Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘Muscle’

Weight Lifting Myths

Let’s talk about some of these heavy (heavy means that you are lifting 60% or more of your one rep max) weight lifting myths that are still hanging around…

Myth #1 : Muscle weighs more than fat – Seriously, one pound is one pound, right? One pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat or one pound of feathers.  The difference between  muscle and fat is this: one pound of muscle takes up less room than one pound of fat. It’s not that muscle weighs more than fat, it’s that fat has more volume than muscle.

Take two women weighing 130 pounds of the exact same height and body type. Woman A lifts heavy weights on a regular basis along with doing her cardio activities and has a body fat of under 30 %. Woman B does not lift heavy weights and only does cardio activities for her exercise. Her body fat is higher than 30%.  Woman A will be able to wear a much smaller dress size than woman B because her body weight is comprised of more muscle which takes up less room than fat. Besides, because muscles increase your BMR which keeps your body mass lean and your metabolism running optimally, woman A will be able to eat more food each day than woman B who does do cardio, but doesn’t lift weights. Steady state cardio workouts burn limited fat and calories at the time activity but they don’t carry forward the post exercise benefits that heavier weight lifting does. Having more muscle on your body is the way to go.

Myth #2 :  Lifting heavy weights will make you gain weight –  Excluding temporary weight gain from water retention, the only way to gain weight is to consume junk calories and/or eating more calories than you burn. Lifting heavy weights burns calories, it does not add them to your body. It is impossible to gain weight from just lifting heavy weights. All these women in the picture below weigh 150 pounds.

Myth #3 :  Only light weights will lean you out –    Getting “cut” is a result of decreasing your body’s subcutaneous fat, and in order to do that , you have to eat superior food and/or less calories than you burn.  It does not have anything to do with your rep range is or how heavy the weights are that you lift.

Myth #4: Heavy Weights will make Women Bulky –  Since muscle takes up less space than fat if you just maintain your current body weight  and increase your lean muscle mass you will become smaller, not bigger.  Woman can build muscle, get stronger and improve their physique by lifting heavy weights, but they will certainly never build as much muscle mass as a man since they have a lower testosterone level. So unless they use steroids, women will always look feminine.

If your thighs increase in size after starting a heavy weight program it is either because of temporary water weight gain or because you are consuming more calories than you are burning, or are eating too much processed foods. Even if you lose one pound of fat in your thighs and gain one pound of muscle, your thighs will still shrink in size since muscle take up only about a third of the space fat does.

Myth #5: Light weights are better for women– There really is no difference between the weights a man or a woman should use in their training program. Light weights are great to use in a circuit, endurance  or a low impact cardio program to burn extra calories, but they are not as efficient as heavy weights in developing lean muscle mass.

When you lift a weight, or for that matter any heavy object, the muscle you’re using must contract.  Not the entire muscle contracts, just some of the thousands of muscle fibers that make up the muscle contract. The body learns through life experiences just how many muscle fibers it needs to contract to lift an object of a certain weight.  When you life a heavy weight, your muscles contract much more forcefully and in greater abundance than say the muscles used to pick up a glass of water.  To maximize efficiency the body only uses the minimum amount of muscle fibers necessary to lift an object. And each individual muscle fiber either contracts 100% or it doesn’t. Period.  There is no such thing as an individual muscle fiber contracting at 20% or 50%.  This means when you only do an exercise with a light weight only a very small percentage of your muscle fibers in that particular muscle performing the exercise are doing any work at all. The rest of your muscle fibers within that particular muscle are doing absolutely nothing and getting pretty much zero benefit from the exercise. Engage as many muscle fibers within that particular muscle as possible makes sense, doesn’t it? And this means lifting heavy weights.

There you have it. The end.



Six Ways to the Best Workouts

One magazine is all about cardio and how it’s your salvation, and the next one tells you that you won’t go anywhere without heavy weights. Exercise advice overload, I am telling you!  And then when you think you’ve got it all figured out, your body adapts to the program you’re on and it’s kind of time to start over again!

So… I’ve just made it simple here: six ways to safely get the best workouts ever. Period.

1. Dynamic Warm-Ups:

You’ve got to get your body ready to perform if you expect maximum results. Dynamic warm ups will raise the temperature in the muscles and start the flow of adrenaline, preparing muscles, joints and nerves for movement.

2. Interval Training

Studies have shown that about five minutes of high-intensity exercise, consisting of eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercise per round followed by 20 seconds off for recovery, is superior to 60 minutes of continuous cardio’; crasy, isn’t it? So never substitute duration for intensity. But don’t mess with your form!  You can adjust any program but working out less time or modify the work-to-rest ration.

3. Timed Workouts

This is a similar concept to interval training, except the “bursts” of exercise are longer and you’re doing only one particular exercise at a time, rather than performing a whole-body workout all at once. The purpose is basically the same: to maximize the benefits of a resistance training program by creating maximum metabolic disturbance. That means you burn body fat by keeping your heart rate constantly elevated while training. Your metabolism never reaches an equilibrium set-point due to the alteration in timing. Use a stopwatch to keep track of how long you take between sets of exercises and rest periods. Focusing on the stopwatch time keeps your intensity level from waning as the workout progresses.

4. Body-Weight Super-Set Training

I love this one! Intensify your weight training by adding “super sets” of body-weight training to truly engage your muscles. Talk about intensity and variety! Super-setting is a technique in which you take an exercise targeted for a specific muscle group and immediately perform a similar exercise with no rest. With this technique, you don’t use weights or machines for the second exercise. This is a time-efficient, intensive way to maximize strength and lean muscle development. Best of all, you can use this principle for any workout.

5. Recovery and Regeneration

Working out breaks your muscles down and in order for them to heal properly you must give your body adequate rest. Without recovery time you risk overtraining. Too much exercise limits your progress and your body becomes catabolic, meaning it begins to degenerate. Eventual loss of lean muscle mass and bone density occurs. How can your body thrive when you don’t allow proper healing? No amount of exercise will positively affect your body if you are in a state of overtraining.

6. Integrative Training

You know how quickly I get bored… Well, it’s true that variety is the spice of life, even in maximizing workouts.  You need to shock your system into changing by integrating new fitness routines into your regimen; if you stick with the same old program, your body will adapt and stop making progress. When was the last time you ran a flight of stairs? Try visiting the track and running bleachers for 15 minutes.

BOTTOM LINE: You have to push yourself with intensity and passion to improve your body. Yes, it will be difficult and challenging at times, but that’s how we excel. You have the power to continually change your body for the better; all you have to do is go out and make it happen.


The Alphabet of Health–C

C is for Core

You hear it everywhere: the core is the powerhouse of the body. If you have a weak core, you can’t do anything, ya di ya di ya…  But you know what? It’s true! You really do need a strong core for everyday life, for avoiding injuries, for living your life fully. So let’s talk about it a bit today.

Basically, your core is the muscular system that provides strength to stabilize and move all of your body parts. It is the link between the upper and lower extremities. It includes:

  • your abs (upper, lower and obliques, internal and external),
  • your hips  which have 29 muscles that are responsible for stabilizing, transferring and producing/reducing force when your feet are on the ground.
  • your back: its muscles are responsible for supporting posture and creating motion, coordinating muscle actions and maintaining stability.

The center of your body (your core) basically is responsible for the process and the outcome of any type of movement or activity. You can’t throw a ball without a core, nor can you pick up your kid without your core. So, no matter how hard you train your biceps and thighs, if your core is weak, you’re screwed…

Bottom line: Training your core MUST be a fundamental part of your exercise program!


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