Strength and Fitness - The Impartial Guide to strength, fitness, endurance and nutrition

Types Of Strength Training

There are generally considered to be five main categories of strength training:

Maximum Strength Training

Maximum Strength Training is used to develop maximum strength. This typically involves performing 1-3 repetitions of a weight that is 90-175% of maximum weight than can be lifted in one repetition, and is performed at a slow speed.

Maximum strength training can be divided into two types:

1) Maximum Load training – involves training with a resistance that is 90-100% of the maximum that can be lifted over 1 all out repetition;

2) Super-maximum training – involves training at a load that exceeds the maximum strength of an athlete (typically 100-175% of 1RM). This can only be performed using eccentric contractions (lowering phase of a lift), which are stronger than concentric contractions, and will require the help of a spotter since the weight is greater than which can be lifted.

Power development training

Power development training involves fast explosive movements. Typically there are two training types utilised for the development of power: 1) Plyometric training – this typically involves dropping from a height (causing a forced, involuntary eccentric contraction) followed by an immediate jump upon landing (concentric contraction). The time between landing and take-off is very short (less than 0.2 seconds). Examples of plyometric training include jumping off a box or performing explosive press-ups in which you actually push-off of the ground by a few inches; 2) ‘Explosive’ or ‘Ballistic’ weight training - involves completing 5-10 repetitions of a weight that is 30-80% of maximum as fast as possible. In order to complete the explosive movement the weight must be reduced.

Muscle Building/Hypertrophy training

Muscle Building/Hypertrophy training is a type of weight training used to increase muscular size and is the main method used for bodybuilding and recreational athletes. This has traditionally involved the use of a medium load (65-80% of 1 repetition maximum) with approximately 8-12 repetitions completed. The pace of each repetition is fairly slow taking around 4-5seconds to complete each repetition. Recent research suggests that lighter loads (30-50% or 1RM) are also effective for muscle building providing that they are performed to failure.

Muscular Endurance Training

Muscular endurance training involves the use of lower intensities (20-60% of 1RM) and higher numbers of repetitions (normally 25 up to 250). The pace of each repetition is fairly moderate and controlled. The use of maximum strength training has also been shown to be beneficial for endurance athletes. Endurance athletes looking to minimize any increase in muscle size should be aware that performing repetitions to failure provides a greater stimulus to muscle growth.

Muscle Toning

Training for muscle toning rather than muscle building typically involves performing 15-25 repetitions (55-65% 1RM). If looking to tone whilst minimising muscle hypertrophy you avoid taking the repetitions to failure, instead aim to stop around 5 repetitions before failure.