Strength Training for Fitness
Strength Training Guidelines and Terms
Muscular strength and endurance training enhance agility, speed, strength, and endurance, all of which are essential to maintaining a high level of fitness.
This module will help to establish an understanding of the principles of muscle strength and endurance training and their application in the use of weight equipment.
The focus of strength training should never be to simply increase the size of a muscle. While it can be visually pleasing to notice the sizer of your muscle increasing, this does not always mean that you are necessarily getting stronger. Strength training should be carried out with the view of getting stronger.
As such, this module introduces concepts and practical information for achieving optimal muscle strength and endurance and prevention of injuries.
Weight Training Gear and Equipment
Weight training requires minimal personal gear. Other than the weights themselves,
equipment such as a pair of supportive shoes, fitted lifting gloves, and standard PT attire is all that is needed. A weight lifting belt should be used for back protection.
Technology has allowed the development of exercise equipment that efficiently adapts to the changing needs of a body in motion.
Consider the choice of free weights, machines, or a combination of both for development of strength and balance when starting a weight training regimen. Table 1.1 presents a comparison of free weights and machines.
Table 1.1. Free Weight and Exercise Machine Comparison
Type of Movement
Variety in Workout
Usually available; Require minimal space; Require spotters for some evolutions.
Require more skill than machines.
Allow for a variety of exercises; Useful for correcting strength imbalances between muscles on both sides if the body.
Primary muscles plus peripheral muscles.
Must have access to sophisticated equipment; Doesn't require spotters.
Require less skill than free weights; Easy to use.
Limited range of motion.
Provide variable resistance; Availability of equipment may limit variety.
Tend to isolate muscles.
Strength Training Guidelines and Terms
By having a well designed strength program, you can expect to maintain a high level of fitness while reducing your risk of injury and fatigue.
Optimal physical fitness requires all muscles of the upper and lower body to be
developed in a balanced way. Circuit weight training or Split-routine workouts are
the most common ways to maintain a musculoskeletal balance.
Circuit weight training consists of a progression from one station to the next such that over the course of the training period, the upper and lower body are exercised.
For split-routine training, different body areas are exercised on alternate days. For example, on Monday and Thursday, the upper body would be exercised whereas on Tuesday and Friday the lower body would be exercised.
Repetition Maximum or RM
Your 1RM would be the amount of weight you can lift for only 1 repetition
One term routinely used in strength training is that of repetition maximum. A
repetition maximum or RM is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a given
number of repetitions. For example, your 1RM would be the amount of weight you could lift for only 1 repetition. Your 5RM would be the amount of weight you could lift for 5 repetitions.
For example: if an athlete can do 5 repetitions of an exercise with 50 lbs., he has a 5RM of 50 lbs.
Frequency of Training
In order maintain high levels of fitness, strength training is a key aspect that must not be overlooked.
Understanding the concepts of Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type (FITT principle) will help you understand and maximize your training.
The frequency of training should be determined by the amount of time one has to spend on strength training.
Your weight training time may be limited due to busy work schedules, so keep this in mind when your start a program. For example, total body circuit training only needs to be performed twice a week visible results. If two days of training cannot be achieved, one session will be better than none.
Split-routine training should be performed a minimum of two sessions per muscle group (upper and lower body) weekly to ensure total muscular balance, and thus consumes a greater amount of time than circuit training.
Intensity of Training
Training intensity is considered to be the most critical aspect of strength and conditioning.
Intensity of weight training can be referred to as load, which is the amount of weight per repetition. It is defined as the percentage of the RM that is being used to perform an exercise. Various intensities are recommended for optimal results.
The program phase focusing on muscular endurance would involve training at 30% to 50% of your 1RM with 20 repetitions per set.
In contrast, the phase focusing on strength development would require training at 65% to 90% of your 1RM, with 1 to 12 repetitions per set, depending on the week of training.
Time and Type of Training
The time you spend on weight training might vary depending on the program
chosen. Generally, 30-60 minutes is sufficient, whether a circuit or split routine is
The type of exercise will vary throughout your strength program and can include
free weights or machines. For platoon evolutions, circuit training is more adaptable, while split routines may be used for individual strength programs. Shown below is an example of the FITT principle to total body circuit weight training.
Total Body Circuit
F: 2 times weekly
I: 30% to 90% of 1 rep max
T: 30 to 60 minutes
T: Circuit weights
Injury Prevention – Warming Up Correctly
When training with weighted resistance, it is not uncommon to develop an injury or suffer various forms of damage to the body. A range of factors can cause injuries when weight training including neglect from the lifter or poor equipment. To conclude this unit, we will examine some factors that are a common cause of injury.
A good warm up is critical prior to weightlifting in order to avoid injury. A mistake people often make is that they skip the warm up and think that after the first few sets of weight lifting, they will be warmed up anyway.
This is untrue, you need to warm up to stretch your muscles and get blood flowing to them. Skipping the warm up will have bad effects on your performance when the heavier sets occur and put you at risk of pulling a muscle or straining a ligament.
Injury Prevention – Incorrect Technique
A further common cause of injury while weight training is the use of incorrect technique when performing certain exercises, exercises that commonly result in injury include squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifts.
The use of bad technique can pull a muscle, ligament or tendon with great ease. To train with weights safely, it is vital that you come to understand how important it is to lift with the correct technique. A common trap that people fall into is that sacrificing technique allows them to lift heavier weight, this is a quick way to injury - Never sacrifice technique.
In order to make sure that you are lifting with good technique, try lifting with a partner, you can each look after each other and make sure that you are lifting safely. If you don’t have a partner to train with you can always ask someone at your local gym to examine your technique while you lift.
END of UNIT
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