So what are the two major goals in training? Special populations aside, people are looking for either weight gain, or weight loss. But when we talk about weight, we really aren't just talking about overall weight. We are talking about body composition.
First things first, how do we achieve either goal? Well, the answer is simple. We put on muscle mass, and decrease bodyfat. Awesome, the goal is set. But how do we do it? What are the proper training techniques to accomplish such a goal?!
Cardiovascular exercise is pretty much the only way that the human body will use bodyfat. The body uses a few different energy sources. The ones we are concerned about are as follows; Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), Creatine Phosphate (CP), Carbohydrates, and Bodyfat. The body starts off an activity by using ATP. One phosphate breaks off which leaves us with ADP, adenosine diphosphate. Creatine Phosphate brings back a phosphate to reattach, replenishing the ATP. That process will take the body to about 5 minutes of activity. After that, the body will begin using carbohydrates for energy. This process takes us up to the 20-30 minute point, and THEN, depending on the intensity level of the activity, the body will switch over to either bodyfat, or musclemass.
Top athletes excluded, the body will ONLY use bodyfat in a lower intensity exercise. This means the cardiovascular activity should be done at about 65% of your maximum heart rate. If the intensity is too high, the trainee will not be able to utilize oxygen properly. Oxygen is NEEDED in order to breakdown bodyfat for energy use.
Cardio must be done at 65% of maximum heart rate for any time over 30 minutes for it to be effective at using bodyfat. My minimum recommendation is 45 minutes, but I always favor the full hour.
There are many people that choose to do high intensity cardio. While some of them can be successful with it, the average trainee will not be able to utilize oxygen properly, and therefore cannot use bodyfat. Also, the average high intensity cardio routine will only last somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. Well, as already stated, within that timeframe the body is only using carbohydrates. Yes, we ARE burning calories, but carbohydrate calories, not bodyfat calories. They are two different things.
Gaining muscle mass will always make bodyfat use a much faster process. Why? Because the more muscle the body has, the more calories it will burn in ANY activity. So how to we put on muscle mass?
Lets say it's my first time in a gym, and I'm going to attempt a bicep curl. Well without any added weight throughout the movement, my body is already used to the weight of my forearm and my hand. Well, lets say I pick up a 5 lb weight. Now my body no longer knows what this weight is. The repetitions with this weight will cause the muscle tissue in my bicep to breakdown. Now, over my resting days, my body will heal the muscle tissue that has broken down, and it will build lean muscle mass on top of that in order to prepare for that weight for next time. Now the next time i go back into the gym, if pick up that same 5 lb weight, and do the same exact amount of repetitions I did last time, my body does not have the same need to adapt. My body will already be used to this weight from the last training bout. However, if I graduate to a 8 or 10 lb weight, then the process will repeat.
So now that we know how the body adapts to weight training, how do we apply that knowledge?
Should I do a split routine? Well, while some people will swear up and down that they are absolutely necessary for building muscle, THEY ARE NOT. Honestly, if we are following the body's rules of adaptation, we can use a full-body training routine two times a week and get fantastic results, AS LONG AS WE GET ENOUGH REST. If you follow those rules of adaption, we quickly realize that every time we go to the gym, we should be able to beat whatever we did last time.
Here is the deal. Let's give ourselves a range of 8-12. As soon as we hit 12 repetitions (slow, controlled repetitions) we can increase the weight. With that weight, the next time you go to the gym, you will probably get 8 reps. With enough rest before the next working bout, you should get maybe 9 or 10 reps. Once you get 12, you can increase that weight again.
Usually people only take 1 day of rest between training bouts. I suggest two or 3, and as your weights increase you MAY need more rest time. If your weights do not increase, that means you did not get enough rest time, and your muscles did not have enough time to adapt. MORE TRAINING IS NOT THE ANSWER. More weight training will only break down MORE muscle tissue and then you will not be able to adapt fast enough!
This is broad information at the moment, and I do plan to refine and make everything much more specific. However, I plan to do this in video logs. I'm not going to attempt the project however, unless I know I will have a regular audience who wishes to participate with question and answer sessions. If you enjoyed this information, and would like to learn more, respond with your thoughts and your questions.
Criticism is welcome, as there are countless philosophies of how to train. I have worked with many personal trainers, good and bad, and have seen many trainees make progress on different programs. I'm not saying what is the best, but these are my preferred training ideals.
Any and all questions are welcome, and I look forward to your input.
Thread: Training Made Simple