The majority of well thought out strength training routines are meant to challenge your muscles beyond what is normal, and then fuel your body so that protein synthesis can lead to the growth and development of new healthy muscle cells.
Strength training has become a generic term for resistance exercise but specialized routines shouldn't be confused with a moderately intense four to six set per body part workout or an eight to 12 rep per exercise session.
If you want to be stronger your approach to strength training should involve applying a proven methodology with the goal of quite simply, increasing strength.
The simple act of lifting weights during strength training routines can certainly help to tone and develop muscle.
However, if you want absolute increases in the amount of resistance you can handle, you'll have to train as a strength athlete trains.
You might have seen some of the strongest Man competitions on television and that might have led you to believe that strength athletes perform bizarre and superhuman feats. I'm not talking about rolling truck tires or carrying beer kegs, I'm talking about applying a simple set of rules to strength training routines.
Those rules involve performing results oriented sets of primary compound exercise movements during strength training routines that are used to build the foundations of every competitive strength athlete in the world, and of course, using challenging workloads to summon up the hidden strength that lies dormant within.
The type of strength training programs I'm about to discuss are not limited to those performed by bodybuilders. Most, if not all, top athletes develop their foundational muscle size, not by performing endless sets with moderate weights, but by committing to strength training routines directed at stimulating the biological process that ultimately leads to strength.
Conventionally, endurance athletes and recreational weight lifters still gravitate toward high repetition movements. A commitment to strength training routines can benefit not only a power lifter, but a runner, a basketball player a baseball player a hockey player a football player or a business executive seeking improved physical stamina and function.
If you view the overall goals of any performance athlete physiologically you'll clearly see the benefits of strength training routines go far beyond conventional strength.
Athletes as well as anyone seeking physical improvement can benefit immensely from increased bone density, increases in lean body mass, and greater muscle contractile strength as a result of consistent strength training routines.
While an athlete would also incorporate sport specific movements into overall strength training routines. An increase in muscle size and strength would be of immense benefit in any athletic arena. If you want to improve performance, the most efficient way is to train like a strength athlete, training with heavyweights, low reps, and high intensity.
Let's begin to lay some ground rules before this discussion on strength training routines becomes a mix of opinions instead of a course of action.
#1. If the goal of your strength routine, regardless if you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, includes strength and growth, intense fitness training workouts with heavyweights are going to offer you the most efficient muscle stimulation on the path to achieving your goals.
Another vital element of achieving dramatic increases in strength, growth, and athletic performance, and something that is often over-looked in fitness training, is recuperation.
More often than not, competitive athletes have the discipline to plan for recuperation, at least the majority of the time and if they've learned how to properly apply it to their fitness training.
Unfortunately, for the majority of the population who struggle to exercise or get to the gym even a couple days a week find recuperation a greater challenge. An advantage of training heavy during strength training routines is time efficiency, a greater physical payoff for a reduced time commitment.
If you are looking to improvement your muscle strength, size or fat burning capability, you have to be able to get the greatest benefit for the effort and time you are investing.
Even if you're an athlete who can only spend 45 minutes, three times a week to your fitness training, you're still going to get tremendous benefits from heavy weight, high intensity, strength training routines. In this case however, you'd have to spend a number of weeks of pre-conditioning, preparing for intense fitness training and recuperation.
#2. Your training efficiency during the duration of your strength routine is more important than the training volume and heavy intense muscle stimulation. This will provide the ability to generate the most time efficient and growth oriented challenge, allowing for the time needed to recover.
When it comes to strength training routines, there are unlimited misconceptions. Many people falsely believe that heavyweights equal sloppy form. All strength training routines must utilize very strict form because as you know you don't grow in the gym, you simply stimulate growth in the gym, and you need every rep to count towards stimulating growth.
The value of using your muscles not momentum to perform the work that your strength training routines demand cannot be overstated.
When you consistently train heavy and maintain strict biomechanical form and pay honest and close attention to both the positive and the negative phase of each repetition, you will be able to cut the volume of your strength training routines in half but will have increased your workout efficiency.
#3. In order to achieve optimal workout efficiency, use strict form while performing low repetition sets to failure accentuating both the positive and the negative phase.
You can incorporate both endurance and strength training in your strength training programs, however if you're an athlete as you near a competition, a reliance upon basic compound movements will allow you to maintain muscle size and quality.
Most athletes, regardless of the sport played, should rely upon heavy training not only leading up to an event but also in the off-season. For example, n the off-season you can integrate deadlifts and other explosive moves into your strength training programs.
Always perform the heavier and more explosive movements of strength training programs first when your body and mind both have the greatest reserves of energy and motivation.
Keep in mind that if you're an athlete, and depending on your sport, you should switch to higher rep and set strength training programs in the week prior to an event or competition.
#4. If you are to notice the greatest increases in strength and growth, you should perform basic compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bent over rows, and bench presses as these fitness training exercises will recruit a larger volume of muscle fibers.
Another element that all strength training routines should have is the integration of a cycle training or periodization strategy. Periodization in simplest terms involves adjusting and changing your strength training programs at regular intervals at specific intervals.
If, during any type of strength training programs, if you're an athlete or a recreational lifter, you stall in your development, you have to adjust the focus of your fitness training. We're not going to get into periodization in-depth now, you can learn more about it elsewhere on this website.
#5. Remember to cycle your fitness training workouts. This includes changing complete strength training programs periodically, but always returning to intense heavy training after adequate recuperation periods.
This aspect of strength training programs also involves periodization. The idea of periodization is that by varying the intensity of the exercise you alter the recruitment of muscle fibers so that over time you can recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.
There aren't any one-size-fits-all rules for designing strength training programs.
One of the concepts behind periodization is active recovery. Individual goals and recovery needs will play a role in how strength training programs will best serve an athlete or anyone else for that matter.
Bodybuilders who are training exclusively to increase muscle size will perform strength training programs differently than a strength or endurance athlete who exercises not only in the weight room at also in their respective sports.
Performing multiple sets with relatively heavy workloads is optimal for anyone seeking physical or sports improvement. The training goal comes down to muscle fiber recruitment.
One of the easiest ways to guarantee that you'll recruit the fast twitch fibers is to lift heavy weights. The fast twitch fibers are the most prone to increases in size and strength therefore the most valuable in the pursuit of muscle size and strength increases.
While many ideologies have a fault in regard to the actual training volume of strength training routines, some have suggested that one set of each exercise may work the best, but that's not always true in the real world.
Not only has the multi-set approach shown consistent increases in strength, muscle size, and power, it also creates a hormonal environment better suited for physical and sports improvement. Extensive research has shown that growth hormone response is much greater with multiple sets them with single-sets.
#6. Fitness training routines should be structured using multiple sets in order to optimize not only muscle stimulation, but hormonal response.
After a warm-up set, perform four sets of each exercise gradually increasing the weight to allow for the specified number of repetitions. Strict form is essential.
In the fifth and sixth weeks, using strength training routines such as this, shift to weights that allow you and minimum of eight repetitions on each set to allow for connective tissue repair. After two to four weeks of active recuperation, you can again hit those fast twitch muscle fibers with all-out intensity.