Muscular Strength, Size & Tone
Musclular strength, size & tone. Like I said before it doesn't matter how many times you think you can't put weight on, all it takes is the right training combined with the right diet, i.e. eating more than you burn off. With my help you'll get the results you crave! (Click here to see Ben, Kris and John )
I will work out how many calories you need to gain weight then work out a food diary for you. (See Dietary and Supplement advice) This, combined with hypertrophy weight training i.e. using 8 to 12 repitions to increase muscular size will mean you see increases in your size and strength.
Don't worry if your thinking that this mean you will only get bigger by increasing body fat, because when you're at your desired body weight and size it only takes a few adjustments with your food plan. Changes may include carbohydrate intake within your food plan and reps, weight and rest periods within your weight programme. With theses adjustments you'll start to tone up so you can keep your new size but also look defined to complete the look!
Reps, Sets, Rest Periods
Strength gain programmes, that use weight training, are based primarily around the number of repetitions you complete. This combined with completing the exercise until failure, where you may need a spotter, the correct weights, rest periods, technique and a high protein diet all help to increase strength. In a nut shell 15-25 reps are used to tone and increase fitness, 8-12 reps are used to build size (hypertrophy) and strength and 5 reps or less are used to see large increases in strength and tone but not size. You would usually complete three sets for toning, in between 3 and 5 sets for hypertrophy and strength training is usually based around completing 25 heavy reps over the session. This number can be achieved through a variety of different set formats such as 5 reps x 5 sets, 6x4, 8 x 3 and 10 x 2. Rest periods would usually be 1 minute in between sets for toning, 2-3 minutes for hypertrophy and 4-5 minutes for strength training.
If you want to bulk up then complete 8-12 reps per set then rest for 2-3 minutes then start your second set. If you want size, tone and fitness or strength, tone and fitness then link the exercises of your session into a circuit, super sets, tri sets, quads sets etc., and keep your heart rate high.
15-25 reps are mainly used to tone as the rest periods in between sets are very short. As a result you stay in your fat burning zone for longer. But if you link the exercises of your session together you can use 8 rep sets or 5 or less rep sets to the same effect. All you do is include as many exercises into the circuit depending on the reps and thus the rest periods. For example, with 8's you need 2-3 minutes of rest in between sets so combine your first set of the bench press with abs or biceps etc. so the last exercise in the circuit finishes on 2-3 minutes of the work out, then start your second set of bench. Adjust accordingly when training with 5 sets of 5. You'll need to include more exercises here because the rest periods in between each set are longer, 4-5 minutes in length. The circuits get longer and harder with the more sets and less reps you complete. So you'll need to have high levels of fitness or you will certainly get very fit very quickly as a result!
You are never going to see large gains in muscular size or strength when completing 15-25 reps but the exercises, as with 8's or 5's, still need to be completed to failure. Failure ensures that there is a rip in the muscle and depending on the reps and weight the rip will be large or small. Protein is then used to fill in the gap and thus assists the muscle to heal and grow so, as a consequence, muscle size and tone is achieved. Remember all muscles heal and grow when your asleep so make sure you get 8hrs and eat lots of quality protein, (1.5g of protein per kg of body weight if your weight training). Eating a high protein diet will instantly help you to lose body fat. Protein will assist with muscle growth and repair which in turn will increase your natural metabolism thus burning off more body fat. Also an increase in quality muscle will leave you stronger and more toned. But remember not to eat too much protein as too much of any food source will turn to fat if your body does not require it, even fruit! Only eat 30g of protein per meal, 2-3 hours apart.
Variation & Failure is key
Variation is a key element within any training programme and ensures continuous results. That is why I always change my client's programme every 3 weeks. Every 3 weeks the reps, sets, weight, rest periods, exercises and the order of the exercises will change to keep the body guessing and the mind fresh. Attacking the body from different angles always leads to better results and a change helps to keep training interesting. There is nothing more frustrating than repeating the same programme week in week out, it is not good for the body or the mind! As a result it is also important to keep creating different goals and targets and a change in reps, sets and weight can do this. It is for this reason I combine my toning (15-25 rep programmes), for my female clients, with three weeks of 5 sets of 5 reps. The change in weight, sets and reps creates a shock to the body which helps to burn off more fat. The two training methods are great for women and complement each other very well as 15's and 5's do not increase muscular size but they both tone. 5's will add considerable strength gains to the body and the increase in muscle density will simply burn off more fat so the female client can retain their feminine figure. This training will result in massive strength gains which can assist with posture, other sports, work and every day activities. I hope this helps to blow away any myths that women cannot train with heavy weights as they may think there is a risk of building up a masculine figure. (See competing clients) This simply is not true, it just depends on the number of sets and reps that you complete and as I said before there are so many health benefits from lifting heavy weights, just as long as you are shown the correct technique.
