- Why isn’t it enough just to do aerobic exercise?
- Why should we go to the gym or use weights at home?
- Why do you need to get some muscle?
First, let’s look at some sobering facts:
- In the mid-1980s, biochemists established that muscles were essential to immunity, as glutamine was manufactured by muscles and glutamine was the key to the immune system
- From 20 and 80 years old, females lose on average 8 lbs of healthy muscle and gain 23 lbs of excess fat.
- From 20 and 80 years old, men lose a quarter of their muscle mass, and a lot of their immunity to diseases follows this.
- In a study of 2,300 people over five years, the University of Pittsburgh found that those with low quads strength were 51% more likely to die. A second study looked at both age and quads strength, and they found that you were 13 times more likely to die with weak quad A sobering fact.
Do you want to lose more fat and look younger?
In a ten-week study by Neil McCartney, it was shown that using weights, a form of resistive exercise, is part of the answer. In this study, inactive females who had an average of 21.8% fat were split into two groups (McCartney, cited in Colgan, 2005). Some of these ladies were advised to follow only an aerobic exercise regime, and the others had resistive exercise using weights added to their regime. Those using weights achieved a greater fat reduction of 7.1%, compared to those not using weights who achieved only 5.6%.
In another study (Willis et al 2012 J Appl Physiol) they concluded that resistance exercise was more effective for muscle mass gains, aerobic exercise was better for fat loss. If increasing muscle mass and strength was the goal, resistive exercise must be included in the program.
Other studies went have shown that resistive exercise boosted human growth hormone, testosterone, and DHEA, which were all anti- ageing and immunity boosters. Furthermore, when this happens, the stress hormone goes down, slow wave sleep is boosted, and so is bone strength.
Here’s a starting point for all you beginners out there who want to try a resistive exercise:
It’s best to limit yourself to a maximum of 45 to 60 minutes in any one session, and if you have a busy day, even doing several sessions in 15 minute blocks will add up and make all the difference. You need to work different muscles with different exercises, and even with the same muscles, you need to vary the intensity and the type of exercise in order to constantly challenge your muscles. One way of doing this is to write down a list and put them in a jar. You can then randomly pull out different ones to stop boredom from creeping in – something that my personal fitness coach at the clinic suggests doing. I would add to this that I’d like you to group lower limb, back/stomach, and upper limb exercises in order to allow the necessary recovery for your muscles to repair themselves.
Studies show that improved muscle strengthening comes from including eccentric loading (which is loading the muscle as its fibres lengthen rather than as they shorten). If this all sounds a bit complicated, then call us on 01889 881488. We can help make sure you are doing the right exercises at the right time and in the right way. Make sure you never overstrain, though, because inflammation isn’t good. Damaged muscles will take five to eight days to repair and strengthen.
I teach my patients very specific exercises for their specific injuries. However, here is a simple general guide:
- Start by doing an aerobic action, either by using a lightweight with 8 to 12 reps, or just a warm-up exercise.
- Then work the chosen muscle with a stronger 8 to 10 repetition, pushing yourself to near exhaustion by the last one.
- To work a selected group of muscles, leave a minimum of 48 hours in between for healing.
- Take a protein drink an hour after a hard workout. Before a workout, take some glucose and hydrate well. Keep an alkaline diet, as muscle work will enhance an acidic environment.
Muscles have two types of fibre: the slow and fast twitch, the former working hard during aerobic activity, and the latter in explosive actions and weight training. Unlike the constant supply of energy generated during aerobic exercise, the fast twitch can only grab energy in the muscle, hence short bursts of exertion only, before its short battery life is effectively over.
Another factor is your body type, as this will impact your response to training and the diet you need to follow:
- Ectomorphs are those irritating friends who eat everything and stay looking slim in clothes, as it is more difficult for them to build muscle.
- Endomorphs are heavier; they put weight on more easily and have to diet. They can build muscle, but it is often buried under the fat, making them look bigger. Aerobic workouts are essential here – that or big pants!
- Mesomorphs, on the other hand, have an athletic build, narrow waist, and broad shoulders. They build muscle easily, although they have to diet as well.
Patients ask me how heavy, how often, and how long for, and the key here is to follow a guided program of specific coordinated exercise, as muscles will strengthen faster and with less weight.
I found that my maximum dumbbell weight for toning was to do between 12 and 15 reps comfortably then go hard with the last 3. Then, I had to take a break before the next set. When you want to bulk up a muscle, it’s the handful of hard reps that do the breaking down and rebuilding action – not particularly kind to your body. Needing to continue that feeling of toning to get gently stronger means that you have to gently increase the weight, which is a rewarding and positive thing to do. Toning means high reps of 15 or more, low exertion and only 30 seconds are needed between sets. When defining, you need to make more of an effort to do 10 to 14 reps before muscle fatigue, with only a minute to recover, then repeat. Building and stressing muscles means fatigue at a max of 10, pushing into pain for an extra couple of reps, and a minute or two’s rest is essential. After injury, the first set is the first to be attempted.
Pushing your strength – rather than toning – means using a weight that you can just move a maximum of 4 to 8 reps, then resting a minute or two minutes per set. The latter will lead to muscle soreness, repair, and bulking. A good time to consider Sports Massage.
Free weights involve more body control and are, on the whole, more effective. I tend to work opposing or different muscles to fill the rest of the time in with an exercise for a different muscle, and it also allows more recovery time, as I don’t want muscle soreness hindering me afterwards.
If you want to reduce fat and increase your strength and need to be guided to ensure the best results while minimizing the chances of injury, then call us.
We can help.
Do You Need Help With Your Running?
Call 01889 881488 NOW
Jean, Erica and Charlotte will be happy to help.
Ask to see Anton, Katie or Dean