Strength training

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Strength training

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You might believe that strength training is only for muscular young men. But in reality, because you can make the weights as light and heavy as you want, it's for every level. Because you don't need much strength, fitness or technique to start with, it is especially useful for people that are completely out of shape.
I have seen men in their 80s lift weights, and they certainly didn't look ridiculous (in fact they made some younger guys look weak).

One way to start strength training are resistance bands.
I can buy a 25 kg resistance band for 5 Euro that I can easily use for a year, if I don't mind that it gets a little weaker in time. Even if you just use it 10 times it's already great value for money.

Some professional trainers over 40 years, that sell resistance bands, claim that they're better for strength training than "normal" weights. This is of course complete bull$hit. You simply cannot gain muscles as fast with bands as you can with weights.
If you're younger than 30 and serious about bodybuilding or fitness, you should continue training with weights (maybe doing some things with bands for a little variety). But for anybody else they are a serious alternative.


Here are some of the advantages of strength training with resistance bands:
1) They are so small and light that you can carry a set of bands with you and can literally train anywhere. You can sort of do all the exercises in a professional gym with these!
2) You can switch between exercises literally in seconds, which makes them ideal if you want to do multiple exercise with little or no rest in between (for example for a superset).

3) While it's easy to get injured with weights, it's difficult to get inured with resistance bands. One of the possible problems when training with weights to the point of failure (which is the most effective way of training) is that you lose control over the weights, and can get a serious trauma-related injury. With bands this risk simply doesn't exist.
4) It is quite common to lift weights in bad form, diminishing the results of an exercise. I don't really understand how, but resistance bands automatically correct poor form.


The most important care instruction is to not use anything with rough edges for an anchor point. Anything sharp can cause cuts in the band, and it could snap after only a couple of uses.

I don't like the friction of the "loop" resistance bands on my hands when I stretch them, so I use some gloves.
This isn't absolutely necessary though.

It's difficult to give a clear indication of what strength resistance band somebody needs. If you're not used to strength training a 15 kg band should be enough.
When I started training with a 25 kg resistance band in May 2021, it was for exercises that I could do with 40/50 kg weights. Now I do many of these exercises with a 35 kg band (on both sides this is potentially 70 kg), but I haven't added weight to the "normal" versions of these exercises. The only progression I made in the weighted versions is that I now perform these exercises with better form...


The added value of James Grage's videos on training with resistance bands, is that he gives some good tips on how to use them.
The following video shows Grage doing some exercises with bands illustrating that you can do a serious training anywhere...
youtube.com/watch?v=6X4T6WetSIA

If you're simply looking for exercises with resistance bands, the following video shows 63 exercises you can do anywhere, without attaching.
You can also do most of these exercises with anchor points, which I prefer.
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Re: Strength training

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There are some strange things about bodybuilding, basically the objective of bodybuilding muscles is the opposite of strength training in many (other) sports.
In most sports, you want to become stronger without becoming (much) heavier, but in bodybuilding they want to simply get as muscular (and heavy without becoming fat) as possible. One strategy in this is "peak contraction" in which the bodybuilder holds the weight at the end of the movement, and contracts his muscles at the peak. This creates the effect of bulging muscles, but doesn't create much strength.

Serious bodybuilders need so much energy to feed their muscles that it's quite "normal" for them to eat 5 or 6 meals a day.
Another interesting thing to note is that when bodybuilders take the stage for a competition they have an extremely low bodyfat percentage, of below 5%. They achieve this by eating not enough to maintain their weight for 6 to 8 weeks.


Lifting huge weights can take a heavy toll on the body. Arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all time, Ronnie Coleman, who won Mr. Olympia for a record 8 times, had to undergo surgery 15 times. He isn't even that old, born in 1964...
At his peak he weighed an impressive 149 kg offseason at only 1.80 m length.
Since 2021 sitting in a wheelchair maybe never to walk again, but still training: http://bars-time.com/ronnie-coleman-now/


Basically "expert" bodybuilders use many of the same (simple) exercises that beginners use, but with much heavier loads of course.
What sets these high level bodybuilders apart (besides using steroids) is their training strategies. They constantly invent training methods to maximise muscle growth.

