Strength Training

I believe that all fitness routines should incorporate a strength training element. The benefits are numerous. Improved muscle tone, enhanced bone density, stronger tendons and ligaments – all lead to a healthier, injury resistant body. And that’s not to mention the better looking appearance and confidence it’ll give you.

So, for all round fitness, you can’t really avoid it.

But the types of strength training exercises you perform, and how you perform them, will depend on your own personal goal. Your ultimate goal. Take, for example, a long distance runner and a sprinter . . . Both types of athlete require immense leg strength to be at the top of their sport, but if the sprinter carried out only the same strength training exercises as the long distance runner, she would soon lose her explosive power off the blocks and her times would progressively deteriorate.

And vice versa.

So you need to have your goal in mind to plan your exercise routine for the best possible results. Otherwise it’s wasted effort.

Different Types of Strength

Strength can be split into three main categories. Maximum Strength

Elastic Strength

Strength Endurance

Having an understanding of each will give you a good idea of the types of exercises you will need to perform to achieve your goals and all round fitness.

Maximum strength is developed through weight training. Any sport which requires a high degree of strength (such as weightlifting, rugby, football) will need maximum strength. You’ll have to lift heavy loads. That is, loads greater the 85% of your 1 repetition maximum. (You’ll see this more often as 1RM.)

You’ll have to perform each set to total failure, so that you cannot perform any additional repetitions. A load of 85% plus will limit your repetitions between 1 and 6 per set. No more.

If you can perform more than this, then the weight is too light and likely (almost definitely) below 85% of your 1RM.

Elastic strength is required by athletes that need to overcome a resistance with a fast, explosive muscle contraction. Who needs it? Anyone whose sport or activity requires throwing, jumping, sprinting, and the like. So that’s any football, soccer, or baseball player. You get the idea!

Plyometric exercises are used for developing an athlete’s elastic strength. These exercises use a combination of jumping, bounding, and hopping movements to improve elastic strength.

Strength endurance is required by distance athletes such as runners, cyclists, swimmers, and rowers to name a few. Circuit training and weight training with light weight and high repetitions can be used to effectively increase your strength endurance, and of course sport specific training (that is, for long distance runners . . you have to run long distances!).

But What About Non-Athletes?

But what if you are not an athlete and do not require these different strengths to any extreme?

For general fitness, it is still a good idea to incorporate strength training into your routine. For the very reasons mentioned at the top of this page! Maybe you don’t feel the need for maximum strength, but you’ll certainly want to consider strength endurance training, and some elastic strength training.

Take a look at the list of various workout routines which you can tailor to your own needs. Remember, it’s not just about banging out repetitions. You have to enjoy it as well!