Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: resistance training

Explosive training is also the fountain of youth...

This title may look familiar since I just recently wrote about how resistance training is the fountain of youth. Although I certainly am not here to discredit my recent blog, I am certainly here to elaborate on it a bit further based on a recent study.

When you hear about "explosive training," your mind probably leans towards young athletes and how fast and powerful they seem. You almost certainly never think about grandma and her slower pace. Well, according to the above study, explosive training is not only tolerated by individuals well into their 80's, but is highly recommended for healthy aging as well.

Resistance (strength) training is still extremely important. Using maximal, or even sub maximal loads to increase the strength and durability of muscles, bones, connective tissues, etc. is regarded as one of the most effective ways of aging gracefully.

Explosive or power training involves moving less weight, but moving said weight quicker. A really simple example would be either pushing or throwing a ball. Throwing is an explosive action. The above study found that training older individuals with explosive actions helped to improve their reflexive actions.

Strength training involves learning how to activate more muscle in order to move a desired load. Your muscles are made up of many muscle fibers. Although all muscle fibers shorten at once when a muscle contracts, only a certain percentage of them does the work at any given time. Strength training can then be considered a skill by learning how to activate more muscle fibers and therefore generate more force.

Power or explosive training is all about increasing the reaction time between your brain and muscles. The faster your brain can not only get a signal to the muscle fibers, but to also have them contract at a faster rate, the more explosive they can be.

As the study points out, many age-related problems occur due to the risk of falling. Falling happens for a number of reasons, but most often occur due to a slow reaction time. Your brain is usually pretty efficient and effective at recognizing the signs that balance is off, but the time it takes to react to being off balance and therefore correcting the balance can deteriorate over time. Explosive training helps to keep that quickness needed.

This doesn't necessarily mean that grandma needs to do plyometrics, but instead, learn to safely and effectively lift lighter weights safely and quickly.

Resistance Training is the Fountain of Youth

I have been a strong advocate for resistance training for all ages for quite some time now. General activity or even leisure exercise is simply not enough to stave off age-related illness. A recent study decided to examine and compare the health benefits between recreational activities and resistance training.

Lifelong strength training mitigates the age-related decline in efferent drive.


Recently we documented age-related attenuation of efferent drive to contracting skeletal muscle. It remains elusive if this indication of reduced muscle strength is present with lifelong strength training. For this purpose, we examined evoked potentials in the calf muscles of 11 (71±4years) strength trained master athletes (MA) contrasted to 10 (71±4years) sedentary (SO) and 11 (73±6years) recreationally active (AO) old subjects, as well as 9 (22±2years) young controls. As expected, MA had higher leg press maximal strength (MA: 185±32kg; AO: 128±15kg; SO: 106±11kg; young: 147±22kg, p<0.01) and rate of force development (MA: 5588±2488N∙s-1; AO: 2156±1100N∙s-1; SO: 2011±825N∙s-1; young: 3663±1140N∙s-1, p<0.05) than the other groups. MA also exhibited higher m.soleus normalized V-waves during MVC (Vsup/Msup: 0.28±0.15) than AO (0.13±0.06, p<0.01) and SO (0.11±0.05, p<0.01), yet lower than young (0.45±0.12, p<0.01). No differences were apparent between the old groups in H-reflex recorded at rest or during MVC (Hmax/Mmax; Hsup/Msup), and all were lower (p<0.01) than young. MA (34.4±2.1ms) had shorter (p<0.05) H-reflex latency compared to AO (36.4±3.7ms) and SO (37.3±3.2ms), but longer (p<0.01) than young (30.7±2.0ms). Using interpolated twitch analysis MA (89±7%) had similar plantar flexion voluntary activation as young (90±6%), and this was higher (p<0.05), or tended to be higher (p=0.06-0.09) than SO (83±10%) and AO (84±5%). These observations suggest that lifelong strength training has a protective effect against age-related attenuation of efferent drive. In contrast, no beneficial effect seems to derive from habitual recreational activity, indicating that strength training may be particularly beneficial for counteracting age-related loss of neuromuscular function.

