Traditional strength training usually revolves about the training variables such as loads, sets, reps, etc. On the other hand, we lift, and we don’t get stronger. As we age, the weights are getting lighter and eventually, we stop lifting or switch to the exercise machines.
Anyone with basic knowledge of resistance training variables (loads, set, reps) could design a workout program. However, understanding of anatomically-based movement biomechanics is quite different.
You might think that if you perform resistance training regularly and incrementally raise the loads, you will get stronger. For the last 15 years, I have not seen a person who managed to improve strength with this approach.
Skeletal Alignment and Resistance Adaptation
Skeletal alignment is the body’s ability to provide dynamic stabilization and support for all the body’s movements. If you sit on a bench at a machine and perform isolated exercises your body is not trained to stabilize. The bench provides stabilization, and the body is not adapted to resistance. Also, arms and legs are not integrated to work with the whole body.
Research shows that if the body is improperly aligned and stabilized the strength is not achieved, and it may even weaken the body. Spine and pelvis alignment are required to support the arms and legs during weight lifting movements. If training is performed without appropriate alignment and stability, the arms and legs become primary movers and strength improvement is compromised, and injuries can occur.
Many people think that the muscle size gain occurs if resistance training is done consistently with a regular exercise program. However, the body will adapt only to resistance when a correct alignment and stabilization is provided to engage proper joints and muscles in proper sequence. My experience of working with clients indicated that developing strength is not possible to achieve when the body is not properly aligned and stabilized.
Concentric, Eccentric and Isometric Muscle Actions
Concentric muscle action occurs when a muscle develops tension against resistance. Eccentric muscle action occurs when a muscle returns to resting length.
According to sports exercise science, your muscles can be strengthened in two ways: eccentrically or concentrically. Concentric exercises strengthen the muscle by contracting or shortening it; eccentric exercise strengthens the muscle by extending or lengthening it.
The majority of exercisers attempt concentric strengthening, when perform a bicep curl to lift a dumbbell toward a shoulder, or “crunch” their abdominal muscles during a sit-up. As a result, eccentric muscle action is not addressed.
However, eccentric load simultaneously lengthens and strengthens, and is just as important as concentric exercise, but it is largely overlooked and underplayed in most training programs. In addition, performing concentric and eccentric muscle action ensures that primary and opposing muscles are properly functioning.
Isometric exercise is a type of resistance training when the muscles hold up a weight without any range of motion. It takes place while the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. Isometric exercises can be performed using your own body weight or free weights when the body is in a static position. I found working with many clients that the isometric muscle action is significantly more effective to build the muscle size and strength as opposed to the concentric muscle action
The Resistance Bands
The resistance band teaches your body how to stabilize against resistance and gravity. As opposed to exercising legs and arms separately, the bands coordinate the arms and legs with the lower and upper body to enable them function as one integrated system. Using the bands forces your body to maintain stability throughout an entire movement you and they strengthen targeted muscle groups.
For this reason, I use resistance bands which are effective tools to work on the alignment and stabilization. Another advantage of the resistance bands that they help to avoid focusing on the concentric muscle action and to perform the eccentric muscle action more effectively.
These tools activate multiple muscle groups to support arms and legs for functioning as one integrated system. Rows, biceps curls, and lateral raises are good examples of exercises to build resistance stabilization and adaptation for the upper body.