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Weight Training for Strength

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Weight Training Routines for Strength

The goal of a strength program is, quite clearly, to build strength. But what is strength? Well, technically it’s your capacity to produce force. This basically translates into your ability to lift a lot of weight.

Usually, a strength trainee will be getting strong for something. Usually as an aid to athletic performance, strength training in the weights room should be fine-tuned to your ultimate goal – be that rugby, shot-putt or arm-wrestling.

So how is strength built? Well, it’s not as simple as “build bigger muscles”. In fact, that’s a very sub-optimal way of getting strong quickly. While it’s true that larger muscles mean more muscle fibres which means more force production, the biggest factor in your ability to lift weight is your central nervous system.

Most of the day, we never ever use more than about 10% of the muscle fibres of any given muscle. Even in 1-rep-max lifts, we’re using only a small fraction of the muscle fibres available. Effective strength training trains the nervous system, and builds the neural pathways that recruit muscle fibres. If you can go from using 10% of your chest, delt and tricep fibres to 20%, you’ve just doubled your bench press… pretty impressive.

With this in mind, strength training routines should be designed to train the nervous system.

What does that entail? They usually have the following qualities:

-Heavy weight – low reps in the 3-5 range
-Staying WELL away from failure – stopping the set as soon as barspeed slows
-Training FREQUENTLY – i.e. hit each muscle group 2-3 times per week
-Utilise heavy compound lifts (squat, deadlift, bench) and functional movements – e.g. kettlebells and sled-dragging

Stick by these core principles and watch your strength shoot up week after week.


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