Saturday, December 29, 2012

Benefits of Weightlifting

Weightlifting can offer people many benefits. Weightlifting can strengthen the active and passive structures of the body. This will allow the body to be more productive and injury-resistant.

Bone Density
Lifting weights can be used to increase one’s bone density. Weightlifting causes bone density to increase because of an effort of the body to strengthen its bones. This increase in bone density can also help reduce the possibility of osteoporosis in the future. Improved bone density can also reduce the risk of bone fractures from happening.

Muscular Strength and Size
Weightlifting strengthens the muscles of the body. Weightlifting- causes the targeted muscles to form micro tears and heal as stronger, larger muscles. Strong muscles can help ease the tasks of heavy labor, sports, and everyday activities.  The muscles also grow bigger after they heal from a workout. This increase in size can improve a person’s physique, confidence, and well-being.

Tendon and Ligament Strength
Lifting weights increases the strength of the tendons and ligaments of the body as a result of the strain on the affected joints and muscles. Stronger tendons and ligaments are more resilient to injury. This can also reduce the chances of various joint injuries from happening.

Hormonal Increase
The levels of human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone have been shown to increase during lifting. Higher levels of HGH and testosterone can improve the bone density, muscular growth, and metabolism of the body. These hormones can potentially help strengthen the body.

Weightlifting can strengthen the active and passive structures of the body. A stronger body can be beneficial in many ways. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Preventing Common Injuries

People suffer from various injuries that could have been easily prevented. Taking the time for the necessary precautions is highly significant for preventing injuries. Warm-ups, stretching, exercise, and proper body mechanics can help reduce the chance of injuries from occurring.

Common sports injuries result because of cold muscles being pulled or torn. Warm-ups should be applied before exercise or any high-intensity activity. Warm ups help promote an increase in blood flow to the muscles, allow the heart to steadily pump more blood into the arteries, and it allows the muscle tissue to become more elastic. The most crucial benefit of warm-ups for injury prevention is that it allows the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be more elastic. This allows the soft tissues to be more resistant against being pulled or torn during rigorous physical activity. A typical warm-up can correspond of light jogging or low-resistance exercises involving the joints that are involved with that exercise or activity. Warm-ups should always be performed before exercise.

Stretching can help prevent injuries from happening by allowing muscle tissue to elongate to it's maximum length. Stretching should be done after warming up. There are many types of stretching: static stretching, PNF stretching, dynamic stretching and eccentric quasi-isometrics. Static stretching consists of stretching a muscle to its maximum range of motion and holding the stretch for a certain amount of time. PNF stretching, done with the assistance of a partner, is an active stretch that corresponds with the partner stretching the muscles of the practitioner and the practitioner isometrically resists the force of their partner. Dynamic stretching is an active stretch that consists of stretching a muscle to its maximum range of motion with controlled exercise movements where the muscle relaxes after the movement extends the muscle to its maximum range of motion. Eccentric quasi-isometrics is another type of active stretch that consists of stretching a muscle in its eccentric state by holding the stretch in the midpoint of an exercise, which can be a controlled weight-bearing exercise, such as a chest fly, where the actual stretch happens when the the muscle is forced into a lower eccentric position. Although static stretching is the most popular type of stretching, PNF stretching and dynamic stretching have become popular as a superior method of stretching.

Exercise, such as jogging, can prevent joint injuries from happening by strengthening the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones of the body. Weightlifting with moderate resistance strengthens the muscles of the body and it strengthens the bones of the body. Consistent exercising can provide people with the benefits of a more stronger and injury-resistant body.

Proper Body Mechanics
Utilizing proper form when exercising can help prevent injuries by allowing the joints to move in their proper range of motion. The joints of the body should not be extended past their maximum range of motion because this can cause their ligaments and tendons to be pulled or ruptured and it can cause the joints to subluxate or dislocate. Improper use of the joints can also cause the cartilage of the joints to rupture. Applying proper body mechanics to exercise and everyday activities can reduce the chance of various joint injuries from happening. 

