Whether the goal is fat loss or building muscle, a lot of us seem to enjoy the effects of low-load, high-intensity training. We enjoy the pump and the burn during the workout, as well as the soreness that comes the next morning, but are all of those effects really telling the truth about the effectiveness of our workouts?
Does soreness mean we did a good job and worked hard?
Does a burn mean we are effectively training our muscles?
The purpose of this article is to go through the importance of strength training as a great personal training program in the hopes of sparking an interest to incorporate it into your regimen.
Strength Training: What is It?
Although there are several different ways resistance training can help us build strength, a specific form of resistance training (simply called strength training) can help prime our CNS (central nervous system) to allow our neurons to communicate to our muscles well. This improved communication in our nervous system can allow more muscle fibers to fire, while enabling all of those fibers to engage to the best of their ability.
This form of training includes high volume, heavy-load, and low-rep work using compound (multi-joint) movements like squats, bench press, deadlifts, pull-ups, and the overhead press. Those aren’t exclusive strength training exercises, but we know them to be the best “bang for your buck” movements.
Generally speaking, strength work usually calls for three to five sets of two to five reps. Training with a high load using these weight and rep schemes put a lot of stress on the CNS, asking it to adapt and call out to more muscle fibers to fire in order to move the load. Rest periods are much longer while strength training, as it takes much longer for the CNS to recover than it does for muscles to recover.
Rest periods can usually be two to five minutes long, and this is where people start to wonder why they should even be doing strength training. “Five minutes of rest?” “Five minutes of nothing? No sweat, no heavy breathing, no cardiovascular exhaustion? It doesn’t seem like it’s doing anything for my body, so what’s the point?”
Strength Training: Why You Need to Shut Up and Do It
Sure, you may not be feeling any direct effects like tons of sweat, muscular fatigue, and cardiovascular fatigue from strength training, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time. Besides, those shouldn’t be your only indicators for a good workout (more on that in another article).
One of the big reasons you may be looking for new ways to add to your personal training program is because you’re wanting to improve something about your physique. Whether you want abs, bigger biceps, or less body fat, there’s some sort of external goal that you may be working toward.
Plain and simple, strength training is going to help you get there. Let me tell you why.
Strength training isn’t just creating opportunities to move a ton of weight. There’s actually a lot more to it. When performing a proper strength training routine, you’re practicing. You’re improving your body’s mechanics through a movement. You’re teaching your CNS to communicate with your body. With proper technique and good mobility involved in your movements, your body will learn how to use its range of motion, joint angles, as well as muscle fibers to most efficiently and effectively move the applied weight. As it turns out, all of the skills developed in strength training translates over to your other modes of training and delivers great results.
After you’re done with the strength training phase in your program, all of the gains (CNS adaptation, mechanics, technique, etc.) you’ve made will help you move more weight in higher rep ranges (8+ reps) leading to more muscle being built. Remember that muscle building has the best results when high frequency and volume can be applied.
When there is a gradual increase in volume (weights x sets x reps) over the course of your training program, and a high frequency of the anabolic signals being sent to your body, you’re in a great state to build muscle. Therefore, it’s extremely important to include a phase in your programming for strength training, as it will enable you to move more weight when you’re working on hypertrophy (muscle building).
Let’s also keep in mind that increasing volume and building muscle isn’t just about the appearance of our physique. Can it help you look more cut, defined, and toned? Sure, of course. But it’s also going to aid in your metabolism. More lean tissue means more calories automatically burned throughout the day, giving you more freedom in your diet, and an easier opportunity to lose body fat.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter what your goal is. If your goal is building muscle, you’re going to need to prime your body to build muscle. If your goal is fat loss, at some point throughout the process, you’re going to need to prime your body to build muscle. Heck, even if maintaining your physique is your goal, performing resistance training is essential.
Do muscle building and fat loss goals require slightly different protocols in order to arrive at the desired destination? Sometimes, but one thing that never changes is the strength that is needed to move weight. Muscle is needed to keep your metabolism burning more calories, and increased volume and frequency is needed to build muscle. And if increase volume and frequency are needed to build muscle, it’s important that you have the strength to progress and increase your training volume over time.
If you’re always moving weight between eight and 20 reps and never challenge your strength with reps below that, you’re not giving your body the opportunity to build and use strength to help you increase your lean muscle tissue.
It’s a chain of events.
One thing helps the next which helps the next, and so on.
If you haven’t performed some strength training in a while, include it in your personal training program in order to help your CNS engage. That way you can keep progressing and pushing the plateaus that are coming your way.
Thanks For Reading!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to hear what I have to say. I really appreciate it! No matter where you’re at along your health and fitness journey, remember that you’ve got a guy to help you through with our personal training programs. I’m here to help you take that next step, regardless of what that might look like. From a simple note of encouragement to completely tailored coaching, I’m here for ya. God bless.
About the Author
Adam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life. If you’re interested in hiring Adam as your coach, fill out an application here.