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Learning Center

Welcome to the Discover Strength Learning Center. Below you will find resources about strength training including  Fit Tips, written by CEO, Luke Carlson, The Discover Strength Podcast, answers to some myths about exercise, and research Discover Strength has been a part of.

We are constantly updating our learning center with new content that is beneficial for anyone interested in learning more about strength training or related topics.

Learning Breeds Passion

“We always assume that if you are passionate about something, you will go learn more about it. In our company, we found that process to be inverted; the more we teach the barista about the bean, the coffee, etc, the more their passion grows. Passion doesn’t lead to learning; learning actually drives passion.” 

Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

Learn more about the science of exercise below

No Time To Lift

No Time To Lift

Time is the number one barrier to exercise. Authors of a new narrative review published in the scientific journal Sports Medicine sought to understand how trainees could still maximize the health, strength, and aesthetic benefits of strength training if they had, “no...

The Season of Declining Fitness: Summer in Minnesota

The Season of Declining Fitness: Summer in Minnesota

With the summer months upon us, the mantra of the Minnesotan is, "I want to get outside!" Naturally, this extends to our fitness activities as well. But should it?   To answer this question, an examination of the definition of "Physical Activity" and "Exercise" is...

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The Discover Strength Podcast

Hosted by Logan Herlihy, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with Discover Strength. 

“Momentary Muscle Failure, and Why We Only Do One Set”

“Momentary Muscle Failure, and Why We Only Do One Set”

In this week's episode of "The Discover Strength Podcast" we continue our multi-part series featuring trainers from all the Discover Strength locations. In this series, which will air over the next few months, we talk about some of the most important things all of our...

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Myths and misconceptions about exercise

Why do I get sore?

Contrary to popular belief, muscle soreness has nothing to do with how “good” your workout was. Typically when you start a new training programming you will be sore because of the novelty of the exercise. Whenever you perform exercise that you have not done before, you will most likely experience muscle soreness in the following days (delayed onset muscle soreness – DOMS). When your body starts to get used to that new stimulus, the soreness will subside. It is important to keep in mind that when the soreness does subside, that doesn’t mean the exercise you are performing is not working or producing a meaningful stimulus your body has simply better adapted to recover from that stimulus.

Why do you only do one set?

There is nothing wrong with doing multiple sets. The research is very clear, the benefits are the same if you complete one set versus multiple sets but there is one big difference, doing one set saves you a lot more time in the gym. How can that be possible? For the one set to be just as effective, it must be completed to momentary muscle failure, the point at which you cannot complete another rep. Once you hit that point, you have exhausted all muscle fibers and now they need to rest. When doing multiple sets, most people go to a certain numerical goal, not momentary muscle failure, so they still have some energy left in the tank to complete another set. The research is clear; to get great results in the gym, strength train harder but not for very long. 

How do I build muscle?

Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology challenges what strength training pundits have taught for years: In order to grow bigger muscles, you need to lift heavy weights.  A team of researchers led by Stuart Philips at McMaster University in Canada separated subjects into two groups: one group did “heavy” weights for less reps (8-12 reps) and the other group lifted a lighter weight and performed more reps (20-25 reps).  Subjects in both groups were “trained” meaning they had a minimum of 2 years of strength training experience (studies with “trained” subjects are often viewed as more credible because applying any type of strength training intervention produces positive results with subjects who are new to strength training).  The researchers required both groups to train to momentary muscle failure.  The result?  Both groups experienced the same improvements in muscle strength and muscle size.  The researchers concluded, “We provide novel evidence of lifting markedly different (lighter versus heavier) loads (mass per repetition) during whole-body resistance training on the development of muscle strength and hypertrophy in previously trained persons. Using a large sample size (n=49), and contradicting dogma, we report that the relative load lifted per repetition does not determine skeletal muscle hypertrophy nor, for the most part, strength development.”

Take home message: Despite what the majority of the strength training world believes, the amount of weight you lift isn’t the key; reaching momentary muscle failure is the real stimulus.

How do I lose weight?

This may be controversial and we would love to say that exercise has a huge impact on weight loss but in reality, it does not.

