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Super Strength: 10 Steps To Great Strength Training

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Strength Training Guide

The human body is a wonderful machine that keeps us alive, moving and healthy.

As with any machine, it is complex and needs to be regularly maintained in order to fully reap the benefits of feeling well, alive, and fit.

The term “strength training” can seem a little vague at first impression, but a more specific term is weight or resistance training. The focus of strength training is to improve overall strength, fitness, and health in general.

If you’re looking for focused exercises to improve muscular strength and fitness, strength training might be for you because it involves gradually exercising specific muscle groups at a time and will help you improve your fitness overall. 

 

10 Steps to Great Strength Training

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to do strength training; it’s for anyone who wants to work on their strength and fitness.

Put simply, strength training is all about gradually increasing resistance while allowing muscles time to repair in between. The most important thing is consistency; the body can’t build muscles when they aren’t being exercised properly.

Too much all at once can also be detrimental. 

Before delving into the world of strength training, it’s important to note that if you have any ongoing health conditions such as arthritis or an underlying heart condition, you must consult a doctor before attempting physical exercise.

If you are pregnant or you think that you might be pregnant, speak to your doctor before attempting. If you are on any medication that affects your ability to operate machinery or you are considered medically vulnerable, or if your immune system is compromised in some way, please speak with your doctor before attempting strenuous exercise. 

Benefits Of Strength Training

The Benefits Of Strength Training

There are so many reasons why you should give strength training a try, even if intensive exercise isn’t really your thing.

If you’re looking for a new workout regime that is less cardio heavy this is for you. No need to be intimidated when you’re following this step-by-step guide on how to safely build lean muscle and decrease body fat for good.

Create a fitness routine that works for you and reap the benefits!

Strength training is fully customizable.

You can go to the gym or do it at home, it can be as intense or gradual as you like. 

As with any kind of workout, the natural release of endorphins creates a positive mood. Along with this, strength training is good for your mental health because of the repeated endorphin release and it’s simple; moving your body in new ways is good for you – mind, body, and soul.

After a few weeks of following this plan, you’ll be glowing with a newfound confidence and body image. 

There are also additional benefits including better immunity, more consistent energy levels throughout the day, and efficient weight loss caused by improved metabolism.

As with any regular exercise, your body will thank you for the work put in. Stronger bones as bone density increases over time and improved circulation, as well as heart health, are some of many health benefits to strength training.

Check this out for more benefits of strength training. 

Not sure if strength training is for you?

Try starting off small and doing a series of squats every other day. You could even do some lunges while holding a bag of flour from the pantry. You’ll see benefits from moving your body in any small way.

Don’t let people influence how you approach exercising because any change you make to your routine is a great start. 

 

Types Of Strength Training

Types of Strength Training

 

There are five main types of strength training so there’s bound to be one to suit your routine and lifestyle.

 

Muscle endurance training

Using a light weight that is easy to hold, you can quickly build up strength by doing repeated reps.

This is a really good place to start because as the name suggests, it helps build up muscle tissue and create resistance so that it’s much easier to move on to the more intense, heavier movements.

The key to this one is patience, avoid going too heavy all at once as it can be detrimental for tissue repair and potentially cause long-term injury.

This is usually the starting point for anyone at a beginner level of strength training. It’s important not to rush this stage and only move on when you feel ready.

 

Circuit training

Another pretty self-explanatory style here that will hopefully prevent you from getting bored and keep you on your toes.

In this one, you can customize a set of exercises to suit your preference and the equipment you have available. The idea is to do a series of short exercises and reps, then have a short break and complete the circuit again. Repeating intervals also helps with strengthening muscles as well as times.

This is the most highly used type of strength training because it’s highly beneficial and suits regular people because of its adaptability and flexibility.

It’s easy to integrate this into your lifestyle. The following types of training are for people training for a sporting event or wanting to really push themselves a step further.

 

Hypertrophy training

if your priority is to tone and build muscles this is the one for you.

The key is to increase the volume used in training, amount of reps, and weights used. Make sure to eat a lot of protein when you’re focusing on hypertrophy training so that the body can build muscle healthily and repair itself.

Hypertrophy is usually more intense and involves more rapid sets and rest periods so is not recommended if you have any underlying health conditions. Hypertrophy literally means building cells in the body. It’s therefore essential to stay hydrated and prioritize rest between workouts.

 

Max strength training

This type of training focuses on increasing muscle strength and resistance.

At this stage, it’s important that you’ve built up the body’s tolerance to weights and then you can gradually reduce the number of reps while slowly increasing the weight used.

