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Are Bodybuilders Strong (Or Just Bigger but Weaker)?

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Are Bodybuilders Strong (Or Just Bigger but Weaker)?

“All you have inside your arms, is water. And water doesn’t make you strong” This is what a girl once told me, after touching my biceps.

At that time I was training nearly every day per week. This sentence from a girl is the last thing that you want to hear when you spend most of your free-time training in a fitness center. It turned out that the girl was extremely body conscious and unhappy in her own skin. She was speaking out of envy.

Increased muscle size is not due to water, but mainly due to an increased amount of muscle cells. The amount of muscle cells in your body is a crucial factor in determining physical strength, but surprisingly not the only one.

Physical Strength Comes In Multiple Forms

Before I explain what physical strength is, we first have to define the term properly. For one person, strong is defined as doing 100 push ups; for another person, it is bench pressing 225 pounds.

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While all these different definitions may be part of being strong, According to the dictionary, strength is the organisms capability of exerting force on physical objects.

The Factors Of Strength

One of the factors to physical strength, are how many muscle cells you possess in your body.

The muscle cells contain elements that shorten on command. The shortening of the elements creates a shortening of the entire muscle, which creates a movement in the joint. If you have bigger muscles due to your training, you’re increasing the amount of your muscle cells. You’re having more elements that are able to shorten on command. Due to having more elements, there will be more force that can be applied to the joints. Therefore technically, more physical strength.

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    But muscle cells are not the only things that are important for physical strength. I previously stated that muscle cells contain elements, that shorten on command. The command comes from nerve cells. Generally neurons, this is a fancy word for nerve cells, adapt fast to your workout schedule. The adaptation of your nervous system is responsible for most of your strength gains within the first few months of training, where your brain is simply learning to activate your muscle cells more efficiently. Strength is limited by your neural activation.

      Another part that can limit your physical strength is your nutrition. If your muscles don’t have the right energy to create the force, they won’t be able to shorten on command properly.

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        The House Building Analogy

        An easy way to understand the muscle cells relation with strength, is the house building analogy. Imagine that you were trying to build a house. For that endeavor, you’re hiring a company with construction workers, which will be working at your construction site full time. The construction workers are your muscle cells.

        Naturally you want to finish the house building process as soon as possible. The house building process is your strength. The faster you build a house, according to this analogy, the more strength you have in your body. Increasing the number of the construction workers might speed up the process, but it’s not the only factor.

        If the construction workers don’t have the right manager, the manager is your brain, they will slack off during work and play angry birds. If the construction workers don’t have the right tools, the tools being your nutrients, you will never finish the house.

        Physical strength is a combination of these factors. Muscle cells are not solely responsible for creating physical strength, yet they play a crucial part.

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          Strength Are What Muscles Are For

          If you have a lot of muscles, you can also expect to be strong. As we’ve seen the amount of your muscle cells are not the only factor in determining your strength, yet they’re a crucial one.

          Generally your body will adapt all factors due to weightlifting. It will increase the amount of muscle cells, the neural connections and the nutrient uptake. One of the best ways to even get muscular, is building extreme strength.

          When you’re training in the gym: try to increase the weight of your work-set. Keep the repetitions between 6-12 most of the time. This way your body will adapt all it’s structures to increase your physical strength.

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          You can watch an animated video about this topic by clicking here.

          More by this author

          Florian Wüest

          Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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          Last Updated on January 5, 2022

          7 Practical Stretching Tips to Enhance Your Next Workout

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          7 Practical Stretching Tips to Enhance Your Next Workout

          Stretching is one of the most essential aspects of a healthy fitness routine. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Instead of thinking of this activity as a separate entity, consider stretching as a continuation of your exercise routine. By making stretching tips a part of your workout, you won’t neglect the attention your muscles and joints require to perform effectively.

          Whether using stretching as a way to wake up, get your mind in the game, or recover from strenuous activity, your body will reap its short-term and long-term benefits. In the moment, stretching is a great way to warm up the body and prevent yourself from overextension and injury. In the long run, stretching daily can help loosen your tendons and muscles, and ultimately help you maintain a full range of motion later in life.

