Bodyweight Training

Strength Training and Building Muscle

Strength TrainingWhen entering the world of strength training, the mind being filled with different kinds of questions is not uncommon. If you count yourself as one who wishes to know more about strength training, which protein ranks as the best protein powder or which testosterone booster you should try or any other type of training supplements, this site shall serve as an excellent resource, one that you can rely on and turn to in order to find answers to all your questions.
If you are a complete novice, and wish to find out what strength training is, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re wondering what the difference between strength training, weight training, resistance training, supplement reviews and rankings, and so on is, we’ll tell you.

The Routines

The articles you will find on this website will take you through a variety of workout routines, designed to suit different needs. For instance, if you wish to get on a strength training program which does not require any equipment, you will surely benefit by going through our posts about bodyweight training.

Workout routines address various aspects, exercises being one part. What also makes for a good routine is considering aspects on the sequencing of exercises, how much rest is required, how many repetitions should one aim for, and so on. Every routine herein addresses all these aspects.

The Exercises

Workout routines are made up of exercises, and knowing just which exercise targets which body part becomes crucial in overall development. After all, you don’t want to end up looking like Popeye or Johnny Bravo, do you? This website will take you through a plethora of exercises, telling you which muscle’s they target. If you are a runner or a swimmer, you will find specific exercises for you here, and if you are looking for circuit training exercises, you’ll find those here as well.

In addition, the bodyweight training routines herein come with an array of bodyweight exercises you can turn to, and these do not need any kind of equipment.

Addressing Women’s Fitness

Building Muscle

Although women benefit by going through the same workout routines which men depend on, there are certain aspects which need to be addressed when it comes to women’s fitness and fitness training (pregnancy being one example). If you are a woman, you will definitely benefit by going through the articles written especially for our women readers.

Equipment and Accessories

If you wish to find out about workout equipment that you would require to get through with your weight training program, we’ll guide you in the right direction. We’ll take you through commonly used weight training and resistance training equipment that can help, and will also tell you what’s not really required. Given that workout accessories like resistance bands, gloves, straps, belts, shoes, and clothes also require your attention, we’ve addressed this aspect as well.

All in all, this website aims to be your one stop shop for all things related to strength training, and what you see here as of now is not where we stop. Our endeavour is to continually add to its pool of resources, ensuring that we leave no stone unturned in bringing to you the most relevant information in this field for beginners and the more experienced.

Have fun in your strength training and building muscle!

Intense barbell curl

Short Guide To Circuit Training Exercises

Intense barbell curlCircuit training exercises, as mentioned in a related post, involve you having to go through all the sets of a given exercise before you move to the next, and circuits can consist of anywhere in between 5 to 12 different exercises. Aimed at targeting all major muscle groups of the body, circuit training exercises can also involve you moving from one circuit to another in completing your circuit training routine.

What you should know about circuit training exercises and routines is that they can be designed for specific purposes, like improving overall strength or targeting weight loss.

For Overall Strength

Given below is a simple routine that consists of circuit training exercises which target improving overall strength, and is designed from a beginner’s point of view. This routine is to be followed thrice a week (with no two consecutive days of working out). Rest in between 30 to 45 seconds in between exercises, and for 3 to 5 minutes before you repeat the routine. Aim for two to three sets to start with; start with ten minutes per circuit, and you can move to targeting three to four sets in around 20 minutes.

  1. Squat jumps: 10 – 12 reps
  2. Push ups: 8 – 10 reps
  3. Calf raises: 15 – 20 reps
  4. Bench dips: 10 – 12 reps
  5. Inverted pull ups: 8 – 10 reps
  6. Skipping rope: 90 – 120 seconds

In moving to the intermediate level, you can skip the rest in between exercises and, and rest no more than 3 minutes after completing each circuit. For advanced levels, aim at resting only after completing the circuit twice.

Circuit Training Exercises for Weight Loss

This set of circuit training exercises, in addition to targeting weight loss, will also work in toning muscles. This set of exercises is to be performed with no rest in between exercises, and resting for 2 – 3 minutes at the completion of the circuit. Start with two repetitions of this circuit, and aim at getting to four in around 30 minutes.

  1. Jog: 90 – 120 seconds
  2. Dumbbell squats: 10 – 15 reps
  3. Oblique crunches: 10 – 15 reps (each side)
  4. Skipping rope: 90 – 120 seconds
  5. Dumbbell rows: 10 – 15 reps
  6. Jumping jacks: 90 – 120 seconds
  7. Upright rows: 10 – 15 reps
  8. Jog: 90 – 120 seconds
  9. Dumbbell triceps kickback – 10 – 15 reps (each arm)
  10. Skipping rope: 90 – 120 seconds

Circuit Training Routine with Variations

The following circuit training exercises are arranged in a manner so as to target your core abdominal muscles and leg muscles on different days, while working all major muscle groups on all three days (again, with no two consecutive days of working out). You can include come kind of light cardiovascular activity for around 30 minutes on two of the four rest days.

