Ken Nosaka wishes 43 years ago he knew then what he knows now.
It was back when he was a 20-year-old athlete and he was told that lactic acid caused the pain he felt after training. It was also a time when mainstream wisdom about exercise included “no pain, no gain”, “lift weights to build muscle”, and “more is more”.
Today, our understanding of exercise has changed dramatically.
Over the past decade, researchers have found that short bursts of HIIT are equal to or better than long, slow sessions. They found that frequent exercise snacks as brief as three seconds at a time (in this case, squeezing your muscle as hard as you can) can improve strength and health. And they showed that while some pain is okay, the “no pain, no gain” mantra is a myth. Work smarter, not harder, is now the slogan.
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Nosaka’s research underscores this point.
When he dug deeper into the science of exercise, he discovered that lactic acid was not at all responsible for the sensation of pain. It sparked a career in finding the real culprit: the eccentric exercises or the part of the exercise where we lower ourselves or lower our weights. These include sitting down slowly in a chair or on the couch, going down stairs, and the lowering phase of a push-up, kettle bell deadlift, or bicep curl.
His latest study on eccentric exercises found that the same results can be achieved with half the reps if you lower instead of raise.
Nosaka and his team took 53 participants and divided them into four groups, with one of those groups acting as a control. Twice a week for five weeks, the other groups performed resistance exercises that were concentric-eccentric (raise and lower), concentric (just raise) or eccentric (just lower).
Although the eccentric-only group did half the reps of those lifting and lowering weights, their strength gains were similar to those of the lifting and lowering group. The eccentric-only group also saw greater improvement in muscle thickness: 7.2% compared to 5.4% in the concentric-eccentric group.
“A lot of people focus on the lifting phase – the concentric contraction,” says Nosaka, “which isn’t bad. But a lot of people lose their chance to get stronger and fitter by removing the eccentric phase.
“Lifting is important, but less important than dropping the weight. Our studies have shown that weightlifting does not contribute so much to muscle growth and strength gains.
For people who want to try it themselves, that means either using a resistance machine set up to lower, or focusing on the lowered part when lifting weights or doing a squat.
Tim Olds, a professor at the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences, says the research is “very exciting” on several levels.
First, eccentric exercises are very effective. “We can lower a much heavier weight than we can lift, and it takes less energy to lower the same weight than to lift it. Going down stairs is easier than going up,” says Olds.
Second, because muscles and tendons are stretched in the eccentric phase, we store elastic energy in them, which creates energy in the upswing: “Think about bouncing as you walk. This increases overall efficiency – we can do more with less energy.
Third, eccentric contractions are much more damaging to the muscle because they are stretched under tension. “Eccentric exercise tends to cause micro tears in the muscle, which can cause muscle soreness (bad), but also leads to rapid muscle regrowth and hypergrowth (good).”
Certain pains can show that our muscles are well stimulated, says Nosaka, but as our muscles adapt, the pains of the same exercise disappear. And, he adds, occasional pain is very different from pain: “We don’t need to seek pain to win.
When he was a student and an aspiring sprinter, he didn’t know this and says there was no emphasis on eccentric exercise. Now athletes use them to improve their performance and prevent injuries. These effects extend to all of us.
In fact, even low-intensity eccentric contractions can increase muscle strength and muscle mass.
That means sitting on the couch can be better exercise than you think – as long as you do it regularly. “Just sitting down on the sofa very slowly is good exercise,” says Nosaka. “Then if you need more of a challenge, you can sit down with one leg.”
If we do this once every 30 to 60 minutes, every time we go to the bathroom or sit down in a chair, we break the continual sitting that takes a toll on our health and work out our muscles.
That’s not to say that the current recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week and two strength training sessions is wrong. “But 80% of people don’t,” says Nosaka. ” It’s shocking.
“So my idea is to show that it’s a minimal exercise and you can still get benefits from it. Then you can develop more exercises from there.
From slow sitting, we could add a daily three-second muscle compression, which Nosaka’s previous research has shown can improve strength by up to 12%. We could pepper our day with 20-second bursts of brisk walking upstairs or running to the bus stop to get our heart rate up. And we could try to move more in general to increase our step count and improve our overall health.
We now know that every step and every session counts, so people who are sedentary and have trouble following guidelines can still make a significant difference to their health, just like those of us who are “couch potatoes”. active” and who train but are stuck. most of the day at our offices.
Nosaka likens accumulating every move these days to collecting coins.
“If we accumulate just 5 cents a day, we will end up having a large sum of money in a year. Doing small amounts of exercise each day also builds up and can change your body.
#lift #weights #Lowering #work #stronger