Saturday, January 14, 2012

Focus on Getting Stronger

I found this to be VERY interesting and it completely makes sense! I got it from Nia Shanks' site and she always has some great info.

Nia does focus on the beginner here, but this way of working out can be applied to all fitness enthusiasts - not just beginners.

Too many of us focus on losing weight, or getting 'toned'. What we should focus on is getting stronger and then the weight loss and getting 'toned' would follow naturally. Duh! :)

Focusing on building strength is the best way for a beginner to get results, and it’s highly motivating. Beginners make fast initial strength improvements due primarily to neural adaptations. It’s not uncommon for someone to be able to add weight to the bar for weeks in a row when they just start lifting weights. These strength gains aren’t a result of increased muscle, but from the nervous system. Getting stronger week after week is very motivating because you experience positive progress.
Another reason to focus on getting stronger is because beginners lack the necessary strength to make some popular boot-camp or circuit type workouts productive. A beginner is better off keeping the reps fairly low so they can use as much weight as possible. Many boot-camp workouts call for high reps and multiple exercises performed one right after the other with minimal rest.
A beginner with little strength won’t be able to use an appreciable weight for sets of 10 plus reps, and so the impact won’t be nearly as effective as using a heavier weight for sets of 4-7 reps.
As an example, if a woman who can deadlift 95 pounds for 5 reps was to perform a circuit-type workout that called for 12 or more reps, the weight she would use for the high reps would be so low that is wouldn’t elicit a strength response or even challenge her to an appreciable degree. 
Here’s a visual to make sense of that scenario:
This would be a more appropriate deadlift workout for a beginner, assuming her work weight is 95 pounds for 5 reps.
95 x 5 x 5 (95 pounds, 5 sets, 5 reps each set)
Total work load: 2,375 pounds (95 pounds x 5 reps = 475 pounds. 475 pounds x 5 sets = 2,375)
Here is the work load if a beginner performed higher rep sets, assuming a work weight of approximately 60 pounds for 12 reps.
60 x 3 x 12 (60 pounds, 3 sets, 12 reps each set)
Total work load: 2,160 pounds (60 pounds x 12 reps = 720 pounds. 720 pounds x 3 sets = 2,160)
That’s a difference of 215 pounds.
The beginner would have a higher work load with the lower rep workout (5x5). In addition, lower rep sets are better for beginners because they are more likely to maintain proper form on each rep. When a beginner performs higher rep sets, their form is more likely to break down as the set goes on because the smaller, weaker muscles fatigue before the larger muscles.
REMEMBER - you do not have to be a beginner to apply this practice to your workouts. If you have not made progress in a while, try focusing on strength only and see what happens. 

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