Posts Tagged ‘strength training’

The prevalence of various supplements and ergogenic aids today can be very confusing not just for the recreational athlete, but even for seasoned competitors who aim to improve their performance. The supplement industry is taking advantage of the increasing number of people who are now more conscious about their health. While some are clinically backed by science to deliver results (glutamine, creatine and protein), other supplements have received skepticism on whether they really work or whether they simply produce a ‘placebo effect.’ Some pills offer almost all of the performance enhancements that you can think of, and you can be quite sure that if a product does that, it’s definitely false. Still, there are supplements such as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which are proven by science to be beneficial to performance.

What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?
Branch chain amino acids or BCAA’s are composed of three essential amino acids namely leucine, valine, and isoleucine. Essential amino acids are nutrients that can only be derived from food such as especially meat, dairy products, and legumes. On the other hand, non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body. ‘Branch chain‘ refers to the chemical structure of these three essential amino acids.

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What are the known uses of BCAA’s?
Branch chain amino acids have been used in medicine for treatments of various diseases which includes brain conditions due to liver disease, a movement disorder called tardive dyskineseia, and to treat poor appetite in kidney and cancer patients. It is also being used to help slow muscle degeneration in patients who are confined to bed.

BCAA’s are also known to prevent fatigue and improve concentration. Athletes have been using Branch chain amino acids to improve exercise performance by reducing protein and muscle breakdown during intense training.


Are BCAA supplements effective or are they just a waste of time (and money)?
A study has proven that although BCAA’s does not directly enhance athletic performance, they still produce a postive effect on muscle recovery and the immune system. According to the study, “Data show that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis. Muscle damage develops delayed onset muscle soreness: a syndrome that occurs 24-48 h after intensive physical activity that can inhibit athletic performance.

Another study performed by Green et al (2007) observed the effects of BCAA supplementation on endurance exercise through measuring blood samples. 9 untrained men performed 3 series of 90 minute bouts of cycling at 55% of VO2 max. They performed the cycling bout once with BCAA’s, once with a carbohydrate drink, and once with a non calorie containing drink.

Blood samples were taken at 4, 24 and 48 hours following exercise. The study showed that the blood samples of those who took BCAA’s had lower accumulation of waste products, which minimized soreness for the cyclists.

These studies suggest BCAA’s could certainly benefit sportsmen and gym goers by buffering waste product accumulation in muscles, thus preserving muscle tissue and promoting quicker recovery.
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When should BCAA’s be taken or ingested?
Branch chain amino acids are usually taken prior to exercise or training. BCAA’s are ‘free form,’ which means that they do not require much time to be digested. The contents of your supplement should contain 50% leucine, 25% isoleucine, and 25% valine. BCAA’s should be taken with water before and after training, and even with any other pre or post workout supplement. For those who aim to build muscle mass, BCAA’s can be taken with whey protein for faster absorption and for additional nutrients.

According to consumerlab.com, there is no apparent toxicity or danger associated with BCAA supplementation. They recommend anywhere from 1 to 12 grams.

Should I take BCAA’s?

The benefits of Branch chain amino acid supplements are proven to be effective. However, before you take BCAA’s or any supplements, talk to your coach, sports nutritionist, or doctor for advise. Know your goals – Why are you participating in exercise or training? Are you aiming to be a bodybuilder? Are you going to compete in a race? BCAA is an answer to the question ‘What supplements can help improve my performance?‘ or ‘What can help build my muscles?‘ but other factors should be considered. For any supplements, don’t take them for vague reasons unless you really need it and you are advised to take it. Remember that sometimes, eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest could do a lot more than taking a supplement.

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Athletic supplements such as Branch chain amino acids do have a role and are effective ergogenic aids, but like any other aspect of your training, taking supplementation should match your goals.

