We enjoy a variety of exercise alternatives in New York City. Boutique studios offering specialized training regimens abound, ranging from Pilates and yoga to spinning and nearly every type of dance or martial arts class imaginable. Within the past few years, enterprising companies have introduced “passes” that allow exercise enthusiasts to bounce around from one studio to the next in search of the latest fitness trends. While many forms of exercise, when performed safely, provide metabolic benefits, we are surprised at the number of people who de-emphasize or entirely ignore regimens that include strength training. At Persevera, we center our training sessions around making our members stronger, and for good reason.
A Little Science
Stick with us here. This explanation is short and painless, but crucial! Cells in the liver and muscles are the human body’s primary storage tanks for carbohydrates, where they are warehoused in the form of glycogen. While liver glycogen is used to maintain blood sugar levels in between meals and can be made accessible to other organs throughout the body, muscle glycogen is available for use only by the specific muscle in which it is stored. When required for use, muscle cells convert stored glycogen into glucose to fuel the muscle. In short, the more glycogen that a muscle’s cells can store, the stronger that muscle.
The goal of strength (or resistance) training is therefore to increase the size of muscles so that more glycogen can be stored and more force can ultimately be produced. Muscles don't grow in mass by increasing the number of fibers within them, however. Rather, they grow by increasing the thickness of existing fibers. Ironically, the most efficient way to increase muscle fiber thickness is by breaking the fibers down and subsequently allowing them to rebuild.
The Persevera Protocol
Persevera's 30-minute training sessions accomplish two important objectives in order to make strength training as effective and efficient as possible. First, our challenging sessions provide the stimulus necessary to cause microscopic trauma, or tiny tears on a cellular level, in the muscle fiber. Second, our training sessions deplete glycogen stored in muscles. We then insist on sufficient rest between training sessions so that the body can repair the micro-tears and so that members can replenish glycogen reserves through proper nutrition. The incorporation of this all-important recovery period explains why training only once or twice per week is optimal for most of our members. The end result is thicker muscle fibers, which consequently leads to greater glycogen storage capacity and ultimately more strength!
A Virtuous Cycle
Muscle strength drives everything. It has a ripple effect of incredible proportions. If your muscles can store more glycogen, they become stronger. If your muscles are stronger, movement is easier. If movement is easier, it is more pleasurable. If it is more pleasurable, you do it more frequently. If you move more often, be it through everyday activities like walking or biking, playing your favorite sport, or taking a Muay Thai or Tai Chi class, more energy is expended. If more energy is expended, body fat, all else equal, is lost. If body fat is lost, you are lighter and feel like moving even more! And, as physical appearance improves, confidence builds, perpetuating and reinforcing the upward spiral. It’s therefore pretty simple to us: become stronger, and thrive!