Thread: Strength Training II
11/07/2003 2:34pm, #11
11/08/2003 5:24am, #12
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- Aug 2002
11/09/2003 1:01pm, #13
Sweet. Thanks for your acknowledgment. So here it is.
What is strength? The ability of one’s muscle tissue to produce force. It’s an internal biochemical process, which can result in movement outside of the body. The laws of physics apply out there, but not in here. It’s bio-chemical energy, which is tossed about inside, not simply miniature versions of levers etc. Levers are not energy. Energy is applied to levers. Then all the crap with force, momentum, torque etc starts to occur.
Are there different kinds of strength? Not really. There are different ways in which strength is measured per unit time, different applications and intentions outside the body, but not an altogether different kind of strength. They represent a change in the measuring a concept, but not the concept itself.
“Speed strength”, for instance, is often called the ability to apply force with speed. Of course, that makes little sense since force is what creates speed. N/A.
“Strength endurance” is the ability to sustain muscular effort. Now, what time frame exactly? 1 second? 10 minutes? What threshold of force makes this strength endurance as opposed to just plain old endurance? Any muscular effort is necessarily sustained. 5 seconds is more than 1 second, so does 5 seconds equal endurance? Yes…it also equals strength. Or maybe we’re talking ATP regeneration. I don’t know; and that’s the problem.
“Starting strength”; the ability to move from a stopped position and produce maximal force. Again, this is a measure of how and when, not a deviation from the fundamental concept of what the muscle tissue does inside the body.
And a couple of others I think. Regardless...
The only apparent differences between the respective brands of strength, is the rate of speed, but it doesn’t represent a different a fundamentally different way in which any given muscle fiber contracts.
So how does a muscle fiber contract? It starts with our brain deciding it wants to engage a muscle and then, well, this applies…
Henneman's size principle: During graded voluntary muscular contractions, motor units are recruited in order of increasing size, increasing contraction strength and diminishing fatigue resistance. Thus, the smaller, less powerful, fatigue-resistant fibers are almost always found to be recruited before the larger, more powerful, fatiguable fibers, regardless of speed of contraction.
Is it EVER possible that the body might decide to recruit in a different order? Maybe. But if it does, you certainly can’t judge that by external performance, hence it can’t be explicitly considered a trainable factor.
Take note. Muscle “fibers”. There is no mention of what the entire muscle belly is doing (be in shortening, lengthening, or neither).
So, because of this rule, it doesn’t stand to reason that lifting quickly is going to provide the most safe and efficient stimulus to incur increases in strength.
And what is that stimulus? Simply put, fatigue per unit time. Can one consciously bypass certain muscle fibers altogether? Not really. Luckily, however, our body doesn’t listen to the whims of our conscious brain, so fatigue occurs in a relatively orderly process which seems to suit all us humans well…at least well enough to have passed the genes which govern this process. Those fibers which can be fatigued will be fatigued, but they aren’t necessarily first to be recruited nor do they HAVE to be for the purposes of developing the kind of strength (the only kind) which can apply to any given skill.
So what is “quickly”? I’d say a rate at which you’re incurring enough momentum to make a certain part of the ROM appreciably easier above and beyond whatever mechanical advantage one might be achieving (on the way up), and letting gravity help you out (on the way down). If one were to do otherwise, one still wouldn’t be bucking the basic process, but you are subjecting yourself to greater than necessary amounts of mechanical force. It’s that which incurs acute and cumulative injuries. Though we can’t eliminate it, there’s no reason to maximize it in this particular context.
So how does one best incur the fatigue for the desired response? Is it a matter of how many muscle fibers one can fatigue in succession? Is it a matter of how many times one can repeatedly fatigue any given muscle fiber? Or is it a matter of exclusively attempting to fatigue some while not others? I contend the first choice based on the following et al.
