Strength training is number one for 2012
by Dr Kenneth Gardner
Many of us may have reached a plateau in our strength development so this is a good time to look at a few techniques to boost our routine. However, we still need to use the progressive overload of our muscles with heavier weights or resistance as the fundamental principle for greater strength development.
Here are some example of strength training routines to add novelty and speed up strength development:
The split routine involves training different muscle groups or body parts on different days to allow the muscles to recover fully especially if they were exercised to exhaustion. It tends to work best when the muscle are exercised to exhaustion and then rest for several days to allow the muscles to recover fully.
High-to-medium-to-low formula is used to prevent overexertion. In this case the intensity, volume and frequency of the routine are manipulated. This can be simplified by using the same volume and frequency each week, such as three sessions each week at two sets of 12 repetitions each workout, and steadily increase the intensity on a weekly basis or decrease the weight and increase the volume or frequency.
The drop set allows us to use lighter weights or resistance as we increase the number of sets completed so we are able to complete the routine before our muscles are exhausted.
On the other hand a pyramid set allows us to use lighter weights and perform a greater number of repetitions in the first set and increase the weights in the subsequent sets as we do fewer repetitions. We can also do the opposite or reverse pyramids by starting with heavier weights or resistance at the beginning and reduce these and increase the repetitions as we progress.
Many of the different examples that have been mentioned above can be easily combined to give a super set. A combination of three different exercises that work the same group of muscles could be used for a super set where the first four reps are performed with heavy weights, the next eight reps are performed with medium weight and the final 12 reps are performed with light weights.
We can also improve our strength by practising progressive movements with weights or resistance as we gradually increase the range of motion. Start with heavy weights and a small range of movement for the first few repetitions then gradually increase the range of movement in subsequent repetitions until you are able to move it through the full range.
Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.