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Muscles Don't Grow in the Gym...

Posted Apr 28 2009 12:03pm


I find myself having to explain this concept to many people, so I decided I would write a blog about it. Muscle growth does not take place in the gym and on the other hand neither does weight loss. I have witnessed on many occasions where you see the guys lifting weights and checking out their muscles in the mirror to see if there was any immediate change. Maybe if they looked harder or squinted their eyes, you might see something. Also to be fair I also see the ladies checking their weight several times throughout their workout to see if the scale will show any changes. What people don't seem to understand is that the actual process of change takes place outside of the gym when you are eating, resting or sleeping. Allow for me to explain.

The Process
When you are working out in the gym what you are actually doing is attempting to stimulate your body in order to get a response. Nothing happens without stimulus. Exercise is stimulus. You are trying to force your body to safely change due to the stress you placed it under. This is lifting weights or cardiovascular activity.

Allow for me to further explain. This process is called General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which has 3 stages.
  1. The first stage is called the " alarm stage" where basically you are overloading your muscles by placing a stress on them they are not accustomed too.

  2. The second stage is called the " resistance stage" where your muscles with resist the stress and adapt to the trauma placed on them

  3. The third stage is called the " exhaustion stage" where if we persist in applying the stress we will reach a point of diminishing returns and/or over training.
So in layman's terms what this means is that we need to focus a little more on the resistance stage and not just the alarm stage. So we need to focus on what we do out of the gym just as we do inside the gym. Generally speaking a workout is about 30 - 60 minutes so with about 23 hours left for sleeping, eating, and other physical activities take place outside of the gym. These activities are critical in making sure that the 30-60 minutes of working out will not be all in vain. Constantly applying stress can lead to over training and serious side effects. In addition not getting the proper rest and food in your system is just as important.

So healthy sensible eating plays a key role in the resistance stage process as well. Do you think your body will be able to adapt and recovery better from the stress of exercise from fries, chips, doughnuts and soda or lean protein, water, and fruits and veggies? The food we eat is used to build new cells and lay down new stronger tissue in our body. There is no way around it.

So the take away message is to understand that most of the focus needs to be placed on what you do outside of the gym. You cannot out train poor nutrition. So don't work hard in the gym and then do the direct opposite outside of the gym. You deserve better for all your hard work - so just focus on being better in and outside of the gym.

EDUCATION and SAFETY always lead to RESULTS.

Be Well
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