One of my favorite strength training workouts that I use personally and with clients is Strength Endurance Training. Specifically from NASM, this strength endurance training method is a hybrid form of superset training that promotes increased stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength. This method of training entails the use of superset techniques where a more stable exercise (ex. bench press) is immediately followed with a stabilization exercise with similar biomechanical motions (ex. TRX push-up). Thus, for every set of an exercise/body part performed, there are actually two exercises/sets being performed. High amounts of volume can be generated with this method which can result in body fat loss and/or hypertrophy. Training variables should be manipulated depending on which is a higher priority. If body fat loss is desired, utilize more complex/total body strength moves while keeping the repetitions around 10-12 per execise. If hypertrophy is desired, segmenting per body part with each superset is more effective, keeping the repetitions at 8-10 per exercise (see acute variables below).
All in all, these workouts are very taxing but well worth the rewards! Below are five of my personal favorites. Countless combinations can be used with this training method…play around with them and you’ll be hooked too…
Strength Endurance Workout:
- Perform a 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up
- 3-4 sets/pair of exercises
- 8-12 reps/exercise @ 70% of 1RM
- Rest 1 minute between pairs/2-3 minutes between sets
- Barbell Clean to Overhead Press/Single Leg Squat with Dumbbell PNF
- Barbell Deadlift to Bent over row/Single Leg Deadlift to Dumbbell row
- Rockstars/TRX Atomic Pushups
- Barbell Squats/TRX Pistol Squat
- Pullups/TRX Rotational Pullup
In order to achieve continued results from a strength program, muscles need to be challenged beyond their comfort zone. Many exercisers know this already. However, often times we limit the challenge by simply increasing weight or repetitions.
While this is an important method for improving fitness, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Eventually our bodies will adapt and hit a plateau with this approach alone. Bottom line: The body needs training variety as well. In fact, just changing the exercise variables alone can have a tremendous impact on improving our strength and endurance.
In short, we’re simply trying to keep the body guessing. There are many simple ways to switch up specific exercises, let’s look at a few examples.
SLOW DOWN YOUR TEMPO
Most exercisers perform strength exercises at a 1 to 1 ratio. In other words, 1 second to lower the weight (eccentric phase) and 1 second to lift the weight (concentric phase) with no pause in between.
Next time you do a strength workout, try changing speeds by slowing down the tempo. This will challenge the muscles more because they are kept under tension longer.
Take a push-up, for example: Instead of banging out reps as quick as you can, try slowing the pace to a 3/2/1 tempo. Specifically, 3 seconds to lower your body, pause for 2 seconds then complete the push up in 1 second on the push. You will be amazed how challenging this is!
ADD A HORIZONTAL LOAD
Many traditional exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, or squats/lunges involve a vertical load, meaning that the resistance runs up and down in line with gravity.
However, the human body needs to be able to adapt to horizontal forces, as well. Examples where this happens may include a lineman blocking a defender or a hiker navigating a hill with a side slope.
In the gym setting, a horizontal load can be easily utilized with a cable machine or resistance bands. Begin by selecting your weight. Between 10 and 30 percent of your body weight is usually enough. Hold the cable in front of you and perform a set of lunges.
Feel the difference in your quads? They have to work much harder to decelerate because of the horizontal load.
You can also increase the challenge by having the cable pull from the side of your body. This will require even more balance. As an alternative, you can attach the cable to an exercise belt.
This will free up your hands and allow the use of dumbbells for any arm movement as well. Try adding in curls, overhead press — the options are endless!
VARY THE MOVEMENT
Specifically, change the direction of movement. Most exercises like chest press, rows, and lunges are performed in the sagittal plane. In other words, primarily forward and backward motion.
In addition to moving back and forth, the human body needs to be efficient at overcoming side and rotational forces as well. Exercise options may include performing a single-arm dumbbell chest press, which will put more emphasis on frontal plane (side to side) stability. For a row, simply adding some torso rotation is a great way to add another dimension to this exercise.
And for lunges, rather than lunging forward, throw in some side lunges instead.
TRY DIFFERENT TRAINING EQUIPMENT
This can be as simple as switching from barbells to dumbbells, free weights to body-weight exercises, or vice versa.
Let’s use a back exercise, for example. After four weeks of doing bent-over barbell rows, switch to a dumbbell row, after that, switch to pull-ups, and so on. This principle can also be applied to the chest, shoulders, arm, legs, etc.
Please check out the video link for demonstrations of these key points and exercise examples.
Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at email@example.com or www.championfit.net.
There are many benefits to resistance training, and many of us make it a consistent part of our fitness routine. Individual motivation can range anywhere from improving athletic performance to increasing muscle tone and definition.
No matter what you are trying to achieve, there are certain training principles that should be followed to ensure long-term success.
First is the principle of overload. A greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to occur.
The body will always adapt to exercise over time, and once this happens a different stimulus is required for additional strength gains. The process should be gradual and is usually accomplished by altering training intensity or increasing the amount of weight lifted.
As a rule, when you can perform two or more repetitions over your repetition goal in the last set of two consecutive workouts, intensity should be increased. Weight increases should range between 2.5 to 5 percent for isolated exercises (such as tricep pressdowns) and 5 to 10 percent for exercises that utilize larger muscle groups (such as the bench press).
Second is the principle of variation, or a combination of training variables. Specifically, speed of movement, rest periods, training frequency, exercise order, or style of exercises.
We could vary a dumbbell lunge, for example, by switching to split jumps which would alter two variables — the speed of movement and the style of exercise.
Last is the principle of specificity. This one is critical for the athlete or weekend warrior. This principle implies that for optimal training carry-over, exercises should mimic the demands of the sport as closely as possible. For example, a baseball pitcher in a pitching motion involves lunging, pushing and twisting. A pitcher’s program then would include exercises such as cable chops and rotational lunges to closer mimic the demands of the sport.
While it may be helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, it is key to train specifically for your sport for optimal performance.
Bottom line: It is necessary to alter your training program every four to six weeks using one or a combination of these principles. By doing so, it will ensure that you remain physically challenged, mentally refreshed and closer to reaching peak performance.
Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.championfit.net.