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Source:
Green B.K, Woodard J.L, White J.P, Arguelle E.M, Haymes E.M., (2007). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and indicators of muscle damage after endurance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exercise Metabolism; 17(6): 595-607

How people usually do Resistance/Weight Training:
The traditional method of resistance or ‘weight training‘ that people do in the gym is called ‘Station Training.‘ In this method, the exercises are arranged in such a way that you have to finish all the sets in one exercise first before proceeding to the next. This is good and reasonable because you can focus on developing one muscle group by doing a specific exercise. Below is an example of a traditional resistance training workout:

SHOP1. Leg exercise: Barbell Squats- 8 reps x 3 sets
2. Chest exercise: Bench Press- 8 reps x 3 sets
3. Arms: Biceps Curl- 8 reps x 3 sets
4. Triceps Extension- 8 reps x 3 sets
5. Lat Pull Down- 8 reps x 3 sets

What is Circuit Training?
Circuit Training is a method of doing exercises in sequence so that two or more sets of an exercise are not done in a row. It is another type of High Intensity Training that works both muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. Instead of completing all of the sets of a specific exercise first before doing the next exercise, circuit training allows for continuous movement by doing consecutive exercises that targets different muscle groups. Circuit Training is different from High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) because each exercise have the same number of repetitions throughout the whole circuit. Below is an example of a circuit training:

1. Squats: 12 reps x 1 setWeight-Training-Women-Dumbbell-Circuit-Workout
2. Bench Press: 12 reps x 1 set
3. Biceps Curl: 12 reps x 1 set
4. Triceps Extension: 12 reps x 1 set
5. Lat Pull Down: 12 reps x 1 set
6. Squats: 12 reps x 1 set
7. Bench Press: 12 reps x 1 set
8. Biceps Curl: 12 reps x 1 set
9. Triceps Extension: 12 reps x 1 set
10. Lat Pull Down: 12 reps x 1 set

What are the advantages of Circuit Training over the traditional Station Training?
Compared to the traditional method of resistance training, Circuit Training allows for faster transition in between exercises. In the traditional resistance training method, rest periods are done for every set of every exercise. This is unfavorable if you are pressed for time in the gym. Circuit training also allows for greater energy system benefits because your body is working continuously as a different muscle group will be working while previously worked muscle groups will be ‘resting.’ Compared to traditional strength training, there is an improvement in cardiovascular capacity when doing circuit training and may lead to greater fat loss.

What are the disadvantages of Circuit Training?
Because exercises are done continuously one after another, the load should be lighter than usual to maintain quality and safety when doing the exercises. Also, even if it does improve cardiovascular capacity, it won’t beat endurance training with regards to benefits.

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Let’s get to the workout! How can I program my own circuit training at home?

Here are some tips on how to design a good Circuit Training workout:
1402213_orig1. Opposing muscle groups (agonist and antagonist) should be alternated between resting and exercising. For example, after doing bicep curls, your next exercise can be tricep extensions.
2. Upper body and Lower body exercises can also be alternated between resting and exercising. For example, after doing push ups, you can do squats after. This allows for the ‘push up muscles’ (pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, triceps, abdominals) to recover while you target different muscle groups and you’ll be able to perform push ups with proper form and technique at the next circuit set.
3. You can adjust the volume of training by doing a specific number of reps, or you do the most repetitions in a specific time duration. For example, you can either program your circuit to require 10 repetitions for every exercise, or you can set 30 seconds for each exercise and do the most number of repetitions as you can for each exercise.
4. In circuit training, your body will be working continuously, so putting heavy loads is not advisable. Lift lighter weights or do exercises that uses only your body weight.
5. If you are doing circuit training with weights, it is better to stick with the least number of equipment or station that you will use. For example, you can use free weights or just dumbbells for all exercises instead of going from one machine to another.
6. The original protocol for circuit training has 9 to 12 exercise stations. There is no ideal number but for a general program, it is important to keep in mind that you want to work all muscles at appropriate intensities during the whole exercise session. Personally, I recommend having at least 8 exercise stations which I think would be enough for all muscle groups to be worked on. Also, it is better to do exercises that work on muscle groups compared to doing single-joint exercises (bicep curls, tricep extension, lateral raises, etc).
7. If you are using light weights or just your body weight, you can do 15 to 20 repetitions per exercise. If you are adding additional load to each exercise, try doing less repetitions. Remember that quality and safety is still more important than the total volume of your exercise.
8. How long should you rest in between exercises in circuit training? If rest intervals are too long, it diminishes the effect of circuit training to overall cardiovascular capacity. To maximize the benefit of circuit training, rest for 30 seconds or less in between circuit sets. In between individual exercises, I recommend resting for 10 to 15 seconds max for time efficiency and maintain appropriate overall exercise intensity.
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Let’s really get on with the workout!

