A Beginners Guide to Strength Training
WEIGHT TRAINING DEFINED
Weight training is the process of pushing the muscles of the body far beyond their usual workload to force them to adapt to a higher level of performance. Heavy training with weights causes controlled damage in the muscle fibers. After this damage is done, the body rebuilds the tissue over a period of time. This rebuilding process causes the muscles to get larger and more powerful.
There are many different methods of weight training available. All routines use three standard metrics to measure the amount of exercise that should be performed: reps, sets, and frequency.
A rep, or repetition, is the act of performing one exercise, one time: one bench press, one deadlift, one bicep curl. Some trainers teach that fast reps are more effective. Other trainers believe in slow, controlled motion to insure that as many muscle fibers as possible are fired.
For the sake of safety, it is wise to insert a controlled stop between each rep of exercise. Impact forces occur when the downward motion and upward motion of a heavy weighted exercise collide. At this critical point, without a controlled stop, the weight can take on double or even triple its actual load. A controlled stop helps maintain control and hedge against possible injury.
A series of reps of a single exercise, when done in succession, is called a set. Sets vary in how many reps they contain. Some strength training systems recommend multiple sets with many reps--perhaps as many as 4 sets of exercise, each set containing 10 reps.
Other workout plans recommend short sets where reps are not even considered. High intensity training uses a timed set procedure where a stopwatch is started at the beginning of a set of exercise and stopped when the muscles fail.
The frequency of exercise is equally important to how exercise is performed. Muscles get bigger between workouts. During this time, the body replenishes energy to the muscles and uses proteins to rebuild muscle fibers to better handle the extreme workloads demanded of them in the gym.
Training the muscles too frequently can impair the body's ability to repair the muscles properly. By training too frequently, plateaus in strength gains can occur. Often, merely taking a week off from the gym and allowing the muscles to fully heal can break these plateaus.
Most strength training systems agree that at least a 48-hour rest and recovery period is required between workouts.
With consistent workouts and plenty of rest and recovery time between workouts, the muscles can steadily grow until they reach their genetic potential. This might mean a lean, cut body for some; it might mean a lanky, less bulky body for others. But one thing is certain, strength gains with occur, and gains in lean muscle mass will boost metabolism, strengthen bones and energize the body.