  • Day One:
  1. Crunches: 10 – 15 reps
  2. Knees raises (bent knee): 10 – 15 reps
  3. V ups (oblique): 10 – 12 reps (each side)
  4. Bridges: 1 -2 reps
  5. Back extensions: 10 – 15 reps

Complete this set once, and the following, then, should be performed twice (complete one circuit, and then, get back to doing it again). Rest for 30 seconds in between exercises, and for 2 – 3 minutes after you complete one circuit.

  1. Squats: 10 – 12 reps
  2. Bench press: 10 – 12 reps
  3. Pull downs: 10 – 12 reps
  4. Military press: 10 – 12 reps
  5. Upright rows: 10 – 12 reps
  6. Triceps push downs: 10 – 12 reps
  7. Bicep curls: 10 – 12 reps
  8. Leg curls: 10 – 12 reps
  • Day Two:
  1. Crunches (standing): 10 – 15 reps
  2. Side bridges: 1 – 2 reps
  3. Saxon bend (sideways): 6 – 10 reps (each side)
  4. Pulse ups: 10 – 12 reps

Complete this set once, and then get to performing exercises six (6) through thirteen (13) from the Day One circuit. As with day one, this should be performed twice (complete one circuit, and then, get back to doing it again). Follow the same pattern for rest.

  • Day Three:
  1. Travelling lunges: 10 – 12 reps (each leg)
  2. Upright rows: 10 – 12 reps
  3. Step ups: 10 – 12 reps (each leg)
  4. Leg Extensions: 10 – 12 reps

Complete this set once, and then get to performing exercises six (6) through thirteen (13) from the Day One circuit. Follow the same pattern for rest.

These circuit training exercises, as you’ve probably noticed, are not very different from ones you’d encounter outside the circuit training realm, and what differentiates these routines is the simple fact that you need to complete one exercise before you move on to the next (which is not quite the case with most strength training programs).

Circuit Training

Introduction to Circuit Weight Training

Circuit TrainingThe popularity surrounding circuit weight training does continue to grow, especially when it comes to addressing weight loss, although its benefits in increasing athletic performance and overall fitness levels have not gone unnoticed.

Circuit weight training would have you turn to high intensity aerobic workouts along with weight training in helping you achieve your goals.

The Basics

While most weight training programs have you working out in a manner where you complete all the sets of a given exercise before moving on to the next, when it comes to circuit weight training, you would be working out in a linear manner. What this means is that you have to perform each exercise once (one set each), complete the circuit (the entire set of exercise being referred to as a circuit), and then get back to the second set.

The arrangement of exercises in a circuit should be such that you do not target the same muscle in quick succession, ensuring that localized muscle fatigue does not become a concern whilst you are working out. Also, it is not necessary that you get back to the same circuit once it’s done; you can very well move to a different second circuit after you’re done with the first. Also, the ‘rest’ time taken in between exercises in this realm is shorter than conventional strength training routines.

A typical circuit weight training routine should not last for more than thirty minutes, to be performed no more than thrice or four days per week. Exercises can include squats, dips, leg & back extensions, bicep curls, dumbbell flys, lateral raises, crunches, sit ups, pull ups, step ups, jumping, skipping, etc.

HeartCircuit Weight Training and the Heart

The effect that effective circuit weight training has on the heart is probably its biggest advantage. This form of training adds a cardiovascular aspect to your weight training, and this is through the little rest in between exercises and performing sets at a quick yet controlled pace.

The heart rate going up results in faster metabolism which translates into quicker burning of calories (read fat).

Other Benefits

Circuit strength training, when done right, will help you improve muscular endurance and work in building strength as well. A good circuit training routine will ensure that all the muscle groups in your body are targeted; and three to four sessions per week will help improve body composition, athletic performance, and overall fitness levels. Depending on your goals, you can look for a circuit weight training routine which will suit you best.

  • For Body Composition: A number of training programs rely on circuit weight training to burn fat, and this can be without turning to cardio. Not only do these result in high expenditure of energy, they are also believed to help increase growth hormones, which further aids loss of fat.
  • For Athleticism : Clubbing strength training and conditioning exercises as part of a circuit training program can work very well for improving athleticism. Using interval based programs like these can help you improve fitness levels and compete under different kinds of conditions.

