How to Do Strength Training
Strength is the basis of any training. No matter what sport you practice or if you just you go to the gym to build muscle mass, if you don't do strength exercises you'll plateau and will not achieve the desired results. In order to do strength training, you should forget doing sets with many repetitions; instead, focus on lifting your maximum without hoping to improve your personal best every day. For more explanation, keep on reading this OneHowTo article on how to do strength training.
As usual, the first thing you need is a solid foundation on which to build. So for the first few weeks we recommend the 5x5 method, one of the easiest routines to follow. Its very name reveals how it works: five sets of five repetitions. Usually it consists of three exercises, bench press, squats and the deadlift, but you can add others like the standing military press.
- To do squats, simply load the bar on the shoulders and bend down, bending your legs to an angle of 90 degrees. Control the descent, lift and try to keep your back straight and heels on the floor.
- The deadlift is simply raising the bar from the floor to the waist minimally bending your knees. Again, the back should be straight.
- Bench press is one of the most popular fitness exercises. Lying face up on the bench, you should be able to lower the bar to the chest and back up to the starting position with arms fully extended.
- Military press is a similar exercise which is done whilst standing. You must be able to raise the bar from the shoulders above the head, arms outstretched. It can be done by moving your arms from behind or with arms at the front.
A more advanced strength training is the 5/3/1 method invented by Jim Wendler. It is based on a bench press, squats, deadlift and military press. It is divided into four-week cycles, the first three weeks are for lifting weight and the last one is rest. You could train for three or four days a week, focusing on one specific exercise each day. Start by using weight that enables you to use 90% of your maximum strength. This method is very effective, but it takes patience and you should begin with light weights.
In the first week, do three sets of five repetitions at 65, 75 and 85% of your capacity. In the last set, try to do as much repetitions as you can. On the second week, do three sets of three repetitions at 70, 80 and 90% respectively. Again, lengthen the last set to do as many repetitions as you can. On the third week do a set of five repetitions at 75%, one of three at 85% and finally, as many repetitions as you can at 95%.
We'll finish up with the fourth week, during which you should use exert less force. Do three sets of five repetitions at 40, 50 and 60% respectively. At this time, is very important to respect the five repetitions of the last set so that you are well rested for the next, new cycle. You should add about 5 kg to your maximum weight when squatting and deadlifting, and 2.5 kg to bench press and standing military press. As you complete cycles, you will notice how you gain strength.
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- Before starting to train, warm up well. Using a jump rope will help to increase your heart rate.
- Get enough rest between sets. Two or three minutes is usually enough.
- Respect the weights. Strength training has no immediate effects, and you have to build up slowly.
- Don't do any strength training for longer than two consecutive days. You could injure yourself.
- Pay attention to technique. As you increase the weight, it is more important to complete the set and to avoid injury.
- Don't forget to complete the training with additional exercises as dips, chin-ups, press, leg lifts, crunches or good morning exercises.
- Following a good diet and respecting rest days will help you to gain strength. Results won't be visible if you just train and don't follow a correct diet.