Monthly Archives: September 2016

Suggested Repetition Ranges for The Strength With Hypertrophy

Improving strength and increasing muscle mass are two prominent goals for exercisers. According to recent research, both goals require significantly different training protocols.

Published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2016; 15, 715–22), the small study involved 19 men (~23 years old) with experience in resistance training. They were assigned to one of two protocols—one aimed at building strength (heavy resistance), the other designed to build muscle (hypertrophy).

Prior to the intervention, each subject underwent tests to establish baseline 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) in the bench press and squat; upper-body muscle endurance; and muscle thickness of the upper arm and lateral thigh. Participants were asked to avoid nutrition supplementation and make no changes to their current diet. However, they were given a protein supplement to consume within 1 hour after their exercise bouts.

Both groups completed 3 sets of seven exercises for major muscle groups 3 days per week for 8 weeks. Target repetition range for the heavy-resistance group was 2–4 reps, with load set by a baseline 3-RM test. The hypertrophy group performed 8–12 reps, with load determined by a 10-RM baseline test.

Both groups experienced improvements in 1-RM for both test exercises. However, improvements were superior for the heavy-resistance group, especially in the squat, where the increase was nearly double what it was for the hypertrophy group. All men yielded similar improvements in muscle endurance—a point that raised questions for the researchers, as it seemed counterintuitive that the few repetitions completed by the heavy-resistance group would produce such results. Last, improvements in muscle thickness were greater among the hypertrophy group, most evidently in the quadriceps femoris.

“Our findings provide evidence that training in different loading zones elicits differential muscular adaptations in resistance-trained men when an equal number of sets are performed,” the authors said. “Although the mechanisms remain undetermined, we can infer that strength-related adaptations are maximized by training closer to one’s 1RM. Alternatively, increases in muscle size seem to be driven more by higher training volumes, at least up to a certain threshold. It is conceivable that combining loading strategies may have a synergistic effect on strength and hypertrophic improvements. This hypothesis warrants further investigation.”

Cardio-Core Combo Can Be Sample Workout

Help participants work their core with a miniroutine that approaches muscles from different angles while elevating heart rates. Mix 30-second cardio intervals with athletic, integrated core exercises that load the upper body and lower body simultaneously. Here’s how you do it: Teach continuous movement as you alternate between 30 seconds of “cardio-core” and 2 minutes of recovery-pace core work (which includes the transition time from one move to the next). Use dumbbells for added load in every plane of motion as you bend, stand, reach, rotate, catch and brace.

A Sample Menu

Following are some teaching suggestions with examples of both elements:

Cardio: Demonstrate the exercise, and cue students to do as many reps as they can safely do in 30 seconds. Encourage them to go breathless. All moves include dumbbells but can be done without them if necessary.

  • forward jump with snatch
  • lateral hop lunge with overhead arch
  • standing broad jump with chest press
  • lateral jump to vertical jump
  • sumo jump-squat with snatch
  • split-lunge hold while holding dumbbells overhead
  • power skater with reach
  • tuck jump with 180-degree hop

Recovery-pace core work: Self-select reps, and cycle through for 2 minutes:

  • lateral walking plank with superman reach
  • static crab with alternating elbow and knee pulls, then reverse plank
  • plank variations (choose two): ski jumps, donkey kicks, frog jumps, jacks
  • alternating forward lunges while passing dumbbell between legs
  • side plank with three hip pulses, low front hover and alternating hip-taps
  • halo with lateral lunge, forward lunge or reverse lunge
  • squats with knee-lift oblique crunch, alternating crossover crunch or sumo prisoner oblique crunch

Put It Together

Below are two examples of how the concept works in action.

Interval One

Jumping dumbbell snatch (cardio):

  • Start with feet in narrow position, holding dumbbell with both hands (at thighs).
  • Jump or step forward and catch dumbbell overhead in a snatch (brace core).
  • Land in wide squat to absorb landing.
  • Jump or step back to narrow feet.
  • Return dumbbell to thigh, and repeat.
  • Lateral walking plank with superman reach (recovery pace, 4 reps each; 2 minutes):
  • Begin in standard plank position.
  • Add superman: Extend opposite arm and leg (alternate).
  • Add walking plank, moving to side.
  • Repeat superman reach.
  • Repeat walking plank, opposite direction.