Drawbacks

Although circuit weight training’s benefits cannot be discredited, it does come with a drawback, given that most circuit weight training sessions are performed in groups. What can happen, as a result, is your having to work with weights that are too heavy or light for your liking. If the weights are lighter than you require, you’d be looking at little or no improvement; and if you are working with overtly heavy weights, you increase the risk of injury. Therefore, ensuring that you are working with the right weights (intensity) is the way to go.

Free Weights and Machines

If your circuit weight training program is based out of a gym, there’s a very good chance that you would have to work with, both, free weights as well as weight machines. While free weights are generally considered a better alternative when it comes to building muscles, bear in mind that using them requires that you use the right technique. It is seen that using machines is often a simpler and safer alternative, although they generally focus on isolated muscle groups.

Ideal for someone who is starting out with fitness training, circuit strength training offers you a great way to tone up and strengthen your muscles. When it comes to serious weight trainers and sportspersons, circuit weight training can help get through the off season, ensuring that neither strength nor aerobic fitness is compromised upon because of too much rest.

Weight Lifting Gloves

Weight Lifting Gloves

Weight Lifting GlovesWorn by scores of weight trainers and weight lifters, weight lifting gloves or weight training gloves offer a number of benefits, and consequently, continue to get sold in large numbers. A good thing is a number of manufacturers of, both, weightlifting gloves for men and weightlifting gloves for women can now be found, and this gives you scores of alternatives to go through. If you’re wondering why to use them in the first place, read on.

The Benefits

Worn for a number of reasons, the benefits of wearing weightlifting gloves include:

  • Better grip
  • Minimizing the occurrence of calluses
  • Additional support to the wrist
  • Relieving the pressure applied on your hand
  • Improving your ability to lift heavier weights

Considerations in Buying a Pair

When you set out to buy weight training gloves, ask yourself just why you want them. For instance, if your aim is lifting heavy weights and you are looking for additional support, leather gloves are a good alternative; and if you are buying a pair owing to perspiration/sweat, a pair made of neoprene is a better bet.

You also have to consider if you need your pair of gloves to offer support to your wrist, and this should be the case if you lift heavy weights or intend to do so. If such is the case, you should be looking for gloves which come with wrist straps. Your workout levels would also decide on what kinds of straps you should look for, wherein if you are a casual exerciser you could do with ones that slip on, and if you are a serious lifter, looking for ones with Velcro strapping is definitely better.

Nylon gloves, although an alternative, aren’t really suggested. Oh, and fingerless ones score way higher than fully covered ones.

Alternatives to Weightlifting Gloves

Not everybody who weight trains wears weight training gloves. Your alternatives to wearing these gloves include:

  • Using padded bars and weights; and not only can you buy these in the padded form, but you can pad them up yourself (using neoprene or rubber).
  • A number of lifters use hand wraps, and this is nothing but taping up the hand. While the process can take a little time before each workout, it does offer excellent support and is a good substitute to the glove’s padding.Weight Lifting Straps
  • Some lifters are known to use wrist hooks/lifter’s straps. One end of these is connected to the bar and the other is wrapped around the user’s wrist. This contraption helps people with weak grips lift heavier weights and also prevents knurling of the skin.
  • Last, but not the least, you can also resort to using your bare hands, and this practise is followed by a fair number of lifters. The calluses, you should know, take a few months to become tough enough to start preventing knurling of the skin.

Taking into account that weight lifting gloves offer varied benefits and aren’t priced prohibitively, there is no reason why you should not buy a pair. You can expect to find a good beginner’s level pair for around $15.00 to $20.00, and can find amongst the best weight lifting gloves meant for serious lifting for around $50.00 to $60.00. Ones priced more than this are either overpriced or offer frills that can be done without.

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Weight Bench

Working Out With a Weight Bench

Weight BenchWeight lifting benches, or weight training benches, offer a great yet cost effective way to work out, and if you can get one at home, you can do away with the need for expensive gym memberships. Given that you do not need too much space to get a weight lifting bench inside your home, and that it gives you an array of workout alternatives to indulge in, it should come as no surprise that this is one of the most sought after weight training equipment.
 
 
 

The Design

Weightlifting benches are known to vary not just in length, but in width as well. These benches normally come with metal poles that stand upright and this is where the barbell goes in between lifts. If you perform your lifts with a wide grip, looking for a design that comes with more space between the uprights would be the way to go.

Two basic alternatives when it comes to weightlifting benches include the standard design and the Olympic design. The Olympic bench’s design is considerably wider and longer than the standard one, and there’s a difference in their barbell dimensions as well. While the Olympic design holds a 7 feet long barbell, the standard one holds one that is in between 5 – 6 feet. In addition, the barbell’s diameter is also smaller in case of the standard design.

If you are looking at buying a weight training bench in today’s world your options include fixed horizontal designs, fixed inclined designs, ones with adjustable inclination/declination, ones where the rack position can be adjusted, ones that can be disassembled, as well as ones that can be folded.

