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Strength Training for Everyone: Stop Lifting Weights and Start Maximizing Your Muscle Gains with Strength Training

  Feb 12th, 2012

The mere mention of the term “strength training” is a complete turn-off for many individuals because they immediately think of the olympic dead-lifters on television with protruding guts picking up thousand pound barbells. After all, the average person isn’t lifting weights to have their gut stick out even more – they want to get rid of it!


It really is unfortunate that so many people confuse strength training with power lifting (like the olympic lifters do) because strength training is something that I believe everyone, even women, should be actively participating in.


Unlike power lifting, which predominantly focuses on building up a one rep max on a specific set of lifts, strength training is simply the implementation of a few easy principles to ensure that you are continually getting stronger and building more muscle. The goal of strength training is not necessarily to increase the one rep max of your lifts – although, it will do that.


The goal of strength training is to continually push yourself to add greater amounts of weight to your lifts, regardless of the number of reps you are performing.


Let me give you an example…


Let’s say that you have been bench-pressing 225lbs with sets consisting of 8 reps (because you happen to prefer doing 8 reps for whatever reason) and have been performing these 8 rep sets with 225lbs on the bar for over 2 months. The sad reality is that in those 2 months you will have given your muscles very little reason to grow because your muscles will have quickly adapted to the 225lb load and will have not been introduced to any additional magnitude of strain since then.


Sure, you are maintaining the muscle that you had previously built, but who is ever happy with simply maintaining? I know I’m not!


Because it has been 8 weeks since you have increased the weight while performing the bench press, it is time to add a small amount of resistance to force your muscles to continue to develop and grow. This doesn’t have to be a large amount of weight, just something that is more than your muscles are currently accustomed to lifting.


In fact, I recommend only adding 5lbs at a time. By only adding to your weights in 5 pound increments you will be able to continue performing the same number of reps (or close to it), while also being able to increase your weight with greater frequency than if you were increasing with10lb increments, which could take much longer for your muscles to adapt to.


Knowing When to Add More Weight

When I talk about strength training the question often comes up of how to know when it is time to add more weight. Well, there are a couple of answers that I have heard others give regarding the subject of adding weight and they are both subjective in nature:


• When your muscles are ready to handle more weight (whatever that means)


• When you become bored with using the same weight workout after workout


There are a few other subjective-type methods that people advocate for determining when it is time to add more weight to your lifts. However, I like using a more objective approach with a couple of hard and fast rules:


Rule #1
It is time to increase the weight of a lift when you have been performing the same desired number of reps with a given weight for at least 4 weeks


Rule #2
It is time to increase the weight of a lift any time you grow strong enough to perform more reps than your desired number of reps


My first rule is pretty self explanatory and shouldn’t require any further clarification. The second rule is also fairly straightforward, but just to be sure we are on the same page…


I am simply saying that if your goal is to perform 8 reps, and you can actually perform 9 (or more), it is time to add 5 pounds to that lift. Got it? Good.


Now that I have explained what strength training is, and how to properly implement strength training into your workouts, I am now going to address a few of the objections that people give for not wanting to strength train.


Common Objections to Strength Training

As I was transforming my body by using strength training as described above, I had several people ask me how I was getting such fantastic results. When I would explain that I was using relatively heavy weights and only performing 5 or 6 reps per set, I would usually be met with some kind of objection about why that kind of training plan wasn’t for them.


These objections always stemmed from one or more incorrect presuppositions that were based upon misinformation they had read online or otherwise. Just in case you are going to try and cop out on me, and leave this posting thinking that strength training isn’t for you, I want to clear up the confusion on a few of the most common objections to strength training.


Objection #1: I just want to tone my muscles and that is better achieved with lighter weights…



Using lighter weights for a higher number of reps to get toned is a myth that is freakishly engrained in our culture. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this objection and have had to hold back my urge to become angry that yet another person had fallen for this lie and gently explain that the number of reps used for each set has very little to do with getting a toned, or ripped, physique.


Getting toned is a function of the amount of body fat covering your muscles and that really is all there is to it!


If you want to get toned, you will want to focus on cutting excess body fat. As you reduce your body fat percentage, your muscle definition will improve more and more as the fat that was covering your muscles slowly disappears.


If you want to get toned and ripped you need to combine an effective fat loss nutrition plan with strength training and fat burning cardio workouts. Strength training will not hinder your ability to get toned, but will actually enhance it as your muscles will be fuller and more developed as you get rid of the fat that is hiding their definition.


Objection #2: I am a woman and don’t want to build massive muscles…

As I explain on my post dedicated to bodybuilding for women, this is also an objection based upon misinformation. While consulting female clients I would hear this objection pretty much every time I would get to the point where I was explaining that they would be performing 4 to 6 reps per set.


I can understand where they are coming from as I completely agree that those women in bodybuilding competitions on television with unnatural amounts of muscle mass are masculine and unattractive.


It is important to understand that these women did not get those physiques by lifting heavy weights. They developed those bodies through the use of synthetic steroids.


As further proof, take my own personal bodybuilding journey into account…


I have now been lifting weights and feeding my body with the sole purpose of building the most lean muscle mass as possible for years and am nowhere close to looking like those steroid-using men and women on television. If I, as a man, haven’t become ridiculously muscular, it is safe to say that women have nothing to worry about as their physiological makeup is much less conducive to packing on muscle mass.


women strength training resultsIf you are a woman, don’t worry that strength training will cause you to become unattractively muscular. On the contrary, strength training will allow you to develop a full and curvy physique – like the one to the right – that your man (or future man) will greatly admire.


Objection #3: I don’t have access to a gym

Well, get access!


I am sorry, but there really is little room for excuses to not have access to a sufficient set of equipment to strength train. Gym memberships can be purchased for as little as $20 per month and gyms can be found every couple of miles in most areas (as long as you don’t live in a rural area).


I think it is safe to assume that you spend money on all kinds of things that are far less important than your physical health and well-being. If you don’t have access to a gym, it is time to make your strength and fitness and priority and join one!


Strength Training is for You!

Hopefully I have convinced you that simply going to the gym and lifting weights is no longer good enough, and that it is time for you to step it up a notch by focusing on not only lifting weights, but consistently getting stronger as well.


We are all lifting weights to get bigger and stronger – and look better – and there is no better way to make that happen than by using strength training to continually apply greater levels of stress on our muscles.



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