Weight Training and Body Building
Useful information for all of the body building oriented and weight training interested people.
Weight training is a form of exercise where the body is subjected to increasing amounts of resistance in the form of weights. The body has to work against gravity and in the process adapts itself and becomes stronger. With weight training, the size of the muscles increases due to the adapting of the body to increasing amounts of load. The increased muscles lead to more strength, and hence more load bearing ability of the body. Weight training can go further in the form of body building which is a sport and art form, as one has to work hard to develop all the muscle groups and then skillfully and artistically display the muscles on the stage.
The muscles are composed of fibers. When a person lifts weights, the muscle fibers tire out and recruit new muscle fibers. This, however, happens only when the weight training is adequate enough, and the muscles tire out adequately. For this to happen, the weight trainee must lift weights in sets of 8-15 repetitions (depending on the exercise) making sure that the trainee does each set to failure. What this means is that the trainee should adjust the amount of weight so that he can only accomplish 8-15 repetitions in each set, and does not have the strength to go beyond this amount of repetitions.
Keep the following points in mind while commencing a weight training program:
1. Weights must be lifted in 8-12 repetitions per set for the upper body and 12-15 repetitions per set for the lower body.
2. Each set must be carried out to failure.
3. Muscle groups exercised on a particular day should be rested on the next day since muscles need time to grow.
4. The amount of weight should be progressively increased so that each set is completed to failure. The amount of weight you lift i.e. how hard you push your muscles in a training session is referred to as the intensity of the training. Cardiovascular endurance is the limiting factor in increasing the weight training intensity since the body must have the capacity to supply enough oxygen to the muscles.
5. You must progressively increase the intensity of the exercise as you work along your weight training program. You can increase the intensity by increasing the load, or by doing the sets faster and cutting down the period of rest between sets. The stronger you become, the more intensity of exercise will be required to make a difference to the muscles. Some ways to increase the intensity of the weight training workout are:
a) Supersets: Where you group two exercises together for opposing muscle groups.
b) Tri-sets: Where you do three exercises for a muscle group without a pause.
c) Giant Sets: Where you do 4-6 exercises of a muscle group with little or no rest.
d) Descending Sets: You can reduce the weights within a set by removing plates. This can help to increase the overall intensity of the set since you will be able to maximize your lifting potential during each set.
e) Forced Reps: When you cannot do any more reps, ask an attendant to help you a little so you can do a few extra reps.
f) Partial Reps: You can do some reps without the full range of motion to make them easier. This can be done when you cannot complete a full set of the normal reps.
6. Weights should be lifted through the longest range of possible motions for each exercise to engage the maximum number of muscle fibers.
Over Training and Pain:
In weight training, you must stop whenever you feel pain. This should not be confused with the burning sensation that you get when you are doing a lot of hard repetitions to full capacity. That burning feeling is due to the build up of lactic acid in the muscles and is different from injury. The burning is an indication that the muscles are working to full capacity and you can push them a little further - still trying to avoid injury. If you feel a pain that is not associated with the burning sensation, it is time to stop. It is better to call off the day's exercise plan than to run the risk of not exercising for a whole month if an injury takes place.
Over training is a phenomenon that is caused by over enthusiasm leading to excessive exercise. Over exercising can not only lead to injury and wear and tear but also to mental fatigue. It is one of the major reasons why people, especially youngsters, give up exercising after some time. Training should be done to the point that it is comfortable to the mind and the body. The saying "The more the better" does not always hold true while exercising. In case the muscles have been over fatigued, they usually recover after 48 hours of rest, which can be safely prescribed. If the problem seems to be a muscle tear, sprain or related to the bone, you must treat it as a sports injury and take further precautions.
Weight Training and Endurance:
Weight training helps to build the bodies muscular endurance i.e. the bodies ability to engage a large number of muscle fibers so as to complete several repetitions of the exercise. Weight training however improves the cardiovascular system along with the muscular endurance. This is essential since weight training leads to a build up of lactic acid in the muscles which can then be reprocessed into energy by the cardiovascular system. It is therefore a good idea to mix aerobic exercises with weight training exercises so that the bodies cardiovascular system also becomes stronger with the muscles.
Warming Up and Stretching
Warming up is essential before any form of exercise. The warming up process protects the body from injury and heats up the body besides supplying oxygenated blood to the various areas so as to prepare it for exercise. Warming up can take the form of light jogging, standing exercises and cycling, etc.
Repetitions and Sets (Reps and Sets)
Weight training exercises are always carried out in sets of exercises. A set comprises repetitions of an exercise. Five sets of any particular exercise are enough to stimulate the muscles. More than five sets could lead to over training injuries and should be avoided. Repetitions of a weight training exercise should be carried out to the point of failure (up to the level where you can go no further).
This should be accomplished with the correct amount of weight so that you can accomplish five sets to failure with the following amount of reps in each set:
First set, 15 reps
Second set, 10 reps
Third set, 8 reps
Fourth set, 6 reps
Fifth set, 6 reps
You must try to train at a steady pace. If you train too slowly, you will give the muscles too much time to recover (and they will not grow as fast), and if you train too fast, you can injure yourself and over-strain your cardiovascular system. The perfect rest period between sets is 1 minute. Remember to breathe out when you exert effort i.e. when your body exerts to lift a load. Never hold your breath during weight training as your blood pressure increases substantially while lifting the load and stopping your breath can take it even higher and to dangerous levels.
Disclaimer: The information contained in the post is solely for educational purposes on the given subject. It should not be considered a medical advice nor should it be used as a substitute for medical advice and expertise of a physician, physiotherapist or a dietitian.