"as fatigue increases throughout a set of repetitions, your brain recruits greater number of MUs and stimulates them more frequently. When you achieve maximal recruitment, further increases in force are generated by continuing to increase the frequency of stimulation of all the MUs. At the point of momentary muscular fatigue …you are recruiting the maximal number of MUs available for that specific exercise." (9)
So the typical bodybuilding argument that multiple sets of the same exercise will recruit more MUs or muscle fibers, is very likely erroneous. In fact, the same level of fiber recruitment and a much greater level of fiber fatigue can be induced by "drop-sets" (i.e. "descending pyramid" training protocol) (43) or even single sets (carried to momentary failure) employing a longer set duration. One may, however, argue that multiple sets of the same exercise (assuming sufficient rest between sets) may provide greater hypertrophic stimulation by recruiting the same fibers more times; whether this is more effective in optimizing hypertrophic adaptations is currently being debated. The preponderance of scientific evidence, however, does not support the superiority of multiple sets (19, 50, 57).
There are different muscle fiber types. Some are much more responsive to strength and hypertrophy than others. The type II muscle fiber types are the ones most useful towards feats of maximum strength. They are latently larger and have much more potential to become larger, thus stronger. In fact, they’re already stronger because they’re larger (amongst other reasons). If an untrained muscle is comprised of 50% type II and 50% type I per fiber count, we’re gonna have a muscle which has more than 50% type II by volume.
Last edited by Nid; 11/09/2003 11:56pm at .
11/09/2003 1:02pm, #14
So if greater maximum strength were our goal, it would make sense that we’d want as many type II fibers as possible. So can we train to develop more type II in relation to type I? We know for certain that we can do so by volume…making what fibers we have larger; that’s not subject to debate. But can we increase the number of them? If by that one means increasing the net number, then no. However, some evidence suggests that our distribution isn’t strictly fixed; that is, innervating a type II as a type I enough, might yield a type II behaving in some (but not all) ways as the type I. However, I haven’t heard of it going the other way (slow to fast). Regardless, could this phenomenon be considered appreciable enough to overcome our basic genetic expression? I certainly don’t think so. Is it even measurable outside of the body? No, and that’s at the crux of the matter when we’re trying to define what “works”.
Can one alter muscle shape? No. Just size. Shape is fixed. You can’t train a peak into a biceps…for anyone who cares. Furthermore, it’s hardly measurable.
Can one emphasize the strength and/or size development of any particular longitudinal segment of muscle belly? I.e. the third of the biceps closest to the elbow? No. Why is that relevant? That means you still develop strength in a joint function, which might be momentarily and accidentally hypermobile without actually having to achieve that in your workouts (which would be quite dangerous). Some guy might be wrenching both my arms behind my back to a degree which far surpasses the limit of my ROM during Pec flys….yet I still (somehow) have more strength with which to draw my arms back from the hyper-extended position. That means you do not HAVE to lift through the fullest safe ROM to develop strength, strictly speaking (much less the hyper extended ROM). Why would one bother to do so then? Flexibility maintenance. That’s another important part of fitness, which just happens to be addressed with proper strength training.
So what’d be a generic exercise prescription? Addressing the entire body at once, or in some sort of simple split, without appreciable redundancy, with enough weight to achieve desired intensity within a prescribed number of repetitions (or time) through the fullest safe ROM; as brief as necessary per exercise to achieve said intensity; as brief as necessary per workout to avoid more than necessary amounts of detrimental stress hormones and needless redundancy, and infrequent enough to yield sustainable strength gains.
Yeah, it’s that simple. So why does it seem so complicated? Because I feel compelled to explain WHY proper lifting, since it’s capable of doing only one very simple thing, does not necessarily have to include…
Any particular rep scheme
Any particular set scheme
Any static frequency
Any particular rep cadence
Any particular apparatus
Any implications of strictly mechanical achievement
But it does have to be organized and controlled in such a way in which one can determine if what one is doing, is in fact, working. Can more weight be regularly (if not frequently) added to the bar under specific caveats? Is one performing the given exercise the same way each time? Does he have a regular sleep schedule? Etc. In other words, all but the most broad prescriptions are simply not applicable across more than a single person.
Swimming strength is the same as boxing strength is the same rock climbing strength. Assuming we have a few genetic clones to play with, why are the swimmers better at swimming than boxers if strength is all the same? Why are rock climbers better at rock climbing than swimmers if all strength is the same? Specficity and skill.