The idea is that you achieve the maximum possible strength that you can be in a certain area before going on to focus on power in the next stage.

 

Explosive power training

Unless you have spent some time focusing on the max strength training stage, this is not suitable for you as it is only effective once the muscles have been worked in a specific way.

During this kind of training your body’s strength and speed are combined to achieve maximum amounts of power.

This type of training is usually used by Olympians at maximum intensity for short periods of time. If you want to focus on muscle build check out this page

 

Getting Started

Getting Started With Strength Training

 

Now that we’ve been over the different types of strength training and its many benefits to the body and mind, you’re probably wondering where to start or even how.

Here’s a quick guide with some pointers on how to get yourself and your environment ready to start your strength training journey.

 

Stretch

Before you think about lifting weights, we cannot stress enough how important it is to stretch.

Information on how to stretch which muscles is widely available online and you might want to consider attending weekly yoga sessions for guidance on how to breathe through stretches to allow the muscles to really relax.

Stretching is essential before and after working out. The muscles used during training can never repair or work correctly if they haven’t been stretched and prepped.

Stretching after a workout enhances tissue healing and promotes relaxation across the body.

 

Warm-up

Cardio is recommended for 5-10 minutes to get the heart pumping and the body switched on.

For regular gym-goers, a brisk walk on the treadmill with a 1-1.5 incline would be great.

If you want to work out at home, try going up and down the stairs as many times as you can in five minutes, or do a couple of laps of your living area, anything that gets the heart pumping is great.

Cooling down is just as important for muscle repair and recovery.

 

Weights

If you’re at the gym find either a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells that you can easily lift and do 12-15 reputations with realistically but that will still tire your muscles after that many.

If you want to purchase equipment there isn’t much to get; either a set of dumbbells or kettlebells. It might be an idea to also get an exercise or yoga mat, however, it’s not essential to purchase anything because you can use your body’s weight through lunges and squats.

Strength training isn’t necessarily expensive, the benefit of it is that you can use what you have.

You could also try to use something heavy and easy to hold around the house, or focus on exercises that use your own bodyweight – you don’t have to spend money at all if you can’t or don’t want to.

If you have a gym membership go ahead and use the weights section there and find a piece of floor that you’re comfortable working out in. 

 

10 Steps For Super Strength

 

Here’s our beginner’s guide to get the most out of strength training and how to ease into it and get your body moving.

Remember, start off small and gradually build up strength over time. Motivation is key because you won’t begin to see results straight away, it takes time, determination, and motivation to truly improve oneself. 

 

1. Compound Exercises

An effective use of time is to do sets that exercise two muscle groups at one time.

This doesn’t have to be complicated – a squat uses the glutes, quads, and calves in one movement.

Try doing a set of normal squats with your feet shoulder-width apart, then after a short rest period another where you hold the squat position for five seconds each time.

Alternatively, add weights if they are accessible to you, increasing gradually after 2-3 sets.

 

2. Weight Training (Heavy Resistance Based Exercises)

This type of exercise is crucial for building up skeletal muscles which hold the frame for the rest of the body’s muscles.

Make sure to find a weight that you’re comfortable holding for 12-15 reps and gradually increase as you feel comfortable, or after every two weeks.

 

3. Keeping it simple

If you’re a beginner, there isn’t any need in counting your reps.

The focus on the early sessions should just be raising and lowering weights and learning to listen to your body and what feels like too heavy.

Try not to worry about how you look or that it might not feel natural, everyone has to start somewhere. Try to stay motivated and remember that you started for a reason, be proud of that!

 

4. Keep a log

Write down your sets, exercises, after each workout.

It can be rewarding to look back on your fitness journey and see how much you’ve learned and also the strength and confidence gained.

This is also good motivation to keep going because it acts as someone to hold you accountable and as a responsibility to complete a log after a workout.

You could even make this part of your daily life and begin a general journal or mood tracker.

 

5. Monitor/track your best lifts/progress

Positive reinforcement is key.

If you’re working out alone, try writing positive notes in your log about how close you are to a new personal best or even keeping track of how your body feels and confidence levels.

There are benefits to working out with a friend following the same program as it’s easy to bounce motivation off each other as and when needed.

It also helps to have someone to hold you accountable, for example, if you start to fall behind on workouts they can support you and remind you of the benefits of routine.

It can be easy to ignore but try to focus on how a lift or stretch feels, how the body feels, and if something feels natural to you or not. You might also surprise yourself with what stretches you have never done before or how strong a certain muscle is, for example, if your occupation is more manual.

