As the saying goes: “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger!” This principle can be proven to be true as you try to understand the principles of effective exercise. Our body responds to stress by adapting to it if the stress introduced is still at a healthy physiological limit. To be more specific, our muscles get stronger as we subject them to resistance, our cardiovascular system adapts by being more effective in supplying the body with oxygenated blood during prolonged periods of exercise and our respiratory system also becomes more effective in utilizing this oxygen as you undergo prolonged training. With effective exercise, your body gets better in time.
The question is, what are the parameters in which you should exercise? How would you know if you are still within that normal physiologic limit? The usual practical answer that you will get is listen to your body. Usually, when you exercise, you stop when your brain already tells you to stop. But recent studies prove that your brain tells you to stop, even if your body can still perform. This can be made possible via a chemical mediator in your brain called interleukin-6.
Timothy Noakes, M.D., an exercise and sports science professor at the University of Cape Town, says that before our body actually runs out of fuel for energy, our brain already sends signals of pain. This is actually a protective mechanism of the body to avoid any possibility of injury.
In other words, our brain dictates that the body shuts down even before it runs out of fuel. If you want to maximize your work-out regimen, you have to learn the techniques of elite athletes like Michael Phelps and Lance Armstrong during training. They are able to give out a bit more because they have learned techniques on how they can’t be fooled by their brain when it dictates them to stop.
Maybe you are now wondering how could you do it too. Here is an example:
If you want to increase your repetitions during bench press:
- You must set a goal
- Rather than telling yourself that you can perform 6-10 repetitions, you must tell yourself that you can do 10 repetitions. When you stick to your goal, you are more likely to achieve it.
- Make sure that the mechanics of your exercise is correct
- When doing bench press, make sure that you practice with an empty bar first to assure that your body mechanics is correct. Once you are satisfied with your form, you may proceed to bench press with a particular resistance. Push the bar fast, then lower it down slow.