Step one – let’s be clear about our training goals
Ask people in the fitness studio why they exercise and you may get many quite different answers. Actually, many people will feel embarrassed about your question because they have never really given much thought to the goal in theirworkouts.
That is the first elementary mistake. If you want to accomplish somethingyou must first of all seek to define your goal as clearly as possible. There is nothing such as a “universal” kind of training. Exercising with weights may have the following goals:
-build muscle mass,
-improve one’s endurance,
-improve functional strength either for a specific purpose (which may be associated with a specific sport that requirescertain muscles to be strengthened or for the sake of overall good health in which muscles supporting the spine, the so-called postural muscles, are the focus).
People usually combine various kinds of training. One has to remember, though, that different ways of stimulating the organism are applied in these situations,with different and often contradictory results.
For example, training intended to burn fat also partially reduces muscle mass to a smaller or larger extent.
Here are examples that illustrate these issues:
Body building: enhancing muscles, losing fat
Crossfit: endurance, functional strength (especially strength to lift weight above the head, needed by firefighters, soldiers and similar professions)
Martial arts: endurance, explosiveness, functional strength (especially muscles responsible for stability of the body)
The majority of our readers are interested in body building and for that reason I would like to stress that many body building training plans almost never consider the inner muscles which, although invisible, play an important role. Underestimating the postural muscles is responsible for most injuries and health difficulties caused by training of just one type.
Training and food
Let’s remember: muscles are not built in the fitness studio. The immediate effect is rather to the contrary since what is happening is that muscle is being consumed and used as fuel. But there is another process running in parallel, namely your body receives a signal telling it that it needs to synthesise proteins and develop new muscle mass.
Muscles cannot be built up unless they get the appropriate supply of protein. All knowledgeable body builders keep an eye on at least two components in their diet, namely: the total caloric intake and the amount of protein consumed on a daily basis. The protein-carbohydrate-fat ratio is also very important; if your food contains too much carbohydrate, you will increase not only muscles but also fat deposits.
In other words: muscles are built in the kitchen and shaped in the fitness studio.
For that reason we attribute the same importance to diet as we do to training. And just as there are different kinds of trainings for different training goals, your training goal has to be underpinned with the right diet.
Purely power-oriented sports such as powerlifting call for diet which is much richer in carbohydrates than diets for sports aiming at developing an ideal body shape.
We will discuss that topic in more detail in our specific diet plans that are grouped by training goals and by body types.
There are two factors in our day-to-day lives which have an impact on the effectiveness of our fitness effort, namely sleep and stress.
All professional body builders make sure they get about 9 hours of sleep every day. If sleep is reduced to less than 8 hours, one is not able to do the training properly and the body has not had enough time for regeneration.
Stress triggers production of substance called catecholaminewhich has a direct and strong catabolic effect (causing breakdown of muscle tissue).
No one likes stress. And if stress is also reducing your muscle mass which you have been painstakingly building up, that is really a stressful thought J.
“Magic” shortcuts to larger muscles
Food supplements or drugs to support muscle growth do exist and are commonly used by both amateur and professional athletes. The most common agent is creatine but there are alsosubstances supporting the production of testosterone, anabolic steroids (artificially produced testosterone derivatives which are illegal in most countries) and also xenoandrogens (which are legal so far).
There are also, of course, many products for pre-training stimulation, post-training regeneration and the like.
“Magic” substances that have “just been discovered” by scientists at a most prestigious, but unnamed, university which are secretly being used by Hollywood stars (as deceitful advertisements seek to make us believe) certainly do not really exist. If you decide to use any supplements in your training, do make sure that you scrutinise them well to find out what they actually contain.
Organize your trainings
To achieve the desired results develop a proper training plan and then stick to it as much as you can. The training plan needs to take account of your training goals, your body type and how advanced you are in your training. Many such training plans have been developed by our specialists and you can find them here.
You will need one more tool to monitor how your training is progressing:a training diary.
Your training diary usually includes:exercise, weight, and number of repetitions.You can enter these data in a written diary (I did that when I was a student), or you can use a computerized tool available from the Internet.
The automated system at musqle.com automatically imports your training plan into your training diary and simultaneously evaluates your progress over a specified timeperiod (the system is completely free of charge and free of advertisements so please do not worry about that).
Intensity and discipline
If your training is too short or too irregular, the results will not make you happy.If you go to the other extreme and train too intensively with no breaks for regeneration, sooner or later you may end up being over-trained.
Setting the optimum training intensity is crucial. Adhering to the plan and not skipping trainings, without a good reason, is even more important.
The optimum training frequency for most people is 3 to 5 training days per week. If you are in shape, are slim or have a resilient body not prone to over-training, you can exercise 6 days in a week.
An ordinary body building training may include about 20, to a maximum 30,difficult series (this number does not include warm-up exercises). The number of series per training cannot be precisely defined since there are several different approaches in this area.
What certainly is true is that a person with an ectomorph body type should include fewer series in their training than people with bulkier bodies.
A one-week break is needed from time to time. You may be ill or go on holiday or cannot exercise for some other reason and in that way you take “natural breaks” and do not have to worry further about scheduling them.
If this is not the case, I recommend including in your training plan at least one week free of exercise every six months.