For men, or female body builders, the programmes also change every three weeks but from 3 sets of 8 to 5 sets of 5. Again, a change is beneficial for the body and the mind and, like before, these two training methods complement each other very well. Three weeks of 3 sets of 8's encourages muscular size then a change to 5 sets of 5 shocks the body, leading to fat loss, and encourages massive strength gains. Then when the clients reverts back to 8's they should be able to lift heavier weights for 8 reps thus helping the client to increase muscular size, strength and tone, you simply can't lose! This variation is also great for the mind as the goals and targets differ from each programme. It is awesome to see clients wondering what they will lift on the next programme of 5's and how that will in turn help them to lift more when training with 8's again.
Every three weeks I, again, will change the exercises included in the programme and the order in which they are completed so that the same amount of energy is distributed equally among all the muscles within the muscle group. The weak and dominant side, whether it would be leg or arm, both need to be trained as well as all the individual muscles of the body. This will help to increase the overall performance of the body, as a whole, leading to proportional muscle growth.
1 Rep Max
I also like to add in a 1 rep max at the end of the three week period training with 5 reps. This means the client will only complete 1 rep of either a squat, bench press of deadlift. The clients is lifting with 100% effort put into 1 rep, resulting in the absolute maximum he/she can lift which, is called your 1 rep max. Again, I enjoy watching my clients working very hard during their strength training programme as they want to beat their previous 1 rep max. As soon as I feel my clients can perform a squat, deadlift or bench press with correct technique, I will assist them to complete a 1 rep max for each of these exercises. As a result of recording these early lifts the client will be able to see dramatic gains in strength over the course of their training. The change in goal and target setting every three weeks is vital for continuous results and consistent training. The 1 rep maxes are written up on the white board to help motivate and create a sense of competition which only adds to the fun and the results! I always say to my clients is does not matter how much you lift only that you lift it with correct technique! Also it does not matter what weight you lift. All that I ask is that you lift it with 100% effort!
Keeping a Log
I always write down and keep a log of what my clients completed within each session so we both have a record of what was achieved. This is a great way to chart my clients progress as they are always asking me "what did I lift last time?" and "on what date did we start?" or complete a particular exercise. This is great for motivation as gains can clearly be seen as time moves on and their journey has been recorded. The data can be used to create graphs and charts which help illustrate the gains more easily. A record is also a great tool if a client is feeling weak or tired as if they lift well I simply show them that they are stronger than last week even though they feel down and they soon 'perk' up!
How to get Strong & Toned but not Bulky
If a client wants to gain strength but not size I only include sets with 5 reps or less in the programme. This training needs to be based around 25 reps so that's 5 sets of 5, 6 sets of 4, 8 sets of three and 10 sets of 2 with 4-5 minutes in between each set. This type of training makes the existing muscle denser and more efficient without increasing its overall size. This method can be used for women also, as many do not want to increase in size but do want to increase in muscle tone. These training methods not only will make the client strong but will help to assist with body fat loss as an increase in muscle density will increase the body's natural metabolism which will in turn burn off more calories.
For anyone that wants to see increases in strength and speed but not in weight, like boxers for example, then training with 5 reps or less is vital. Powerlifters, Olympic lifters, racing drivers, horse riders, swimmers, footballers, rugby players and any number of competing athletes will want to train in this way as they would want to be as strong as possible and as quick as possible while, in some cases, remaining as light as possible.
As the reps decrease the weight lifted increases and thus the rest periods increase also. This is because the energy levels within the muscles (ATP) will take longer to resynthesize when more effort is exerted i.e. when lifting heavy weight for a small number of reps. It is for this reason that people will supplement their diet with creatine. This may boost the energy levels of the creatine - phosphate system, the energy system used for heavy lifting, allowing the lifter to complete more reps of a heavy weight thus increasing strength or size.
How I Train
I either combine 5 sets of 5 reps with 3 sets of 8 reps in 3 weekly cycles or I include them within 6 week strength training programmes, which can be used to make a client strong, getting them ready to compete at a powerlifting competition. I will also use these programmes myself when training for powerlifting competitions. This 6 week programme includes a decreasing number of reps and an increasing number of sets each week i.e. 5 sets of 5 reps, 6x4, 8x3 and 10x 2. As a result the client is lifting heavier and heavier each week. This culminates in 2 weeks of 1 rep maxes, discussed before, so that the client's strength is peaking just before the competition. This method can always be used for clients that are not competing and I have had great success with this in the past. I use weight lifting belts, chalk and smelling salts to help create an exciting lifting atmosphere. I take photographs for posterity and video to analyse technique and, as I said before, the results get written on the white board! My clients really enjoy it as there is a different focus each week. Strength gains are very quick and noticeable and they cannot wait to repeat the 6 week cycle and see them better their lifts from the previous cycle. There is nothing better than training hard for 6 weeks then seeing all your efforts rewarded with a new personal best for your 1 rep maxes. Trust me it makes it all worth- while!
If you are combining a weight training session with 30 minutes on a treadmill or bike, complete the weight session first. This is because they require more mental energy to complete with correct form. So you will get the best out of a weights session if started first when you are physically and mentally fresh.