How to Activate Muscle Fibers

How to Activate Muscle Fibers

Heylo everyone,

How to Activate Muscle Fibers

I loved the headline of the front page, of today’s times of India : BJP winner, Cong Zero and AAP hero. People like Arvind kejriwal, brings home the point that honest efforts, put with complete focus and determination have the power to move, out of their way, the biggest of hills/mountains(congress). I am inspired. Are you inspired too? Let us together bring about a fitness revolution. I know a big dream.. but we can try, what say?:)

This article is for those who think that it is only cardio that helps in fat burning. Thing is that cardio does help in fat burning to some extent but this type of fat burning reaches a platform soon.  And as soon as the platform is reached then the normal cardio activity will only create a calorie deficit for that day. As soon that calorie deficit is compensated, you stand a chance to gain all lost weight. So if your grunt is the yo -yoing weight or weight loss plateau then read on.. I will tell you this calorie deficit thing with an example:


You do an aerobics class today and burn x number of calories.  Along with it you decide to eat less number of calories so for today your calorie input is less than your calorie output. You have created a calorie deficit for today. In simple words, this calorie deficit means that you ‘burned’ more calories than you ate.

The question is.. Does this burning of calories or calorie deficit makes us slim or makes us lose weight?.. Ummmm.. yes/no.. That depends on from where the calories/energy came from? Did it come by burning the fat deposited in our body? or by burning the food that we ate earlier in the day or the day before?

I will tell you where these calories came from.. for the obese, it comes by burning the fat deposited in their body. This is the reason that obese people start losing weight even after they start walking. But then their comes a stage where they will kill themselves on the treadmill or spinning bike or for the matter with some other cardio activity but the fat will not budge. Welcome to the weight loss plateau.

The calorie deficit philosophy is very very old now. Honestly, just paying attention to calorie deficit, does not make you slim esp after you have reached the weight loss plateau. As I said that you might not be burning fat, you might be burning calories from the food/blood sugar that was there in your blood at that time. When we exercise, we derive energy from different pathways. It is very very important to understand the energy pathways for different exercises.   I will discuss it some other time.

I have been asked so many times that we were doing this and we lost a lot of weight with it but it is not working for us anymore. We keep getting our weight back as soon as we are off the track. On the other side, I have been told so many times, that I did this, then I switched to this. Now I am in a condition when even if I take a workout break for 1 week at a stretch or I cheat very frequently then also, I do not gain weight easily. Fat loss will be long term or short term depends highly on the kind of training and eating.

Pheww! Generally what  helps in long term fat burning? Answer is simple Muscles, Variety and maintaining a stable blood sugar level by eating small, simple meals every 2 hours.

I want to talk about muscles activation today. I hear this term quite often in my gym and yoga class. The coaches will keep telling us “activate your core muscles”, “activate your leg muscles”. Initially, I use to feel lost then one one day, I asked my coach to make this instruction more implicit. Here is what it mean..

When we lift a very very light shopping bag. We do not feel any tension in our muscles. Neither do our arm muscles feel tiered even after lifting the bag for long. But if we lift a 10kgs shopping bag then suddenly our arm muscles get tensed. They become tighter. And soon they get tiered too. Now this is one example of activation of arm muscles. It is the tension in the muscles that activate them. And it is this tension in the muscles that is conducive for muscular growth. One more example is, you are often asked to activate your leg muscle. How to do that?. Pull your knee caps up. Your quads muscles, will take up a shape. It will acquire some tension.. Ho gai  leg muscles activate :)

To go deeper into muscle fiber activation. I want to introduce you to some important terms related to Muscle Fiber activation.

Concentric Contraction

How to Activate Muscle Fibers

Simple example is bicep curl. There is a resistance, say a dumb bell in our hand. There is already tension in our muscles. Now we curl our bicep muscles to make that resistance (dumb bell) travel some distance against gravity. From newton’s’ law. force* distance= Work. So basically we work-out our bicep muscles by curling that weight. The time in which we do it tells the power we apply using our bicep muscles. How? Force*distance/Time = power (remember?). Now this power comes from the curling or coming together of bicep muscles.

The more the power developed in our muscles, the finer/dense/stronger muscle fibers we develop. Think of power lifting and think of fast twitch fibers that I talked about HERE

2. Isometric Contraction

How to Activate Muscle Fibers

Is it just curling of muscles that build muscles? Nopes.. Think of a plank. Our muscles are of the same length in a plank. They are not changing in length. They are not curling but still after few seconds, into the plank,  we start feeling dead.. All the core muscles in our body get worked up. That means an exercise like plank in which muscle length does not change also create tension in the muscle. That mean it also activate the muscles? Yes such exercises are called isometric exercises. They activate the deepest of muscles. They activate the stabilizer muscles. The sexiest, leanest and the strongest body is of those, who have a well trained stabilizer muscles. They have the best posture. Look around and check out the bodies of well conditioned people fighters, athletes, deepika padukone :) )

3. Eccentric Contracion

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Okay after holding a 10kgs weight in your arms for say 10 mins, you feel an immense burn that means now your muscles have exhausted the energy to hold the weight. So you will slowly bring you hands back to the starting position. At this time, your bicep muscle is doing an action opposite to that of curling action i.e this time the muscle is lengthening and is still under under tension. So that means that even while lengthening the muscle is activated.

