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Strength training - methods, effects, tips

A strong back, defined arm musculature, or a slim, well-shaped stomach: the goals people pursue in strength training are diverse and require a variety of training options. The importance of regular invigoration becomes clear when you see the wide range of bodybuilders and the positive effects of strength training with your own eyes: back pains and poor posture can be reduced and body proportions improved. You guide the effects of your workout, depending on how intense you train and what exercises you do. We have summarized the most important information and tips to facilitate your introduction to strength training and to optimize your training program.

The tenets of exercising - What does strength training mean and what effect does it have?

An understanding of the adjustments and processes in the body is very helpful if you want strength training to be effective. Strength training exhausts your body's energy reserves, i.e. we get tired. Even the enzymes and proteins - indeed, all substances used in muscle activity - are less readily available. They must be reproduced and filled up; the body recovers and builds the needed substances back up. Since the organism wants to facilitate an improved starting point for the next strain, the energy reserves and the condition of the muscle improves beyond the original level. Muscles grow and performance potential increases. This phenomenon is described as the so-called "principle of super-compensation". This is where we should start when talking about strength training. Your subsequent training session should take place within the span of time in which performance potential is increased. This results in successive accumulation of the training effects as well as consistent muscle growth and increased fitness.

Means and methods of strength-training - What is the proper way to build up your strength?

Certain force parameters must be considered in order to build up strength in an effective and targeted manner. The most important force parameters are intensity, number of repetitions, and extent (i.e. number of sets per exercise). Even break lengths, training frequency and technical execution are important aspects that must be taken into consideration. Various adjustments and effects are set in motion depending on how you set up your exercise sessions.
There are primarily two important training methods in terms of fitness and health:

  • Muscle cross-section training in order to build up musculature in a targeted manner, and
  • Strength endurance training in order to define the musculature, shape the body and tighten tissue.
Muscle cross-section training

In muscle cross-section training (also called hypertrophy training) one aims to maximize muscle capacity and to thicken individual muscle fibers. In Table 1 we have listed some stress parameters so that you can appropriately orient your workouts.


Intensity

Number of repetitions

Number of sets

Execution
speed

70 - 80% of maximum strength

6 – 12

3 – 5

Slow to middle

Table 1: Force parameters for muscle cross-section training

Strength endurance training

Training your strength endurance allows you to optimize your body proportions, define muscles, tighten tissue and shape your body. In Table 2 you will find the most important force parameters for effective strength endurance training.


Intensity

Number of repetitions

Number of sets

Execution
speed

40 - 65% of maximum strength

15 - 50

3 – 5

middle to quick

Table 2: Force parameters for strength endurance training

In terms of performance-oriented strength training, there are additional training methods that can be used to achieve other effects. Here, primary importance is given to maximum and quick strength training. This type of training is used in particular in various types of sports such as track and field. All those whose favorite sports fall under this category should take a look at Tables 3 and 4, which show the modalities for effective maximum and quick strength training.


Intensity

Number of repetitions

Number of sets

Execution
speed

85 - 100% of maximum strength

1 – 5

1 – 5

middle to quick

Table 3: Force parameters for maximum strength training

Intensity

Number of repetitions

Number of sets

Execution
speed

50 - 65% of maximum strength

5 – 8

1 – 5

maximum

Table 4: Force parameters for fast strength training

In order for the workout sessions to remain effective in the long-term, you need to increase the training weight used time to time and make sure that you work out regularly. You should train 2 -3 times per week in order to guarantee optimal strength and muscle building.

Fixed equipment vs. free weight lifting - Which fitness equipment is best for strength training?

Again and again we are asked whether or not it is better to train on a multi-gym system or with free weights (e.g. dumbbells with weight bench). This depends on your training experience and on the desired training goals.

When it comes to strength training on a fixed training machine, the exercise is as guided as possible and limits the degree of freedom you have in each movement. This means that you can fully concentrate on the weight you are lifting and have lower coordination requirements. Strength training on a guided machine is especially recommended for beginners, as their first step is to learn the exact technique and execution of movements. You can generally train on the machine with higher weight loads and are even more exhausted when you are done. The HAMMER Multi-Gym FERRUM TX4 and the FINNLO Multi-Gym AUTARK 2500, for example, combine all the important strength exercises that you can do in professional fitness studios. Compact and multifaceted, with just one machine. In this way you can also effectively exercise your chest, back, arms, and much more at home.

