Weight training and resistance training overall is often underrated by the current fitness industry and many UK fitness enthusiasts. Sure, everyone knows that to get stronger, bigger you have to do weight/resistance training but in fact there’s the whole lot more that weight training has to offer.
Here’s what happens to a body while a set of weight training exercise is being performed:
- uses anaerobic creatin or/and lactic acid energy systems;
- protein degradation (muscle damage) occurs;
- can engage any type of muscle fiber depending on weight training method;
- accumulates tremendous amount of lactic acid in muscles (with specific weight/resistance training);
- increases natural production of hormones – growth hormone and testosterone (as it is natural, body will never produce too much of it);
- burns calories (especially lactic acid weight training);
- puts a lot of strain on inner core muscles (compound movements in particular);
- forces the correct posture (when applying the correct technique on compound movements);
- strengthens joints by working muscles and ligaments around it;
- stimulates central nervous system.
Now let’s have a look what outcomes these effects, mentioned above, have:
Use of anaerobic energy systems
Oxygen is not used or used just minor to produce energy enabling body to do weight, resistance training. Cardiovascular system is not stimulated much doing this type of training. Simply it is not the purpose of weight training to work on heart and lungs efficiency. A little more following this – present day fitness industry sees that as a big enough reason to give all the advantage to cardio training (let’s face it, also weight training is not convenient by being tough and technically difficult). There are many bigger and smaller charity running, cycling, swimming, rowing etc. events. Who’s heard of a widely open to a general population, well advertised/hype built chin ups, press ups, bench press, squat competition event? Ok, enough of the grudge. Let’s see how fair this situation is and what weight training does.
Low reps, explosive movement weight training that uses anaerobic creatine energy system leads to an increased muscle ability to store creatine and regenerates it faster after it’s been depleted (more creatine – an extra repetition with heavy weight); high reps, slower movement weight training that uses anaerobic lactic acid energy system increases muscle tolerance to lactic acid (more muscle endurance, required in extreme situations when there’s a need to perform at a high intensity and sustain it for as long as possible – fighting for dear life is a good example).
Protein degradation (muscle damage)
Muscle damage may sound a little dramatic but really, that’s what muscle stimulation is. This is the prime goal in weight training routines when someone wants to build up muscle size. With the right diet damaged muscle tissue is repaired and by repairing it little by little size is added.
For those who want to lose weight (fat), muscle damage is crucially important too. While those damaged muscles are recovering, body uses extra energy, calories – speeds up metabolism. Yes, folks, after weight, resistance training sitting on your cozy sofa is more efficient than without the training and depending on how good the training was the effect lasts one day after workout, second day and if you’ve worked in a gym hard enough maybe third, fourth and more days. This can be called muscle activation.
As we all know, muscles use energy, burn calories. The bigger lean muscle size, weight is the more energy, calories it burns. But same size muscles without weight training stimulation consume way less energy then the ones recovering from training (the numbers vary from study to study but everyone agrees that recovering muscles use significantly more calories in comparison to rested ones).
Engagement of the whole range of muscle fiber types
Human body has got different twitch speed fibers with different characteristics.
There are 3 main types: slow, intermediate and fast twitch muscle fibers. The amount of each fiber type in body varies from person to person depending on their genetics. Mike Tyson used to be the beast in the first couple rounds but then he would start looking a lot like Cinderella who had to seal the deal on time – fast twitch muscle fibers can generate a very explosive movement and have a great potential to grow but can’t sustain it’s work for any longer duration, whereas slow twitch fibers have a lot of stamina but very low explosiveness and growth potential. In its turn intermediate muscle fibers have a combination of the other two types and in different people it’s different too, it can be closer to slow or fast twitch type.
So that’s a little about what muscle fiber types are and here’s what weight training role can be. With different methods of resistance training it is possible to target from slowest to fastest muscle fibers. It means that various goals can be achieved doing weight training – you can develop muscle endurance, strength and power.
So weight training can be used to raise fitness levels for various sports athletes, adjusting weight, resistance training methods to suite the particular sport. When training for a hypertrophy, different individuals can “tune in” to their dominant muscle fiber type “diapason” and stimulate growth of the highest in numbers muscle fibers. It means that to a degree anyone can gain more muscle despite genetic differences – a guy who is naturally small won’t become Mr. Olympia but still there’s muscular, ripped, V shape physique at stake.
