The body is a paradox: in order for it to become stronger, it must first be broken down. Similar to endurance training, muscles grow when the body needs to adapt to changes. This lesson will focus on how strength is built and give you a framework for designing your strength-training program.
Muscles are made of up of building blocks called fibrils. These fibrils get small micro tears when the body is challenged beyond its normal range of strength. An example of this would be during a weightlifting session at the gym. The body strains to complete the lift, and that strain is what cases the micro tears. If you’ve ever woken up after a challenging weight-lifting workout and had a hard time moving, that’s due to these tears (and likely, some lactic acid buildup). When the muscle repairs itself, it grows back stronger and ready for more challenges.
Build Your Strength-Training Program
In order to gain strength, you will first need to develop a strength-training program. The best way to build strength, of course, is to lift weights! We will walk through program design step by step right here, right now. Time to get your flex on!
Step 1: Plan how many days per week you can go to the gym. If you’re not sure, three days per week is a good place to start. Plan on spending about 45-60 minutes at the gym in each session.
Step 2: Determine what body part(s) you would like to workout on each day of the week. Keep in mind that your muscles will need 24-48 hours to recover post workout, so give them a break before training them again. Many people like doing a split routine. Here’s an example:
• Day 1: legs
• Day 2: chest, shoulders, arms
• Day 3: back, obliques, core
Step 3: Select about six different lifts you would like to complete during each workout. This can increase as your body adjusts to lifting.
Step 4: The order in which you complete your lifts matters. Order the lifts by starting with the ones that work the largest muscle groups (for example, the quads) first, and then working to smaller muscle groups after (for example, the calves).
Step 5: Use a basic framework for building strength. Plan on completing three sets of each specific lift, and complete 8 to 12 repetitions for each lift. Be sure to take about a one-minute break between each set before moving on to the next.
Step 6: Be sure to include a five-minute warm up before you begin lifting, and a five-minute cool down/stretch at the end.After all, you’ll want to first warm up the muscles that you will be using during the lifts, and stretching afterward will reduce muscle fatigue.
Step 7: Write down your entire plan, including each day and the full week, on your phone or a planner. That way, when you go to the gym, you can follow the plan as a roadmap and know exactly what to do. If you’re not familiar with the gym, you may use this exercise library to look up how to do each lift with proper form.
Here’s an example leg day workout that follows the basic framework we just covered:
Warmup: one-minute jump rope, two minutes of body weight squats, three minutes jogging on treadmill
• Squats with barbell, three sets of 12 repetitions (one-minute break between each set)
• Deadlifts with barbell, three sets of 12
• Leg extension machine, three sets of 12
• Seated hip thrusts with barbell, three sets of 12
• Donkey kicks with no weight, three sets of 12
• Calf raises with barbell, three sets of 12
Stretch: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves.
The body will become stronger as it is challenged through strength-building exercises. When lifting weights, the muscles often develop micro tears. Once those tears repair, the muscles grow stronger and larger. In the next episode, we’ll learn about gaining weight.
Cheers to your health,
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