How your muscles react to training

Muscles that are used often will react safely to extended use, but those of you who are just beginning the road to fitness may find a different reaction to muscle usage.

The tired, sore muscles that you feel after your first try at fitness can cancel all your desire to be fit. How do you plan a workout without at least one sore spot?

Well - you can't.

You will find that tightening and stretching any muscle group will create structural changes within those muscles that will cause tenderness. Learn to separate muscle soreness from joint and muscle pain. One is the result of healthy use and the other is a warning sign of possible injury.

Your muscles will eventually react to a workout in three ways, with increased strength, endurance and flexibility.

Muscular strength relates to the amount of weight your muscle can lift with one solid single lift. When you do a push-up, for example, you are lifting a set amount of weight, and you can do that lift only so many times.

If you applied an extra weight to your body gradually over a month, you would be able to increase your lift load and hence your muscle strength. When you find that you have reached an impasse on the chin lift bar, try adding a weight to your body gradually in small amounts, and then drop the weight for one day and see how many more pull-ups you will be doing.

A good example is your new pair of aerobic shoes that seem to be 10 pounds heavier when you try to do kicks. Work at it for two weeks and then go back to your old shoes. The height and speed of your kicks will amaze you.

Muscle strength movements are largely anaerobic, meaning they are performed by the fast twitch muscles and do not require a high level of aerobic capacity.

These muscle groups are set aside for one large movement. So most workout programs that incorporate a heavy lifting pattern are scheduled on an "every other day" basis.

Muscle endurance relates to how many times you can lift that leg before it gives out on you. Endurance training is mostly performed by the slow twitch muscles and needs the steady breathing practices of aerobic condition.

Three to five times a week is a good workout schedule to accomplish maximum results. Repetitions of push-ups and pull-ups in large groups, as in 30 to 50 repetitions, is a definition of endurance of that particular muscle group.

It has no, or little, correlation to the amount of weight lifted with one singular movement as in muscle strength. Take time to cool down at the end of your exercise program. Your muscles will love it.

It not only takes the kinks out of your body, it takes the kinks out of your mind. It's your reward for all that sweat.

When you undertake any new exercise sport, you will have sore muscles. Now work on using those muscles constantly with added strength and endurance training to keep them from getting sore again and don't forget the ending stretch.

• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.

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