For the unacquainted, the idea of strength training brings to mind images of gruelling weight-training and torturous HIIT sessions. However, strength training isn’t just something for hardcore athletes – anyone who gives two hoots about their fitness and endurance levels should engage in some form of strength training. Here are some things you need to know about this health-prolonging practice so that you can incorporate it into your lifestyle and take your fitness to the next level.
- Spend your rest time working a different group of muscles
Strength training is definitely about maximising the effort and load you exert on a certain group of muscles, but you can make every workout so much more efficient when you convert the rest time between sets to working a different group of muscles. This method of workout, known as an “superset”, helps you reduce the workout time and also gives you better overall muscle development.
- Rest times do matter
Apart from spending your rest times between sets more productively, it’s also important to monitor and respect the duration you allow yourself to rest. When it comes to strength training, every second of rest matters and too much or little of rest could be detrimental to your performance and goals, so always make sure you keep to the designated rest time for each exercise modality. If you're going for heavy repetitions in the 1 to 3 range, rest a little longer so that you're mentally confident going into the next set.
- Getting the best results
There are two main goals when it comes to strength training: building muscles and building physical strength. You don’t have to fret too much over what to do to achieve these goals – simply follow the general guideline that performing more repetitions typically equates to more muscle gain while performing more sets helps you gain strength more efficiently via neural efficiency. Of course, these two approaches are synergistic so you will benefit from some carry-over from one to the other!
- Opt for free-weight exercises instead of using machines
As a beginner, the best way to conduct your strength training exercises is by engaging in free-weight and multi-joint exercises such as dumbbell presses and squats, rather than sticking solely with machines. This is because such exercises have a better transference over to general athleticism while also stimulating various muscle groups at a given time. Machines can be fielded later in the training journey once weak points have been identified, as they excel at isolating and bringing up lagging muscle groups.
Strength training may sound arduous and terrifying, but it should be an integral part of any fitness enthusiast’s exercise plan. Thankfully, strength training doesn’t have to be overly complicated – follow the pointers above and you'll maximise the results from each workout!