The Pain Threshold.

There is an old saying that goes “no pain no gain”. As primitive as this sounds it is true. In order to change the body it is important to feel pain in the muscle. People who are incapable of handling the pain during exercise will never see results. When I refer to pain I am not talking about pain associated with an injury, I am talking about the pain of the hydrogen atoms building up in the muscle. When lactic acid builds up in the muscle it reduces the oxygen flow. The muscle gets engorged with blood and the blood has no place to go so it builds up in the muscle. Oxygen is flushed out of the area and lactic acid fills up in the muscle. This causes the pain that is associated with exercise. Most people can’t handle the pain when it comes on, so they most likely use lower weight staying below threshold. Unfortunately, if you stay below threshold you will not see results. In order to gain muscle activity it is important to go beyond the threshold. This threshold is known as the lactate level. Lactate is a product of anabolic metabolism. The higher the lactate level the more intense a person can train without hitting the threshold. Pushing yourself into the threshold is what training is all about. You take the intensity to the point of the pain and then work against the pain a little bit more to boost the threshold. The pain you go through is only short in duration and is the only way to get feedback of knowing if the exercise is working. If you don’t feel the burn by the end of the set then you are wasting your time. In order to get new growth patterns and to active more muscle tissue you have to go beyond threshold.

The nervous system needs to be challenged to establish greater synaptic activity and hormone production. Challenging the nervous system and endrocrine system is how you stay young. As long as you are activating new neuromuscular patterns the cells are constantly getting new stimulation. New stimulation means more cell recruitment. More cell recruitment means less inactivity. Inactive cells are dormant cells that atrophy and influences the aging process. As long as you are constantly regenerating new cells the body will keep hormone production high to keep up with the neural demand. If you don’t establish new cell growth your hormone levels will drop and you won’t be able to restore their levels ever again. Once a hormone is reduced in the body it is gone. This is why people resort to taking steroids when they get older because their body no longer produces enough hormone to keep their body in an anabolic state.

If there is a part of your body that is soft when you try to contract it then you have atrophied tissue and lost neural conductivity to that area. These soft areas can be recharged but they will not be what they once were. The motor units need to be activated and stimulated beyond threshold in order to force new growth patterns. Women, especially, suffer from atrophied muscle tissue and high fat areas. This is because they do more cardiovascular training than weight training. Cardiovascular training is the easy way to exercise. It is easy to walk or jog on treadmill or ride on a elliptical never achieving threshold. This is the easy way out. Weight training is the greatest muscle stimulator of all. People are taught to avoid pain. So when the pain comes on they run from it. They don’t realize that this is what you are supposed to feel. Like I have said before if you don’t exercise correctly you are wasting your time. You have to challenge the systems of the body to the point that the cells have to be recruited to respond to the intensity.

One of the byproducts of working against the intensity is that the capillary beds will increase. When capillaries increase they help deliver more water, oxygen and help clear out carbon dioxide in the muscle. Increase in capillaries is key for fat metabolism and muscle activity. It takes stress to the neuromuscular system to activate the growth of capillaries. Again, another reason why it is crucial to train with the right intensity. If you work below threshold you lose out on developing more capillaries.

You have to use the right intensities to achieve neuromuscular changes. If you train at the Fitness Nut House I will show you how to train to maximize your efforts. What I will show you will save you years of wasted efforts. I will not write in this blog how to do it. You must see me personally if you want the correct methods to knowing how to maximize your efforts in the gym.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

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