Accumulates tremendous amount of lactic acid in muscles
Lactic acid resistance training… Anyone who has tried it knows how nasty it can feel – being nauseous, dizzy and even vomiting are normal body reactions to high levels of lactic acid built in muscles and due to that raised blood acidity. With such strong, unpleasant experiences one thing is for sure, this method of resistance training affects body big time.
What good does it do to suffer such training? Well, let’s mention the obvious first – it must burn a lot of calories right? Fitness component improving with lactic acid training is muscle endurance. Hypertrophy wise it stimulates muscles by doing some muscle damage but more importantly by triggering extra growth hormone production in body. For the same reason lactic acid training has got an extreme value to fat loss as well. Further process of hormones cutting fat and building muscle follows below.
Increases natural production of hormones (growth hormone and testosterone)
Why is it any important to increase a level of those hormones in a body anyway? Ask this question guys who inject themselves with synthetic hormones and risk their health to get the benefits of the higher growth hormone and testosterone level. They will tell you (and you will simply see it of course) that it shreds fat off, stimulates muscle like crazy and gives “some” extra strength.
For many reasons it is not advised to use synthetic hormones – steroids (click here to find out why) but nobody can deny their enormous power, influence on a body.
Thanks God (although he didn’t share this information with us), there is a natural way to stimulate the hormones production. It’s done with correct >methods of weight training.
Growth hormone is responsible for stimulating muscle growth and releasing fatty acids from fat cells. Those fatty acids released, are available to be used for energy. As human bodies can’t use only fat for “fuel”, it mixes it up with carbohydrates or if there are no carbohydrates then with amino acids and that’s how calories burn and we are able to move, function. When fatty acids are free from fat cells and ready to be taken up for the chemical reactions to produce energy, the percent of fat used goes way up in comparison to fatty acids sitting safe in fat cells (especially when through the specific dieting and lactic acid resistance training a body is forced to mix fat with amino acids rather than carbohydrates). Someone may say, why bother with all the hormones – cardio training at 45-65% of maximum heart rate is using a high percent of fat too. It’s so called fat burn zone – there is a problem though – because of low intensity not much of calories are burned overall so high percent of fat still means minimal amounts of fat burned… Cardio can only accompany the lactic acid weight training using the affected body “willingness” to burn extra fat for energy consumption.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone. So it contributes to all manful features – more muscle, less fat, more body hair, less hair on head, aggressiveness, increased sexual appetite etc. As you can see together with the good qualities there also are some negative ones. That’s where the natural way of producing the hormones comes into rescue. Human body will never release too much of testosterone or growth hormone, will never put itself to any danger. Only the positive features will take effect – not to an extent of what steroid users manage to get but instead a shiny crown and annoying neighbour’s broken nose will be avoided.
Body consumes energy which is measured in calories. Even when you lay in a bed watching TV or reading a book vital organs still use some calories for its functioning. Any body movement burns calories as muscles contract – there are different energy systems that will be used depending on a level/type of a physical activity.
Heavy resistance, low to medium repetition weight training that does a lot of muscle damage, isn’t known for the highest calorie consumption during a workout. It depends on each individual’s lean body weight but 300-400kcal can be expected to be burned when doing such training. Here’s what the majority tends to miss out though, after the heavy weights training muscle activation takes place and the next 2-4 days muscles at rest burn extra calories. It lasts not for 1 hour or 2 hours while training but for more then one day – 24h, 48h and more…
It keeps getting better – lighter resistance, higher repetition (lactic acid)weight training is straight forward the most calories burning training. Again it depends on lean body weight but you can expect to use around 800kcal per lactic acid personal training session. In addition, it also does some muscle damage so will “activate” muscles at rest for a day or so.
It doesn’t finish here – after lactic acid training, cardio training becomes much more efficient burning fat for energy production.
Puts a lot of strain on inner core muscles
To train core muscles, resistance training has to be done – that’s the bottom line (well, not exactly – it’s the top line of this chapter). Everyone knows or has heard about resistance core training (unstable surface, cable pushing/pulling in upright, unsupported positions etc.). Let’s see how the actual weight training can be helpful in this matter.
