Strength Training – What Is It & Why Should You Care?
Bodybuilding boils down to just two things – eating clean and lifting weights. Strength training deals with the second component.
Why Does Strength Training Matter?
It’s good to be strong. You can carry more things (grocery bags plus your tired and hungry 5 year old), do stuff others can’t (like move that locked motorcycle that’s blocking your driveway!) and look good too.
But strength training also prevents muscle atrophy in later years, keeps you out of nursing homes and increases longevity. It makes you healthier, prevents degenerative disease and has you feeling better. Conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and even heart disease can be postponed or averted through strength training.
Yet ask any bodybuilder the real reason why they’ll go through strength training and they’ll say… “Because it’s fun!” It’s safe and suitable for all ages, and all groups of people. Those who hesitate to begin strength training often pick from one of these excuses:
* I’m too old for it
* I focus on other exercise like running or sports
* I don’t like the idea of bulking up
* I’m so fat, I must first lose weight
Understanding Strength Training
Before you begin lifting weights, you must know what happens in your muscles when you begin working out. Every muscle is made up of tiny units called muscle fibers or cells. Our body have over 600 different muscles that help you move and get around, and they are made up of 2 unique types of muscle fibers.
Fast twitch fibers contract rapidly and get tired quickly. They are used during intense activity such as running a sprint.
Slow twitch muscle fibers are used to slow and sustained contractions and are useful in performing aerobic exercises. They grow tired only very slowly.
Whenever you exercise, and especially when you undergo strength training, your muscles will increase in size and strength – a process called hypertrophy. This bulking up can happen because individual muscle fibers accumulate more fluid (called sarcoplasm) within them, or might be the result of myofibril increase where actual contracting elements of the muscle increase in quantity and size.
Strength training builds up myofibrils and causes the second type of hypertrophy which leads to stronger and bulkier muscles. Your bodybuilding workouts are designed to do 2 things:
1. Break down muscle tissue that’s weaker, so your body can replace it with stronger muscle fibers.
2. Increase the stores of glycogen inside muscle fibers that will meet the increased demands of new myofibrils.
How Does This Matter For Strength Training?
There’s more to strength training than just lifting weights. To ensure the right kind of muscle growth and hypertrophy, you must train to match your goals. The workouts you follow will be different if you’re planning to gain strength, build bulk or increase endurance.
For example, to develop muscle strength, your workout will involve lifting heavier weights while keeping the rep count lower. On the other hand, if you want greater muscle bulk, you’ll keep the weights lighter while performing more reps per session.
Strength Training Includes Recovery
Muscles aren’t built in the gym. They’re built in the kitchen!
This trite saying is rooted in truth. Your workouts in the gym are actually tearing down weaker muscle fibers which will then be replaced with newer, stronger ones. This takes time, during which you should rest those muscle groups and eat enough calories and protein to rebuild your muscles.
In general, a 48 hour recovery period between workout sessions is ideal. Exercise routines usually affect muscle groups, which means a shoulder exercise will also affect your upper arm and back muscles. Exercising 3 to 4 times in a week is adequate for building strength.
The soreness you feel in muscles when you first exercise them (or workout after a long interval) is due to the normal process of muscle repair that takes place when you rest between workout sessions. Once your muscles become attuned to the stress of exercise, you’ll feel less pain than before.
Sore muscles do not mean you should stop exercise altogether. In fact, when you continue with strength training, the added muscle blood flow actually helps myofibrils heal faster and relieves soreness. The key, then, is to continue doing exercises but at lesser loads or intensity. So instead of lifting weights, you might exercise the same muscle aerobically or do yoga and stretches.
How To Get Started With Strength Training?
Whichever program or routine you begin, be sure that it is simple to follow, can be performed with the exercise equipment you have available, and works out all parts of your body. Compound full-body exercises that train every major muscle group are good while starting out. Later on, you can choose specific routines to strengthen and build up specific muscle groups.
Strength training has many benefits. Take the first step and begin a program like Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0. Stick with it despite some initial discomfort and reluctance. Soon you’ll find it an interesting part of your daily routine that you won’t want to give up for anything!