Physical Activity/Strength Training

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There are two important concepts when considering strength training. First, strength training does not necessarily mean that your body will get huge and bulky with muscle. Second, strength training, if done appropriately is important in preventing injury, but if done irresponsibly can cause injury.

Strength is a subject measure. There are many types of strength, such as endurance, pushing, holding, throwing, snapping, and pulling. These strengths are trained for in different ways. For strength irregardless of speed, slow and heavy weight training is the most effective. While, for speed strength fast, high-intensity, exercise is the most effective. It is very difficult to become both fast and extremely strong, they are usually incompatible for the muscles to handle given strength usually increases muscle bulk. Fortunately, the human body can handle being very fast and moderately strong as well as very strong and moderately fast.

The first concentration is building pure strength regardless of speed or muscular endurance. The most effective way to do this is by free weight training. This is one of the main objectives in both body building and powerlifting. The main principle is to set goals to slowly increase the amount of weight your body can lift.

For example, I have a goal to bench press 200 lbs with 8 repetitions for 3 sets and I can only bench press 140 lbs with 8 repetitions and 3 sets. I might start off by increasing the weight of my bench press by 5 lbs. When increasing the weight, I may only be able to bench press 6 repetitions. The next time I am at the gym, I will set the goal to do 7 repetitions with 145 lbs, and the next time 8. After I reach 8, I can increase it another 5 lbs, and so on until I reach my goal of 200 lbs.

Whereas, with muscle endurance training, you train your muscle to constantly work. For this type of training, increasing the total amount of repetitions or sets is a good way to increase muscle endurance. In fact, good muscle endurance is important for muscle strength. Many professionals recommend alternating weeks of strength training and muscular endurance training in a strength training regimen.

For speed training, slowly lifting weights simply won't work. You have to use explosive exercises, like sprints, jumps, and pushes. Explosiveness is especially important in sports. A few examples are in baseball explosive strength is used when swinging a bat; in hockey, when taking a shot; in boxing, when throwing a punch; even in surfing, explosive strength is used to balance on a wave.

This brings me to my next point in strength training: setting sub-goals to your main goal. Basically, you didn't learn to run right away you had to learn your first step, then your first walk, until finally, you trained your body to run. It other words, you need to create small successive steps to reach your goal. It makes a daunting task like increasing your bench press by 60 lbs into a doable endeavor. It is important to set doable sub-goals as well, and when you accomplish those sub-goals it gives you motivation to continue working toward your main goal. In fact, the more sub-goals you set for yourself, the more effective training you will have since you will feel accomplished more often than feeling a failure which keeps self-esteem high.

Goal setting is important in anything, and especially important in building strength, but there are specific things to weight training that should be adhered too. First, don't worry if you are weak at first. In reality, everyone has to start off and most of the time, people are weak when they start and even the massively strong people understand what it's like to just start off which makes them encouraging and non-judgmental. Second, strength building is a slow process and requires hard work. If you push yourself too hard you could injure your muscles, joints, and tendons for life. It's not worth being stupid and lifting more than your body can handle, just take it slow and your gains will come in time.

Types of exercises[edit]

  • Benchpress
  • Pushups
  • Chinups
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep press

Overload and overtraining[edit]

Our body is capable of performing at much higher intensities than what it can sustain for long. This is called peak energy output. When lifting weights, for example, we can sometimes lift weights that are almost at dangerous levels for our present state. We might not realize that we are pushing ourselves to those high levels because the body seems to be able to do it.

It happened many years back, I was doing wrist curls. I was lifting almost 100 Lbs. When I look back at it now, I say to myself "how foolish that was?". That day I tore a ligament (or tendon - don't know the exact technical term) in my wrist. It has been years from that day but I still can't lift 20 lbs. using my wrists without pain.

Sometimes it is too easy to push ourselves and we don't realize that we are crossing the delicate line.

It is better to remain moderate. One injury can cast a huge setback for years. It is better to gain slow and steady - from my own experience.

Another hindrance to health is overtraining. Overtraining occurs when you literally exercise too much, or too hard. This happens often with people who weight train. This is because they will lift weights on the same part of the body two or more days in a row, without giving time for the muscles to rest and recuperate. This isn't limited to weight trainers, since an intense exercise can overwork the human body. It is important to give your body adequate rest.

Overtraining harms your body so much that it makes you weaker, takes time to heal, and lowers your immune system. It is counterproductive! Overtraining often happens because people think that they must "feel the pain" to accomplish their exercise goals. This simply isn't true, if you exercise appropriately you should not feel pain, in fact, some professionals recommend not even working out when sore. Although, others think that you shouldn't work out as hard when sore, but, working out is beneficial since it helps to move lactic acid out of the muscles.

What is adequate rest?[edit]

Adequate rest differs from person to person given differences in metabolism and genetics. One person may be able to curl dumbbells every two days without overtraining the muscles, while another person can only train them once a week. Usually, the longer a person has been training and the younger they are, the less time they need between training sessions. As well, the harder you work during a training session, the longer you will need to rest before training again. It is important to remember that the resting period is reduced by proper nutrition and sleep.

Generally, if weight training, a person should, at minimum, wait 48 hours before working out the same muscle group and if body building, the wait should be extended to 72 hours. Cardio exercise can be performed every 24-hours for most people. With both, one day a week should be used to rest without any exercise at all.

The best way to figure out your training threshold is to start off with light training and slowly increase the amount each successive training session. This will allow you to figure it out without the worry of injury or overtraining.