If you are just getting into the world of strength training, you might have realised that it is a lot more complicated than simply lifting weights or performing HIIT workouts. Strength training is an organised exercise routine in which weights (including weights, your own body weight, and other machinery) are used to contract muscles under tension with the goal to promote growth, strength, and endurance. In this article, we will be having a look at the important things that you need to know when starting a strength training program.
There are four main points to remember when it comes to strength training:
- Frequency – how often you train
- Intensity – how intense you train
- Timing – how long your sessions are
- Exercises – which exercises and types of exercises you do
All of these elements play a role in your progress and will change as you improve.
Strength training focuses on your muscles and it is important if you want to take it seriously, to understand how your muscles are being worked as you train.
Your muscles go through two types of contractions:
- Isometric contractions happen when your muscles do not lengthen during movement. For example, when you are doing bicep curls and you hold the dumbbell in a static position (versus moving it up and down).
- Isotonic contractions happen when your muscles lengthen and shorten during movement. For example, during active bicep curls, your muscles will shorten as you raise the weight (a concentric contraction) and lengthen as you lower it back down (an eccentric contraction).
The other area of the body that is affected by strength training is your joints, which are influenced by muscle contractions. It is vital to understand the relationship between what your movements during strength training and the effect that they have on your muscles and joints so that you can avoid overextending muscles and causing further injury, as well as improving your form.
Types of Training
Strength training is a versatile type of training, that can be used to target different muscle groups. The advantage of this is that depending on your time availability, what muscles you want to target, and the level of intensity that you are looking for on a particular day, you can adjust your training programme accordingly. There are three main types of workouts in strength training:
- HIIT Training: involves a series of different exercises that work your entire body.
- Split Training: involves focusing on a particular area of the body (e.g. focusing on the upper body, lower body, and abdominals individually on different days).
- Major Lift Training: involves weightlifting (e.g. deadlifts, clean & jerk, bench press) that focuses on large muscle groups.
Building a Strength Program
Building a strength programme depends on the four fundamental elements mentioned earlier. When you are starting a program, it is important to work on building a programme over time, as you become stronger and improve your endurance. As you improve you can increase your frequency and intensity, you will be able to vary your session time based on what type of training you are doing on the day and learn to diversify the types of exercises that you are performing. While a lot of people who are starting off with strength training will want to build big visible muscles, but it is important to build strength in supporting muscles and joints to support those muscles. Equality amongst muscles is key to building all-over strength.
Strength is something that happens over time. By varying your program, focusing on all muscle groups, and taking enough rest, you will be able to improve your endurance and muscle strength.
Interested in learning more about different types of training? If you are, then you should have a look at our Personal Training Diploma. Read more here.