Strength Training: Does simple=better?

Published: 07th May 2010
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The philosophy to strength training is simple. If the exercise uses more muscle groups, it is probably better than one that uses less muscle groups. Also, if you use more weight with an exercise, it is most likely a better than an exercise that uses less weight. This may seem overly simple or even an obtuse way of looking at training, but usually the philosophy holds true.



What this means is that strength exercises that use many muscle groups are much more effective in building a strong, health body than the isolation of one muscle group.



Now, if you are a bodybuilder that is fine tuning your physique for an upcoming competition, this may not be the case. But for the rest of us, it is a great rule to go by. For example, a squat will burn more calories, build more muscle, and get you in better shape than a leg extension.



Obviously, large muscle groups are more difficult to train and require more energy. Therefore, many people do not train the large muscle groups and instead focus on the small groups. This is unfortunate because a lot of training time is being wasted by focusing on exercises that do not produce results.



There are five exercises that if done alone would increase the health and fitness of most people, more than most of the programs out there. They are the squat, deadlift, shoulder press, chin ups, and bench press. These compound exercises work the large muscle groups and in the process train the small muscles at the same time.



Now is a good time to address some questions you may be having about this type of training. Compound exercises are more efficient than isolation exercises for building muscle and increasing work capacity. So, if you are a woman who thinks this type of training will bulk you up or a man who just wants to "tone up" so you don't need this type of training--Let me assure you that compound exercises will be the best way to get to your fitness goals.



Women's bodies will not respond to strength training they way a man's body does due to lower testosterone levels. Therefore, compound exercises will not bulk you up like a man, but will give you a healthy, strong body.



For the guys who are "toning up", the compound exercises will burn more calories by themselves and also add more muscle that will burn more calories around the clock to get your body more lean. So, no excuses, time to get to work.



When deciding how many sets to do and how many repetitions for each set, training compound exercises has a different approach than isolation exercises. Compound exercises are very taxing on the body and are designed to build a lot of muscle. Therefore, they need to be treated with respect in order to avoid injury or overtraining.



In order to build as much muscle as possible, you need to train fairly heavy. The repetition count should stay between 5-8 for upper body and 5-12 for lower body. Legs will respond to a higher rep count and a little lighter weight will reduce the chance of injury.



You do not need to do a tremendous amount of sets with compound exercises because of the amount of muscle you are using. After warm-ups, only 1 to 3 sets are required to stimulate muscle growth and achieve a great workout. Keep in mind, these sets are work sets, not just going through the motions. Each work set should be taken 1 to 2 reps short of failure. You don't want to go all out every set. This is counterproductive as it leads to overtraining, slows progression, and increases chances of injury.



Each lift only needs to be trained one time per week. The amount of stress placed on the body with these exercises requires proper recovery. A little less training will lead to a lot more gains in terms of strength and muscle building.



The preceding may seem to be an over simplified view of strength training, but after many years in the weight room I have found that it is the simple processes that produce the most efficient strength and muscle gains.



-Dr. Mark Mylan

Creating fit and healthy bodies with home gym equipment

www.homegymequipmentforyou.com


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