In the fitness industry, there is always more muscle to gain and fat to lose. There are people out there who just want to lose a little bit of fat and feel better about themselves, and there are people who want to lift weights and put on muscle mass. This does not mean that one of these scenarios needs a personal trainer more than the other. Many people believe you only get a personal trainer if you want to lose weight or learn how to start working out. False. A lot of people who seek out coaches and trainers are actually looking for someone to help them increase their muscle mass. This means someone to program weight advances, set and repetition schemes as well as training splits. Weightlifting is a very complex sport that involves a lot of different factors to put the body under stress and build muscle/strength. Wonder why even advanced weightlifters or gym goers could also benefit from having a personal trainer? Keep reading!
In order to build muscle, the body needs to be “overloaded”. Skeletal muscle is composed of myofibrils (give muscle the striation appearance) that make a muscle fiber, which is the basic unit of a contraction. When your brain sends an electrical signal to the muscle, it contracts. This occurs without thinking when we walk or breath; but the better we get at making the mind/muscle connection during weightlifting, the stronger the muscle grows. Another aspect of muscle growth is when you lift heavy weights, you actually breakdown the muscle tissue. When the muscles have time to rest and recover, the muscle fibers fuse together to create a larger myofibril with the use of more nuclei being activated. In order to get this process to occur, the muscle needs to be put under a lot of stress. This means lifting progressively heavier weights, which adds more stress to the muscle and allows them to break down and rebuild bigger and stronger. Even someone who has been training for years may not be lifting weights that are heavy enough for muscle breakdown. This is where a personal trainer comes into the mix. A trainer is going to push you, to give you the weights heavy enough to do some damage. People get ‘comfortable’ in their ways and sometimes are too afraid to lift as heavy as they need to, whether it be because they are alone or because they done want to get an injury. A personal trainer will be there to spot you, push you, and overload the muscles to reach optimal muscle growth.
Another important aspect of weight training most people don’t know about is periodization. Periodization is the systematic planning of an athlete’s training protocol to reach optimal performance during the biggest competition period of the year. Facets of a training program include, sets, repetitions, rest periods, frequency, duration, intensity, training split, weights and exercises. Many weight lifters do the same workouts day in and day out and never see results. This is because of adaptations. When you continue to practice a task, you get better at it and it gets easier. This is also the case for weightlifting. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes because of muscle memory. The body becomes aware that it is doing the same thing over and over again and it becomes easier. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because if you ever take a break or have an injury and get back into weight lifting, the body remembers what it has done in the past and quickly catches back up to where you left off. It is also a bad thing because adaptation occurs. This means as you do the same workout over and over again, the body adapts to the movements and you plateau, making it hard to advance your progress. A personal trainer can make sure your workouts change enough that you do not plateau, because they are hard to get past. Just by simply changing the weight, repetitions or sets of the exercise can advance your program and allow you to continue making progress. It can sometimes be a lot to strategically change your program so that you are progressing forward and reach optimum performance at the right time, but that is where periodization comes in. There are different phases that each person goes through to advance their strength gains and peak at the perfect time, whether it be for a competition, a game, an event etc. A personal trainer has the knowledge of both timing and programming to push past plateaus and continue making strength gains.
3. R & R
Last but not least, rest and relaxation. Many advanced weightlifters find it hard to take a few days off a week from training to rest. For optimal muscle gain, resting the muscles is just as important, if not more, than actually lifting the weights. This allows the muscles to repair and regroup before breaking them down again. A trainer can tell you exactly when to take your rest days and what to do for them. If you are someone who can’t refrain from exercises for a day, then keep it light. Maybe a walk, or stretching and foam rolling for recovery. The body needs time to refuel and repair, so listen to it. Sore, aching muscles is your body’s way of telling your brain to let them be. More often than not weightlifters overtrain and cause permanent damage or injury to the muscle because they don’t listen to what their body is telling them. Overtraining can actually cause a decline in muscle growth and push back progress for weeks. So listen to your trainer when they tell you to take a rest day or two, it could make or break your muscle growth progress.
How many of you knew all of the information in this blog and actually put it to use? If you did, then look no further. You have all the knowledge you need to progress your training program and make strength gains without help. If you did NOT know everything I just stated, then perhaps you should consider hiring a trainer. It does not have to be a long-term agreement, but rather long enough that you gain the information you need to make progress on your own. Good personal trainers are highly knowledgeable about all training styles and can help you reach your goals, whether you are a beginner or not. So as an advanced weight lifter trying to make strength gains; lift heavy, change your workouts and rest your muscles. And if you don’t know how to perform in all 3 of these aspects, hire a trainer to get you started!