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Weight Training

Better performances can be the product of a number of factors. This product is primarily the outcome of efficient technique, the progression of speed and the maturing competitive attitude on a sound basis of general endurance, all round strength and general mobility. The development of all round strength is best achieved via circuit training and then progressing this through weight training.

How do we get stronger?

A muscle will only strengthen when forced to operate beyond its customary intensity (overload). Overload can be progressed by increasing the:

  • resistance e.g. adding 10kg to the barbell
  • number of repetitions with a particular weight
  • number of sets of the exercise
Strength

Muscle Fibre Hypertrophy

Resistance training will increase the muscle size (hypertrophy). Muscle growth depends on the muscle fibre type activated and the pattern of recruitment. Muscle growth is due to one or more of the following adaptations:

  • Increased contractile proteins (actin & myosin)
  • Increased number of and size of myofibrils per muscle fibre
  • Increased amounts of connective, tendinous & ligamentous tissues
  • Increased enzymes and stored nutrients

Muscle Movement

Muscle contraction is initiated by an electrical charge from the central nervous system. The exercise that causes the greatest amount of electrical activity within the muscle group will potential produce the greatest gains in mass and strength. Lorenzo Cornacchia (Bompa et al. 1998)[1] conducted a series of Electromyographic (EMG) tests to determine which exercises generated a high level of stimulation with in each muscle group. The results were as follows:

Muscle Exercise
Pectoralis Major Decline dumbbell bench press
Pectoralis Minor Incline dumbbell bench press
Medial Deltoids Standing dumbbell side laterals
Posterior Deltoids Standing dumbbell bent laterals
Anterior deltoids Standing front dumbbell raises
Biceps Brachii Incline seated dumbbell curls (alternate)
Triceps Brachii Triceps press down (angled bar)
Latissimus Dorsi One arm dumbbell rows (alternate)
Rectus Femoris Seated leg extensions
Biceps femoris Standing leg curls
Semitendinosus Seated leg curls
Gastrocnemius Standing one leg calf raises

Different strength types and how to train for them

Most sports will require some or all of the following strength types to be developed to one degree or another and the weight training program should reflect this.

Strength Endurance

The aim is to develop muscles that are able to to produce repeated contractions under conditions of fatigue. This requires high repetitions (15+) with light loading (30-50% of 1RM). Appropriate for field sports, rowing and martial arts.

Power

The aim is to develop fast powerful movements. This requires medium number of repetitions (6-10) with medium to heavy loading (70-80% of 1RM). Appropriate for power based events e.g. sprinting, jumping (long jump), throwing (Javelin).

Maximum strength

The aim is to enable maximum loads to be lifted. This requires low number of repetitions (1-5) with heavy loads (80-100% of 1RM). Appropriate for Power Lifting, Olympic Lifting, Shot Putt.

Size with strength

The aim is to increase muscle size. This requires medium to high number of repetitions (8-12) with medium to heavy loading (70-80%+ of 1RM). Appropriate for Bodybuilding or sports like USA football where increased size is a valuable asset.

How Much?

The amount of weight to be used should be based on a percentage of the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted one time, generally referred to as one repetition maximum (1RM). The maximum number of repetitions performed before fatigue prohibits the completion of an additional repetition is a function of the weight used, referred to as repetition maximum (RM), and reflects the intensity of the exercise. A weight load that produces fatigue on the third repetition is termed a three repetition maximum (3RM) and corresponds to approximately 95% of the weight that could be lifted for 1RM.

For maximum results, athletes should train according to their genetic predisposition. An athlete with a greater proportion of slow twitch muscles would adapt better to endurance training and a muscular endurance program using more repetitions of a lighter weight. An athlete with a greater proportion of fast twitch muscles would benefit from sprint training and a muscular strength program using fewer repetitions of a heavier weight. Dr F. Hatfield's Muscle Fibre Test may help you determine your predominate muscle type.

Load - Repetition Relationship

The strength training zone requires you to use loads in the range of 60% to 100% of 1RM. The relationship of percentage loads to number of repetitions (rounded up) to failure is as follows:

% Load Repetitions % Load Repetitions % Load Repetitions
60 17 75 10 90 5
65 14 80 8 95 3
70 12 85 6 100 1

How Many

The number of repetitions performed to fatigue is an important consideration in designing a strength training program. The greatest strength gains appear to result from working with 4-6RM. Increasing this to 12-20RM favours the increase in muscle endurance and mass.