Here’s a sample Circuit Training workout using only bodyweight which means that you can do it at home, in your office and even in your hotel room if you are travelling.

1. Jumping Jacks- 15 repsJumping-Jacks-Shoulder-Press
2. Alternating Lunges- 15 reps
3. Push ups- 15 reps
4. Oblique crunches- 15 reps per side
5. Hip bridge- 15 reps
6. Bulgarian squats- 15 reps per leg
7. Single leg superman- 15 reps per leg
8. Pike to plank- 15 reps

Circuit Training is an efficient way to decrease body fat, improve VO2 max (respiratory capacity), and even minimize risk for diabetes. As people today have less and less time for the gym, exercise methods such as circuit training may be the best option for busier individuals.

If you think you have no time for exercise, then you can now exchange total exercise time (doing the traditional station method) for total exercise effort (High Intensity Circuit Training) and get the same, or even better, health and fitness benefits.

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If you are only starting your journey into fitness, check out this mini-circuit sequence called “April wings” for the arms.

For a more elaborate article about Circuit Training, check out this ACSM Health and Fitness journal: HIGH INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODYWEIGHT- Maximum Results with Minimum Investment.

strength training

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Are you sure with what you’ve heard about Weight Loss?

Here are easy to understand points that debunks the most common weight loss myths; written by Adam Wilson
Freelance Fitness Writer at WatchFit (reposted with permission).

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Today I discuss the prevalent weight loss ideas practiced by gym goers that have less credibility than the existence of Big Foot or Godzilla.

theraband1. ‘Fat will make me fat’: If anything it is indeed the opposite. Good fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) play a key role in regulating the metabolism of fats. So despite carrying more calories per gram they not only keep you feeling fuller for longer, but ‘stoke the metabolic furnace’ through inducing lypolysis (fat loss), and down regulating stress hormone cortisol.

2. ‘Skipping meals will help me to lose weight’: Severely depriving yourself of calories may initially lead to a great amount of weight loss; however will also catbolise (eat away/diminish) lean muscle tissue in the process. Eating away at muscle through severe calorific restriction will impair your body’s ability to burn calories, resulting in ‘yo yo’ weight gain.

Muscle loss, combined with a huge increase in gut hunger hormone ghrelin (essentially the body’s survival mechanism prevent you from starving to death), will completely sabotage weight loss goals. It;s important to consider that one needs a certain amount of calories to regulate the metabolism of calories, and muscle tissue increases metabolic rate, and insulin sensitivity.

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3. ‘I wont do weights, as I don’t want to get big, and will purely concentrate on excessive cardio to help me lose weight’: this ties in somewhat with the previous point above. Excessive cardio burns muscle, sabotaging our body’s regulator of metabolic expenditure. Weight training, in combination with some cardio, will yield far better weight loss efforts.

Weight training alone will not get you big. Heavy weight training, excessive calorific intake, eating three times your body weight in carbohydrates, being male, taking a crazy load of supplements and/or drugs; and having a lucky genetic advantage will culminate in you looking like a bodybuilder.

If it was that easy to get big every female and male gym goer would look like a bodybuilder, and every personal trainer would be out of business.

4. ‘I wont do Deadlifts or Squats as I want to lose weight, not get big’: This is a very short sighted approach that borders on lunacy. Neurologically demanding exercises (basically stuff that requires a great deal of musculature and is taxing on the central nervous system) leads to a greater secretion of growth hormone in response to tolerating and buffering waste product blood lactate, and thus leads to greater fat loss at rest. Opting for hard exercises as an alternative to the safe and shiny machines will send your metabolism into overdrive.

5. ‘I wont have protein after a workout, as I’m trying to lose weight and its extra calories’: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Post workout your body needs protein to facilitate recovery through cell tissue repair and lay down new protein fibers. The by product of being in a negative protein balance is that muscle fibers cant adequately repair and rebuild, thus impairing your ability to burn calories. Lean muscle burns calories.

