What Training Methods Will Grow Muscle and Burn More Fat?

21 10 2013
How to burn more fat and grow muscle

How to burn more fat and grow muscle

First of all one must realize after reading the article title “what training methods will grow muscle and burn more fat,” there is a lot of moving parts in answering this question.  I can break these moving parts down enough and provide a solution on how you can train and achieve both fitness goals.  Although diet and health are very important variables to consider in achieving these fitness goals… I will primarily focus on muscle fiber types, intensity of effort and body fuels needed to achieve the desired result.

Research shows us, muscle is stimulated to grow when the fast twitch muscle fibers within our chest, back, arms, legs, etc., are contracting at a fast rate during anaerobic exercise activities.  To grow muscle optimally, also requires there is enough glucose and stored muscle glycogen fuel available to the working muscles during a physical event.

In contrast to burning body fat, activation of the slow twitch muscle fibers requires less effort for longer periods during aerobic exercise activities.  To burn fat optimally, slow twitch muscle fibers require a glucose and fat fuel source to endure those exercise activities.

It is important to know muscle groupings have three muscle fiber types that move the body at a slow, intermediate or fast pace per slow twitch, intermediate and fast twitch fibers contracting at varying rates of intensity as exercise increases and decreases.

Let’s briefly examine the characteristics of the muscle fiber to better understand their food fuel preference and varying rates of contraction as exercise intensities change.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are less vascular than slow and intermediate fiber types and appear white in color and are highly stimulated during anaerobic (speed, power and strength) training.  These muscle fibers primarily fuel their quick contractions using carbohydrates to produce the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy at 2 times the contraction rate of “the red and vascular (oxygenated)” slow twitch “endurance muscle fibers.”  Slow twitch muscle fibers contract at lower intensities and prefer fat fuel to produce the required ATP energy for long endurance activities.  And the 3rd muscle type “intermediate” makes use of both metabolic worlds to support the ramping up and down of exercise intensity and rate of physical movement (Katch and McArdle 1993).

It is important to understand, any type of exercise will burn food fuel calories.  But it is your muscle fibers fuel preference that changes as intensity of exercise decreases or increases. “If intensity continues to rise, slow-twitch fibers are unable to continue working and fast-twitch fibers will take over (Loya 2013).”

“Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow and fast fiber types. On average, we have about 50 percent slow twitch and 50 percent fast twitch fibers in most of the muscles used for movement.”  However, “Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibers, while those who excel in marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers.  These well-conditioned slow and fast twitch muscle fibers may be genetically provided within naturally lean-muscular body types (Quinn 2013).”

From a genetic perspective this is likely the reason most of us will never be Olympic contenders no matter how hard we train.  One thing appears certain, if the average human muscle is comprised of 50% slow twitch muscle fiber; it stands to reason, the majority of us have a genetic and competitive advantage to burn body fat when participating in low intensity exercise.

You are now aware there is an order of muscular contraction where slow twitch fibers yield to fast twitch muscle fiber as physical effort increases.  Also a muscle fiber fuel preference is required to produce the energy and muscle contraction rate necessary to achieve the physical speed, power, strength and fat burning goal.

For example, when you walk you’re mostly stimulating the leg muscles slow and intermediate twitch muscle fibers to perform that specific task.  But when you sprint or squeeze out those last reps on a heavy bench press station, the slow and intermediate twitch muscle fibers yield to the faster twitch muscle fibers needed to contract a higher rate of intensity to achieve the optimum muscle building result.

Sprinting with all-out effort is similar to squeezing out that last rep on the bench press.  The fast twitch muscle fibers fire (contract) at a high rate of intensity and energy exchange, while the slow fibers stand-by until the high intensity effort is complete.

We all know a high level of muscular intensity and physical effort has limitations.  That is fFast twitch fibers utilize their preferred fuel source glucose first which lasts for only seconds. Glucose fuel allows intense contractions for up to a maximum period of 10 seconds. After this time and up to a period of 3 minutes, the fuel source switches to glycogen.  In contrast, slow twitch fibers use a combination of glucose and fats for their energy supply. This is a much slower process and can be maintained with constant intensity for a continued time period (Fitnessbeans 2012).”

Now that we’ve reviewed some basics of muscle fiber characteristics and fuel preferences during specific types of exercise activity, let’s answer the question, “what training methods will grow muscle and burn more fat?”

The answer is fairly straight forward, train “task specific.”  If you want more bulk, strength and power lift heavier weights at increasing intensities.  If you want more speed and endurance, train to achieve that condition and performance, e.g., sprinting, wrestling, karate, boxing, basketball, football, etc.  If you want to burn more body fat train aerobically by performing low intensity exercise activity, e.g., walking, jogging, biking, dance, etc.

And if you want the best of both worlds, you must cross-train.  For example, take your exercise time and split into two training session (train aerobically and anaerobically) within a specific period of time.  For instance, if you only have one hour to exercise, spend 5 minutes stretching, and then 25 minutes on an aerobic exercise activity like low-intensity walking, stationary bike, jogging, tread mill equipment, etc.

