Training for Strength
June 10th, 2013
Muscle Coach Training Programs
At Muscle Coach we recognise that one size does not fit all. Therefore we have formulated multiple variations of each training program depending on your training frequency. Typically people will get better results with higher training frequency especially if they are past the beginner training phase. However you can still get good results even if you are restricted to just three training sessions each week as long as you diet and supplement properly.
Click on the link to the training program that best suits your training frequency!
Save a copy of your PDF training program and share it with your friends!
Introduction to Strength
Training for strength is quite different to that of bodybuilding. Where bodybuilding prioritises leanness, size and relative proportions, for strength training these are at best of secondary importance, if not important at all. Strength training on the other hand is not concerned with appearance and as its name suggests is simply concerned with strength.
Training for Strength Overview
- Warm up - Get in the zone
- Controlled, heavy, low rep sets
- Compound lifts, then isolation lifts
- Record your lifts
- Eat big
- Supplement wisely
Warm Up - Get in the Zone
In any case it's important to warm up before a workout. This can be done by beginning with a short cardio session of no more than 5 minutes. This will help loosen up your muscles, get the blood pumping and get you focused for the workout ahead.
Controlled, Heavy, Low Rep Sets
To increase strength you should be choosing weights you can lift no more than 1-6 reps with good form. Good form includes proper posture, breathing and control of the weight being lifted. As more than half of your results come from the eccentric (lowering) part of a muscular contraction it is important you do this in a slow and controlled manner. Make sure you have ample rest between sets and exercises. You are not training endurance, nor is your primary goal hypertrophy. Your goal is strength. Therefore it is more beneficial that you allow your energy stores to fully recharge so you can lift as heavy weight as possible with each set. You won't increase in strength unless you lift as heavy as possible. It is one thing to lift as heavy as possible and ocassionaly overload your muscles with forced negative reps but it is a completely different thing to have a spotter help you with the completion of multiple reps on every single set (or sometimes even spotting you from the start of the set). Completing multiple failure reps will cause your strength to rapidly decline throughout a workout, which is obviously not what you want when training for strength. You should do no more than five sets per exercise as part of a strength training session.
First and Foremost Compound Lifts
Compound lifts are key to any strength training gains. You should always prioritise compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats and presses, over isolation exercises as they stimulate neural drive, activate multiple muscle groups, and increase functional strength. Isolation lifts on the other hand are designed to target and grow or tone a specific muscle group, and enhance it relative to others. As these are not the goal of training strength, isolation lifts are not entirely necessary for strength gains. Isolation exercises however may be used following compound exercises to further target a certain muscle group near the end of a workout. For example you may on a chest day follow bench press with tricep extensions, on a back day follow dead lifts with seated cable rows, or on a leg day follow squats with leg extensions.
Record Your Lifts
One of the most important aspects of strength training is increasing your lifts from workout to workout. Recording your lifts - reps and weight - will keep you from lifting the same, or worse, less weight than your previous workout. Record your progress in some kind of log and push yourself to lift heavier and heavier with each workout.
Just like bodybuilding you cannot grow if you're not providing your body with enough energy. To do this make sure you are in a caloric excess and are eating enough protein, and good quality carbs and fats. All three of protein, carbs and fats serve a unique purpose and to neglect yourself of any of them will stunt your progress significantly. As muscles are made of protein you will need to eat enough protein to repair and grow your muscles. To do this you need to consume a minimum of 2-3g of protein per kg of body weight. Carbs are your body's main source of energy. Adequate carbs are also important to maintain saturated muscle glycogen. To do this you should aim to eat 5-7g of carbs per kg of body weight. Fats are important for the proper functioning of hundreds of bodily process, including hormonal function which is of critical importance to any training regime. You should aim to hit an absolute minimum of 50g total of dietary fats a day. It is equally important to eat foods that are packed full of a variety of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Neglecting your body of any of these will also prevent you from optimal progress. Make sure you eat lots of greens and vegetables full in colour. Doing so will maximise your likelihood that you meet your micronutrient requirements.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) or protein hydrolysates, Maltodextrin or Dextrose and Creatine should be staples of any strength or bodybuilding training program. WPI or protein hydrolysates are of particular importance for post-workout recovery due to their superfast release rate. Post-workout your body is damaged (i.e. it is catabolic), giving your body protein gives your muscles the nutrition necessay to recover and grow (i.e. become anabolic). The faster you do this the better. Taking WPI or protein hydrolysates immediately post workout will get protein into your muscles as fast as possible, switching you from a catabolic state to and anabolic state. Similarly, Maltodextrin or Dextrose provides your body with the fastest acting source of carbohydrates possible. Fast acting carbs post-workout work to spike your blood sugar, causing an insulin release. This leads to a refilling of muscle gylcogen and supercharges the uptake of protein into your muscles for tissue repair.
Incorporating a good dosage in your post-workout shake is also a good idea. This will help keep you muscles saturated with Creatine, which helps replenish the energy source (ATP) for muscular contractions. Creatine has also been linked to blocking myostatin, a growth factor that inhibits muscle differentiation. A quality multivitamin would also be recommended to ensure you're getting adequate dosages of all micronutrients. As with macronutrients, being depleted of any micronutrients will dramatically stunt your results.