When speaking to my clients, colleagues, friends, and family, I always discuss what I would consider to be the 4 pillars of health and fitness:

  1. Cardiovascular Health
  2. Strength
  3. Balance and Coordination
  4. Flexibility and Mobility

To be honest, most of us that are lucky enough to make it to our life expectancy or beyond tend to either decline in all 4 of these categories, or most of them. Sure, staying "active" through leisure activity and recreational exercise is great, and can improve the overall quality of life, it is simply not enough to maximize the overall quality of life as you age. As the above study points out, resistance training is superior to just staying active by maintaining neuromuscular function.

Not only that but in my opinion, it is not only possible, but expected to improve in all 4 of those main pillars using resistance training. Externally loading resistance on our bodies can not only improve strength, but can activate the neurons needed to maintain balance and coordination - sometimes referred to as the "stabilizing muscles."

Also, a properly structured and practiced resistance training program can also take your muscles and joints through their proper, full range of motion improving flexibility and mobility.

Finally, anyone who has lifted weights in a circuit-style complex or used weights as a form of metabolic conditioning will know that resistance training can most certainly improve cardiovascular health.

In short, resistance training is crucial for not only life longevity, but for quality of life as well.

"Dillon and Dutch" - 30 minute Back & Biceps Workout


The scene that inspired the naming of this workout:

Resistance training improves cardiovascular fitness

I have never been a fan of the term "cardio." Personally, I find too many people get their mind stuck with generalizing terms such as "resistance training" and "cardio." The common belief is that resistance training, aka, lifting weights, makes muscles large and bulky and "cardio" is long, drawn-out exercise in which you move your body in a way to get your heart rate up as high as possible for either intervals of time (interval training), or an extended period of time (running, swimming, cycling). In actuality, the lines between various forms of exercise are far less defined.

I have written about this very topic in the past, focusing on the idea that, for whatever reason, "cardiovascular exercise" is believed to be superior for burning body fat. This is simply not true at all.

So, I believe there are two main reasons why individuals use "cardiovascular exercise" (in its most common believed forms - interval training or steady state).

  1. A belief that periods of high heart rate (i.e. interval training), or steady state heart rate (i.e. distance running/swimming/cycling) are superior for weight/fat loss. Although these types of training can be effective for losing weight/body fat, they should by no means be considered superior to an effective resistance training program.

  2. A belief that periods of high heart rate (i.e. interval training), or steady state heart rate (i.e. distance running/swimming/cycling) are superior for training for cardiovascular health.

Remember, the human body responds to stresses placed upon it by adapting in very specific ways. What I would consider "standard" views on cardiovascular fitness (running, cycling, swimming) for extended periods of time, or in short bursts of intense effort (interval training) can be a very effective way of improving cardiovascular fitness. However, it is not the only way.

Neural Adaptations and more - What does this mean for you?

It is interesting to think about observable physiological changes caused by resistance training. Time and time again I see and hear individuals speak of the "gains" made from lifting some weights.

Most people do not understand the underlying processes taking place at a cellular level within the body. This leads to most individuals speaking of making immense gains in size and strength of their muscles after just working out for a few weeks.

Where am I heading with this? Well, increases in muscular size, as well as improvements in strength are not as quick as one might expect. It is all too common for an individual to either start, or return to an exercise regimen after an extended period of being sedentary, only to marvel at how big their muscles are getting, and how much strength they are experiencing.


First of all, let's discuss muscle hypertrophy, or the increase in size of your muscle cells. The "pump" individuals experience from higher repetition resistance training is known as "transient hypertrophy." Basically, this means an accumulation of fluids in the muscle cells, giving them the feeling of being swollen. This is a temporary increase in muscle size and should by no means be considered gaining long-term size. A measurable increase in muscle size will not be witnessed until at least 16 workouts into a resistance training program.*


Another observable and motivating symptom of resistance training is when an individual gains more strength. It can be an intoxicating feeling knowing that you are getting stronger. However, experienced strength gains witnessed by a beginner to a resistance training program are not necessarily what they think they are.

We sometimes perceive our muscles as self-controlling structures that abide by an "all or none" mechanism. This is simply not true. Your muscles are made up of muscle fibers, none of which are thicker than a strand of hair. When your muscle contracts, the entire length of the muscle shortens, however only a small percentage of the muscle fibers contract at any given time.

For example, if you were to pick a pencil up off of a table, a very small percentage of your muscle is actually doing the work to move your arm. However, if you were to be picking up a ten pound weight, more muscle fibers need to be "recruited" in order to lift the weight.

