recovery

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Study finds maintaining aerobic capacity requires persistent training while maintaining muscle anaerobic potential does not

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How long does it take to get back up to peak performance after a long break from exercise? According to one study, that depends on whether the exercise is primarily aerobic or anaerobic.

From the study Enzyme adaptations of human skeletal muscle during bicycle short-sprint training and detraining:

“A long interruption in training has negligible effects on short-sprint ability and muscle anaerobic potential. On the other hand, a persistent training stimulus is required to maintain high aerobic capacity and muscle oxidative potential. This may contribute to a rapid return to competitive fitness for sprinters and power athletes.”

In the study bike sprinters trained for nine weeks followed by seven weeks of detraining (no training). Researchers found that the sprinters’ aerobic enzyme levels fell, while their anaerobic enzyme levels remained high for the seven weeks of detraining.  There were negligible effects on muscle anaerobic potential means the subjects remained strong.

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Study shows how people waste time exercising

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In a study, one group lifted weights for nine weeks (Continuous resistance training – CRT), while another group lifted for six weeks followed by a three weeks rest (Periodic resistance training - PTR). After the first nine week cycle the groups’ results were similar. The cycle was repeated for nine more weeks, and PTR group’s results were significantly higher.

A quote from the study, Comparison of muscle hypertrophy following 6-month of continuous and periodic strength training:

“Increase in muscle cross-sectional area [of muscle] and strength during the second 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycle were significantly higher in the PTR group than in the CTR group.”

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Study compares once- versus twice-a-week strength training

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In a study, 65-79 year old subjects were split into two groups; one strength trained once a week, the other twice a week. The results of this study, Comparison of once‐weekly and twice‐weekly strength training in older adults:

“One set of exercises performed once weekly to muscle fatigue improved strength as well as twice a week in the older adult.”

Exercise serves as stimulus to force your body to make a self-protective adaptation. That adaptation will only occur if your body is allowed to recover and compensate for stress placed on it.

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Lactic acid soreness – “one of the classic mistakes in the history of science"

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A quote from this NYT article, Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles' Foe, It's Fuel:

“’The notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago’ … It stuck because it seemed to make so much sense.

‘It's one of the classic mistakes in the history of science.’ ”

The article goes on to say that the idea that lactic acid causes muscle soreness never made sense, because lactic acid is gone from your muscles within an hour of exercise,  The soreness stays.

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What happens after an extended layoff - an observation

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina our clients began trickling back into town, and there was a return to normalcy. They began scheduling appointments again. Most had not exercised in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

I expected them to be weaker. I decided to conduct an experiment. I put them through their previous workout, and I did not lighten the weights. I did not offer them any added encouragement, I did not give them a target to reach, and I told them to stop at whatever point they wanted to.  It was a very interesting result.

Most all of the clients got all of their reps. Some were off a repetition, but that's about it. We were doing slow reps, so one repetition can take about 20 seconds. So in total they were off at most 20 seconds on a 90 to 120 second exercise. Within a workout or two they were totally back up to speed.

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Overtraining Part Two

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Frankie was a fanatical exerciser. He exercised with a trainer four times a week for an hour before going to work. On the weekends he went for hours-long bike rides. He decided to give our training program a try, and I put him through a workout. He worked out hard. The last exercise was the chest press and he was spent. During the last couple of reps he made agonizing sounds like the Mel Gibson character in Braveheart – really unnecessary but it got him through to the end. It was a little bit scary.

I suspected that he was over-trained, so for the next few weeks I convinced him to train just once a week, and I put him through moderately intense sessions. Six week later I put him through the workout we did in our initial session. On the last exercise the chest press he completed the exercise without the dramatic Braveheart sounds of cry Freedom.

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Overtraining Part One

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Overtraining occurs when one trains too often, too long, too hard or any combination of these. Plenty of other factors in life can contribute as well such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress. Overtraining appears to build up slowly and can go unnoticed. When I first began training I was hell-bent on increasing the weights I lifted. I thought I was improving, but I was fooling myself. I’d change the cadence a bit, take an extra second rest between reps, ever so slightly decrease the range of motion, subtly cheat your way through the sticking point a ¼ second in order to complete the rep and voila I improved. On paper I continued to improve but I was gradually becoming increasingly over-trained. The end result is usually burn-out, injury or sickness. I had my share of that.

From what I have observed it take weeks to build up overtraining and weeks for it to dissipate. Example One:

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Less frequent exercise can be better - a personal experience

When I first began lifting weights I worked out every other day - Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday - repeat - and I never missed for five straight months.  The sessions were with a personal trainer, and accurate records were kept.

Soon my progress stopped. I was particularly stuck with bicep curls just barely achieving eight reps each time for five months. Twice during that time I got nine reps on that one exercise; I likened it to a religious experience – achieving beyond the realm of normal.  The workouts during this time were grueling, as I was hell bent on breaking through a plateau.

I went home for Christmas.  It had been more than a week since my last workout when I found a health club with the very same line of equipment I had been using. I thought surely I would be weaker. I was shocked to find that I was stronger. On the bicep curls I got eleven reps, not the usual eight. I had no explanation for it.

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Five months with no improvement - lesson learned eventually

When I first started strength training improvement came quickly, but soon it trickled to a halt. I figured I was a slow gainer stuck on a plateau that I just had to push through. For five straight months I worked  every other day with a trainer to make sure that I did not cheat on my form.  I never missed one training session, and pretty soon I stopped improving no matter how hard I tried.  My reps stayed the same every workout.  Twice during that period I managed to get nine reps instead of my usual eight on the bicep curls.  I likened that ninth rep to a religious experience – beyond the realm of normal.

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In 28 days a 67 Percent Improvement in Strength

It is rare for a woman to do a single chin-up. It is rarer still for a tall woman to do a chin-up. Years ago I began working out a 5'9" woman who could do three chin-ups. Her routine had been to do three chin-ups followed by several demanding negative reps every Friday at 5:00 for more than a year. She worked hard but she never improved. She was not remotely close to conpleting a fourth repetition.

This woman would do a whole body strength training workout once or twice week and use the aerobic equipment other days.

Her trainer resigned and I began training her. On the first Friday she insisted on doing chin-ups. It told her she had nothing to lose by taking a week off from that one exercise. She reluctantly acquiesced. She came in the next Friday with a negative mindset, fully expecting to be weaker. She did four chin-ups. She was amazed. When I asked her to forgo chin-ups the week after that she complied.

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