What really contrasts to my way of training is the huge amount of rest. Basically doing a set of 30 seconds followed by 2 minute rest, before another set.
The result is more than 45 minutes of rest for 15 minutes of active exercises...

One standard way to reach maximimal results is a training split, in which on different days other muscle groups are trained, with the result that the muscles get more time to recover before they are trained to the maximum again.
The training days are often split in 3 muscle groups, something like:
Day 1, 4, 7, ...: triceps, shoulders, chest.
Day 2, 5, 8, ...: biceps, upper back.
Day 3, 6, 9, ...: legs.


Jim Stoppani is one of the best Youtube bodybuilders.
In the following video Stoppani shows resistance band training, including combinations of weights and bands.


In the following video Stoppani shows drop sets, doing a set till failure, immediately followed by another set after dropping some weight.
He also answers some questions from his fans.
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Re: Strength training

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Re: Strength training

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Technically speaking any exercise where you use your bodyweight for resistance can be called calisthenics. But I think about calisthenics as pull-up bars where they perform (variations of) pull-ups and handstand push-ups.
Doing push-ups or squats doesn't make me a real calisthenics enthusiast does it?

Because you can't isolate your muscles, as when training with weights or bands, the training is both more and less efficient, and a lot more difficult.
They constantly need to "progress" to new exercises, where in regular bodybuilding you can simply continue doing the same exercise with more weights.

What goes against my way of training is that in getting stronger they often aim for a slow and controlled movement, often even keeping certain poses for ten seconds or more.
When I get stronger I try to perform the exercises faster...

While bodybuilders often look the most impressive from the front (biceps, shoulders, chest and quadriceps), calisthenics enthusiasts often have a more muscular back.

In general men seem to train their arms and upper body much more (heavier) than their legs, in calisthenics they don't even seem to have exercises as heavy for their legs as for their arms.
Are there exercises for legs as heavy as for example one-arm pull-ups?

In calisthenics they often use resistance bands.


Chris Heria is one of the most popular calisthenics youtubers. What makes his videos educational is that he shows good progression in exercises. This progression strategy is really how calisthenics change their training in time.
In the following video, Heria shows how resistance bands can be used seperately or in combination with bodyweight exercises. They can both be used to make calisthenics exercises lighter or heavier...



The following video shows progression in dips. This includes variations that I thought are impossible (a 180 degrees dip, you have to see it to believe it!).
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Re: Strength training

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Just about any training for whichever sports is one-sided. The problem with doing only strength training is that I won't give you speed, agility or a good heart and lungs health.
It seems that cardio fitness is a good addition to (only) strength training.

You can combine the 2 by first doing a strength workout program followed by some cardio or you could one day do bodybuilding session and on another cardio.
You can even combine strength training with cardio in something like crossfit.

The most used "hip" name for cardio training is HIIT. My problem is that it insinuates "high intensity" by its name, when really (in most situations) it isn't.
When I look at HIIT workout videos, they are mostly people fitter, younger and lighter than me doing some exercises for 20 to 30 minutes with little or no rest, without going to their limit. This is really "medium" intensity, and while it's great to workout this way for heart and lungs health, it isn't a good way train muscle strength.

The following is a good example.
He even takes scheduled rest breaks that he really doesn't need (or shorter).


I prefer the following video over the first, because it trains muscle speed. When you have already reached a peak in heart and lungs health (like the man in the previous video), you can still improve how fit you are by increasing (fast) muscle speed.
When your muscles act faster, with more intensity and have more endurance you get less tired in a match. You could compare this to doing strength training with the same weight after getting stronger, in which situations you can do much more repetitions even though you don't have healthier heart and lungs.

I like the following a whole lot better because this is more about training muscles, instead of almost only cardio (like the previous video).



Here's an example of tennis star Novak Djokovic doing some high intensity training. Short explosive outbursts, most some 10 seconds long, that are more for his muscles (mostly legs) than to get his heart rate racing.



