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"Stronger Every Day"

If you are finding it challenging to integrate the gym into your daily lifestyle despite your good intentions, perhaps you will find the following information helpful.

Fortunately, it is possible to reshape your body with the application of resistance to specific muscle groups through the use of weights or some other form of strength training.

Not only can you make your physical body stronger by applying resistance to your muscles with the use of machines or free weights, but you can dramatically change your outward appearance and increase your level of self confidence, as well.

The process of building muscle tissue is quite fascinating and somewhat complicated.  Basically, what happens is this: during a process called catabolism, your muscle tissue is naturally broken down as it is placed under a certain amount of stress or resistance, such as lifting a heavy weight.

As the tissue rebuilds and repairs itself during a physiological process known as anabolism, it builds back a little bit stronger, in order to be prepared for the next overload.

If you are between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, you may find it interesting (and also quite unfair) to know that muscle mass tends to begin slowly decreasing at this age. Around age fifty-five, muscle mass tends to decrease even more rapidly.

These facts are especially relevant if you are trying to lose bodyfat, since muscle is the body's most metabolically active tissue. It's true that muscle burns fat even while you sleep and that muscle weighs more than fat (roughly two and a half times more).

In addition, since strong muscles reinforce and stabilize joints, weight training also helps prevent injury, stiffness, and pain.  More than four hundred muscles help keep your body firm and strong.  Fortunately, the stronger your muscles are, the more they help protect and reinforce the joints they support (and burn fat at the same time!)

Weight training, sometimes referred to as dynamic or isotonic training, includes two different components of muscle contraction: concentric and eccentric contractions.

A good example of the concentric component of a muscle contraction is the "curling" action of a biceps dumbbell curl.  During this concentric portion of the muscle contraction, the biceps muscle shortens as it contracts to move the weight while you raise the dumbbell upward.

The eccentric component of muscle contraction, on the other hand, involves the lengthening of a muscle.  For example, the lowering action of a dumbbell curl, during which the arm is slowly straightened from a bent position, is considered the eccentric component of the dumbbell curl exercise.

The eccentric component is also known as negative contraction, and is commonly referred to as "doing negatives" in gym settings.  To increase the size of a particular muscle, it helps to focus your energy on the eccentric type of contraction during each repetition. This is a simple, effective tip that is often overlooked by many well-intentioned weight lifters.

I actually recommend that my clients spend twice as much time on the eccentric portion of an exercise as they do on the concentric portion.  In other words, if it takes you two seconds to curl a dumbbell, you should count to four on the way down and concentrate on maintaining steady resistance throughout the exercise.

As if all of the aforementioned benefits of weight training weren't enough, we all know that a strong healthy body can increase one's chances of success in today's highly competitive world.  An attractive, healthy looking body can be an extremely valuable asset and can affect how others view you in the business and social arena.

There are numerous scientific reasons why strength training can be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, but my favorite reason is the least scientific. It's really quite simple.  I have found that when I work out on a regular basis, I feel stronger, more focused, and considerably more energetic.

As one of my buff best friends told me during a particularly challenging time in her life, "Working out gives me a sense of confidence and power that I carry with me everywhere I go, and no one can ever take that away from you!"

                           ---- Author:  Dr. Suzanne Osborne