One set of 4-6RM performed 3 days a week is a typical strength training program. The optimal number of sets of an exercise to develop muscle strength remains controversial. In a number of studies comparing multiple set programs to produce greater strength gains than a single set, the majority of studies indicate that there is not a significant difference.

Handling heavy weights in the pursuit of strength will require a recovery of 3-5 minutes between sets, but only minimum recovery should be taken if strength endurance is the aim. The majority of athletic events are fast and dynamic, and therefore this quality must be reflected in the athlete's strength work.

Muscular strength is primarily developed when 8RM or less is used in a set. How much load you use depends upon what it is you wish to develop (Kraemer et al. 1996)[2]:

  • 1RM to 3RM - neuromuscular strength
  • 4RM to 6RM - maximum strength by stimulating muscle hypertrophy
  • 6RM to 12RM - muscle size (hypertrophy) with moderate gains in strength
  • 12RM to 20RM - muscle size and endurance

Rest Interval between sets

The aim of the recovery period between sets is to replenish the stores of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and Creatine Phosphate (CP) in the muscles. An inadequate recovery means more reliance on the Lactic Acid (LA) energy pathway in the next set. Several factors influence the recovery period, including:

  • Type of strength you are developing
  • The load used in the exercise
  • Number of muscle groups used in the exercise
  • Your condition
  • Your weight

A recovery of three to five minutes or longer will allow almost the complete restoration of ATP/CP.

Rest Interval between sessions

The energy source being used during the training session is probably the most important factor to consider. During the maximum strength phase, when you are primarily using the ATP/CP energy pathway, daily training is possible because ATP/CP restoration is completed within 24 hours. If you are training for muscular endurance (muscle definition) then you require a 48 hour recovery as this is how long it takes to fully restore your glycogen stores (Gollnick et al. 1974)[3].

As a 'rule of thumb' 48 hours should elapse between sessions. If training strenuously, any athlete will find it extremely difficult to maintain the same level of lifting at each session, and the total poundage lifted in each session would be better to be varied (e.g. a high, low and medium volume session) each week.

Training Systems

Simple Sets e.g. 3 x 8 with 70% - meaning three sets of eight repetitions with a weight of 70% of maximum for one repetition. All novice lifters should work on, because the high number of repetitions enables the lifter to learn correct technique, and thereby reduce the risk of injury this system.

Pyramid System Here the load is increased and the repetitions are reduced (e.g. 100kg x 10, 120kg x 5, 130kg x 4, 140kg x 3, 150kg x 2, 160kg x 1). Pyramid lifting is only for experienced lifters who have an established good technique.

Super Setting This consists of performing two or three exercises continuously, without rest in between sets, until all exercises have been performed. The normal 'between sets' rest is taken before the next circuit of exercises is commenced.

Training Programs

Use the above notes to assist you in the preparation of a general strength training program, to develop your general strength, and a specific strength training program to develop your specific strength to meet to the demands of your event/sport.

If weight training facilities is limited to your home and a set of dumbbells then it is still possible to construct a dumbbell weight training program.

To monitor progress in training you should conduct strength and muscle balance tests on a regular basis.

Which weight training exercises?

The exercise must be specific to the type of strength required, and is therefore related to the particular demands of the event (specificity). The coach should have knowledge of the predominant types of muscular activity associated with the particular event, the movement pattern involved and the type of strength required. Exercises should be identified that will produce the desired development. Although specificity is important, it is necessary in every schedule to include exercises of a general nature - e.g.

These general exercises give a balanced development, and provide a strong base upon which highly specific exercise can be built.

Olympic Lifts

The Olympic Lifts are recommended exercises for inclusion in power and speed training programs. The objective of these exercises is to develop the large muscles of the body in an explosive action that requires the use of many joints and muscle groups in a coordinated movement.

The Olympic Lifts comprise of the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. The Power Snatch and Power Clean are auxiliary lifts that aid in the training of the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch.

Workout Card

Matt Heil has produced an Excel spreadsheet Workout Card to help you determine the correct weight to use for each exercise based on the required session RM. A set of exercises and the target muscles has been included but these can be modified to the exercises you personally use.