So what is skill? This is the fine tuning the neurologic pathways of a particular sport or activity. Strength is generic. Skill is highly, highly specific. So specific that one should never try to mimic sport specific skills under resistance from, say, elastic bands, cables, tubes etc. Just as one can train a skill, so can one muddle and confuse it through negative carry over of drills involving something seemingly similar, but actually quite different. Just as one doesn’t practice golf with heavier clubs, or football with a heavier ball, or archery with a different bow. Lineman don’t spend time pushing people while facing backwards.
In order to become better at a particular skill the athlete must practice that specific skill with the following guidelines. Keep in mind that nothing can take the place of
sport specific movements or skills. In fact the following five components define the rules for determining whether two movements are sports specific or not:
Muscle specificity requires that the exact muscle(s) used in the exercise must also be used in the athletic skill.
Movement specificity requires that the exact movement pattern used in the
exercise must be the same as the athletic skill
Speed specificity requires that the speed of movement be used in the exercise must be identical to the athletic skill.
Neurological specificity requires that the motor neuron
recruitment pattern be identical to the specific
Resistance specificity requires that the precise resistance used in the exercise must be identical to the external resistance encountered in the athletic skill.
So what does this have to do with strength training? Again, it’s important to define what it is not, and what it’s not supposed to be. To further clarify, one ought not treat the strength training exercises themselves as a end unto itself. In other words, it doesn’t matter so much how efficiently the nervous system operates in the realm of generic strength training because it’s not going to cross over to the sport-specific skills anyway. All one should concern themselves with is safe, efficient, intense, strength training with the intent of making improvements, not at level of gross and/or fine motor skills, but at the level of the muscle tissue itself.
To reiterate, skill is a separate activity as far as training goes. Strength applies to skill, and both are used in athletic endeavors, but they should not be developed at the same time; and by that I mean with the same activity. Neurologic changes are only going to be relevant only at the level of specific skill. Not that it won’t happen during strength training for the movements of strength training, but it’s not going to cross over.
Last edited by Nid; 11/09/2003 7:19pm at .
11/10/2003 4:32am, #15
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- Aug 2002
dude , why do you keep Talking about Skill ?
I mean , it takes SOME MINIMAL Skill to , lest say , do the Olympic Lifts , or the Powerlifts , but you are only learning that skill so that you can SAFELY DO the Lift in question . You can only get "So Skilled" at them , theyre Pretty Simple . You act like its like Guitar or something , where the Amount that you Lift is Contingent Upon your Skill level at the Lift in question . That coulndt be further from Reality . The Amount that you Lift is contingent upon YOUR STRENGTH , and nothing more . You DO the Lift to gain Strength . You get Skill in the Lift to make sure that you can do the Lift , so that you can Gain Strength . You arent supposed to learn something about Fighting from Lifting , youre just supposed to be STRONGER .
11/10/2003 4:36am, #16
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
Oh , my Disclaimer :
EVERY POST that I make on this Board will be from the Standpoint of Someone that Is Lifting for the Best Results as a Martial Artist . Thats what this Board is all About , and Im not going to waste any Boardmembers time by haviong them reading anything thats not going to help them meet their Goals .
11/10/2003 11:07am, #17
The floor is your's.
Err...actually I do see something where I didn't explain something as clearly as I could have. But that'll have to wait til after work. :o
Last edited by Nid; 11/10/2003 11:42am at .
11/10/2003 5:44pm, #18
Ok, it's after work.
You can only get "So Skilled" at them , theyre Pretty Simple . You act like its like Guitar or something , where the Amount that you Lift is Contingent Upon your Skill level at the Lift in question .
If I can think of one prototypical example of where hypertrophy and skill come together splendidly, it's Florence Griffith Joyner. If you saw her before Barcelona (I think it was), she blended into the crowd of her peers. At Barcelona she must have put an inch around each thigh....and, it's no coincidence, she blew everyone away.
Last edited by Nid; 11/10/2003 6:04pm at .
11/11/2003 7:30pm, #19
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- Aug 2002
Okay , now Im only MORE confused . What he heck are your JOINTS supposed to have to do with it , and how ?
11/11/2003 8:37pm, #20
There are different ways one can perform, for example, a pressing movement. The dip would be a different joint function than the incline bench press. Same muscle group for the most part; but different body mechanics and shoulder rotation. That's all.
Last edited by Nid; 11/11/2003 9:05pm at .