Fun Fitness Fridays #8

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

So I was rifling through the comments from last week, smiling, laughing... ya know the usual... and I noticed something. Well actually two things. First, food bloggers are hilarious and awesome :) Second, we really have quite the diverse group here. We have dancers, weight lifters, runners, swimmers, yoga-ers... it's all very cool and interesting. I'm glad that those of you who have found their exercise 'niche', have it, and for those of you still searching, don't worry, it's out there somewhere. This week I'll start to touch on exercise basics to give you a grasp on why people say "do this or do that". I'm hoping it'll answer some questions you all have also.

We're going to go super basic right here, because I think some of this stuff is cool to know (I hope that's an ok reason :) Muscles, believe it or not, move 3 different ways. They shorten, called a concentric contraction... they lengthen, called an eccentric contraction... or they can stay the same length, called an isometric contraction.

Whoa, Adam... I'm more lost than Jack Shephard... back the bus up.... Beep Beep*

Ok pick up your coffee mug. Using your bicep (it bends your elbow), bring the mug up to your face. That's a concentric contraction. Now, lower it down slowly... do you feel how the muscle lengthens and kind of resists against gravity?... eccentric. Now hold it steady so you arm is at 90*.... isometric.

Cool huh?

So why is this stuff important? Well, all of these types of muscle contractions produce force. When you lift weights, it requires force and power. These forces put your muscles under stress, and creates the little microtears that signal your body to heal itself. Now eccentric contractions, lowering a weight slowly against gravity... requires the most amount of force.

Have you ever walked down a couple flights of stairs at work, and noticed your legs are killing you? That's because your legs (mostly your gluts and quads) have to slow down and lengthen as you walk down the stairs. Walking up the stairs is harder cardiovascular wise, but muscle wise, you can probably do it a lot more of it.

Let's apply this idea to the gym, because hey, that's why we're reading :)

Let's say you're doing one of the best lower body exercises you can do... a leg press if you're a beginner, or a squat if you've been around for awhile. The best way to do this is to lower the weight down slowly for a count of 2 or 3, and then shoot it up in a count of 1. The reason we lower the weight down for a longer period of time, is because it places more stimulus to the muscle, and it teaches your brain how to use control. Stimulating the muscle to something it's not used to is the name of the game, so we are exactly doing that.

Whoa, dude... so if lowering the weight down for 2-3 seconds is good, why don't we try for like 4 or 6 or 10 seconds? More is better right?

Well, in this case, no. Lowering a weight for that amount of time would possibily create too much force on a muscle, which could either result in an injury, or force you to use too little weight to really see a result.

Weight to see a result? How much weight should I use?

This is an awesome question. It really comes down to your goals. For just about any person that wants to see results and add some muscle... lift a weight that forces you to struggle so that the last repitition is between 8-10. If you want to get stronger for a sport, the rule of thumb is 4-6, and if you want to train a muscle for endurance, shoot for 10-15. While any rep range works all three catagories, their emphasis is on one of the groups.

Whew, that was a lot of stuff... let's go over the "take home points" as my profs all say:
  • Muscles contract 3 different ways - concentric, eccentric, and isometric
  • Eccentric (lengthening) causes the most stimulus, force production, and therefore microdamage to the muscle
  • Lift in a ratio of 2 or 3:1 in lowering vs. lifting the weight to learn control and create muscle growth
  • Lift in your desired rep ranges to see the results you want
Nice, everyone with me? Finally, a few last points... your workout at the gym should look like this : Warm up... weight training, cardio work, and stretching. Now, this order is up for negotiation, and you can def change it if you'd like... but here's my reasoning:

A warm up is alwys important to get your blood moving and your muscles ready to do work. About 5 minutes on a treadmill or something will do fine. The reason cardio training after a workout is ideal is due to that crazy glycogen stuff we talked about. Weight lifting gets rid of your muscle glycogen (try to think waaaay back to the other posts) so what's the only source left? FAT. What is the primary fuel used during cardio? FAT. So, bascially if there is less glycogen in your muscle, you body will turn to using fat sooner, because hey, that's all that's left.

