Body-building basics

BODY-BUILDING DEMANDS will power, good nutrition, rest and, above all, the application of a few basic principles. The first of these is the overload principle according to which muscle will grow stronger and bigger only in response to a greater-than-usual weight stress. Comfort with a particular weight rises over some days borne out by the higher number of reps possible with it, and is largely due to muscle cells adapting likewise.. Once a particular weight succeeds in eliciting such a response, it no longer overloads the muscle whose growth curve soon plateaus off.

Further growth and increase in strength require another rise in weight stress. This is the progressive resistance principle. The principle of specificity limits the benefits of overload and progressive resistance to the muscles contracting in the particular exercise. While exercise will burn fat from all the body regions, it will develop only the muscles specifically involved in the activity. For example, while the contracting calf muscle will ultimately burn even abdominal and facial fat, it will build up no other muscle except itself.

While strength comes from training with maximal weights, endurance comes from training repeatedly with sub-maximal weights. Overloading a muscle does not mean exercising with weights you can barely lift once or twice. In fact, if you cannot achieve eight repetitions with a particular weight, it is too heavy, and if you can lift it a dozen times quite comfortably, you are working with a sub-maximal weight. To begin, exercise only with lightweights during the first week. The minimum number of exercises is a total of eight to ten sets of eight to 12 repetitions each at least twice a week. Concentrate on lifting with a full range of slow, controlled motion.

Do not hold your breath during any phase of the exercise and always exhale while lifting the weight. Otherwise, the rise in blood pressure can cause a blackout or rupture a blood vessel in the brain. Maintain a neutral spine position except during back and abdominal exercises.

Move on to the next weight level only when you can comfortably do the above reps. Focus on a muscle group. Every muscle group requires at least two days rest after exercise in order to recover and rebuild. And don't forget to warm up with a few minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise and stretches tailored specifically for the muscle groups receiving a workout on the day. Limit sessions to an hour.

If exercise causes pain, stop immediately. Working out with a tender muscle, tendon or ligament will worsen the injury and can result in lasting damage and disability.


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