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Lift heavy to improve your overall strength.
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Muscular strength is the maximal force that a muscle or group of muscles can generate at a specific velocity, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Most people who train for strength just want to lift more weight. As with any resistance training program, you will increase your strength, increase lean muscle tissue, improve bone density and potentially improve performance. But muscular strength workouts need to follow a specific plan to give benefit.
Sets and Reps
To develop strength, lift heavy. That means that you pick a resistance that you can lift no more than six times in a set. If you can lift it more than six times, you will start developing other facets of muscular fitness. Although if you are new to strength training, start lighter and go up to 12 reps. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, moderate weight will begin to develop strength in beginners. Perform between two and six sets, depending on your fitness level. Beginners should stay at two or three sets, intermediate participants three or four, and advance exercisers do five or six sets per exercise.
Your training frequency will help you determine how you split up your routine. Beginners train two or three times per week and do full body workouts. That means you do one exercise for each major muscle group: back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, hips, thighs and calves. Intermediate exercisers train three or four times each week and try a split routine, like splitting upper and lower body workouts, doing each one or two times each week. Advanced participants can train four or more days each week. They tend to do three or more exercises per body part, and train just one or two muscle groups each day.
You only build strength if you lift heavy. That means you need to overload your muscles. Overload is working at an intensity greater than what you are used to. For example if you lift a 40-pound barbell for bicep curls, and you can do it six times easily, you are not pushing your body. Increase the weight by five to 10 percent to overload your muscles so that they get stronger.
Importance of Rest for Recovery
You can get caught up in your strength workouts and not realize the importance of resting your muscles. Schedule time off each week for your muscles. A muscle needs a minimum of 48 hours to recover, although with intense strength workouts, you may wait as long as one week between sessions for each muscle group. This time off allows your muscles to heal and grow stronger. If you don't take time off, you are overtraining and breaking down muscle tissue. You will get weaker, not stronger, without rest.