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The Benefits of Weight lifting Benches

A weight training bench offers great support when it comes to heavy lifting. Inadequate or the wrong kind of support can lead to loss of balance and can also result in injuries, and this is something these benches help avoid.

In addition to being used for exercises like the bench press, shoulder presses, dumbbell flyes, tricep extensions, bicep curls, bent over rows, and squats; you can also use this piece of equipment as a mat for abdominal crunches, a platform for push ups, as well as a step for step up routines. That it takes little space, and that you can get one which is easy to fold and put away, is another plus.

Weight training using free weights like barbells and dumbbells has been a tried and tested way of improving ones strength, mass and overall fitness levels, and access to a weight training bench is sure to produce better results.

Considerations

The foremost factors that need your consideration in looking at weight benches include sturdiness and support. In addition, the bench should be big enough to support the entire upper torso including the head and buttocks, in length, as well as sideways.

The bench needs to be sturdy enough to hold, not just your weight, but also the weight being lifted. The bench should ideally be made using high grade metal, and its thickness should ensure that it will not bend. Good support and balance are important aspects of the design, failing which the bench can tip over whilst in use (take into account that several exercises require you to use only one end of the bench).

Try to find out just how much weight the bench can hold, and its manual should be a good place to look for this information. Look at the feet of the bench, and apart from sturdiness and balance, they should also offer some kind of padded support so as to not damage the floor.

Just what you intend to use the bench for is also something you should be taken into account before you buy one. For example, if you’re just starting out a standard flat bench could very well do the trick. You could even think of buying one without the upright poles, as it’d still allow you to use dumbbells for bench presses, and you could definitely benefit by using it for a host of sit-up bench exercises.

What Besides the Bench?

Although the bench can be used by itself in a number of ways, buying a barbell, dumbbells, and weights along with the bench is the logical way to go (some benches come with a barbell, dumbbells, and weight plates). Take into account that you will be able to lift a lot more than you can now, and buy weights accordingly. When it comes to buying weights, look for reasonably priced alternatives as brand names don’t really matter in the weights department.

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Remember that when it comes to looking for weight lifting benches you will be presented with a plethora of options, and this makes it important that you identify your needs at the onset. When it comes to the money you’d need to spend, as mentioned before, you could make do with the basics if such is the situation, and you could really end up splurging if you face no budgetary constraints.

Pull-up

Introduction to Isotonic Exercises

Pull-upWhen it comes to weight training and strength training, a majority of the exercises you come across will be isotonic in nature. Isotonic exercises rely on the shortening or lengthening of muscles when a constant external force acts upon them. What’s important is that the force that the muscle produces in carrying out the given task should not change (although, in practise, this is almost impossible to accomplish).

While simple exercises like pulls ups, push ups, and sit ups are isotonic exercises, so are classic weight training exercises which rely on lifting weights (dumbbells, barbells) or working with weight training machines. What you have to bear in mind is that maintaining the same amount of force in most such exercises is not easy, given that the joint in question would require going through a certain range of motion (and in the case of compound exercises, there would be more than one joint at play).

The force behind a movement, therefore, can increase or decrease in accordance to the muscular force’s angle vis-à-vis gravity. If you look at isotonic exercises like the sit up or the push up you will notice that the movement seems hardest when you are in the middle of your ascent/descent. With the squat, more force is required towards the end of the lift; with the bicep curl, it’s towards the middle again; and with the deadlift, more force is required at the beginning. In addition, the movement’s speed is also something that the lifter controls.

Concentric and Eccentric Contractions

Isotonic exercises result in two kinds of muscular contractions, concentric and eccentric. Concentric contractions occur when force is applied in moving weights against gravity, and there is an active manipulation of the resistance being created. Eccentric contractions, on the other hand, come into the picture when weights are being lowered (or held), and the muscles, here, work passively (because there is no pushing/pulling involved).

Studies have shown that when concentric and eccentric contractions take place in tandem, as is the case with most weight training exercises, they result in a number of benefits, which go way beyond preparing the muscles for normal day to day activities.

Benefits of Isotonic Exercises

The benefits of isotonic exercises are many, and here are the more important ones.

  • Help improve muscular and bone strength
  • Help increase muscular mass and bone density
  • Help improve metabolism
  • Help improve balance
  • Help in injury prevention
  • Help in post-injury rehabilitation
  • Help train for specific sports (by allowing one to focus on specific movements)
  • Help the elderly carry out day to day activities like walking, climbing stairs, cooking
  • Simple isotonic exercises can help alleviate pain caused due to arthritis
  • Help improve self esteem
  • Can be carried out with little equipment and in little space

The Drawbacks

Isotonic exercises can leave your muscles sore during and post exercising, and the stress that is a result of the muscle shortening is the reason behind this. The uneven force required through a number of movements is also viewed as a disadvantage, and it is also believed that not all isotonic exercises work in developing each and every muscle group completely. That you could have to take extended breaks in between workout sessions is looked upon as a drawback by some.

