Seven benefits of heavy resistance training

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Lyen Wong, training at her personal training studio in Miami

Here are seven benefits of how using heavy resistance can maximize the results from your fitness program.

  1. Training for muscle strength is different than training for muscle size. A six- to 10-week strength-focused mesocycle of heavy resistance and low reps followed by a six- to 10-week hypertrophy (bodybuilder) mesocycle of moderate weight for higher rep ranges can produce significant gains in both size and strength.
  2. Using heavy weights increases intramuscular coordination, the number of type II motor units and the amount of muscle fibers engaged within a specific muscle. Have you ever felt your muscles shaking while lifting heavy weights? This is because you are recruiting and activating the larger type II muscle fibers, which are only stimulated to work when a muscle is challenged with heavy resistance or working to fatigue.
  3. Using maximal loads for compound (multi-joint) movements like the deadlift, squat-to-shoulder press, bent-over row or chest press can improve intermuscular coordination, which is the ability of many muscles to work together to generate and control high levels of force through multiple joints.
  4. Lifting heavy weights elevates levels of anabolic hormones—specifically testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)—which are used to repair muscle fibers damaged during exercise. This helps the muscle fibers to become thicker and capable of generating higher levels of force.
  5. Lifting heavy weights increases production of the hormone IGF-1. This hormone is related to the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulating the growth of new neural pathways in the brain along with enhancing communication between existing pathways. In short, lifting heavy could make you smarter by enhancing cognitive function.
  6. Training with heavy weights helps you to improve your self-confidence. Knowing that you can lift heavy stuff gives you the confidence that you can handle common challenges, such as a putting a bag in the overhead bin on an airplane or carrying a heavy piece of furniture while reorganizing a room or helping a friend move.
  7. Strength training with heavy weights improves muscle definition. Muscle definition occurs as the result of muscles remaining in a state of semi-contraction and heavy strength training recruits the larger type II muscle fibers responsible for a muscle’s appearance.

Source: ACE

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Lyen Wong’s 39th birthday workout

Watch international figure competitor, fitness model and and personal trainer Lyen Wong do her annual birthday workout. It’s her 39th this year…

Lyen also does individual birthday workouts with our clients if they’re lucky (or foolish) enough to come in for a training session on their special day!

 

The video was filmed at our new Small Group Personal Training studio in Miami. Special thanks to Patrick A. Frey, CSCS who came up with the idea first!

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Girls: Toned and Sexy through Weight Training

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Lyen Wong – owner of PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

A skinny body is not always equivalent to a sexy body. Having the right curves means round buttocks, shapely legs and toned arms. If you have a skinny frame, you can gain weight through natural and safe methods. Exercise is the essential key to a healthy weight gain while still maintaining your curves like Jennifer Lopez and toned arms like Demi Moore.

Most women are afraid of too much exercise and weight lifting because they don’t want to have bulging arms and thighs. The truth of the matter is, women can’t have the same muscles like male bodybuilders simply because Mother Nature does not allow it. Women lack the testosterone needed to build those muscles. Don’t believe in stories about women getting manly arms and legs after exercising. There is nothing to fear. A leaner body is your key to a sexier body with curves in the right places. Celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Jessica Biel know the value of toning your legs, arms and buttocks to maintain their sexy shape.

Why exercise at all?

1. To build muscles

For effective weight gain, engaging in regular exercise will help build muscles, increase your metabolism and burn calories. Not only is exercise important in weight loss, it is also necessary in weight gain. Whether you prefer to work out at home or in a gym, you have to choose an exercise routine or sport to keep your body in shape.

Strength training exercises for weight gain involves resistance training to tone those scrawny arms. Regular exercise and physical activity helps in weight management and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

After an intense workout, you burn calories and use energy in your body. You will feel hungry and ready to eat food as much as you can. Use this time to gain weight by eating foods rich in protein as a muscle building block. The hungrier you get after strenuous physical activity, the more you can eat to gain more weight.

2. To improve sleep

Exercise also helps you sleep better. A good night’s sleep is a requirement to maintain a healthy body. When your body gets used to the strength training exercises for weight gain, you will experience high energy levels to make you want to do more. Boosting your energy will give you the fuel to perform your weight gain exercises. The more sets you do, the faster you can build your muscles and tone your body the way you’ve always wanted.

3. To prevent /reverse fat storage

Gaining more weight doesn’t mean being overweight. There is always a difference between a healthy and obese body. Not many people know that muscle is actually heavier than fat. Eating just about anything in excessive amounts will cause you to gain excessive fat. This is harmful to your health due to a number of diseases associated with excess fat intake. You can eat foods rich in fat but in moderation. Your body will need to use fats and turn them to energy as you exercise.

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Video: TV personality Carmen Geiss trained by Lyen Wong

Carmen Geiss of “Die Geissens” fame on German television needed a German-speaking personal trainer to get back in shape while filming the new episodes of “Die Geissens” in Miami. Lyen Wong was just the right person for the job – watch the fitness routines that got Carmen her body back! The training sessions, both at the the mansion and at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE, were also filmed by the TV crew that follows Carmen everywhere. They will air in Germany when the next season of the show starts later this year.

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Strength training basics

Training at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

Strength training at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

You do not need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength training. A well-designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments). This increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
  • Increased muscle mass. Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 30, largely due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Enhanced quality of life. As general strength increases, the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries, working in the garden) will be less taxing.

 

Starting with the basics

Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all the major muscle groups. Neglecting certain groups can lead to strength imbalances and postural difficulties. A certified fitness professional can help you develop a safe, effective program. You may also wish to consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength-training program.

