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Strength is the ability to exert force. Force can be displayed either isometrically or dynamically and during isolated or compound movements.


Strength training is the goal of increasing a muscle’s efficiency of contraction and improving the central nervous systems recruitment of motor units. The stimulus required for recruitment is the speed of the movement and the amount of force exerted in a particular movement. In order to meet the terms required to improve strength, a load must be heavy enough that it requires a maximal or near maximal exertion of force to complete the movement. The concentric contraction must also be as fast as the weight allows, and a slowed and controlled eccentric must follow. A limiting factor in maximal force exertion is the human body’s inhibitory mechanisms, in which inhibits our capacity to exert maximal force, in order to prevent injury. Training with heavy loads allows a strength trainer to lower this neural inhibition over time. Another factor in improving strength is the size of a muscle. Whilst not the determining factor of strength, an increase in muscle size relates to an increased potential for strength.


Lifting heavy weights for high volume, frequently, puts the physical body and the central nervous system under duress. In order for the muscle to repair and grow larger and for the central nervous system to regenerate, a period of recovery must be taken, in which diet plays a vital role in recovering. Glycogen is needed to refuel the muscle post exercise, Protein is important for the repair and growth process and total energy consumption must be at or preferably above energy expenditure. For dietary specifics I recommend working with a nutritionist, however at the basic level, adjusting total calorie/kilojoule consumption until you see incremental increases in weight and consuming a meal high in protein and carbohydrate post-exercise are both general rules of thumb for assisting hypertrophy and strength improvements. In conjunction with diet, regular stretching and soft tissue work, from either a licensed practitioner and or through utensils such as lacrosse balls and foam rollers, is another factor in regards to aiding recovery. Frequent training puts the body under notable duress, shortened and sore muscles, overuse injuries and impingements can likely follow if sufficient recovery protocols are not implemented.



Testing is an integral part of any program. It is important to understand what your current body composition is and where you are in terms of strength. Body composition tests will allow you to calculate your current weight, body fat percentage, muscle sizing and fat-free mass, depending on what tests you apply, this will allow you to monitor strength in relation to total weight and fat-free mass. Strength testing results will allow you to calculate training percentages and to measure progressive overload.

Big 3 (squat, bench, deadlift)- by testing strength, you can now program exact percentages. By applying your one rep max to Prilepin’s Table, you can select exact training weights for any given lift.

Prilepin’s Table

Percentage of 1RMReps Per SetOptimal # of RepsTotal Range of Reps

Weight- increasing your weight isn’t necessarily the most informative measure of testing, as it doesn’t differentiate whether the weight gained, is muscle or fat, however, it is the easiest test to apply. Measuring your weight is important to calculate your strength to weight ratio.

Skin folds- Skin folds, depending on the accuracy of the measurer, will give you an idea of your body fat percentage. In combination with frequent weighing, regular skinfolds can give you an idea of how much pure muscle you are gaining. Calculating your fat-free mass can allow you differentiate gains in strength in relation to fat-free mass from that of simply total weight.


Repetitions are the number of times a weight is lifted and then lowered in repetition until failure or until a particular number is reached. To improve strength, a load must be near maximal, to recruit more and larger motor units. To do so, the number of repetitions a given muscle is subject to, in any one set must be as low as 1 and as high as 6.
Repetitions under 6, if performed in a high volume of sets, can still promote hypertrophy, however, lower repetitions generally stimulate the nervous system to promote strength gains as opposed to tear the muscles to promote hypertrophy.


Repetitions performed of a given exercise, for a given number, complete what is called a set. The number of sets you will perform for a single exercise, Depends on the experience of the lifter, the number of exercises performed in a single session and the session length. Generally, you will perform 2-6 sets per exercise, although in some cases, you may perform a number of warm-up sets, progressing in weight, to work up to a single max effort lift, or in some particular methods performing as many 10 sets, such as variations of the German volume training method and the maximum load method. The number of sets you perform in an entire session depends generally on the total time it will take to complete the entire workout and how long it takes to achieve desired effects. Between 8-30 sets over a single session is the general norm.


