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Strength Training News

Strength Training News

Introduction

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the US Department of Health and Human services released guidelines for physical activity/exercise in 2008. The USA physical activity/exercise document defines and describes the importance and need for regular weekly cardiovascular, neuromotor, resistance, and flexibility training. This blog post will provide an overview for regular weekly strength training recommendations as well as provide some reflective questions for individuals who are unsure of which mode (e.g. bodyweight, free weight, band, and/or machine) of activity to select for her or his weekly strength training routine. Before continuing with the muscle strengthening recommendations the difference between physical activity and exercise needs to be clearly defined and described.

• Physical activity: any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal (rest) level. This includes personal grooming/hygiene, feeding oneself, standing, walking from parking lot to entrance of building, family care, household chores, occupational requirements, gardening, and so on.

• Exercise: is structured physical activity specifically designed to improve one’s cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength/endurance, flexibility, and body composition (lean mass/fat mass).

• All exercise is physical activity but NOT all physical activity is exercise.

Strength Training Recommendations

Total Body strength training sessions should occur on 1-3 nonconsecutive days per week.

• Individuals should allow at least 36-48 hours in between strength training sessions.

• Total number of exercises per session should range from 8-15.

o Training the body as an entire unit (upper/lower torso and anterior/posterior) is more time effective, efficient, and physiologically correct.
o Sets per exercise should consist of 1-2 per activity.
o Repetition range consists of 10-15 reps per set or 60-90 seconds of total time under muscular tension per set.

Mode of activity.

• Muscles do not have eyes or ears and can only perform the specific movement that it is designed for (i.e. 3 muscles of the bicep serve to supinate the hand and flex the elbow joint).
o Therefore the type of stimulus (e.g. machines, free weights, bands, and body weight) used to strengthen the muscle is irrelevant and should be based primarily off of what the individual has available to him or her.

• Performing muscular strengthening activities through a full range of motion, focusing on maintaining a slow and controlled movement, and flexing the muscle at the fully contracted state will provide the greatest amount of benefit regardless of the type of stimulus used (e.g. free weights, machines, body weight, and bands).

o In theory each repetition should take around 6 seconds; 2 seconds for the concentric movement (i.e. muscle shortening) and 4 seconds for the eccentric movement (i.e. muscle lengthening). The eccentric portion a muscle contraction is about 40% stronger than the concentric, thus the reasoning for the increased time under tension.

Tips

Today mainstream media is blanketed with product advertisements more so than any other time in this country’s history. The advertisements range from short television commercials, to longer infomercials, radio advertisements, countless numbers of paper catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and the internet. Currently television commercials encompass almost 50% of the total amount of available television time within a given 24 hour period (Gladwell, 2002). Given this overload of information an individual can find it very challenging to interpret what material or product information is valid, truthful, and most importantly beneficial. A large portion of the advertised material relates to individual health, wellbeing, and body image. Regarding strength training specifically many different companies and/or equipment manufacturers attempt to sway the individual into purchasing their given product by making far reaching statements or by informing the purchaser of some type of financial deal or savings. Below are some questions individuals should ask themselves before picking up the phone or clicking the place order box on the computer monitor for a so called muscle strengthening piece of equipment or product.

1. By purchasing this piece of equipment will it provide me the impetus to begin and maintain a regular weekly total body strength training routine?

2. Do I have adequate space available in my home to place and appropriately use this piece of equipment?

3. Is purchasing this piece of equipment financial feasible for me given my current and perceived future obligations?

4.Do I need this piece of equipment or do I want this piece of equipment?

5. Have I given this decision more than a moments worth of thought?

Conclusion

As one can clearly see there is much more to a regular weekly total body strength training than just owning equipment, paying for a monthly facility membership, or owning multiple strength training DVD’s. Hopefully this information will provide further guidance and insight on how one should schedule her or his weekly and individual total body strength training sessions as well as learn how to appropriately filter through the plethora of equipment advertisements.

Greg Stanley, MS, NSCA-CSCS, ACSM-CES/EIM-2/HFS
Exercise Physiologist

References

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins.

Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point. Boston, MA. Back Bay Books.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008) Muscle strengthening for adults. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/Chapter5.aspx

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