What you need to know when you start Weightlifting
To be a top level Olympic weightlifting coach or athlete, you need to have a basic understanding of the biological principles hat define us as a species and why genetic differences play a huge role in how an athlete needs to train.
That’s not to say that the core fundamentals don’t stay the same. For example, clearly every athlete needs to train the main lifts, subtle genetic differences could mean an athlete has the capability to squat more frequently or that they may respond better to isometric exercises that strengthen the individual portion of the lifts*.
*This is particularly useful for those who come to the sport of weightlifting later in life
General Adaptation Syndrome
General Adaptation Syndrome was first professed by Hans Selye in 1956 when monitoring top level Eastern Bloc athletes, he discovered that non-specific stress upon organisms always causes a physiological response. This means that the body would respond by making an ADAPTATION.
By pushing your body out of its comfort zone and upsetting the normal functioning of it’s physiology, adaptations are borne. It’s the coaches job to ensure that these are positive adaptations that prevent stress from further homeostasis* disruption.
*Homeostasis is the stable state of an organism and it’s internal environment; essentially your body’s equilibrium.
So how does a coach ensure that positive adaptations are made? Well that’s when stressors come into play.
Stressors are factors that cause a disruption in the physiology of an organism. When done properly, they are what cause positive adaptations. A stressor could be a 1RM PR that was particularly taxing. Or a volume PR that creates hypoxia (a severe lack of oxygen to the cells); essentially creating an oxygen demand greater than the body’s current capabilities.
To create positive adaptations, eu-stressors are essential. For a weightlifter these are factors caused by the athlete’s program. An increase in volume, intensity and weight will all create positive changes in the body as long as the athlete is following a periodised program.
If this is the case and the athlete’s program has forced them to overreach, their progress will not only hinder but likely recede. In this case, when an athlete becomes overtrained and suffers side-effects from it: illness, fatigue, anger; then the factors that were once causing positive adaptations have turned to dis-stressors* and the athlete must deload.
*In extreme cases of overtraining, diarrhoea and poor sleep can be caused. No one wants diarrhoea!
Especially if you are a natural weightlifter, having an understanding of protein synthesis is crucial to building muscle optimally.
The key to building muscle is by triggering protein synthesis. This is the process by which your body uses amino acids to build tissue in the form of new muscle protein cells.
After a workout protein synthesis is elevated in the targeted muscles for up to 24 hours. For this reason the traditional bodybuilding style splits of focusing on one major muscle group per day is incredibly inefficient for a natural lifter.
You will plateau quickly as you aren’t providing a high enough frequency to continue to create positive adaptations and force progression in muscle size and your ability to build absolute strength.
In lieu of this, optimal training frequency for a muscle group can be 3-4 times per week. To accommodate this clearly the volume can’t be as high as your traditional bodybuilding style training. Think ‘little and often’ to drive true strength gains. But not too little obviously.
In terms of diet and how that affects protein synthesis, high protein diets (0.8-1g/lb of bodyweight) is optimal for muscle building.
To truly perform at your best you need full glycogen stores in your body and carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of it. Hard training severely depletes your glycogen stores, so properly refuelling is essential. A lack of glycogen hinders the body’s ability to provide protein synthesis and diminishes your muscle building and absolute strength capabilities.
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