How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?

How long does it take to build muscle, before and after photo

“When will I see results?”

This is one of the most commonly-asked questions when someone starts The Perfect Workout. It’s also one of the most challenging questions to answer.

The answer is complex because it’s based on many factors. Also, “results” could mean many different things: fat loss, added strength, more energy, better sleep, or visible muscle growth.

It’s safe to say most people want to be able to see some muscle definition. So, in this article, we will discuss what the research says on when you should start noticing muscle growth, what are not signs of muscle growth, and how that timeline can be expedited.

Why We ALL Want Muscle

Before we deep dive into all things muscle growth, it’s important to keep this in mind – strength training is not just for growing bigger muscles. In fact, strength training does so much more for your overall health and longevity than simply looking toned and muscular.

  • Here are some good reasons to build muscle:
  • Avoid muscle loss
  • Avoid metabolic rate reduction
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Increase metabolic rate
  • Reduce body fat
  • Increase bone mineral density
  • Improve glucose metabolism
  • Increase gastrointestinal transit speed
  • Reduce resting blood pressure
  • Improve blood lipid levels
  • Reduce low back pain
  • Reduce arthritic pain
  • Reduce depression

As you can see from all those benefits, building muscle isn’t just for looks. But if you are concerned about getting “big and bulky” or want more information on how strength training affects men vs women, this might be the article for you.

Muscle soreness from muscle building on a woman's quads

Misleading Signs of Muscle Growth

Muscle growth starts almost immediately when strength training begins. However, gaining a noticeable amount of muscle takes a little longer. Before discussing a timeline, let’s talk about what are NOT indicators of growing muscles.

Muscle soreness

“I like being sore the next day because I know I did something.”

Most of us have said or felt this way after a workout.

Soreness, although gratifying for some, is not a sign of whether or not you stimulated your muscles to grow. Read that again.

Sore muscles simply indicate that you did something new or unusual for your muscles.

Walking 20 miles in a day would likely cause most of us to have sore leg muscles, but it won’t help to grow your muscles.

Early strength gains

Being able to lift increasingly heavy weights is typically a sign that your muscle cells are becoming larger. The exception to this is at the start of a new training program or regimen while your body learns to lift weights efficiently.

For the first few weeks, people gain strength due to neurological adaptations. In other words, the nervous system becomes more efficient and effective at stimulating coordinated movement on the exercises. This makes the movement [lifting heavy weights] more automatic and seemingly easier.

After a few weeks, gaining strength is primarily a result of muscle growth and less due to deceptive neurological adaptations.

The post-workout muscle “pump”

One of our favorite parts of the strength training experience is having swollen muscles following the workout.

Why?

It’s aesthetically pleasing (and we’re all a little guilty of checking ourselves out in the mirror once or twice after the workout). This effect, known as “transient hypertrophy,” is due to a short-term increase of blood plasma in and around muscle cells. It gives the muscles a temporary appearance of looking larger and more shapely … aka, the “pump.”

The pump only lasts a few hours and isn’t a direct indicator of muscle growth.

Before and after photos of muscle growth

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

Now that we know muscle soreness and a post-workout mirror check aren’t reliable ways to gauge muscle growth, how do we know when we’re building muscle? And how long does it all take?

The muscle growth timeline was studied by researchers at the University of Oklahoma. CT scans were conducted weekly on men who started a strength training program. Similar to The Perfect Workout, the participants in this study trained twice a week.

After just one week, muscle fibers became 3.5% thicker.

  • Muscles grew steadily after that point:
  • 4.5% larger at the end of week 2
  • 6% at the end of week 3
  • 6.7% at the end of week 4
  • 8% at the end of week 5
    Finished at 9.6% larger at the end of the study (eight weeks)

The conclusions are that muscle growth starts immediately and steadily continues after that point.

You might be thinking, but when will I be able to see more muscle definition? When is it noticeable?

Researchers noted that about 7-8% growth is the point when this change can be seen. According to the study, this should take about 3-5 weeks to start noticing muscle growth. And according to exercise researcher Dr. Ellington Darden, “Genetically gifted men can probably reach their maximum size in 24 months.” (Read: not the norm.)

How can people notice initial changes in muscle size?

Common ways to see this is clothes fitting differently, pants feeling tighter in the thigh or hip area, or “new” muscle lines appearing in the thighs or arms.

How to Build Muscle Faster

The timeline of 3-5 weeks is when you could start to see muscle growth. That timeline could be longer. Part of that timeline and how much muscle you grow in general, is largely determined by your training habits, other complementary habits, and genetics.

Genetics and biology do play a role in your potential for muscle growth, as discussed in our article about the differences between male and female muscle growth. In Dr. Ellington Darden’s book, The New High Intensity Training, he discusses genetic potential for muscle growth.

In short, the length of major muscles determine genetic potential for muscle growth because longer muscles can be wider and wider muscles lead to more volume. So you can’t do much about those sorts of things. But there are three key things you can do.

Here are three factors in your control that impact how much muscle you grow and how quickly you notice it.

1. Exercise consistency and frequency

How much exercise you do is a big factor in determining the amount of muscle growth. Training three times per week will likely increase muscle growth quicker than training once or twice per week.

Of course, you can plan to train three times per week, but if you are frequently missing sessions, those plans won’t convert to actual results.

It’s also important to know that training three times a week would only be beneficial if you’re trying to get bigger-sized muscles and that strength for longevity and better health is separate and sufficient with 1-2 workouts a week.

2. Full range of motion exercises.

The most common strength training error we see in gyms is a lack of full movement. For example, you might see this in a dumbbell curl where the person only lowers the weight halfway down before starting the next rep.

The vast majority of studies comparing full movement to partial movement show that lifting the full movement enhances muscle growth.

3. Eating enough protein.

Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are used to repair and rebuild muscle tissue following workouts. The amount of protein you consume is critical to your rate of muscle growth.

Your daily intake in grams should be equal to or greater than your weight (lbs.) multiplied by 0.75.

For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should eat at least 113 grams of protein each day (150 x 0.75 = 113). If you weigh 200 lbs, eat at least 150 grams per day (200 x 0.75 = 150).

Summary

You might start seeing changes in your muscles around one month in. To gain more muscle immediately and in general, train frequently, consistently, use a full range of movement, and eat ample amounts of protein daily.

Whether you see the muscle changes, know that your body is changing in a positive manner after just one week. Your muscles are growing, you are gaining strength, and your health is improving in several ways that you may or may not notice.

If you want more information on how to incorporate slow-motion strength training into your workout routine, we have a free introductory session. If you’d like to know more about how to work with a trainer online, get a free consultation call with a Personal Trainer.

DeFreitas, J.M., Beck, T.W., Stock, M.S., Dillon, M.A., & Kasishke, P.R. (2011). An examination of the time course of training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology. DOI 10.1007/s0042-011-1905-4.

Deldicque, L. (2020). Protein intake and exercise-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy: an update.

Lemon, P. W. (2000). Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(sup5), 513S-521S.

Schoenfeld, B.J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2018). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Schoenfeld, B.J. & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: a systematic review. SAGE Open. 

Schoenfeld, B.J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J.W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training in muscle mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.

Campbell, W.,Crim, M., Young,V. and Evans,W. (1994). Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60: 167-175. 