Neglecting post workout protein essentially down regulates your primary facilitator (building new muscle) of calorific expenditure. After a workout your body will not store calories, but use it for repair as the body is in a super compensation effect to try and promote homeostasis.
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The Pull up is a basic upper body exercise. However, it remains unfamiliar to most fitness enthusiasts and gym buffs as most people tend to focus on aesthetic muscle building, ie, working on muscle groups that can be easily seen and adored such as the chest, arms, forearms, and abdominals. In addition to being a less familiar exercise, it is also difficult and can be very challenging not just for newbies in the gym, but sometimes even for long term gym-goers who neglect this very essential exercise.

Nevertheless, this exercise is very convenient to do and all you need is your body and a hanging bar. Pull ups can be done by both men and women. In fact, some women do pull ups as a regular exercise in their routine.

It’s not too late to start!
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What are the benefits of doing Pull ups?

The Pull ups is a very effective resistance exercise as the only equipment you need are your body and a bar that is high enough. It is a compound exercise that targets the big muscle groups of the upper trunk (yes, there’s a muscle in your trunk that is bigger than your chest and biceps) which means that you’ll need more energy to do it and burn more calories. Apart from targeting these muscle groups, it also works the arms and abs as well! This exercise is not solely resistance as it will most likely pump up your heart rate. Compared to the squats or push-ups, you are literally off the floor while doing this exercise, so the intensity is definitely high! Also, almost all of your muscles will need to work to keep your body stable and well-supported. When paired with an exercise like the burpee, the pull ups will be an excellent cardiovascular workout.

What are the muscles targeted by Pull ups?

These are the main muscles that are targeted by the Pull ups:

Latissimus Dorsi – this is your big back muscle that connects from your hips, and to individual spines of your back, and inserts into the back of your arms. When developed well, this supports the back for movement and it’s a great muscle to rip as well!

Trapezius – this is another big muscle on your back that is connected from the middle of your trunk to your shoulders and the back of the arms. They support the movement of your shoulder blades and arms, and assist in the both the lifting and lowering phase of the pull up.

Abdominals – the abdominals support the legs throughout each lift, and in some variations like the L-pull up, the abdominals can be totally targeted.

Biceps – the pull ups work the arms as well, especially when doing variations such as the chin ups. Some modifications on the grip can also target this muscle.

Forearms – your legs are up in the air and you basically rely on your grip strength all throughout the exercise to keep yourself from falling on the floor. Pull up variations such as the towel or rope pull ups target the forearms more.

pullups_main

Why should I do a Pull up when I can do a ‘Pull down’?

As you can already see, the traditional Pull up works a lot of muscle groups and can really increase your heart rate. With the Lat Pull down machine, you are sitting down and you’re probably going to relax your legs. There would be less pressure on your forearms and your abs and legs will go to sleep after one set.

How to do the Pull ups:


The step by step ways to do the pull ups is very easy to say, but doing it is a totally different and hard thing to do. You can simply copy a person doing pull ups. But the question is, how can I increase the number of pull ups that I can do?

First of all, don’t be ashamed of your one-rep pull up. Everyone starts with something, and it’s better to start with one. The thing is, challenge yourself to do additional sets of pull ups instead of maxing out your energy by trying to do more reps of one set. If you can only do one pull up, start with doing one pull up for 3 to 5 sets. Rest in between sets should be enough for your muscles to recover, and you should be sure that you can do your next rep in the best form.

Watch this short video “Beginners Pull Up Workout:

 

What are variations of Pull ups?
Amazingly, there are lots of variations that can be done with the pull ups. You may have seen people try to increase the intensity of their pull ups by adding a weight on their legs or tying a heavy chain around their waist. This helps, but there are a lot more options to challenge your pull ups and even work on smaller muscles for better support.

