The NERVE of me to leave out a critical and useful component of how our musculoskeletel system operates. In last week's Think Thin Thursday I touched on visualizing and Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD made a comment there that expresses its use very well. Beginners may not grasp this understanding initially although if you continue working out for a while you'll be able to feel what she's saying. Follow the slower repetition concept and it may become clearer sooner.
What is Muscle? Essentially it's body tissue which has the ability to contract and in turn represents the power source we operate within. There are three types we deal with skeletal, cardiac and smooth. We're looking at only the skeletal contingent here, that tissue which allows us to move. We don't really consciously think about it we just get up and move, always pushing away or pulling towards. Understand that every motion we undertake only involves muscle contraction. The contraction comes from energy pulses the brain sends to the respective muscle motor neurons. Our bones and skeleton aren't haphazardly constructed either. They are a myriad of levers of all lengths and ability but undeniably a bunch of simple levers we learned about in grade school. Connect those levers to a powerful muscle and the World becomes your oyster, physiologically speaking!
This might sound a little tricky at first but I want you to know that it is going to bring faster results, less time exercising and my favorite, fewer injuries. Muscle composition differentiates the marathoner from the sprinter in other words explosive power from nearly unlimited endurance. We all have both types of this muscle fiber but it's the ratio that is the key. These are either fast twitch or slow twitch muscles and we'll find out which is more prevalent in YOU in a minute. Along with that, think of our tendons as the liaison between muscle and bone. Those attachment points also play a huge role in how we move those bones too.
We always hear that we must do 10 to 12 repetitions in each set but that's just the general rule of thumb. I want you to understand that optimal performance can be gained by knowing your perfect number of reps for each exercise. We're using the machines or free weights here and need to find the maximum single rep weight you can muster. You will need to do this prior to working out and after a brief warm-up for each exercise. You will need a spotter to do this safely. Now go through each of your regular exercises using the heaviest weight you can handle without a break in form and perform 1 rep. This is going to be your baseline number! Sit down and relax while you figure out 80% of that weight you lifted and transfer it to the weight / rep card you use to track your progress. Not good with percentages? Just multiply it by .8 instead.
Now you are going to repeat your circuit with the new calculated weight and count each rep until you can no longer complete one more full rep. There may be some exercises where only 8 reps were performed sometimes as little as 5 or you might have done 18 or 20. THAT number whatever it is is now your SET goal. Remember repetitions make up a set, sets make up a circuit, circuits make up a workout! Forget about the 10 or 12 reps you were used to unless that's the number you successfully completed. This isn't an easy thing to do, in fact it's very, very difficult, but what you've done is calculated your body's greatest point of efficiency for maximum muscle stimulation and growth. Working to failure in every set of every workout is an obligation to strive for. Ultimately, you'll move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible. As stated before our goal is intensity and along with it follows great success.
I'm all about efficiency in nearly all endeavors and
while I've mentioned previously that I hate working
out what I hate even more is doing something unnecessary
which could potentially thwart my efforts toward success.