The surprising thing about Dutch kickbox champ Rico Verhoeven isn't that he trains hard, but that he does so many sprinting exercises.
Of course he isn't as agile as Djokovic, but he's much faster than I would expect from a 1.95 m, 120 kg giant...
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Re: Strength training

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There are different ways of progression, the classical weightlifting progression is simply adding more weight.
For me the ultimate progression in strength training is building explosive power.

The start of training for explosiveness isn't really different than for other forms of strength training. It is only when you progress beyond the beginner level that there are distinct differences.
Training for explosive power isn't about training to the point of muscle failure, and even worse is doing an exercise for a certain amount of time (for example 30 seconds). If you train like that you're conditioning your body to decrease intensity, so you can pull out another couple of repetitions. This could make you stronger but slower (less explosive) at the same time...

Many people think that sprinting is "explosive". While it is true that you need explosiveness to be good at sprinting, it is really only the first 10 meter accelaration after the start that is explosive.
For me the ultimate explosive leg workout is jumping. Ironically sprinters can become faster by jump exercises...
You need a good heart and lung health before you're capable of training explosive.

One of the strange things about my "progression" towards training for explosive power is that I decrease the number of repetitions of basically the same exercises, but with more speed and intensity.

This is sort of how progression in getting explosive through strength training looks.
1) Building muscle through "normal" (islolated) muscle building exercises (basically the same as the start for other strength training).
2) Increasing the speed of motion (ballistic) when doing muscle building exercises (sometimes with less weight, so they can be performed at higher speed).
3) Plyometric exercises, like jumping or hand clap push-ups.

When you already do plyometric exercises without getting injured (or a heart attack..), you are already fit.
At this point you can simply increase the intensity of the exercises, for example by jumping higher, or sprinting faster. At one point you will reach a plateau, and can only get even more explosive by adding "contrast" exercises to your training.

Contrast training is sort of a way to "fool" your muscles that to get even stronger.
In this type of training you combine relatively slow exercises, for example weighted squats, with an explosive outburst, for example jumping or a short sprint.
Another way to still make progress is by training your muscles in ways that they're not used to, for example moving around in different directions on hand and feet as fast as you can (never mind how silly you look!).


The following trainer doesn't look very explosive himself, but he has a good understanding and training method for explosive power.



If you want to take your jumping to the next level, this is the kind of training that you could try (you don't need any equipment).
Training in the sand makes this much harder...
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Re: Strength training

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In 2020, I noticed that my muscles were getting stiff (almost like they had shortened), so I started stretching, including some movements that are considered "yoga".
This has worked as well as I hoped, except for my shoulders that still don't have the mobility they had.

I get frustrated with these meditation exercises and awful music, but yoga can be a good alternative also for strength training.
The only important thing missing in this type of training is cardio...

Here are some examples of yoga poses that also build strength (some of the exercises are also used in calisthenics).



Men's Health has a huge collection of instructional articles and videos on strength training, and even the following on yoga poses: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/g227 ... s-for-men/
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Re: Strength training

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Firestarter wrote: Thu Mar 24, 2022 8:03 pmtraining with weights to the point of failure (which is the most effective way of training)
The problem with bodybuilding training tips is that we all look to the top, Mr. Olympia winners. What works for professionals with their balloon steroid muscles, for most amateurs does more harm than good. For professional bodybuilders it's probably good to take every single set to muscle failure.
But for the overwhelming majority of "normal" people this will actually slow the gains they make and can lead to injuries.

The best "smart" way to train is to leave roughly 1-3 repetitions in the tank, instead of taking every set to failure. And doing only a couple of sets to muscle failure towards the end of your training.
Of course going too easy and stopping 5 repetitions or more short of failure won't bring you maximal results either.

https://builtwithscience.com/training-to-failure/


When you're training for explosive power, instead of muscle mass, it's even more important to NOT go to muscle failure..
Firestarter wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 5:11 pmTraining for explosive power isn't about training to the point of muscle failure, and even worse is doing an exercise for a certain amount of time (for example 30 seconds). If you train like that you're conditioning your body to decrease intensity, so you can pull out another couple of repetitions. This could make you stronger but slower (less explosive) at the same time...
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