Evans, W. and Rosenberg, I. (1992) Biomarkers, New York: Simon and Schuster. Forbes, G. B. (1976). “The adult decline in lean body mass,” Human Biology, 48: 161-73. 

Harris, K. and Holly R. (1987). Physiological response to circuit weight training in borderline hypertensive subjects. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 19: 246-252. 

Hurley, B. (1994). Does strength training improve health status? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 16: 7-13. 

Hurley, B., Hagberg, J., Goldberg, A., et al. (1988). Resistance training can reduce coronary risk factors without altering VO2 max or percent body fat. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 20: 150-154. 

Keyes, A., Taylor, H.L. and Grande, F. (1973). “Basal Metabolism and Age of Adult Man,” Metabolism, 22: 579-87. 

Koffler, K., Menkes, A. Redmond, W. et al. (1992). Strength training accelerates gastrointestinal transit in middle-aged and older men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 24: 415-419. 

Menkes, A., Mazel, S., Redmond, R. et al. (1993). Strength training increases regional bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 74: 2478-2484. 

Risch, S., Nowell, N. Pollock, M., et al. (1993). Lumbar strengthening in chronic low back pain patients. Spine, 18: 232-238. 

Singh, N., Clements, K. and Fiatarone, M. A randomized controlled trial of progressive resistance training in depressed elders. Journal of Gerontology, 52 A (1): M 27 – M 35. 

Stone, M., Blessing, D., Byrd, R., et al. (1982). Physiological effects of a short term resistive training program on middle-aged untrained men. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, 4: 16-20. 

Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter, (1994). Never too late to build up your muscle. 12: 6-7 (September). 

Westcott, W. and Guy, J. (1996). A physical evolution. Sedentary adults see marked improvements in as little as two days a week. IDEA Today, 14 (9): 58-65. 

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., C.S.C.S, is Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines. 

He is also author of 20 fitness books including the new releases, No More Cellulite, Building Strength and Stamina, Strength Training Past 50, Strength Training for Seniors, Complete Conditioning for Golf, and Strength and Power for Young Athletes

Is a Personal Trainer Worth It?

Is a personal trainer worth it?

We lay out all of the research-backed facts, so you can decide for yourself.

Female Personal Trainer with real female client

The hardest thing about starting a fitness journey is simply starting. The second hardest? Knowing what to do to actually get results.

Part of this struggle comes from seeing social media feeds with workouts, meal plans, and transformation photos – not to mention a million diet products being marketed to us all day, every day. It’s confusing.

The other part is trying to do it alone.

Every fitness journey is unique, but one major catalyst to achieving desired health and wellness results is having someone to coach you- a personal trainer.

You may ask yourself, is a personal trainer worth it?

In this article, we talk about the research-proven advantages of working with a personal trainer and why it's absolutely worth it.

Jump to a Topic:

7 Benefits of Working with a Personal Trainer

Studies comparing people working with personal trainers versus people who trained themselves found that working with a professional trainer offers the following benefits:

7 Benefits of Personal Training Infographic

1. Better Workout Quality

Too many of us know firsthand that it's possible to work out – a lot – and see no results.

The “magic” of strength training is a result of a few ingredients, including choosing the right resistance for each exercise and putting in enough effort.

Research shows that when not working with a personal trainer, only 9-34% of trainees choose weights that are challenging enough to provide great results (Dos Santos et al., 2020).

People also generally fail to work hard enough without a trainer. In one study, about 57% of people without a trainer failed to push to complete exhaustion (“Muscle Success”) on ANY exercise (Dos Santos et al., 2020).

Whether you get results is entirely up to you and the effort you put forth. But a Personal Trainer has the knowledge and passion to help you give it your all.

Research shows that supervised exercise leads to achieving more strength, muscle growth, and weight loss (Mazzetti et al., 2000).

Two separate studies by Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., and one study by Ellington Darden, Ph.D., demonstrate that slow-motion strength training produces 50% to 59% faster improvements than regular weight training.

Any challenging workout, like slow-motion strength training, is a physical and mental feat. This makes it incredibly easy to talk yourself out of giving your best effort when the exercise becomes tough and your muscles start to burn.

A Personal Trainer is the coach in your corner pushing you to give your absolute best. They become the voice you need when your own starts to deceive you.

2. Exercise Safety

Working out alone? It’s easy to perform exercises incorrectly without someone watching your form or correcting bad habits. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know and could be exercising with incorrect form every time you’re in the gym.

Working out with a friend? Having a workout buddy can be great because it increases your chances of sticking with it. But taking direction from someone who is not Certified is like having your friend “crack your back” instead of getting adjusted by a Chiropractor. Despite the good intentions, relying on someone other than a trained professional could do more harm than good.

A Certified Fitness Trainer should have extensive education on how to safely coach others through an effective workout.

At The Perfect Workout, our certification goes beyond books and heavily involves hands-on training with real people. We test our trainers’ knowledge and expertise with numerous written and practical exams. All Personal Trainers are AED/CPR certified and are required to complete continuing education as part of their employment with The Perfect Workout.

Real Male client testimonial

3. Staying Motivated, Consistent, & Accountable

Exercise helps with health and longevity, but it doesn’t work if people don’t do it consistently.

Only one in five adults in the US consistently reach the recommended amount of weekly exercise (Harris et al., 2011).

When starting an exercise program, about half quit within six months (Larson et al., 2018).

The vast majority of people don’t hire personal trainers. Looking at the data, this approach isn’t working.

Considering about half of people quit workout programs within six months, strategies to stick with exercise are critical to reaching one’s fitness goals.

Studies show that people who work with personal trainers are more likely to develop a better attitude towards sticking with exercise (McClaran, 2003). In addition, people are also more likely to develop strategies for overcoming obstacles that would otherwise cause them to quit.

If that’s not enough, hear what some of our clients have to say about how we help with consistency:

  1. “I can do anything for 20 minutes, twice a week.”
  2. “20 minutes, twice a week made it easy to stick with it.”
  3. “I look forward to my personal training sessions.”
  4. “I see the benefits and I’m getting results, so I know it’s working.”
  5. “My trainers encourage me when I want to give up.”
  6. “It’s a great routine to start out the day.”
  7. “I like having an appointment on the books. It helps me stay accountable.”

Working with a trainer provides an additional level of accountability that is likely needed by most people.

Chances are you don’t bail on your doctor when you need a checkup, but it's really easy to bail on your workouts when you’re doing them on your own.

Why is that?

Because when you have an appointment on your calendar and another human on the other end of the appointment counting on you to show up, you do it.

By keeping you accountable, they ultimately keep you consistent and consistency breeds results.

Real client's personal trainer testimonial

4. Professional Guidance

Believe it or not, there is a method to exercising safely and effectively. A Personal Trainer will analyze your ability and your performance to decide how to continually challenge you.

This includes how to properly adjust your body to workout equipment, whether or not to increase or decrease range of motion on an exercise, to lower or raise the weight, etc.

The results are in the details, and a Personal Trainer knows what to look for.

Playing the role of a professional for our own needs benefits us by saving money. We trade our time to learn and develop skills to save the cost that comes with hiring a professional.

Besides coaching and providing accountability, working with a personal trainer makes sense for several reasons. We are limited by time, having only 24 hours each day to sleep, eat, work, spend time with family, manage our homes, etc.

