Now we’re getting to the really good part. Of course
you can just print up and follow the exercise plan as designed and get the results
you want, but I think that knowing why you are doing what you are doing helps
make the task a little easier…well, if not easier then at least more bearable
and will allow you to work out with more purpose and conviction. That is actually
a very important part of the whole thing so don’t skip past Chapter 13
on the Mindset because your brain is probably the most important muscle to strengthen
in order to make changes in your body.
This may sound a little odd if you haven’t heard it before, but muscles
are strengthened by tearing them down. When you lift weights or do other weight
bearing activities you are actually causing micro-tears in the muscle fiber.
Your body responds to this damage by not only repairing the damage, but adding
a little more muscle tissue to prevent future damage. It is a principle known
as adaptation and it is something your body is very good at. Think about the
way your body can repair a broken bone. It works in much the same fashion.
If you have ever had a broken bone and you have seen the x-rays after the bone
has healed, you know exactly what I am talking about. The bone is not only healed
where the break occurred, but it is actually a little larger in that area. Of
course, you don’t want to go around breaking your bones to make them stronger,
but you get the idea. It is very important to provide your body with adequate
fuel to create the building blocks needed to repair and increase the muscle
tissue and that means plenty of protein, carbohydrates and a little fat (especially
the healthy kind like olive oil, nuts and flax seed oil) in your diet.
Muscles can adapt and grow in different ways and it is important to have at
least a basic understanding of the differences in order to achieve the results
you want and not waste your efforts. There are basically two types of muscle
fibers, fast twitch and slow twitch. These respond to different types of stresses
and when broken down and rebuilt give a different appearance and capability
to the muscle tissue.
The slow twitch fibers are more efficient at using oxygen and are used for
endurance based activities, such as running a marathon. The fast twitch fibers
tire out quickly and are more suited to short bursts of energy and quick bursts
of power. These are the fibers your workouts will be mainly targeting. You will
concentrate on fatiguing these muscle fibers quickly and efficiently in order
to provide maximum damage in the least amount of time.
Another important part of the equation is recovery time. Some people fall for
the old “if a little is good for me, than a lot is better” mindset
and they completely sabotage their efforts. If you do not allow enough time
for the muscle to recover before tearing it down again, you will not get any
growth. People who fall in this trap usually either stay the same (their bodies
get just enough time to rebuild what was previously there and not enough to
create more) or they actually lose muscle. The workout plan in Chapter 8 will
help you prevent this problem by allowing for adequate recovery time before
working the same muscle group again.