the gym everyday.

In the video below you’ll find a full-body workout.  There’s a warm-up, two three-exercise circuits and a core finisher.  Each circuit should be performed with very minimal rest from exercise to exercise, and a one-minute rest between sets.  Perform 3 sets of each circuit before moving on.

1) Active Warm-Up: 2 minutes
-Band Assisted Split Squats- 10 on each leg
-Band Assisted Split Jumps- 10 on each leg
-“Trunk chops”- 8 in each direction (this exercise is great to get the core and the hips activated and working together before you start)

2) Circuit #1: 2-3 minutes
-Plyometric Jumps: I just found the most reasonable step height among the “stairs” of the playground. Perform 10 Reps.
-Atomic Push-Ups: Who needs an expensive suspension system when you have a good ole swing? Perform 10 Reps.
-Monkey Bar Pull-Ups: These monkey bars proved to be a perfect width and grip to really hit the lat muscles of my back. Perform 10 Reps.

3) Circuit #2: 3-4 minutes
-Elevated, Band-Resisted Split Squats: This is a great single-leg exercise that allows for tons of Range of Motion (ROM) and is great for improving the End Range of Motion (EROM) strength for the “down” leg, while also actively stretching the “up” leg. Perform 10 reps on each leg.
-Body Weight Dips: This was the toughest exercise to figure out, because this particular playground didn’t have the traditional monkey bars.  I ended up just finding a set of “stairs” that had a few parallel bars and it ended up working well, allowing for solid depth. Perform 10 reps.
-Band Rows/Step Backs: I finished this circuit with a pulling motion using the band.  Perform 10 pulls with feet stationary, and 5 to each side while performing a step-back.

4) Core Finisher: 3-4 minutes
-Swing-Ups- I went into this workout with absolutely no plan until I got to the park.  When I examined the park and noticed the height of the swing, I immediately thought it would be a great tool to get some core work.  For the “Swing-Ups,” I went into an elevated pillar position with my feet on the swing and my shoulders directly over my hands.  I held this pillar for 5-10 seconds, and then proceeded to contract my abs, lifting my hips into the air into a “mid-pike” type position.  I prefer this to a full pike position because there is an increased emphasis on holding the abdominal contraction when you stop before bringing your hips all the way over your head.  Once in the “mid-pike” position, hold for 5-10 seconds, repeat 5 times.  Perform the core finisher 3 times with a 30 second break between sets.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know how I feel about the “I don’t have enough time to workout excuse.”  Well, after this you can also add “I can’t pay for a gym membership right now,” to the list of invalid excuses to avoid physical activity.  Folks, for a FRACTION of the cost of a gym membership, you can purchase the only thing you need for a total body workout just like this one: a resistance band. If you’re interested in purchasing a band like you’re about to see, send me an email: Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com

So again, get outside, enjoy the nice weather, and get a great functional workout!

Until next time,

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
@TrainFunctional