"TUT" Is a Valuable Thing
This is the follow up blog to previous, " Progressive Overload Creates the Change". If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check that one out also!
One of the many benefits to doing resistance training with your dogs, at least one of the most noticeable, is the development or enlargement (hypertrophy) of the muscles. This is important as muscle protects, or acts as shields to the joint tissue and bone. It is single handedly the most sought after reason for owners and their eagerness to get involved with the CRT program. The countless health benefits, when programming is done correctly, proves invaluable. Anyone involved or credentialed in canine fitness and betterment will often tell you that their chosen therapies are modeled or mimicked after human studies. When we look at how to improve our dog's core balance or improve stamina in K9 athletes, we like to pull over statistical studies and case reports correlative with human research. With that being said, I want to introduce another term that is probably underutilized when working with your dogs in their resistance training. My last blog introduced the idea of "Progressive Overload" and why knowing what it means and how it affects your dog in training is extremely important to resistance training. It played a key role in the development of my CRT program, and it is yet another reason I push for always keeping up on the foundational work when doing resistance work. This blog is an expansion of that ideology. Long before the CRT program, old school fanciers of the bull breeds utilized resistance training---except they didn't know it. They called it "drag work" because it was as simple as that--the dog drags weight behind them for long distances. Their goal was to get the dogs in the best shape possible, and guess what? Their results were effective and they built true athletes. If you ask many of them about why they chose and did what they did--they won't be able to give you textbook reasons and rationales that will stand up to modern day canine healthcare providers. If you ask a lot of them what to do when starting a dog, they will usually tell you - "start low, build them slow"..... but what does that mean, and why can't I just jump to short distances with heavier weight?
"TUT"........Time Under Tension. This term runs rampant throughout the human strength and conditioning world, yet some of you reading this might be searching the internet for the exact definition right now. Time Under Tension/Load refers to the time a muscle is under strain in a rep or set. This is an important thing to consider when you are about to strap your dog down with resistance weights (that YOU pick for him) and ask him to now travel mileage. The entire time your dog's body and existing muscle are under duress, the muscle fibers are shearing and the building process is underway. I know what you are thinking here.... "well if I want my dog's muscles to grow, because larger muscles will protect even more joint and bone, then I should add MORE weight to increase the time under tension to the muscle."----- Good thought, and I imagine that is what MOST people who exercise the old school mentality do... More weight=more muscle.
Here is the thing about muscles. They aren't just one "unit". A muscle is made of fibers, membranes and cells. I don't want to get into a huge anatomy textbook definition, and if you are still curious after you finish reading, I encourage you to go do some of your own research. Muscles contain both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. Knowing the difference between the two and HOW they are individually worked will help guide all of the work you do with your dogs in their training--- at least it does for every dog that works with me in my CRT program. Type 1 fibers, often called slow twitch muscle fibers, are usually fatigue resistant. Not fatigue "impossible" but harder to tire out and usually takes a bit longer. Marathon runners recruit their type 1's..... and so does your dog during your resistance training sessions at a distance. Thus the importance of time under tension and progressive overload. The longer the time spent under the chosen load, the greater the chance of tapping into the necessary fibers. Once you tap into the fibers, you have a greater chance of fatigue....... hence aiding in the breakdown and repair. Muscles grow in size when they are broken down and repaired.. I think I said that before somewhere in here ? :)
What about the fast twitch, the type II's? There is certainly a time and place for heavier weight and shorter distances and for anyone working with me in my CRT program-- you'll get there soon enough. As an all inclusive resistance training program, I wouldn't and shouldn't leave those out. But, there is a time and place for entry in practices of such exercises. If and when you move into my "Digging Deeper" Program--- we cover all of that.