Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Answers

Last week’s post was about personal training certification. I posted 3 simple questions for everyone to answer just to test your knowledge on Fitness and I thank those who actually took the trouble to answer the questions. So, now that you have patiently waited for one week, its time to reveal the answers to last weeks posting. Are you ready? The answers may shock you as to how much you did or didn’t know about fitness. So here we go.

1) How long should you rest between sets?
I got a few variations in the answers here and honestly, when I was first asked this question, I answered just like you guys. The sad part is, when you walk into a gym and ask their so called “Master Trainers”, how long you should rest between sets, you still get all kinds of answers from 2 minutes to 10 minutes. The sad part is, no one can give you a clear answer as to why 2 minutes or why 1 minute and what benefits can you gain and why. It’s all just opinion and not based on any scientific fact.

The truth is, resting time is very crucial depending on what the athlete wants to achieve. If you don’t have any specific goals (you just want to “get in shape”), then it probably doesn’t matter much. But for a more serious minded athlete, rest times depend on the fiber composition and training goals of the athlete. A red fiber (endurance) athlete will recover far more quickly than a white fiber (strength) athlete. Also, shorter rest times tend to trigger a greater release of human growth hormone (hGH), which is more closely associated with size increases (body building). Longer rest times tend to trigger a greater release of testosterone, which is more closely associated with strength increases (weight lifting / power lifting). So again, depending on what your client wants to achieve, it is important to know how long they should rest to get the maximum benefits. When attending the course, there is a table which shows you the differences between different rest times and the different results that you get, so you know what is best to prescribe to your client. Sorry, can’t share the table with you guys here as it is Copyright material.

2) Is being flexible beneficial to all athletes?
In general, the ability to move through a full range of motion can be important for sports and for every day life. However, a lack of flexibility can be just as important. Many do not realize that tightness can be beneficial, depending on your goals. For powerlifters, a certain level of tightness at the bottom of a squat can not only help resist the downward motion of the weight, but can also work as a kind of “spring” to help the athlete begin his ascent to the standing position. A sprinter may find that a little tightness in his hams and gluts can help slingshot his legs back once they’re in front of him. So flexibility is not necessarily beneficial to all athletes. Again, it depends on what the athlete needs. A lot of times, Personal Trainers try to impose their own ideals onto their clients.

3) Name 2 exercises you can do to train your lower abs?
OK, this one was actually a trick question. Sorry guys, but I had to make it hard, or else everyone would get it. The fact is, there is no way to train your lower abs. Your ab muscles is one long muscle which is attached at 2 points (refer to diagram below).


When muscles pull, the fibers between the 2 attached points contract and it is not possible for just part of the fibers to contract while the rest are relaxed. The best way to picture this is imagine having a string tied to a door knob. The string represents your muscle fiber and as you pull on the string (to pull the door closer to you) the entire rope gets tight, and it’s impossible to leave any part of it somehow “less tight” or “more tight” than other parts. For the same reason it is impossible to target just the lower part of your abs, just as it is impossible for you to target just the lower part of your biceps. So whether you are doing sit ups or leg raises, you are essentially using the entire ab muscles and not targeting anything specific. But the idea that leg raises specifically target your lower ab muscles is a myth. Now I am not saying you should stop doing it, but saying that you cannot target you lower abs by doing leg raises.

So there you have it, the answers to the questions. Any comments? Quite shocking isn’t it. Also, I hope this gives you a preview of how technical and scientific the Am-FIT certification course is. I know it is new in the market and people will be skeptical, but I hope this shows you the quality of what you are learning and how beneficial this kind of information will be to your client. Train your client with scientific knowledge and not opinions that someone taught you. Once the course is ready to be launched to the public, I will inform you guys. I am trying to negotiate a discount for those who frequently visit my blog and share their comments. Will let you know.

As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

16 comments:

Anba said...

thanx a lot for the info...lots of info ..i need to reread again to really understand the info..the one about lower ab was something new...

Aizan Suhaira said...

