There are a few things that need to happen in order to produce muscle growth. You need to use significant load when lifting weights Enough time under tension to create structural damage to the muscle tissue Enough stimuli to up-regulate anabolic hormones and increase protein synthesis Proper recovery and workout nutrition Many people often think that if they lift as heavy as possible, or use as much volume (sets and reps) as possible they will […]
Why Strength Training is King
Most people I come in contact with are under the impression that they need to be doing endless amounts of cardiovascular exercise in order to lose fat. The common misconception is that you need to burn a ton of calories during exercise in order to see results. People think that the higher the calorie counter goes up on the Elliptical or treadmill, the better.
Unfortunately, many people learn the hard way that this does not produce the best results.
I follow the best trainers and coaches in the world. They all talk about mobility, conditioning and corrective exercise being important. But, the number one thing they always come back to is strength training.
Let me share with you some great quotes from some great coaches and trainers.
“Getting stronger makes everything in life easier.”
“ Absolute strength is the glass. Everything else is the liquid inside the glass. The bigger the glass, the more of everything else you can do.”
– Brett Jones
“ Strength is a skill.”
– Pavel Tsatsouline (the guy who brought the kettlebell to America)
Getting stronger will help you get there, no matter what your goal is.
The first thing that you need to do is stop focusing on how many calories you burn in the gym or on a long run and instead focus on how your body expends calories outside of the gym. You burn calories throughout the day regardless of what you are doing, but exercise helps increase the rate at which you burn those calories. With most forms of traditional steady-state cardio, you expend calories while you’re exercising, but once you stop, you quickly go back to your normal metabolic rate.
Strength training, however, builds muscle, and more muscle helps you burn calories—even when you’re doing nothing but sitting at your desk. Strength training is a critical component of any program that emphasizes long-term fat loss. The more muscle you have, the more fuel you are constantly burning. Your muscles are “thirsty” from a metabolic perspective after you are done strength training.
Optimizing Hormones With Strength Training For Fat Loss
A solid strength-training program also optimizes key hormones that help burn fat and build muscle tissue. Large compound exercises, such as Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and jump squats have been shown to produce large elevations in Testosterone as compared to small-mass exercises.
Growth hormone (GH) is also a key hormone that can elicit a great response in promoting tissue anabolism. To increase muscle size and fat loss, GH is key. Research shows that strength-training protocols that elicit high levels of blood lactate tend to produce the mostly substantial GH responses. Lactate training is often affiliated with the common parameters of hypertrophy training.
Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) is also another key hormone that can shed body fat and build muscle. IGF also aids in protein synthesis (production of new muscle tissue) during strength training and therefore enhances hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Cortisol is another key hormone that can have a dramatic affect on fat loss and muscle-tissue building. As opposed to the hormones I discussed above, cortisol is actually catabolic (breaks down muscle tissue) in nature. So, we want to try and minimize this affect to build more muscle. In order to minimize this affect, you need to train hard and intense, but not too long.
You also need to take recovery into account. Overtraining, (a common problem with runners and other endurance athletes) can cause a dramatic increase in cortisol.
If you overdo the metabolic training, you may end up with some muscle loss. Too much cardiovascular exercise and even too much exercise in general can wreak havoc on your pursuit to build muscle and burn fat.
Make sure you choose quality over quantity and avoid long bouts of cardio. Also, make sure you take in the proper amount of nutrients and sleep 6-9 hours each night to endue proper recovery.
You Can Include Cardio, Just Don’t Overdo It
As you can see, strength training is #1 in order to lose fat and build muscle tissue. It’s not that running as exercise is bad, but it puts a fair amount of stress on your muscles and joints. Instead of jumping off the couch and engaging in a running program, make sure you take the time to strengthen your hip and core stabilizers, as well as other muscles in order to prevent injury and build strength and muscle.
Many of us need activities that are a bit more joint-friendly, as the constant pounding caused by running is too much. I actually like the Airdyne bike and Concept 2 Rower as a much better option for cardiovascular training. They are much more friendly on the joints and cause a greater “metabolic disturbance” that produces more fat loss without the stress on the joints.
Running can still be options for exercise; it just shouldn’t be the only form of exercise to lose fat.
You need to focus on building muscle tissue, in order to see long-term fat loss. Making strength training the base of your fitness plan is the way to go.
Strength Training Does NOT Make You Bulky, Ladies
I am not going to go crazy on this issue, but I had to bring it up for the ladies. Simply put, strength training will not make women look bulky. Women simply do not have enough of the muscle building hormone, testosterone, running though their veins; about 1/10 less than males.
Yes, they have enough to build enough muscle to get that coveted “toned” look, but not enough to look like a huge bodybuilder (and I am pretty sure no woman wants to look like that).
Just go into any big box gym and notice all of the males pounding away at the weights. Most of them look the same year after year, even after hitting bench and curls hard. This will prove to you that gaining muscle is not that easy. Granted those guys probably have poor diet and training program, but you get the picture.
In order to really gain mass, you need many key factors to be in place. Women simply don’t have the ability to get “bulky” that easy. Odds are if you are gaining weight, it is your diet, not the weightlifting, so adjust your caloric intake before you decided to give up the weights.
A Quick Strength Training Workout
I could include many different strength-training protocols that could all produce results. But, to keep it simple, I will give you the basics.
▪ Push something
▪ Pull something
▪ Carry something heavy
It’s really that simple! Try this workout below for 6 weeks and watch your progress fly through the roof!
Preferably done Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Alternate Day 1 and Day 2 workouts.
* Perform each workout in a circuit fashion. This does not mean you should rush through the workout. Take as much time as you need to, in order to recover from the previous exercise. For instance, you may need to rest longer after a heavy deadlift than a push-up.
3 rounds for 8 reps of each exercise, unless specified otherwise
▪ A1 Pull-ups
▪ A2 Goblet Squat
▪ A3 Push-ups
▪ A4 Kettlebell Deadlifts
▪ A5 Farmers Walk – 5 sets of 40 yards
▪ A1 1-Arm Dumbbell Row
▪ A2 1-Leg Bulgarian Split Squats
▪ A3 1-Arm Kettlebell Push press
▪ A4 1-Leg Deadlift
▪ A5 Sled Push, 5 sets of 40 yards
Preferably done Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Alternate Day 1 and Day 2
3 sets of 5 reps, unless specified otherwise
▪ A1 Pendlay Row
▪ A2 Front Squats
▪ A3 Bench Press
▪ A4 Kettlebell Swings – 10 reps
▪ A5 Overhead Carry – 5 sets of 40 yards each
▪ A1 Chin-ups
▪ A2 Goblet Squats
▪ A3 Barbell Push press
▪ A4 Deadlifts
▪ A5 Sled Crawl – 5 sets of 40 yards
Time To Get Strong
There is nothing more powerful in fitness than getting stronger, building muscle, and empowering yourself to improve on the weights. The stronger you get, the easier everything else becomes. Get stronger and watch some magical stuff happen.
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