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Strength or Size? What Do I Train?

If you’re a beginner you might be thinking, “Hold on.. isn’t weight training just weight training?” Well, no, not really. The exercises you choose to do, combined with the amount of weight used and number of reps can alter how you’re training your body. Training for strength (example: powerlifter) is about increasing the amount of force your body can exert, to lift heavier. Training for size (or mass, example: bodybuilder) is more about ‘sculpting’ the muscles to look a particular way, and getting that pump when you train.

If you’re just starting out at the gym it’s a good idea to aim toward strength training to build yourself a basic foundation and have something to work with, it’s also a good idea to start off around 10 reps of each exercise (which is more than an advanced strength training routine) because on average it takes a combined 500 reps for your brain to recognise the movement patterns. However, once you reach a particular point you may want to decide to focus solely on strength training with heavy, compound exercises and low reps, or to increase your training volume and focus more on building size. Training volume is the number of reps and sets that are included in your workout; the more reps and sets you do, the greater the training volume.

Training for strength usually involves focusing on compound exercises, which are exercises that target many muscles at once. Prime examples of these are the deadlift, squat and bench press. The general rule that you see for strength training is to keep reps low, and the load high in any particular exercise (the number you will do in your rep range will depend on both your fitness level and your body type). This is to focus on the force that you’re able to exert.

Training for size needs a different approach, it usually will require you to work your muscles to complete fatigue through small, isolated exercises with a higher number of reps and a lighter weight. The amount of weight that you lift in a mass-building workout is not as critical as it is when you are training for strength, rather, the primary focus should be higher reps and fatiguing your muscles and getting a pump.

Depending on what your goals are, and if you’re not one of the aforementioned types of athletes, you may want to consider working in both training styles in a way that compliment each other (if you’re lost at how to combine them into an effective workout plan our Get Lean Guides cover that for you). It can also be easier to achieve a particular training style through the type of exercise you choose to do. We’ve created a chart for you to help you understand a little better (click to enlarge). Of course, there are many more exercises than this that we couldn’t possibly fit into such a compact chart, and some exercises (example: deadlifts) will work far more than just one muscle group. It’s also important to note that some exercises can be completed using different techniques to help focus on slightly different muscle groups. Think of this chart as a basic guide to strength versus size exercises.

Remember, just because you see someone at the gym doing a certain exercise a particular way doesn’t mean that you need to as well. Figure out what your goals are, and then find a training plan (or trainer) to help you achieve them!

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7 Day Plan To Get Back On Track

Get back on track and motivated in 7 days.

Whether it's coming back from a holiday, recovering from sickness or from being just plain lazy for far too long now, it's time to get you back into routine and fit again. I’m helping you with 7 easy steps that can get you motivated again and ready to kick butt!

Day 1: Write down your goals.
You may have set some goals before, but did you write them down? Did you just think of a time you need to be fit for and just hope it would happen? Write them down, stick them on your fridge, near your computer, somewhere.

What do you want? (Specifics E.G. Size 10 jeans, lose 5 kgs 3cms off your arms)
When do you want it?  (E.G. My birthday 21st of July 2016)
Where will it be? (Out with friends, getting dinner)
Why do you want it? (You need to feel confident in your new dress)

How are you going to achieve it?
How is it going to feel when you achieve it?
How is it going to feel if you don’t?


Answer these questions, keep them close.



Day 2: Throw out 'junk' food/processed food.
Try it for 1 week, not only will your body be able to burn fat more efficiently, but your skin will clear up, sickness will drop and you will feel healthier and you will notice a slight change in your waistline.
 


Day 3: Plan out a new routine.
Planning is key, working around a schedule to fit in work, study and play and keeping it balanced is the best way to not burn out and get tired. Sort your day into hourly blocks and work from there. Plan at least a few days in advanced if possible, and each morning sit down and write out your 'to do' list for that day.

 

Day 4: Create a work out playlist.
I’ve written about how music can motivate you and keep you energised throughout your session., release endorphins and get your blood pumping. Make sure you make something long enough that it can take you from the time you need to go to the gym and to the end of your warm down.



Day 5: Buy some workout gear or equipment.
I think investing a bit of money no matter how much or little it is can keep you more inclined to exercise when you have something to show for it. Equipment to use at home, a new training program, some new shoes, clothes even. 



Day 6: Do something different.
Go hiking, try a sport maybe even some new fitness yoga hybrid that your friend Michelle has been raving on about.  Doing exercise is obviously not the most enjoyable thing in the world for many people, but the results are, and if you can do something different that is a step closer to getting you fit, then just do it!

 

Day 7: Book in with a Personal Trainer.
This is the final step when it comes to committing to your results,  some PTs can be can be a luxury, but even just getting them to write you a program can be a great start. Although all of my clients get to experience my dad jokes, missed numbers whilst counting reps and massages. Check out the Eat Run Lift Trainers if you're from Brisbane.

It doesn’t have to stop there, you can do many more things to continue and narrow down your goals. If you need your hormones checked see a doctor, need a meal plan? See a nutritionist.

What have you done in the past to get yourself back on track?