People can prevent most joint injuries from happening by bestowing warm-ups, stretching, exercise, and proper body mechanics on a constant basis for exercising and rigorous activities. Applying these precautions to exercise and everyday activities can allow people to live more healthily and happily. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Simple Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points often reduce flexibility within a muscle and can cause pain deep in the muscles. Trigger points are caused by overusing muscles where a portion of the muscle contracts but doesn’t relax, staying in contraction and forming a trigger point. There is no way to completely release trigger points quickly, but there are multiple ways to substantially relieve trigger point pain.

Resting the Muscles
Rest is the only way to allow knots to completely loosen. It may take a while for the knotted muscles to completely loosen, depending on how frequently those muscles are used. It can take days or even weeks of rest from strenuous activities to allow the knots in a muscle to completely loosen.

Foam Rolling
Foam rolling can be utilized to provide some relief of tight knots in muscles, especially in the back. High-density foam rollers are more painful to use than low-density foam rollers, but they allow you to apply more pressure to your muscles. A lacrosse ball can be used for foam rolling on smaller muscles that are difficult to reach with a foam roller. Foam rolling can be done multiple times in a day and it can be used to effectively loosen knots in a matter of minutes.

Knots in the muscles of the neck and back is often caused by bad posture, especially from sitting. Slouching the neck and upper back forward can cause an unnecessary increase in usage of the spinal erector muscles. This is often the most common cause of knots in the neck and back. Sitting into a chair with the spine and neck neutral is much less demanding on the spinal erectors than slouching the neck and back.

Menthol and Pain Relief Creams
Topical pain relief creams that use ingredients such as menthol can be used for temporarily alleviating knots. Ingredients such as menthol stimulate nerve receptors on the skin to heat or cool. Many of these creams become ineffective when they are consistently applied to the same area.

Trigger points can be easily treated at home. While there is no quick way to completely release trigger points, using the methods mentioned earlier in this article can significantly relieve trigger point pain.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why Am I Not Getting Stronger or Bigger?

You consistently go to the gym and have decent nutrition. For months you haven’t made any noticeable progress with gaining strength or muscle mass. At this point, your body has adapted to your training program. This causes you to experience significantly slower progress, stalling your gains.

The Body is Adaptive
Your body will adapt to your training program. This is the reason why you can’t do the same training routine constantly. The more your body adapts to a training routine, the harder it is to make gains. Something of your training program must change consistently to prevent your body from adapting to the program. This will improve your progress and help you make better gains.

How Do I Know?
The best way to know is by comparing your progress in the recent month or months to the first months you started the training routine. Most likely your progression with the training routine was best when you first started it. It is much easier to compare your training progress to another time if you are doing a strength training routine rather than a body building routine. Although, if you are doing a body building routine it is harder to find a right way to measure your progress, since adding an inch of muscle to your arms can take months or longer than a year. Using the method mentioned earlier would still be a good way to measure your progress.

Vary Your Program
Changing an exercise, rep ranges, and total sets are all good way to optimize a training program. The most effective ways to avoid stalling consists of changing rep ranges and the exercises. For example, rotating the close grip bench press with dips and doing five reps a set instead of eight are all great methods of changing your program. If you do low volume workouts try doing high volume workouts. Some training routines may be improper for your current level of fitness and they may be too advanced or too basic for you to make steady progress. In such a case, it is ideal to do a different kind of training routine. You will have to experiment to see what rep ranges, exercises, and training routines work best for you. If you are still making great progress with a training routine you have been doing then there is no need to change it. Multiple training routines, such as of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 training program incorporate some of these programming principles. If you are knowledgeable of what works best for you then it is ideal to make your own training program.

