Weight training helps you to maximize your strength. Here you can find out how it works, what it brings and which exercises increase your strength.
Weight training stands for various sports in which weight training is carried out. The primary goal of strength athletes is to increase their strength through physical training.
To do this, they need an appropriate amount of muscle mass and good intramuscular coordination. This means that the individual muscle fibers work together efficiently.
Traditional weight training tries to achieve the highest possible weight (75-90 percent of the maximum weight) over a few repetitions (1-5 repetitions). One also speaks of maximum strength training. This allows athletes to adapt their central nervous system: As training progresses, your brain learns to activate more muscle fibers at the same time – up to their maximum strength.
Visually, this is not always visible: Strength athletes in the traditional sense can have a narrow stature, but lift significantly heavier weights than bodybuilders with a broad back and large biceps.
What types of weight training are available?
The most famous strength sport is the three-way fight: athletes compete in the three basic exercises of the squat, deadlift and bench press. Other typical strength sports are weight lifting and arm wrestling.
Performance-oriented training methods such as functional training and athletic throwing disciplines such as the shot put can also be assigned to weight training in the broadest sense.
In addition to training, weight training includes a balanced, healthy diet with a sufficient intake of proteins and carbohydrates. Your muscles need both components in order to do full work and increase their performance.
Our tip: high-quality whey protein from fresh pasture milk is the ideal source of protein for strength athletes. It contains many essential amino acids and supports muscle building. We have many delicious varieties from vanilla to chocolate peanuts for you to mix with milk or water.
What is the difference between bodybuilding and weight training?
Like weight training, bodybuilding is a combination of muscle training and goal-oriented nutrition. For a bodybuilder, however, it’s about building as much muscle mass as possible. The focus is not on increasing performance and strength, but rather on an ideal visual image.
Many bodybuilders therefore focus on what is known as hypertrophy training. The aim is to increase the thickness of the muscle fibers so that their cross-section increases. This is achieved with higher repetitions (6-15 reps) and less weight (60-80 percent of the maximum weight).
There is also strength endurance training, which falls under the heading of general fitness. You train with little weight (max. 50 percent of the maximum weight) and high repetitions (15-20 repetitions). This is usually about health-oriented, preventive training to increase strength and endurance.
Maximum strength, hypertrophy, strength endurance
When we talk about strength training in general, we often refer to the three training methods maximum strength, hypertrophy and strength endurance. They all train the muscles and have a correspondingly positive effect on muscle and strength development as well as on the condition. If you want to increase your performance in one area, you should also consider the other methods in your training plan, because they are always mutually dependent. For example, if you want to break your personal bench press record, it makes sense to train your strength endurance in preparation.
Strength training often also involves training in cycles: an introductory phase of endurance training is followed by hypertrophy units and the end of a cycle is maximum strength training.
How do you choose the optimal weight to workout?
Depending on your training focus, you start the first set with a weight with which you can manage 15 (strength endurance), 8 (hypertrophy) or 3 (maximum strength) repetitions.
If you exceed the upper limit of the recommended repetitions, you increase the weight and start again at your lower limit. If you find the last two to three repetitions of each set difficult (or the last repetition in maximum strength training), you have chosen the optimal weight. Correct, clean execution always takes precedence over volume!
How does weight training help me?
In order for your organism to withstand these stimuli and continue to work efficiently, it must adapt to the training stimuli: Your entire musculoskeletal system, i.e. bones, ligaments, tendons, as well as the central nervous system, your cardiovascular system and your metabolism change through strength training.
The greatest effects of weight training:
- You build muscle mass.
- Your body learns to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible at the same time so that you gain strength.
- Your calorie consumption increases because every extra kilo of muscle mass increases the metabolic rate.
- By increasing testosterone and other growth hormones, you favor the breakdown of fat tissue.
- Thanks to the controlled and natural sequences of movements, you optimally prepare your body for stresses in everyday life, such as heavy carrying, getting up from a crouch or bending down.
Weight Training Beginner Tips
Weight training, like any other discipline, needs to be learned. If you are just starting out with heavy weights, there are a few things to keep in mind.