Muscle fiber recruitment is orchestrated by the muscles neurons. One, often overlooked, positive adaptation to resistance training is the improvements in your mind to muscle connection. Basically, your neurons greatly improve their efficiency at "recruiting" muscle fibers.

During the first 8 weeks of a resistance training program for a beginner is the improvement of said neural adaptations.** So, even though one may be experiencing strength gains, this is not due to an increase in muscle size or any measurable improvement in the strength of the muscle itself, instead, it is an improvement in the efficiency of the mind to muscle connection!

What does all of this mean?

For the average person, this should be a convincing argument towards practicing a lifestyle of consistency, especially when it comes to physical activity and resistance training. By going through constant cycles of activity and inactivity, your results will be mostly limited to neural adaptations.

If, however, you wish to gain muscle mass and/or strength, it should be of your best interest to stick to a consistent schedule in order to improve your neural adaptations and beyond.

On the flip side of this argument, and for those who go through periods of inactivity due to injury, etc. remember that strength gains return faster to those individuals who have used resistance training previously. Not only that, but your muscles tend to return to a state of previous strength level in a much faster period of time.

*Staron, R. S., Karapondo, D. L., Kraemer, W. J., Fry, A. C., Gordon, S. E., Falkel, J. E., Hagerman, F. C., & Hikida, R. S. (1994). Skeletal muscle adaptations during the early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women. Journal of Applied Physiology, 76, 463-475.
**Moritani, T., & deVries, H. A. (1979). Neural factors versus hypertrophy in the time course of muscle strength gain. American Journal of Physiological Medicine, 58, 115-130.

Team Fitness for Life Home Gyms

Lately I've been discussing the benefits of working out at home, and I have even shown you my own home gym setup. I put the word out to my Challenge Group for anyone interested in sharing their home gym to send me pics, so that my readers can get an idea just how versatile and unique people's home gyms can be.

Not only that, but understand the dedication involved for many of these gyms to double as other functions in the home. One of the themes or goals of my blog lately, has been to show people that almost anyone can find a bit of space in their home to exercise. The great thing about working out at home, is that even though you may not have a multi-million dollar facility, you also don't need to pay to rent their equipment. You can build your own gym over time and build something great!

John S.

Here are a few photos of my gym - just in a small spare bedroom (no I didn't choose the awesome paint colour and wallpaper!). Started with just the resistance bands for p90x in 2011-12 and a pull up bar (have since upgraded to beachbody pull up system). I purchased the med balls, gymnastic balls, and SelectTech 552s in Dec 2012 to have ready for X2 in January. Just added the SelectTech1090s and bench this week! All in about $1400 but thats just 2 years of gym membership here and I will have it all forever! Also have a fan, and the TV has built in DVD player, use the black bookshelf as a tabletop to "Write it down"

Jeff T.

Here is my workout area. Nothing special. I did all of Insanity/Asylum vol 1 & 2 in my living room. Then moved everything else outside when I started P90X

Jason T. (Part 1)

I'm 6'4" so I need quite a bit of space to maneuver around. Our old living room was too cramped so I moved the kitchen table back and sort of worked out between the kitchen and computer room in the hallway. Trust me, there were plenty of times I cracked my hands and head on those low overhangs you see there lol.

Jason T. (Part 2)

Here's my (current) basement setup. As much as I hate to say it, I'm planning on replacing that awesome orange carpet with some rubber flooring soon. Hopefully early next year.

Dan M.

Sister's old room. Bowflex bench, Power Blocks adjustable dumbbells, EZ curl bars, and workout mat.  Very steak and potatoes.


Brenda M.

My home gym is my living room so I need a system where it can be tucked away easily. Everything is in my living room except the pull-up bar and chin-up assist.
Inventory: dumbbells (2, 5, 10, & 15s), medicine balls x4, resistance bands x6, agility ladder, rumble roller, roller, TV, DVD player, Audio player, yoga mat, push-up stands, Insanity, Asylum Volumes 1&2, P90X, P90X2, Power 90, 10 min. Trainer, TurboFire, T25, T25 Gamma. not pictured - pull-up bar (for doorway) and chin-up assist. I  also workout at least 2 times per week at work! There, it is a classroom, DVD/projector and a yoga mat!


Brent G.