We simply don’t have the time to be “professionals” in many areas. Outsourcing that responsibility to a professional saves time. It also ensures that we’ll receive more educated and experienced guidance with in-session coaching and overall workout program design.

But many people try to serve as their own personal trainers.

People design their own workout plans, coach themselves through their training sessions, and guide their own long-term fitness journeys.

Unless you’re a doctor, a physical therapist or you’ve been in the fitness industry before, chances are a Personal Trainer knows more about health and fitness than you do.

You wouldn’t try to clean your own teeth instead of going to the Dentist. So why would you try and improve your physical health on your own?

In addition, you learn new things about your body, your health, and your habits when you work with a Personal Trainer. And the more you know, the more opportunities you have to make changes you may need to reach your goals.

5. Workout Customization

A Personal trainer makes your workout personal. Everyone’s body, fitness level, and abilities are different.

A good trainer will not have the 45yr old man who wants to lose 30lbs do the same exact thing as the 77yr old woman who wants to reverse osteoporosis.

It's necessary to tailor any exercise approach to the individual’s goals.

Although group classes or follow-along- guides can be fun, you don’t get the customized approach. You don't have someone completely focused on you to see if you’re doing an exercise correctly, doing it safely.

A video, guide, or group fitness instructor doesn’t know your goals, your injuries, limitations or how you tend to hold your breath a little before you hit muscle success.

At The Perfect Workout, your first session with a Personal Trainer dives deep into your goals and health history so we can best help you achieve your health and fitness vision.

6. Judgement-Free

Walking into a big box gym can be an intimidating experience. You may think others are watching you workout, judging how you look, or why you’re lifting weights that way. This makes exercise an uncomfortable experience.

A Personal Trainer is devoted to helping you look and feel your best. You don’t have to worry about what you look like, how little you know about exercise or how many times you’ve failed your diets in the past.

This is a safe space where you can share your fitness needs and ask your trainer all kinds of questions, even ones that you might feel silly asking.

At the Perfect Workout, you’ll work with a Trainer every single workout and will always be in the comfort of a semi-private environment.

Real testimonial from Female client, who is with her dog

7. Support System

When you work with a personal trainer, you sign up for an overall transformation. Losing weight and gaining strength are common reasons people start a new workout program. However, gaining confidence, improving mental health, and learning to love their bodies, are some of the biggest and best benefits of working with a Trainer.

A Personal Trainer is your built in support system for this journey you’re on and at The Perfect Workout, you’re never at it alone.

So... IS a Personal Trainer Worth It?

Working with a personal trainer has tremendous value. A trainer’s supervision leads to more effective workouts. It helps us stick with a fitness program. Ultimately, a personal trainer’s help greatly increases the chances that we’ll reach our health and fitness goals (Losch et al., 2016). .

Bias aside, we’d say a personal trainer is definitely worth it. 😏

  • Dos Santos, W. M., Junior, A. C. T., Braz, T. V., Lopes, C. R., Brigatto, F. A., & Dos Santos, J. W. (2020). Resistance-trained individuals can underestimate the intensity of the resistance training session: an analysis among genders, training experience, and exercises. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
  • Harris, C.D., Watson, K.B., Carlson, S.A., Fulton, J.E., & Dorn, J.M. (2011). Adult participation in aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities — United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(17), 326-330.
  • Larson, H.K., McFadden, K., McHugh, T.F., Berry, T.R., & Rodgers, W.M. (2018). When you don’t get what you want–and it’s really hard: exploring motivational contributions to exercise dropout. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 59-66. 
  • Mazzetti, S.A., Kraemer, W.J., Volek, J.S., Duncan, N.D., Ratamess, N.A., Gomez, A.L., … Fleck, S.J. (2000). The influence of direct supervision of resistance training on strength performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(6), 1175-1184.
  • McClaran, S.R. (2003). The effectiveness of personal training on changing attitudes towards physical activity. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 2(1), 10-14.
  • Losch, Sabine et al. “Comparing the Effectiveness of Individual Coaching, Self-Coaching, and Group Training: How Leadership Makes the Difference.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 7 629. 3 May. 2016, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00629

Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Full Range of Motion While Strength Training

Female Lifting weights with full range of motion

Strength training isn’t simply “lifting things.” In fact, there’s a science to strength training. When that scientific approach is used, great results are achieved.

One of the pillars of exercise is effectiveness – and one science-backed way to ensure exercise is effective is to lift challenging weights using full range of motion movements. (Pushing or pulling a weight as far as you can possibly go on an exercise.)

Unfortunately when many people do lift challenging weights, they sacrifice range of motion.

  • Examples of shortcutting range of motion include:
  • Leg Press: Beginning with the thighs far away from the body instead of closely, leaving very little room for movement.
  • Leg Curl: Not pulling the heels all the way back on the leg curl, past 90 degrees.
    Biceps: Curling the weight 90 degrees or less before lowering the weight.

This is concerning as full movement is key to achieving the benefits of strength training!

Full and Partial Range of Motion
Source: Health Fitness Club Connect

Why Do People Lift With Limited Range Of Motion?

Before we get into the benefits of full movement, why do people lift with partial ranges of motion? There are a few reasons:

  • Lack of awareness of good form. We’re not all exercise professionals. Many people we’ve seen in public gyms simply might not know what full range of motion is, or they don’t know it’s value.

  • Strengthening a part of a movement. Our muscle strength varies in an exercise. On the leg press, we are weakest at the start and strongest when our knees are almost straight. Some use partial reps in the weakest part of the movement to gain more strength. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to modify an exercise and help reach your goals.

  • Limited joint movement. For older adults, people with arthritis, or people who had periods of severe inactivity (i.e. bed rest), joints may be very stiff. Thankfully, for those of you who fall into this group, strength training will help you increase range of motion by lengthening muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing synovial fluid, an oily substance made by the body to lubricate joints (Interdisciplinary Toxicology). In fact, a research article featuring 11 studies and over 450 people concluded that strength training is just as effective as stretching for improving joint movement.

  • Injury/pain. If you have a joint which was previously injured, has pain, or is arthritic, it’s possible that you are performing a partial range of motion in some exercises. This is a wise approach as it’s better to move in a limited but pain-free range of motion than to avoid the exercise entirely. Your personal trainer might recommend this if they feel it’s the best course of action to personalize the exercise to your body’s needs.
Partial Range of Motion Infographic

Benefits of Training With Full Range of Motion

Unless pain, injury, or joint stiffness limits movement, The Perfect Workout’s trainers coach lifting through a full range of motion on each exercise. This is intentional and one of the important ingredients in The Perfect Workout formula.

There are a few benefits to training with a full range of motion:

  1. More strength gained. People who train with a full range of motion gain more overall strength than those who train in a partial movement.

  2. More strength at all angles. If you only perform only half of the leg press movement, your thighs and butt will only become stronger in that half of the movement. Therefore, training through a full movement leads to greater muscle strength at all angles of a joint’s movement.

  3. Additional muscle size growth. In almost every study comparing full versus partial movements, using a full range of motion led to superior muscle gains.