News Be a Better Fitness Pro With Mindset Training

Michael Mantell, PhD, has spent the past 40 years urging people to change their minds to improve their bodies. Mantell, director of behavior science coaching at Premier Fitness Camp in San Diego, shares this story:

“I worked with an obese, gay male client, who finally came to realize that he’d been [too] humiliated to go to a gym because his mindset was, ‘People will laugh at me. I look horrible naked. I can’t ever have a lover because I can’t stand how I look, so how will anyone else? I can’t ever lose weight, because deep down I know I’m a failure.’”

Mindset training helped turn things around, Mantell said.

“By confronting each of these negative guiding thoughts, this client was able to see how unfactual they were, and he could replace them with more accurate and logical thoughts. He’s now well on his way to achieving a healthier weight, sees a trainer three times a week and is currently engaged to a gentleman he met at the gym!

“It all began by recognizing, rejecting and replacing his negative mindset with the help of a simple question: ‘Is what you are believing true?’”

That’s the power of mindset. Mindset is more than a popular gym buzzword. It is a long-studied concept in the fields of cognitive and positive psychology that provides a foundation for a scientific understanding of how beliefs influence behavior.

Mindset matters for fitness professionals because it can help trainers and clients overcome the frustrations that arise as a result of people seeing the world in different ways. Think about it: Clients hire trainers and other fitness pros for help in achieving fitness and weight goals. But no matter how good we are at fitness assessment, program design and exercise instruction, some people do not respond to our efforts. Why does this happen? It may be because we haven’t addressed the clients’ mindset.

Let’s examine the meaning of mindset and review current scientific understanding of how beliefs affect certain behaviors. You may find that these insights hold the key to unlocking barriers to behavioral change and helping clients achieve better health and well-being.

What Are Mindsets?

“Mindsets can be thought of as psychological orientations that shape how we view the world around us,” says Derek D. Rucker, PhD, professor of entrepreneurial studies in marketing at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Rucker points to the popular analogy of people seeing a glass of water as either half-empty or half-full. Mindset is why two people look at the same facts and draw opposite conclusions.

Mantell adds: “Mindsets describe a collection of thoughts or beliefs that guide all behavior.” More specifically, he says, mindsets “comprise inclinations and tendencies toward behaviors and attitudes that drive how we react to daily events, conditions, circumstances, people and situations.”

For study purposes, mindset researchers have identified different constructs or “frames of mind” in which contrasting views of an identical situation can directly influence perception. This explains why two otherwise similar people in similar circumstances (like two different clients) can reach opposing conclusions about the right way to respond to those circumstances. This is significant because a trainer may use the same coaching techniqueand achieve great success with one client, yet be unable to help another and be unable to identify the reason.

Promotion vs. Prevention Mindsets

Science has identified two distinct mindsets—promotion and prevention—that have a direct impact on setting and achieving goals. “In the promotion versus prevention model, a promotion-focused person might exercise with a focus on ideals and gains associated with living a healthier lifestyle,” says Rucker. “Another person might exercise with a prevention-focused mindset. This person might focus on avoiding becoming fat and [on the] means to prevent this from happening. Both individuals are pursuing the same behavior, but via distinct approaches.”

Rucker and a colleague conducted a research review of mindset studies to examine how mindsets might affect portion control (Rucker & He 2016). Some researchers have concluded that a prevention mindset may help more with portion control, since prevention-minded people are better at resisting temptations when pursuing a goal. People with a promotion mindset appear more sensitive to making gains and more responsive to success feedback. In contrast, people with a prevention mindset are motivated by failure feedback, which intensifies their determination not to lose ground and strengthens their commitment to their goals.

Study authors noted, however, that mindsets are not fixed: The same person may have a different mindset depending on the situation. And one mindset is not necessarily better than another. For example, a promotion mindset may be helpful in initiating a goal of changing a behavior (e.g., eating healthier foods), while a prevention mindset may be more effective in maintaining the behavior once the goal has been achieved (e.g., avoidingjunk foods) (Rucker & He 2016).

