Why Pick Bodybuilding
Understanding Your Body
Bodybuilding has not had an easy time of finding mainstream acceptance, even if some of the best athletes in the sport have gone on to become quite popular. People like Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger have millions of fans between them, but most of those fans would not consider engaging in bodybuilding techniques as a means of regular exercise.
However, there is something to be said for some of the basic tenants of bodybuilding, as well as the health benefits that come as a result of using weightlifting and progressive resistance training as a system of exercise. One principle of bodybuilding is that the body itself does not know what you think you want it to do, and can only adapt based on actual signals you send it through the process of working out. For that reason, you may feel like you are making more progress than you actually are, unless you properly understand the principles of progressive resistance bodybuilding training.
The Benefits of Progressive Resistance Training
Lifting Weights to Improve Health
The vast majority of people who train using weights or other forms of progressive resistance will never compete in any sort of bodybuilding competition, but there are still tangible benefits to be gained from progressive resistance training of the sort that bodybuilders use. These benefits include good health, improved physical appearance and an accompanying more positive attitude, and a decreased chance of totally debilitating injuries. And these benefits are all gained safely and effectively through progressive resistance training.
The simple definition of progressive-resistance training is that the body adapts and grows stronger as you apply focused amounts of increasing physical stress to it. For example, runners know that it is possible to be in good shape for quickly running two miles, but you simply have to be in better shape to run five miles as easily as two. Improving your conditioning is often a matter of increasing the amount of distance you are running, or increasing the amount of weight you are lifting, couple with providing your body the time and nutritional energy necessary to adapt to the increased demands you have placed on it.
Your muscles, meanwhile, have adapted over the course of your life to dealing with a certain level of demand, and you can increase the amount of weight and intensity when doing compound lifts of weights in a gym so that your muscles must become bigger and stronger to deal with it. This is a cycle that you repeat over the course of months and years, as you increase the amount of weight and/or intensity in your workouts as your muscles slowly adapt to the demands that you place on them.
When you use the right specificity of training, the benefits you can expect to gain from progressive resistance training are quite diverse. These include the increased ability to transfer more oxygen from the air to your lungs to your bloodstream; increased capacity of blood flow because of a stronger heart, which improves your circulatory system; an increased size and number of capillaries that are responsible for delivering blood to muscles.
Other benefits include the cardiovascular system being better able to remove lactic acid from the muscles, and an increased ability by the muscles to store carbohydrate energy in the form of glycogen. Properly-exercised muscles will also have larger stores of ATP (used to fuel muscular contraction) and more muscle fiber that is responsible for endurance activities. Clearly, there are many specific health benefits from the practice of bodybuilding and weightlifting.
Cardiovascular and Muscular
Despite the clear benefits of exercising using bodybuilding methods and progressive resistance weight training towards endurance, it is important to distinguish between two kinds of endurance. And those two kinds are muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance.
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to contract repeatedly during exercise while recruiting fibers to do work. On the other hand, cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the circulatory pathways and the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the muscles while removing waste like lactic acid. These two types of endurance are distinct, but they also inexorably connected, as all the processes of the human body are. Obviously, you need both oxygen and the ability to contract if you want to do any work.
Today, many people understand that you increase cardiovascular capacity by doing high volumes of aerobic exercise, and this is why people sign up for spin classes, go jogging, play sports, and many other forms of recreational movement. But when you lift progressively heavier weights in addition to those other forms of exercise, you are much more likely to build more muscle in the body, which in turn improves the connected cardiovascular system of endurance.
The two primary types of muscle fiber, and the ones you will build by lifting weights, are the white, fast-twitch fiber, and the red, slow-twitch fiber. The white fiber is non-aerobic, made for power, and contracts very hard for short periods with little endurance and a long recovery period. The red, slow-twitch fiber is smaller and not as powerful as white fiber, but is aerobic and will continue to contract for long periods as long as you have enough oxygen. Remember, increasing the amount of muscle fiber in your body is a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance in tandem.
Is Bodybuilding Right For You?
Let's Ask Arnold
Not that you know a bit about the connected systems of cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance, let's look at how these principles are used in bodybulding exercise programs specifically. Bodybuilding training relies on a higher volume of both sets of compound lifts, as well as a large number of repetitions in each set. This leads to clear, visually noticeable improvement in the appearance of muscles. Which is something you may want to keep in mind if you exercise for aesthetic purposes. But if you want to see health benefits without going overboard in striving for a perfect appearance, you can get good results from slowly increasing the weight amount, reps, and sets of basic compound movements over the course of many months or even years. The most important thing is to listen to what your body tells you and to make your exercise program work for you.
And if you need a little extra motivation to get you into the gym, it never hurts to listen to the words of famous bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. So enjoy this video featuring some inspirational words of wisdom, couple with the visual results of a lifetime dedicated to the principles of progressive resistance training.