Strength is the ability to generate muscular force against an external resistance. Strength training is more than just lifting heavier weights or adding more muscle; how you approach your workout program can provide a number of benefits not only for your physical health but for your overall outlook on life.
On episode 30 of All About Fitness strength coach Dan John and I discuss a number of benefits of strength training. Besides being an expert on strength training and human performance, Dan teaches religion and philosophy so our discussion delves into a number of ways that getting stronger can improve your life both in and out of the weight room.
Strength training is a good metaphor for life; you have to work to overcome challenges. If you work hard enough and take the right approach you can accomplish great things. Some days you’re going to have the strength to overcome the weight, while other days the weight might get the best of you. In life it’s not what happens to us but how we react to it. That's just a little preview of this episode of All About Fitness - enjoy!
My personal approach to fitness is to have the ability to enjoy awesome activities like lifting heavy things and playing in the mud during a Spartan Race
If you want to learn more about fitness, exercise and human performance you can visit me at a SCW Mania Fitness Conference this year - I'll be teaching workshops on Core Training, Kettlbell training and the anatomy of human performance; use code McCall17 to save on registration.
Please visit the sponsors of All About Fitness:
ActivMotion Bar - Let the Resistance Move YOU!
SKLZ Performance products - use code PM30 to save on your next order.
Terra Core by Vicore Fitness - use code AAF to save on the purchase of a Terra Core
Sled pulling, or in this case, car pulling is an excellent way to develop lower body strength.
When most people hear the term, 'strength training' they get an image of oversized bodybuilders lifting free weights to increase the size of their muscles. Muscular strength is the ability of muscles to generate a force against an external resistance. Did you realize that there are different types of strength training that can produce different effects on the body? On episode 29 of All About Fitness it's another Quick Fit Tip discussing the different types of strength training.
The text below outlines what I explain in the podcast, providing a little more detail with links to relevant blogs and articles I've written in the past.
A motor unit is the connection between the nervous system and the muscles it controls; it is the motor neuron and the muscle fibers attached to it. When a motor unit is activated it will cause it's attached fibers to shorten and generate a force. To learn more about muscle motor units, read my blog here.
Hypertrophy is the technical term for increasing muscle size. Training for hypertrophy requires lifting a weight for a set of ten-to-fifteen reps until the muscle fatigues and is not able to perform another rep. Performing a higher rep range to fatigue will cause metabolic overload, the result of a muscle using all of its available glycogen to fuel the contractions. A muscle adapts by storing more glycogen which holds on to water resulting in an increase in muscle volume. To read more about metabolic overload, read this blog, and to learn seven techniques for promoting muscle growth click this link.
Strength training, lifting a moderate-to-heavy weight for up to eight reps, will increase the number of motor units recruited but not necessarily the size of the involved muscles. Have you ever felt your muscles shaking when moving a heavy weight? That is because heavier weights will activate more muscle motor units (and their attached fibers) increasing the electrical activity within that muscle creating the shaking sensation. To read about the different types of strength; check out this blog.
Power training should be done with lighter loads to allow you to move at the fastest speed possible. Power training increases the speed at which motor units are recruited and muscle fibers shortened, the result is the ability to generate a high amount of force in a short period of time. To read more about power training, follow this link.
Towing a heavy weight can improve strength; towing a light weight (less than 10% of bodyweight) can help improve speed and acceleration - there is a difference.
Powerlifting is the sport where participants compete to see who can lift the most amount of weight in three lifts: bench press, squat and deadlift.
Weightlifting, commonly called Olympic weightlifting, is the sport where athletes compete to see who can lift the most weight in the snatch and clean-and-jerk.
Here's the paradox: Powerlifting is test of maximum strength - the ability to lift the highest weight possible regardless of velocity while weightlifting is a test of explosive power - the ability to accelerate a weight at a high rate of speed.
To learn more about the the different types of strength training and how they affect your body, listen to episode 29 of All About Fitness.
To see myself and other guests teach live workshops on fitness techniques visit us at a SCW Fitness conference; use the code McCall17 to save money on registration.
Sponsors of All About Fitness:
SKLZ Performing products. Be ready! Use code PM30 to save 30% on your order.