Time under tension is as the name suggests, the total time under which a muscle is concentrically and or eccentrically loaded for a single set. When programming, selecting a tempo for which a repetition is to be lifted at, is important for increasing the time a muscle is eccentrically loaded or the speed of the concentric. Tempo is read as the following, 2:0:1, the first number being the time taken to complete the eccentric (lowering of the weight) portion of the lift, the middle number being the pause held between contractions and the final number being the time taken to complete the concentric (lifting of the weight) portion of the lift. For strength, it is important for the eccentric to be slowed as the human body is roughly 40% stronger eccentrically and it is important to lift the weight as fast as the weight allows, in the concentric portion of the lift.


Resting between sets is important as it allows for the muscle and nervous system to recover at least enough to perform a similar if not the exact number of repetitions, at the same weight as the set prior. If the goal is to increase max strength, rest periods of up 5 minutes are the most beneficial, as the longer rest allows for the central nervous system to adequately recover, to lift the same weight as previous sets, with minimal fatigue. This long of a rest is not beneficial for hypertrophy. For a mixture of strength and hypertrophy, 2-3 minutes rest periods are long enough to allow for the muscle and central nervous system to recover moderately and brief enough to keep blood within the muscle and to stimulate anabolic hormone production.


The session length should be long enough to include adequate volume for adaptations in strength, but not long enough that a sharp decrease in energy is suffered, excessive muscular damage occurs, excessively drains the central nervous system and that cortisol levels begin to increase dramatically. The optimal time period for a single session appears to be anywhere from roughly 30-60 minutes and should include a warm-up and some form of a cooldown or stretch.


Frequency is how often you train the whole body, a particular group muscles, a single muscle or a particular type of session. When selecting a particular training frequency you have to take into account what your weekly schedule can account for, adequate periods of rest and training goals. Once you have calculated roughly how often you can train, you can now either schedule 2-3 whole body sessions a week or devise what is referred to as a split. Training splits are ways of dividing up your workload, in which body parts will be trained in isolation or conjunction with one or two other body parts, for multiple or single sessions per a week. Training splits allow you to apply more volume to individual body parts and to train more often without affecting the recovery of other body parts.

Example training splits:
-Upper body/lower body split- perform two workouts per a week for each the lower body and the upper body.
-Upper body/lower body/arms split- perform a workout for each, within a 5 day period. I.e. Lower body, upper body, off, arms, off and repeat.
-Agonist/antagonist- Complete a session for each of the following; chest/horizontal rowing, shoulders/vertical pulling and quads/hamstrings, over a 5-7 day period.


The warm-up should focus specifically the on muscles to be trained and should include Active Range of Movement Stretches (AROMS), lightweight prehabilitation exercises, multiple warm-up sets of your primary lifts to excite the nervous system and prepare your body for the loading ahead, and lastly should raise body temperature to that of a light sweat.

An example warm-up for an upper body session:
-30 seconds of arm swings
-30 seconds of iron crosses
-30 seconds of scorpions

3 rounds of 10 repetitions for the following
A1. Scapula push ups
A2. Band external rotations
A3. Band face pulls

5 warm-up sets, increasing in load and decreasing in repetitions from set to set.
B. Barbell bench-press
Set 1- 10 reps of bar
Set 2- 5 reps @ 40kg
Set 3- 3 reps @ 60kg
Set 4- 2 reps @ 70kg
Set 5- 1 rep @ 80kg


Cooldowns for strength sessions mostly consist of performing static or partner assisted stretches to release tension in the muscles trained during the session. Stretches should be specific to the body parts trained and should be held for up to 1 minute. It is important to note, stretching post exercise is mostly for maintenance, and will generally not facilitate improvements in flexibility. 10 stretches over 10 minutes, should be sufficient for maintenance.