This video shows 25 variations for Pull ups. You can see the list after the video:


1. Regular Pull up
2. Chin up
3. Wide-grip Pull up
4. Wide-grip Chin up
5. Hammer-grip Pull up
6. Combo-grip Pull up
7. Towel Pull up
8. Commando Pull up
9. Alternating Pull up
10. Side swipers

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11. One arm assisted
12. Subscapularis Pull up
13. Clap Pull ups
14. Circular
15. Upside Down Pull ups
16. Switch ups
17. Triangle Pull ups
18. Kipping Pull ups
19. Behind the Head
20. X-grip

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21. Gorilla
22. Close-grip Pull up
23. Pull and Push
24. L-pull ups
25. 3,2,1 finger Pull ups

Go, ‘get off’ your feet and start pulling!
 

strength training

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This post is adapted from Matt Fitzgerald‘s article. He’s the author of RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel (VeloPress, 2010) and an expert training content developer for PEAR Sports. Learn more at mattfitzgerald.org
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There’s a reason Olympic runners have coaches—the same reason you may need one.

   Meb Kelfezighi has a coach. So does Desiree Davila. So do Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Dathan Ritzenhein. Almost all of the American runners who went to the London Olympics last summer work with coaches.

     Self-coached age-group runners might wonder why. After all, running is not a team sport where a coach is needed to decide who starts and who comes off the bench, who plays which position, and so forth. Nor is running a highly technical sport like swimming, where coaches are needed to observe and correct form flaws. Indeed, one of the virtues of running as a sport is its simplicity. Within a few years of taking it up any runner can acquire all of the knowledge he requires to coach himself.

If you ask America’s Olympic runners directly why they have coaches, most of them will not cite their lack of knowledge of the sport. These runners know perfectly well how to train. They seek other things from their coaches. Kara Goucher has said that she relies on her coaches to help build her confidence and to take the burden of planning and interpreting her training off her shoulders. Many elite athletes rely on coaches to keep them from doing stupid things, like responding to symptoms of overtraining by training harder.

Another advantage of working with a coach is accountability. This advantage snuck up on me when, in my late thirties, I chose to work with a coach for the first time since high school. My conscious reason for hiring a coach was that I had run out of ideas on how to improve and I wanted someone to give me fresh ideas. That’s another benefit of working with a coach. And, sure enough, my coach had me try some new things with my training that worked well. This was expected. What was unexpected was the sense of heightened accountability that I felt. I never saw myself as an athlete who cut corners, but when I had a coach to report back to I suddenly found myself not cutting corners that I had cut unconsciously before.

 

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As a coach myself, I may be biased, but I believe that every runner can benefit from working with a good coach. Any one of the above-mentioned benefits—confidence building, stress
alleviation, stupid mistake avoidance, accountability,
and fresh ideas—could make the partnership worthwhile. And the knowledge component should not be underestimated. For lack of knowledge most runners, and even most competitive runners, make fundamental mistakes in their training such as not varying the intensity of their workouts sufficiently.

Once you’ve made the decision to work with a coach you must then find one. The first step in this process is deciding if you’d rather work face to face with a coach in your area of work through the internet and/or by phone with a coach who could be anywhere.

The advantages of working face to face with a local coach are obvious. You certainly won’t do every run with your coach present, but he or she can directly supervise some of your most important workouts. You may also enjoy the opportunity to do track workouts and such with a group of other runners working under the same coach. A coach who sees you run can do things that a remote coach cannot, such as correct your form and observe that you look tired and need a rest.

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One of the advantages of opening up the map in your coaching search is that you can be very choosy. If you insist on working with a coach who has experience with national champions—well, there may not be such a coach available in
your area.

To summarize, I think you should have a coach. Few runners regret the decision to hire a coach, and it’s a small risk in any case. If it doesn’t work out you can go back to talking yourself out of making stupid mistakes with your training.

 

A New Way to Get a Coach.

      Technology has recently made possible a new type of coach – with the endless possibilities of the internet today, you can sign up for coaching online! For runners, I recommend Ben Greenfield, author of Author of the popular “Beyond Training” book. He is currently the founder and owner of Human Wellness Solutions, a company that develops innovative and cutting-edge fitness and nutrition services and solutions to help people reach their physical and mental performance goals, whether that be to cross the finish line of an Ironman triathlon, or simply shed a few pounds.