  4. Increased flexibility and reduced stiffness. Using as much range of motion as possible in a strength training exercise will help lengthen muscle fibers and reduce stiffness by producing natural joint-lubricating synovial fluid in the body (Interdisciplinary Toxicology).
Benefits of Strength Training with Full Range of Motion

How to Find Your Ideal Range

Not everyone’s range of motion is going to be the same. Finding your ideal range of motion on an exercise may require a little bit of trial and error in the beginning. Your trainer will adjust every exercise to your body’s needs, including range of motion, using a combination of “adjustment points,” “axis points,” “hole gaps,” and other seat settings.

Adjustment Points

Adjustment points help to… that’s right, adjust parts of the machine to properly fit your body. Whether you are long in the torso or short in the legs, your trainer will use adjustment points to align your joints to the right place and help find your perfect seat setting and range of motion.

Most adjustment points are easy to find on machines because they are often brightly colored handles or pins. Look for yellow dots or handles on our Nautilus machines.

Axis Points

Some machines also have what we call axis points, or axis of rotation. These are typically seen on isolation exercises where one muscle group is targeted and one joint is used, like on our Preacher Curl machine.

Think of these axis points as guides to be lined up with the joint used during the exercise. On our Preacher Curl there is a red dot that serves as an axis point for the elbows. Ideally, you want the elbow joint lined up with this point the entire exercise to allow for proper extension and flexion during the range of motion.

Most adjustment points are also brightly colored and just as easy to find on machines. Look for red axis points on our Nautilus machines.

Axis points for finding your range

Hole Gaps

Hole gaps help increase or decrease the distance of an exercise’s starting point (and therefore the total distance traveled in an exercise) by inserting a pin to hold a gap between a weight plate or set of plates in a weight stack. For instance, someone with shorter arms using a Compound Row machine would want to increase the hole gap to bring the handles closer to them so that they can reach the handles at the beginning of the exercise.

Your trainer may also increase a hole gap to create an easier range of motion at the beginning of an exercise, or decrease a hole gap to make the exercise more challenging.

It may feel a little bit like musical chairs when trying to figure out your ideal range of motion and seat settings. Get in the machine. Get out. Make an adjustment. Repeat until you find your sweet spot. Luckily, all trainers at The Perfect Workout are experts and finding this for you and can do so quickly.

Hole Gaps for finding your range

If you are reading this but use partial movements due to past injuries or pain, don’t stress. You can still gain strength and muscle in a partial range of motion.

Ideally, your joints will become stronger and healthier over time. As this happens, you and your trainer will increase the range of motion until eventually reaching a full movement.

Client Testimonial from The Perfect Workout

Training through a full movement leads to better results. The Perfect Workout’s trainers will ensure that you are safely lifting as far as you can during each exercise. As a result, you’ll become the strongest and fittest “you” possible.

  • Afonso, J., Ramirez-Campillo, R., Moscao, J., Rocha, T., Zacca, R., Martins, A. … Clemente, F.M. (2021). Strength training is as effective as stretching for improving range of motion: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • Pinto, R.S., Gomes, N., Radaelli, R., Botton, C.E., Brown, L.E. & Bottaro, M.J. (2012). Effect of range of motion on muscle strength and thickness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2140-2145.
  • McMahon, G.E., Morse, C.I., Burden, A., Winwood, K., & Onambele, G.L. (2014). Impact of range of motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols on muscle size, subcutaneous fat, and strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), 245-255.
  • Schoenfeld, B.J. & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: a systematic review. SAGE Open.

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed - Featured Blog Image

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a person has suffered a significant loss of bone mass because their body can’t produce enough new bone to keep up with old bone loss. “Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and is replaced” (Mayoclinic.com). With this disease, bones become hollow and carry a high risk of fracture. About 10 million people in the US have osteoporosis and many others are at risk.

In this article, we talk about how to identify your risk for osteoporosis and share four strategies that can increase bone density.

Osteoporosis & Fall Risk Facts

As we age, we focus more on preventing falls for older adults, and that’s with good reason.

Over 300,000 adults ages 65 and older experience a hip fracture each year, 95% of those fractures resulting from falling.

Those hip fracturing-falls have severe side effects, too. Only half of these adults regain their quality of life after the fracture.

About 20% move into assisted living communities afterwards. And about one in every four older adults die within a year of having a hip fracture.

Hip fractures are a big concern for both men and women. However, falling and breaking a bone isn’t the only cause of this issue. Having weak bones is also a key underlying factor, just like with osteoporosis.

Data from the CDC shows that 48% of older adults have low bone density, usually in the most common locations: hip and lower back. For adults with osteoporosis, bones are fragile and susceptible to breaking when falls or other high-risk incidents like car accidents occur.

Osteoporosis Stages - 4 Stages of Bone Density Loss

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

While it’s easy to associate osteoporosis with older women, the process of bone loss starts well before 65 years old. People generally start to lose bone density in their early 30s. They’re at an increased risk for fractures after age 50.

Additional risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Being female – This can increase risk of osteoporosis because of the lost estrogen during menopause, which can contribute to bone loss.
  • Having a smaller/thinner frame – This means someone already has less bone mass in their body to begin with.
  • Past fractures – These are a sign that your bones are more fragile than normal.
  • A family history of osteoporosis – This may mean you’re already predisposed to develop the disease.

How to Assess Your Bone Strength

Osteoporosis is diagnosed through a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. A DEXA scan is a quick process (less than 20 minutes) where a person lies face up while a low-level x-ray scans down and then up the body. They use an even lower level of radiation than standard X-rays, so they’re very safe.

These bone density test results provide an accurate assessment of bone density, muscle tissue, and fat tissue. “Where a regular X-ray can show changes in bone density after 40 percent bone loss, the DEXA detects changes as small as 1 percent.”

You can find a DEXA scan by using a search engine like Google and typing in the keywords “DEXA scan near me”. DEXA scans are recommended at a frequency of every 1-2 years starting at the age of 50 if someone has risk factors for bone loss, especially for women during or after menopause.

Dexa Scan for Osteoporosis Infographic

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

We know that about half of older adults have low bone density, this increases the risk of experiencing a fracture, and that people start losing bone strength in their 30s.

Unfortunately, once you have osteoporosis, it can’t be fully reversed or “cured.” Thankfully, you can strengthen your bones at any age and there are proven methods for reducing the risk of a fracture. Below are four effective strategies for reversing bone loss.

4 Strategies for Strengthening Bones

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, increases calcium absorption from the food we eat. It also promotes calcium uptake in bones. Supplementing with vitamin D3 can decrease the risk of fractures in the hip and spine, and can increase bone density.

2. Magnesium

A two-year study of menopausal women taking a magnesium supplement showed an increase in bone density while also reducing fracture risk. Healthy magnesium levels are shown to enhance the function of bone-building cells and sufficient levels of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D (both of which regulate bone homeostasis).

3. Calcium

When thinking of bone strength, it’s common to think of calcium first. Research shows calcium consumption isn’t the silver bullet for strengthening bones that we might think it is. However, meeting a minimum amount of recommended daily consumption (2,000-2,500 mg/day according to mayoclinic.com) is critical to maintaining bone health. Also, supplementing calcium can reduce the risk of hip and spine fractures. However, some studies suggest that taking calcium supplements can decrease absorption of other nutrients like iron and zinc, so be mindful of your supplement intake and, as always, consult with a physician to be sure you’re taking the right supplement combination for your needs.

