Weight training not all grunts and gasps

But many athletes will not benefit from heavy lifting, or at least not as the predominant method of training.

When we think about strength training most of us have the image of a heavily muscled person who is lifting weights until they can’t lift anymore.

They grimace, grunt, and gasp as they finally almost collapse on the floor from fatigue.

But is that the best way to do weight training?

The answer depends on what the objective is. And the method of doing weight training to the point of complete exhaustion, or muscle failure, can be misdirected and even counterproductive if you are unaware of some of the unintended consequences.

Strength training in this way requires one to perform a lift to the point of complete fatigue induced by previous muscular work. Although this state may be reached after only a few repetitions using high loads, moderate loads can also achieve this effect if done with enough repetitions, and are more commonly used when training to failure in practice. This approach has been used successfully to produce stronger and larger muscles in men and more dense (higher mass) muscles in females. And even though females will gain density with this very high intensity training, any gains in muscle size will be minimal because of the small amount of testosterone in women’s bodies.

Are there any populations that would not benefit or be adversely affected by this type of training? There are a few. As one might expect, people with medical conditions, the elderly population and sedentary beginners to exercise would be at risk with heavy lifting. And if one’s goals include general fitness and improved functioning around home and work, then it would be much better to undertake a moderate form of resistance training where you don’t lift until muscle failure.

But many athletes will not benefit from heavy lifting, or at least not as the predominant method of training.

Athletes do require a certain amount of strength, but not necessarily a high degree of muscle mass (also called hypertrophy), especially if the sport requires speed, agility and power.

The problem with training to complete exhaustion is that as the person lifts each repetition, nearer and nearer to failure, the speed of movement slows. In effect, in addition to generating hypertrophy, you are training your movements to be slow – and that is an anathema to speed sports.

Therefore, when power is the objective, exercises should be performed for sub-maximal repetitions of up to six reps with a load that is about thirty to seventy percent of a maximum load and done with fast, forceful movements.

Research has indicated that velocity and acute power output decline after approximately four to six repetitions per set. In order to maintain this kind of high power output, it would be most productive to rest the working muscles three to five minutes between sets.

However, rather than passively resting between sets, athletes may perform exercises for uninvolved muscle groups to improve time efficiency.

Athletes will often spend a portion of the year in the off-season trying to increase hypertrophy, but during the preseason and in-season training phases, development of power is often the primary focus, and maintaining high velocities and strict technique is of paramount importance during all training exercises.

In this case, the use of repetition failure sets would be counterproductive since reduction in velocity and technique deteriorization with increasing levels of fatigue, could increase the risk of injury.

Weight lifting to failure can be, and is, successfully used to improve strength and mass, but it is not the only way to strength train, and sometimes can be counterproductive.

As always, your destination or goal determines the method you use to get there.

• Kerry Senchyna holds a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and is owner of West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge (westcoastkinesiology.com).

Just Posted

The draw for May’s Shop Local & Win contest takes place June 4, 2021. (Special to The News)
Open your wallet close to home and win

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce hosts shop local competition

Brian Malfesi and his partner Vincent Jourdenais have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge kayak racer qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Malfesi is first B.C. sprint paddler to race for Team Canada at Olympics in 33 years

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chamber of commerce for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hosts Conservative leader

Erin O’Toole and MP Dalton part of online Zoom meeting on Monday

A photo of Telosky Stadium from the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives. (Special to The News)
Telosky Stadium opened in Haney on this day in 1950

Maple Ridge Museum and Archives marks special day in local sporting history

Transport 2050 is TransLink’s largest ever public engagement. (TransLink, Special to The News)
Last day to take TransLink’s planning survey

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents can have a say in Transport 2050

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read