The benefits of a training regimen

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Trained today and was delighted to see 30% increase in weight chest-benched.  Before getting overexcited about this, this always happens when you come back after a layoff.

The body says OMG, there’s trouble and starts bulking up to cope with the next assault but after some weeks it gets clever and starts to have a plan to cope with regular assault – therefore it delivers less increase, until finally one reaches that famous plateau.

That’s why I have to maximize now before the slowdown in the increase happens.  Training to a plan and running the same exercise for each muscle group for four sessions on each group is a good idea, then change it round bit by bit to shock the body into having to cope with new demands.

Off day

This is where the gains come in and diet is everything.  “Hydrated and fed” is the rule more than ever.  TTL we have good water here in England. There are many things which need to be changed too – 5 or 6 small meals the size of a small bowl, no snacking, no processed or saturated, no fried.  Each meal needs about 40% good carbs, 35% protein and about 25% fat.

One of the better articles I’ve seen says:

Sources for protein include lean meats, fish, egg whites, low fat cottage cheese and whey protein.  Complex carbs include potatoes, yams, bread, cereals, grains, pasta and rice; simple carbs include most fruit and veggie carbs which include most vegetables and leafy greens.  Fats are also a necessity but should come from the following sources: extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, nuts (almonds are best) and fish oil.

It’s not all austerity though.  the article also says:

Let’s take this one step further. Here is a magic formula for extreme lean muscle mass and fat burning. For three days in a row, come hell or high water, only eat complex carbs first thing in the morning (a serving of oatmeal will do it) and immediately after your workout. On the fourth day, eat a ton of carbs. Actually cheat on this day. Eat whatever you want, but ensure that you eat sufficient protein and lots of complex carbs. This is the time to eat pizza, pasta, cake and so on.

That’s the reward principle but there’s bioscience behind it. You need to train your body to process protein properly and store good carbs to enable efficient gains in muscle mass.  On a training day, you must be well hydrated beforehand and with lots of carbs to burn and some protein to process.

Session essentials

At a training session, there are three key elements:

1.  Cover all muscles groups in natural combinations over a few days, either two or three.  I do a Day 1 – chest, shoulders, biceps and a Day 2 – back, neck, legs, triceps.  Abdomen is done on all days.  I train three days a week.

2.  The technique must be absolutely correct, otherwise, you’re wasting your time.  For example, today with biceps, seated, alternately raising one hand, then the other, the tendency was for the elbows to move out because I was trying to shift too much weight.  I dropped a kilo and stuck to technique.

3.  Pain and failure.  These are an essential ingredient – what they call the “good pain” or muscle exhaustion.  It’s always repetitions versus weight.  Some things require more reps [15-20] and others require sheer mass shifting [around 8 reps].

The key here is to go further than you think you’re capable of.  Today there was no one about and on bench lift, I go to failure, i.e. I push enough reps that eventually I fail and the weight crashes down.  Even on a Smith machine with lugs which stop it hitting your chest, this is not pleasant.

So you need a “spotter”, a person who stands behind and is there for that last push, sees you’re “gone” and puts hands under the bar.  He doesn’t even have to take up much weight – it’s all psychological and it means you can put the weight back in its perch, knowing there is that safety net of the spotter.

Today, there wasn’t one and the cautious mind only let me do 80% of what I could have, with resulting less gain.  That was annoying.

Benefits

Everything benefits.

Quite apart from the incremental and slow change to body shape, there is cardiovascular and pulmonary improvement [including aerobic exercise in the regimen], feeling of well-being and a certain euphoria from the body’s chemicals moving into action.

One side-benefit is that you actually begin to prefer lean, clean and fresh food so you’re more likely to take a carrot strip dipped in a cottage cheese dip to chish ‘n fips.

And overall energy and intelligence improve, provided you keep the brain ticking over.  This, in turn, allows you to cope better and a blogger’s blog becomes more positive and attractive to read.

The downside?  Time, cost and self-discipline.

Fallacies

That you can do it without putting yourself out.  That you can gain a body through diet alone or through pills and supplements.  The whole critical bottom line is that it’s going to cost you big and there are no shortcuts, no miracle methods.

There are methods, yes, some better than others but giving your all and disciplining yourself are where the results will accrue from.

5 comments for “The benefits of a training regimen

  1. October 17, 2009 at 19:43

    I will have to go back to teh gym soon. My enforced idleness and comfort eating meant that I put on a stack of weight which has to go

  2. October 17, 2009 at 20:27

    Sooner the better, Jams.

  3. October 18, 2009 at 21:27

    I have been working on dialing in my diet better. I still don’t drink enough water though, especially as the weather cools off.

    • October 18, 2009 at 21:34

      Funny you should say that but my intake is down today too and I’m going to do a protein shake now.

  4. October 19, 2009 at 19:44

    James.

    Initial gains do not come from acquired muscle mass.

    They come from a variety of sources.

    Building and fine tuning of signal transduction pathways.

    Attenuation of actual muscle fibres. (read about “gripping site theories”)

    Correct recruitment of attendant fixators, rotators, etc, etc.

    Correct recruitment of prime movers.

    Muscle mass is attained by training to momentary muscular failure. The newcomer is unable to do this for several weeks. (Body defence mechanism).

    Momentary muscular failure is difficult to attain in many people, as there are more than one defence mechanisms, the first being physical, the strongest being mental. That is why a spotter is needed, but even then, it still becomes a mental problem.

    At the point of MMF, the electrolytes, sodium and potassium, change places, each passing through the cell wall. These electrolytes must regain their normal position before repair can begin.

    If you study “heavy chain actin and myosin” fibres in the muscles, you will realize that past a certain point, quite low, mixing weight training and swimming will benefit neither sport, in spite of what many coaches would maintain. They can both form part of a training program, but at different times of the year, for different objectives.

    Having passed through actin and myosin study, you will encounter calcium and magnesium in the strength of the firing impulse. This can be strongly mood, or attitude dependent, predicated in turn by training experience and motivation force.

    It can only be learned within you.

    At some point you will meet ATP recycling and the krebbs cycle, and detailed reading will reveal many secrets.

    Also study eccentric muscle training, and protocols for recruiting seldom fired muscle fibres. (Seldom fired because they are so difficult to mentally access!) These are the secrets seldom spoken of.
    So many trainers make an absolute mess of teaching eccentric training, even profs at uni level, that I begin to wonder….

    Eccentric training can be used as a stepping stone to plyometrics for athletes, but this has practically no relevance to a conventional weight trainer.

    Then you get to nutrition……….

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