Voted in 2008 as the Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and recognized as the top 100 Most Influential People in Health, Ben Greenfield is a fitness, triathlon, and nutrition expert, and has authored multiple books and DVDs

Voted in 2008 as the Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and recognized as the top 100 Most Influential People in Health, Ben Greenfield is a fitness, triathlon, and nutrition expert, and has authored multiple books and DVDs

    From 2006-2009, Ben was Director of Sports Performance and managed the physiology and biomechanics laboratory at Champions Sports Medicine in Spokane, WA, offering metabolic-based weight loss, bicycle fitting, running gait analysis, swim stroke analysis, VO2 max testing, blood lactate testing, resting metabolic rate analysis, and other cutting-edge procedures for weight loss and performance. He is now a full time coach, trainer, nutritionist and author.

     Ben also owns the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, the internet’s top school for learning the sport of triathlon and how to be a better triathlete, the Superhuman Coach Network, a mastermind and mentorship program for personal trainers and health experts, and Endurance Planet, the world’s leading resource for endurance sports entertainment and podcasts. He was voted in 2008 as the Personal Trainer of the Year, by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, an internationally recognized and respected certifying agency.

His credentials include:

-Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology

-Personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

-Sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)

-Advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta, the “Harvard” of bicycle fitting schools

-Over 9 years experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports

 

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The advantage of this online coaching and training course is that you can have access to the products of one of the best athlete and coach there is at any time you want! Ben Greenfield offers lots of advice, lessons, and training plans from the Triathlon Dominator, to  Running pain free, and strength training. Another great advantage of having an Online Coach is that it costs less compared to when you get a personal coach. When you get an Online Coach, you only pay for a one-time investment for the program you choose, whereas having a personal coach requires you to pay him/her for every session!
 

These programs are proven to work and you can see the many testimonials available for each program. The only setback to having an online coach is that YOU have to push yourself and motivate yourself to be dedicated, consistent, and patient with the program.

Remember that this is not some advertisement that you usually see on the internet claiming instant results – it’s a TRAINING COURSE based on proven exercise programs backed up by sports science. The instructions, demo videos, and even one-on-one online coaching are available with a click from your hands. Like any other training regimen, the results are based on how committed you are to training! The guarantee for each program to work depends on how you guarantee your commitment to it and your passion for running.

Don’t get it if you think you won’t be able to follow consistently and be patient with the results. But if you are passionate with your sport and you really want to commit to train to achieve more, then get coached by one of the best triathletes today – it’s worth the investment!

Ben Greenfield offers numerous eBooks and training courses, and if you are the committed athlete who is wiling to invest time and resources in the best training plan there is, the Ironman Dominator Package is for you:

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If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right. This applies to just about everything in life, and strength
training is no different. It’s too important—and your time is too valuable—not to do it well.

Consider this quote from Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry Lodge’s terrific book, Younger Next Year: “Cardio training may save your life, but resistan0ce training makes it worth living.” This illustrates the essential quality that strength training possesses. Cardio makes your lungs, heart, and blood more capable while strength training improves the bones, muscles and joints—making you feel better while you are moving and doing things.
 

Here are four common strength-training mistakes and some tips for turning these mistakes into successes.
1. Switching Programs Too Often (Often Called “Program Hopping”)

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There are a many effective workout programs. There also are many great subjects you can study in college. What’s the connection? In college, you sign up for a class and then you attend it several times a week—for an entire semester. Obvious, right? Of course, this is the best way to gain sufficient knowledge and mastery of a subject for it to be at all useful.

Imagine a college that would let you change your classes every other week. You’d spend a no more than two to three weeks in each class and then change to new classes. Just as you’re getting to the point where you’re starting to actually learn something and get a little better at it, change happens and it’s gone. This is ridiculous! And yet, this is exactly what most people do with their workout programs.

No one gets out of shape overnight. It’s actually a relatively lengthy process of consistently repeating a combination of behaviors that result in physical transformation given enough time. And the exact same thing applies to what it takes to get in shape.

Yet somehow with strength training, the simple truth of what it takes to see progress is often abandoned in favor of jumping to a new program after a few weeks, because a radical transformation hasn’t happened.
 

