Strength Training 101 — Get Strong, Build Muscle, Lose Fat by Caleb Lee
Strength training and physical conditioning is one of the most respected and oldest disciplines around.
The approach is simple. Start where you are and gradually increase your strength. Strength is mainly a SKILL. So like any skill the more you practice it the better you become. Instead of thinking of your strength training days as “workouts” think of them as “practices” instead and you’ll make better gains.
Also, strength is mainly a function of your Central Nervous System (CNS). You’re basically teaching your central nervous system to contract your muscles harder, in effect “be stronger” to perform at higher and higher levels of strength (as you put them under this pressure through the process of progressive overload). Keep reading to discover more about strength training…
Strength Training - What is it?
Strength training is using exercise and physical conditioning to increase your strength. When it comes to what strength is there are 4 key types:
Absolute Strength. This is how much strength you can display irrespective of anything else. Period, bottom line. Strongmen, powerlifters and heavy Olympic lifters are examples of this.
Relative Strength. Is being strong, increasing your absolute strength but striving to keep a low bodyweight–basically increasing your strength without increasing your weight. So you are very strong “relative” to how much you weigh. Most athletes would benefit from focusing on this.
Speed Strength. Also called “explosive strength” is the type of strength defined by “strength per unit of time” basically how fast or explosively you can display your strength. It’s needed in almost every sport and olympic lifters are generally the most explosively strong people around.
Strength Endurance. Is the ability to be as strong as possible, as long as possible. You can be strong, but for how long? Can you lift a sub-maximal weight many times? Being able to do high reps on the bench press with your bodyweight… or 500 bodyweight squats is an example of strength endurance, athletes also need this.
Why you Should Strength Train.
Strength training will help you in virtually every area of your life. Here’s a partial list of the benefits.
Muscle Building. Strength training builds muscle — basically your body will grow more muscle to adapt to the demands you place on it through strength training. It’s a by-product of increasing your strength.
Fat Loss. Muscle mass will burn more calories whether you’re actively working out, sitting on the couch or sleeping. More muscle mass thus increases your metabolism, which leads to fat loss. Men can get 10% body fat year round (six pack ab levels) by strength training and women can do the same (but at 15-20%).
Good for your health. You’ll not only strengthen your muscles, but also your:
strengthen your joints
get more bone strength
Get more endurance and stamina
increase your work capacity
Increase your testosterone levels
lower cholesterol and get good blood pressure.
get better sleep
Builds Discipline. Strength training builds discipline by teaching you to have a goal and continually work towards it. You achieve success over time–you can use this same principle to achieve anything else in life you want.
Strength Training Methods.
There’s different ways to build strength, here’s a couple:
Bodyweight Exercises. Master your own bodyweight first. Pushups, pullups, situps, squats, etc are the best place to start. You move your body around in real life, so it makes sense to get good at moving it around during exercise.
Weight Training. Using free weights, barbell training specifically. You can build a massive amount of strength, muscle and achieve great fat loss with just a simple Olympic Barbell and weights. Compound exercises like Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, etc build the most strength the fastest.
Kettlebells. Are a unique way to strength train because they’re unique weights. It’s basically a heavy weight off-center, it builds “off-balance” strength and is good for your stabilizer muscles this way. Also, you can get just two of these things and work out virtually your whole body (like barbells, they’re ideal for home training).
How To Get Started Strength Training.
I recommend first starting with bodyweight exercises and moving on from there to weight training and kettlebell lifting. You need to train your basic movement “patterns” to get strong:
A Push or Press
A Pull or Row
An Explosive Movement preferably involving the hips
That’s it. Stick to these basics and you’ll do well. You don’t need thousands of isolation exercises like you read in bodybuilding magazines. You just need to stick to the basic movement patterns of your body and train yourself to get stronger doing them. Trust me, you’ll be using compound exercises which will hit virtually every muscle in your body.
Bodyweight Strength Training.
Pick one of each type of the exercises and perform one set of as many reps as you can till failure to start. Train 5 days a week and two days off. I recommend Monday-Friday and take the weekends off.
Explosive — high jumps onto platforms, jump squats, star jumps, etc…
When you can do 100 pushups, 20 pullups, and 100 squats in the same workout you are ready to start lifting weights. You don’t have to do these all non-stop, you could break it up like 20 pushups, 20 squats, 5 pullups, etc until you hit those numbers. Once you can do this workout, you’ll be ready to lift weights (and you’ll already be looking good and feeling healthy).
Weight training is next. Use an olympic barbell and weights. Here’s what to do: Pick one of each type of exercise. Train 3x per week, like Monday, Wednesday, Friday for example and take the rest of the days off. Do 3 sets of 5 reps. Focus on good form first.
Pulls– Weight Pullups & chinups, Bent over Rows, Deadlifts, etc
Squats — Back squats, Front Squats, Overhead Squats, Deadlift, etc.
Explosive — Power Clean, High Pulls, Clean and Press, etc…
Here’s how you progress: Each weight training session add 5lbs. Do this for 3 sessions in a row, then go back 2 steps. This is called the “3 Steps Forward and Two Steps” back approach to cycling your training. Change up the different types of exercises you do to avoid boredom, but be sure to have one of each type in each training session.
Kettlebell training is a lot of fun. Pick one of each type of exercise and you can work anywhere from 3-5 days per week. Keep the rep range in the 3-5 and the sets 3-5.
Pushes– Military Press, one-arm military press, clean and press, bottoms up press, etc
Pulls– Pullups & Chinups with KB on your feet, High Pulls, Single leg deadlifts, etc
Squats — Double and single KB Front Squats, Double and single KB Overhead Squats, etc.
Explosive — Cleans, Snatches, Clean and Jerk, Clean and Press, etc…
Cycle this in the same manner as your weight training. But you’ll probably stay with the same weight kettlebell. So you increase the reps. Start with 1 rep and add a rep every session for 3 sessions, then go back two reps on the fourth. The same “3 steps forward, 2 steps” back manner of cycling.
So there you have it, your quick, complete guide to strength training — get started today!
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