The coordination requirements are higher if you train with free weights. Each movement must be executed independently, which also allows you to activate deeper muscle groups that are necessary for stabilization. This makes free weight strength training particularly suitable for advanced individuals, as more muscle groups are involved and the technical execution is more difficult. HAMMER has a wide variety of free weight strength training equipment and barbell stands in its product range, for example the HAMMER WEIGHT BENCH SOLID XP (item no. 4513), which can be used for many professional and free-weight strength exercises, or the FINNLO inclined bench (item no. 3870) in connection with the FINNLO barbell training station (item no. 3866). The fact that all equipment and machines can be supplemented with suitable accessories is particularly useful. If, for example, you need more weight, you can order additional weight plates. The excellent stability and high maximum weight load of the HAMMER and benches allows for this without any hassle.

Impact and effects of strength training - What does strength training do for me?

You can achieve numerous positive effects for your health and fitness through targeted strength training. Of course, these effects primarily affect the muscle system, which is why it makes sense to do supplementary, moderate endurance training to strengthen the cardiovascular system. Here is an overview of the most important effects of strength training:

  • Increase in muscle mass: Regular strength training builds musculature by thickening the individual muscle fibers
  • Improved strength: Depending on how you organize your workout sessions, you will improve your maximum strength, quick strength, and strength endurance. You'll notice the increase in strength both in everyday life and in sporty activities.
  • Increased bone density: Strength training not only strengthens the muscles; it also strengthens the bones. The bones become thicker and optimize their stability through structural adjustments that result from the strain of training. Even the tendons and ligaments become more robust.
  • Increased metabolism: Only the musculature is able to burn energy. This means that a larger and more active muscle mass also contributes to improved (fat) metabolism.
  • Injury prevention: A powerful corset of muscles protects sensitive structures such as joints, ligaments, and tendons. Strong leg muscles optimally stabilize the knee joint, for example.
  • Reduce back pain: You can reduce the amount of stress on your spine by building and strengthening your torso muscles. This can mitigate back pains and contribute to quicker rehabilitation.
  • Bright mood: Strength training reduces everyday stress and increases self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • Tips and tricks for strength training - How can I more effectively organize my strength training sessions?

    Over the decades several strategies have been developed in strength training and bodybuilding that can be used to intensify the stimulation of the musculature. In this way you can exhaust all energy reserves and achieve an improved effect in terms of muscle and power building. Here are our top 4 of the best intensifying techniques for your workout:

  • Cheating preps
  • This method allows you to "cheat" when executing movements. The muscle is pushed to maximum exhaustion with approx. 5 repetitions. This is followed by 2-4 repetitions that you can no longer execute properly due to the intense state of exhaustion. One example of this is leaning the upper body back when doing bicep curls so that the momentum of the movement can be used.

  • Super sets
  • In super sets each exercise is done in two to five sets without a break. However, the intensity is reduced with each set until you are only able to lift a little weight. Start with a weight that allows for a maximum of 12 repetitions. The sets always include a maximum executable number of repetitions. For example, start with a 70kg barbell on a bench press, then a 50kg barbell, and finally with a 30kg barbell.

  • Repetition after pre-exhaustion (pre-exhaustion principle)
  • According to the pre-exhaustion principle, the muscle you are training is pre-strained with an isolation exercise and then completely maxed out with a complex exercise. For example, begin with a butterfly device in order to tire out the pectoral muscle and then execute some final repetitions on the bench press. What is important is that there is practically no break between the isolation exercise and the main exercise.

  • Partial reps
  • Here the musculature is brought to complete exhaustion with approximately 5 repetitions. Then do 2-3 repetitions within an incomplete range of movement. With bench pressing, for example, the barbell is no longer lowered completely to the chest; instead, you start with the pressing motion when the barbell is halfway down.

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