 

6. Don’t overdo it

Stick to three to four different types of workouts and alternate throughout the week.

The most important part of strength training is to remember that it takes time to build up resistance and to start very gradually. Work out for no more than 45 minutes.

Especially if you’re just starting out. You might actually find that you’ve finished 3-4 sets after twenty minutes. That’s nothing to worry about, you finish when you finish, although it might be worth considering your rest intervals a little more seriously.

You don’t need to spend a certain amount of time at the gym in order to be productive.

 

7. Think five

Rotate different rep ranges in your workout, five reps offer a blend of muscle size and strength gains while avoiding overexertion.

Five is easy to remember and not too much, or too little. It might seem like too much at the very start so for the first week you could always try four to help you get used to it.

This is what we mean when we say that strength training is fully customizable based on you and your routine, preferences, and what you’re hoping to achieve.

If you do a little less that’s fine as long as you eventually build-up to the goal of five in order to get the benefits and notice a difference.

 

8. Add weights slowly

Don’t start with weights that are too heavy.

This one seems self-explanatory but it’s really easy to lose patience and try something which feels like your muscles are working hard when it can actually be causing an injury or tissue damage.

Even though it might be tempting to jump into the deep end, trust us when we say you need to start small and focus on easy, repeated sets that gradually build muscle.

Progress takes time and it’s important to get into a routine. Start increasing when you’re ready and not before, being gradual is key, and easy does it.

 

9. Introduce HIIT Workouts To Your Routine

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is perfect to accompany strength training because it has fast results and can be an effective form of cardio which is the only thing missing from making this a whole body workout.

Check this out if you’re interested in HIIT. Your fitness will thank you for trying HIIT although the clue is in the name, be aware it is intense!

If you’re preparing for a marathon, triathlon or another heavy-duty sporting event this would be perfect for you as all of your body will be worked out in short, sharp intervals.

 

10. Add cardio to your workout and balance your strength training

This helps create a more overall toning and can also aid in weight loss and accelerate metabolism.

Your overall fitness will thank you and it also prevents injury and muscle imbalance. Cardio is perfect for fat burn and will provide more definition.

Many marathon runners find that they need to focus on strength training more because although running and cardio are second nature to them, their bodies need to build up strength in order to support them in the most effective way. 

 

Effective Strength Training Exercises

Effective Strength Training Exercises

 

Here are some examples of repeated exercises that will begin your strength training.

You can try these exercises at home or at the gym. Alone or with a friend.

Try looking up different variations of these, it might also be interesting to see how some people have come up with their own forms of resistance, to create unique sets of exercises.

 

Push-ups 

Hold the body in a plank position with legs straight and arms tucked under the shoulders with hands flat on the floor.

Make sure the body stays straight and only the arms move. Try to keep the core tight. If you have access to a bar you could always try pull-ups as well, really make the most of using the body as a natural weight. 

 

Planks 

Hold the body straight with toes on the floor and core tight, rest on the elbows lay flat on the floor.

Try to keep the body from touching the floor. This is a perfect one to do in time intervals, eg. 30 seconds to start then build up. It is also a great use of the body’s weight- no need for dumbbells.

If you’re feeling super strong you could put a bag of uncooked rice in the crook of your back before propping yourself up to really get glutes working. 

 

Lunges 

Standing with both feet together take a step in front of you with one leg placing the foot firmly on the ground.

Bend both knees to slowly lower yourself to rest on one knee. Before your back knee touches the floor, bring yourself back up keeping an upright posture.

This one is perfect for incorporating weights as you could start with none then do a set where you are holding 3kg, then 5kg, for example. 

 

Resistance band exercises

A resistance band is an affordable piece of equipment definitely worth purchasing.

Standing with the resistance band around your ankles try slowly raising one leg to your side. More ways on how to effectively use a resistance band to build strength and other beginner workouts can be found here.

There are also helpful images highlighting correct posture, form, and toning. 

 

Top Tips For Strength Training

Top Tips for Strength Training

 

Now you’re almost ready to begin strength training, here are some useful tips to keep in mind when you’re working out and settling into a regular fitness routine. You could always try and make journaling part of your routine too.

Keep track on paper of what you did today, how you found it etc.  

 

Use proper form

If you use a gym an instructor or trainer can help by showing you the correct way to hold your body with and without weights.

If you’re working out at home youtube is a great place to find demonstrations and instructors can describe how it feels when you try and workout while the body is in the incorrect form.

