By: Channing Vigier
8 Things You Need To Know About Strength Training
This article is merely designed to offer paragraphs of advice for the individual who needs a general understanding of training fundamentals. If you are interested in a fitness related franchise, please call or text us at 778-676-3808.
Supplementation: It is impossible to get all of the micronutrients and nutrients a body requires to perform optimally through a regular diet; Not only a regular diet, but a calculated diet. This is because the body is unable to consume enough foods. This is why supplementation can greatly impact the way you perform and recover. And supplements are not only for sports performance, or bodybuilding, but also have the ability to enhance the quality of your health.
Frequency: Muscles need adequate time under stress and an adequate amount of time to recovery throughout the week. Working muscles too infrequently will not stimulate enough muscular adaptations, whether that is growth or strength. On the contrary, working muscles too much will drive them into a catabolic (breakdown of tissue) state. Over training can also cause decreases in strength, size, and lead to overall fatigue. Depending on the type of program you follow, the amount of days a certain muscle will be worked will vary. 1-3 days per week is my rule of thumb. One day per week, if you are solely focusing on one muscle that day. Twice per week, if you are doing a 4 day per week routine (my personal choice) in a lower/upper body split. And three times per week, if you are exercising the muscle less vigorously, but more frequently.
Warm-Up: Let’s face the facts…warm-ups are boring and annoying. Jogging on the treadmill, for 5 minutes, followed by some stretching, not only looks lame, but feels equally lame. The unfortunate aspect of this mentality is that a proper warm-up will help prevent injury and also improve strength. Lubrication through light exercise helps prevent damage to the joints and expanding blood vessels helps deliver nutrients to the muscles. This can be achieved through a cardio warm-up, stretching, or other methods such as ramping. Ramping is where you start your exercise at perhaps 50% RM (Repetition Max), and do a certain amount reps, then increase the weight. During these preliminary sets, you are not doing max amount of reps, you are merely warming up the muscle. And once you reach the weight that you want to lift during the work sets, you starting maxing out on reps. In comparison to immediately lifting the desired weight on your first set, this method helps your nervous system get used to the motion. This can lead to a higher max weight, and less chance of injury.
Compound Vs Isolation: New lifters tend to gravitate towards isolation exercises (Single Joint Exercises). This is generally due to the fact that they are technically and physically easier to perform. However, the time spent at the gym should be as efficient as possible, therefore compound movements should be used. Since compound movements utilize more muscles, and in turn more muscle fibres, they are logical to include in a routine. In fact, they should be the staple exercises in a routine, with isolations to merely compliment them. For example, rather than a dumbbell bicep curl, chin ups also work the back in addition to the biceps. Another example would be that squats utilize most of the lower body, whereas leg extensions only stress the quadriceps. My advice is to take the time to perfect the compound movements properly, and mostly use them in your workouts. Your results will show.
Intra-Body Connections: The human system is connected in weird ways. This means that training not only affects the area trained, but other muscles in the system. This is due to hormonal responses resulting from stimulus. This paragraph is not designed to explain to you human endocrinology, but to merely convince you that in order for your results to be maximal, you must exercise the most muscles you can. To put this simple, work the lower body as much as you do your upper body. Even though you most likely train to fill out your shirt, excluding lower body strength training will make this goal more difficult. All of my noticeable results from the past have been realized during periods where I have devoted two days a week to the lower body. Suck up your dislike for squats and deadlifts, and be a man.
Constant Progression: In order for constant results, a trainee must frequently alter factors in order to maintain the intensity of a workout. You may have grown from 3 sets of 8 reps in a certain exercise for a certain weight, but eventually, something will need to be changed. These changeable variables include the amount of sets, number of reps, rest between sets, total weight, or even exercises. If unsure of a method to maintain constant progression, I offer you the following option. Let’s say for a certain exercise you like lifting 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions. Start the first set with a weight that you believe you can lift for 8 reps. During each set, whenever you are able to complete the 8 reps of that set, increase the weight by a small increment for the next set. And if during any set, you are unable to complete the 8 reps, do as many reps as you can, and decrease the weight by a small increment for the next set. This method will cause a gradual, but constant, increase in strength.
Supersets: Supersets refers to exercises that are done in a circuit. For example, a trainee may do a horizontal pushing exercise, such as bar bell bench press, followed by a horizontal pulling exercise, such as the seated cable row. Once both exercises are completed, one set is complete. The trainee will rest for a prescribed amount of time, and do this circuit 3 more times for a total of 4 sets. This particular example is common in programs because the moves oppose each other, therefore stretching and resting each muscle as its opposing muscle does a movement. Also, since the body is under constant stress, supersets also induce a cardiovascular workout. Supersets involve any sets with two or more exercises. Supersets during a training log are usually written as A1 and A2: or any letter depending on its position throughout a workout. In addition to the training benefits of supersets, they also shorten the length of a workout by blending the work periods with rest periods.
Specific Goals: Final piece of advice is specific and to the point, but beneficial. Setting specific goals for your training help to maintain motivation throughout a program. For example, rather than merely saying “I want to get bigger”, make a weight that you want to achieve under a reasonable amount of time. Or if strength is your main motivation, set specific amounts of reps/set/weight that you want to achieve by a specific date. Identifying your goals in written can enhance motivation. Simply ask yourself “What do I want to achieve from strength training?”
And now I encourage you to leave your computer, and head the gym to put your newly acquired knowledge into effect. Good luck!