Strength Training – The Basics

Whether your goal is to improve your performance in your individual sport or simply to increase your overall power, strength training could be the key to achieving your workout goals.Principles of Strength Training
It is important to first understand the principles of strength training. The prime goal of strength training is to increase the response of your nervous system, not muscles. When simply lifting weights, all of the fibers in the muscle being targeted are never actually activated because basic weight lifting fails to strengthen the connection between the neural receptors that tells your muscle to contract or expand. With strength training, you increase the response time of these neural pathways and, in turn, increase the percentage of muscle fiber that is activated. The result is muscles that contract and expand with more explosive force, allowing you to exert more energy and lift more weight.The selection of the proper exercise routine is crucial to creating an effective strength-training workout. Experts recommend routines that emphasize multiple joint movements, rather than those that focus on a single movement. Multiple joint movement mimics the way we move when actually participating in sports, where multiple muscles respond in rapid succession or simultaneously. So an exercise such as a squat is preferable over a single leg extension since squats require multiple muscles to perform it correctly.Training ScheduleTry to keep the number of exercises you add to your routine at a reasonable amount and limit the time you spend working out. Choose at least three exercises that emphasize high intensity movement. While the urge to add a wide variety of exercises might be tempting to get results faster, adding too many exercises to your routine may make you exhausted before you finish and reduce the effectiveness of your workout. In short, choose quality over quantity and try to keep your routine to approximately 30 minutes. It’s the intensity of the workout, not the duration, which will lead to results.Sets and RepetitionsSets and repetitions are the core of a strength training workout routine, or any workout routine for that matter. A repetition (or “rep”) is the performance of the actual exercise one time (as in one push up). A set is a predetermined number of reps. For instance; you might perform 10 reps of push-ups for three sets, at the end completing 30 push-ups.So how many reps and set should you perform? That depends on your goals and current fitness level. Since strength training emphasizes both power and muscle mass, you should vary your workout routine. Doing a high number of reps stimulates the slow-twitch muscles and aids in muscle endurance, while performing a lower number of reps at a higher intensity stimulates the fast twitch muscles and increases muscle mass. With that in mind, vary your routine, alternating the number of reps you perform in an 8-10 week training cycle. But try to maintain your intensity of your lifts. Experts agree that the weight you lift must be heavy enough to bring you to the point of exhaustion at the end of your last rep to stimulate muscle growth.

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