Okay, so hopefully all of you are fully convinced of the benefits of strength training. Now let’s get in to the nitty gritty details of the different types of strength training: muscular strength, muscular power, muscular hypertrophy, and muscular endurance. Think of these categories from the stand-point of your end goal. What is your training intent? Are you looking to increase overall strength? Improve your explosive movements for your tennis game? Look more defined in your bikini? Or, improve your time for your next ultramarathon? These are all example of goals that would be best served by one particular style. Now how do you implement these styles of training to achieve these goals? Let’s break in down….
Muscular strength is best trained by using a heavier weight (80-100% of 1 RM for advanced strength trainers) for 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps. Notice the repetitions per set are low, and the recovery is long, up to 3 minutes between sets. Training like this is the fastest way to improve your base level of strength, but may not give you the body of your dreams in a short amount of time. Training for muscular hypertrophy will result in more defined individual muscle groups, taken to its extreme training for muscular hypertrophy along with an incredibly strict diet will result in a body-builder appearance. However, for most of us training for muscular hypertrophy will result in a more toned appearance, something that many desire. 99.9% of us do not have the genetics to achieve the Arnold Schwarzenegger look! This involves training individual muscle groups with a higher weight (70-100% of 1 rep max) for about 3 sets of 8-12 reps with shorter rests.
Training for muscular power involves using a light load ((0-60% of 1RM) but involves explosive movements, such as box jumps. Improving muscular power is desirable for many different types of athletes, especially when speed and jumping are involved. This type of training is effective, but needs to be utilized carefully to avoid injury. Training for muscular endurance will result in increased levels of overall fitness and endurance, but is not as effective at increasing your base level of strength. Muscular endurance is achieved by using lighter weights for higher repetitions, up to 25 per set, with minimal rest. Now how do you decide which is best for you? This is where working with a personal trainer, who can assess your areas of strength and weakness will really help. For those taking classes, most of the classes (i.e. Tabata, Spin and Strength, and Fit Camp) fall on the muscular endurance side of the spectrum. Targeted Strength and Conditioning incorporates more muscular strength and hypertrophy. Now remember, any strength training is good, but to achieve a desired result you need to make sure you are training in the most efficient way. When you train with an intent in mind, your results will improve dramatically.