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Get Big With Light Weights

Maybe you’re hurt, maybe you’re overtrained, maybe you’re spending a week at your in-laws with only a pair of pink dumbbells at your disposal, but sometimes you just can’t lift heavy.

Luckily, a study out of Japan has shown that you can still keep your muscular gains—and even make some more—with light weights. Scientists found that when a group of athletes performed very slow reps to failure (three-second concentric and eccentric motions) with just 50 percent of their one-rep max, they made size gains that were equal to those who trained with much heavier loads. (They did not make the same gains in strength, though.) The researchers hypothesize that oxygen deficiency within the muscle cells is the reason, as it causes the concentration of lactic acid in the blood to rise, which results in the increased secretion of anabolic hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone.


The Biggest Belt To Your Delt

Scientists recently studied how various stability requirements effect muscle activation in the deltoids by measuring electromyogram activity during a number of shoulder exercises. A group of men performed one-rep max shoulder presses with a barbell, dumbbells, seated and standing. For the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, the standing dumbbell press consistently elicited greater muscle activation than seated presses or standing barbell presses. (Although the biceps and triceps were stimulated to a greater extend with standing barbell the shoulder press than dumbbell press.) And while the standing dumbbell shoulder press (which demands the most stabilizer muscles) activated the most muscle fibers, it was the exercise in which the lifters had the weakest one-rep maximum. While this doesn’t mean you should stack a Bosu ball on a balance board for your next shoulder workout, make sure you aren’t performing too many variation of the seated shoulder press.


Slow Cardio For Fast Recovery

After a marathon 48-set back-and-biceps workout, the last thing you want to think about is a cardio machine, but it might be the best thing for you. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of low-intensity cardio after a ball-busting workout. A group of athletes was subjected to a lower-body workout the elicited a high degree of muscle damage.


A group that performed 20 minutes of cycling (at 30 percent of their max heart rate) experienced the best indicators of recovery over the next four days, compared to the groups that either did nothing after the workout or those who did more intensive cardio. According to the researchers, easy cardio performed post strength training increases blood circulation. This aids recovery in two ways: It reduces the level of waste products from the tired muscles while it also increases the amount of anabolic nutrients that flow through the muscles. IM




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