Body Building - The Worst Thing For Athletes

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Dude 1: Hey that guy over there is pretty big.

Dude 2: Ya I bet he can bench like 400 pounds.

Dude 1: So what are we going to do today?

Dude 2: I dunno, how bout chest and bis?

Dude 1: Ok, let’s do it.

Dude 2: Let’s go real intense today. I wanna be so sore tomorrow I can’t move.

Dude 1: Ya gotta have a good pump for the club tonight.

And off go our two merry gym goers. These conversations are quite typical among young frat boys and other panty waists. So who cares if some college boys are losers and don’t know max strength from power development? Well nobody, except the fact the bodybuilder mindset has infringed into just about every gym and athletic training center in America. Why is that bad? Well read on there Mr. Wizard and you’ll find out.

Sarcoplasmic vs. Myofibril Hypertrophy

Believe it or not there are different growth responses within the muscles themselves, which are determined by your training methods. A general bodybuilding routine will consist of a couple of sets with reps around 8-15, slow eccentrics (negatives), isolation exercises (i.e. concentration bicep curl), and training intense often times to failure. This stimulates Sarcoplasmic muscle growth. “What the hell does that mean?” Settle down there Rufus, I’m getting there. First you have the delorean and the flux capacitor….. No no, it’s quite simple really. In layman’s terms it is the fluid and other little organisms between the muscle fibers is increased. This makes the muscle larger, but does little for increasing strength. So you have this nice fluffy muscle bloated up like it’s having it’s time of the month. Myofibril hypertrophy (growth) on the other hand is an increase in the fiber number and size. With more fibers, you of course have more strength. To achieve myofibril hypertrophy in the muscle, you must train with heavy weights. Usually five and less reps is considered the strength range. So another words if you train for myofibril growth, function will follow. But the reverse is not true if you train for Sarcoplasmic growth.

Training to failure

One of the bodybuilders’ mantra is training to failure. This was exacerbated by the late Mike Mentzer and his High-Intensity Training. Many new trainees experience large jumps in strength….at first. Then you come to the dreaded plateau. The answer for these early gains can be found with the nervous system. Each time you perform a movement, your nervous system becomes more efficient at sending its signals back and forth. So many of these early gains are due to neurological efficiency. That is why you can seem weak on an exercise that you haven’t performed in awhile, but be back at your old weight within a couple weeks. Your nerves have to remember the exercise. So next time someone laughs when you start shaking during an exercise, just tell them your giving a class to your nervous system (like they’ll believe that). So we can now conclude that most strength gains are produced via nervous system efficiency and myofibril hypertrophy (it should be obvious that larger and an increased number if fibers can produce more force, therefore more strength). Now back to training to failure. Don’t hurt your head too much with this question. Knowing now how big a role the nervous system plays in strength, what do you suppose will happen if you always train to failure? If you answered “I’d like to buy a vowel”, you might as well just go be a lounge singer. Now if you answered the nervous system sequentially will learn to fail, you get a cookie!! So go to 7-11 and tell them you want your prize cookie. So what this means is the next time your on the dance floor lifting up that girl that looked pretty good a second ago, and now you realize is a 300 pound whale above your head, you will fail and be crushed by the wooly mammoth! Don’t let this happen to you or your friends. Leave training to failure for the frat boys to get crushed by the demons of Little Debbie.

Isolation vs. Compound Movements

How many times have you seen somebody try to emulate Arnold and do like 20 sets with 17 different exercises for the left nostril? “I gotta hit it from every angle” drools the sloth with the spandex pants and tank top. No man should every be caught in spandex except when wearing one of those cool Under Armor shirts underneath a uniform or its intended purpose. Which isn’t to show everybody how cold it is outside. Where were we? Oh yes isolation versus compound movements. Unless you are an elite bodybuilder in the pro ranks, you probably shouldn’t be doing much isolation work. No matter what your goal. Compound movements burn more fat; stimulate the release of growth hormone, and for you athletes, they teach the body to move as a unit. If you only train isolation exercises, your body will just be a jumble when it comes time for any coordination movements. Is that to say isolation movements are out completely? No of course not. If you have a weak part that is limiting your performance, you may need some isolation to bring it up. Now as far as machines go, unless it is cables or a sport specific movement, it’s only there to sell gym memberships. Period. Next…

So what have we learned so far? Low reps are good. And for you females worried about ‘bulking up’, this is what you want. It’ll produce nice compact, strong muscle. For you guys out there, a fluffy muscle looks smooth and has no function. So athletes beware. Don’t worry you can still gain considerable amounts of mass if that is your goal. Volume is the key there, but that’s another article. We also learned training to failure is not only rough on your already overworked nervous system, but can really be a hamper on the social life. And lastly compound movements are king. There are several other components to training athletes that will be brought up in future articles.

By Nathan Cragg 


Submitted by DMorgan on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 10:36am.