Whew, stick a fork in me, I'm done. I hope that wasn't too much info for today, I can just go energizer bunny on this stuff and keep going and going :) Did the dork meter just hit an all time high right there? Everyone have a safe, fantastic Labor Day weekend. I'm home with mom for a few days, and I'm sure to have some stories for you all early next week. Lator Gators :)

Comments (21)

Hey, I appreciate the info. I still need to find my exercise 'niche'. I seem to have lost it over the summer!

Great post, Adam. Have a good weekend!

"I can just go energizer bunny on this stuff and keep going and going"... Ok, then!

Love the new header! The Missouri girl did an awesome job!

You had me here holding an imaginary coffee mug to understand my muscles! very nice info! Thanks for explaining again the all cardio after the weight lifting! You know this week I've been training backwords... Well your way, cardio after. I though I would be too tired to do cardio after the weights, but no! Surprisingly I have more energy! I really liked doing this that way. So THANKS you jam head!

Have a wonderful time with mom!

Great post! I'll be thinking about maximizing the eccentric part of each movement the next time I'm doing weights. But I'm still going to dread the cardio ;)

Adam, sweetie, great post as always. You are such a pro. Exercise for me is dancing in the kitchen. Does that count? You have a most magnificent weekend with MOM. At the while crocodile.

Foodie bloggers are amazing :0)

Great post!! Especially since I had my strength-training session with my personal trainer today :0)

Great info, once again fab FFF! I am glad it was about muscles since I need some!

Learned a lot, again. Thanks for all of your hard work to put this together, I'm sure it takes a lot of your precious time.

Great post! It reminds me that I really have to start lifting more like I used to.

Wow, you really sound like you know what you're talking about. Could you teach a class in this?

Happy Labor Day and have a great time with mom!
Like the header. Yes, Missouri girls are the best in designing headers.

Very informative - great post. I wish I LOVED exercise as much as I LOVE cooking and eating.

this one post answered so many questions for me, haha. thanks! The order of the workouts makes sense now. how intense should the warmup on the treadmill be? is it closer to a sprint a jog or a walk?

Hey cool, I absolutely did not know that about the muscles. Totally grabbed my coffee cup too, lucky it was empty :)

It's true I have met some really nice, down to earth people here in foodie-bloggerland. I hope to meet them in person someday.
I love working out with weights (you already knew that), but I feel, overall so much better about myself after a good solid workout.
I'm not a big cardio person, but I like to say that shopping is my cardio. Walking on a treadmill is so boring. But I go swimming in the ocean for cardio. In winter I'm at a lost, so I just do more weights, longer. For me, my heart is pumping big time when doing weights, so that's cardio lol.
Have a good weekend Adam!

thanks for the interesting info . I ts always nice reading your blog

If you could only see my face..with my big smile :-D I came here for some eclair and was greeted by your highly explosive header!! this is so cool Adam..very manly..LOL but you know I was imagining last week making you a header of Arnold Swarchenegger with a rolling pin and newly baked cake on the hand LOL oops..that would really be funny..ok where is your august DB challenge?? im waiting..

Adam I love your talks! First; you always make me smile dear!! second:Very interesting information, thirdlovely recipes, I will make today your cookies today, María Esperanza want yah!!(aahh the youth dont have patience!!)
And Adam here comes soon the Spring I walk a lot dear profeesor but I love swimm Im seriouly thinking begin to use soon the pool!! brrrr!! xxxxxGloria

definitely agree that trying out something new makes us better bakers. it's why i joined db!

Just realised I have no excuse for being the lazy girl I am. It's not that I don't exercise but I'm rather chaotic. Great info as always!

Thanks for pointing me this way, Adam. You had me at isometric. I can isometrick all day... with an eclair balanced on an open palm, and, lo and behold, it disappears into my mouth (that's the tricky part). ;-)

I want to join DB too. Where do I start? Maybe I'm too chicken for you super accomplished bakers (psst, this is where you reassure me).

What are you thoughts on calisthenics (did I get that right?)?

Congrats on your first eclairs. Your chocolate element looks beautifully rich and thick to me!

Choux pastry is wonderfully simple to make. You don't have to be careful with it like you do with yeast or with piecrusts. My only beef with it is that it doesn't always inflate the way I want it to when I make cream puffs. Hmmm...perhaps I should try to make them sometimes before the year is up.