The Medical Dictionary defines strength training as: “A period of training in which high levels of volume (weight resistance) with minimal rest periods resulting in muscular hypertrophy.” Hypertrophy is the increase in volume and enlargement of cells – in this case, muscle fibers. Strength training increases muscle mass, which in turn increases metabolism, physical strength and aids in weight loss as well. The following is a list of 5 exercises to include in a solid strength training routine.
As with all types of training, proper form is a must. The same is true for deadlifts. With the weights on the floor, bend at the waist and knees and grab the bar. Straighten up. To get back to the starting position, first bend your hips back followed by bending your knees and placing the weights back to the floor. A rounded or arched back can cause disc injury, so be sure you keep a neutral lower back while doing this move. Deadlifts will build back and lower body strength as well as increased muscle mass and of course, definition.
Lunges for strength training involve adding weight to increase the intensity of a basic lunge. To lunge with weights, place your weighted bar across your shoulders (behind your head) and hold the bar steady with both hands. Now step forward, bending the knee to a 90-degree angle. Keep your hips tucked forward and core engaged. This will keep your back aligned. Come out of the lunge and do the other leg. Never let the knee of your front leg extend out beyond your toes; this will protect your knees. This weighted lunge will build your quads, hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes like crazy and the physical strength of your lower body will be off the charts.
3. Squat Jumps
With squat jumps, it’s best to practice with a lightweight to get used to the extra balance necessary to perform this move. With the weight bar across your shoulders and both hands on the bar, complete a basic squat by bending your knees and “sitting” back as if into a chair behind you. On coming back up, in one smooth motion jump as high as you can. Land with soft knees – never locked – then straighten up. That’s one rep. This move not only increases your leg strength and endurance; it also improves fast twitch muscle movements and will enhance your performance in any competitive sport.
4. Bench Presses
The secret to big bench presses is to strengthen and build the supporting muscles: triceps, delts, lats and traps. When you perform a bench press, your triceps lock the bar at the top of your lift; your delts, lats and traps provide a strong base. When all 4 of these muscle groups are solid, you will be able to bench press more and more weight. Start off by increasing your bar weight in 5 pound per week increments. Doing this while strengthening your base muscles, you can expect to set a new PR every week.
5. Calf Raises
Building nice calves is a struggle for most of us. Part of having great calves is genetics. While you can’t alter your genetic makeup, you can make your calf workouts more effective with a couple of pointers. First, have a look at the anatomy of the calf and lower leg. The muscle you want to build and define is the gastrocnemius. Simple calf raises can only get you so far. Donkey calf raises are more intense and help you target that gastrocnemius. Simply bend forward at the hips and with dumbbells or a weighted bar, lift your heels and lower. You will find these more difficult but the results are well worth the extra effort. Doing calf raises while bending at the hips helps to isolate the gastrocnemius, making this calf raise move much more efficient and effective.
Strength training alone won’t get you to peak fitness level, but adding strength training to an already well-rounded workout regime will definitely get you amazing results. Strength training increases muscle size and mass, increased bulk, increased endurance and more physical strength. When paired with a very clean and low fat diet, your muscle definition will be more pronounced with the added bulk from lifting more weight. To add muscle mass, your diet will also have to include increased amounts of protein, as well as pre and post-workout meals and/or shakes. Strength training is more than just weights; it’s nutrition also. With a well-balanced program you are guaranteed to see results, probably better than you ever expected!