Strength Training

Posted by Maria Lennartz on Monday, November 12, 2018

 It is important in building lean muscle to help your body perform and look better.

Lifting weights is also a metabolism booster by building lean muscle you will burn more calories and add definition to your body.  The right strength training plan can prevent injury by improving your posture, building core strength, and helping with joint alignment.

Here is what you need to know regarding reps and load, if you are just starting to lift weights or have plateaued and want to start seeing more gains in building lean muscle.

The language ….

Reps (Repetitions) and Sets are the basis of most strength training programs.  Your reps are simply how many times you complete a movement.  Low reps range from 1 to about 6.  Mid-range reps are generally 8 to 12.  High range reps are more than 14 reps.  

Your sets are how many times you complete a rep scheme.  So, if a strength training program prescribes 3 x 5 at a certain weight, you are looking at 3 sets of 5 reps.  That means you’re going to complete that exercise 15 times, with a break between each set of 5.

How do muscles grow …. The science.

If you take a closer look at a slice of muscle tissue, you’d see that it’s made up of many smaller muscle fibres. Your muscles get bigger when these individual fibres become thicker, a process known as hypertrophy. These muscle fibres as they grow can produce more force (they are functional)

  • ·         Slow twitch muscle fibres respond to high rep ranges (higher than 8 reps) using lighter weight and fast twitch respond to higher weights and low rep ranges (less than 8 reps) or fast, powerful reps using lighter weight.
  • ·         If you are an endurance athlete wanting to enhance your performance, you will need to focus on slow twitch and high rep ranges.
  • ·         If you want to improve your strength and power, you will need to focus on fast twitch muscle fibres using low reps with heavy weights or fast movement.
  • ·         If you are a bodybuilder whose goal is to increase muscle size (ie, you want to look really BIG), you will need to focus on both, fast and slow twitch muscle fibres, to get the maximum growth in the entire muscle.

2.              There is also a fluid part of the muscle fibre, known as the sarcoplasm, in which the myofibrils are embedded. It’s filled with stuff – such as water, glycogen, and myoglobin – that doesn’t contribute directly to the production of muscle force. However, you can increase the amount of sarcoplasm and your muscles will get bigger (but not stronger) This is the PUMPED look you get when working the muscles.


So what’s the best advice? …. The options

Heavy Weight/Low Reps (1-6 Reps/set)

You will get stronger and build lean muscle

This is the type of strength training that we use to just get stronger and is usually the focus of athletes whose goal is to lift a heavy weight, such as Powerlifters and Olympic Weightlifters. Lifting heavy weight for low repetitions will increase the weight that you can lift 1 time. Because body size provides an advantage in lifting heavy weights, you might get bigger (especially if you support your lifting with extra calories).

 If your goal is simply to lift heavy things, you don’t need to do any other type of training.  If your goals are a leaner and more defined body, or you want to complement other athletic activities, you should look at other types of training, or complement heavy lifting with a more well-rounded program.

Moderate to Heavy Weight/Mid-range Reps (8-12 reps/set)

This is the type of strength training gives you the most visible results by promoting larger muscles, otherwise known as hypertrophy.

This is the type of strength training that is the best for building visible muscle.  For that reason, it’s typically used by Bodybuilders, alone or in combination with the Heavy Weight/Low Reps approach.  Whether your goal is toning or building lean muscle

Women often fear that lifting this way will make them too big.  In truth, that’s unlikely, especially if you’re watching your diet.  Most women have to lift (and eat) a lot to really build lean muscle.  This is even more true as we age.  If your goal is to tone up, a moderately heavy weight and a rep range of about 10-12 reps per set is a powerful addition to your cardio or lighter sets of weight training. Select your weight at a level that leaves you struggling to finish your final repetitions.

Low Weight and High Reps (more than 14 reps)

This rep scheme can also be useful for injury prevention and training of smaller stabilising muscles.

For exercisers who are new to lifting, lifting lower weights for longer is more manageable and will still lead to building lean muscle and improving performance

The other fun part about low weights, is the potential to introduce speed into a strength training workout.  Velocity training, which emphasises moving weights quickly, results in a higher power output.  This translates to improvement in performance in other athletic activities and strength training.  It also improves both endurance and lean muscle composition.