Inner core and lower back muscles support spine and are directly responsible for keeping it in neutral position like a natural safety belt. When doing weight training (compound movements, not isolation) it is vital that the correct posture is maintained throughout. So those inner abs and lower back have to do what they are there for or otherwise a spine will no longer stay in one peace when there’s a huge bar (relatively to each individual) on shoulders crushing body down. For the very same reason hardcore weight training is feared by general population and inexperienced personal trainers. However, when done properly, under a strict, professional personal trainer’s supervision, compound weight training movements leave a “poor” client no other choice but to engage all his/her inner core and lower back muscles he or she has got and “survive”. What doesn’t break you, it makes you stronger!
Forces the correct posture
Weight, resistance training engages core and lower back muscles and when they get stronger it’s easier to get and stay with a good posture. But it is not only strong mid section of a body that is needed to have the correct posture. That’s where the praised by everybody core stability training is a step lower than the compound weight training movements. Isolation core stability training concentrates on core muscles and even when they are not completely isolated (bigger muscle groups get involved into movements) still the main emphasis remains on the core – hence it’s core training.
Body works as one unit, not separate body parts. There can be many problems, not only weak inner core muscles, resulting in not being able to keep yourself in the ideal body position.
Muscle imbalance – uneven size, strength, tightness, weakness in different body parts and/or sides – can lock you up like a marionette in some awkward postural positions with seemingly no way out, when uncomfortable muscle tightness and pain are constant companions. For example too tight chest and not strong enough upper back lead to crunched shoulders, tight lower back and hamstrings with weak glutes pull hips forward, on top of these issues there’s tight neck sticking forward giving the “perfect” S shaped posture…
If you have any of the symptoms – get out of the body imprisonment! Unlike isolation core training exercises, compound weight training movements work hard not only mid body section but also other, big muscle groups that make a huge impact on a correct body functioning.
Doing weight training will strengthen, build up weak areas and combined with stretching of tight muscles it’s only the matter of time when you can sit, stand, walk straight and simply be comfortable in your own body.
Strenghens joints by putting preasure on them
When body performs a movement, single or multiple joints get involved. When resistance is added to the movement there is an extra pressure on joints too.
Surely, the excessive loading on professional athletes joints don’t do any good for them, wearing and tearing their tendons and cartilages.
Of course ligaments, tendons don’t get stimulated the way muscles do but getting the controlled, well dozed “action” doesn’t let joints “rust” (not only muscles around joints become stronger but ligaments and tendons too). When the “rust” (various forms of arthritis etc.) is already there resistance training minimizes it and manages further damage. There is a feature of weight training that makes it even more suitable for health related training programs – no high impact (getting feet off a floor and landing down), no wearing on joint cartilages.
Even bones get affected by a weight training. Bone density increases with a regular resistance training which is especially important to aging individuals as the density of bones naturally decreases with age.
Stimulates central nervous system
This is one of the main reasons why weight training makes you stronger. The power, strength is in your head (that sounds a bit nerdy but it’s the truth). Brain’s command to a muscle to contract and the quality of that command influences a lot how much force will be generated.
A “post van” (a nerve from a spinal cord called motor neuron) travels to a “neighborhood” (muscle). When getting nearby the “destination” (muscle) “postmen get out of the van” (neuron splits into few branches) and reach each “house” individually (individual muscle cells, fibers). All this “posting business” is called a motor unit.
For day to day activities only small numbers of motor units get activated sharing the low volume of work between them. But when someone takes a heavy barbell, it seems convincing enough for the brain to recruit as many motor units as it can. If that someone hasn’t exercised for a while or ever, the “management of post” won’t be at its best. 3kg dumbbells might be just right for biceps curls… Regular weight training turns a “small village post office” to a “big city post department”, organizing well the whole bunch of “postmen” (recruiting all motor units available, enabling muscles work at full potential).
The conclusion – weight training is the training to do when working on a physique improvements, be it postural correction, core stability, weight loss, tone up or muscle build up.
Get the most of your training sessions with weight training expert personal trainer Rolandas, contact former east London personal trainer who’s now providing his personal training services online.