“To build strength I allow a significant rest time of 10 days for each muscle group to recover when exercising to momentary failure.”
A split routine works well for this adaptation and the beauty is that it takes next to no time to complete, just 10 to 15 minutes per day. This is my secret to successful long term improvements in muscle strength, fat loss, vitality and fitness.
One of the main problems with strength training is keeping to the programme for the long term and getting measurable results. If you are doing long training sessions this can lead to giving up, injury and burn out. It is mainly athletes and pro -sports individuals who tend to undertake seriously high intense hours of training.
The No1 reason why most people fail to keep to a strength program is that most programmes are too long and are not necessarily designed for the individual needs and circumstances. More often than not the programme does not target the right energy systems.
So for a strength program to work, it should have quality short sessions which produce significant results within a relatively short period of time, lets say 30 days or less. This will ultimately guarantee you may stay motivated as you achieve your short and long term goals. This should build up confidence with these small victories thus allowing you to stay focussed on your program… And not to give in after the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
The first move is to have SMART goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. This should include doing a quick health and fitness check up which you can easily do using fitness calculators .
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There are 2 phases to training. The initial phase is where muscle is broken down through exercise (Catabolic Phase) and the recuperation – growth phase (Anabolic phase). During the initial phase of exercise the stress hormone cortisol is released into the body and then through out the anabolic phase the “feel good” hormones are released from the pituitary gland. These include serotonin which can make you happy, endorphins for feeling better, reduced anxiety and sensitivity to pain, dopamine which makes you mentally alert and testosterone which grows muscle.
One of the unfortunate responses to exercising is too much cortisol which can lead to a negative response pattern and the loss of feel good hormones. The body adapts through rest periods – the recovery phase allowing anabolic hormones to work. Therefore, short term high energetic exercise leave you feeling good whereas long exercise routines can leave you feeling down, tired and lethargic.
The Biggest Problem in Fitness Industry
One of the biggest problems in the fitness and leisure industry is that clients are sometimes encouraged to over exercise. There is actually no need to train for an hour when 20 mins is more than enough to tax the body to its limits. One of the most effective ways to exercise is carry out high intensity/ short duration exercise in order to break down muscle fibres in short spurts and then to have adequate rest in-between the exercises and sessions. Therefore it is necessary to do the least amount of exercise to gain the most adaptive response.
The Guiding Principles of Improving Fitness and Muscle Growth
The ability of the human body to recover after exercise largely depends on their genetics, age, muscle size and strength. For example an individual who can bench press 300 lbs will take longer to recover than someone who can only press 50 lb due to the fact that the muscle is bigger and the total load on the body is much higher. An individual who is older, say over 35 will have less testosterone to aid recovery and build growth so will need to train a shorter duration as it also takes longer to recover.
The centre line where the training stimulus starts continues for 10 days. The first phase is the training and catabolic phase where the body goes into temporary fatigued and then starts to recover.
Unfortunately, people continue to train their bodies in a catabolic or fatigued state where there is a rise in the stress hormone cortisol which reduces dopamine, endorphins the so called happy hormones.
The second common error most people make is they will start to train at day 5 when the soreness has gone. The muscles have just reach their neutral state and need time for the adaptive response – anabolic phase to kick in. Without this you will never see any improvement as the anabolic hormones do not get released .
The growth phase starts around day 5. This is the reason why most people end up quitting their program as they never get out of the catabolic stage. This leaves people feeling anger and frustration. This is over training. Muscle growth only starts at the point where your muscles are no longer sore and continues to grow up to 5 – 10 days after the muscles have ended the catabolic stage.
Positive Momentary Muscular Failure
Muscle contraction is an all or nothing response. When we move a muscle such as picking up an object some of the fibres contract whereas the others relax. To allow the whole muscle to contract there needs to be a force large enough which gives positive momentary muscular failure. The failure point is the only time when all the muscle fibres have been stimulated enough to adapt and grow. There is only one total positive momentary muscular failure required per exercise. Training over multiple sets is not necessary as it causes catabolic over training.
How does Positive Momentary Muscular Failure relate to Reps and Sets
A decent amount of weight is needed at a maximum of 12 reps. Muscular failure at a higher rep range causes failure for the wrong reasons. Over 12 reps the muscles begin to fail because of a build up of lactic acid , not because they are getting tired. Lactic acid in the muscles means only one thing, that all the glycogen stores have been used up and not because of the resistance of a heavier weight.
A typical set would consist of 12 Reps at 40% maximum effort, 8 Reps at 60% maximum effort and 4 -6 Reps at 80 – 90% with the last few reps going into positive momentary muscular failure. Repeat this for 3 exercises per body part such as Chest and Triceps. You would then allow 10 days recovery before you return to those body areas again. Allow 1 day recovery and move to the next body part which could be Back and Biceps. This is known as a 10 day Split Routine and in my opinion in the most optimal way to build muscle, lose fat and feel great about yourself.
It is now widely recognised that people can be in a constant state of overtraining – catabolic without realising it. This can create stress, frustration, anxiety and anger and ultimately end up in exercise failure. It is only natural that people will eventually stop doing something they dislike when all thats needed to guarantee optimal muscle growth and fat loss is the right amount of exercise and rest. This ultimately brings about positive results, consistency and satisfaction with the exercise program.