Muscle matters: Training to help you gain

e in 2009, there are many different types of training tools to help you. The best way to get started is to decide what you want to achieve and identify the type of training that can aid you in achieving your goals. Then, learn the proper techniques so you maximize your results and don't hurt yourself in the process.

One type of training is neural training, which means you're keeping your intensity - also known as weight lifted - high and your volume - or the number of reps performed - low, while using long rest periods. High intensity means you’re keeping the weight lifted in the 80 percent or higher range of your one-rep maximum, which is the maximum weight you can lift in one attempt.

The theory behind this method is to load the nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers during the latter sets. If the load is not high enough, the body only will recruit as many muscle fibers that are needed to complete the lift. So, lifting 50 percent of a one-rep maximum will not recruit as many muscle fibers as lifting 85 percent of a one-rep maximum.

If you choose to do this type of workout, you’ll see considerable increases in strength because of the high intensity. While gaining a considerable amount of strength, you’ll make a minimal-to-moderate increase in size since you’re not maximally stimulating your muscle fibers. Be careful, though, as this can be stressful on joints. Use of a weight belt is recommended, and when starting out, try only one to two heavy sessions per week.

Bodybuilding is another training option, and it combines moderate intensity and volume with low-to-moderate rest periods. The weight being lifted should stay in the 65-80 percent range, and the volume should be moderate - eight to 15 reps. Rest periods for beginners should be one to two minutes in length, and advance trainees should take fewer breaks, completing two or more exercises involving the same muscle groups back-to-back.

The idea is to lift as much weight as possible, while trying to keep in the eight to 15 rep range. Time under tension is important, too, and that means the stretching of the muscle should be stressed more than the contraction of the muscle during the lift. Going to failure is the final component of this method. When combined, the lift, tension and failure combine to tear down the muscle, which in turn, causes it to grow after 24 to 48 hours of rest from that muscle group.

Those who try bodybuilding can experience substantial gains in muscle size and moderate gains in strength. When attempting the bodybuilding method, again, be cautious. Only go to failure on your last set. This reduces fatigue and won’t overload the nervous system, which can lead to overtraining. Hitting each muscle group one to two times per week helps stimulate growth, and for beginners, three to four exercises per muscle group -- with one to two minutes of rest between sets -- is a good starting point.

Adam Henderson is a senior fitness specialist at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook. While two types of training are discussed today, he’ll discuss three more types of training -- athletic performance, glycolytic training and progressive movement training -- on Thursday, Jan. 29. For specific training-related questions or personal training options, call the center at 865-980-7100.

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