During the last 25 minutes use increasing resistive weight on free weights or stationary equipment and/or circuit weight training equipment.  On alternating days if another fitness goal is to participate in a competitive sports activity, spend a full exercise day “session” participating in that activity:  e.g., racquetball, basketball, baseball, soccer, dance, running, power lifting, boxing, karate, etc.

Somewhere mid-week be sure to take a day or two off to rest muscles so they can repair.  This is especially important if you’re training at a high rate of intensity daily.  If you over train your muscles, they will be in a state of breakdown and repair more so than growing.  With low intensity exercises, rest is not so much of an issue.  The more time you put into a walking activity for example, the more body fat you’ll burn and tone the body.

If you can’t participate in your favorite intramural-team sport, or train in a gym for whatever reason, train the next best way.  Head to the nearest sports field and perform repetitive quick sprints, use walk-jog-run and/or circuit training exercises (pushups, bleacher step exercises, sit ups, pushups etc.).  Or participate in home exercise using a repetitive speed bag, jump rope, aerobics video dance, or shadow kick and punch exercises, etc.

I’ve given you a whole lot of information to mull over.  And there are many training techniques one could choose to perform anaerobic and/or aerobic training to achieve a chosen fitness goal(s).

If your goal is to lose weight, chose activities that require long-endurance and low-intensity physical effort.  If you want more muscle bulk, strength and speed, choose short-endurance, and high intensity “specific” exercise training exercises.  If you want the best of both worlds: bulk muscle and lose body fat, equally split your training time (cross-train) and use task specific exercise to trigger the muscle fibers necessary to energize those activities and achieve those fitness results.

Citations and References

Fitnessbeans. “Muscle Fibers: Fast Twitch Versus Slow Twitch.”  FitnessBeans. BeansPublishing, 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Katch, Frank I., William D. McArdle, and Frank I. Katch. “Chapter 11/Energy for Exercise.” Introduction to Nutrition, Exercise, and Health. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1993. 169-90. Print.

Loya, Dennis M. “Training Fast and Slow Twitch Muscles.”  TotalFitnessExperience.com. TotalFitnessExperience.com, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Quinn, Elizabeth. “Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers.” About.com Sports             Medicine. About.com, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, CPT, MSC ARNG Retired.  2013 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing: http://www.mirrorathlete.com.  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Change Exercise & Nutrient Strategies – Grow More Muscle, Part 2

20 07 2013
Task Specific Training for Muscle Growth Success

Task Specific Training for Muscle Growth Success

Click on Read Part 1, or cited article link, How to Grow Muscle Naturally, Part 1, below to get the full muscle growth and strength story.

Muscle growth is dependent upon protein synthesis [process in which cells build and repair themselves].  An adequate supply of essential amino acids is necessary to grow muscle and keep it in a good state of repair.  It is wise to ensure you consume a diet high in essential and nonessential amino acids for muscle during high intensity weight training cycles.  The mix of amino acid through proteins comes from a variety of whole foods: poultry/eggs, fish, beef, seafood, beans, nuts/seeds and dairy (Healthaliciousness 2013).

“The United States RDA is 0.8g/kg or 0.4g/lbs. This is 80g protein per day if you weigh 200lbs. But this recommendation is based on studies done on average, sedentary people.  The minimum if you train hard is 1g protein per pound of body-weight per day. That’s 200g daily protein if you weigh 200lbs. You’ll reach this amount easily by eating a whole protein source with each meal.”  (Mehdi 2009)

Professional body builders and athletes frequently consume three times that in food calories and supplements to grow muscle and increase strength.

Most Americans, unless you’re adverse to eating animal products get enough protein in the average diet. But this does not guarantee your getting all essential amino acids from the proteins you consume in a day.

Your body needs 20 total amino acids to build and repair muscles and tissues.  The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.”  If you are stressed or severely sick, you need to get dietary non-essential amino acids as well.  Non-essential amino acids, made by the body include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, tyrosine and glutamic acid.” Meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and seafood provide all nine essential amino acids and are known as complete proteins. (Coffman 2013)

If you do not eat seafood or animal-based foods, your diet is likely lacking in essential amino acids.  This is one reason power lifters supplement their diet with an amino acid or protein supplement drink or power bar.  By doing so ensures muscle tissue has adequate nutrients to optimize muscle growth and strength potential.

Their supplemental nutrients taken daily also often include a daily vitamin and mineral complex.  These are the staple nutrients necessary to ensure the bodies muscles can optimally repair and grow.

 Changing exercise strategy to grow more muscle,

Frequently switch up your exercises.  Don’t get stuck on the same routine week in and out.  Use a wide array of weight lifting equipment and target muscles you typically don’t train.  For instance, the bench press focuses on the mid-pectoral chest muscles, but it does not maximally stress the upper or lower pectoral muscles.  Be sure you’re adding an incline and decline chest exercise to round out the chest area (symmetrical).  After 72 hours when you work the chest again, use stationary bench press equipment, or dumbbells as opposed to the free weight bench press to perform similar chest exercises.

