Strength training has tremendous benefits for people of all ages. However, most people that enter a gym for the first time do not know how many sets or repetitions to complete in order to achieve the maximal results. The benefits associated with strength training are: 1) increase in lean body mass; 2) increase in metabolic rate; 3) increase in bone density; 4) decrease risk of injury; and 5) building back lost muscle tissue that commonly occurs with aging.
The two most common results people look to achieve from working out are gaining size and strength.
Training to gain size is associated with high reps consisting of shorter rest periods between each exercise. The number of reps should be kept around 8-15 with rest periods no longer than 30 seconds to two minutes. Complete three to five different exercises per muscle group, with three to six sets of each exercise. This type of training is referred to as hypertrophy training. Muscle hypertrophy is a term for the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells. These muscle fibers are broken down throughout the course of your workout. Repair begins, which causes the muscle to grow back larger.
Increasing muscular strength involves training at a higher intensity. With the higher intensity, not as many exercises are n
eeded. Two to three different exercises per muscle group will suffice. The number of sets can be backed off to three to five per exercise. The number of reps should be kept to a min
imal, around 4-8 reps per set while increasing the amount of rest time to 2-5 minutes. Training at a higher intensity requires a different energy system than working for endurance with higher rep training. This system requires more time to recover in order to replenish the energy stores, typically around 3 minutes.
Now you may ask; what if I am looking to gain both size and strength? Cycle periods of low-rep training and high-rep training into your overall program, while progressively trying to increase your strength and perfect your exercise form every time you lift. Learn to incorporate both types of training into your program in order to maximize your gains. Begin with lower reps for your major lifts, such as squats and bench press. Follow up the low reps with higher re
p training on your minor lifts. Following this protocol will allow you to see an enormous gain in the amount of weight you are able to lift when starting a new workout program.
Unless you’re training for a specific sport or lift, don’t get in the rut of solely sticking with either type of training style. Strength training is about confusing your muscles so they do not become adapted to the same weight and exercise. You will not see results if you stick with the usual three sets of ten protocol. Find what works best for you so you do not fatigue out too quickly. Try new things that take you out of your comfort zone while still giving you a nice workout. The most important aspect in strength training is finding something you enjoy doing so you do not get discouraged and give up on yourself!
By Keaton Allen
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Hitchcock, H. (2017, September 11). Mass Vs. Strength. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/436092-mass-vs-strength/
Thomas, M. H., & Burns, S. P. (2016, April 01). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836564/
Wendler, J. (2018, May 21). 10 Strength-Building Strategies That Will Never Die. Retrieved from https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/10-strength-building-strategies/