Depending on the type of exercise you’re currently doing, you may not be building strength. For example, If your focus is largely on cardio (which has many benefits and shouldn’t be discounted!), you’re most likely losing weight and burning fat, but you’re not building muscular strength. Strength building not only makes your body look better, but also makes it easier to do daily tasks, like picking up children, carrying groceries, or reaching for something in a far-reaching cabinet. It’s not always necessary to look at strength building as something only meant for those looking to be bodybuilders. Anyone can benefit from it and will benefit even more by following these important rules.
Whenever lifting weights (necessary for building strength!), it’s important to select a resistance that allows you to complete each rep with a full range of motion. As you gain strength after a few weeks you can push yourself to momentary muscular failure. It’s common practice to lift weights until you experience muscle failure. Muscle failure is that feeling you get when you simply cannot lift anymore. Maybe you reach it on rep six, seven, or eight.
Quality and Muscle Failure
If you select a weight that is too heavy you will not be able to reach momentary muscular failure in the correct repetition range. This seems contrary to the popular belief that you should lift maximum weight to become stronger. However, lifting too much weight will not allow you to reach quality muscle failure. Most likely you’ll be able to squeeze out only a few reps and that generally means you’re doing reps that aren’t quality reps. You might only be lifting halfway through an exercise or getting outside help, just to push yourself to that failure stage. Instead of doing this, focus on quality reps, which will build your strength while also, ensuring you don’t burn out befogging hitting the prescribed rep range, usually five to eight reps. Also, being sore in the muscles connective tissue and joints for several days after a workout is not going to help you build strength – you’ll be too sore to do your next workout!
Selecting the Correct Training Load
Do not do more than five to eight reps per set of strength-building exercises you do. If you don’t know what your max rep is for a certain exercise, find the heaviest weight you can life just once, and then regularly lift around 80% of that weight. This is safer and allows your muscles to stabilize.
You might be thinking that lifting 80% of your max weight is lifting far too heavy, but it isn’t! In order to truly incorporate strength into your fitness routine, you need to get strong. Lifting heavy will have you LOOKING strong. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need a certain amount of tension (strength) and will need to recruit all of your muscles. If you look at strength as a skill, you can more easily understand that the more muscles you recruit, and the harder those muscles have to work, the stronger you’ll get.
Be sure you’re lifting regularly. Daily lifting of the SAME muscle groups is not recommended. Your muscles need time to heal. But you can either target different muscle groups daily or do the same muscle group routine twice a week, with a max of three times per week.
Once you complete a set, take a rest, and make it longer than a few seconds. Just “powering through” a strength building routine is not recommended, even if it seems that would be ideal. Instead, allow your body to really recover and prepare for the next lift. This will make you feel far less sore the next day and give your muscles a better chance of healing and becoming stronger.
If you truly want to build strength, your focus should be on exercises, which enlist several muscle groups. Just focusing on one particular muscle will not make you, as a strong as doing compound movements will. Isolation movements will not make you as strong as bench presses, dead lifts, squats, and military presses will. Keep it simple, involve your total body as much as possible, and start building strength!
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