It is also noted that isotonic exercises work in strengthening muscles at their weakest point instead of overall improvement (through the entire range of movement).

Isolation and Compound

Here are examples of isolation and compound exercises which rely on isotonic contractions to do the trick.

  • Isolation: Isotonic isolation exercises rely on involving muscles around a single joint, and examples include front & side-lateral shoulder raises, seated/standing calf raises, leg curls, and leg extensions.
  • Compound: These, unlike isolation exercises, target muscle groups around more than just one joint. Examples of exercises which fall under this category include pull ups, push ups, barbell lifts, and squats.

Examples of Isotonic Exercises

Here are some common exercises which rely on isotonic contractions to do the trick.

  • Oblique crunches: Performed lying down on your back, oblique crunches help work the abs as well as the obliques. Resistance can easily be added by using dumbbells (holding them by your head), and you’d need to keep your arms still in order for the force to come from the abs.
  • Incline dumbbell press: This will work your pecs as well as your triceps, and your anterior deltoids too.
  • Lying down leg curls: These are great for working out the hamstring muscles, and resistance can be created by tying weights around your ankles.
  • Lying down hip abduction: Great for working the glutes, resistance can be create using a resistance band or tying weights at your ankles.
  • Lying down windscreen wipers: These help in working the obliques and the rectus abdominis, and progression in this comes in the form of your increasing the speed of your movements.
  • Lying down straight leg raises: These target the hip flexors, the abdominal wall, and the rectus abdominis. This exercise, however, is meant for the intermediate or advanced, requiring complete stability of the back when the leg raises are performed.

Given the widespread use of isotonic exercises and their very nature, it is quite natural that you will come by some kind of an isotonic exercise irrespective of the kind of fitness regimen you follow. After all, while weightlifting is isotonic is nature, so is carrying out simple calf raises whilst sitting on a chair.

Using a weight lifting belt

The Use of a Weight Lifting Belt

Using a weight lifting beltWeightlifting belts find favour with a number of lifters, although some choose to do without them, and each has their own reasons in doing so. If you’ve been meaning to use a weightlifting belt it is crucial that you know how to use it and how often you can use it, else, you’d be heading towards some kind of injury or the other.

The belief that a weightlifting belt can help in supporting the spine is far from the truth, taking into account that even the wider varieties cover only a portion of the spine, and in case you’ve suffered from back injuries in the past it becomes important that you seek your doctor’s advice before using one. Read on to learn more.
 

Why Use Them?

The spine

If you are lifting heavy weights, a weightlifting belt can help you in maintaining form, thereby minimizing the risk of sprained muscles or torn ligaments and tendons. Weightlifting belts are also known to help in reducing the pressure that is applied on spinal discs, and it is seen that using them allows lifters to lift weight not just more comfortably, but more quickly as well.

A weightlifting belt works by minimizing stress on the lifter’s lower back when he/she is upright, and this helps prevent hyperextension of the back in carrying out overhead lifts. The lower back stress, by the way, is reduced because the belt compresses what’s inside the abdominal cavity. Since this maximizes the IAP (intra abdominal pressure), bones in the lower back receive more support. In addition, the rigid wall that it helps form around the torso also helps in preventing hyperextension of the back.

When Should a Weightlifting Belt be Used?

Since weightlifting belts are meant to be worn tightly for maximum efficacy, wearing one for long periods is definitely not suggested. Take into account that wearing a belt for extended duration can lead to increased blood pressure, and as a result, their use should be limited only when you feel it’s necessary.

A weightlifting belt can typically be used for performing deadlifts and squats, wherein your back plays an important role in supporting the weight; and one can also be used during exercises which can cause hyperextension of the back, an example of which is the military press. Loosening the belt in between each set is something you should do, as this will help your blood pressure to return to its normal state.

The Don’ts

A weightlifting belt is worn over the front portion of your abs and your lower back, not around your hips, and wearing it loose will not help. If you intend to depend on one quite like a crutch and use it all the time, know that this can lead to the weakening of your abdominal muscles, and will have a detrimental effect on your core.

If you intend to buy one, establish what kind of support you’re looking for, and most of your options will be in between four and six inches wide. Basic material options include leather, suede, nylon, and each has its own sets of pros and cons. Another aspect that needs your attention if you’re buying a weightlifting belt is the locking mechanism, and your options include quick release levels and one or two pronged buckles.

