Sunday, January 16, 2011

If The Bar Ain't Bending, Then You Are Just Pretending

I love this saying. It may be viewed as some testosterone-fueled powerlifter mantra, but I think it is very simple and profound for anyone wanting to derive the extensive benefits of strength training.

Strength training is the process of
gradually and progressively overloading the musculoskeletal system to increase muscular strength. It is as simple and straight-forward as that. Though, I see the majority of people in the gym, especially females, not gradually and progressively overloading their musculoskeletal systems and not getting stronger.

It is very easy to see whether your training is working or not; you get stronger. You can gradually add more weight to the bar. As simple of a concept that may be, so many people don't improve their strength much at all.

Most people I see in the gym are not getting significantly stronger with their training. Here are three common reasons:

1. Failing To Progresively Overload: You need an appropriate, progressive stimulus to increase strength. Whether you don't know that principle, simply just neglect it, or have poor technique, you will never give your body the stimulus to build significant strength without a gradual, consistent, progressive overload.

2. Exercises and Techniques Used Don't Allow You To Adequately Load Your Muscles: Today, many trendy exercises are used for strength training, such as unstable surfaces (Bosu ball). While these exercises may be challenging to perform, they also severely limit safe loading of the target muscles, thus limiting strength-building stimuli.

3. Too Much Stimulus/Too Little Recovery:. If three days per week of lifting provides good results, then five days must provide even better results, right? Wrong. To build strength, you need an adequate training stimuli, but your body needs to also recover or you will be chronically sore and never build much strength A lot of people who love to workout and are at the gym everyday (overall, a small minority) fall into this category. While the excessive strength training may help keep body fat levels low, it will also keep strength levels low.

If you want to receive the well-documented, positive effects of strength training, then you have to actually train to get stronger. Gradually, progressively overload the bar so it starts bending, or you are simply pretending to be strength training!

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