Strength training is a type of resistant training which is designed to increase strength by an athlete. Most of trainees notice increase in muscle mass during it as well but this is not a main purpose of it.
To achieve desired results – in this case become stronger – we have to follow strength training principles.
1. Barbell mostly
The purpose of strength training is to lift as heavy weight as possible in a single repetition, that’s why the best type of equipment for this will be the barbell.
We can lift much heavier weight with the barbell than with dumbbells. For example: man who canbench press maximum 220lbs (100kg) won’t be able to lift 110lbs (50kg) dumbbell in each hand.
In strength training we lift with much higher intensity than with muscle mass building training. Usually we train between 85% and 100 % of 1RM (the maximum weight we can lift once).
We often use the maximum loads to establish personal records. Sometimes we train with above our records and increase the intensity to even 120%. It sounds impossible but to achieve this we simply load the barbell with much more weight that we can lift and do partial repetitions or negatives only.
3. Repetition range
We train in very low repetition range here – 5-1. Basically, it wouldn’t be possible to lift such a heavy weight more times than that and even if it was, our muscles would be too fatigued to train any more after.
4. Resting time
We want to lift as heavy weight as it is possible therefore we need to let our muscles rest a bit longer. Usually resting time in strength training is increased to between 3 and 5 minutes. The heavier weight you deal with, the more rest you need. Generally, take as much rest as you need.
5. Number of sets
In strength training, muscles don’t require as much volume as for hypertrophy. That’s why number of sets for each muscle group is usually between 3 and 5, however sometimes it’s increased to 8 or even 10 if we perform double or single repetitions in one set.
6. The tempo
Pressing barbell up, or pulling it, should be done as fast as we can as long as it’s done with a proper technique. The fastest we lift the weight the more muscle fibers is activated and the biggest force is created, therefore the biggest gains in size and strength are noticed.
There’s no pause on the top, lower it down slowly, with control but without any emphasize on the negative (eccentric) part.
We focus here mainly on the one exercise for certain muscle group. For example:
- Legs – Squat,
- Chest – Bench Press,
- Back – Deadlift, sometimes Row of Pull-Up
- Shoulders – Military Press.
We don’t train small muscle groups with such a heavy loads; they usually get enough work during big compound exercises like the ones listed above.
Don’t try to lift so heavy if your technique isn’t good. Otherwise you’ll snap your spine, pull a muscle or get a different injury. To learn the right technique start exercises light or even with an empty barbell, do 5 repetitions and work your way up. When your form suffers, de-load a bit, and do few more sets with the weight that allows you to train with the proper technique.
Because we don’t need such a high volume to become stronger we don’t need as much recovery either, therefore the same muscle groups can be trained twice or even three times per week.
Make sure your core muscles are strong enough and well warmed up before any heavy lift. You can use a belt but only when you are trying to lift maximum weight, don’t train with it all the time. It helps your core muscles but in the same time it’s not training them, you have to get them stronger.
I believe strength training is very much underrated. Most of trainees focus too much on building muscle mass forgetting that strength cycle is inseparable part of it.
One of the best strength routines I can recommend is GetStrong workout. This program will make you twice as strong as you were before and transform you from a boy to the man. You’ll become harder, bigger and more confident for life.