Ep. 8- Weight Training: Recent Developments
How would you like to get stronger yet spend less time training? In this podcast, Dr. Chet Zelasko reviews recent developments in weight training programs that may not win body building championships but will help you get stronger, maybe in less time
Welcome to Straight Talk on Health, I’m your host Dr. Chet Zelasko. Today we're going to talk about strength training. What I'm most interested in, as I review research, is that it becomes something that everybody can do in their busy lifestyles. For people who want to spend 2, 3, hours in the gym, there are plenty of weight training programs to increase muscle mass and increase muscle strength. But, for those people who may not, first of all, like lifting weights, being efficient, I think, is important. So I found a system that I think can benefit just about everybody, whether you're in your 20's and 30's or in your 70's 80's.
So this is the way it sort of evolved. It started simply enough. I didn't have anything urgent to read so I decided to look at the latest research in exercise physiology. That's what my PhD is in to begin with. I'm always looking, as I said, for more efficient way to increase strength and muscular endurance, not to avoid doing the work. You've got to put, at least some time and you've got to put the effort in. But one that will get results for people who don't want to spend a long time in the gym.
I came across a study that seems so weird to begin with. It was about using blood pressure cuffs to restrict blood flow while someone was lifting weights. Seemed a little odd to me because and what would be required to be able to perform the exercise. I also thought that certain muscle groups would be problematic and cutting off blood flow. So I wrote the author of the paper and asked him is lifting weights, real heavyweights, would cut off blood flow enough to get the same effect. There did seem to be an increase in muscular strength using the cuffing technique when compared your typical weight training program. So did the lifting heavier weights result in that same type of impact on the muscle itself?
Well, before we get to that, let me define a few terms. First, what is a typical weight training program? Typical weight training program would be something where you aspire to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. So what is a repetition? It is doing a movement once. You take a weight at shoulder-length and you put it over your head. That's one repetition of an overhead press. If you do tend of that's 10 wraps up. Take that and put it together and that's called set. So typically you might do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Actually, you probably start with 8 repetitions and then over a period of time as you get stronger, when you got to where you could actually do 3 sets of 10, you then added more weight. That's classic for someone who's interested in getting really strong. You would do fewer repetitions with a lot heavier weight, but you would do more sets. You might do 6 sets of 3 to 4 repetitions with very, very heavy weights. Or if you're interested in toning the way that your muscle looks and you want to get bigger, then you might do lot more repetitions at fewer sets. And you would look at more ways of working on the same muscle. For example, the deltoids. There are 3 parts of the deltoids. Think of that as your shoulder caps. Think of Henry Cavill as Superman, those shoulders, there's a middle part of the deltoid, the front part, and the rear part. You would work each set of muscles to make sure that you've got a well-rounded approach to it instead of just doing one kind of exercise. So that would mean you get a better looking muscle.
So that's basically it. One more factor that has a role to play in this is rest time. If you're lifting very, very heavy weight. You take a lot of resting to 3 minutes. If you're lifting light weights, you may not rest between different sets at all. So those are the definitions. So remember, I asked the question of the scientist who used a blood pressure cuff technique and what he wrote back and said that there's no question, it has challenges in the clinical setting, in other words, a research setting, and it would be even more challenging to do in a gym. I mean, think about it, where are you going to put the cuff and hold it there. And what exercise would you be able to do? Bicep curls? That would be fairly easy. So would a tricep extension. But how are you going to do a bench press? We're going to put the cuffs neck case on both arms. Yes, that's exactly the way they do it. But it's not apparent. But if the research shows that it was effective and there are numerous studies that support the blood pressure, cuff technique.
So if you go to a pub med dot Gov. UBM Ed Dot Gov. Search for “Resistance training blood pressure cuff” and you'll get all the different studies that are there. But that raises the question, why does it work? What occurs that allows muscle growth and muscle strength increase? Well, to answer that we got to figure out what's going on inside of the muscle. So based on a review paper and I'll give you the research citation for that a little bit later, there are 2 elements to resistant training that have to happen. The first is that the resistance training must result in the production of byproducts, waste materials, an example that you might have experiences lactic acid. You do anything that you do very, very rapidly build up lactic acid, that's a byproduct of energy production.