These principles of experienced strength athletes will help you get started:
Continuity: Exercise regularly
If you want to benefit from the positive effects of weight training, you should train continuously. It doesn’t help much to go to the gym for five days in a row and then take a week off. The optimal workload for strength training is two to three units per week. The main thing is that you stay on the ball!
Regeneration: Take care of recovery phases
It is well known that muscles do not grow during training, but in the phases in between. Regeneration is therefore one of the most important principles in weight training. The same muscle group should have 36 to 72 hours to recover before re-exercising. If you want to complete more training days, a split plan is well advised.
Sufficient sleep is also part of regeneration. During the night, growth hormones are released that support repair work on the muscle fibers.
Variety: Always set new workout stimuli
If you work with the same training plan for months, you will not make any progress. Your performance curve would sooner or later stagnate or even collapse. A well-structured training plan is essential so that you can improve – after all, that is your stated goal as a strength athlete. The rule of thumb is to set new stimuli about every three months – in the form of new exercises and / or different repetition, sentence and tempo patterns. Within a training cycle, you can add variety by increasing the weights.
Strength and cardio: train strength first, then endurance
Cardio training is not a no-go for strength athletes, on the contrary: jogging, swimming and the like not only burns calories, it also ensures that the lungs pumps more oxygen through the organism. As a result, the muscles are better supplied with nutrients and metabolic end products can be removed more easily. In addition, endurance sports should activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which ensures relaxation and improves your sleep. Your muscles also benefit from this!
However, make sure that you complete both training units separately and always start with strength training. After all, your body needs full strength and concentration to work with heavy weights.
Weight training diet: Eat high in protein and carbohydrates
In addition to training, the right diet for strength athletes is essential. It accounts for 70 percent of your progress. Therefore, you should pay at least as much attention to it as you do to your training plan.
The following are recommended for strength athletes daily: 50-65 percent carbohydrates, 15-25 percent protein and 20-30 percent fat.
Your body needs carbohydrates especially after exercise. They are the main source of energy. 1 gram of carbohydrate provides you with 4.1 kcal. You should especially consume the macronutrient after training, for example in the form of oatmeal, whole grain products or legumes.
High-quality protein sources as building materials for your muscles are eggs, quark, cottage cheese, poultry, salmon, mackerel, but also vegetable alternatives such as beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, broccoli and soy products. As a guideline, 1.5-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight apply daily.
With increased protein intake, it is important to drink enough – at least two liters spread over the day. Since excess protein is excreted through the kidneys, the body needs enough fluids.
In addition, your body needs fat as well as minerals and trace elements to stay in balance. Unsaturated fatty acids in particular help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and build cell membranes. They are found in nuts, avocado and fish, for example. Local fruit and plenty of vegetables complete your diet.
Which exercises are suitable for weight training?
In strength training, there are basically two types of exercises: the basic exercises (or compound exercises) and the isolation exercises.
If the goal is to increase general strength, as in maximum strength training, the focus is particularly on the basic exercises. They form the basis of every training plan and always address several muscle groups at the same time.
The five most important exercises in weight training are:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
Since these exercises are highly complex, there are of course more sources of error and you have less control over which muscles are currently active. Targeted muscle definition is made more difficult, but your general strength increases.
If you want to specifically define muscles or work on increasing size, as in hypertrophy training, isolation exercises are a useful addition to the basic exercises.
They only address one muscle or a single muscle group in isolation. In the execution, you move only one joint accordingly.
Example exercises are:
A well-structured training plan always contains exercises from both categories. Note: Train from big to small – so first basic exercises, then isolation exercises.
Summary: Weight Training
- Weight training has the aim of increasing strength.
- Weight training usually means maximum strength training with low repetitions and high weights.
- While bodybuilding is about thickening the muscle fibers, the focus in classic weight training is on improving intramuscular coordination: bodybuilders want muscle mass, strength athletes want strength.
- In addition to training, weight training includes a goal-oriented diet with sufficient carbohydrates and proteins.
- The most important principles in weight training are: continuity, variety, regeneration and a balanced diet.
- The most important strength exercises are the squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press, and pull-up.