If you follow my blog, you already know the importance of strength training.
However, what I haven’t explained is the physiology behind strength training.
“It just makes sense that you’ll be better motivated toward your goals when you know how and why your muscles are getting stronger.”
Strength training is called resistance training, and refers to the progressive amount of resistance (= load) put on a muscle.
- lifting a heavy object
- moving your own body weight
- countering varied resistance from elastic bands and other types of pulleys or hydraulics
So you go to the gym and lift weights, or do other training from home or outside… but then what?
The time that you put into your workout is just the start of getting stronger…
The effect from a strength training session lasts up to 72 hours.
During that time your muscles undergo the process of adapting to the new demand that was put on them – since in order to resist that same force the next time, they need to become stronger. And to do that, muscles need rest and good nutrition.
“What I love about the gym are the numerous variations in the equation. It’s like a giant lab experiment. And why I hate seeing people spinning their wheels using the same formula week after week!”
And speaking of variables…
Here are a few of the variables used in a resistance training session that trigger physiological response from your muscles:
- Sets & reps- the number of reps reflects the amount of weight used, or the technical complexity of the exercise (3 sets of 10? or 5 sets of 5?).
- Volume – the total amount of reps/work within a given workout session (3 sets of 5? or 10 sets of 10?).
- Intensity – how heavy the weight is relative to the maximum you could lift (50%, 70%, 90%?).
- Rest between sets – rest between sets allows ATP (muscle fuel) to regenerate, and is also based on goals (max strength? or max endurance?).
- Movement type – the complexity of the movement, again based on goals (complex, multi-joint for strength /power? or simple, isolated for rehab and endurance?).
- Frequency - number of hours spent, divided over the course of the week (generally, 3-5 hours of strength training is enough for most people; 5-7 for advanced).
- Sequence - the order of exercises (its harder to coordinate and support heavy weights once fatigued).
- Progressions - tempo, angle, weight.
- Intensity - supersets, circuits, timed sets.
Planning your Workout is the fastest way to reach your goal…
You won’t get very good results if you just wander from machine to machine, or do the same things all the time. Nor if you choose the wrong approach for your goals (e.g. an endurance workout if you actually want to improve your maximal strength).
When you work only through a partial range of motion, you get stronger only in that partial range of motion…
… if you work through a full range of motion, you’ll get stronger through the full range.
“That’s why I always coach you to work the full range of motion. Yes, it’s harder!!”
When you use light weights and high reps, you gain muscle stamina and endurance…
…if you use medium weights and lower sets, you’ll gain muscle strength.
“That’s why we do higher reps and fewer sets for conditioning, and fewer reps and more sets to increase size and strength.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO, STARTING NEXT WORKOUT…
“Take 10 minutes to plan your workout program – just write it down on a small piece of paper so you affirm that:
- Your routine truly reflects your goal. (strength? metabolic? body-building?)
- You know in advance what you’re going to do, and not waste time. (the routine, the order, the movements)
- You’re not doing the same exercises/sets/reps over and over. (variation = stimulation)
- You can record and increase the load accordingly. (progression = advancement)
- You get enough rest and recovery between sessions. (24-72 hours)
- You schedule sessions frequently enough to actually benefit from them. (2-3 times a week)”