FIX THE MISTAKE: Once you begin an effective program, get into it, do the work, and make sure to keep it steadily progressive so things get a little more challenging as your body begins to adapt. The rest of this article contains some great tips for doing just that, but no program will be effective if you don’t stick with it long enough to see results. How long is long enough? I recommend a minimum of four weeks, with a maximum of 10 to 12 weeks before changing programs.
2. Lifting…Without Shifting or Twisting
Most weightlifting exercises involve lifting, directly opposing gravity by moving resistance vertically up and down (e.g., squat, dead lift, shoulder press, pull-up). But in life, we lift, shift and twist things we hold, even if it’s just ourselves. We move through gravity, which means we have to deal with momentum. We live and move in three planes of movement, so a strength-training program in three planes of movement is essential.

FIX THE MISTAKE: We’ve done a great job of spreading the message that resistance training (“lifting”) is essential for fitness. Now we need to expand the definition of lifting to include shifting and twisting. The exercise options here are nearly limitless. Click here to view three great examples of these exercises from a full article I wrote on this topic.
 

3. Never Changing Your Speed

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Strength training is great for developing muscle and aesthetics, but it’s equally important to do it for life in general. Life comes at you at different speeds. Sometimes life makes you move fast, like when you almost drop your cell phone. Sometimes life makes you move fast and unpredictably, like when someone bumps into you while walking down the street.

And yet with strength training, it is usually performed at a slow, controlled tempo out of concern for safety. Somehow, adding speed is automatically considered dangerous. Speed without skill is dangerous. But speed that is added to skill is the essence of moving in life and in sport. If all of your strength training is slow and controlled, then you’re not really getting ready for everything life can throw at you.

To be clear on terms, truthfully “strength” training is done for a low number of reps with high resistance (see next mistake, below). In common use, “strength training” and “resistance training” are used interchangeably, although the former is really a type of the latter. When you add speed, you’re training more for power or reactivity than strictly strength. But the ability to apply some strength quickly is what gets you out of most of life’s potential physical challenges.

FIX THE MISTAKE: Try moving a little faster while weight training—and perhaps even a little slower—than you are used to. The more range of speeds you train for, the more ability your body develops. Add enough speed that it challenges you in new ways, but not so much that it makes your movements too sloppy.

4. Lifting Too Little
A prominent “celebrity trainer” insists that women should never lift more than 3 pounds. Essentially, she’s telling every mother and grandmother to never pick up or hold her children or grandchildren. She didn’t say that specifically, but children obviously weigh more than 3 pounds. Where is the backlash? Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any because, when it comes to women and strength training, many still believe that any weight is too heavy. Despite the fact that countless articles and experts seek to dispel this myth, it continues to dominate the thinking of many people and, unfortunately, even some trainers. To get the benefits of strength training (or any other form of exercise), you must provide a stimulus beyond which the body is currently adapted.

The common fear that lifting heavier weights will make you too bulky is, like most fears, unfounded and irrational. It is exceedingly difficult to grow very large muscles, and even more so for women due to hormone differences between the genders.

Lifting heaver does not mean going from 10 pounds to 200 pounds, so concerns about safety are grossly overstated and unfounded. By steadily increasing demand, real gains in strength, muscle definition and physical ability are guaranteed.

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FIX THE MISTAKE: Once you’ve been using a comfortably challenging weight for a while, try to beat your rep goal and don’t stop until you feel fatigued on the movement. Once you can do two or more reps than your target, you can be assured that it’s safe to increase the amount of resistance. If you’re concerned about going up too much, just progress to the next smallest increment. I’ll tell you a secret: Sometimes to drive this point home with a client, I will talk to them about something distracting while they are performing an exercise so they lose count and I have them keep going until they feel fatigue. I’m keeping track of the reps and when they are done I tell them how many they did. Many people are shocked when they double their target reps with a given weight!
 

Wrap-up

Making real progress with strength training is not easy, but it isn’t the hardest thing in the world either. It’s much more challenging to life a live of decreasing strength, ability and vitality. All you need is the right mix of consistency and intensity. Yes, it’s a little tough. But you are worth the effort. If the human body can do it, it’s best to train for it. So lift heavier weights more slowly, lift lighter weights more quickly, and mix in some shifting and twisting along with your lifting, and you’ll be well on your way to strength-training success.

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This post is originally from “Ace Fit.”

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