Better performances can be the product of many 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-around strength is best achieved via circuit training and then progressing this through weight training.
Resistance training will increase 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:
Muscle contraction is initiated by an electrical charge from the central nervous system. The exercise that causes the highest amount of electrical activity within the muscle group will potentially produce the most significant gains in mass and strength. Lorenzo Cornacchia (Bompa et al. 1998) conducted a series of Electromyographic (EMG) tests to determine which exercises generated a high level of stimulation within each muscle group. The results were as follows:
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.
The aim is to develop muscles that can 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.
The aim is to develop fast, powerful movements. This requires a 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).
The aim is to enable maximum loads to be lifted. This requires a 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 a medium to a 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.
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 higher 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 more significant 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 several repetitions (rounded up) to failure is as follows:
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 three days a week is a typical strength training program. The optimal number of sets of an exercise to develop muscle strength remains controversial. In several 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 heavyweights 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):
Rest Interval between sets
The recovery period between sets aims 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:
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).
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.
Heavy or light weights for strength development?
Research conducted by Stuart Phillips (2016), from McMasters University in Canada, suggests that the use of lighter weights in weight training programs, when compared to the use of heavy weights, is just as efficient in developing strength.
Two groups of experienced male lifters were recruited for the study and were required to carry out a 12-week whole bodyweight training program. One group used weights approx. 50% of the athlete's 1RM and the second group used weights approx. 90% of the athlete's 1RM. The key factor was that both groups worked to failure in each set.
On completion of the program, the analysis of each group indicated almost identical results for muscle mass and muscle fibre size.
Perhaps the message is: In the development of strength, the use of heavy weights is not essential, whatever weight you use just lift to the point of failure in each set.
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.
Bilateral exercises are ones which involve lifting with both arms or legs simultaneously (bench press with a barbell), and Unilateral exercises involve lifting with one arm or leg (single leg bicep curl with a dumbbell). Bilateral training will develop maximum muscle force, and when maximum force is not a priority, Unilateral exercises can be used to correct asymmetry.
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 are 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 regularly.
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 know 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, every schedule must 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.
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.
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 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 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 regularly, 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 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 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 about 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:
Make sure you and your athletes are fully aware of the safety rules applying to the weight training room(s) you use.
Weightlifting 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.
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:
Three estimates are provided:
To view an estimate of the 1RM standard for a weightlifting exercise, please enter your weight, select your gender and the weightlifting exercise and then select the '1RM Standard' button.
Weight training requires supervision to ensure sound technique in pursuit of safety and efficiency.
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