Strength training intensities are different to cardio in that they are designed to create different outcomes in terms of muscular development – not necessarily always getting your heart pounding and sweat flowing.
For muscular strength, training with 80 per cent of your 1RM is best in order to stimulate efficiency in firing your muscles, says Lim. In a practical sense, for most people this will equate to lifting weights with high effort for sets of three to six reps. The number of sets will often depend on your personal training goals and time commitments. If strength is not your goal the intensity of your training changes, Lim says. To achieve hypertrophy, for example, a combination of intensities and repetition tempos should be used, i.e. medium to high intensity, or 60 to 90 per cent 1RM, is best in order to stimulate muscular stress and hence a muscular growth response.
Muscle growth can be complicated and periodising your weights would often be necessary to avoid overtraining – something a trainer or accredited exercise physiologist would definitely be able to help with. Anything lower than 60 per cent of your 1RM and you are getting into endurance strength training, which is not particularly good at inducing strength or hypertrophy but, according to research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, improves on maximal aerobic power and time to exhaustion. In this study, participants performed 20 to 28 reps.
Intensity for strength: 80 per cent 1RM -can sustain for three to six reps Intensity for hypertrophy: 60 to 90 per cent 1RM – can sustain for eight to 11, and three to five reps respectively Intensity for endurance: 60 per cent 1RM – can sustain for up to 20 to 28 reps.
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