Wahh... pandai juga saya... :P

Rajan said...

Anba: hope the explanation isn't too hard to understand. Just remember the example of the string.

Rajan said...

Aizan: thanks for taking the effort to answer. Quite a good try.

The Corporate Athlete said...

interesting. The first two questions are definitely a refresher course to me.

The third one, well, that's new.
Frankly, I love doing abs workout but I only do mostly crunches and sit-ups (exercises known to target the upper abs). My 4 upper pecs are visible, but lower abs are not appearing.

Rajan said...

CA: I am guessing that the lack of visibility for the last 2 pecs is an issue with fat layering in that area and not because of the lack of leg raises.

As you know, males primary fat storage is in the abdomen area... which also means it is the last place to lose fat.

Lexis Excellence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lexis Excellence said...

Though after our first round of sign ups and the money comes in to get it registered, the name's gonna have to stick.

Rajan said...

Lets discuss more when we meet tomorrow.

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Nizam said...

Wat a joke. You cant even decide on a name for ur so called certficate. And as usual, the ang-moh has suckered the malaysian into it bcos he now wants to name it after himself. What will the poor malaysian do... Surely he cannot be too happy abt this? You're just being used cos of ur successful blog. Kasey probably tried knocking doors in america but got turned down big time - so as usual, once again, mALaysia becomes a dumping ground for the all american reject who tries to con a poor unsuspecting malaysian.

Lexis Excellence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajan said...

Good point Kasey.

Another point to add, the most important thing to me is the course content itself.

You can package it however you want and call it something fancy and then have crap material in there. So which would you prefer? From what you just said, it looks like you are more interested in just the name, rather than the content. Go figure.

Nizam said...

Why not call it Rajan's fitness then.

Rajan said...

Nizam: i didnt design the course so i dont think its right to call it rajan fitness.

Anonymous said...

Interesting "answers" to your questions.

The answer to Question 3 (lower abs/upper abs distinction myth) is spot on. The example given is apt, as the rectus abdominis (the visible abdominal muscle in front), is a single muscle. You could also mention that EMG (Electromyography) readings prove that it is impossible to activate either "upper" or "lower" sections independently.

The answer to the second question, leaves a fair bit to be desired. What would be a better explanation would be one that differentiates flexibility with hypermobility or hyperlaxity. The examples given seem to confuse having muscular strength with joint "tightness".

Powerlifters actually require good flexibility to achieve their lifts (again, NOT hypermobility). The bounce maneuver you describe simply is a use of the myotactic stretch reflex and the length-tension relationship.

In the sprinter example, you say that "a little tightness in his hams and gluts can help slingshot his legs back". This is not because of lack of flexibility in the joints. Rather, this is actually part of one the body's dynamic stabilization systems known as the Deep Longitudinal Subsystem (DLS), which is key in running, walking and jumping. It would help to familiarize yourself in the various dynamic stabilization systems that exist in the human body, to better understand how movement works, rather than erroneously attribute such crucial functions to lack of flexibility.

The answer to the first question, while getting some gist correct, seems to leave out most of the real explanation. While it may be easier to say that Type I muscle fibers recover faster than Type II muscles fibers, it is actually important to explain why this is so. A brief explanation of the energy systems involved in both fiber types would better serve to explain why rest times should be keyed to match the energy system recovery.

I understand that an explanation of the energy systems can get lengthy, but I feel it would be better to explain in some fashion rather than leave out the real reason behind rest time programming.

As for the hormonal effects given, it would appear that rest times, while having some effect, would be greatly overshadowed by other factors such as Time Under Tension and Intensity. A discussion of total workout duration would also be appropriate as the effects of cortisol suppression on GH production would also come into play (if hormones was truly your answer, that is).

My apologies if this "comment" has grown rather lengthy. I only wish to correct what appears to be misunderstanding in the science involved in the answers. I hope what I've said will be of use to you and that you can further research the various topics I've very lightly touched upon.

Best of luck in your endeavors!