Friday, 13 September 2013

Learning: Training Structure and Goals

Training Structure: Reps and Sets

I may just be slightly slow, or gym-mentally challenged, but it took me a WHILE to get these concepts into my head. So here is some information that is simplified that i would have found helpful without having to trail through the 1239213 articles available on the internet.

A Rep: If it is a bicep curl, it is how many times you are repeatedly curling that weight. If you have curled 10 times, then you have done 10 reps.
            If it is a squat, it is how many times you are squatting repeatedly.

A Set: If you have done 10reps, and you take a break (i.e. 30secs-1min), and then repeat the exercise. If you do, for example, 10reps --> pause --> 10 reps --> pause --> 10 reps, you have done 3 sets.

Training Goals: Strength, Mass and Endurance

A pause between the sets is known as "rest". But why do we pause/rest and how long should this be for? It depends on your Goal.

If you want to get stronger, you need to rest in order to allow your body to get enough energy back.
Those working to build strength typically use heavy weights. Because it is heavy weight, you can't do a large number of reps, so typically 1 to 6 reps is performed. Because a lot of energy is required, without the use of oxygen (anaerobic), your body relies on Phosphagen as a reserve.
ATP-Pc stands for Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine.
ATP is the energy source of the muscle cell.
ATP-Pc ---> ADP
Phosphagen provides energy for 15 seconds.
It takes 3 minutes to fully replenish Phosphagen stores
This helps you get enough energy to SMASH your next set ;)
This is typically used by PowerLifters.

If you're after increasing the size of the muscle the routine is somewhat different. Increasing muscle size is also termed "Hypertrophy" for us science geeks.
The science behind this is more to do with muscle-growing ("Anabolic", for us geeks) hormones, lactate and blood flow. An increase of these desirable things (particularly desirable to bodybuilders) are associated with shorter rest periods of 1-2 minutes. This is also why you get that achey, fatigued feeling after: damn Lactic acid! Don't think that you can't have one goal without the benefit of another- you will still increase in strength, but it is more of a short term gain, accompanied with significant hypertrophy.

If you're after Endurance, i.e. building stamina, being able to do more without feeling the fatigue as quickly, the rest period is at its shortest. 45seconds-2minutes. Light-moderate weight is typically used it with high reps (15-20). This is because you are drawing energy with the use of Oxygen (Aerobic). By providing oxygen, you are minimising the production of Lactate (the cause of the achey, sore feeling), therefore your muscles are less likely to fatigue. The science behind this is to do with your hormones and your vascular (blood) system.

Hope this helps!

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