New Research : Bodybuilding and the Mind-Muscle Connection

In the bodybuilding world, one of the most important “principles” of lifting is the need to establish a mind : muscle connection.

It’s not enough to lift the weight. For maximum success, the trainee must put all of his/her intention into the muscle that is being worked.

For many of us who aren’t bodybuilders…who lift for strength, power, endurance, athletic performance, etc…this seems like a giant load of new age nonsense.

Until now:

In this new study, researchers found that when trainees (working with loads between 20 -60% of their 1 Rep Maximum) focused on the muscles being worked, they were able to increase muscle activation…without decreasing the activity of other muscles involved in the lift.

By focusing on the muscles, they actually made the muscles work harder.

Which is exactly what those bodybuilding gurus have been saying for decades.

arnold-concentration-curl

What does this mean to you?

If you lift weight in 20-60% of 1 Rep Max range, focusing intently on the muscles being worked seems like a really great idea.

If you lift in the 80+% 1 RM range, there is no need to focus on the working muscles…you should be focusing on perfect form & execution…your nervous system will look after how many muscle fibers are contracting to complete your lift.

In the 60-80% range, I don’t know what to tell you. The researchers in this study focused on intensities of 20, 40, 50, 60 and 80 % of the pre-determined 1RM.

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Reference

Is Exercise the Ultimate Antioxidant?

 

According to the latest research, strength training is one of your best defenses against oxidative stress.

In fact, after a mere 6 weeks of of workouts, test subjects saw significant improvement in two key markers of oxidative stress

And when you consider that oxidative stress is directly responsible for atherosclerosisParkinson’s diseaseheart failuremyocardial infarctionAlzheimer’s diseasefragile X syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and aging in general, perhaps we should stop selling gym memberships based on getting a wicked six-pack and focus more on….living healthier, living longer, living better, etc…

The Research

J Strength Cond Res 24(9): 2491-2497, 2010

The purposes of this study were:

  1. to determine whether acute resistance exercise training (RET) induces oxidative stress,
  2. to determine whether chronic RET decreases oxidative stress level at rest condition in previously untrained men,
  3. and also to investigate how the RET intensity influences the training-induced oxidative stress response.

Sixteen young men who did not have RET experience in the past were randomly divided in 2 groups.

The hypertrophy-intensity group performed 3 sets of 12 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the strength-intensity group performed 3 sets of 6 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 85% of 1RM.

The workouts  involved 6 exercises, and it was performed 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 6 weeks.

Blood samples were obtained just before (pre-RET) and immediately after RET (post-RET) on the first day of the first week, on the last day of the fourth and sixth weeks.

After 6 weeks of training, pre-RET values of malondialdehyde (MDA) significantly decreased and pre-RET values of glutathione (GSH)significantly increased in both hypertrophy- and strength-intensity groups.

These alterations occurred independently of training intensity.

Conclusion

This study indicated that hypertrophy- and strength-intensity whole-body RET performed regularly for 6 weeks, decreased MDA concentration and increased GSH level in healthy young men.

Results suggest that chronic RET has protective effects against oxidative stress similar to aerobic exercises and that these effects seem to be independent of the training intensity.

 

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