So far all my posts have been about food but because of my job, i’m only able to enjoy the food i’m encountering in many countries and unable to cook. (sad times!)
However there is still a gym at disposal (with limited equipment) so today my post is focusing on. Out of all the training methods i find lifting weight the most beneficial and rewarding. I love the feeling of warmth that rushes to the muscles, the veins swell and the after buzz is really nice as well as being able to have a good nights sleep that evening. So what is the best way to train for muscle growth?
As Aesop’s Fable implies – slow and steady wins the race. Or in this case – slow and steady builds muscle.
There are two phases when you lift a weight. Concentric and eccentric – which are isotonic contractions (iso = same, ton = tension) meaning a change in muscle length to move a load. A third phase – isometric – also exists but this is where the weight is too heavy to be lifted and your muscle stays at the same force of contraction not shortening or lengthening. Which has his benefits also but will not be considered here.
The concentric phase is where you’re putting in the effort to lift the weight. The muscle shortens to move the weight. You do this any time to pick something up, or move something towards your body or when you’re kicking a ball.
The eccentric phase is where you’re lowering the weight – the muscle produces force as it lengthens – and this is the phase to concentrate all your energy on. Eccentric contractions generate about 50% more force than the concentric contraction meaning this is where your muscles work the most. Eccentric contractions are also more responsible for the muscle soreness you feel on the 2nd and 3rd day after weight training (called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – DOMS).
Lets look at a bicep curl – a great way to start off with is to grab a dumbbell (any weight will do to start off with) and lift it toward your shoulder and when you lower it count down a full 4 or 5 seconds as your arm returns to it’s fully extended length. Repeat 8-12 times then rest for a minute. Complete 3 sets aiming for the same amount of repetitions and timing. This way you’re working your muscles at the most efficient rate for muscle growth (hypertrophy – increase in cell size, therefore the organ increases in size).
If you got to 12 repetitions and felt like you could do more, choose a higher weight the next time you attempt a weight training session. “If you do not apply overload to your muscles, there is no reason for your muscles to get bigger or stronger – the overload principle”.
Use this fundamental rule with all of your weight training – slow and steady – along with boosted amounts of protein in your diet to support muscle repair and you will see results.
A following post will show repetition ranges and it’s training effect.