If you typically look the other way as you walk past a workout station… this should tell you, you have weak muscles that need work.  Many experienced bodybuilders never do the same workout twice.  How do you think natural body builders sustain their size for decades?  They work other supporting muscular structures that assist weakening muscle fiber.  In this way, if strength diminishes through the aging process; muscular bulk is maintained through other variations of less intense exercise activity.  It is possible to sustain muscle mass and not have great strength.  It’s really about how you train and set fitness goals.

Until the weakest muscles are worked, for example by varying the angles of the muscle group articulations it will be harder to optimize symmetrical muscle growth and overall strength-power.  Why’s that?  Because the muscular inter-tie and effort per muscle group is dependent on the weakest bundled muscle fibers that work in sync to achieve maximum muscle torque per grouping.

You’ve heard that team that work together win championships right.  The same is true of a body’s internal musculature groupings and forces.  The first place to visually observe an interlinking muscle grouping weakness can be seen in an outer appearing muscular symmetry beneath the skin.

So how do you view this to determine muscle group weaknesses?  Stand in front of a mirror and you’ll note the developing muscles vs. muscle depressions/or size differences from one arm or shoulder muscle, from the other side as an example.  The muscle groups required to compete cannot with an underdeveloped or depressed, undersized, or underdeveloped muscle grouping.

For example, if the bulk of your chest development resides within the mid chest and front shoulder areas, your upper and/or lower chest muscles will appear to be deflated or depressed.  If your goal is to win a national body building competition, or become a great fighter for example, how can you compete with the elite if muscle symmetry and/or full strength ROM (Range of Motion) per task specific body segments is underdeveloped?  Point and case, you’ll face competitive challenges.

When you pay attention to muscle development deficits, it makes it easier to take a corrective weight training (task specific) exercise action to keep the team of muscles within any muscle grouping symmetrically trained, especially if you plan to compete in competitive sports.

Can you train competitively without the steroids and growth hormones?

I don’t believe anabolic steroids should be allowed to create a performance advantage for competitive sports for ethical and health reasons.  But the fact is they are used by many professional athletes.  Note I said many, I didn’t say all.  I recommend you follow professional athletes that train muscle naturally if you want to steer clear of the unwanted health risks associated with anabolic supplements.

Does this mean that Growth Hormones and steroids have no medical use?  There is literature that makes good sense out of its use to benefit health and quality living experiences.  But it is only through a doctor’s care and treatment and when used correctly can provide a health benefit while minimizing health risk.

“Suzanne Somers states, Growth Hormone is one of the most studied compounds in medicine.  When growth hormone deficiency is present, growth hormone replacement therapy has widespread health benefits on quality of life, body composition, cognitive function, cardiovascular outcomes, bone density and exercise capacity.  Growth hormone replacement therapy has been studied with published results in major medical journals reporting on more than 100,000 patients.”   (Somers 2012)

It is the abusive and unnecessary overuse of steroids and growth hormones that skew the benefits vs. health risk.  In other words, science can find ways to keep us healthy longer, but ultimately it is man’s abuse, greed and vanity that seeks to deliver a performance shortcut and achieve a short-term competitive edge.  In using a pharmaceutical or supplemental product above and beyond its safe use throws blinds over impressionable eyes.  And in doing so delivers unwanted health consequences for too many of our young athletes.

If you want to gain strength and grow muscle safely, work for it by doing it naturally.  Working hard without the use of dangerous chemical short-cuts will reward your body by supporting a long-lived quality lifestyle.  If you suspect you need hormone therapy, ensure you consult with a doctor.  Or if your intent on using any type of steroid or growth hormone supplement, do yourself a favor, first read the article link below to learn more about them,  “GH-Hormone Stimulator the Fountain of Youth. ”

Works Cited,

Coffman, Melodie A. “Do You Need to Eat Essential Amino Acids Every Day?” Healthy Eating. Hearst Communications, Inc., n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/need-eat-essential-amino-acids-day-3113.html&gt;.

Healthaliciousness. “Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein.” Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein. Healthaliciousness.com, 2013. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php&gt;.

Mehdi. “Protein 101: How Much Do You Need & Best Sources of Protein | StrongLifts StrongLifts.” StrongLifts RSS. StrongLifts.com, 25 May 2009. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://stronglifts.com/protein-daily-needs-myths-best-sources-protein/&gt;.

Somers, Suzanne. “Human Growth Hormone Update.” Suzanne’s Blog. Suzannesomers.com/blog, 5 June 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.suzannesomers.com/Blog/post/Human-Growth-Hormone-Update.aspx&gt;.

Woodard, Marc T.  How to Grow Muscle Naturally, Part 1.  Mirror Athletes Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete.com, 18 June. 2012. Web. 20 July 2013. http://mirrorathlete.com/blog/?p=1629 

Woodard, Marc T.   GH-Hormone Stimulator the Fountain of Youth.  Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 3 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. Elixir? http://mirrorathlete.com/blog/?p=1283


Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, CPT, MSC ARNG Retired.  2013 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.