RCB Strength Training Frequently Asked Questions
Below are selected frequently asked questions and answers regarding RCB strength training. Click on the question to toggle the answer. You can find more answers to questions about the RCB program here.
What is strength training?+
Strength training is based on the concept of progressive lifting of weights, increasing the amount of weight you lift over a period of time – progressively. Lifting is done using free weights or strength-building exercise machinery.
Strength training also includes improved nutrition. The human body requires nutrients from the foods we eat to provide energy and to repair body tissue at the cellular level.
What is progressive lifting?+
Gradually adding weight to the long bar or barbells you use during your work-outs. Beginners should start with light weights to avoid injury or soreness. More experienced strength trainers lift and maneuver increasingly heavier weights. This builds physical strength through the increase in muscle mass – more muscle, better defined muscles and overall improvement of muscle integration – using different muscle groups in synch.
Is progressive lifting safe?+
Studies show that lifting free weights is one of the safest activities in which you can engage. Consider football or rugby. These athletes experience many more injuries than strength trainers because of the hard physical contact.
However, strength training, can indeed, be dangerous when done improperly. It is essential to safety and prevention of injury that you perform strength training exercises properly and with good posture. An injury that prevents you from lifting disrupts your routine and lessens the likelihood of strength training becoming a lifelong avocation.
How do I practice good form?+
First, read the directions contained in the RCB manual. Look at the diagrams to see the key elements of proper form.
Next, start with no weight or light weight. Beginners start with a plastic pole about the length of the long bar used in many strength training exercises. Initially, the objective is on form. Once you’ve perfected your form for the exercises you intend to do, you can safely start adding small, incremental amounts of weight.
Progressive lifting is very safe when done properly. When done improperly, injury is commonplace, which is why you read so much about the importance of form throughout all RCB materials. It is the key to (1) safe lifting and (2) long-term lifting – lifting you do for a lifetime, feeling better every day.
What is personal improvement?+
Personal performance and personal improvement are basic principles of the RCB strength training program.
If you look at other strength training programs, you’ll see that you’re expected to perform a certain number of repetitions (reps) within a certain time frame – say 30 days. This approach to strength training is dangerous and is NOT a part of the RCB strength training program.
Instead, RCB focuses on personal improvement. Strength training is not a competition sport for the average lifter, and RCB is designed to measure personal improvement, not measure some cookie-cutter, arbitrary number of reps. For example…
…let’s say that during your first workout, you can do a single chin-up using perfect form. Okay, that’s your baseline – one chin-up. You keep doing one chin-up, focusing on form, until that single chin-up is no longer a challenge. Only then do you attempt a second chin-up.
In time, you’ll do 10, 15, 50 chin-ups but, with the RCB program, you focus on personal improvement. If you could initially do a single chin-up, but after a month you can do two, you’ve doubled your strength – smartly.
What is movement preparation?+
Basically, it’s your warm-up. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury so a basic 10-minute warm-up is recommended. The warm up should gently work and stretch muscle groups in the planes in which they move during an RCB workout.
Your body moves in three dimensions during any strength training workout. Your movement preparation should move and work muscles in the same directions that you’ll use during your RCB workout.
You’ll find an entire chapter on movement preparation in the RCB text with a simple warm-up that will prepare you for your strength training work-out.
You should spend at least 10 minutes stretching and working muscle groups before you begin your first circuit of RCB. If you can make that 15 minutes, even better.
What is a circuit?+
RCB employs circuit training for safety reasons. You will perform an exercise a certain number of times before moving on to exercise two of the circuit, then exercise three and so on.
You may start out doing a single circuit. That’s okay. That’s your baseline. Gradually, you’ll increase your strength to the point where you can perform two complete circuits, then three.
Using the circuit method, no one muscle group or joint is overly stressed. Each exercise works a different set of muscles, allowing muscles to recover before starting another circuit.
Do as many circuits as you comfortably can when first starting out. If it’s one circuit, no problem. Stay at that level until you can complete the circuit without difficulty. Then, add a second circuit. It may take several months until you can do every circuits of each exercise.
Remember, strength training isn’t a race. It’s a process. A lifelong process.
What is a rep?+
It stands for repetition.
Most strength training exercises involve two parts – the lift and the drop. A lift and a drop is considered a single repetition. By working muscles and joints during both the lift and the drop, you receive a more effective workout.
On the other hand, if you lift, but let gravity do the work on the drop portion of the exercise, you’re only getting half the benefit. Further, the lift and drop each work muscles differently so your muscles receive a better workout when your reps are performed properly on both the lift and the drop.
Why do I have to allow 48 hours rest in between workouts?+
During a workout you stress muscles and joints to the point of body failure – the inability to perform the exercise using good form.
This stresses muscles and joints, actually damaging muscles fibers. It takes 48 hours for the muscles and the rest of the body to rebuild and repair muscle cells and for joints to return to their usual condition.
That means you perform an RCB workout every other day. However, if you feel the need, or simply want to see results faster, take a brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood on your non-workout days. This cardio-vascular exercise increases the heart rate and breathing rate, improving both heart and lung function while oxygenating the entire body.
What is nutrition?+
Good nutrition is essential to the RCB strength building program. Nutrition is nothing more than your diet – the foods you eat.
Foods contain nutrients: vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats and oils. A well-balanced diet –a nutritious diet – provides the body with ample amounts of nutrients to maintain good health and to grow muscle mass through progressive lifting.
Further, nutrients are required to rebuild body tissue that is stressed during a workout. This requires protein, minerals and vitamins, carbs and other nutritious foods to heal the body.
What is a calorie?+
It’s a measurement of heat, like degrees on a thermometer. Calories measure the amount of heat energy stored in foods. The more calories, the more heat energy that food contains.