4. Strength Training

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Strength training is a uniquely effective way to improve bone health and treat osteoporosis. It can improve bone strength in all areas of the body at any age. In a year-long study, strength training helped women, ages 65-75 years old, gain bone strength in their hips and lower back.

Following five minutes of training, women between the ages of 18 and 26 years old increased bone density in their legs and wrists. Three studies with men, ranging from 50 to 79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Is It Safe To Exercise With Osteoporosis?

The risk of fracture is serious, but there’s no reason not to exercise safely.

The National Institute of Health said it best:
“No one who has broken a bone wants to revisit that pain and loss of independence. However, living your life “on the sidelines” is not an effective way to protect your bones.”

Staying active with a doctor-approved program like slow-motion strength training can not only help you stay healthy, it’s also the best way to build bone density and strengthen your body to stay upright and active.

Next Steps

If you are currently strength training and are looking to enhance your bone density, examine your diet. Check to see if you are lacking regular consumption of the vitamins and minerals above, and look for ways to increase daily consumption.

Strength training will ensure you won’t lose bone density going forward. If you are not currently strength training, talk with your doctor and get started as soon as you can. Combining that with adequate levels of vitamin D3, magnesium, and calcium can make substantial improvements in your bone strength.

  1. Bolam, K.A., van Uffelen, J.G., & Taafle, D.R. (2013). The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: a systematic review. Osteoporosis International, 24(11), 2749-2762.
  2. MacLean, C., Newberry, S., Maglione, M., McMahon, M., Ranganath, V., Suttorp, M., … Grossman, J. (2008). Systematic review: comparative effectiveness of treatments to prevent fractures in men and women with low bone density or osteoporosis. Annals, of Internal Medicine, 148, 197-213.
  3. Nickols-Richardson S.SM., Miller, L.E., Wootten, D.F., Ramp, W.K., & Herert, W.G. (2007). Concentric and eccentric isokinetic resistance training similarly increases muscular strength, fat-free soft tissue mass, and specific bone mineral measurements in young women. Osteoporosis International 18(6), 789-796.
  4. Rhodes, E.C., Martin, A.D., Taunton, J.E., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., & Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(1), 18-22.
  5. Schnell, S., Friedman, S.M., Mendelssohn, D.A., Bingham, K.W., & Kates, S.L. (2010). The 1-year mortality of patients treated in a hip fracture program for elders. Geriatrics Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 1(1), 6-14.
  6. Soijka, J.E. (1995). Magnesium supplementation and osteoporosis. Nutrition Reviews, 53(3), 71-74.

5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

5 Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Medical Diagram for Fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia can feel like a battle to ease pain and chronic fatigue. Finding a solution to treat fibromyalgia while staying healthy and active can also feel like a never ending challenge. In this article, we’ve compiled 5 natural remedies for fibromyalgia and the treatment of symptoms.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Body stiffness
  • Difficulty with thinking or focusing
  • A “foggy” memory
  • Struggles with sleeping

If you went to the doctor with any one of these issues, your doctor would likely think it’s a valid issue and worthy of further examination.

Imagine having most of these issues…or all of these issues!

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Infographic

Adults with fibromyalgia don’t have it easy. Not only do symptoms of fibromyalgia manifest in any of the above list, there isn’t a universal test to diagnose all cases. 

Fibromyalgia can’t be measured with numbers on a scale, unlike most other health conditions (blood pressure, diabetes, etc.). Looking for sensitive “tender points” in certain locations of the body is the most common diagnostic test, but that’s not comprehensive enough to identify all people who have the condition. 

Unfortunately, this lack of a clear diagnostic test leads some people to question whether fibromyalgia is real. However, 4 million US adults and about 3-6% of the world’s population can attest to the existence of the disease. 

Fibromyalgia has no known cause, which also makes it challenging to manage. A few proven methods do exist, though. Strength training is one of these methods.

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

Before getting into the methods for disease management, let’s look a little deeper at the disease. Risk factors for fibromyalgia include being female, having lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, suffering from a traumatic event (e.g. car accident), having a family history of fibromyalgia, and being obese. 

It’s most commonly diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia pain spots are the jaw, chest, neck, upper back, and hips.

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia

Pain relievers and antidepressants are the most common fibromyalgia treatments. They aren’t the only treatment options, though. There are natural remedies for fibromyalgia. These research-supported methods have shown some relief from fibromyalgia symptoms:

Natural Remedies For Fibromyalgia Infographic

1. Vitamin D supplementation

A vitamin D supplement might ease fibromyalgia-related pain. In response to sun exposure, the human body creates vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be increased through the use of supplements or certain foods such as:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified cereals and juices

2. Massage therapy

Massage can help provide temporary relief from the muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia by relaxing tendons and muscles, increasing blood flow, and improving psychological comfort. While types of massage can range in style and purpose, massage benefits can include:

  • Reducing stress and increasing relaxation
  • Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension
  • Improving circulation, energy and alertness
  • Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improving immune function

3. Acupuncture

Similar to massage, this could provide temporary pain relief. Acupuncture is a technique that involves inserting very fine needles into your skin at very specific locations on the body that potentially balance energy or impact neurological function. Acupuncture, derived from traditional Chinese medicine, is most typically used to relieve pain. This alternative medicine is increasingly being utilized for overall well-being, including stress reduction.

4. SAM-e

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a naturally occurring compound produced and consumed by the liver that regulates hormones and maintains cell membranes. As a dietary supplement, it’s shown the ability to reduce pain and fatigue with those who have fibromyalgia. (For those with fibromyalgia, discuss this with your doctor to determine if and how much of SAM-e you should take as there are some side effects with excess amounts).

5. Strength Training

People with fibromyalgia might initially wonder whether they can safely exercise with their level of pain and discomfort, but research also points to strength training as an option for those with fibromyalgia. Three studies with over 100 women found that strength training 2-3 times per week offers some promising benefits:

Bonus Tip, 5 Extra Benefits Of Strength Training

  1. Overall well-being. Following strength training, women with fibromyalgia felt substantial improvements in their own wellness. 
  2. Physical functioning. Strength training led women to feel more capable of handling their normal activities. 
  3. Pain. Women felt noticeably less pain following the training program. 
  4. Tender point reduction. Strength training decreased the amount of active tender points.
  5. Strength. As you would expect, training led to big strength gains for women with fibromyalgia. 

The results above were obtained in about 4-5 months of strength training. (It’s possible the benefits could be noticed sooner).

Real People With Fibromyalgia

The study results support our experiences working with many clients who had fibromyalgia. As is typical with fibromyalgia cases, the fibromyalgia symptoms were different from client to client.

  • One woman struggled to sleep well and had various pain spots. Within two months of starting, she was sleeping better and had less pain.
  • Another woman had chest and arm pain along with general fatigue. She experienced pain reduction and felt more energetic throughout the school day after a few months.
  • One man, age 68, experienced fibromyalgia and arthritis in his hips and knees and wanted to get through his long workdays without feeling exhausted. Not only did he accomplish an energy boost, he also lost 11 lbs.
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia helped this client

Being that fibromyalgia manifests in such different ways from person to person, it requires consistent communication between the trainer and the client. If you have fibromyalgia, talk to your trainer about what you feel during and after training. 

