Strength Programming Basics

Your body is an amazing machine. Strength training can transform your bodily aesthetics and teach you real discipline and goal setting. Change won’t come overnight, but with hard work and consistency, you have the ability to seize your own inner power. When you begin to see your shoulders block off and your quads thickening to tree trunks, you will know the full force of your self-determination.

The most important factor in getting big and strong is that you put in consistent work. For efficiency, concentrate on compound movements with heavy weights. From there, follow your passion. We’ve broken down the methodologies here for you.

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The Strength Sports

Powerlifting

Powerlifting is focused on moving the most weight possible in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. The bench press is lowering and pressing a barbell up from your chest while prone. Squatting involves loading a barbell on your back, lowering into a squat and powering back up to standing. The deadlift is performed by lifting a barbell from a deadstop on the ground to standing. In competition, a powerlifter will try to move the most weight possible in each of these lifts, with three attempts per lift. In training, most powerlifters complete two to five repetitions of the three compound lifts, adding accessory lifts as necessary to maintain well-rounded strength. A beginner’s powerlifting program should train each of the three big lifts regularly, with a secondary focus on other barbell compound movements, such as the overhead press and barbell row. Adaptations can and should be made to these programs for individuals who have limited mobility or who are starting lifting from a sedentary lifestyle, but powerlifting is a great entry to strength sports for beginners.

Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic Weightlifting focuses on just two lifts: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. A snatch is performed by moving a barbell from a dead stop on the ground to overhead, while a clean is performed by moving a barbell from a dead stop to the shoulders and then jerked to overhead. These lifts are complicated and are really not for the novice unless under direct supervision. Oly lifters are generally focused pretty exclusively on these two lifts and their variations – such as cleaning the weight from the hang (slightly below the knees) or power cleans where the squat part of the movement is essentially removed. Olympic lifting is very fun and exciting, but the lifts should be learned very slowly with light weight until the movements are muscle memory and therefore might not be the best choice for someone just starting out.

Strongwoman

Strongwoman events include many various feats of strength, with a few of the most common being atlas stones, yoke walks, farmers carries, tire flips, log press, and even car deadlifts. Many strongwoman athletes train similarly to powerlifters, but incorporate more varied lifts such as those actually encountered in competition. The deadlift, squat, and bench press are still the foundations of strongwoman training. Emphasis is on not only strength but the functional display of that strength, with many strongwoman events more closely resembling tests of real world strength than in powerlifting competitions.

Physique and Aesthetics

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is weight training with a primarily aesthetic drive – that is, the goal is to shape the muscles of the body into a pleasing athletic form. Bodybuilders focus on hypertrophy, or the enlargement of the muscle, with a secondary interest in strength. To elicit these large muscular changes, bodybuilders generally work in the eight to twelve repetitions of a movement in each set of a lift, although it’s not uncommon to see programs that call for upwards of 20 reps in a given set. The key to bodybuilding is establishing a sound mind-muscle connection, so that each rep creates the maximum amount of strain and tension to force growth in the desired muscle. With a solid diet, bodybuilding style training can drastically change your physique – and strength will follow.

Functional Fitness and Agility

Calisthenics

Calisthenics literally means the “beauty of strength” and refers to bodyweight exercises, generally those that require little to no equipment. This makes calisthenics a great option for those who do not have access to a gym, prefer training outdoors, or who enjoy the pure feeling of the strength of moving your own body. No matter what type of training you employ, it is always a good idea to include elements of calisthenics. Using your body to perform natural displays of strength and agility is an amazing experience and truly functional fitness. Calisthenics includes a wide range of movements and variations, from standard pushups to pistol squats to muscle-ups. A well-planned calisthenics program targets every part of the body.

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