Training for YOUR Goals
When stepping foot in the gym for the first time, it can be an awfully overwhelming see all of the various machines and people training there. Your first time at the gym can be very confusing, and a bit intimidating, if you’ve never really been into weight lifting or fitness previously.
But, all is not lost. All you need is a plan and off you go to dominate your goals and start on the lifelong journey that is physical fitness!
Choose Your Goal!
The first step in carving your path in fitness is deciding on what your goal is in regards to training, i.e. what result do you want to get / gain from weight training?
The answer to this question is crucial as it determines how you’ll structure your training in the gym. Typically when starting out, people step foot into the gym with one of three goals:
While all involve shedding fat, getting muscular, and enhancing strength, the training modalities and physical outcomes vary significantly among the three.
So, let’s see just how each one differs…
Three Common Modes of Training
Hypertrophy the scientific term for weight training that primarily revolves around increasing muscle size, which improves body composition, boosts metabolism, and sheds fat. In other words, you’re lifting weights to grow your muscles to shape a more aesthetically pleasing physique. This is far and away the reason most people join gyms, and it’s also the style of training that’s synonymous with
Hypertrophy training is one of the oldest and most traditional forms of resistance training that uses a mixture of compound (bench press, squat, deadlift) and isolation (curls, leg extensions, calf raises) exercises to build muscle. Bodybuilding workouts typically employ higher volume of sets and repetitions compared to power or olympic lifting because in order for a muscle to grow it must be constantly exposed to increased demand (either by heavier weight or higher reps) in order to facilitate growth. Basically, to get your muscles to grow you have to improve on your previous workouts, otherwise, the muscle doesn’t see any reason to increase in size!
Bodybuilding, and hypertrophy training, at its core, about sculpting the ultimate physique, it’s not about how heavy you lift or how fast you lift, but how much damage you can do to a muscle with a given weight to spark growth and change.
Get Strong and Powerful
To get strong, explosive, and powerful, you have to embrace powerlifting and / or Olympic Lifting. Whereas bodybuilding uses a mix of barbells, dumbbells, machines, and resistance bands, powerlifting and Olympic lifting is all about the barbell. While the two are often lumped together, they are a bit different but complement each other wonderfully.
Essentially, powerlifting is all about getting strong. To do that, you need to pick up heavy things and put them back down. It’s all about efficiency -- move the most amount of weight across the shortest distance. Same thing for Olympic Lifting, move weight in an explosive manner as efficiently as possible to generate maximum power.
In a way, it’s the complete antithesis of bodybuilding, where you’re trying to be as inefficient as possible to cause maximum muscle breakdown. Power / Olympic Lifting is about being as efficient in movement as possible.
Typical power / Olympic lifting workouts are lower total volume with a higher number of sets. For example, you may be doing 5 sets of 5 reps or 6 sets of 3 reps on only one lift with up to 5 minutes break between some sets, whereas in bodybuilding you’re only taking 90 seconds at most in between your lifts.
Additionally, Power / Olympic lifting is primarily about performance, not looks. You’re training is directed towards increasing strength, power, and explosiveness on a select few exercises. It’s not geared around forming a chiseled chest or bulging bicep. Basically, Power / Olympic Lifters are the “Go” to the Bodybuilder’s “Show”.
The third and final most common training goal when individuals start seriously training is “strength endurance” which is a buzzword created by the Crossfit community. Crossfit is about developing incredibly high strength to bodyweight ratio and increasing athleticism across a wide range of physical activities.
You’ll be using both heavy weights and high volume, often done in an explosive manner. Crossfit training borrows heavily from the powerlifting and Olympic lifting training protocols in exercise selection, but adds the bodybuilding component of short rest and high volume to the mix creating a sort of hybrid training style that emphasizes athletic versatility and performance over pure strength or physique.
This type of training allows you to lift heavy things, compete with others, and develop incredible athleticism, and that’s the primary reason people are attracted to this style of training -- it makes them feel like an athlete!
Similar to Power / Olympic Lifting, Crossfit is all about performance, but across a VAST range of athletic pursuits, it’s not about looks, as is the case with bodybuilding. In a given training session, you’ll be doing high reps of Clean and Jerks for time, 50 burpees, 30 pullups, and running 1 mile -- and that’s just one day’s training session!
Like the previous two training styles discussed, Crossfit isn’t for everyone, but for those who embrace the sport, there’s nothing superior to it.
Which Training Style is Best?
All of them, and none of them!
The best type of training is the one you’re drawn to and will continue to enjoy day after day year after year. Moreover, you’re not married to one style of training for the rest of your life.
When you first start out, you may be drawn to the competitive nature of Crossfit, but after a few years, you may have the desire to step on stage in a physique competition and undertake bodybuilding to get ready for the show.
You could even hybrid Powerlifting and Bodybuilding in the same training cycle to form a Powerbuilding program that improves on both muscle size and strength giving you the best of both worlds.
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