Last week we looked at the reasons why women should strength train, and this week we’ll dive into the benefits for men. Unlike women, men do not need much coaxing to step into the weight room, but there are still a few lessons to be learned.
Muscle tissue is built through various strength training exercises that can include activities such as weight lifting, resistance-band exercises, body-weight exercises, and various dynamic movements.
Specifically, the muscle should be placed under a certain amount of tension in order to induce slight tearing of the tissue. Once the lifting routine has been completed, the body repairs the broken-down muscle tissue by sending protein and various other nutrients to the areas and creating something like a scab on the affected muscle. The protein aids in the repair of the muscle, while making it larger. In order to induce this sort of muscular break down the number of repetitions should be lower and the weight lifted should be higher.
MYTH: Lifting heavy all the time is the best way to build muscle
Although lifting heavier weight and lowering repetitions is the best way to gain muscle, after a certain time period the body ends up reaching a plateau and will not only stop making gains but may even lose progress. After an amount of stress has been put on the muscles a period of active recovery needs to be implemented. A muscle-building program should last between 4-6 weeks. After this, the body needs anywhere between 2-5 weeks of active recovery, which means lessening the load that’s being put on the muscles and changing up the program. Active recovery can still include weight lifting but the repetitions should be higher and the weight should be lower. An increase in muscle mass will raise metabolism and more cardio can be done during the recovery period in order to use this higher metabolism and lean down a little. After this period of active recovery the body will be rested and healed and will now be ready to go back into the muscle building phase. Changing up training programs will not only keep things interesting, it will also ensure that the body is getting the rest it needs in order to make the desired muscle gains.
MYTH: Allowing your knees to go past your toes during a squat will cause injury
Everyone has a unique body build. The position of the knees during a squat is primarily dependant on the length of a person’s legs and where on a joint their muscles attach. It can actually be quite dangerous for a taller person to keep their knees behind their toes during a squat. Forcing the knees to stay behind the toes can actually put unnecessary strain on the hips and low back.
MYTH: Weight lifting will make a person slow and inflexible
Stronger muscles contract faster and are able to produce more power. Developing muscle mass by lifting weights will actually help someone get faster. The important thing to remember is that a balanced program of strength training, flexibility exercises, and power/plyometric exercises is the best way to increase speed and flexibility.
The most important thing to remember is that our bodies are extremely evolved and adapted. Running on a treadmill each day will not challenge the body the way that it needs to be challenged. Although it is important to stay lean and flexible, it’s also important to stay strong, stable, and supported. Not only will building lean muscle tissue help protect your body and make it look great at the beach, it will also pump up your metabolic rate so that you can burn those extra calories in order to stay lean and healthy.