Progression in strength can be measured using the tests listed above. However, in order to progress upon your strength goals, programming weekly incremental increases in volume or weight are necessary to improve and avoid stagnation. Progressions can be a 2% increase in weight, an additional repetition per a set, an additional set per an exercise or a change in training method.


Maximum load method/Straight sets- This method incorporates lifting loads of 80-100% of one's 1RM, for straights sets, meaning for a set number of identical sets. A number of sets per a session should range between 5 and 15, for 1-5 repetitions per a set. This method should use minimal exercises, preferably 5 or less. The tempo should be an as fast as possible concentric phase, followed by a slowed eccentric of at least 2 times the concentric. Rest periods should be between 3-6 minutes for complete restoration.

Example workout:
A. Sumo Deadlift, 6 sets of 2 reps, 2:1:1 @90% 1RM
B. Front Squat, 6 sets of 2 reps, 2:1:1 @90% 1RM

Max effort- The max effort method, incorporates progressive warm-up sets that will eventually work up to a single max effort set. At least 5 warm-up sets are advised for optimal stimulus for growth and progression and to prepare the body for loading. Warm-up sets should start at a rep range of 3-5 to begin to accumulate volume and progressively decrease to 1-3 repetitions per a set as weight increases. A rest period of 2-3 minutes, between sets, is adequate, as the weight shouldn’t be heavy enough on the early warm-up sets to require longer periods. This method should only be applied to a single lift, per a session. The elected lift should be one of the big 3 lifts, the squat, deadlift or bench-press, or their variations.

Example workout:
A. Deficit Barbell Deadlift, 2:0:X
Warm-up set 1- 5 reps @ 40kg
Warm-up set 2- 5 reps @ 60kg
Warm-up set 3- 3 reps @ 80kg
Warm-up set 4- 3 reps @ 100kg
Warm-up set 5- 1 rep @ 120kg
Working set- 1 rep @ 150kg

Supersets- Superset training is a method of either pairing an agonist and antagonist exercise together or a string of exercises of the same muscle group. Exercises are to be performed in quick succession, then followed by a rest period in between supersets. Supersets are great for fitting more exercises and total volume in a lesser time frame, increasing hypertrophy and stretching the previous muscle trained, which in return can increase strength carryover, from set to set. Supersets for strength training are best applied in conjunction with other methods.

Example workout: (superset method in conjunction with the 5x5 method)
A1. Barbell back squat, 5 sets of 5 repetitions, 3:0:1 @ 80% 1RM
A2. Barbell Romanian deadlift, 5 sets of 5 repetitions, 3:0:1 @ 80% 1RM

5x5- The most simplistic of all strength methods, as it follows a fixed set and repetition scheme, and follows through with the same weight from set to set. You will lift roughly 80-85% of your 1RM for 5 sets of 5 repetitions. The simplicity makes it a good entry point for beginners to strength training and is an easy to stick to a routine for those who struggle with applying themselves. 5x5’s simplicity can also be detrimental; the complete lack of variety in set and rep patterns can lead to eventual plateauing. After 6-12 weeks maximum of 5x5 training, one should look to an alternative method for the following 6-12 week period, with the option to reintroduce 5x5 training at a later date.

Example workout: (A traditional Stronglifts 5x5 workout, visit Stronglifts website for further details on their 5x5 program)
A. Barbell Squat, 5 sets of 5 repetitions, 3:0:1 @ 80% 1RM
B. Barbell bench-press, 5 sets of 5 repetitions, 3:0:1 @ 80% 1RM
C. Barbell row, 5 sets of 5 repetitions, 3:0:1 @ 80% 1RM

5/4/3/2/1- In terms of difficulty this method is likely only second to that of the 5x5 method. It is as follows; 5 sets, with the 1st set containing 5 repetitions, with each subsequent set containing one less repetition and a fixed increase in weight, than the previous set. The last set should be a single max effort lift. Much like the 5x5 method, the simplicity of this method is the fixed set and repetition scheme; with the only thought required, is that of how much you wish to progress in weight each set. This method is very low in volume, so will train mostly max strength, with minimal to no gains in hypertrophy.