A big article it has turned out to be .. Now just 2 points I will make..

1. When we contract our muscles using these three forms of activation. We wear- tear our muscles. So after we are done with the workout then our muscles come into a repairing mode. This is the reason it is advised to eat good quality, natural proteins as a post workout meal(protein repair you see). Also at this time muscles need energy to go for the repair. Where does this energy come from? Muscles help in fat burning. Heard this before? Now you know how the reason :) ) Muscles also need rest after an intense session. We rest, we  eat good food, our muscle repair,  we build new muscle. All of this at the expense of fat burning. How cool is that?:)

In your workout, have all three types of contraction. Do less reps with but heavy weights. Do slow weight lifting, power lifting, stabilization exercises et all..

2. When you work any muscle then make sure you work all the muscles surrounding that joint. So if you do a crunch for abs then do a superman or a bridge pose for the back. A plank is a superb core workout. In a plank we engage all the core muscles i.e muscles sorounding the spine… like abs, back, traps, gluteus.. etc For a strong spine and for strong spinal muscles, plank it up!. Stabilization exercises are enough in themselves. No Superman after Plank. Do Abs after superman :) ) Come in a plank, close your eyes and feel the muscles that are engaged. These muscles make up the core.. 1 minute into the plank position, you will feel the core muscles better.. Try it :)

There is more to muscle fiber activation and fat burning.. Do functional training..walk with weights in your hands(farmer walks), lift typres, climb ropes. sit by the wall, without a chair, do yoga, Pilates, sprinting, power skipping, plyometric, power kicking, HIIT. Challenge yourself with variety.

Very long article.  More on functional training later. I will put finger on my lips now  *zip*

Loads of Love
Nidhi

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36 thoughts on “How to Activate Muscle Fibers

    1. Nidhi

      Good question Sakhi. This is the plank
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=235682003259475&set=a.232857783541897.1073741828.232655220228820&type=1

      Common mistakes: Bums are not straight and are pointed up.. This take the effort from the core to the ham strings.

      Keep your body like a straight line, like a wooden plank. Shoulder blades, pulled downwards and towards each other. keep elbow joint, just below the shoulder joint. Come on your toes. Got it?

       
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  1. Ankita

    ohh..what a great piece of info…I loved it…and it is esp useful for me…I m doing yoga for 3 days a week these days but since I m so used to sweating profusely, somehow I do not feel satisfied :P I feel better about choosing yoga now :) this is one of your best articles I must say :)

     
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    1. Nidhi

      Thanks Ankita.. Yaa you know sometimes, I get motivation to write just to talk with everyone.. btw.. I am still in gurgaon :P .. will leave tmrw. Come again on friday.. Then we meet pakka :) ) You enrolled for classes somewhere?? How is it??v :) )

      You know Ankita.. I run a lot and I am generally a very simple eater still I do not lose substantial fat with running. I can only yo-yo with it. This is because my body knows running very well. So new challenge is always needed. This time ashtanga, hula hoop and double unders..or may be change in running format.. Got some free weights too.. Will start using them soon. Weights, compound exercises and functional training are Superb

       
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        1. Ankita

          yup lets meet this weekend :) and I like this font a lot :) yep, i enrolled for 1 month for power yoga classes- 3 days a week…I do like it but it is considerably low-intensity than what I m used to…so I have mixed feelings about it now…i like high intensity workouts more :D although the trainer is quite good.. yup changing workouts is so much fun and that is why i miss my old place…I also joined a gym for other 3 days, its a basic gym…no classes as such but still some workout is better than no workout so I m doing it….still looking out for my ultimate fitness studio… :) you do so many different workouts :) and you know them all :) I hope I also learn so many different things sometime :)

           
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  2. Rajani @ Perfecting the Imperfections

    Heya Nidhi great write up.. I learnt a lot tru this.. I started with abs crunches from today.. getting to know what all muscles r der hehehe :P

    BTW Nidhi why are d font so big and bold???

