• STRONGER IS BETTER
    posted December 30

    There is nothing that being stronger won’t help. I think Rippetoe said it best: “Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.” This is why we train how we train. I recently received a newsletter from Pavel Tsatsouline, the “godfather” of kettlebells in the U.S. I think it’s worth reading, so I reposted below. Enjoy:

     Power by Pavel:

    “Strong Fixes Almost Everything.”

    What would an endurance athlete have to gain from pure strength training?
    Norwegian scientists conducted two studies on experienced athletes, one on long distance runners (Støren et al., 2008), and the other on cyclists (Sunde et al., 2010). These endurance athletes were put on a pure strength program, 4x4RM half-squats three times a week, in addition to their usual endurance training. Eight weeks later the athletes not only got stronger and more explosive—without gaining any weight!—they improved endurance in their sport: their movement efficiency improved and the time they could last to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power increased.

    How does it work?—The stronger the muscle, the less it has to contract to produce a given amount of force (deVries, 1980). It may be obvious, but it is profound. In the above studies the athletes increased their movement economy and decreased their perceived effort. How does our body perceive effort?

    The nervous system measures the intensity of the neural drive going to the muscles (McCloskey et al., 1983). The muscles send back messages about the level of tension generated, the speed of movement, and the distance covered. The brain compares the intensity of the “nerve force” with the outcome and determines the degree of effort (Cafarelli, 1982). In other words, how much bang (mechanical work) do you get for the buck (the intensity of the “nerve force”). A weight may “feel” heavy not because it is heavy but because it takes a lot of “juice” to move it.

    “The size of the neural drive required to generate a given external force is influenced by a number of factors, but principally by the force-generating capacity of the muscle. A strong muscle requires a lower neural drive to generate a given force, because the force represents a smaller proportion of its maximum capacity. Similarly, a fatigued muscle requires a higher neural drive to generate a given force, because the force represents a higher proportion of its maximum capacity.” (McConnell, 2009)

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