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Training for Strength or Size

June 13, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 207

To build a better body, a person needs to train with purpose. Goals and objectives must be identified for our training. One of the basic questions we must ask ourselves is if whether we are training for muscle strength or muscle size. If you have never even considered this question, but rather opted for the health club line of "toning up" then you will fail in your attempts at building a better body. Let me repeat that again, without separate and specific training protocols for increasing muscle strength and then increasing muscle size, you are wasting your workout time!

I have seen dedicated health club members go year after year with consistent effort with NO improvement. Let us get real about building a better body. Take the analogy of home construction. First, a foundation is laid of basic heavy concrete. Next, carpenters add a frame with lots of lumber and plywood on that foundation. At that point, if a person were to drive by the construction site he would see a solid building, not finished of course but he would see significant observable results. Do you not want the same significant observable results from your workouts?

So, let's get back to my question of strength or size. To help you answer this you should know the following:

A. You will only gain a certain amount of muscle size with a muscle size building routine before you need to train for strength.

B. You will increase a certain amount of strength with a strength routine before you need to train for size.

Back to our home analogy, the heavy concrete foundation is strength and built on that is our frame of size. To put it in relation to time, train 1 month for strength and 2 months for size then back again.

Characteristics of a Strength Routine

- few heavy compound movements - 2-3 minutes rest between sets - 3-5 rep range - repeat same workouts 2 times a week - 6 workouts per week - 30 minutes long

Characteristics of a Size Routine

- several medium weight compound and isolation movements - 30-60 seconds between sets with some super sets (sets performed back to back with no rest) - 8-12 rep range - perform same workout once a week - 6 workouts per week - 45 minutes long

The focus of the strength routine is a few heavy quality moves, whereas the focus of the size routine is 50% more lifts of a medium weight.

Here is my personal strength routine:

Monday & Thursday - Dead lifts & shrugs

After a warm-up I proceed to dead lifts, rest, shrugs, rest, dead lifts. Repeat the cycle as often as possible in 30 minutes. Lift as heavy as possible for 5 reps a set. Recording my weight and increasing it every Monday (starting the second week)

After two workouts you will know the number of sets you can perform in the 30 minute time frame.

Tuesday & Friday - Wide grip chin up with additional weight & standing military presses

After a warm-up, I proceed to wide grip chin ups with weights, rest, standing military presses, rest, wide grip chin-ups. Repeat the cycle as often as possible in 30 minutes. Lift as heavy as possible for 5 reps a set. Recording my weight and increasing it every Friday (starting the second week)

Wednesday & Saturday - Incline bench dumbbell presses & parallel bar dips with weight vest

Follow the same procedure as the above two workouts (presses, rest, dips, rest, etc) Weight is increased every Wednesday (starting the second week)

The above routine is basic, heavy and hard. You will not see health club soft bodies doing any of the above exercises with heavy weights in the 5 rep range. You will notice after a couple of heavy sets your rest periods will become longer.

That is OK as long as you do not exceed 3 minutes in the later part of your 30 minute routine. You increase the weight Monday, Wednesday and Friday as long as you keep the same reps and sets per session. After four weeks you should be significantly stronger on any exercise that you may do in the size routine. This strength routine, except for your calves, works the entire body. Your grip, forearms and even your abs will be worked. Try this for a month for some serious total body strengthening.

The recommendation for this month of training was on strength. To do this we kept exercises simple, basic and heavy. The rep range was 3-5 per set with 1 to 3 minutes of rest between sets. Now that we have grown in strength it is time to grow in size. A small increase in strength is easily transformed into a significant increase in size in the following routine format. Let's look at the three aspects of the routine formats that we work with.

A - Exercise selection

B - Rep range

C - Rest between sets

Note: Time per workout is about the same. 35-45 minutes is a good range.

Now we will see the differences between the strength size routines.

Strength: A - 1-3 basic compound full body moves, B - 3-5 reps per set, C - 1-3 minutes rest between sets

Size: A - 3-4 compound & isolation moves, B - 8-12 reps per set, C - 0-60 sec rest between sets

Note: In addition to time per workout to be relatively constant the weight used is to be as heavy as the rep range will allow.

The obvious difference in the size routine is the dramatic increase of volume. What I mean is there are more exercises, greater reps and more sets because the rest between sets is shorter.

I believe it is imperative that you know the principles or the why of what you are doing. That being the case an analogy is in order. Most of us appreciate horsepower. The horsepower of an engine is determined by basically two factors, torque and revolutions per minute (RPM). A farm tractor has plenty of stump pulling horsepower because of an abundance of torque. A formula one car has race winning horsepower because of an abundance of RPM.

In the weight training world torque = strength while RPM = volume. It is strength x volume that increases muscle size. A small amount of increased strength 5 to 10% times a larger increase in volume 50% plus equals a better more muscular body. Now we are ready to change the strength routine of last month into a size routine.

Monday & Thursday

Dead lift & shrugs at 50% of strength training weight or less followed immediately by dumbbell squat followed immediately by frog jumps. Rest 1 minute then repeat above cycle as many times as possible in 30 minutes. A frog jump is simply jumping up as high as you can from a crouched position using only your body weight.

Tuesday & Friday

Narrow grip full or 1/2 rep chin ups followed by standing dumbbell presses followed by alternating dumbbell curls followed by dumbbell side laterals then rest for 1 minute. Repeat above cycle as many times as possible in 30 minutes.

Wednesday & Saturday

Parallel bar dips or negatives only followed by regular push ups followed by French curls or skull crushes followed by incline dumbbell flys rest one minute. Repeat cycle as often as possible in 30 minutes.

You can do a negative only dip by lowering yourself on parallel bars then standing up to bring yourself to the top position. Like the strength routine this size routine can be performed two times a week or once a week as your schedule or recuperative powers allow. If you complete as many sets as you can in the 8-12 rep range you will grow large muscles. In this routine volume is key!

EJ Reeves is a 60 year old exercise advocate and President of Easyeffort fitness products. He designed and sold his first chin up bar on March 14, 2000. Easyeffort encourages a healthy fitness lifestyle with free articles and product support after each sale.

When training for strength, EJ adds weight to his chin ups. A solid ceiling mounted chin up bar is absolutely essential for safely doing heavy sets.

Source: EzineArticles
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