One set of eight to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue, is usually sufficient. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistance with a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is effective. When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress.

Staying motivated

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that you’ll likely experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone right from the start of your program. Don’t be discouraged, however, if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s only natural that, as your fitness level improves, improvements in strength and appearance will come at a slightly slower pace. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.

Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the minimal added benefit may not be worth the extra time and effort (not to mention the added risk of injury).

Mixing it up

Machines and free weights are effective tools for strength training, and a combination of the two is generally recommended. Utilizing both machines and free weights provides exercise variety, which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety not only reduces boredom, but also provides subtle exercise differences that will enhance progress.

The benefits of strength training are no longer in question. Research continues to demonstrate that strength training increases both muscle and bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. A safe strength-training program combined with cardiovascular and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a total fitness program.

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Fitness is more important than just weight loss

Lyen at the gym

Lyen Wong at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

If you’re slim and lean, you don’t have to do resistance training – true or false? As long as you watch what you eat you’re healthy, right? Most people believe in these and other false “fitness facts”.

Fitness is a product of healthy diet and exercise, sleep and mental well being. “Physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypo-kinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations” as defined in Wikipedia. Here is why fitness is a far better goal than weight loss in the long run.

Difference between weight loss and fitness

While fitness usually does involve weight loss, all weight loss does not involve fitness. One can lose weight – the unhealthy way – through crash dieting, over-exercising, weight loss pills and several other, equally, harmful quack methods.

Unhealthy weight loss involves losing mostly muscle mass and small quantities of topical fat. Visceral fat, or fat that is stored internally around organs, does not decrease with unhealthy weight loss practices. In fact, it can increase due to the starvation mode set off with unhealthy dieting.

Pursuing general fitness and well being, on the other hand, takes care of the harmful body fat, while giving you a healthier mind and body and, yes, burning, calories. Weight loss is about losing weight rapidly. Fitness is about healthy living and longevity. Fitness is a combination of exercise, diet and rest. When weight loss is your only target, you tend to ignore the other benefits of living a healthy life.

Let’s look at what impact fitness has on the different systems in your body:

Importance of fitness: respiratory and circulatory system

You know the heart is a muscle that pumps blood and oxygen to the body. Exercise helps the heart in circulation of blood and oxygen. That means healthy skin, alertness and a healthy system, among other benefits. Similarly, a healthy diet aids your circulatory and respiratory system by preventing thickening arterial walls and better blood circulation.

Importance of fitness: digestive system

When we are constipated or feeling bloated we look for a change in diet to relieve us from our discomfort. But exercise can help you avoid digestive problems, as well. Walking, running and other physical activities can improve your digestive system.

A poor digestive system leads to a poor well-being and quick weight loss ignores this fact. The result of crash dieting is often Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and plenty of fat gain once you stop the fad diet. Instead, focusing on general fitness through balanced nutrition and exercise will give you a smoother digestive function.

Importance of fitness: lymphatic system

‘”The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph”, as explained on Wikipedia. Stretching, strength training and aerobic exercises improve the lymphatic system. A healthy lymphatic system reduces swelling, improves circulation, metabolism and flexibility.

Importance of fitness: cardiovascular system

Research has proven, time and again, that pursuing fitness is the best way to achieve better cardiovascular health. This means that your cardiovascular system is able to function a lot better when you’re fit, within your ideal weight range, and live an active life with healthy eating.

The cardiovascular system is responsible for circulating oxygen and important nutrients to the body. Opting for fitness, instead of quick weight loss, will help you avoid diseases related to the cardiovascular system like heart attack and stroke. Strength, stamina, and agility also get a boost with a well functioning cardiovascular system. Cardio exercises are the key to a functioning cardiovascular system.

However, many make the mistake of associating ‘cardio’ exercise with rapid weight loss. This usually leads to long hours of cardio that cause fatigue and over-train your body. What does this mean? Over-training leads to more fat storage in your body. So, if you walk/run/jog/swim too much, your body will start craving more food.

Importance of fitness: nervous system

The nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord. Physical activity helps to keep the brain sharp and alert and improves hand-eye co-ordination and balance.

Mental health is crucial for a healthy life. By pursuing weight loss only, without any thought toward fitness and the right way to achieve it, your mind will experience fatigue and negativity. Those that rely on vanity alone as a motivator tend to drop out of their ‘fitness’ routine. A balanced diet and regular exercise over the long term, because you want to be fit instead of a size zero, is a better idea.

Importance of fitness: musculoskeletal system

This is the easiest association to make. We use muscles everyday, consciously or subconsciously. All aspects of exercising, from resistance training to flexibility and cardio training, and eating right improve the musculoskeletal system.

Importance of fitness: overall health

  • Improves performance and stamina
  • Reduces chances of experiencing lifestyle diseases
  • Promotes longevity
  • Prevents excess body fat
  • Improves mood
  • Improves confidence
  • Induces good sleep

When you focus on weight loss alone, and quick weight loss at that, you ignore your body’s actual needs. A common sign of rapid weight loss is weakness and fatigue. This is because your body loses muscle a lot faster than fat. With muscle loss, your metabolic activity decreases, causing imbalances and increased fat storage. The result: short term weight loss, and long term weight gain.

For the over-weight and obese, fitness does involve weight loss. But this is sustainable weight loss that comes with a shift in lifestyle habits. If your only concern is to look good in that slinky outfit or that wedding dress, then you will set yourself up for failure. Chasing the short term dream by radical, unsustainable means is a recipe for disaster.

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