It has long been the practice for athletes and body builders, when conditioning muscle â€œregardless of fitness goals,â€ the repetitions per set would be in the ranges of 4-15 reps per body part.Â And to vary the repetition range and weights within each set would set the foundation for the greatest muscle mass and endurance gains.Â The exercise physiology behind muscle growth shows us that 4-8 reps per set will stimulate strength while growing and bulking muscle.Â While 9-20 reps (and greater) per set will stimulate muscle for greater endurance and body building symmetry. Â And while knowing this information, learning how to apply it toward task specific fitness goals to competitively excel above others is the challenge.
Body builders and athletes for years have been using various types of â€œhigh speed low dragâ€ practices to build muscle mass, strengthen and tone the body.Â In many cases, novice followers attempt to understand these practices and duplicate the results.Â Many tend to over train and train without variation of exercise and use incorrect technique that also risks injury.Â When these bad practices occur repeatedly, capitalizing on the effort spent in the gym does not yield the expected results.
Exercise performed repeatedly without the right workout modulation, â€œwork and recovery timeâ€ does not allow the muscle to â€œself correctâ€ its muscle memory course to greater gains when work effort to body is not commanded correctly by the brain.
Simply stated, if you continue to apply the 4-15 repetition rule using essentially the same poundage, per repetitive set each day, your muscle can not be stimulated in a way to further activate muscle growth, strength and/or make significant endurance gains for lack of memory to do so.Â The physical and mental body must be connected to stimulate and yield the physical results you seek.
When you stick to a strict repetition/weight training rule, you then begin to stick to an exercise conditioning program that doesnâ€™t change your desired fitness outcome.Â Stimulation of the muscular neural highway becomes very dependent on the brainâ€™s central nervous system to hyper activate its psyche for further physical performance gains. Â And in order to do this requires focus to work more intensely, while conditioning the body to fatigue during each set, for each muscle group.
So the question now becomes, how do you psych the mindset to â€œself correct muscle memoryâ€ for greater enhancement of the working muscles?Â You must train yourself to change your routine frequently.Â This technique yields a higher motivational effort each time you work the body.Â The motivational mindset regardless of physical work must also focus intently to continue supercharging the electrical signals to working muscle.
And in changing your routine, you will want to consider adding in cross-training activities such as swimming, jogging, walking, hiking racquetball, etc.Â This will provide variation in your daily routine, which is also something to consider incorporating into your days of rest.Â Cross-training activities have a way of stimulating the motivational centers of the brain to muscle memory connection for the greater good of the fitness goal. Â But if you incorporate a cross-training activity on a day of rest, you would serve your mind, body and spirit well â€œnotâ€ to work your body too hard.Â Make it a fun day and enjoy yourself.
But only through knowledge of understanding task specific training, cross-training, muscle fatigue, and proper rest-recovery principles, then one can excel and rise above â€œanyâ€ physical challenge.
This is why when you focus on task specific conditioning like walking, or jogging the motivational electrical stimulus to endure this type of activity does not require the same motivational â€œmindsetâ€ stimulus that is required of heavy squats, or sprinting.Â Regardless of whether you want to build huge python arms, or become a world body builder, or a professional football player; apply task specific conditioning principles with intense focus and youâ€™ll see positive muscle growing results.
Task specific conditioning means, if you condition muscle groups to become a competitive body builder for example, this does not mean youâ€™ll become a competitive NFL tackle.Â Why?Â Because to become competitive within either aspiration will require training â€œuniquelyâ€ for the task specific activity, or event that muscle memory is required to perform.
Also, one must consider there is no guarantee that oneâ€™s genetic physical build will yield the right balance of metabolic tissue composition â€œin any muscle grouping,â€ or to tolerate a chosen physical work stress.Â This is true even when a balanced fitness conditioning program is applied.Â If the latter is the case, this does not mean you should quit the competitive game; rather you would likely excel at another fitness goal.Â Although many have aspired to replicate Hulk Hoganâ€™s or Arnold Schwarzeneggerâ€™s physiques not all are genetically coded to do so.
Every one of us has the physical ability to develop muscle to become competitive at any age.Â Itâ€™s more a matter of finding a passion complementary to your strengths that motivates one to become competitive.Â And if you can find what youâ€™re good at while enjoying the activity, you can excel at it if this is your desire.
Another good example of task specific training; if youâ€™re training to become a competitive biker you need to train on the bike youâ€™d be racing.Â If youâ€™re spending most of your time in the gym using a stationary bike and weight lifting equipment, your chances of placing in the actual bike race event is not good. Why?Â The muscle memory becomes conditioned for stationary equipment, not road resistance and atmospheric conditions.
