Dr.Schaefer's Health & Fitness Corner

IIB or not IIB?

…..and that is the question you need to ask yourself when training.  Are you training the type IIB(aka type IIX) muscle fibers, the type IIA fibers, or the type IA fibers?  If you are not designing your training program so that you emphasize ALL 3 fiber types you are doing yourself a disservice when it comes to muscle hypertrophy.

So how does one attack each of these muscle fibers?  Actually, its quite simple.  The type IIB fibers respond best to heavier weight in the 8-12 rep range.  90-120 seconds rest in between sets and focus on the big compound movements:  squats, bench, deadlifts, rows, etc..The type IA fibers are more endurance oriented fibers and respond to higher rep ranges in the 20-50 range.  Use drop sets, supersets, rest-pause sets and limit rest between sets to 45-60 seconds. Include both compound and isolation type exercises. Type IIA are a mix between the previous two fiber types so they respond to moderately heavy sets but also have an endurance component so I like to use reps in the 12-15 range with very little rest in between sets: maybe 40-45 seconds.  I usually perform these as straight sets using both compound and isolation exercises.

There are many ways to design your workouts so they will hit all fiber types and I will outline some suggestions as to how to do that in a future article.   Until next time……

Posted 172 weeks ago

Abs....olutely incorrect training

Hip flexion vs. spinal flexion.  Do you know the difference?  If not, chances are good to excellent that you are training your abdominal muscles incorrectly, meaning, not only are you NOT reaping the rewards from a proper ab workout but, and perhaps more importantly, you are setting yourself up for a potential lower back injury.

I see incorrect ab training taking place all the time in the gym.  Most of the time what is occurring is hip flexion, not spinal flexion.  Hip flexion occurs at the hip joint, not in the spine.  When a football kicker punts the ball hip flexion occurs.  If you are doing hanging leg raises and bringing your straight or bent legs up to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor you are engaging your hip flexors not your abdominals.  To engage the abdominals using hanging leg raises as an example one must “roll” the pelvis backwards which will put your thighs more perpendicular to the floor rather than parallel.  This induces spinal flexion which stresses the abdominals especially the lower abs.

Kneeling cable crunches are an excellent abdominal exercise if done correctly.  The problem I see in the gym oftentimes is instead of flexing ( rounding) the spine which is the proper way to perform that exercise the back remains flat…this is hip flexion which works the hip flexors and NOT the abdominals.  Flex the spine as you execute that exercise and you will really feeling the abdominals engaging, especially the upper abs….until next time.

Posted 175 weeks ago

Do you have the time?

Here's a critically important concept to grasp if your intent is muscle hypertrophy: TIME UNDER TENSION.  This simply means how long does it take you to complete a set.  Studies have shown that if your goal is to increase the size of the muscle the optimum time it should take you to complete your set is 40-90 seconds!!  Much less than 40 seconds and growth will not happen.  I wonder if that’s one of the reasons so many trainees have difficulty gaining muscle.  I watch people in the gym all the time and I actually on occasion time their set just out of curiosity and lo and behold:  15-25 seconds!!  Not good if you want to put on muscle.

So how do you increase T.U.T?  2 ways:  increase your reps or perform your sets in a 1/3 tempo-  1 second on the positive movement and 3 seconds on the negative ( eccentric) movement.  So, if you perform a 1/3 tempo as suggested and you perform 10 reps that’s 40 second T.U.T!  You’re within the range. The question then is which should you do: increase your reps or watch your tempo?  The answer is YES!!  Meaning do both, switch it up, confuse your body, change it up….all in the name of GROWTH…..until next time….

Posted 177 weeks ago

Dips and shoulder injuries

Dips are a great exercise for some, but not for all of us.  Why is that?  The most crucial criterion used to determine whether you should be dipping is previous injury to the shoulder, specifically both the rotator cuff structure and the acromioclavicular joint (a/c joint for short).

These structures are easily injured.  Overuse (i.e pitching), misuse ( i.e incorrect lifting technique), contact sports ( i.e. football) all can contribute to either a rotator cuff or a/c joint injury.

If you have ever suffered either a rotator cuff injury or a/c joint injury refrain from doing dips..forever!!  Dips put a tremendous amount of stress on these structures and could cause reinjury which will negatively impact your training.

Dips are great for emphasizing the lower outer pecs ( if done properly) and triceps if a more vertical position is maintained.  There are plenty of alternative tricep exercises so the dip is not needed and for the lower outer pecs try cable crossovers pulling high to low and focusing the mind on contracting the lower pec.

If you  are having shoulder issues which are affecting your workout I would be more than happy to take a look and determine if I can be of help.   Just don’t fall prey to the 6 most common words heard in my practice from patients:  “ I thought it would go away."  Trust me- it won’t!!    Until next time………

Posted 179 weeks ago
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Posted 180 weeks ago
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Posted 182 weeks ago

So you want to peak your biceps?  Here's how.....

ah yes…lets’ see your muscle.  How many times have you heard that request?  I know I have on many occasions.   Now here’s the interesting thing:  they didn’t want to see my calves, my quads, my tri’s nor any other bodypart EXCEPT my biceps….Go figure- right?  So… in light of this common scenario let me share my thoughts on how you can peaks those “babies”…..

First and foremost lets be clear on one extremely important fact:  much like calf development the bicep peak is for the most part genetically determined.  So, if you have good genetics more power to you.  If not, don’t worry..you may not get Robby Robinson-like “peaks” but just like calf development you absolutely can make substantial improvement.  Here’s how….

The biceps are composed of 2 heads:  a short head and a long head.  Its the long head that gives “rise"  to the peak.  So here’s how to emphasize the long head in your biceps training:  keep the upper arm behind the plane of your body!.  Seated incline curls are great.  But for variety I use standing low pulley curls keeping my arms behind the plane of my body and making sure my elbows stay behind me.  Awesome exercise!!!  Oh..1 last thing:  don’t forget to work the brachialis muscle which sits below the biceps. Developing this muscle will "push” the biceps out more contributing to that bicep peak.  Best exercise for that:  incline DB hammer curls.  Option b: hammer rope curls on a pulley machine.

Watch for future articles outlining sets, reps, rest periods, etc… Until next time…oh yeah-  that’s my bicep shot taken today:  12-28-15.  Just had to throw that in there….because I know you wanted “to see my muscle”….

Posted 182 weeks ago

Whatever happened to the mind-muscle connection? If one's goal is to stimulate muscle hypertrophy ( increase the size of the muscle) then it is imperative to fully engage the mind when executing each rep of every exercise.  Too often I witness those in the gym that must have as his or her primary goal to simply hoist that weight up ( usually too heavy) regardless of how correct the rep execution is.  In other words its obvious that the trainee is not focused on each phase of the muscle's range of motion:  stretch, midrange, and contracted positions which is absolutely necessary if optimum muscle stimulation is to occur. If one is focused on  strength training solely then that's a different story but that's NOT the focus of this article.  It is critical that one engages the  mind on the muscle that's being worked and nothing else. One must feel the muscle working through its entire range of motion.  Otherwise, one is doing a disservice to themselves and not optimizing their time in the gym and I'm all about gym efficiency and effectiveness!! Until next time.......

Posted 183 weeks ago


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