It’s also important to use the correct form so as to prevent injury, repeated strain, or activate a recurring injury.

The benefits of researching and using the proper form include improved strength and endurance. More information on the importance of using the correct form is available here

 

Breathe

Don’t hold your breath! Take deep breaths when you lunge, squat, etc.

The body can’t repair itself if you aren’t taking oxygen in.

It’s easy to forget to breathe which makes the body work even harder unnecessarily. It can be easy to hold in your breath especially when the body is in discomfort- it’s a natural response to stressful situations.

That’s why you’ll need to recondition your body to actively remember to breathe to allow your body to work correctly.

Breathing goes hand-in-hand with stretching and form. If your form is correct but you’re holding your breath for the whole set, you’re likely to do more harm than good to your body. 

 

Rest

Never underestimate the power of rest.

Too much too soon is one thing, but make sure to leave at least 1-2 days between your workouts so that your body can repair.

Sleep is crucial for physical recovery too, be sure to give your body what it needs and drink plenty of water. Sleep, water, and correctly fuelling your body are crucial for strength training.

If you are trying to build muscle try incorporating more protein into your diets such as pulses, fish, and protein powder. Do your research before purchasing protein powder or whey and if possible, speak to your doctor or a nutritionist if you are considering “bulking”. 

 

Corporate strength training into your fitness routine

Strength training is a must and has so many benefits that serve the mind, body, and soul.

It’s so easy to begin and fall into a routine of regular workouts. You don’t need to be a regular gym-goer to do strength training, it’s perfect for anyone looking to work on their physical health, get in shape or build muscle.

There’s no reason why you can’t start moving your body a little more, whether you want to build strength, muscle, power, or lose weight and get in shape.

There’s something in strength training for everyone regardless of age, gender, or living situation.

If you can get to a gym, there might be free advice from a trainer about how to start incorporating more exercise into your routine and how to stay motivated. Healthier change is never a bad thing. 

You can find more detailed tips on getting started here

 

Summary

 

Hopefully, by now you’ve learned a little about strength training; the different types and intensities.

We recommend finding a workout buddy to motivate you and you can begin your training journey together.

Failing that, keep a journal or progress tracker. You’ll be surprised how quickly you improve and how much it motivates you to write something down. No one is going to be perfect on the first try, be sure to research the correct form for each exercise, follow the links above for more useful information and tips.

Rest is just as important as the actual training and it’s crucial to hydrate your body and fuel it with plenty of protein and vegetables. Lentils are an affordable protein if you’re avoiding meat. They are highly effective in fuelling muscles efficiently.

Another factor to consider before starting training is the role of supplements. There is plenty of information about the effects of specific supplements on the body however we recommend trying without before in order to see if there is any effect on performance, abilities and what, if any, effect on muscle cramping, spasms, and tissue repair. 

It is also essential to stretch before and after workouts, regardless of how intense the session was.

It can be very easy to tear and damage tissue which would otherwise be fine if stretched properly. The most important part of strength training is consistency and staying motivated to work muscles, tissue and keep to repeated reps.

We recommend finding a workout buddy who will go to weekly yoga with you to effectively learn how to stretch, relax and keep taking deep breaths throughout.

Why not research local yoga groups online?

We appreciate yoga isn’t for everyone though, but stretching is important so you might find instructions on the links provided useful on how to work specific muscles. Information and tutorials are also available on youtube as well as directions on how to hold and maintain correct form.

Correct posture is essential in maintaining and building core strength. 

Make sure to do your own research before investing in weights, yoga mats, and workout gear, and only use a gym if you have access to it.

These workouts are great to do at home with a family member or alone, pop some 80s disco jams on speaker and you’re good to go! You might even be able to incorporate a workout into your daily routine.

For example, do some lunges while vacuuming or jog up and down the stairs an extra time while running errands. If you start looking for it, you might find that there’s an opportunity anywhere to make healthier changes.

Make sure that you are keeping your body correctly fuelled with the right nutrients. Advice is available online or by speaking to your doctor on how to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. 

If you notice any changes in your general wellbeing such as excessive cramping, headaches, or migraines after working out, speak with your doctor immediately.

Do not attempt strength training if you are considered medically vulnerable or if you are pregnant. If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor before starting strength training.

Repetition is key, so don’t try and do too much too soon. If you are recovering from surgery, seek medical help before attempting exercise.

What do you think about our strength training guide? Leave a comment below.

With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms! Follow Jacked Gorilla on Instagram: @jackedgorillanews

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