I've started to talk about muscle fibre types it may be worth thinking about your own muscles and are you more fast or slow twitch? How do you know?
There are two major clues, the first being what is your body type?
The word somatotype is used to categories the three types of body shape. The first being Ectomorph which is used to describe someone who is very lean and tends not to put on too much body fat and has a high percentage of slow twitch muscle fibres and is suited more to endurance activities.
In the middle is Mesamorph which tends to be more bulky, broader shoulders and probably has a more even distribution of fast and slow twitch fibres.
Then we have Endomorph which has a higher percentage of Fast Twitch fibres and more suited to power events. In the cycling world you could say Chris Hoy is more towards the Endomorph and Bradley Wiggins is the Ectomorph.
Your body type will effect the response you get from weight training
This is a question which really depends on what your goals are and how much time you have to spend in the gym. The good news is to see benefits from weight training you do not need to have long sessions as a couple of exercises performed correctly and at the right intensity can create enough stress on the muscles to enhance adaptation.
The main areas I see people go wrong is that the training is not consistent enough, the technique is not correct and the intensity is either too great or light. Also the variety of exercise is not changed enough which allows the body to get used to it.
Going back to the question of how often should I train? This requires breaking it down into whether you want to just stay toned and keep good strength or if you want to actually build muscle. Although similar rules can apply.
Muscles are made up of three types of fibres known as fast twitch, slow twitch and intermediate. Fast twitch are recruited when the load is heavy or when explosive movement is performed but they will fatigue quickly. Slow twitch can keep going but are not used so much during heavy loads as they are for endurance,and intermediate fibres are in between and adapt to the type of training you predominantly do.
I believe a good weight training program should encourage all fibre types to be trained.
To be continued. Sorry I didnt answer the question.
To end this series on the benefits of weight training I would like to use an abstract from a scientific journal, although I like to put things in my own words and try and make it not too scientific. I thought for a change I would throw this in to back up what I have been saying.
Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation.
Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg. Benefits of resistance training include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem.
Resistance training may assist prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing HbA1c, increasing the density of glucose transporter type 4, and improving insulin sensitivity.
Resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Resistance training may promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density. Resistance training may be effective for reducing low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia and has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle.
Westcot WL Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):209-16. doi: 10.1249/JSR.
Next week I will look at programming for resistance training.