Building Strength In 7 Weeks!

“Strength – The ability to carry out work against a resistance and the maximal force you can apply against that load”.

strength training

 

Strength building can be a confusing thing, the majority of us go to the gym and a lot of us see a huge improvement in the first 3 month phase of our training regime. After this period of time we tend to see a slight decrease in a response to our training but we continue making progress. However a lot of the time we work hard for very minimal “gains’ (I hate this word but it’s justifiable in this situation).

“But why should we focus on our strength and not more on our or mobility or even physique”? Well it’s a good question! If we only focused on our strength gains and didn’t try to improve our mobility then we would suffer in performance due to our lack of range of movement and would eventually have limited strength throughout the body. However when doing strength training “mobility or range of movement should be the focus. As for physique I am not a massive believer in the physical appearance of training, but with good strength comes physical changes to the body which can result in weight loss/gain (depending on diet), fat loss and muscle definition. I would like to add though when you complete a strength program you then unlock the ability to be able to perform other or similar exercises or tasks at higher intensities, which can then lead to a dramatic change in physical appearance.

So how do we work just as hard but make serious improvements with our strength training? Here are 6 dot points that will help you.

  1. Choose 3-5 strength lifts (exercises) you want to improve on
  2. Train 3 times per week
  3. Work out your total volume of your lifts
  4. Rest (between sets and exercises)
  5. Recovery (after your training session)
  6. Record every lift you do (including notes)

1.These points are used by me with every client who is doing their strength program! And we see serious improvements in lifts over 4-7 weeks of training. A good strength program should be based around you making a goal to improve on 3-5 different styles of lifts which can be anything from squats, deadlifts, bench press, bent over rows etc. The lifts will be conducted in a well organised training program that is periodised over a series of weeks (I would suggest a minimum of 7 weeks).

2.Training strength with a high work load should only be done a maximum of 3 times per week. This allows our body to recover from the high load (heavy) put on the body during the training session. A well-constructed strength program may look similar to this.

Day Exercise Reps x sets Intensity %  
1 eg Monday Squat 5×5 80%
  Bench 3×6 85-90%
  B/Bell Row 5×5 80%

 

Day Exercise Reps x sets Intensity %  
2 eg Wednesday Squat 5×4 70%
  Military Press 5×5 80%
  Dead Lift 2×8 90%

 

Day Exercise Reps x sets Intensity %  
3 eg Friday Squat 2×8 90%
  Bench 5×5 70%
  B/Bell Row 3×6 75-80%

As you can see there are variations in the intensity of the lifts performed over each separate day. This variation is great to allow adequate recovery between training days.

3.To work out our volumes or (heaviness) we need to work out your maximum lifts for your exercises. To do this head to the gym complete 3-4 sets of your 5 chosen exercises for a maximum of 10 repetitions. From there you can google various 1 repetition maximum calculators here which will generate your overall 1 rep max for each exercise.

Once we have established this we can then go through each week trying to increase our overall lift percentage in relation to our 1 rep max by around 2-5%. This calculation is easy it’s just (the percentage) .85×60 (your 1 rep max). Eg your squat 1 rep max is 80kgs and you want to find out 85% of your bench press so the equation would be 0.85×68= 68kg. Now we have your weights we can then allocate repetitions and sets, the rough numbers are illustrated in the table below.

Percentages Reps per Set Sets Total Range
55-65 3-6 3-5 18-30
70-80 3-6 4-6 12-24
80-90 2-4 7-10 10-20
90+ 1-2 10+ 10

 

However before we go mad like a bull in a china shop we need to then establish our objective of every week or our total volume of our lifts. This is very simple, all it requires is that you add up your sets and reps at each weight so that you will have a total weight from your exercise. Eg

Exercise Weight Reps Weight Reps Weight Total Volume Lifted
Squat 80kg 5 85 5 100 3
Total 400kg 425kg 300kg 1125kg

 

From this we have worked out that the total volume lifted was 1125kg, this number after our first session should also increase by around 5-10% which can be done by increasing weight, reps, or sets. So if we were to use another example and we want to increase our volume of lift by 10% but can’t physically lift any heavier we would add a further set. So 10% of 1125kg is 112.5kg which would mean we could do another set of 2 reps for 55kg to bring our total volume lifted up to 1235kg (rounded number)

Exercise Weight Reps Weight Reps Weight Reps  Weight Reps Volume Lifted
Squat 80kg 5 85 5 100 3 55 2
Total 400kg 425kg 300kg 110 1235kg

 

4.Rest periods between sets and exercises should be relevant to you intensity of your lifts.

Rest Time (Seconds) Intensity
90-120 55-70%
120-180 70-90%
240+ 90+

 

strength training5.So as your overall lifts increase each week, your overall volume should generally increase as well! Be careful however not to push the numbers to hard as you will find you will plateau and struggle to maintain the high work load if all your days are around your 90% mark. As illustrated in the table under dot point 2 there is variation in intensities each training day. As for the rest days between each training day this can be filled with exercise of different types. Such as sports, functional movement or exercise correction etc. Be careful that you don’t jeopardise your main focus of building strength however by fatiguing yourself for the next day.

6.Last but not least make sure you have a good recording of your weights, sets, reps and notes from the day if you feel it helps. This will help you calculate your numbers for the following weeks and also keep you motivated every time you see the figures going up!

Through the use of these 6 dot points you should build an understanding of how a strength program is generally conducted. Please note this is a way to help improve your understanding of building strength and is not advised for everyone without prior assessment of your movement. I would suggest you consult an exercise professional before commencing any heavy workloads. You would also need to have a structured program that is balanced and works well for your current situation. If like ever you have any questions or queries please contact me here. 

Fraser