Most people don’t know that they have stalled with their current training program. This does not always mean that they should do a different program when this happens, but they should primarily rotate different exercises that train the same intended muscles and change the rep ranges they do per set on different training sessions.  Utilizing these methods with your training program will help you break through halts in your progress and it will optimize your progress—which could actually make your training program more fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Joint Health Essentials

Eliminating Joint Pain
Whether you are an athlete or not, it is important to maintain the soft tissue health of the joints. Too much heavy weightlifting can aggravate the joints, and a sedentary lifestyle can cause the joints to lose support from the tendons and ligaments. People often fail to condition their joints’ soft tissues and rely on their doctors to treat them, thinking that some type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug will treat their issues. Some people experience torn tendons or ligaments of various joints because of their lack of conditioning their joints, regardless if they did or did not have a history of issues with their specific problematic joints.

Rest is the Most Powerful Form of Medicine
Resting from strenuous activities such as sports and labor-intensive jobs is often the best solution for treating chronic joint pain. Overuse of the joints may cause joint pain as well.

Maintaining Muscle Mass and Strength
This doesn’t mean that you cannot exercise. If you experience joint pain, such as tendinitis and want to continue maintaining (or gaining) muscle mass, an ideal way of training those specific muscles consists of isometric training by flexing the muscle with moderate effort (after a warm-up,) until the muscle starts to fatigue, done for multiple sets. There are many ways for training around common joint issues. For example, if you have a knee or ankle injury you should still be able to do lying abdominal exercises, bench press, pull-ups, and other exercises.

Rehabilitating the Joints without Surgical Procedures
Fortunately, most joint problems can be rehabilitated without surgery. The best approach to rehabilitating soft tissue in the joints consists of doing a high range of motion exercise for each specific joint, with low intensity and slow, high repetitions. Such of an example consists of doing leg extensions with fifteen pounds for twenty to thirty slow repetitions per set, for three to five sets while working through the whole range of motion of the knee joint. It can do more harm than good to try rehabilitating a joint with high resistance or explosive muscle contractions.

Muscle Imbalances
Muscle imbalances can cause joint pain because of unequal contraction of stabilizer muscles. For instance, many people started their upper body training by doing pushups. As a pure beginner to training, most people notice that their biceps grow and strengthen from doing pushups. This is because the biceps act as a stabilizer muscle of the elbow joints when doing pushups where the triceps are the primary muscle involved in straightening the elbow. Try flexing your arm at a ninety degree angle. You will notice that the biceps and triceps are contracting to keep the arm still.
A common muscle imbalance issue consists of having weak back muscles but strong chest, triceps, and anterior deltoid muscles—this often causes shoulder pains for many people. An easy approach to treating this issue consists of doing a lot more pulling work, as in back and internal shoulder training in comparison to  pushing work by the chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids. It will be ideal to train pulling motions to pushing motions in a 3:1 ratio in such a situation to fix the muscle imbalance.

Muscle Tightness
Tight muscles may contribute to joint problems. Having tight hip flexors may cause sacroiliac joint pain in such a case. An example of common tight muscles includes the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings limit the amount of flexibility a person can have. People often bend their lower backs to a high degree of flexion to lift heavy objects off the floor. While it may not cause problems for the time being, constant use of the back in this way will cause the collagen fibers of the affected intervertebral discs to slowly tear apart. This will eventually cause the discs to become ruptured. 
Tight hamstrings are more prone to being torn when running or when doing leg exercises. Such that an athlete who is a runner would not be able to run properly due to pulled hamstrings that can cause the body to compensate for the function of the injured hamstring(s) until the muscle(s) are fully healed.

High-Demanding Sports
High-demanding sports such as football and powerlifting can aggravate the joints of the body. Rehabilitating the joints with the method discussed earlier in this article is essential in these athletes’ regular training routines. 
Fully rehabilitating joint injuries does not mean that an athlete can quickly return to their high-demanding sport. The athlete should slowly work up in weight with exercises that condition their specific problematic joints and they should continue doing joint conditioning exercises after they have recovered to their full training abilities.

There are many ways to treat and train around common joint problems. Prevention is the first step in reducing the chances of joint problem occurrences. Rehabilitation should be followed after joint injuries as the joint should be strengthened or healed to the point where reinjury should not occur under demanding conditions—whether if it involves casual jogging or heavy weightlifting.