Example workout:
A. Dumbbell Bench-press
Set 1- 5 reps, 2:1:X @80% 1RM
Set 2- 4 reps, 2:1:X @85% 1RM
Set 3- 3 reps, 2:1:X @90% 1RM
Set 4- 2 reps, 2:1:X @95% 1RM
Set 5- 1 reps, 2:1:X @100% 1RM

Wave loading- The wave loading method incorporates a “wave” of sets (3 sets) in which weights will incrementally increase and repetitions decrease. After the initial 3 sets, (first wave), the following wave will then be completed, mirroring the same repetition pattern as the previous weight, however, will use a heavier load than the original wave. An additional wave can complete for extra volume if wanted, however, the initial wave’s load would need to be lowered to compensate. Rest 2-4 minutes per a set.

Example workout:
A. Weighted, Medium Neutral Grip Chin-up
Set 1- 5 reps @ 5kg
Set 2- 3 reps @ 10kg
Set 3- 1 rep @ 15kg
Set 4- 5 reps @ 10kg
Set 5- 3 reps @ 15kg
Set 6- 1 rep @ 20kg

5/1 and 1/6 method- Both the 5/1 and 1/6 methods are similar methods as they involve a repeated series of sets alternating in a number of repetitions, with each rotation increasing in load. The initial 5 rep load should be set at a weight you can lift for 6 repetitions; the initial 1 rep set should be set at a weight you can lift for 2 repetitions. The second set of 5 should be a weight that you can lift for 5 reps, failing at 6; the second set of 1 rep should be at a weight you can lift for 1 rep, failing at 2. The final 5 rep and 1 rep sets should be lifted at the maximal load for each rep range. The 1/6 method differs to the 5/1 method in that, the 1 rep set is performed prior to the 6 rep set. The loading pattern for each method is the same. A rest period of 3-10 minutes between sets is ideal.

Example workout:
Barbell Front Squat, 3:0:X, rest 4 minutes between sets
Set 1- 5 reps @ 60kg (6RM)
Set 2- 1 rep @ 80kg (2RM)
Set 3- 5 reps @ 65kg (A weight in-between a 5RM and a 6RM)
Set 4- 1 rep @ 85kg (A weight in-between a 1RM and a 2RM)
Set 5- 5 reps @ 70kg (5RM)
Set 6- 1 rep @ 90kg (1RM)

Repeated maximum effort method- This method begins with a single max load repetition, rest 10 seconds, reduce load by 5% and then lift the weight for a single repetition. Continue this pattern for 5 repetitions. This method will train max strength and will also require a thorough warm-up, to ready the body for max repetitive max effort lifts.

Example Exercise:
A. Snatch Grip Deadlift
Rep 1- 100%@ 1RM
10 seconds rest
Rep 2- 95%@ 1RM
10 seconds rest
Rep 3- 90%@ 1RM
10 seconds rest
Rep 4- 85%@ 1RM
10 seconds rest
Rep 5- 80%@ 1RM

Advanced German volume training- German volume training, also referred to as the 10 set method, is a training program that creates metabolic damage through a high volume of repetitions and sets. 10 sets of a single exercise or two exercises performed as a superset are completed using a rep range of 6-10, however, in order to improve strength, a rep range of 2-6 will be used. This split is best performed on a 5-day split of upper body/ lower body/shoulders and arms, 3 days on, 2 days off. You can choose to descend in repetitions and increase weight from week to week, on a 4-6 week cycle, if you wish to incorporate a moderate amount of strength training.