    Also i got Deanne Pandey’s both the books today… will start with first book from today :)

     
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    1. Nidhi

      Awesome Rajani.. Happy reading.. You do saws and planks instead of crunches.. Even I felt that shall I reduce the font size or change the font type.. Suggest.. I will chaneg accordingly :)

       
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  3. Neha Damani

    Hi nidhi, very useful information.i was badly in need of this information. .thanks now all doubts are cleared…kal se weights jyada but reps kam wil surely try this…was using same weights since so long and increasing my reps…

     
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      1. Neha Damani

        Will surely start…once agn thanks….nidhi pls write on some protein diet plans….I would very much thankfull to you.

         
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  4. martina

    heya nidhi.. :) loved d article it is so much informative can’t tell u n i love doing planks specially side planks……:) :D nidhi plzzz do some post for workout only share some workout routine :)

     
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  5. martina

    heya nidhi.. :) loved d article it is so much informative can’t tell u n i love doing planks specially side planks……:) :D nidhi plzzz do some post for workout only share some workout routine :) :D

     
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  6. Shruti,

    You know this is one of your best articles, though it might be a little over the top for beginners but I loved it. Again, the way you organize your thoughts is just awesome, I completely enjoyed reading this. Brilliant piece :)

     
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    1. Nidhi

      Thanku Shrusii.. I also thought ki thoda techy hai.. ab next few days, I will write lighter topics. You good now? went to the gym today? Mine was a rest day today

       
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  7. Shreyashi

    Thanks Nidhi! I love your articles :) I think the technical stuff you explain is actually the USP of your style of writing, because you actually break them down into simple information snippets :) All fitness websites write how strength training is important, but a lot of them don’t write what to do to maximise the effect. And you’re one of the few writers who do :)

     
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    1. tanvi

      Can’t put it in any way better than that. I agree 100 percent Shreyashi. Nidhi, superb article! LOL at fighters, athletes, Deepika Padukone. She does deserve the special mention :-)

       
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  8. Shaima shamim

    Hi Nidhi. I fall in the same category as mentioned above. I am really happy with aerobics . But we’ve started weights with 1 kg dumbells. So pls tell me whether to increase the weights as we are doing the same weight since past 2 months. Also I want to add that I am still not very comfortable with these 1 kgs, I mean I still feel pressure on my arms. So whether to wait till I become at ease with these and then increase the weights or what do u suggest.

     
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      1. Shaima shamim

        Oh yes..I have lost inches . See I started my weight loss in the month of August 13. Every month I had reduced an inch overall ( I mean waist, hip,tummy,arms,calf shoulders etc…we measure and record) but last month in November, I just reduced my waist size and everything else was the same. Though I had reduced my weight, I wasn’t so happy coz the body didn’t loose much inches. So if that’s what u meant.

         
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  9. nitasha

    Hi nidhi ..dat was a lovely article..I go to gym daily.but do only cardios..nd then few excersises for abs tights nd hips (one day for nor part).after reading this article am going to startvwith weights tomorrow..:)….is it ok if I eight train twice nd other 3 days do other floor excersise …

     
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  10. shilpa

    Nidhi super article nidhi :) :) i tho liking every bit of it. I am going to gym from past 1 year still crib for no results ( i mean i got results but i m struck with same weights from 6 months ) as i m little irregular n cheat sme times. i will make sure i ll extract every bit of this blog n start using ur tips while working out. I want 2 cme with my weight loss story also one day :) :) BTW i din unstan ur last point its little confusing. Is it after crunches we hae 2 do plank / superman ?

     
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    1. Nidhi

      Hi Shilpa.. do abs and back together.. planks are sufficient in themself as thry engage back, abs and other core muscles simultaneously :) )

       
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  11. Ramya

    I read this article yesterday but I got busy and I wanted to type a proper comment :)
    I loved everything u said!! It was totally needed for me! Nidhi I went to gym yesterday and I have gone soft :( I did core and I swear I struggled a lot :(
    I have doubts: Eccentric contraction is what is used to build mass then? I mean to make muscles look bigger? Bcoz most machines seem to work on that concept na. And does Naukasana come under isometric contraction? My trainer makes me do a dynamic sort of naukasana (I dont know how to explain it actually) And then hold it for the last 20 secs.
    I also wanted to ask u, when my leg wasnt in working condition, would it have been ok for me to use the leg curls machine for working out glutes all this while? And the abduction machine for outer n inner thighs? I normally never use these machines but my trainer said that during injury it is good to use these machines and do isolation rather than not work out at all… Was he right?
    Now I wrote a mini post :|

     
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    1. Nidhi

      Ramyaaaa.. Machines do concentric plus eccentric i.e shortening plus lengthening of muscles. Injury main machines are a good idea.. This machine thing has become obsolete because a particular machine hits any particular muscle only in one plane. And on a machine the limbs are not free so their motion is restricted. You can use machine in an injury to open up your body but please get off them really soon :) )

       
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