Your trainer at The Perfect Workout will work with you to find the right combination of exercises to help you have no negative sensations after while making progress.

Fibromyalgia doesn’t have to stop you from living a high quality life. Feel less pain, gain more strength, and feel better about your health with two short strength training sessions per week.

  1. Busch, A.J., Webber, S.C., Richards, R.S., Bidonde, J., Schachter, C.L., Danyliw, A., … Overend, T.J. (2013). Resistance training (such as weight-lifting) for fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12 (CD010884).
  2. Center for Disease Control. (2020). Fibromyalgia. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
  3. Iliades, C. (2018). Easing the pain of fibromyalgia naturally. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/8-natural-fibromyalgia-treatments/

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to keep Cholesterol in Check
plaque in artery headed to heart

In this article, we explain the importance and the potential dangers of cholesterol. With a simple solution, you will find out how to keep your cholesterol in check, in just 4 weeks.

 

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” – Aesop

Too much water.

Too much sun.

Too much exercise.

And your body would say this is also true about cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that our body uses to develop other necessary substances like hormones, vitamin D, the membranes of cells, and bile.

We need cholesterol. 

Too much of it can be dangerous though, hence why cholesterol-controlling practices such as strength training have become so highly sought after. 

Going back to the concept of too much of a good thing becoming bad, an excess of cholesterol is considered a “risk factor.” 

In other words, when high levels of cholesterol exist, people are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or develop diabetes or heart disease. 

A 2020 study published in the journal Circulation estimates that 38% of US adults — about two out of every five people — have high cholesterol! When you combine that with the prevalence of heart disease, which kills over 600,000 people annually in the US, it’s clear that keeping cholesterol in check is a national health concern.

How Much Cholesterol is Too Much?

There are a few measures used to determine whether you have a healthy level of cholesterol or too much of it. (Technically, the ways in which we measure cholesterol aren’t directly measuring cholesterol itself. We measure other particles that relate to cholesterol.) 

Keep Cholesterol in Check Infographic

The following are the most common measures of cholesterol:

  1. HDLs: high-density lipoproteins. These are commonly referred to as the “good cholesterol.” This is the only measure of cholesterol that we want to increase to improve health. 
  2. LDLs: low-density lipoproteins. These are referred to as “bad cholesterol.” 
  3. Triglycerides: these are particles of fat which are found in the body and blood stream. 
  4. Total cholesterol: a total number that includes LDLs, HDLs, and a fraction of the triglyceride total. This is the most comprehensive assessment of cholesterol quantity. Total cholesterol can be skewed by any of the lipoproteins and triglycerides, so if you have high “good cholesterol,” your total cholesterol can also appear high when “bad cholesterol” is normal.

Ideally, we want high HDLs and low LDLs, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

How to Control Cholesterol

How do we accomplish that and minimize our risk of having heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

how to keep cholesterol in check with diet and exercise infographic

Diet to keep your cholesterol in check

A few dietary approaches are shown to work:

  • Eliminate the consumption of trans fats. Trans fats are artificially created fats found in some vegetable oils (try olive oil or avocado oil instead!), baked goods, and non-organic peanut butters.
  • Eat more fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the foods we eat. Foods high in soluble fiber include black beans, lentils, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dried fig, and dried prunes.
  • Consume whey protein. Whey supplementation can reduce triglyceride levels.

Exercise to keep your cholesterol in check

In addition to dietary strategies, another success method is…strength training!

Strength training is a well-established way to manage cholesterol levels. In fact, a research article which tallied the results of 29 studies and over 1,300 adults concluded that strength training reduces total cholesterol, LDLs, and triglycerides. 

These changes could happen after as little as four weeks of training.

Researchers noted that strength training is additionally helpful for controlling cholesterol when people consistently attend their workouts, lose weight, gain muscle, or lift very challenging weights. 

If improving cholesterol levels is important to you, consider combining strength training with some of the dietary approaches listed above. 

Having high cholesterol is an indication that you might be headed toward heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US. 

Fortunately, you have a large say in your own outcome. You can keep your cholesterol in check with a few simple diet changes and a strength training program. 

A single month of strength training with The Perfect Workout can make a significant positive change in your cholesterol… and overall health.

  1. Kelley, G.A. & Kelley, K.S. (2008). Impact of progressive resistance training on lipids and lipoproteins in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Elsevier, 48, 9-19.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
  3. Sarin, H.V., Ahtiainen, J.P., Hulmi, J.J., Ihalainen, J.K., Walker, S., Kuusmaa-Schildt, M. … Peltonen, H. (2019). Resistance training induces antiatherogenic effects on metabolomic pathways. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(9), 1866-1875.
  4. Virani, S.S., Alonso, A., Benjamin, E.J., Callaway, C.W., Carson, A.P. … Tsao, C.W. (2020). Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 141(9), e139-e596.

Can Strength Training Help You Live Longer And Pain-Free?

Can Strength Training Help You Live Longer And Pain-Free?

Woman holding neck wanting to Live Pain Free

Accepting illness and physical deterioration used to be the norm because we just didn't know any better. It was all just a part of getting old. 

But now that we know better, we can do better. Our health is in our control even as we age.

The same is true for health. Pain, independence, and premature death are common age-related concerns for many adults. These concerns, though, are just that: concerns. They aren’t guaranteed. 

In fact, there are specific approaches you can take to avoid these side effects of aging. In this article, we’ll address how strength training is one of those approaches.

The Most Common Age-related Concerns that can be avoided with Strength Training

Living With Pain.

According to the CDC, 49.6% of seniors have diagnosed arthritis. This produces a number of side effects, which can vary depending on what joints have arthritis. Common side effects are issues with walking form, limited range of motion, limited function, disability, and pain.

Losing Independence.

About one in every 14 seniors require personal care assistance, according to the CDC. About one in every six adults age 85 years and older live in a nursing home. 


The loss of independence is due to a few factors. Arthritis and other sources of pain limit physical abilities and could lead to relying on others. Strength is one of the biggest factors in determining how well we can physically function.

We lose about 3-8% of our strength per decade, which adds up when reaching our older years. Independence is also lost when major injuries occur and the individual never fully recovers. 

About a third of older adults suffer at least one fall every year. The CDC states that 20-30% of falls lead to injury. Some injuries, such as hip fractures, lead to the permanent loss of independence

Premature Death.

The average adult lives 79 years in the US. However, many don’t reach this point for a variety of reasons: 

the onset of chronic disease, a lack of exercise and overall movement, and many other reasons. 


(If you’re reading this and are thinking, “This is bringing me down.” …keep reading. There’s a happy ending.)


As noted at the beginning, you have a lot of control in what happens with your life. You can take actions to improve your health and longevity. Starting and maintaining a strength training program can prevent or decrease pain, maintain independence, and lengthen your life.


Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s look at the research:

    • Arthritis/Pain. A few months of twice-weekly strength training substantially reduced arthritis pain, disability, and improved joint range of motion. Training also led to big improvements in strength for the muscles that support the arthritic joints.
    • Fall Risk. A research review which included over 100 studies showed that strength training decreases the risk of falls for older adults.
    • Physical Functioning. As little as 12 weeks of strength training can increase strength and balance in adults between 85 and 97 years old! The increase in strength translates to greater ease with general daily activities: walking long distances, walking upstairs, carrying groceries, etc.
    • Longevity. People who strength train are more likely to live longer lives. A 15-year study of adults 65 years and older showed that strength training at least twice per week was connected with a 46% reduced risk of death. In other words, strength training was linked to one in every two adults living a longer life.