ActivMotion Bar - let the resistance move you.
Terra Core by Vicore Fitness - Better products for better results! Use code AAF to save on the order of a Terra Core.
No matter how old you are, strength training can help you get results!
On this episode of All About Fitness I speak with Nick Tumminello about how strength training can help you reach a variety of your fitness goals. Nick is a personal trainer, strength coach and educator who was recognized as the Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Nick is an expert in strength training and is a frequent contributor to publications such as Men’s Health, T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com. In addition, he travels around the world to teach personal trainers how to be more successful.
Nick's books: Strength Training for Fat Loss and Building Muscle and Performance are must-have's for anyone interested in getting results from strength training.
Come see Nick, myself and other top fitness professionals at SCW Mania fitness conventions; use code McCall17 to save on your registration.
ActivMotion Bar - the first weighted bar with dynamic resistance to help you strengthen both your muscle and connection tissues; Let the Resistance Move YOU!
Terra Core by Vicore Fitness - Better Products for Better Results Use code AAF to save on your purchase of a Terra Core.
SKLZ Performance Equipment: Be Ready! Use code PM30 to save 30% on your next order!
We know that exercise is important, but the type of exercise you do can make all of the difference in getting the results you want. There are three general types of exercise: strength training, cardio training and flexibility training.
In short, cardio training is about improving the ability of your body to deliver oxygen to working muscles; flexibility training is improving the ability of your muscles and joints to move and strength training improves the ability to generate force with your muscles.
Strength training is the process of using an external resistance to help the muscles become more effective at producing and using force. When a muscle shortens it generates a force to move the opposing mass. When a muscle lengthens it is slowing down, or decelerating, the movement caused by an opposing force. For example, when standing up from the bottom of a squat the thigh and glute muscles are shortening to generate the force required to move your body up against the downward pull of gravity. On the way back down to the bottom of a squat the thigh and glute muscles are lengthening to slow the downward force created by gravity.
Because there is more surface tension between individual muscle fibers as they lengthen, a muscle can generate more force during this phase of muscle action which can help stimulate muscle growth and improve definition (this is the science behind super-slow lifting methods). Strength training can be done with a variety of equipment including machines designed to work on specific muscles, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and non-traditional implements like sandbags, kegs or heavy tires. No matter which equipment you use, the amount of weight lifted or the number of reps you do, the most important thing to stimulate muscle growth is to work to the point of momentary fatigue which ensures that ALL fibers in a particular muscle are being engaged.
Can strength training help make you smarter? Listen to find out!
On episode 27 of All About Fitness I review the benefits of strength training, some of which are well-known like improving strength or adding lean muscle mass, but I also address some of the lesser known benefits like boosting levels of fat-burning hormones or making you smarter. Listen for details.
Finally, when it comes to strength training you'll get your best results by using different equipment and changing the exercises you do on a regular basis. When you change the type of equipment you use in your workouts, like switching from doing barbell bench press to dumbbell bench press, it can stimulate your nervous system to recruit different muscle fibers. Exercise physiology is not an exact science; research can help us predict how a certain type of exercise might effect your body, but there is no way to know for certain how your body will respond until you actually do the exercise. However, there is one thing that we do know: doing the same exercises with the same equipment for more than a few months at a time is a sure-fire way to become stuck on a plateau.
If you want to learn how your body adapts to strength training stay tuned for future episodes where I discuss the topic with some of the top strength coaches in fitness. In the meantime here are some blogs that I've written about the benefits of strength training to help you understand why you should be picking up heavy stuff:
Evidence based solutions for muscle growth - this was written for personal trainers but you should be able to understand it.
Get STRONG with Strongman training! (written for personal trainers)
If you want to catch one of my workshops this year, please come see me at the SCW Mania fitness conference series, I'll be at every one EXCEPT NYC; use code McCall17 for a discount
Please visit the sponsors of All About Fitness:
SKLZ: Be Ready - use code PM30 for a discount
ActivMotion Bar - the first weighted bar with a dynamic, shifting mass
Terra Core by Vicore Fitness - better results from better products - use code AAF for a discount