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Usain Bolt

Strength Training for Runners

Usain BoltMost runners who do not strength train give a singular reason for not doing so, that the addition of extra muscular mass will work in hampering their performance on the field, and this line of thought, you should know, is far from reality. If you do end up putting on any weight (which is unlikely given the distances you’d be running), it will be inconsequential at best, and the added benefits of strength training for runners like improved strength and balance will far outweigh this aspect.
 
 

What Does Research Say?

A number of studies have delved into finding the effects of strength training/weight training for runners, and the findings are positive, to say the least.

  • In one study, subjects in different groups were made to rely on a combination of strength and endurance training, just strength training, and just endurance training. These training schedules were followed twice each week, for a period of twelve weeks. At the end of this period it was found that the group that included both strength and endurance training exercises in their program had more than a 10% average increase in VO2 max, and saw an 8.6% improvement in running four kilometre trials.
  • A different study, which involved cyclists and runners relying on thrice-a-week, ten week resistance training program, showed a staggering thirty percent improvement in leg strength. What it also showed was that there was a marked difference in quick bouts, an improvement in getting to the point of exhaustion, and no detrimental effect on the VO2 max.
  • A review of different studies carried out in this realm showed that clubbing endurance and strength training results in around 4.5% improvement when it comes to running economy, and just under 3% when it comes to an actual time improvement in running three/five kilometres.

Injury Prevention

Strength training for runners, amongst other things, plays a significant role, not just in rehabilitation post an injury, but also in injury prevention. Take into account that although running does not cause injuries (unless you’re doing it all wrong), it does work in highlighting the weak links in our musculoskeletal system, and tells us just what needs to be worked upon. Simply assessing how your body responds to running will give you a good indication of what areas need improvement, and this will go a long way in the prevention of injuries.

Weight Training for Runners – What, How, When?

When it comes to strength training for runners, knowing how to go about the training program is very important, and this is because there is no dearth of strength training programs out there (some very good, and some not so). Irrespective of the strength training for runners program you choose to follow, ensure that these basics are adhered to.

  • Train twice or thrice a week, and no more. You need to give your muscles time to recover, and besides, you would be running most of the week.
  • Ensure that you follow the right technique/form while lifting weights, failing which you will leave yourself vulnerable to injuries.
  • Use the right intensity, and build this up with time. Using weights you are very comfortable with will result in little or no improvement, and overdoing it could easily result in injury. Increasing resistance levels with time will ensure on-going improvements (until you hit a plateau).

Some Exercises

Given below are a few exercises which are runner specific. These aren’t meant for someone who’s never undergone any kind of strength training before, and if you are one such person, it is best that you familiarize yourself with exercises like leg extensions, squats, and leg presses before you get to these. Definitely considered advanced, these exercises incorporate the use of uneven surfaces and unilateral movements, mimicking running as much as possible.Single Leg Squat

  • Squat (single leg): The single leg squat will help work your hamstrings, glutes, quads, abductors, and adductors. Not only do these help in building strength, they also work in improving the knee and hip alignment. Eight repetitions on each leg, three sets, with at least 60 seconds rest in between each set is recommended, and adding weights around your wrist will work in increasing intensity levels.
  • Step Ups: Perform step ups using dumbbells, and this will work your hamstrings, glutes, quads, erector spinae, and hip flexors. Step ups also help with knee and hip alignment, and play an important role in strengthening core running muscles. Eight repetitions with each leg, three sets, with at least 60 seconds rest in between each set is recommended.
  • Leg Lifts: Leg lifts, when performed lying sideways, work the glutes, abductors, obliques, as well as all core stabilising muscles. This exercise helps in the correct positioning of the pelvic region whilst you are running and improves core stability. Six repetitions on each side, three sets, with at least 60 seconds rest in between each set is recommended. Weights, tied around the ankles, will help increasing intensity levels.

These are only a few examples, and other exercises like these which focus on strength training for runners, will not only help in increasing strength, but will also work in improving running economy, eliminating muscular imbalances, and aiding coordination and balance.

The Bulking Up Myth

As mentioned before, there is very little chance of a runner bulking up because of strength training. Take into account that running is a very catabolic process, which means that it works in breaking down muscle. If you are running as much as 30 miles a week, know that there is very little chance of your adding any weight at all. That you continue to watch what you eat, of course, should go without saying.

Weight training for runners, as you can see, does come with a number of benefits, and if you look at the top runners in any discipline, you will realize that they also resort to some kind of weight training for runners program. And if they do, why shouldn’t you?

bill-starr-the-strongest-shall-survive

Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Workout

Bill Starr - The Strongest Shall SurviveA former Olympian lifter, Bill Star is also popular owing to the huge success of his book, ‘The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football’, which was written way back in 1976. He is credited for popularizing the 5×5 workout through this book, and although it was primarily aimed at serving as a workout routine for football players, it is now looked upon as one of the best workout routines there is.

Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 workout, it has been noticed, can be used by just about any athlete or weight training aficionado, and works well in building strength as well as power (explosiveness). It relies on working the entire body using complex compound exercises, and this three time a week strength training routine aims at gradual progression.

While the original routine relied on three exercises often referred to as the ‘big three’ (bench press, squats, and deadlifts); variations can now be seen, although there is no significant change in the 5×5 (5 sets, 5 repetitions) routine.

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Righ Squat Form

Squat

The Exercises

Apart from the solely relying on the big three to do the trick, certain variations like substituting deadlifts with power cleans can be seen. Football players, in particular, prefer power cleans over deadlifts as this gives them the ability to focus on bettering explosiveness. While this option isn’t specific for powerlifters, it does work in bulking up your back, and strengthening your shoulders and back, whilst also improving the strength-speed combination.

Right Benchpress Form

Benchpress

This weight training program also includes exercises referred to as ‘Beach Work’, and incorporates bi’s, tri’s and dips. The routine for these exercises varies in accordance to personal requirements, allowing you to focus on your weak spots, and they do produce a more aesthetic effect in comparison to the deadlifts and squats. Closegrips and rowing movements can help work the lats, dips can help work the triceps, and so on.

The Right Deadlift Form

Dead Lift

Beginners, on the whole, can work a little differently and can add overhead movements like the seated overhead press, the military press, and the clean and jerk. Stretching a couple of times a week is suggested as this minimizes the risk of injury and also enables you to train for longer durations.

The Routine

The Bill Starr Beginner Workout routine will have you working out three days each week, performing five sets with five repetitions each of the bench press, the squat, and the deadlift (or power clean). Mondays are heavy weight days; Wednesdays involve light weight intensity workouts; and Fridays gear up for moderate/medium intensity.

It is important that you start this strength training workout with weights which are relatively easy to get by. Equally important is using the right technique, and holding the right form. Weights should not be increased rapidly, and if you experience tendonitis, decreasing weights is the obvious way to go. The program also suggests that you ‘de load’ every few weeks. What this basically means is that in a six to eight week period, you should go back to using weights you used a couple of weeks ago.

An Example Routine

This, here, is pretty much how Bill Starr had laid out the 5×5 workout routine.

Mondays:
Heavy – greater than 85%
5 sets – Back Squats – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – Ramp weight to top set – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Bench Press – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – Ramp weight to top set – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Deadlift – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – Ramp weight to top set – Rest 60-90 seconds

Wednesdays:
Light – lesser than 70%
5 sets – Back Squats – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – At 60% of the weights used on Monday – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Bench Press – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – At 60% of the weights used on Monday – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Pull Ups – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – Ramp weight to top set – Rest 60-90 seconds

Fridays:
Medium – lesser than 70%
5 sets – Back Squats – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – At 80% of the weights used on Monday – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Bench Press – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – At 80% of the weights used on Monday – Rest 60-90 seconds
5 sets – Rows – Reps (5,5,5,5,5) – Ramp weight to top set – Rest 60-90 seconds

Mondays:
On Mondays, you will notice that the weight for every lift needs to be increased through every set of 5 repetitions, and this starts from a seemingly light warm up and progresses to an all out set. An even increase of weight from the first to the last set is ideal and you can even consider adding a sixth set if you feel you’re making big weight changes in between sets.

Wednesdays:
Wednesdays see you taking it easy a bit, allowing the body to recover from Mondays’ onslaughts. You can work on the first three sets quite like you did on the preceding Monday, and can stay on Monday’s third set weights for your last two Wednesday sets.

Fridays:
On Fridays, you can stick to using the weights you used for the first four sets on Monday. A variation to the fifth set can come in the form of increasing the weight by around 2.5% in comparison to Monday’s fifth set, but sticking to three repetitions instead of five.

Vegatables and Chicken BreastThe Diet

Your diet, when you are on this strength training program, will depend on whether you are aiming at bulking up or not. For people looking at bulking up, eating large meals is definitely suggested. Besides, since this workout routine’s primary focus is building mass, eating lesser than required would leave you tired and lethargic.

Starting out with Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Workout is not at all difficult, given that it gets you to start with light weights and progress to heavier ones as you move along. For a beginner looking at suitable workout routines, know that this, here, is easily amongst your best alternatives.

MRT

Metabolic Resistance Training To Build Muscle And Burn Fat

MRTA number of fitness trainers can be seen recommending metabolic resistance training workouts to their clients, especially when weight loss is being addressed. While cardio is a good way to burn calories, metabolic resistance training, it is seen, does have a considerably better effect. In fact, research has gone to show that this form of training works in burning more calories not just while you’re working out, but up to twenty four hours after the session.
 
