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This may be the single most common concern we come across. The short answer is; probably not. The potential size and shape of our muscles will be limited by a number of genetic factors that we cannot change, such as muscle belly length and base myostatin levels in our bodies. Short muscle bellies need less mass to become visibly big while longer muscle bellies may have to put on much more mass to achieve the same width and thus the same visual effect, though at least in theory they have the potential to be larger. Myostatin is a protein our bodies produce to limit muscle growth and in general people with naturally low myostatin carry a lot of muscle whether they do resistance training or not. The individual who can easily bulk out is a genetic rarity. While we can't assure you that you aren't someone with that potential, we can say that for the majority of the population this is unlikely to be a necessary concern.
No. Bulk is a result of the genetic factors described above such as muscle belly length. Stretching cannot change these factors and has no impact on achievable size.
The concept of tone is interesting, especially when looked at as something that may be counter to the results of weight lifting. Tone came about as a slang term from the word tonus which describes the general muscular contraction required even when at rest to hold the body shape. Usually when people refer to tone they mean the overall visibility of their muscle and a desire to increase this. There are only two ways to increase muscular "tone" or definition: one is to reduce the fat covering a muscle, the other is to increase the size of the muscle so that it is more visible. Proper strength training can help achieve both of these conditions.
Yes. Just as the goal of avoiding bulk is a function of genetic factors, these same factors determine the potential to add bulk. This HIT protocol will maximize your ability to meet your genetic potential for size. If you've always been a long, lean, wiry sort of figure it's unlikely that you have the genetic potential to gain the bulk of a professional bodybuilder, but you never know until you try.
Most people looking to gain as much mass as possible over train and make it harder to reach their goal. The workout is just the stimulus, the thing we do to tell the body to grow more muscle. The time we take to recover between workouts is when the body actually builds all the new tissue in response. To gain size as efficiently as possible we help you find the most frequent workout schedule you can handle while still giving yourself plenty of time to recover. It's during this recovery time, not while you're lifting weights, that the body builds new muscle. For most people that is no more than two workouts in a week, frequently only one a week. Only genetic rarities can handle more than this and fewer still will get optimal results from increased frequency. If one of your goals is achieving maximum muscular size this is very challenging for most people and we will need to have an in depth conversation about the training process, lifestyle, and dietary choices to assist with this process.
Resistance training is the best exercise to assist in fat loss. If this is your goal we will have an in depth conversation about what you can do outside of exercise to help acheive the results you desire. Weight lifting using a good HIT protocol will add new lean muscle and increase your fat burning potential for every hour of the day, not just when you exercise. Any time you desire fat loss it is important to remember that even the best exercise program is only one piece of achieving success and the rest is all about your eating lifestyle. We are not nutritionists and we do not push a particular agenda.
The more one has trended towards obesity the more important diet becomes as this complicates hormonal factors making fat loss more challenging. In such situations weight lifting again shines as the best exercise to pursue because it helps to improve insulin sensitivity and can increase testosterone levels which helps to bring these hormonal issues back into balance.
Our approach to weight lifting has been used with great success by many people suffering from osteoporosis including people who have had chronic issues with bone breakage. We will adjust your starting weights based upon the severity of your condition and we will have you move very, very slowly. This keeps you safe by reducing the forces that are applied to the body.
Many people think heavy weights increase the risk of injury when it's really speed or sudden movement that causes problems. Resistance training is the most effective form of exercise to increase bone density, so over time your osteoporosis should improve. It takes time to affect dramatic changes, but we are careful and your safety is our number one concern.
While pain or other factors may limit your range of motion on specific machines, slow, high intensity weight training has been shown to help reduce arthritis symptoms.
"Arthritis patients 'may benefit from weight training'" BBC News, August 2010
Effects of high-intensity resistance training in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized controlled trial. - Source: Bangor University, Bangor, UK
The Efficacy of Home Based Progressive Strength Training in Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial - Source: The Journal of Rheumatology
High Intensity Training can greatly deplete the body's glycogen stores and have a dramatic impact on your cells' insulin sensitivity. In combination with proper diet it can have a substantial impact in reducing the need for medication and controlling high blood sugar levels. This series of videos has a great explanation of the biology involved.
Slow movement High Intensity Training is a very safe and effective method to increase lean muscle mass and improve strength. For those with mobility issues this has many important benefits. Most notably, with greater strength your ability to support your body weight will be greatly improved, you will increase your flexibility and the range of motion of your limbs, and your posture and balance should be noticeably better. All of this will reduce, and in many cases eliminate, your need for assistive devices such as a cane or walker. Other benefits of increased lean muscle mass include greater joint stability and protection from injury.
At our studio you will be performing very slow, controlled movements that apply very little force to the joints. We have found that most people, even with fairly severe degenerative joint conditions, can tolerate very intense work without issue. Muscle provides the majority of the support for our joints and improving muscular strength can greatly increase joint stability and assist in preventing further injury to the effected area. In many cases this improved stability will have a direct impact on functional ability and reduce joint pain.