You need to conduct a maximum load test for each exercise and enter the weight and number of repetitions. Your maximum load (1RM) for a weight training exercise can be determined based on a weight and the number of repetitions you can perform to exhaustion for that exercise. The Brzycki's equation provides a good estimate of the maximum load providing the number of repetitions does not exceed 12. The Workout Card uses the Brzycki's equation to determine your maximum load and automatically fill in the RM columns. I recommend that you conduct a max load test on a regular basis e.g. every 3-4 weeks.

Matt was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a Network Administrator and spends about 50+ hours a week in front of a computer. To keep himself healthy, he enjoys exercising and competing in Rugby, Sanshou, and Taiji.

What sort of weight lifting equipment?

Strength equipment comprises of variable resistance machines and free weights. Variable resistance machines are effective tools for building strength and muscle tone and are designed to work the target muscle in isolation, without the assistance of the surrounding muscles. Free weights (barbells, dumbbells and machines that provide the same equal resistance to a muscle) allow you not only to target a particular muscle group but to engage other muscles that assist in the work. Once they are conditioned, these assisting muscles help you to increase the weight you use in training the target muscles in order to stimulate the most growth in muscle fibres. The assisting muscles help stabilize the body, support limbs and maintain posture during a lift. Lifting free weights improves your coordination by improving the neuromuscular pathways that connect your muscles to the central nervous system.

Safety in the Weight Room

Strength training is safe when properly supervised and controlled. Every weight room should have a set of rules and regulations pertaining to safety and they should be on public display. Rules may vary from one weight room to another but some very basic rules apply to them all:

  • Train only when a qualified coach is present
  • Follow your training schedule
  • Work in pairs - one lifting the other spotting
  • No horseplay
  • Wear the correct clothing and shoes
  • No eating, drinking or smoking
  • No personal stereos with headphones
  • Help and respect other athletes
  • Only athletes who are working out should be in the weight room

Make sure you and your athletes are fully aware of the safety rules applying to the weight training room(s) you use.

Weight Lifting Standards

Weight lifting standards are an indication of the maximum load or one repetition max (1RM) that you should be able to lift for a particular weight lifting exercise based on your gender, body weight and weight lifting experience.

Calculation Parameters

The calculator below, which is appropriate for an adult male in the weight range of 120-320lbs and an adult female in the weight range of 100-200lbs, provides an estimate of the maximum load (1RM) standard for the following weight lifting exercises:

  • Military Press or Shoulder Press
  • Bench Press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Clean

Three estimates are provided:

  1. Novice - an adult with less than 1 years experience of regular weight training
  2. Experienced - an adult with 1 to 2 years experience of regular weight training
  3. Advanced - an adult with more than 2 years experience of regular weight training

1RM standard

To view an estimate of the 1RM standard for a weight lifting exercise please enter your weight, select your gender and the weight lifting exercise and then select the '1RM Standard' button.

Weight
Gender
Lift
     
   
     
Novice
Experienced
Advanced
lbs
lbs
lbs
kgs
kgs
kgs

Remember

Weight training requires supervision to ensure sound technique in pursuit of safety and efficiency.

Free Calculator


References

  1. BOMPA, T.O. et al. (1998) Serious Strength Training. Leeds, UK:, Human Kinetics, p. 124
  2. KRAEMER, J. et al. (1996) Strength and Power Training: Physiological Mechanisms of Adaptation. Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews, 24 (1), p. 363-398
  3. GOLLNICK, P.D. et al. (1974) Selective glycogen depletion pattern in human muscle fibres after exercise of varying intensity and at varying pedalling rates. The Journal of Physiology, 241, p. 45-57

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • BERGER, R. (1962) Effect of varied weight training programs on strength. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 33 (2), p. 168-181
  • Wilson, G. J. et al. (1993) The optimal training load for the development of dynamic athletic performance.Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 25 (11), p. 1279-1286
  • BAECHLE, T. R., & EARLE, R. W. (2014) Fitness Weight Training, 3E. Human Kinetics
  • WEST, D. W., & PHILLIPS, S. M. (2012) Associations of exercise-induced hormone profiles and gains in strength and hypertrophy in a large cohort after weight training. European journal of applied physiology,  112 (7), p. 2693-2702

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2000) Weight Training [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/weight.htm [Accessed

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