In this case, the â€œpartiallyâ€ conditioned muscle memory and psyche become disconnected during the actual bike race event if you train mostly indoors. The brain to muscle stimulation electrically is not trained to fire muscle maximally throughout the competitive event.Â If you donâ€™t train mostly on the actual bike and on environmental road surface, itâ€™s like running your car with low tire pressure; you donâ€™t get the same traction.
So how would one train to condition muscle fiber to stimulate muscle growth, tone, strengthen and improve muscle condition to achieve a competitive fitness goal?Â Regardless of whether you want to grow the biggest biceps, or become a competitive runner, walker, hockey, football, baseball, or basketball player, etc., knowing how to condition muscle maximally for any event or fitness goal will depend on knowing how to vary training technique for each muscle group.
Case and point:Â When considering a weight lifting program:Â Training to failure may require you to change your 8-12 repetitions per endurance exercise activity to fall more into the variable range of 12-20 reps.Â Â Â This is especially true if youâ€™ve not changed up your weights and your 8-12 repetitions donâ€™t work your muscles to failure.Â And if youâ€™re truly working towards a muscle endurance-sculpture goal, 12+ reps per set â€œto failureâ€ must be your fitness exercise goal to yield the results you seek.
The lower the repetitions per strength exercise set will mean heavier use of weights within the following ranges (4-8 reps/set).Â This low range will grow muscle and increase strength if your last repetition is to failure per each set.Â The higher the repetitions per set (12-20 reps/set) will require lowering the weights to complete the high rep end/set to condition muscle for muscle toning and endurance.Â And to reach the maximum muscle benefit will require the last repetition be done to failure and muscle fatigue is realized.
This means it is very difficult to complete the last repetition.Â It is wise to have a spotter to assure you donâ€™t get stuck and hurt yourself using free weight equipment during your training sessions.Â And you should not seek to complete any more repetitions â€œeven with a spotâ€ after extreme muscle fatigue.Â To do so would overwork muscle and risk possible injury!
When you hit that end rep count per set, the muscle should be fatigued.Â If not, your training is not intense enough and your muscle memory to maximize growing muscle strength and/or endurance will stall.Â And in training, you must choose exercise sets to train for task specific activity that will condition you to failure with each set, or activity event.Â If you condition your body to muscle failure, muscle will be trained with high electrical brain stimulus which will keep muscle conditioned for task and you will be more competitive during an actual event.
When your training becomes routine without variation in frequency, duration, or intensity; the drive to push yourself to failure stalls for lack of mental stimulation and muscle memory disconnect.Â And low motivation will ignite an equivalent electrical signal stimulus to working muscle.Â This is what stalls many athletesâ€™ that want to increase their competitive game.Â Finding a long-term conditioning program that trains to optimally boost muscle memory stimulation is the name of the game.
There are a lot of training techniques out there on how to grow and strengthen muscle.Â But you also must be aware that when you train muscle to fatigue, you must also allow enough time to rest before you work the same muscle groups again.Â The rest periods vary amongst the professional fitness think tanks.Â But a winning consensus appears to be, give each muscle group (legs, calves, arms, chest, back, abs, shoulders) at least 48hours before you fatigue them again.Â And other professional sports and body builders will tell you to wait 72 hours before working the same muscle grouping.
Why is this?Â Youâ€™ll end up over training and then muscle will weaken, growth-strength will be compromised, which can also put you at risk of injury.Â The 1-2 day rest rule is dependent on what fitness task specific goal and competitive event you want to participate in.
If you want to learn more about task specific training and training techniques to grow-strengthen, tone, increase muscle endurance and rest training cycles etc., you can find much more information through any Internet search engine.
What should take away from this information?Â To get out of stalled muscle building routine you must change your daily repetition/set and exercise activity to vary with more focus and intensity to muscle failure per exercise set.Â You must also build in enough rest time throughout the week while not doing back-to-back similar routines.Â And while doing these things, remember to incorporate cross-training activities that compliment your overall competitive fitness strategy.Â These techniques will stimulate muscle memory to fire muscle fiber using all 8 cylinders.Â If you train this way, your muscle growth, endurance and strength goals â€œwill notâ€ stall, youâ€™ll prevent injury and youâ€™ll maintain a competitive edge above others.
Woodard, M.T., Science Proves Exercise Alone May Promote Weight Gain, October 2009, Science Proves Exercise Alone May Promote Weight Gain.
Mejia, M., Menâ€™s Health.Â October, 2005, Â http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/muscle-building-myths-debunked
McCarrellÂ Jeff.Â S.A.I.S Mass-Building Routine, November, 2002, http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jeff1.htm
Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.org,Â Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.