Negatives Info Part4

by Lyle McDonald

Ok, welcome to the fourth part in a two part series on negatives with a nod
to Douglas Adams. I guess I get a bit longwinded sometimes (sometimes?).
In any case, I wrapped up last time with some preliminary comments on the
generally female idea of "I don't want to get too big from weights". Well, I
would like to expound on that a bit further. Don't worry, I will tie this into
my previous discussion of power training.

As a trainer, I constantly ran into the above mentioned idea that seems
to exist among a great majority of the female population. As such, it
quickly became my biggest pet peeve (along with my clients blaming me
for their lack of results when they were inconsistent with working out).
Anyway, I don't know exactly where the idea that men and women should
train differently came from, but I would like to try to send it back there.

First off, generally, women will not have the hormone levels to develop
really large muscles. Although women do have some testosterone, it is
at about 1/1000 the level of male levels. As such, without serious
pharmaceutical intervention, really massive muscle growth is not
possible. Some women may, due to bodily shape and bone structure, appear
to get bulky but this is somewhat irrespective of muscle growth. Also, there
will always be genetic differences which may certainly predispose some
women to gaining more muscle more easily.

Which brings me to my second point: even for those women who do develop
muscles easily, it doesn't happen overnight. If it were that easy to get big,
you would see a whole lot more really big people running around which just
isn't so. Basically, if you're a woman weight trainer and you see yourself
getting bigger than you would like, you should back off a bit in intensity
to maintain what you've got.

Physiologically speaking, muscle is muscle. Female muscle tissue is bio-
chemically identical to male muscle tissue and both respond similarly to
weight training. Women have exactly the same (if not greater) potential
for strength gains as men. Yes, on an absolute scale, men will be stronger
than women because they tend to have absolutely more muscle mass. But,
relatively, pound for pound, women are just as strong as men because the
muscle tissue is identical. In studies, women frequently make a greater
increase in strength (expressed a percent of maximum strength) than men
but this is primarily due to starting at a lower level, especially in the upper
body. This can be attributed to the wonderful stereotypes (which are thankfully
dying) that little boys play sports while little girls play with dolls. Please.

Ok, so where did this notion of muscle "toning" come from?? I don't know but
it's just ludicrous. The idea of using lighter weights for more reps to "tone"
versus heavy weight,low rep training for mass is just silly. Admittedly,
higher reps with lighter weights will preferentially targer the Type I fibers
which don't grow as large but it's ultimately irrelevent.

I think a lot of it comes down to your definition of muscle "tone". Muscle
tone is really nothing more than the addition of muscle tissue to an area
so that it gets harder and a bit bigger. Well, I hate to tell you this, but
standard heavy weight, low rep training will accomplish this goal a whole
lot faster than standard "toning" workouts will. Admittedly, high rep, lighter
weight workouts will generate tone eventually but it will be a lot slower.
Also, "toning" workouts are fine for maintenance once the desired tone
is acquired.

So what does this all have to do with power training. Well, as I mentined
before, power training (due to it's lack of a negative) does not generate the
amount of sheer muscle that standard strength/mass training does. Well,
this makes it ideal for women to acquire the tone they so desire. Some
muscle growth will be stimulated but not enough for that really big look.
Also, as power training requires the use of lower weights than typical
mass training, it may appeal more to female weight trainer. Again, power
training should not be included until after a sufficient base (at least 3
has been developed of consistent weight training.

Also, for both sexes, power training rep ranges should fall withing the 4-8
rep max range as outlined is my series on beginning weight training.

Well, that wraps this up finally. For a catalog of previous posts write me at
lylemcd@ and include any comments or question or flames for that
matter. Next up, periodization of your workout or "How to avoid a plateau in
(or five) easy steps."

P.S. Please forgive my typos.

source: newsgroup, 19 Jan 94.

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