Determining the intensity of a workout can help make it more effective and easier to scale. For example, asking someone to run for five minutes is physically different than asking them to run hard for five minutes. The same concept applies to strength training.
But while there are some straightforward ways to measure intensity of cardiovascular or aerobic training, strength training is a bit more challenging. Yet knowing how hard you’re lifting can help you structure your workout programs more effectively. For example, you can vary workout intensity to prevent overtraining while still getting sufficient volume and working hard enough to get results.
Results of a new study (Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men) were released recently leading to plenty of media coverage with headlines like these:
Lifting Lighter Weights Can Be Just as Effective as Heavy Ones
Lifting Lighter Weights Is Just As Effective As Heavy Weights
Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength
- New Study Finds Lifting Lighter Weights as Beneficial
New McMaster study says you can lift small and get big
It's nice to have strength training in the news, and most of the coverage hits the highlights, but it also tends to be rather misleading. Let's take a closer look.
Specifically, does muscle burn more calories at rest. This is one of those questions that everyone seems to know the answer to (dangling preposition alert!), and they're mostly right. Sort of.
What got me thinking about this (again) was an article entitled 12 Workout Myths That Just Need To Die. It's not a bad article, but Myth #2 includes this: "...having more lean muscle will help your body burn more calories at rest."
Of course, right? Well, sort of.
A while back, there was a post here in which Sensei Hutch described his preferred weight workouts with higher reps. Today's post describes my preferred lifting workouts with lower reps (and heavier weights).
Neither approach is "right." Different people with different objectives need different approaches. And there are many more variables to a program than simply changing the number of reps. These are only generalizations based on personal preferences.
(I know many people are not interested in lifting heavy weights. But keep in mind that "heavy" is relative. For example, powerlifters would not consider the weights I use "heavy." But I don't hold that against them.)
People sit too much. They sit at work, in their cars, at home watching TV, while waiting, while flying (like I'm doing now), and plenty of other times. It's become the default position in the lives of modern humans. This is bad for lots of reasons, some of which I've written about before.
But one of the most tragic things is seeing people sitting down while trying to get stronger. Seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? And yet if you go to a gym you'll likely find more people on their butts (or their backs) than on their feet.
Last Saturday, I finished Dan John's 40-Workout Strength Challenge. Yes, I've written about "challenges" before (noting that they are often inappropriate, to put it nicely). But this one is more like a "program" than a "challenge."
It's based on concepts from the book Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline, an excellent book with a wide range of great information but more suited to trainers then people just looking to get fitter or stronger. My experience with it follows.