Remaining slim but strong

Discussion in 'The Training Wing' started by hong_kong_fuey, Apr 16, 2008.

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  1. I've been reading about strength training but most of the stuff I've come across deals with building size as well as strength. I've got my cardiovascular fitness almost sorted but the next stage for me is strength training.

    What is the best way to remain slim while gaining strength and good muscle tone? Of course, conventional wisdom states that one must rest between strength training sessions in order for muscles to grow. But what if the aim is to not develop the size as such, but the strength?

    Currently, I'm working out in the gym using light weights (both free and machine) and doing some bodyweight exercises. Yesterday I did a session on the weights and today, while aching slightly, I feel I could it again. So, were I to go to the gym two days in succession, and using light weights, would I be putting back progress strength wise? I'm not talking about doing the weights seven days a week, but is it feasible to do, say, two days on, one day off, two days on (using light weights, remember), etc?

  2. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    This is important for climbers who don't want to bulk up - look for sport climbing exercises.
    Indoor climbing walls are also great and good fun too.
  3. Cheers guys.
  4. You are on the right track, light weights, more reps. If you feel sore then you should rest that part of the body until the soreness has subsided, obviously the pain is from micro tears in the muscle and needs time to heal, nothing is stopping you from working a different part of the body though.
  5. Best way is to balance between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

    Recommend you focus on sessions of 3x10 reps at a sustainable weight to build up aerobic fitness - perhaps twice a week.

    I wouldn't neglect training with max weights too, just once a week.

    Cross-training is the key - anyone who trains just by sticking to one kind of training will suffer (and probably end up looking deformed too).

    The best guide I found was "Fighting Fight" by Adrian Weale. It's hard to stick rigidly to the programme, but the principle of mixing running, weights and low-impact sports (swimming) for 5-6 days per week still holds.
  6. Alternate days of gym with days of running or cycling. That way you rest your legs on the gym days and your upper body on run days. Also, try doing a variety of other sports (football for example) to get a good all round workout without getting bored and to maintain flexibility that you might be in danger of losing if you just keep repeating the same fixed pattern of exercise.
  7. Some good tips there. Have just ordered Fighting Fit for the bargain price of £4.49 from Amazon. Cheers.

  8. Oh yes, and stretch! No really, it is very important.
  9. A bloke at Glasgow uni (national standard triple jumper) did a PHD on strength without size and it came down to - negative/eccentric repetitions. In other words, lowering big weights under control. Unless you've got loads of willing helpers the only way you can do that is on multi-gym type equipment. Bench a good weight with both hands and then lower it using one arm. You don't need to take the other hand off, just "collapse it" and take all the tension out of it. If you do it right by ten reps you shoudl be really struggling to avoid the whole slot slamming onto the stack. You can work on one limb for a whole set or alternative limbs through the set, which gives you more chance with the next set.
  10. I also want to train for strength, not size, so i do 5 sets of 5, making sure the last rep is to failure. I beleive it goes something like this:

    5 x 5 = strength
    3 x 10 = size
    3 x 15 or more = endurance

    The first number refers to how many sets, the second to how many reps per set. It has worked pretty well for me, as i am much stronger, but with little size gain, just more tone.
  11. Are you talking muscular endurance training as opposed to strength? (The latter - muscular strength - not having much use in the armed forces I'd imagine). If you're really just training for endurance "using lighter weights" as you describe then save yourself 10 minutes and don't bother reading the below.

    As scooperman mentioned you can follow a basic 5x5 periodisation for improving strength in your core lifts. Assuming you are actually wanting to train for strength keep the reps between 1 and 5; you're training your nervous system to contract as many muscle fibres as possible for that repetition, as opposed to actually fatiguing / breaking down the muscle fibres with size / endurance training. Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets - again, you aren't trying to fatigue the muscles. You will get "stronger" though not necessarily bigger if you're strictly controlling your calorie intake as you are training your muscle groups as close to maximal (muscle) fibre contraction for a single rep as possible.

    One method of periodisation described by a Canadian national strongman / powerlifter I used to correspond with:

    Move the sets/ reps on your bench and squat to 5x5, increase the poundages to an amount that you can do with moderate ease for this set/ rep range. There is no point in being able to do this weight "15 times", as you are training for explosive power and strength, not endurance. make 2.5kg incremental increases on they two lifts weekly until you struggle to complete 5x5 for that given weight. Attempt 5x5 with the weight a couple more times, you may adapt, and try another 2.5kg increase. When it becomes impossible to complete 5x5 for the weight, move the bench/ squat to 5x3, and increase the poundage by 5-10kg (triples are alot easier to do than 5 straight sets), and take the 5x5 as far as you can, just like you did with the 5x5. When you can do no more, go to 3x3, take it as far as you can, then 8x3, take that as far as you can, then back to 5x5. You should find that you have made a strength increase of between 20 and 25%.

    Deadlifts should be trained with doubles and triples. I use the above program for squatting and benching. For deadlifts I train 8 sets for three reps and 3 sets for 2 reps. The 8 sets are usually progressive to about 80% and the 3 sets I use one weight at approx. 90 to 95%. I have found more then 3 repetitions is hard on your hands and shins.

    A basic powerlifting program I used to follow for rugby in the off season. You can combine squat and bench day if you're trying to fit in other exercise sessions in your rotation:

    Monday: Squat day - Regular Squats 5x5, Good Mornings 5x5, Power Snatches 3x3 or jump squats 3x3 or Lunges 3x8and Sit - Ups (weighted if possible) 3x10 (Get a School Gym Teacher or experienced lifter to show you the technique for Snatches. They build INCREDIBLE total body strength and power IMHO.)

    Wednesday: Bench Day - Flat Bench Press 5x5, Bent Over barbell Power Rows 3x8 (Instead of the bar being in your hands the whole set, bar starts on floor, pick it up overhand grip with as much power as possible up to just below your sternum, then lower it to the floor and let go, and repeat), Dips 3x5 (weighted if you're strong enough), Lat pulldowns 3x8 or pull ups/ chins 3x8 (depends on your strength), and lastly skull crushers 3x8.

    Friday: Deadlift Day - Regular Deadlift 5x5 or 8x3, High Pulls or Power cleans 3x3 (do a google search on them if you don't know the exercises), Push Presses 5x5 (Strict military presses are for bodybuilders. Use your knees/ some leg power to force that bar up!), and another deadlift movement, such as romanian deadlifts 3x8.

    Do grip training on Mondays and Fridays aswell: Dumbell/ Barbell holds, plate pinches and weighted/ non weighted hangs are some really good grip exercises.
  12. G-J, I think, to be honest, muscular endurance as opposed to strength IS highly useful in the armed forces. We rarely use maximum muscle strength (we prefer to shoot Her Majesty's enemies than to arm wrestle them into submission but being able to walk/run long distances, or maybe do several short sprints in a row and then still operate is essential skills).
  13. Yea that's what I meant DFS - obviously made an arse of the sentence which I'll edit now, cheers!
  14. Or it could be I miss-read your sentence. Now that you have edited it, I find myself unsure. Anyway, it makes perfect sense now!