University of Minnesota researchers compared how well people with promotion and prevention mindsets succeeded at sticking with their decision to quit smoking or to lose weight. At the 6-month follow-up, promotion-minded people proved to be more successful at quitting smoking and losing weight. But a 1-year follow-up found that people with a prevention focus were more likely to be smoke-free and maintaining their weight loss. The researchers concluded that encouraging the more helpful mindset for the specific task—i.e., changing behavior or maintaining behavior—might produce the greatest success over time (Fuglestad, Rothman & Jeffery 2008).

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Scientists have also learned a lot about the difference between fixed and growth mindsets—particularly in the context of education. People with a growth mindset see the world as changeable, while people with a fixed mindset see it as unchangeable.

Circuit Supersets Make Your Total Body Strength

A superset format is a great way to deliver a high-intensity, straightforward workout. In this circuit-training class, each superset includes three exercises that target different areas of the body. For example, you work the legs while the arms recover, then you target the core while the legs have some reprieve, and so on. The selected moves are classics, selected for their ability to efficiently target major muscle groups. They are simple to follow and execute, which allows the class to move at a steady pace.

Serious Superset Details

Total Time: ~55 minutes

Goal/Emphasis: to strengthen every major muscle group

Equipment needed: per person: one to two sets of dumbbells and an exercise mat for floor-work (Since you’re teaching high repetitions, encourage participants to switch out dumbbells at any point or drop them completely if fatigued.)

Music: 130 beats per minute or slower

Warm-Up (6 minutes)

Perform each of the following for 30 seconds, then repeat three times:

  • Do bob-and-weave pattern, either as simple step-together or adding squat as you sweep through center.
  • Cue alternating knees. Encourage advanced participants to bring knees above hip height, and ask everyone to engage abdominal muscles and “crunch” ribs to hips.
  • Teach traditional jumping jacks or side-taps with full-range arms as low-impact modification.

Add some flowing, dynamic stretches into the mix:

  • Do calf stretch in lunge position.
  • Stretch hamstrings by sitting back with leg forward.
  • Interlace hands behind back to open chest.
  • Do standing quadriceps stretch.

As you go through the warm-up, explain how the entire workout will follow this format. Point out that every warm-up move can be completed at a variety of intensities. Assure participants that they can also modify all strength exercises.

Work Phase (40 minutes)

Perform 24 reps of each exercise unless otherwise indicated. Go through each round three times and then move to the next one, taking time to rest only as needed or during transitions.

Superset #1

  • Upright row. Stand with feet wide, knees slightly bent. Keep shoulders relaxed and engage between shoulder blades and spine. Raise and lower dumbbells in controlled upright row, being careful not to cause impingement.
  • Sumo squat. Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out, and lower into wide squat. As you come up (slowly and with control), lift knee(alternate sides). Modification: Eliminate knee lift. Progression: Hold dumbbell against chest. 16 reps.
  • Slow mountain climber. Start from plank position and slowly bring in one knee toward chest, moving at half-speed. Keep hips low, hands under shoulders, and brace through core. Modification: Hold full plank. 16 reps.

Superset #2

  • Wide push-up. Keep hands far apart so elbows are 90 degrees at bottom of move. Perform on knees or with straight legs.
  • Alternating lunges. Hold dumbbells and step forward with right foot, getting knee as close to ground as possible. Alternate for 16 reps.
  • Forearm plank. Brace through core and come onto forearms and toes, keeping back in neutral. Modification: Place knees on floor. Hold 1 minute.

Superset #3

  • Overhead press. Press dumbbells overhead in arcing motion. Elbows are at shoulder level and 90 degrees at bottom of move. Control the return.
  • Squats. With feet parallel and hip-width apart, lower into squat while keeping chest lifted. Hold one dumbbell against chest with both hands. Modification: Don’t hold dumbbell.
  • Back extension. Lie prone with arms by sides, palms up. Reach fingertips and toes toward back of room while lifting chest and thighs off ground. Engage gluteals and spinal erectors. Hold for 3 counts. 8 reps.