Recent research shows:

  • Aerobic exercise and resistance training with weights are both effective in reducing epicardial fat mass in individuals with abdominal obesity, but resistance training appears to be a better exercise for reducing pericardial adipose tissue mass, according to the results of a new study. 
  • Compared to all other forms of aerobic exercise and physical activity, Strength training was the most effective for mitigating increases in waist circumference (51,000 men over 12 years).
  • Resistance exercise increases resting metabolic rate.  Aerobic exercise has been shown to have no significant impact on resting metabolic rate.  (2020 Meta-analysis).

What will have the most dramatic effect in losing weight is reducing your caloric intake. Instead of a goal around “losing weight”, at Discover Strength, we like to focus on improving body composition (how much lean muscle tissue vs. fat tissue). We are not registered dietitians but with the help of our Bod Pod, we can tell you your lean muscle tissue, fat tissue, and your resting metabolic rate. Based on those numbers we can help you set a caloric deficit to help you achieve your goals.

How do I strengthen my core?

This is one of the most common questions we get at Discover Strength. The simple answer to this is to isolate the abdominals just like any other muscle group and train one set to failure. The abs are just like every other muscle group in your body. They need rest and recovery and doing additional sets does not make them stronger OR look better (we know… that is devastating). Instead of calling it the “core”, we will refer to your abs and back as your midsection instead. Let’s break this question down into two parts:

  1. How to strengthen your midsection: You can accomplish this in two exercises. Complete a set of abs to the point of momentary muscle failure. Complete a set of low back to momentary muscle failure. This will strengthen all the musculature of the midsection.
  2. How to improve the appearance of your abs: This is not accomplished by completing a “core” class or multiple sets of abs. Spot reduction is a myth, your body is an interconnected machine and will lose fat where it wants to, not where YOU choose based on the exercises you do. What you are looking to accomplish is reducing the adipose tissue on top of the abs. The best way to reduce this is by lowering your caloric intake.

How often should I strength train?

The most important aspect of your strength training program is your rest and recovery. That is where the growth happens! When you strength train, you are breaking down muscle fibers. If you strength train the next day, you are not giving yourself enough rest and recovery to rebuild those muscle fibers. For the best results, strength train two days per week with at least 48-72 hours in between your workouts. Unlike strength training, cardio workouts can be performed on a daily basis because our cardiovascular system recovers much quicker. So, you do not need to wait 48 hours after your strength workout to get a run in. Just avoid any resistance exercise.

How much protein do I need?

One of the MOST important controllable factors to your success when you are trying to improve your body composition is your protein intake (and of course, workout intensity). Three key elements to your protein intake:

  1. The recommended protein intake is .7 grams per pound of your body weight. Consuming more than 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight provides no benefit for increasing muscle size or strength.
  2. The total amount of daily protein is more important than the timing (post-workout) of the protein intake for increasing muscle strength and hypertrophy.  Some evidence does exist that protein at the time of the workout does enhance strength and hypertrophy.
  3. The leucine content of a protein source has an impact on protein synthesis and impacts muscle hypertrophy. Consumption of 3–4 g of leucine is needed to promote maximum protein synthesis. An ideal supplement following resistance exercise should contain whey protein that provides at least 3 g of leucine per serving.

It is important to hit this protein goal especially if you are sustaining a caloric deficit to lose body fat. When you provide your body with the proper amount of protein, you will be nourishing your body with the appropriate building blocks to optimize your recovery and ability to build lean mass.

Research Studies Discover Strength has participated in

We have placed the studies below that Discover Strength has conducted in facility with the help of researchers Dr. James Fisher and Dr. James Steele from Southampton Solent University in the UK. The study participants are made up of you, our clients.

JAMES PETER FISHER, LUKE CARLSON, JAMES STEELE, 2016

The effects of muscle action, repetition duration, and loading strategies of a whole-body, progressive resistance training programme on muscular performance and body composition in trained males and females.

JAMES PETER FISHER, LUKE CARLSON, JAMES STEELE, 2016

The effects of breakdown set resistance training on muscular performance and body composition in young males and females

JAMES PETER FISHER, LUKE CARLSON, JAMES STEELE, DAVE SMITH, 2014

The effects of preexhaustion, exercise order, and rest interval in a fullbody resistance training intervention

ADELE SALES, JAMES FISHER, LUKE CARLSON, JAMES STEELE, 2016

MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS BETWEEN EXERCISE MODALITIES: A comparison of the motivational factors between CrossFit participants and other exercise modalities

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