Maybe it is the cold weather that makes outdoor activities, like kayaking, less appealing. Maybe it is related to the comfort of a cozy fire feeling so much better if it has been earned. Maybe it is because winter is perfect for spending time in the kitchen baking and my appetite is increased by some heavy weight lifting. Regardless of the reasons, to me, winter is the time for resistance training.
The Resistance Key encompasses a full spectrum of exercise that can all be summarized with one of two goals; maintaining or increasing the strength of the body, and achieving these goals is entirely dependent on providing your body with the appropriate therapeutic dose.
I know that this can get confusing and it is made all the more so by the amount of misinformation that is generated. So, let’s simplify by starting with the body’s goal. Your body wants to maximize efficiency by having as little muscle as is necessary to perform the activities required of it. This is why you will lose muscle when you stop doing the activity that your body developed the muscle to be able to do. We all experience this and it is so natural that we might not have even given it any thought. If today you decide that you want to do 30 push-ups and you can only do 2, you can train over the next few months and build up to being able to do 30. But then, having achieved your goal, if you stop doing push-ups your body will return to the original state of not being able to do 30 push-ups.
This process is true for all of us, speeds up as we age and is very body-part specific. The admirable efficiency focus of the body enables your body to maintain only those muscles that are needed for the activity you do. If you don’t use it, you do lose it.
Resistance training exercises can be targeted to balance the body by focusing on muscles that aren’t used as much with your daily activity. Upper body exercises for a cyclist, or upper back and shoulder exercises for a swimmer are examples of programming to counter the imbalances through appropriate resistance training.
Body balancing and posture stabilizing are an important aspect of the Resistance Key and are the first step toward programming that would increase your body’s strength. Proper form for an exercise is holding the correct position that will keep the stress of the exercise on the targeted muscles. Keeping stress on a muscle goes against the body’s goal, especially if the amount of work that the muscle is doing is at the level where it will stimulate the increase in muscle.
You can think about increases in muscle as the body’s last resort- remember increasing the amount of muscle is the exact opposite of the goal of the body - and it will only add muscle when it has tried everything else.
Holding proper form ensures that your body can’t leverage on joints and connective tissue or use other muscles to perform the exercise.
Performing the repetitions in a set without rest ensures that as muscle fibers fatigue they cannot be given the opportunity to recover and help the workload. Your body responds to this by increasing the energy capabilities of the muscle and using more of the muscle fibers.
Then, after trying leverage and maximizing existing muscle is not enough to meet the demands, your body will start to put energy toward building new muscle. And while this is a very slow process, it can be enhanced by ensuring your efforts in the other Keys (especially Rest and Nutrition) are focused on encouraging your body to build muscle. If you are going to put forth the time and effort toward working out, then it just makes sense to get the maximum results.
As always, let me know how I can help.