What Are You Doing?
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Often, when lifting weights, I get asked why I only do a few repetitions per set and why I take long breaks between each lift. I tell them: "Myo-fibric hypertrophy." After giggling at their expected reaction of confusion I tell them: "Strength and power."
To help you understand what I do when lifting here is my dead lift workout:
- 3 sets of 5 repetitions, light weight, 3 minute rest intervals
- 5 sets of 2 repetitions, heavy weight, 4 minute rest intervals
- 6 sets of 1 repetition, heaviest weight, 5 minute rest intervals
To the average person this seems strange. People always tell me: "I thought you shouldn't rest more than 60 to 90 second between sets", and "Shouldn't you do more reps? 1 or 2 just doesn't seem right." I say that if you want pretty looking muscles then sure, but that's not what I train for.
So, for the viewers at home, I thought i'd share a little of my training with you.
My training is for strength, power and functionality. Using heavy weight with low repetitions trains the brain, in conjunction with the muscle fibres, to be ready at anytime for instant movement or power. Think about it. When you lift shopping bags do you lift ten times over three sets? When picking up a sack of potatoes, are you going to lift another 9 times? No. When I lift my son into my arms I do it once and maybe pick him up again later. Life is often filled with sporadic instant power movements be them great or small.
In training this way it reduces the risk of injury caused by instant movements. how many time have you seen someone bend down quickly to pick something up and then injure their back? I know i've seen it quick often.
The key to instant movement is myo-fibric hypertrophy or creating dense fibres in the muscles to make them less likely to break. This is different from sarcoplasmic hypertrophy where the muscle is worked out over longer reps with little rest in between. This creates a swelling effect filling the muscle with fluid to create an aesthetically pleasing look but the muscle is slightly weaker. Not that they are so far removed from each other when doing any sort of weight training it's just that by training in a certain way you can support more of one than the other.
I choose functional movements such as dead lifts for lifting stuff, pullups for pulling stuff, dips for pushing stuff and front squats for balance. In my personal opinion, these four exercises are the only weightlifting exercises a person needs to create a strong and aesthetically pleasing physique. But the biggest benefit to me is that they all support my lifestyle.
In between lifting weights I do simple cardio such as walking and the elliptical cross trainer for endurance. At work I lift 50 pound bags a few hundred times a day so I have no need to overtrain myself by doing exercises at the gym with high repetitions. I reckon that's taken care of. Pilates and yoga at home and, once or twice a week, I include some crossfit training to support my overall functionality.
I am not creating this lifestyle to focus on looking pretty to anyone, although my training will enhance my overall physical appearance and this is an obvious good side effect lol. I am a dad to six children and I can hardly keep up with them. No, my training is like this so that I can simply function as a person. My wife needs a lot of help around the home and I don't want to end up like one of those fat lazy losers lying on the couch all day. Plus, lifting heavy stuff for your wife and kids makes me feel like a man lol, it really does.
What I ask people when they question my training techniques is what they are training for. How much study they have done to support what they are doing? Do they really know how their workouts affect their body? I ask people to realise that there are thousands of training techniques and all have merit. All training techniques have great benefits in different ways. A runner will train differently to a footballer. A tennis player will train differently to a gymnast. In the end I simply ask them not to be so closed minded and inform themselves before casting a judgement.
I believe we can all be more open minded in everything in life. Open our minds to more possibilities. Explore the unknown. Also, never making uninformed judgements about anything. Rather, making the effort to truly study and inform ourselves before making a decision about whether or not it is or isn't.
Along the way when studying anything we can always find things that we can use and apply to our own lives no matter what it is. Whether it's working out, marriage or painting a house, we should always look to explore new developments and strategies we may not have experienced.
Look for the good in everything first I say. Make judgements based on sound information.
Food for thought. Love and respect always. Kia kaha! Reuben.