Lactic Acid is your enemy when trying to get stronger!

There is so much misinformation being disseminated by so many organizations and people that it is almost impossible for anybody to get a coherent understanding of what is necessary to gain strength. Whether in the medical field or fitness industry, so many fads have grown that from what I can see, nobody understands how to get stronger and therefore it is my opinion that nobody is going to obtain their goals of maximizing function or increasing muscle mass; if these are your goals. More importantly and very close to my heart, more people will become injured and come to the conclusion that exercise is bad for you.

Trends such as exercises in the most unbalanced manner such as weightlifting on an unstable surface or one legged exercises, exercises performed for long time periods or excessive numbers of repetitions, functional types of exercises like pushing sleds, turning tires or hopping up on boxes, doing exercises at a very quick pace or using momentum to perform the exercise, using various types of grips  or no grips at all causing an increased difficulty in securing the resistance, performing massive numbers of exercises for the same muscle group or massive numbers of sets for the same exercise. Everything I just described allows lactic acid to grow exponentially which is the very opposite of what you want to do when trying to make muscle and get stronger.

Let’s start from the beginning. What is the core principle of getting stronger and growing muscle? The key is to cause a muscle to adapt to greater and greater resistances thereby causing muscle to grow. Anything that prevents this from occurring is delaying or prohibiting muscles from getting stronger and bigger. Let’s look at all the trends and see how everyone of these prevents muscles from working against the maximum force thereby causing the muscle to get stronger and bigger in the shortest period of time.

The strengthening on unstable surfaces is a completely limiting factor in trying to get stronger. The false narrative created is that you are working harder to perform the exercise because you are so unstable and somehow this helps you get stronger. Completely false! Doing strength training on an unstable surface like a Bosci ball or doing a one legged straight leg deadlift of squat or putting one leg up on a bench when doing lunges makes it much harder to get stronger simply because of the instability being created you obviously cannot lift as muscle weight as you can if you were performing the exercises with maximal stability. So much energy must go to the process of creating stability that a large portion of energy is taking away from moving the resistance therefore less resistance can be moved. Also instability causes lactic acid to develop at an enormously faster rate which limits maximum muscle mass from being used. You are being misinformed if you think that making an exercise more difficult to perform is betting for getting stronger. To get stronger, the exercise should be very easy to perform and you should be maximally stable meaning in most cases you should be seated when performing the exercise. For standing exercises a wide base of support should be utilized on a very stable surface. You must realize that there is a false premise created that asserts that just because a lot of people say something is right, it makes it right. WRONG! LOGIC IS KING! Everything I do personally and present to people is based on logical analysis and is heavily entrenched in science. If the goal is to get stronger for the purpose of resolving pain, increase systemic function or simply feeling and looking better, I strongly suggest you get stable and perform the correct exercise with the maximum resistance possible. Period!

Let’s look at performing exercises for long periods of time or large number of repetitions. People feel burning in their muscles and feel exhausted at the end of these sets and think this is an indication they are getting stronger. Completely false! What is happening is that as they perform exercises like the ever present walking lunge or high repetition counts for any exercise, lactic acid is developing and developing and developing. LACTIC ACID IMPEDES THE ABILITY OF MUSCLES TO CONTRACT BECAUSE IT PREVENTS THE TWO ASPECTS OF MUSCLE FIBER FROM JOINING TOGETHER ALLOWING FORCE TO BE DEVELOPED. What is actually happening is as you contract a muscle for longer periods of time and with high repetitions counts you are actually using less and less muscle mass. So the reason you are feeling exhausted is you are performing the same activity with less muscle mass. Using less muscle to move a set resistance will do nothing to cause a muscle to get stronger. Using a maximum amount of muscle mass to move the maximum amount of resistance is the answer. So keeping the repetition count to no more than 10 repetitions and ending any type of exercise that is time based will help to get you stronger.

Functional activities like turning over tires or pulling/pushing sleds using groups of muscles to perform these tasks because they are functional activities. The goal of getting stronger is to isolate muscles. If there are weakened muscles that need to be strengthened and you perform functional exercises like these, the body will simply compensate and alter how you do the activity trying to emit the weakened muscle from the activity for fear of straining it. You never get to strengthen the weakened muscle and you set yourself up for straining. These types of exercises are also time or distance designed which means that lactic acid will build during the process causing failure to perform the activity from using less and less muscle mass versus using maximal muscle mass to move a maximum of resistance. The jumping up on increasingly higher boxes is clearly just a momentum play. There is no muscle designed to simply go through range of motion and cause you to leave the ground; no matter how strong your muscles are. The only way to achieve this is through the development of momentum which then creates the movement. There is no way muscle can get stronger without having it work against resistance. Replacing strengthening with momentum development will not get you stronger.

The doing the exercises really quickly with resistance bands or loops has gained popularity but again has nothing to do with getting stronger. Doing an exercises really fast just grows momentum and strength is replaced preventing getting stronger or growing muscle from occurring. It appears the goal of these exercises is to exhaust the person again giving them the sense that somehow this indicates they are getting stronger. Lactic acid is simply being generated at an increased pace with this form of exercise so you are using less and less muscle mass to perform the same exercise which is why you feel exhausted but using less muscle mass is not an equation for getting stronger. Using the most amount of muscle mass to move the most amount of resistance is the answer.

The using more unstable grips like ropes or no grip at all such as just trying to hold onto cable is just another way of making an exercise appear to be harder and most unstable. It causes lactic acid to develop quicker then it should causing less and less muscle mass to be able to be used to move the resistance. The increased difficulty in moving the resistance is simply that you have less muscle mass moving the same resistance and not that the maximal amount of muscle could not move the maximal amount of resistance any more. The same can be said for doing large number of sets of the same exercise or large number of exercises for the same muscle. So much energy expenditure has to be utilized over too many sets or exercises that the maximum amount of energy is not able to be utilized over just the few repetitions for the one or two most effective exercises to cause isolated muscles to adapt to the greatest resistance it can with the most amount of muscle mass. Finally waiting at least 1 minute in between sets is one of the biggest keys to actually lifting maximally. That lactic acid that develops during all muscular contractions cannot be removed from a muscle during the contraction. Once the muscle stops contracting, blood can flow into the muscle and rid the muscle of lactic acid. It takes at least 1 minute to do so. Not waiting enough time will simply having your start the next set with less then the maximum amount of muscle mass available and therefore the maximum amount of resistance will not be able to be moved.

So if you are lifting weights are trying to move resistance through resistance bands, tubes or other devices and your intent is to get stronger for all the benefits getting strong provides, I would suggest isolating your muscles in the most stable setting performing the correct exercises with the maximum amount of resistance the muscle can safely work with using one or two exercises for each muscle with a repetition count of 10 repetitions or less and waiting at least 1 minute between sets, you have the recipe for getting stronger the fastest you can possibly achieve this lofty goal.

If you want more information about the Yass method and Yass method exercises, you can go to www.mitchellyass.com or email me at drmitch@mitchellyass.com

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DR. MITCHELL YASS is the creator of the Yass Method for diagnosing and treating chronic pain. He developed his method over 20 years treating thousands of patients resolving their pain and returning them to full functional capacity. He has stopped thousands from getting unnecessary surgeries and resolved the pain of thousands of others who had surgery that did nothing to alter their pain.