Weight Training & Exercise
About exercise: People exercise for many positive reasons, maybe for building muscles, strengthening the cardiovascular system or simply as a leisure activity. Whatever may be the reason, exercise is always good for health, if it is performed under safe conditions.
It is recommended that everyone should exercise at least 30 minutes daily for good health. Exercises are generally grouped into three types depending on the overall effect they have on the human body: Aerobic, Anaerobic, and Flexibility.
Aerobic exercises aim to strengthen muscles and improve the cardiovascular system. It works to improve the oxygen intake by body cells. It involves movement of the muscle groups during moderate to intense level exercise for an extended period (at least 20 minutes).
Examples are biking, dancing, swimming, walking, jumping rope, and running.
Anaerobic exercises such as weight training, functional training or sprinting, increase short-term muscle strength.
Flexibility exercises such as stretching, improve the range of motion of muscles and joints. Stretching exercises help to reduce muscle soreness and/or injuries and help aid the proper recovery of muscles.
Muscles are made up of a bundle of fibers that contract during their work phase, then relax.
To strengthen a muscle you add resistance to make the work phase, or contraction for that muscle more difficult.
Ex. Your quadriceps work to straighten or extend your leg. To strengthen them you might hold a weight and then do squats so that it makes it more of a challenges for your quadriceps to straighten your leg
To stretch a specific muscle you attempt to elongate the fibers. This action pulls the fibers in the opposite way to how they contract in their work phase.
Ex. To stretch your quadriceps you might bend your legs and gently pull, like in our “flamingo” stretch.
How do muscles work?
Voluntary muscular contractions can be classified according to either length changes or force levels. In spite of the fact that the muscle only actually shortens in concentric contractions, all are typically referred to as "contractions".
In concentric contraction, the muscle shortens as it contracts. The force generated by the muscle overcomes the resistance. This is what most people think of as a muscle contraction and weight lifting. An example is lifting up the dumbbell in a bicep curl.
In eccentric contraction, the force generated is not enough to overcome the external load on the muscle and the muscle fibers lengthen as they contract. An eccentric contraction is used as a means of decelerating a body part or object. An example is lowering a weight gently rather than letting it drop.
In isometric contraction, the muscle remains the same length. Isometric exercises are done in static positions against resistance. An example would be holding an object up without moving it so the muscular force precisely matches the load, and no movement results.
Principles of Muscle Training
Basic workout principles:
Overload: To build muscles you need to use more resistance than your muscles are used to.
Progression: increase your intensity over time. This can be changing the weights, repetitions or types of exercise. This is to avoid plateaus or adaptation.
Specificity: target the muscles that will help you achieve your goals.
Rest and Recovery: Muscles get stronger because working them out creates tiny tears. With proper nutrients and rest your body will repair them and make them stronger than before.
For more strength and size you would want more resistance with fewer reps. For more tone and endurance you would want more repetitions with less resistance.
Exhale while working, inhale while recovering.