I workout in the 3rd car garage area of my house. I love it in this room. I have a large rug for cushioning and my TV is an old one with a built in DVD and VHS player. My other gear includes stability ball, bowflex select tech dumb bells, a couple free weight dumb bells, homemade medicine ball, yoga mat, ab roller, and the pull up bar hangs in the door frame. This room also holds all my other "toys". You can see my skis and my bicycles hang up behind the main picture.

Greg H.

Fridge has water bottles & shakers ready for pre workout & post / recovery shakes .
A Years worth of workouts already to go, beside the TV,
Love my garage, man heaven !

Robert G.

Here is my area. I think it's taken me like 4 years or so to get all the equipment I have. I still need to buy some heavier weights but maybe next year. Oh and I remember trying to sell the TV I use for the longest time but glad I never did.

Andrew B.

I started into fitness about 12 years ago.  I was overweight so I got a treadmill.  After losing a lot of weight it was time to bulk up.  For that I got a bowflex.  When I progressed beyond that I started to lift free weights.   Recently I have been getting into Beach Body programs to add dynamic training to my workouts.  This was a good excuse to buy a lot of fun equipment (pull up bar, bands, medicine balls, etc...).

Gary W.

Larry N.

Another interesting tidbit about my home gym that my wife and I put together. We actually met in a commercial gym, training at 4am. I figured anyone dedicated to their workouts like I am is worth dating! We are still together 17 years later!

Scotty C.

My home gym doubles as a living room. I had to modify the pull-up bar because my door frame is wider than all pull-up bars on the market, some PVC pipe, foam covering to ensure that it doesn't destroy my door frame and tape to hold it all together. Bowflex 1090's, 1 rumble roller, 1 foam roller, 4 medicine ball, 2 stability balls, a bench, resistance bands, e-z curl bar with 2 35's, 2 25's, 4 10's, 2 5's, and 2 2.5's, Tony Horton PowerStands, yoga mat and jump mat, I use both for yoga, because yoga mat on carpet doesn't work, and an Indo Board.

Scott N.

I converted one of the guest bedrooms into my home gym. It's a gradual work in progress and it gets the job done. Buddha's there for encouragement:)


Weekly Newsletter

Hey Everybody

We are now less than a month away from the launch of P90X3! The holidays are also right around the corner, which also means the start of a New Year! Without further ado, let's get right into this week's topics of interest:

1. As mentioned above, P90X3 launches in less than a month - orders start on December 10th. Remember that if you order before December 15th, Beachbody will have it in your hands by Christmas. If you are interested in doing the program yourself, and want the motivation of a Challenge Group, join us here.

2. A real quick heads-up. My next Beachbody Coach Training is slated to begin on Monday December 2nd. I have had a ton of interest for this training already, and am already starting to plan ahead for yet another group to start on Monday January 6th, so if either of these dates sound appealing to you, let me know. December is a good time to start because you will already have a month's worth of training under your belt prior to the health and fitness rush at the beginning of the year. On the other hand, if you wish to start 2014 off with an exciting new business opportunity, then that option is open too.

3. Here is a good laugh for you (in case you missed it from Facebook). I am sure this is what people think of when I tell them I workout at home...

4. Great article from Men's Health Magazine - 4 Exercises Trainers Hate.

5. Another great article, this time from the Business Insider - 9 Lies About Fat that Destroyed the World's Health.

6. This week's blogs:

The best time to workout is?...
INVESTING in your health!
"But what do you do for cardio?"

7. And from the blog archive:

Build Muscle, Lower Body Fat
Pull-ups/Lat Pull-downs Hand Positions
Resistance Training for Runners
Sign of Overtraining
My Thoughts on Crossfit

And 2 favors that I ask:

1) If you like the hard work I put into writing my blogs and videos, PLEASE help me out by sharing them.  Click the share links below them and share them on FB, Twitter, etc.  It really helps me get more exposure and grow our team!

2) Also, as always, remember that the way I benefit from being your coach is that I earn a commission from any Beachbody products that you purchase, as long as you buy them through my site, tylerrobbinsfitness.com. It helps with the amount of time I spend answering all your questions, writing my blogs, filming my videos, and helping you out. Thank you! I really appreciate it!

Everyone have a great week!

Day 365 - A Year's Worth of Blogs

Well, a year ago today, I set out with this crazy goal/mission to post a blog every single day for 365 straight days. Today, marks the successful completion of said goal with my 365th straight blog!

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