3 Missing Links To Exercise Performance

If you were not born with the perfect body, you can create one, with the help of three exercise techniques that are commonly over looked. With all the advances in fitness technology and training knowledge, there remain three principles of exercise performance that are ageless. Results keep us motivated, with the right mix of form, intensity and recuperation you’ll build a foundation to your weight training routine that will be hard to beat.

Perfect Form

Learning how to use proper form will speed up your results and help to avoid injuries. To develop good technique you must understand that weight training is a two-part movement. Part one is called the concentric phase ( shortening of muscle ), or positive phase movement of an exercise. This is where the weight is lifted and the muscle group being isolated is contracted. The concentric movement should be an explosive movement taking 1-2 seconds to complete. At the end of the movement you flex the muscle and hold it for one second, creating an isometric effect ( holding contraction of muscle ). Part two is called the eccentric phase ( lengthening of muscle ) or negative phase movement of the exercise. This is where the weight is lowered back to the starting position and the muscle recoils. The eccentric phase should be a slower movement, taking 2-4 seconds to complete.

To fully appreciate the importance of the two part movements, you must understand the effect it has on the muscles. The muscles are made up of millions of fibers called myofibrils. During the positive phase the myofibrils contract and use ATP ( adenosine triphosphate ) as energy for their contraction. The amount of ATP is depleted with the completion of each repetition. When the myofibrils reach a state of ATP exhaustion the muscle experiences momentary muscle failure. The effect the positive movement has on the muscle fibers is to increase the strength and endurance of the fiber’s ability to contract. However, it plays a secondary role in the growth of the muscle. The myofibrils lack the ability to increase in numbers, which would lead to an increase in muscle size. During the negative phase movement most of the damage to the myofibrils occurs, especially if the muscle is worked to momentary muscle failure. This damage activates surface cells on the myofibrils called satellite cells. The satellite cells form together and create immature myofibril called myocytes. As these new myocytes mature, they fuse together with the larger myofibrils. It is then the negative phase portion of the exercise which plays the leading role in muscle growth.

A common mistake made by novice weight lifters is to concentrate only the positive movement. The desire to exercise their ego’s instead of their muscles ends up in lack of control of the weight during the negative phase of the exercise. This leads to poor muscle growth and a strength imbalance and could cause injury. The use of perfect form is essential for the lifter to isolate specific muscles, and concentrate on both positive and negative movements. The goal is to develop constant resistance on the muscles throughout the movement. Never sacrifice form just to lift more weight. This will result in surrounding muscles assisting in the lift, and decreasing the resistance placed on muscle isolated. This decreases the intensity of the exercise and provides little or no results.


The phrase “no pain, no gain” has scarred more individuals away from exercise than any other. So let say “no intensity, no gain” is a saying we must become familiar with. Our bodies are fantastic at adapting, and will adjust to whatever level of resistance we place on the muscles. Muscles will not increase in size or shape unless we give them a good reason to. This is accomplished using progressive resistance each time we train. Progressive resistance requires increasing either the weight or the number of repetitions from the previous workout. Each workout should start with the goal of beating our last training session. Consistently increasing the level of intensity of the exercise, forces the muscles to respond by increasing in size and strength. This is how the muscle adapts to the overload of resistance placed on it. When you take each exercise to momentary muscle failure, it insures the overload is placed on the muscle.

A mistake made by many lifters is to try to accomplish this overload, by increasing the volume of exercises, instead of the intensity. This can lead to the muscle being overtrained, which will decrease its strength and size. If this sound’s familiar, the answer is to start working smart not longer. It should be obvious that with each workout you can’t increase the weight lifted, or number of repetitions to increase intensity. So what should you do to increase intensity with each workout? The answer, I call muscle confusion. Making each workout different creates a state of muscle confusion. The muscle finds it hard to adapt to the workout, because you keep fooling it with a different workout. An example of muscle confusion working the chest muscle would look like this;

Chest Workout A

3 Sets barbell incline bench press 80% maximum weight 8-10 repetitions 3 Sets dumbbell decline bench press 65% maximum weight 12-15 repetitions 3 Sets dumbbell inline flies 80% maximum weight 8-10 repetitions 3 Sets cable crosses 65% maximum weight 12-15 repetitions

Chest Workout B

3 Sets barbell decline bench press 85% maximum weight 6-8 repetitions 3 Sets dumbbell incline bench press 65% maximum weight 12-15 repetitions 3 Sets peck deck 85% maximum weight 8-10 repetitions Super set with ( no rest between ) 3 Sets dumbbell decline flies 60% maximum weight 10-12 repetitions

The two workout examples show the same volume of exercise, but two totally different workouts. By changing the angles of the exercises, along with changes in resistance and rest, the muscle is now in a state of confusion. It is more likely to use 100% muscle contraction to complete the movements. Keep in mind that repetition ranges are only some guides. Each exercise should be completed to momentary muscle failure. You should never train with this type of intensity, unless the muscle has been properly stretched and warmed up. Having a training partner is essential to work to muscle failure.


My clients are always amazed when they find out that most of their muscle growth occurs while they are sleeping, and not during their workouts. Recuperation is a subject that receives too little attention and is often misunderstood. We are conditioned to think in order to succeed we must work hard and little value is placed on rest.

During intense resistance training there is cellular damage that takes place in the millions of myofibrils, that make up our muscle structure. As we recuperate from our workout, the hypertrophic or rebuilding response starts to occur. The rebuilding phase, has several stages and requires on average of 72-96 hours to complete. The phases include an inflamation stage, a clean out stage where damaged cell debris is removed and a growth stage. So it takes three or four days before the muscle enters into an environment where growth can occur. Each muscle group should not be worked more than once per week. If a muscle group is trained more frequently, it may not leave enough time for recuperation, and not time for growth.

It is important to receive eight to ten hours of sleep each night, when the body is sleeping important functions for growth and recovery take place. During sleep growth hormones are secreted from the pituitary gland, which aides in the body’s ability to synthesize protein to rebuild muscle tissue. Many of the nutrients ingested during our waking hours are assimilated while we sleep.

Over training occurs when a muscle group is worked too long, or too frequent. Training a muscle before it has fully recuperated will cause further damage to the muscle fibers. The body will enter into a catabolic state ( breaking down ) and will result in loss of muscle tissue. The body in its inability to adapt to this stress will show signs of over training. The following symptoms are good indications you are over training. They are lack of energy, trouble sleeping, muscle and joint soreness, no muscle growth, loss of strength and no desire to exercise. If these symptoms occur, the best course of action is rest, a week with no training. During this time off re-evaluate your nutritional program and training routine. After further analysis you will find you either under ate, or over trained.

We all differ when it comes to our recuperative abilities. Learn to listen to the messages, that your body sends. When you experience increases in strength, energy and muscular growth, it should reinforce that your routine is working. On the flip side, decreases in strength, energy and growth should alert you your routine needs to change. Exercise goes against our human nature. Less work will usually mean more results. Learn to relax and enjoy the time away from your workouts. If you train with proper form, with intensity you deserve all the rest you can get.

In closing, no one plans at missing the mark in reaching their fitness goals. If there is a problem it’s in the plan itself. Before you reach for a dumbbell pick up a pencil, and make the design for your next workout includes a balance of perfect form, intensity and recuperation. Over the past twenty five years, they have never failed me, neither will they fail you.

Charles Remington Nutritionist Mr. Connecticut Founder Fat Loss Coach Nutritional program http://www.thefatlosscoach.com charlie@thefatlosscoach.com

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