There is a striking thing when going to fitness clubs : the number of people doing exercises with loads which are either too heavy or too light. Yet we see these same people month after month, year after year, and they don’t physically change at all .. In order to understand why there’s no improvement (or almost not), one must understand the mechanics of the body.
With each choice of life its activities
Basically, most of us have a genetically programmed muscle mass to accomplish all the natural tasks of life: to walk, run, jump, to carry loads, climb… in a few words, to live!
Then, for each one of us, life will take different paths : physical jobs or intellectual, sport or sedentary lifetstyle etc … then our body will adapt itself to our activities so that we can realize them. That is why a mason, a lumberjack or a mover will be more muscular than an accountant, a computer guy or … a president of the republic.
A young mover goes at the beginning of his career will physically transform himself by taking strength and muscles ; however, after a few months / years, the progress will stop as he’ll have reached the muscular mass which is sufficient to carry on his profession. His body will no longer need to change. Why is that ? Because the body doesn’t like to remain in pain.
If we get sick, our body will do its best in order to heal itself and even try to create antibodies to prevent from facing these issues again (this is the principle of vaccination). If one breaks a leg or an arm, the body will rebuild the bone to resolve the broken limb, and you will notice that at the breaking point, the bone will become even a little bigger than before to avoid a new fracture (bone callus).
We understand that to physically progress and go beyond what nature has genetically given us, it is necessary to generate a “stress”, a stimulus which is sufficient enough for our organism to decide to react. The principle of bodybuilding is therefore to create “micro cracks” on the muscle fibers in order to force our body to rebuild them stronger and more numerous. By regularly renewing the operation we end up gaining strength and muscular volume.
It’s therefore necessary that each serie carried out ends in “pain”. It must be hard to finish it whatever the number of repetitions. To take loads that are too light or to finish each serie too quickly will serve no purpose or eventually to keep the same body and appearance (and it’s even not guaranteed).
“I don’t count. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.” Mohammed Ali
To not get injured
As for loads which are too heavy, the progression will be also minimal. Because to be able to carry a load heavier than what your muscles can bear, you will compensate by involving in your movement other peripheral muscles as well as your nerve impulse . The progression will therefore not be higher, but the risk of injury will!
Xavier Tresallet – Personal Trainer
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