Friday, September 21, 2007

Can't Have It Both Ways

There are many myths or maybe better stated misunderstandings in the field of fitness that have prevailed for countless years. One for example, is many are under the false pretense that if you perform low reps with heavy weights you will build bulk and if you use higher repetitions you’ll become more defined. Other misguided notions would be things such as spot reduction and barbell curls are to add size to your biceps and concentration curls add peak, but there is one that was brought to my attention by a friend who trains individuals one-on-one. He was telling me how one of his female clients didn’t want to work her legs too much because she feared that her lower body would become too large and muscular and she wouldn’t look feminine. This is a valid concern and one I respect, but her argument didn’t hold much water when she became insistent that she needed to do a lot more abdominal work to make her abs smaller and more defined. This poses a dichotomy now doesn’t it? How can one approach (in this example, training her legs) add size and muscularity but not have the same result when she targets her abdominals? The answer is, it can’t!

When you stop training a muscle it atrophies, which means it loses muscular size so in an unknowing way, she may be correct in not training her lower body directly (albeit a mistake since the benefits of being stronger and more flexible outweigh the small chance she may enlarge her lower extremities). And if the above statement is true then logic would dictate that she should probably not directly train her abdominals so she can obtain her required results for a smaller midsection.

So what’s the solution? A knowledgeable and conscientious fitness professional would take the time to explain (again) what takes place when muscles are directly stimulated through resistance training and offer the notion that all body parts can benefit from being stimulated. Most importantly, it should be left up to the trainee after they have the understanding that they can’t have it both ways. – Fred Fornicola