If you take anything from this article, remember this: many side effects of aging are optional. You have control over how you age. You also have an influence on how long you live. 

As the research showed, strength training twice a week can reduce pain, enhance overall function, add strength, build balance, reduce the chances of falling, and might increase your life expectancy.

With slow-motion strength training, we can revolutionize the way people exercise… and live! Share with a friend today,

New to The Perfect Workout? Get a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Baker, K. R., Nelson, M. E., Felson, D. T., Layne, J. E., Sarno, R., & Roubenoff, R. (2001). The efficacy of home based progressive strength training in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Rheumatology, 28, 1655–166.
  2. Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age36(2), 773-785.
  3. El-Khoury, F., Cassou, B., Charles, M. A., & Dargent-Molina, P. (2013). The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Bmj347, f6234.
  4. Foroughi N., Smith  R. M., Lange, A. K., Baker, M. K., Fiatarone Singh, M.A.,  & Vanwanselle, B. (2011). Lower limb muscle strengthening does not change frontal plane moments in women with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Biomechanics, 26, 167-174.
  5. Kraschenewski, J. L., Sciamanna, C. N., Poger, J. M., Rovniak, L. S., Lehman, E. B., Cooper, A.B., … Ciccolo, J. T. (2016). Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults. Preventative Medicine, 87, 121-127.
  6. Serra‐Rexach, J. A., Bustamante‐Ara, N., Hierro Villarán, M., González Gil, P., Sanz Ibáñez, M. J., Blanco Sanz, N., … & Lucia, A. (2011). Short‐term, light‐to moderate‐intensity exercise training improves leg muscle strength in the oldest old: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,59(4), 594-602.

Is it Possible to Exercise Too Much? Shifting the Paradigm Around Exercise

Is it Possible to Exercise Too Much?

Shifting the Paradigm Around Exercise

it is possible for an individual to exercise too much, woman ab crunch

“Physician tested, approved.”

“_______ are just what the doctor ordered!”

“The Doctors’ Choice is America’s Choice.”

These slogans came from advertisements during the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. Do you know what product they are referring to? No, it’s not broccoli. It’s not exercise, reading, or meditation, either. Those ads are referring to…SMOKING CIGARETTES! 

Yes, you read that correctly. From the 1930s to 1950s, cigarettes were advertised as healthful. Yes…”healthy” was used to describe the same cigarettes that can cause lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma, birth defects, a stroke, heart attack, and many other types of cancer. 

This was a widespread belief. Some cigarette companies acknowledged causing a little “throat irritation,” but they were otherwise considered beneficial. 

While the cigarette being healthy is an extreme example, it illustrates a bigger point: beliefs generally held as dogma are often incorrect. 

Other popular examples include Pluto being a major planet in the solar system, humans using only 10% of their brains, and a human’s urine relieving the pain caused by a jellyfish sting (I hope you didn’t learn this firsthand). 

Here’s another example: more exercise is better. Said differently, the belief that people should perform long, intense workouts every day is a common but misguided belief.

And often we get the question – Am I exercising enough? When it’s just as important to ask whether or not it’s possible for an individual to exercise too much.

Joint Health.

We’re all aging, but not necessarily at the same rate. A study out of the University of California at San Francisco assessed the rate at which the knee joint wears down over a four-year period. 

The participants were middle-aged men and women with a large range of exercise habits. The researchers wanted to see if exercise habits were tied to the rate of arthritis development. 

What did they find? People who exercised a moderate amount were the most likely to preserve their joint health. The people who did little to no exercise AND the people who exercised a large amount both had more cartilage breakdown. 

The results indicate that people who don't exercise and people who exercise very often are on a quicker track to arthritis.

Knee Arthritis from too much exercise

Weight and Metabolism.

Our bodies are clever machines that have “negative feedback loops.” These feedback loops work to counteract some kind of stimulus. For example, when our blood sugar is excessively high, we produce more blood-sugar lowering hormones (insulin). 

A negative feedback loop also occurs when we exercise very often

One example was in a study from Laval University in Quebec. Young men exercised intensely on a daily basis for a few months. At the end of the study, the participants’ metabolic rate decreased by eight percent. The men also experienced a reduction in several hormones, including a thyroid hormone (T3). 

decreased Metabolism from exercising too much

The University of Alabama at Birmingham published a study that showed a similar effect. Older women exercised anywhere from 2-6 days per week for four months. Women who did 2-4 days of strength training and other activities (e.g. walking) per week actually became more active outside of their workouts. (Maybe they gained more energy?). 

Women who performed six days of exercise and activity per week were less active outside of their sessions and lost less weight than the other groups. Learn More about how to lose fat and only fat.

The takeaway: the body seems to fight back when pushed to exercise intensely on a daily or near-daily basis. Perhaps the body is trying to tell us something?

Strength.

You’ve likely heard at least one member of The Perfect Workout family say that the results happen between the workouts. The workouts are actually only a stimulus for change. The stimulus translates into change as you rest between your workouts. 

This is not a lie. Multiple research reviews, which make recommendations based on the findings of many studies, suggest 72 hours as the shortest possible rest period between training sessions on the same muscle groups. 

When training after a shorter rest period, muscles are actually weaker in the second workout. Why? They haven’t recovered yet from the first workout.

Don't exercise too much, rest between workouts

You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing.

Exercise is one of the most healthy habits we can practice. However, similar to a medication or a supplement, there is a healthy amount and an excessive amount. Intense exercise on a near-daily basis can lead to counter responses from our body and limit strength gains.

It’s time to shift the paradigm on how we see exercise. It’s a potent habit that is best applied briefly and infrequently to maximize your health and fitness.

Valuing your health and exercise should be at the top of your priority list,  but it doesn’t need to fill up your calendar.

Imagine what you could gain from saving time in your week getting a more efficient workout.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, carve out more time to play golf, or simply keep up with the grandkids, all you need is 20 minutes, twice a week.

  1. Hunter, G. R., Bickel, C. S., Fisher, G., Neumeier, W., & McCarthy, J. (2013). Combined aerobic/strength training and energy expenditure in older women. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(7).
  2. Kraemer, W.J. & Ratamess, N.A. (2004). Fundamentals of resistance training: Progression and exercise prescription. Physical Fitness and Performance, 36(4), 674-688.
  3. Lin, W., Alizai, H., Joseph, G. B., Srikhum, W., Nevitt, M. C., Lynch, J. A., … & Link, T. M. (2013). Physical activity in relation to knee cartilage T2 progression measured with 3 T MRI over a period of 4 years: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 21(10), 1558-1566.
  4. Tan, B. (1999). Manipulating resistance training program variables to optimize maximum strength in men: A review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13(3), 298-304.
  5. Tremblay, A., Poehlman, E.T., Després, J.P., Theriault, G., Danforth, E., & Bouchard, C. (1997). Endurance training with constant energy intake in identical twins: changes over time in energy expenditure and related hormones. Metabolism, 46(5), 499-503.

