Performance vs Power

How to choose the right exercise

Before choosing an exercise program there is one question that you should ask yourself: What do I want exercising to do for me?  

Speed, power, endurance, flexibility there are many benefits to be gained from exercising. The question is, which benefit is right for you?

To determine the benefit that is right for you think about what a normal day for you looks like. Do you spend a lot of your day lifting things groceries, your baby, furniture while cleaning etc.?

If so, you may need a strength improvement program.

Or perhaps you’re the type who sits at a desk most of the day and can barely keep your eyes open after twelve o’clock. If that’s the case I would recommend an endurance exercise program.

Not all exercise programs do the same thing so choosing a program that fits your needs is paramount to getting what you want from it. In order to choose the proper exercise program, you must first understand how a program that you may be considering impacts three areas: your range of motion, your muscle fibers, and your cardiovascular system (your heart).

Contrary to popular belief cardiovascular exercises such as kickboxing and swimming do not improve your muscle endurance, they do two very important things: improves the strength of your hearts ability to pump blood and burns calories so that you can lose weight. While it is true that losing weight lightens the body which increases endurance a bit, the reality is that calisthenics or a weight lifting program using light weights improves both endurance and speed.

Endurance is a result of oxygen being carried by your blood getting into muscle fibers and causing them to aerate.  This process causes muscles to be able to work harder and longer. Fatigue is a result of oxygen deprivation to a muscle.

As we get older our muscles lose tone and atrophy. Atrophy is when muscles collapse, shrink, and lose definition. When this happens muscles can no longer process oxygen at a rate that allows you to do energy demanding things for long periods of time.

 To combat this process, you can use calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, calf raises etc.) or light weights to stimulate your muscles and cause them to “hypertrophy”. When stress is put on a muscle from light weight lifting or calisthenics your muscles expand (“hypertrophy”) in response to the exercise.  The expansion of a muscle is called toning in exercise circles. It’s this expansion or toning that allows muscles to fully oxygenate again thus giving you more energy, speed, and endurance.

Power, on the other hand, is a different story! In order to improve your power, you must damage muscle fibers by forcing them to lift more weight than it can handle. The process is called “protein synthesis”.

The process looks like this: Assume that your chest muscles consist of three to four fibers, and the normal weight poundage that you can lift is 150 pounds. Instead of lifting 150 pounds you force yourself to lift 160 or 170 pounds.

The results of lifting the heavier weight damages the three to four fibers that you have. Responding to your bodies desire to lift the heavier weight, when your body repairs itself it will produce six to eight fibers instead of the four that is normal. Thus, making the muscle bigger and stronger. This process works with every muscle except for the heart. Because powerful muscles lack endurance, I recommend that you enroll in a program that gives you both strength and endurance. Ask your exercise professional to set you up, or contact me and I will create one for you.

 A healthy body is a wealthy body.

Master Batiste