Boys grow abdominal muscles during puberty

Strength training: "The muscles have to burn to grow"

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Today it is no longer only musclemen who dare to take on the heavy weights in the gym. Because strength training brings many health benefits - and more and more people proudly present their muscles to the world on social networks. The German sports scientist Ingo Froböse advises to approach strength training professionally from the start - and not to be afraid of heavy weights.

DEFAULT: What role does self-optimization play in strength training for amateur athletes today?

Frobose: The body is increasingly being styled - and the muscles are the medium that is used for this. You can already see this in children and adolescents who flaunt their bodies on social networks.

DEFAULT: How does the entry into strength training work correctly?

Frobose: I recommend that beginners learn to perform the movements smoothly, i.e. start with light weights and very low repetitions. The next step is to increase the number of repetitions to improve strength endurance. The third stage is about muscle building training: This involves working on the volume of the muscles by increasing the weight. The repetitions are done until the muscles are energetically empty. The muscles have to burn to grow. In the next step, I improve my muscular horsepower by choosing the highest loads and only doing one to six repetitions.

DEFAULT: What time span are we talking about here?

Frobose: If you want to make that very complex, then from a year. The first four weeks are getting used to, since you can work with body weight. Then it goes to the devices. It takes the longest to build muscle.

DEFAULT: That sounds very professional.

Frobose: In any case. No YouTube video helps, you really have to be guided. A training plan has to be individual so that you choose the right loads. Otherwise you invest a lot of time and you will not be successful. That would be a shame.

DEFAULT: Very important for many beginners: When do you see the first results?

Frobose: You can feel the first results after two weeks. You get a better posture and feel the muscle tension. The right muscle building certainly takes three months.

DEFAULT: What mistakes are made in training?

Frobose: The most common mistake is that the weight load is clearly too high. Often you want too much too soon. The second mistake is that the movement is done too hastily. It is better to do very slow, calm movements so that the muscle is properly burned out. It is also important to use the amplitude of movement in the joint as much as possible so that every muscle fiber is addressed.

DEFAULT: They say it should burn. But how painful can training do?

Frobose: Burning doesn't mean that it hurts. It is the feeling that the muscle is really tired energetically and one cannot do any more repetitions. Pain is always a warning sign to stop at.

DEFAULT: Did you do something wrong if you got sore muscles the next day?

Frobose: Sore muscles are not a disease. It is a reaction of the body to a high level of stress. In the process, tissue breaks and small inflammations occur, which you notice after 18 to 24 hours. But of course I don't have to and may not produce and provoke muscle soreness with every training session.

DEFAULT: What role does regeneration play in training?

Frobose: It takes the muscle about 72 hours to build. So if I go to the gym every day and use the same muscle group, the muscle will never grow properly. If you want to train more often, you have to train different muscle groups on different days. A muscle group only needs two or a maximum of three training units of around 30 minutes per week.

DEFAULT: What are the limits of muscle growth?

Frobose: The genes play a major role in this. I can't make a racehorse out of a brewery horse. There are so-called no gainers who train like crazy and still not put on any muscles. In many cases, however, you cannot see the muscles because they have too thick subcutaneous fat that covers everything. If you want a six-pack, you have to combine strength training with endurance training to reduce the subcutaneous fat. Otherwise the six-pack is there, but you can't see it.

DEFAULT: What are the health benefits of strength training?

Frobose: The muscles are our largest metabolic organ. Your muscles burn energy even when you are at rest while you are sitting on the couch. And the older you get, the more important your muscles become. They keep us mobile, independent and alive. They make me carry my shopping bag and go up the stairs. And the nice thing is: muscles are always at their maximum during puberty, because our muscle cells do not live to be more than 15 years old before they renew themselves. This means that older people also have young muscle cells.

DEFAULT: But doesn't it get more difficult with age?

Frobose: Yes, but not because the muscle cell can no longer do it, but because the transmission from muscle to nerve deteriorates. For older people, this means that they primarily train the large muscle fibers and should also dare to use higher weights.

DEFAULT: What role does diet play in building muscle?

Frobose: A big. On the one hand, this requires building blocks, i.e. proteins. In intensive training times, this can be 1.5 to two grams per kilogram of body weight spread over the day. An amount of 0.8 to one gram is normal, but the body also needs additional energy - in muscle building phases that is around 150 to 200 kilocalories more in carbohydrates.

DEFAULT: Do you need protein shakes and energy bars?

Frobose: Not if you eat properly - for example with quark products, tofu, soy products, fish, meat, legumes and grain products. If you pay a little attention to your diet and always eat it in small portions throughout the day, everything is good.

DEFAULT: What do you recommend as additional training?

Frobose: Endurance training. And very important: only long muscles look beautiful, nobody wants bulky, puffed up muscles. That's why I would always stretch the day after muscle training so that the muscles are stretched. I can also highly recommend yoga or pilates. (Franziska Zoidl, 8 July 2018)