What’s the difference between a good calorie and a bad calorie?+
All foods contain calories. However, some foods contain high-quality calories while other foods contain empty calories – calories that don’t provide any nutritional value to the body.
RCB is based on changing your eating habits by replacing empty calories with calories that also provide vitamins, carbs, proteins and other nutrients.
What is transitioning?+
It’s another key principle of the RCB program.
Most of us have started a diet or an exercise program but found that it was just too hard to keep up. Part of the difficulty in changing your diet or adding an exercise program to daily life is that it disrupts long-established routines.
Transitioning lessens the impact of an improved diet or increased activity by slowly, over time, adding exercise and improved diet so your existing routines stay in place for as long as you want them to.
What is substitution?+
Another RCB principle.
Many weight loss and strength training programs require that you stick to a highly regimented diet. Some actually provide a day by day diet plan that requires you to measure portion sizes or to eat foods you don’t like or have never even tasted. When was the last time you ate flaxseed oil? Probably never.
The developers of the RCB strength building program recognize that changing a lifelong diet – even an unhealthy one – takes will power and self-discipline. Almost super-human drive. Unfortunately, few of us can keep up this level of will power forever so we start a diet, reach some arbitrary goal, quit the diet and go back to our old eating habits.
Studies reveal that 94% of dieters regain the weight they lost and then some. RCB doesn’t deny you foods. However, it does require you to substitute foods that are loaded with empty calories for foods that also provide nutrients that keep the body healthy.
By substituting unhealthy foods you enjoy for healthy foods you enjoy, you become healthier and stronger. It doesn’t require any will power because you still enjoy the foods you like and you can keep up a well-balanced diet for a lifetime simply by substituting high-nutrient foods for foods loaded with empty calories.
What is Applied Exercise Science?+
Applied exercise science is taught at the university level and involves coursework in various exercises, muscle and joint function, diet and nutrition and the improvement of physical health, usually as part of a sports program.
For example, most university sports teams have highly-skilled trainers who have university degrees in applied exercise science to train younger, less experienced athletes. These trainers use progressive lifting, aerobic exercise and a healthy diet to improve the performance levels of university grade and professional athletes.
What should I do if I miss a workout?+
No problem. Just pick up where you left off. An extra day of rest will not diminish your current strength levels. However, if you stop working out for a week or more due to injury or a hectic schedule, lower the amount of weight you lift or perform fewer reps until you recover the strength you lost during the hiatus.
Is there an age limit for using the RCB program?+
No, as long as you’re in reasonably good health, RCB works for people in their teens to people in retirement.
However, and this is important, before you begin any new diet or strength training program, visit your doctor and get yourself checked out. Conditions may not make themselves apparent without a complete physical.
DO NOT START THE RCB STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM, OR ANY OTHER STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM, DIET CHANGE OR INCREASE IN ACTIVITY WITHOUT CONSULTING A PHYSICIAN TO DETERMINE THAT A STRENGTH TRAINING IS APPROPRAITE FOR YOUR CURRENT STATE OF HEALTH. ONLY A DOCTOR CAN PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION.
Do I need to spend a lot of money on equipment?+
No. In fact, you can join some gyms for a free 30-day trial to see if it’s something you’d enjoy.
Also, there’s no need to buy new weight training equipment. You can often buy used equipment from lifters and others who thought they’d start strength training only to discover that they didn’t enjoy it.
Check the local newspaper, yard and tag sales and the bulletin board at the local gym for a used weight bench, power rack, long bar, bar bells and the metal slabs that you add to the bars as your strength grows.
How do I know when I should add more weight?+
You’ll notice that RCB doesn’t tell you how much weight to lift at any time. We also don’t prescribe a certain number of reps or circuits. There’s a reason for this.
If you expect to hit certain arbitrary goals set by a lifter who doesn’t know you or your current state of health, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You’re also setting yourself up for injury – an injury that may prevent you from continuing a strength training program.
That’s why RCB focuses on developing good form and measuring success by personal improvement. We all get stronger at different rates so trying to stick to someone else’s idea of where you should be after a certain amount of time is simply asking for trouble.
RCB is NOT about numbers. It’s about gradual improvement and increased strength. So here’s the general rule to follow:
When you can perform the fourth and fifth circuits while maintaining good form as easily as you perform the first and second circuits, it’s time to add more weight.
Don’t add more weight than you can lift comfortably. Good health and increased strength shouldn’t hurt. The old myth of “No pain; no gain” is just that. It’s a myth.
What is body failure?+
We all have different body failure thresholds.
Body failure occurs when you can no longer perform the exercise properly or you can no longer lift the weight. In either case, body failure is a positive goal. As your strength increases, your body failure threshold increases, meaning you can lift more weight before hitting your body failure threshold.
Some exercises should be done a certain number of times. Other exercises should be done until your reach your body failure threshold, again, performing the exercise properly.
For example, you may be able to perform 10 chin-ups, performing both the lift and drop portions of the exercise with proper form. However, as you attempt to push the body to the point of failure, you may lose form and start jumping to reach the bar and letting gravity do the work on the drop. These are indications that you’ve reached your body failure threshold.
Why is it important to track progress?+
First, it’s a great motivation tool. As you see your body failure threshold climb, you’re motivated to do more and to do it properly.
Second, by tracking progress you develop a clearer understanding of what your body can accomplish at any given time. It’s important to ensuring that you don’t push yourself too hard or too fast.
The developers of the RCB program recommend that you set easily achievable goals with regard to reps, circuits and amount of weight lifted, as well as nutritional goals that employ transitioning out of unhealthy foods into foods that provide nutrients and foods that you actually enjoy eating.