Example 6 Week Progression:
Week 1
A1. Barbell Bench-press, 10 sets of 5 reps, 3:0:1 @75% 1RM
A2. Weighted Wide Pronated Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 5 reps, 3:0:1 @75% 1RM
Week 2
A1. Barbell Bench-press, 10 sets of 5 reps, 3:0:1 @75% 1RM
A2. Weighted Wide Pronated Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 5 reps, 3:0:1 @75% 1RM
Week 3
A1. Barbell Incline Bench-press, 10 sets of 4 reps, 3:0:1 @80% 1RM
A2. Weighted Medium Supinated Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 4 reps, 3:0:1 @80% 1RM
Week 4
A1. Barbell Incline Bench-press, 10 sets of 4 reps, 3:0:1 @80% 1RM
A2. Weighted Medium Supinated Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 4 reps, 3:0:1 @80% 1RM
Week 5
A1. Barbell Decline Bench-press, 10 sets of 3 reps, 3:0:1 @85% 1RM
A2. Weighted Medium Neutral Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 3 reps, 3:0:1 @85% 1RM
Week 6
A1. Barbell Decline Bench-press, 10 sets of 3 reps, 3:0:1 @85% 1RM
A2. Weighted Medium Neutral Grip Pull-up, 10 sets of 3 reps, 3:0:1 @85% 1RM


Variety is important in all things in life, this is no truer than when applied to weight training and exercise in general. By following the exact same training method and regime week after week, for years on end, you will likely run into plateaus in strength and hypertrophy, acute and or repetitive use injuries and also a lack of motivation. This is why I recommend varying exercises on a bi-weekly basis and varying training methods on a 6-12 week basis. It also can be beneficial to run a 6-12 week cycle of hypertrophy training every now and again, as the added muscle size and weight can have a carryover effect on your next cycle of strength training and a mental break from lifting maximal loads week in, week out, can be very beneficiary.


I hope the above blog piece, is informative, easy to understand and that you can successfully apply its teachings. I urge all readers and gym goers to pay special attention, to the section on variety and testing, as I feel they are both topics that are very much neglected by most gym goers and may fix many roadblocks you may suffer in terms of progression and motivation. Lifting weights for maximal, loads is a potentially risky task, utmost care must be taken when strength training, whether that be ensuring adequate form, proper injury prevention or treatment, a spotter or the use of relevant safety mechanisms. Lastly, strength training is an ever-evolving topic, all current information may become one day become out-dated and is also a topic that is heavily opinionated, therefore I recommend everyone to not take any single blog piece or article, as gospel and to constantly be on the lookout for new opinions and ideas. Thank you for reading :)


• Strength & Conditioning Research. 2017. Strength mechanisms | S&C Research. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 December 2017].
• StrongLifts. 2017. StrongLifts 5×5 Workout Program for Beginners | StrongLifts. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 December 2017].
• T Nation. 2017. The 1-6 Principle | T Nation. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 December 2017]
• T Nation. 2017. Advanced German Volume Training | T Nation. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 December 2017].
• Resource manual, book 1, Certificate 3 in fitness SIS303310, Southbank Institute of technology (2013)
• Advanced Exercise Science, Certificate 4 in fitness, Class Notes, Southbank Institute of technology (2013)

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great contribution! I am currently going to the gym with a lot of desire to improve the basics of strength sports like the bench press, the squat and the deadlift and this post refreshed my knowledge, thank you very much friend !.


Thank you for the positive feedback, glad to have helped :)

This type of post are what make the steem community great. Very detailed and complete, strength training is something that all people should do, since it improves the quality of life regardless of the activity you do or the age you have.

Keep making this type of content. Voted and followed!


Thank you very much for the kind feedback :)

Awesome post!
The most important points on point ;)
And also some easy applicable tips.

lift, eat, sleep, repeat!

  ·  2년 전

Great post and great plan for exercises and everyone can act according to their need. Yeah some are hard exercise but how want strength need to be act ...

Great tips for body fitness