A New You: The First Steps Towards a Fitness Lifestyle..

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Bodybuilders often get a bad rap when it comes to overall fitness. While most trainers are self-motivated individuals dedicated to building stronger, healthier bodies, the general perception is that they're narcissistic, muscle-bound meatheads. Some may in fact fit this image, but the truth is that the average bodybuilder defies that description.

What bodybuilders have known for years - that resistance training is an integral component of good health - was finally accepted by the scientific community in the Surgeon General's 1996 report on physical activity and health. From the obvious to the more obscure, evidence will be presented showing why resistance training is so important in the overall scheme of fitness. fitFLEX is here to help prove that bodybuilding can make anyone a better person - physically and emotionally.

So, what makes a person physically fit? From the standpoint of exercise science, fitness is composed of five measurable parameters: 1) muscular strength, 2) muscular endurance, 3) body composition (percentage bodyfat), 4) flexibility and 5) cardiovascular conditioning. Of these; increased muscular strength is the most apparent benefit linked to bodybuilding, but all are positively affected.

Hooked on Strength

One of the most exciting aspects of bodybuilding - the draw that gets most who dabble in the sport hooked - is the sudden gains in strength that occur when the human body is first exposed to weight training. Several physiological changes result from resistance training, all the way down to the molecular level but the underlying principle responsible for muscle growth and increased strength is overload. Muscles respond to overload, or a stress greater than they are accustomed to, by initially breaking down (stimulus from training) but then building back up bigger and stronger than before (during rest/recovery).

Overloading the muscles via resistance training results in strength gains because of muscle hypertrophy and neural adaptations. Hypertrophy simply means an increase in the size of muscle fibers. A larger muscle can exert more force and is therefore stronger than one with less mass. The phrase neutral adaptations refers to the changes that take place. In the way Individual muscle fibers are recruited by the nervous system during exercise.

With training, more muscle fibers can be activated in a more efficient manner, resulting in a stronger contraction (greater force or strength).

Yet training for sheer strength is not the same as traditional bodybuilding. Power lifters, for example, train with extremely heavy weights for sets of 1 to 6 repetitions. They get big and strong, but not necessarily lean. To attain maximal mass with minimal bodyfat, bodybuilders have found that lifting heavy weights in a 6 to 10 repetition range works best.

In addition, they typically perform more sets, more exercises and have shorter rest periods than those who train solely for strength. Training this way lets you have your cake and eat it, too - tremendous strength and ripped mass.

Bodybuilding doesn't build only strong muscle, though. The bones and connective tissue grow stronger as well. In essence, the entire body - including the mind - becomes stronger and healthier! The whole process takes on an amazing snowball effect, which all begins when you start weight training.

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