 

What is Metabolic Resistance Training?

Simply put, metabolic resistance training workouts would have you performing a number of exercises in quick succession, with little or no rest in between repetitions. The workout could include four to ten exercises, the rest would not exceed thirty seconds in between each set (if required), and almost all the exercises would be compound in nature (that is, they would work multiple muscle groups at the same time).

Exercises can include regular strength training exercises like working with free weights, machines, medicine balls, etc. What’s important is that as many muscle groups as possible be brought into play in any given workout session, and working on timed sets is also an alternative (wherein you’d have a fixed time limit to perform as many repetitions as possible).

How Does it Work?

Take into account a metabolic resistance training workout which includes ten intensive compound exercises. By the time you’re done with the fourth or the fifth exercise, your body would get into a mode wherein is starts burning calories at a faster pace, and this is because of the metabolic response that the initial sets generate. Workouts that rely solely on strength training, on the other hand, require more rest in between sets, and could also use more resistance.

Addressing Multiple Muscle Groups

As mentioned earlier, metabolic resistance training workouts focus on larger groups of muscles, and could include exercises like deadlifts, lunge jumps, superman push ups, Swiss ball leg curls & hip extensions, and so on. Doing a bicep curl while sitting down, therefore, would be in contrast to the principle of this kind of training, because it focuses just on the biceps.

In addressing multiple cross body muscle groups, the exercises should ideally be structural in nature, wherein the legs and the spine are engaged in the exercises to some degree. On the other hand, if you are able to get to high intensity levels without making use of the muscles in your legs, by, say, doing something like back-to-back chin ups and bench press, the same should also work in qualifying as a high intensity metabolic workout.

Intense barbell curlThe Intensity

Given the high intensity that you would be up against, don’t be surprised when you end up breathless after a gruelling session (which is how they’re designed to be). If this is not the case after you’ve completed your routine, you’re obviously doing things the wrong way. Not only should you be resting as little as possible, you should also try to lift the heaviest possible weights in accordance to your strength. Remember that it’s not just how much time you’re exposed to the intensity, but the level of intensity in itself matters too.

Most metabolic resistance training workouts are created to push your body to the limit, and this works in effectively changing body composition, increasing strength, and increasing one’s capacity to carry out day to day tasks.

Is it For You?

Although metabolic resistance training is a great way to burn calories quickly, fact remains that this kind of training is not recommended for everyone. For example, for someone who’s never done strength training before, starting with metabolic resistance training (which involves high intensity workouts) is not really suggested. If you’ve led a fairly sedentary lifestyle until now, you should ideally work in correcting any muscular imbalances you might have before you get to this point, and this can be done through beginner level strength training workouts. This form of training is not suggested for people who seem frail or weak either.

A Sample Routine

The routine given below was created by the founder & CEO of Peak Performance, one of America’s leading fitness centre chain. To be performed on three non consecutive days, the workout is divided into three routines, and each routine comes with three different exercises.

One set of every exercise is to be performed in quick succession (with no more than thirty seconds rest), and once one routine is complete, you start again after resting for around 60 seconds (performing the same routine thrice). The same has to be followed for the other two routines as well.

  • Routine 1:

3 sets – Dumbbell goblet squats

3 sets – Dumbbell rows – Single arm

3 sets – Planks (to be held for 60 seconds)

  • Routine 2:

3 sets – Swiss ball leg curl & hip extension

3 sets – Push ups

3 sets – Jumping jacks

  • Routine 3:

3 sets – Dumbbell push press – standing

3 sets – Zottmann DB Curls – standing

3 sets – Mountain climber

Too Much?

Realize that your body can only be pushed to a certain limit without any undesired results or injuries, and this makes it important that metabolic resistance training workouts be carried out not more than three or a maximum of four days per week. What you can think about doing is clubbing strength training with metabolic resistance training, and your weekly workout chart could look something like this.

  • Monday: Metabolic
  • Tuesday: Strength
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Metabolic
  • Friday: Strength
  • Saturday and Sunday: Rest

The Diet

The Right FoodThe harder you exercise, the more attention you need to pay to what you eat, and this is because your body needs energy to get through a tough metabolic resistance training workout. Ensure including fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as nuts and seeds. That you should get enough proteins and carbohydrates is something that should go without saying.

So, while metabolic resistance training can be a great way to burn those calories in an expedited manner, it is important that you know just what you’re up against. Know that rest is an important aspect of any workout regimen, and metabolic resistance training workouts are no different (if not between sets, they do call for rest between sessions).

Enter the world of strength training