2018’s Strength Training Guide to Building Muscle and Losing Fat
There are two types of people in this world - Those who strength train…and those who don’t know about it yet.
If you’re new to it, interested in improving, or you just want to glean some tips, let us help you understand what you need to know about strength training.
Strength training is the act of using resistance to put burden on your muscles. Weights, resistance bands, or to some extent even body weight can be used for strength training. It’s a broad term that applies to any sort of training designed to build strength and muscle density.
Let’s talk about the benefits you should expect, some of the techniques you should start to employ, and our best tips on how to succeed.
Benefits of Strength Training
Before you understand the fundamentals of strength training, you need to know how it’s going to make a difference in your life. As more and more studies come out every year, we learn just how beneficial strength training can be for anyone who wants to build muscle or lose fat.
Strength training is all about developing your muscles. It’s designed to put strain on your muscles to promote growth. A larger muscle is a stronger muscle.
We cover this further down, but you can target your muscle growth on bulk (getting bigger) and density (getting stronger). By adjusting the weights and reps you’re lifting, you can target the specific hypertrophy to achieve the goal you want.
More on that to come in a minute.
Besides using good nutrition and an excellent supplement range, we suggest strength training if your goal is to lose weight. We covered this in our Fat Loss article, but the basic gist is this:
If you want to lose FAT, you need to activate your muscles on a regular basis. You’ll boost your metabolism with increased muscle mass, as well as steer your body away from catabolizing (breaking down) your muscles for energy. Instead, your body will target fat as the primary source of energy.
Muscle growth is metabolism growth, making you more efficient at burning calories stored in your body and that you consume through a healthy diet.
Regardless of your athletic goals, strength training can take you there. Anything from hitting a ball harder, jumping higher, swimming faster, or running longer all come from good strength training routines. Effective strength training boosts the endurance of your muscles.
Train a Healthy Mind
There’s nothing as powerful as taking away anxiety and stress. When we tell you that strength training boosts your mood and improves your brain performance, that should mean something to you.
It’s intuitive that strength training is great for the body, but it’s also so good for a healthy mind as well.
What Happens To Your Body When You Strength Train?
Let’s break down the science a little bit. Without inducing information overload, let us help you understand how this one technique is so powerful.
We all know that strength training makes your muscle bigger. But how does that work?
Your muscles are made up of individual strands of fibres. You have the same number of fibres in your body, no matter what type of training you do. Even though you can’t add to the number of your muscle fibres, you can affect the size.
All strength training builds bulk, density, and power, but some techniques target a very specific goal. Let’s break down the how and why right here.
Each fibre can increase in mass, a process called hypertrophy. There are two types of hypertrophy that you can and should focus on.
If you want to build dense, rock-hard muscles, you should focus on myofibril hypertrophy. It’s the growth that comes from the actual contraction of the muscle fibres under extreme strain.
This means that low-rep, high weight exercises increase the density of your muscle fibres. You do this through lifting close to your maximum weight for 1-3 reps.
Yes, that’s enough to see results. Anything more can actually have less impact overall. We’ll talk more about this technique of weight training further on.
This type of hypertrophy increases the size of your muscle fibres - making your muscles bigger. You’ll notice this type of hypertrophy contributes to the actual size of your muscles. Bodybuilders, rugby players, and that huge dude on Game of Thrones all focus on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Basically, you get BIG. This happens when you create a workout that has low-weights but extremely high reps. 15-20 repetitions of 50% of your max weight is a good guide. This will dramatically bulk up your muscles, making you bigger and bulkier.
Strength Training Basics
Strength training starts in the kitchen. Your body requires healthy, balanced proportions of macronutrients. Carbohydrates and proteins are essential during your training. If you’re focused on cutting fat, you should dramatically decrease your carbohydrate intake on non-training days, while boosting your protein intake.
Complex carbohydrates (IE: grains, apples, broccoli, kidney beans...etc) provide the energy that your body needs during a workout, while protein gets broken down into the amino acids your body uses to rebuild the muscle micro-traumas you inflict during a strength training session.
Also, you have over 600 muscles in your body, and the more we activate a particular muscle, the more it grows. Simple concept, right? As you train, you should maintain a varied routine that targets each grouping of muscle, not ignoring one because it isn’t what everyone else is doing.
What Do I Do In the Gym?
The first thing you’ll do is be consistent. Muscle growth is steady and long-term. You can’t cheat your way through it, making up for skipping last week by doing double duty this week.
Long-term consistency produces long-term results.
No matter what routine you choose, you should focus on this order.
Barbell ----> Dumbbell ----> Bodyweight
- Bench Press
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Barbell Rows
- Overhead Presses
- Triceps Extensions
- Shoulder Presses
- Lat Raises
- Calf Raises
Start your workout using the barbell for bigger lifts like deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, and squats. These will be the most impact and require the most energy. If you start with these, you’ll have better form, see stronger lifts, and consistent improvements.
Then move on to dumbbell lifts like flys, curls, raises, and dips. And finally, finish off with some form of bodyweight exercises like curls, push-ups, pull-ups, or lunges.
Regardless of your goals, from fat loss and muscle gain to improved athletic performance and better mobility, strength training should be focused on your whole body, not just the parts you want to improve.
Strength Training Tips
Here are some of the best tips we’ve found to keep your strength training consistent and effective.
Keep a Log
Record everything. If you’re serious about performance and improvement, there’s no better coach or training tool than your workout log.
You’ll be able to track your progress effectively, which is a motivational tool that often gets overlooked. As you flick back through the pages of your book, you’ll see where you started at and just how far you’ve come in your training.
You’ll also track your individual performances. If you’re adding supplements as a part of your routine, you will notice how well they perform compared to when you weren’t using them.
You have to let your muscles recover. Generally speaking, you should allow a full 48 hours between exercises for that muscle group.
But that doesn’t have to mean that you don’t train. If you worked your chest and shoulders one day, give them a rest tomorrow while you work on your back and your lats.
Worked your biceps to failure yesterday? Rest them up and work on your triceps today. This allows a comfortable resting period while also maintaining a well-balanced workout that trains your entire body. A balanced body is an injury-free body.
Because nothing halts your progress like an injury.
If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not growing. We recommend throwing on at least an extra 2 kgs per week for a barbell set when you workout. When you add that weight, you’re forcing your muscles to adapt to a stronger lift, never allowing them to get accustomed to a certain weight set.
Your workout shouldn’t get easier. Your lifts should be just as challenging the first time you tried it.
Strength Training for Life
There may come a time in the future when strength training is prescribed like medicine. Because for those who practice it, they truly believe in the power it has to improve your life, from the outside to the inside.
As long as you’re eating well and lifting heavy, you can achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. Strength training is the solution to the problems of losing excess fat, building bulkier muscle, increasing endurance training, and improving the health of your mind and body.