But it's a lot more than just a simple build-up of lactic acid. But that may be one that you can relate to. Second, you have to attach the nervous system. It has to be able to recruit more and more motor units. All right. What's a motor unit? Motor unit is a nerve fiber. And all the muscle fibers that attaches to the more force, a muscle tries to generate, the more units it must recruit to do it.
So think of it this way. The simplest explanation is doing a bicep curl with 5 pounds. Probably everybody could do that unless someone was very elderly and had many orthopedic problems. But it wouldn't recruit more a lot of muscle fibers or motor units. But if I were to put a 50-pound weight in someone's arm and asked them to do bicep, curl, even maximally contract and that muscle may not get that weight to move. I know it wouldn’t in my case. I'm not quite there yet.
The idea here is what would a blood pressure cuff due to inflate restrict blood flow, yet result in increased muscular strength if you lift in those conditions? Well, it's because of the cuff, it’s restricting waste products and you're not allowed to get nutrients in those 2 things would then force more motor units to be recruited and that's how you could impact the muscle. Nobody really understands very clearly, but I told you about a research paper. It's an exercise sport Saints reviews from 2021. It's called strength training in search of optimal strategies to maximize neuromuscular performance. The lead author is Jacques DeShautoe and it is an interesting paper and horribly complicated.
But my policy is always give you is to give you the paper from where I get information. He attempts to explain all the things that I just did to you. He's got some diagrams, he’s got some graphs. Really interesting, although horribly complicated. But there was something more he did in his laboratory, which called the 3, 7, Resistance Training program. That's what I think is the most interesting. So all begins with this. You got to determine what your one repetition Max's, if you can't due to orthopedic problems or if you're not that strong, then you can skip that part. One repetition max is to let's say, do the bench press and you keep adding weight to you can only do one repetition. Once you find that you take anywhere between 50 to 70% of that amount and then you do with 50 to 70%, you do 3 repetitions, rest 15 seconds, four repetitions, rest fifteen seconds, and you continue to do that until you can do until you get to 7 repetitions. And then you rest for 2 and a half minutes after 2 and a half minutes. You do the same thing. 3,15, rest for 4,15 rest. And here's the critical factor. You've got to keep it to 15 seconds because what's going on here? We don't have a blood pressure cuffs on, but we are forcing the muscle to deal with only what it has available in those 15 seconds that's called the immediate energy system. All right. The immediate energy system, it's what's in your muscles. You don't have time to start using sugar as a fuel. You certainly don't have time to aerobically use fat as a fuel. So all you can do is use what's called creatine phosphate. It's converted to a ATP and that 15 seconds is critical.
Now, I did this the night before I recorded this podcast, and I got to tell you, by the time you get to 6 repetitions and then 7, it is really, really challenging keeping to those 15 seconds. But where is it going to lead? I don't know. I can tell you that the next day I was really, really sore from it. And that means you got muscle breakdown. That means that creates a scenario where you can build back bigger and build back stronger. That's the 3, 7, program.
Now the question is, what are you going to do about it? What can you do? well first, you've got to make sure your physician okays your ability to lift weights. You can't hold your breath because that if you have hypertension, that can be a problem. You can have balance issues are orthopedic problems that can impact your ability to hold the weight over your head or however you going to do it. Using machines is fine, if you can. But one thing that I would do, I can't possibly describe every kind of exercise in this format, but you can find videos or do something. Invest in a personal trainer who's got credentials and have them walk you through the program. You focus on the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, reps, 15 seconds rest and they can demonstrate to you how to do those exercises. If nothing else, start with the weight you can handle with proper form. If you need to and you have the ability to, get a physical therapist to help you out to start. Use a clock during the rest intervals, it doesn't matter how long it takes to do the exercises. But time is critical for the rest intervals. Even 5 seconds and you're off track. You can't do that. You've got to stick to 15 seconds.
The goal is good to get that muscle fatigue and to recruit more motor units by the time you get to the 6th and 7th repetitions and that can result in much more gain in strength than any other type of program. Unless you have the time and the willingness to spend the time for a couple hours in the gym. I got my entire workout done in about 45 minutes working on just my arms and my deltoids. I'm looking for those Henry Cavill shoulder caps there. I think it's worth the try. It's efficient and it's time respectful. Unfortunately, that's all the time I have for the show. Until next time, I’m Dr. Chet Zelasko saying health is a choice, people choose wisely today and everyday.
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