Ask Anna: Fitness and Wellness Advice
|ANNA LAMPIGNANO, FULL BIO
• ACE Certified Personal Trainer
• Lifestyle & Weight Management (ACE)
• Post Rehab Specialist
• RTS (Resistance Training Specialist) - Level I
• New York City Ballet (cert. GE)
• Sports Performance Institute (SPI) Levels I & II
• Thai Massage Levels I & II
I've been a runner for most of my adult life and recently took your advice about starting up a weight training program. Thanks, because I saw great changes in my physique initially. I've noticed however that I'm no longer building muscle and I'm not getting any stronger. It's been about 3 months. I was expecting that strength would slow down after awhile but it seems to have completely stopped. I can't work with a trainer at the club during the week, but I was thinking about working with someone near home on the weekends. Any advice?
It's important to remember that the increase in strength in relative newcomers is due, primarily, to a learning effect which is neuromuscular in nature. Such increases and improvement in skill can even take place within the first training session. This is typical for the novice weight trainer. After that, strength changes take place within the following typical pattern:
1) First 2-3 weeks; increase in intermuscular coordination. This describes the functional improvement that takes place as groups of muscles learn to work together.
2) At 4-6 weeks; increase in intramuscular coordination. This describes the enhanced cooperation between the fibres in a specific muscle group.
3) At 6-12 weeks; increase in muscle hypertrophy. When a significant increase in strength, due to growth in muscle tissue, becomes prominent, this is referred to as hypertrophy.
4) After 12 weeks; stagnation. The rate of improvement for structural and functional reasons now reduces, considerably. This is also referred to as the "plateau".
For continued progress, it becomes necessary to determine whether the stagnation is due to neuromuscular or muscle growth factors and then modify the training program accordingly. Often, during this phase (let's call this the panic phase), haphazard trial and error programs are implemented, in pursuit of continued growth, possibly leading to injury.
So, what do you do about it? Something needs to change, however what that is, needs to be determined. Working with a skilled fitness professional would definitely be helpful.
In next month's newsletter, I will be answering another question submitted by a member, that will explain the physiology of muscle growth and how to avoid long stagnant phases in decreased muscle growth or strength.
Thanks for your question, Dave.
Last updated on 4/4/2011 3:05:40 PM