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Fri, March 12, 2021 | Fitness

STRENGTH SERIES | SHOULD I BE STRENGTH TRAINING?

Should I be Strength Training?

A question we are often asked by our clients… “should I be Strength Training?”

The answer from our coaches is always the same – YES! We believe that Strength Training should be the foundation of every client’s training program. Whether you’re training for high performance, looking to shift a few pounds or just looking to move well and increase the longevity of your muscles, joints and tendons… Strength Training is for you! 

What is Strength Training?

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. 

When properly performed, strength training can provide significant benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being, including 

  1. Increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength and toughness.
  2. Improved joint function.
  3. Reduced potential for injury.
  4. Increased bone density. 
  5. Increased metabolism. 
  6. Improved cardiac function.

Training commonly uses the technique of progressively increasing the force output of the muscle through incremental weight increases and uses a variety of exercises and types of equipment to target specific muscle groups. Strength training is primarily an anaerobic activity (short bursts of higher intensity, higher power activity where oxygen is not utilised), although some proponents have adapted the format to provide the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Where should I start? 

To quote one of the all-time greats, the late Charles Poliquin… 

“Strength is gained, in the range that it is trained” … Simply put if you don’t train through a full range of motion your muscles will only become stronger in the ranges they are trained! 

Focus on moving as far as your joints comfortably allow whilst keeping tension on the working muscle. If you can’t perform an exercise with a full range of motion, you may need to go down in weight or even utilise bodyweight-only in order to perfect your technique first.

However, it is important that you control the load through the full range with the tension of each working muscle. Too often movements are performed with no control and the load transfers from muscles to joints and tendons at the end range which could spell danger when heavier loads are involved. 

Concentric Vs Eccentric

Although the majority of strength-based movements focus on the concentric (shortening of the muscle), we believe it’s vital to utilise a controlled eccentric (lengthening of the muscle). Taking the muscle through its full range of motion with control, before you then choose to apply force on the concentric. 

Rather than dropping to the bottom during each rep, be mindful of slowing down the eccentric half of your strength training exercises just long enough to show control. You can teach yourself to do so by counting to three during each exercise downward or “easy” section. 

The Stretch Shortening Cycle

Showing control when lengthening the muscle, allows us to utilise the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC). 

The Stretch Shortening Cycle is elastic energy created through tendon recoil and an increase inactive state. This actually leads to more energy conservation and efficiency when strength training. 

In theory, we should then be capable of lifting more load, when we create elastic energy in the working muscle from a controlled eccentric, as opposed to starting from a dead stop and concentric only. 

An example of this might be…

SSC – Lowering a barbell in a squatting pattern and standing back up again.

Concentric Only – Starting in a seated position, being handed a heavyweight then being asked to stand up. 

Isometric Holds

Lastly… Isometrics – another great tool when utilised as a part of your strength training program. 

We talked about the difficulty of starting a movement from the concentric portion and not being able to utilise the SSC. If programmed correctly, isometrics can be used to target this area of potential weakness in order to develop stronger positions leading to increased overall strength. 

Isometrics can also be utilised for beginners who are still working on mastering proper form through a full range of motion. 

To carry out an isometric, we simply need to brace and hold either the long or short position of any movement under load or bodyweight. It’s important we hold that position with the intended working muscles rather than letting our joints and tendons take over. 

Where can I find strength training workouts?

We have a large library of pre-recorded strength training sessions ready to view on our SF app, Youtube and Instagram page. Follow along and be coached through every step by one of our skilled coaches. 

Alternatively, reach out and speak to one of our coaching team about a more bespoke program that will cater to your goals, wants and needs.

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