Why Sunlight is Needed for Growth and Development?
The City of Toronto has now closed down some roads to vehicles to open new bike lanes, they’ve also opened some green spaces and basketball courts, so there is no reason to not get outside, explore and get active. There are plenty of hidden gems throughout the city that enable you to get some exercise, all while keeping a safe distance from others. Getting sunshine is key to growth and development as it helps us synthesize vitamin D which is used to help our bones absorb more calcium, thus creating stronger bones. Strength training has shown to have the same effect on our bones as the sun. When we lift heavy objects or apply force in other ways (like jump squats) our bones develop microfractures (process called osteoclastic activity) causing the bone tissue to rebuild over time. This process can take years and long-term studies have shown that serious athletes generally have greater bone density than the average population. Sunshine is also an important factor for our recovery after intense exercise because it helps us to achieve better quality sleep, which ultimately allows our bodies to repair bone and muscle tissue more efficiently, not to mention better sleep means greater energy levels.
Overcoming Plateaus with Strength Training.
Sometimes when training for strength, we may reach a plateau, meaning that we can’t get past a point in our training. For example, imagine you’ve been stuck at doing 3 sets of 10 push ups for 5 months, you keep trying, but you just can’t reach 12 repetitions. In many cases, this is a plateau, in which are bodies have adapted to the workout, just like they do to the environment, diets and routines. Chances are that because you’ve been doing the same exercises over and over, your body is not feeling challenged and thus needs more stimulation to reach those 12 reps. Below are 3 strategies to change things up!
In previous blog posts I’ve made reference to supersets. This technique requires you to combine two or 3 different exercises sequentially to either put in a lot of work on one muscle group or to train opposing muscle groups in a single session. For example, a typical superset would be to perform a push up and chin up with rest only being taken after both exercises are completed.
2) Eccentric Training (also known as “Tempo Training”)
There are two main movements when weight training. An eccentric movement, and a concentric movement. The eccentric movement is when the muscle that you are working out is extending/lengthening, such as when lowering the barbell down during a standing bicep curl. The concentric movement is when the muscle shortens, such as when we bring the barbell upwards towards shoulders during the same standing bicep curl. Eccentric training focuses on slowing the extension process down to at least 3 seconds and then trying to move through concentric phase at normal speed. So, when doing your push ups, as you lower yourself down to the ground, try 3-5 seconds and then come up at a regular speed.
3) Drop Sets
A drop set is similar to a superset in that it requires combining sets together, however, you only use one exercise. We call it a drop set because every time you reach a point that you can’t do any more repetitions, you lower the weight (drop it down). A drop set can still be achieved without weight but you just have to be creative. Referring back to the push up example. Suppose you have to stop at 10 regular push ups, you may want to put your knees on the ground and then perform another 5 or 6, from there, you can stand up and finish with a wall push up for another 5 or 6. A good way to do a drop set for legs without any equipment would to perform jump squats follow by regular squats.