“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
This post will concentrate on one of the key aspects of exercise: weight training. As the name implies, weight training is a form of exercise that makes use of free weights in the dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells and weight machines to build the strength and endurance of the muscles in your body.
The basic concepts behind weight training are indeed quite simple.
The process goes like this:
- When you train with free weights for a body part, let us say your arm, you lift the weights in a continuous motion for a predetermined number of repetitions.
- A fixed number of repetitions constitute a set of that exercise and you should be performing anything between four to ten sets.
- Let us assume that on the first day you perform four sets of Bicep Curls using twenty ponds.
By the end of the fourth set, you would be really struggling to complete the set.
- Continue doing this for a week or two and by the end of the second week you would be lifting and curling the same weight in the fourth set with comparative ease.
So what has happened here? Your own body that was huffing and puffing to complete four sets is now able to do six sets before giving up. What has happened here is a classic instance of progressive weight training.
Because of your consistent and regular weight training, your body became accustomed to lifting twenty pounds. The muscle fibres in your arm, or more specifically your biceps sensed the fact that they have to lift twenty pounds every day, many times. And because of these progressive and constant stimuli, the strength and endurance in your arms increased.
Training for Strength, Endurance and Size Aesthetics
There are three key objectives behind weight training:
- Increase in strength
- Improvement in endurance
- Better aesthetics i.e., bigger and enhanced definition among muscle groups.
Any other objective will fall under these main objects as secondary motives. Contrary to what many people think, it is extremely difficult or near impossible to achieve all three of these objectives simultaneously. There is a significant difference in approach and technique as well.
Increase in strength
If your intention is increasing your general strength, then all the exercises you perform for various muscle groups should be done keeping three main points in mind:
- Make sure that the weights you use are quite heavy. In fact they should be heavy enough to not let you perform more than 4 or 5 repetitions in a set.
- The second important thing is to make sure that the number of repetitions is in the lower range (5 or 6 maximum).
- The third factor is the rest period between two sets. Ensure that you take ample rest between two sets. The ideal range will be between 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase in endurance
For the purpose of increasing endurance:
- the amount of weight used for training should be in the low range i.e., you use weights that are comparatively light.
- On the other hand, the number of repetitions in a set should be more than 12. In fact the ideal range is between 12 and 16.
- The rest period between sets should be very low, preferably less than half a minute.
The third objective of weight training is improvement in aesthetics. If increase in size is what you desire, then the weights you use should be moderately heavy.
In fact, the weights used should be heavy enough to make the last set a hard one to complete. The rest period between the two sets should be between a minute and two, depending on the desired level of intensity. The number of repetitions that constitute a set should be 8 to 10. Performing the various exercises within the said parameters at a lower level of intensity makes it aptly suitable for size gains. On the other hand, performing the same exercises at a higher degree of intensity will let you achieve more muscular definition and beauty.
I hope that through this post, you now have a good idea as to how you can train with weights in the most effective manner by adopting certain key techniques.
As a conclusion, all I can tell you is that gaining strength or endurance or size is not an overnight phenomenon. Hence, make sure that your level of perseverance and committed resilience never goes down.