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Strength Changes Everything

May 3, 2023

Join us for this replay from the archives to learn more about what is accepted versus what is truth...


In part 2 of this interview, Brian Cygan and Dr. James Fisher discuss the science of strength and why the accepted wisdom of exercise may actually be causing more harm than good. Learn how many exercises you really need during a session, why “cardio” exercises aren’t necessary if you use the right level of effort, and how to keep yourself from getting injured by reducing the range of motion while still getting the fitness results you desire.

  • Beyond the minimum exercise dose, you can add as many exercises as you see fit. There is a balance though. If you add too many exercises it can start to impact the frequency of which you can train.
  • As you increase the number of exercises in one workout, you lengthen the time it takes to recover, so there’s a tradeoff. Recent studies have shown that volume is more important than frequency as well.
  • There is an inverse relationship between someone’s ability to work hard and the length of a workout. Eight exercises seems like the optimal number for clients to be able to give their whole effort for as many exercises as they can.
  • The accepted wisdom regarding the strength and endurance continuum is that to build strength you need a heavy load and fewer reps, and for endurance you use a lighter load and more repetitions. Studies have shown that it doesn’t particularly matter. If your strength increases your endurance also increases. As long as you use a high degree of effort you will get the optimal results.
  • 45 seconds of time under tension is usually enough time to achieve the majority of muscle fiber recruitment if you’re using a high level of effort. Some of this depends on the person and their preference because of the perceptual and comfort differences.
  • Longer times under load are associated with higher degrees of discomfort and negative perceptual responses. Across a broad population, this is going to have a negative impact on motivation and compliance.
  • In order to really optimize strength training, we need to start looking at the individual perceptual response and how that impacts the motivation to stick with a program and give a whole effort during exercise.
  • A common mistake many trainers make is recommending older people use lighter weights and increasing the number of reps they do. This often results in the person feeling sore for days and with little motivation to return to the gym. Working with a moderate load to enhance strength and muscular endurance is better.
  • Bone mineral density is a key variable, especially in females and older adults, and we know that it only improves with impact or heavier loads. With a light weight, we run the risk of not improving bone mineral density which can result in a higher risk of injury.
  • A number of studies show that supervision enhances results and the better the supervision, the better the results.
  • One of the key factors with proper supervision is that they promote and enforce good technique. This serves to keep the correct muscles under tension and prevent other muscles from getting injured.
  • If someone is getting injured in the gym, something about the technique went wrong. Supervision can help you avoid those sorts of injuries.
  • Research seems to indicate that we can actually limit the range of motions for many exercises and still see strength increases throughout the range. Injuries typically occur at the extremes of the range of motion of an exercise, so by eliminating those ranges, you reduce the risk of injury and you can still improve strength.
  • With most exercises, it’s not an acute injury that causes problems, it’s the wear and tear over time that creates injuries. For an adult client, the extreme ranges of motion are not helpful, and they can get the fitness results they want with a safer range.
  • If you’re not currently doing any exercise, the best thing you can do is strength training. By doing that you will see cardiovascular improvements at the same time.
  • High intensity training has been shown to improve the cardio-respiratory system within a matter of weeks of starting resistance training.
  • If someone is already a cardio athlete, adding strength training may not improve their performance drastically, but there still will be other health benefits.
  • The idea that you need to do cardio to see cardiovascular benefits and strength training to improve strength is a bit outdated. Strength training with high levels of effort has been shown to stimulate both adaptations.
  • Even cycling, when taken to the highest level of effort, can stimulate similar levels of adaptations to lifting weights. This is why modality doesn’t matter as much as the level of effort involved.
  • Optimal results mean safe as possible, sustainable, with maximum results and minimum time required. This is why so many trainers have landed on strength training as the most effective option.
  • As you get older, strength training becomes a weight loss method, a way to avoid getting injured or sick, and a lifestyle of longevity.





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