I’m a big fan of stretching. Well, maybe that needs a qualifier… Let me explain.
I’m a big fan of
- General dynamic stretching before a lifting/running/exercise session
- Specific warm-up sets before lifting heavy
- General static stretching and foam rolling after a session or on off days (or just about any (more…)
Most people do not realize how powerful water is in the healing process.
No, this is not an article about spa therapy, holistic medicine, or anything like that. This is about using simple methods to build muscle and strength as well as maintaining your overall health.
Your body might be 60% water overall, but your muscles are actually 70-75% water. Each time you work these muscles as you lift weights, small tears and rips form in the fibrous muscle tissues. Your muscles grow when these small tears are repaired. Guess what happens if your muscles aren’t able to heal:
Nothing happens at all. That means no growth, no toning, no strength increases… nothing.
Here’s a quick breakdown of why you need water to heal and how to harness its power to help your muscles after a workout.
Not getting enough water has serious side effects. Even a 1 percent change in your body’s water levels can seriously impair your exercise performance. Even worse, your ability to recover goes down the toilet… and the toilet it goes down is one of those water-saving dry flush things that doesn’t quite get the job done.
Some other reasons you need extra water when you lift weights: (more…)
Getting a good warm up before you attempt any heavy lifting is an absolute necessity. The purpose of a warm up should be pretty obvious from its name. You need to get your body warm and the blood pumping before you start lifting heavy.
Another fact that should be pretty (more…)
If you’ve been going to a commercial gym regularly, you might have noticed that some guys will crank out a set of 15 reps for an exercise while another guy just does 3 reps on a different exercise. What’s up with that?
The reason you’ll see people using totally different (more…)
Image Credit: itsnickssister
WFN reader Richard asked the following question in the comments to a previous article:
Usually when I do situps/crunches, I would do like 3 sets and with each set I would do a different variation, like either crunches or legs in the air crunches etc etc. But (more…)
If you’ve ever had to work out alone, you’ve been there.
“Can I handle one more set on the bench press? Can I do one more rep, or will I get caught under the bar?”
You might know what your limits are pretty well, but it’s better safe (more…)
This is the second part of a 2-part article by guest author Cameron Stache. See this for Part 1. Cameron currently works as a Fitness Coach/ Assistant Fitness Manager at the Rush Fitness Complex in Greensboro, NC. He’s pursuing his Exercise Science degree and plans to use this degree (more…)
This is the first part of a 2-part article by guest author Cameron Stache. Cameron currently works as a Fitness Coach/ Assistant Fitness Manager at the Rush Fitness Complex in Greensboro, NC. He’s pursuing his Exercise Science degree and plans to use this degree to either work at a large college and be a strength and conditioning coach, or go into ergonomics. If you are interested in brands Cameron supports, check out http://cstache.qhealthzone.com .
The technical name for foam-rolling is Self-Myofacial Release (SMR). Most people just call it by foam-rolling because it’s easier to say and it’s more well-known as that. I am going to refer to it as SMR for short. SMR has been used in physical therapy for years. It has only recently become main stream in the fitness realm though.
SMR is primarily used to correct muscle imbalances in the body. As we go through our normal (outside the gym) lives we develop some imbalances. An imbalance reduces muscle strength and posture, thus increasing your risk of injury, especially when those imbalances are accentuated by heavy loads as in lifting weights.
It works basically like a deep tissue massage. When rolling across a muscle you apply pressure to the muscle spindle. The muscle spindle is what reflexively contracts your muscle when it stretches too far or too fast. (Technically, that’s how your muscle contracts. It doesn’t really shorten. The muscle itself actually lengthens the muscle spindle then contracts it. Some food for thought: While your muscle may appear shorter when it contracts, in one or more of the three planes of motion it may actually be lengthening. That is how your muscle remains tense.) By using the muscle spindle as self-applied force on the muscle, it will cause it to stretch because you are holding a segment in place while it is pulling from the other end of the muscle.
What are the benefits?
There are multiple uses for foam-rolling your muscles. First, there is relief from soreness. A person who foam-rolls targeted muscles after a workout is less sore than someone who didn’t. Second, is for proper posture. Most people really don’t think that this is a big deal. However, as Darrin has stated before, strength is more neurological than it is muscle size. People with less muscle imbalances have better posture. This means that opposing muscles are neither too long, nor too short; thus able to fire with proper effort and timing. That allows for greater neurological communication and further increasing strength, without any lifting at all. The increase in core strength gained by the correct posture also gives the third benefit; injury prevention.
What muscles can be foam-rolled?
There are multiple muscles that can be foam-rolled. When rolling (more…)