          Taking these ideas into consideration, follow these 7 simple tips for stretching to add stretches back into your workout vocabulary.

          1. Stretch and Stretch Often

          Ultimately, your body can benefit from stretching daily. Many of us experience a somewhat stationary lifestyle at work, so we naturally need to warm up our bodies after remaining immobile for long periods of time.

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          With only ten minutes of stretching, you can increase your strength, balance and flexibility. From working out to waking up in the morning, slow, easy movements can warm up the body. Just remember to be gentle; any jarring movements can cause injury and muscle tear.

          For the best results, hold each stretch for at least sixty seconds[1].

          2. Warm up Before a Workout

          Similar to establishing a daily stretching routine, warming up the body pre-workout is vital for having a successful session and one of the most important stretching tips. Just grabbing your foot to stretch your calf for a couple seconds could actually harm your body, so make sure you begin slowly and take your time.

          Attempting any exercise with “cold muscles” or without “waking up the body” will also hurt your body and cause muscle pulls and tendon tears. Try taking a short walk or elongating your stretches for optimal results.

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          3. Gauge Your Tension

          Stretching should never be painful. Monitor how your muscles feel as you stretch. Naturally, you should feel some mild tension, but don’t push yourself past the edge of discomfort.

          If you’re starting to experience sharp pain or sensations that gradually get more severe, you are doing something wrong. Try to focus on one area at a time so you are only pushing yourself so far. When you begin to feel comfortable stretching, deepen your stretch, but don’t over-exert yourself.

          4. Avoid Bouncing

          Stretching tips don’t often mention this, but bouncing can be one of the most detrimental things you can do to your body while stretching. When your body constantly shifts, your muscles can tighten, and you can increase the risk of pulling or tearing a tendon. Find your balance or focal point, and remain steady.

          When in doubt, try using a mirror to watch yourself stretch to improve your form. Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor or trainer for someone to monitor your posture and stance[2].

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          5. Just Breathe

          One of the main benefits of stretching is its ability to help the mind and body relax. Therefore, try to breathe normally and make sure you don’t hold your breath[3].

          As you deepen your stretch, make sure to inhale and exhale slowly. Any abrupt, fast breathing or lack of breathing can cause tension in your body and increase your risk of injury. Make sure you are comfortable so that your mind focuses on the task at hand.

          6. Vary Your Routine

          While stretching, don’t forget to work on opposing muscles and incorporate as many muscle groups as possible in your routine for a holistic workout. Also, one of the most important stretching tips I can offer is to change your routine often so you don’t get bored.

          Often, boredom can cause carelessness and a loss of focus, which, in turn, can cause injuries. Look to Yoga workouts[4] or Pilates classes, as they are great resources for finding new stretches.

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          7. Always Remember to Cool Down

          Stretching is also an excellent form of recovery to avoid muscle soreness. Don’t overlook this part of a workout, as it releases the tension in your body and increases blood flow to muscles that are warm and worked. Cooling down can prevent injury and decrease your heart rate after an intense workout. Do what you can to help your body quickly recover from your daily exercise routine.

          Final Thoughts

          Stretching tips are vital when participating in an active lifestyle. However, your body needs fuel to assist you through these daily routines. Therefore, don’t forget to eat the right foods and stay hydrated. Not only do you replenish your body with fluids and nutrients lost, but you can keep your muscles strong and ready for the next routine.

          If you struggle with stress and anxiety, stretching can help you move into a calmer headspace and find both mental and physical balance. Furthermore, stretching can help you and your body focus on something else, which will help you move past the stress.

          As you plan your next workout, incorporate time for pre and post-workout stretches to see how it improves your exercise experience.

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          More Stretching Tips

          Featured photo credit: Oksana Taran via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Harvard Health Publishing: The ideal stretching routine
          [2] Harvard Health Publishing: Six tips for safe stretches
          [3] Penn State: Balance, Breathing and Flexibility
          [4] Health: Best Yoga Poses for Your Trouble Spots

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