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis

With multiple sclerosis (MS), it can feel like your life is out of your control. People with chronic diseases like MS are two-to-three times more likely to suffer from depression. And although feeling discouraged when dealing with a chronic health issue is understandable, studies show that mindset can play a powerful part in the journey to managing a disease like MS. 

Those who feel like they have control over their health often have better health outcomes. This isn’t just a testament to the power of positive thinking; people who believe they have control are more likely to regularly participate in healthy behaviors. Those behaviors can influence factors such as lifespan, quality of life, and whether the condition progresses.

Multiple sclerosis is no exception. While it can be a daunting condition, health habits have a large impact on how – and if – the condition progresses. One of these health habits is strength training.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Before getting into the benefits of strength training, let’s talk about Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects about a million Americans and over 2.3 million people worldwide. 

The affected population is growing too, with an increase over 300% since the 1990s. There is no known cause of MS. Genetics and environment both play a role in the risk of developing the disease, with family members and those in locations with less sunlight seeming to be at the greatest risk. Women are also at a greater risk, with diagnosis most commonly occurring between 20 and 50 years old.

MS features lesions on the myelin sheath, which is a tissue that covers nerves. The sheath helps with delivering messages quickly to other parts of the body. When it’s damaged, the ability of the central nervous system to communicate with other parts of the body is affected. 

 

People with MS experience a number of potential challenges as a result: 

  • Difficulty with walking
  • Fatigue
  • Strength loss
  • Heat intolerance
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Difficulty with precise movements and other symptoms.
How can Strength Training help Multiple Sclerosis Diagram
mage source: Healthline

Strength Training and MS

The symptoms and MS’s progression are not guaranteed, though. An article authored by researchers in Denmark detailed the results of 16 strength training research programs for those who are living with MS. A number of benefits were observed. 

Strength training leads to a reduction in fatigue, one of the most common MS symptoms. Strength training enhances overall mood, lower body strength, and balance. Perhaps stemming from the increase in strength and balance, training led to more ease with daily activities. These activities include walking long distances, standing from chairs, and stair-climbing. The majority of studies showed these benefits were obtained from training twice per week.

All of the above benefits are meaningful contributions to quality of life. There might be a more important benefit, though. Strength training might stop MS progression. Those who strength trained for six months experienced a lack of lesion growth during that time. The researchers also observed that strength training might even help the brain tissue regrow!

Is Strength Training Safe for Those With MS?

These benefits all sound promising, but there’s an important question to ask: Is strength training safe for those with multiple sclerosis? 

In the 16 studies discussed in the Danish research article, workout session attendance ranged from 90-100%. Drop-out rates ranged from 0-13%. No major injuries or side effects were reported in any study. In short, people with MS made almost all of their workouts, the vast majority of people finished their workout program obligations, and no major issues occurred. 

The Perfect Workout is uniquely advantageous for people with MS. As noted before, those with MS often have an intolerance for heat. The Perfect Workout studios are clinically controlled environments, keeping the temperature between 65-68 degrees and fans that can be used upon request. All studios have water coolers with available cold water. (Even if you’re Virtually Training, the brief nature of the 20-minute workout leaves little time to work up a sweat.) In addition, every client has a dedicated Personal Trainer who tailors the workout to the client’s needs and challenges.

If you have MS, don’t let the disease control your future. Control your own future. Strength train twice per week to reduce fatigue, enhance strength and balance, make daily activities easier, and possibly halt the progression of MS.

  1. Helgeson, V.S. & Zajdel, M. (2017). Adjusting to chronic health conditions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68(1), 545-571. 
  2. Kjolhede, T., Vissing, & Dalgas, U. (2011). Multiple sclerosis and progressive resistance training: a systematic review. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 0(0), 1-14. 
  3. Kjolhede, T., Siemonsen, S., Wenzel, D., Stellmann, J.P., Ringgaard, S., Pedersen, B.G., …Dalgas, U. (2017). Can resistance training impact MRI outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis? Multiple Sclerosis Journal, DOI: 10/1177/1352458517722645.
  4. Cobb-Clark, D.A., de New, S.C., & Schurer, S. (2014). Healthy habits: the connection between diet, exercise, and locus of control. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 98, 1-28.   Link: https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/6789/healthy-habits-the-connection-between-diet-exercise-and-locus-of-control
  5. Berglund, E., Lystsy, P., & Westerling, R. (2014). The influence of locus of control on self-rated health in context of chronic disease: a structural modeling approach in a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health, 14, 492.      Link: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-492

How Many Calories Do You Burn During a Workout vs. After?

One of the most common questions we hear is, “How many calories did I burn from my workout?”

To help answer that question, let’s talk money.

The traditional method for making money is exchanging time for money. 

You finish a project or complete a few days of work, and you’re compensated for those hours or work that you completed. You work 40 hours in a week and you’re paid for that week in the following paycheck. It’s a one-time compensation for the work completed. This is the common model of making money, and the traditional lens through which people think about burning calories.

Another way to make money is receiving residual income. A person works to complete a product or service, then receives ongoing payments or royalties after the work is already done. An example of this is writing a book and receiving continued payments for the book as it continues to sell. 

For many, the most valued benefit of exercise is that it “burns” calories, which can help with weight loss or maintaining weight loss (calories are technically “expended,” but “burned” is the more popular phrase). 

Traditionally, we look at exercise through the “time for money” model. We judge exercise by how many calories we burned during the workout, as if a workout was a one-time payment. Viewing exercise in this way is both right and wrong. 

Exercise is exchanging time for calories burned, but workouts also have residual benefits where you continue to burn calories after the workout. This is especially true for exercise at The Perfect Workout.

The Perfect Workout Client Strength Training

Calories Burned During the Workout

Hustling through your session at The Perfect Workout must count for something, right? Yes! 

The effort you put into moving quickly through your exercises makes the training more beneficial in a few ways, including increasing the calories burned during your workout. 

According to data from Harvard Health Publishing, exercise similar to The Perfect Workout burns about 4-8 calories per minute. 

Calories burned per minute are influenced by whether a person truly reaches “muscle success” on each exercise, how quickly a person moves when transitioning between exercises, and by how much the person weighs (heavier people burn more calories when working at the same intensity).

Using the Harvard data, a 20-minute session could expend 80 to 160 calories.

Calories Burned After the Workout

As noted before, The Perfect Workout burns calories not only during the session but with residual calories after the workout as well. 

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that a single workout can increase metabolism up to 72 hours afterwards. The metabolism increase in the study was about 70-90 extra calories burned per day. 

This post-workout benefit doesn’t happen with all types of activity. Most activities, such as walking, riding a bike, and jogging, are limited to the calories burned only during the activity. 

Strength training’s intensity boosts metabolism for a prolonged period due to a few factors: 

  • replenishing stored glucose
  • converting lactic acid into glucose
  • elevated levels of some neurotransmitters and hormones
  • returning core temperature and breathing rate to normal levels

In slow-motion strength training workouts, you burn calories during the session and for days after. Evaluating The Perfect Workout through the traditional lens of only calories burned during the session would underestimate it’s value because you forget about all the calories you burn AFTER the workout. 

Combining the workout and post-workout estimates, a workout could burn anywhere from 200 to 340 calories. When considering that this all comes from a single 15-20-minute session, the calories spent for your work is definitely a return on investment.

New to slow-motion strength training? Try an Intro Workout today!

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