Muscle Building & Strength 101

This is a great video on the basics of muscle development and fitness. It really is muscle building & strength 101.

What’s funny to me is that this video even needs to exist.

Most of the people I coach have no idea about this stuff. My wife and I were talking about this over dinner last night and something she said really stood out in my head, “There are lots of things people need to know that no one ever mentions to them in school.”

Why do you need to know about this? Because it makes you better at making choices that could have a profound impact on your life.

I’ll pick on women for a minute.

Most women are afraid of lifting heavy weights because they believe they’ll turn into girl versions of The Hulk. And rampaging dangerous nitwits like Tracy Anderson and a whole host of women’s magazines that insist women should only lift very light weights and do lots of reps don’t help things any. If you simply understand that muscle development is governed by genes and hormones, and that unless you’re genetically unusual or hormonally odd there is simply no chance of any woman looking like a male body builder. The women you occasionally see who do look this way got there by taking male hormones.

Likewise, any woman who regularly hoists 30 pound bags of groceries or walks around a mall with a 40 pound toddler on her hip has virtually no chance of altering her muscle composition by lifting 5 pound weights. If she understood that growth and strength gains are dependent on lifting heavier loads than she is already accustomed to she wouldn’t be suckered into thinking that she could get stronger from lifting lighter. The same principle applies to cardio workouts. If you can bring it for a full hour in Zumba class every week then that Zumba class isn’t going to help you progress anymore. You’ve adapted to that level of fitness. If you want to keep changing you’re going to need to increase the amount of work you’re doing or increase the intensity.

To throw it back at the guys –

If men understood that as we age our hormones change and we become less able to build strength and muscle than we were when we were younger there might be fewer depressed middle-aged men trying to figure out why they don’t look like Chris Hemsworth with their shirts off. Can you get ripped at 40 or 50? Yes, but it’s going to take a lot more work than it would have taken you at 20 or even 30.

And for everyone –

If people truly understood how nutrition supports health and fitness they’d stop chasing after the diet that lets them eat cupcakes and achieve 10% body fat (I’ll leave the discussion of whether or not that goal is a healthy and worthwhile one in the first place for another time). We’d also live in a really different world if people truly understood how important sleep is.

On this last point, sleep –

Get more of it. Seriously. If you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night you’re shortening your lifespan, making yourself more prone to illness (infectious disease, lifestyle illnesses and cancer). And if you’re trying to improve your fitness while getting too little sleep, well, sorry pal. It ain’t gonna work. At all.

So what do you do with all this newly acquired knowledge fed to you in a cute 4 minute and 20 second long video clip? Act on it. The old saying, “Knowledge Is Power” is junk. Knowledge is potential power. Knowing something and not making use of it is the same as not knowing it at all.

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