Weight training is a great way to increase strength, build muscle mass and to burn body fat, therefore reducing your body fat percentage. This article will give you some great weight training tips for both building muscle and getting stronger.
Weight Training for fat burning
Weight training itself is not as effective as running or other cardio intensive workouts for burning calories in the short term. However a high repetition high intensity weight training workout is still an effective way to burn off some calories and improve your metabolism, which will benefit your fat burning goals in the long term.
How to build natural muscle and get stronger?
Simply, you’ll need to work the muscles hard enough to trigger muscle development for size and strength. Your training also needs to be consistent in frequency and duration.
Sets and Reps
Weight training routines can be completed in a few different ways. The standard method which is performing around 8 – 10 reps, resting and then perform another set, or you can also apply the super set and drop set methods. I would recommend changing things around once every 4 – 8 weeks.
Your muscles get accustomed to the same routines, so if you’re performing the same exercises and routines week after week your workouts will become less effective. Your muscles respond to and are stimulated by change and variety. These changes can be the workout duration, the exercises used, workout methods, for example super sets and drop sets and also the workout days themselves.
Many exercises focus on multiple muscles, these are called compound exercises, others focus on one single muscle, these are called isolation exercises.
Compound exercises should be the main focus for developing both muscle size and strength.
Technique vs Weight
Technique comes first, if you lift heavy with poor technique you will increase the risk of injury, plus your muscle and strength gaining results will be reduced.
What you eat is important
To build muscle you need to consume plenty of calories, however these calories should come from quality foods. Your diet should include plenty of fruit, vegetables and good carbohydrates such as oats and whole grain foods. These quality foods will give you natural energy so you can train your muscles hard enough and keep your body working at its full potential.
Your body needs protein to build muscle, you need to eat a good source of protein every 3 – 5 hours, your body doesn’t store protein so you need to continually eat it throughout the day. You should also drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
Get plenty of sleep
You muscles actually repair and grow while we are resting and sleeping, so rest at least 2 days a week, and try and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. 6 hours is probably enough, depending on the quality of sleep, some people naturally require less.
Weight training for women
Many women avoid weight training because they don’t want to become bulky or muscular, this is a common myth. Men are able to increase their muscle mass significantly due to the hormone testosterone, women have lower levels of testosterone so the ability to become bulky is reduced. Even for most men it’s still difficult to increase muscle mass, it requires heavy weight training with a high protein diet and it can still take months to see a noticeable difference.
You shouldn’t be afraid of resistance training, a very small amount of muscle increase across your whole body will offer some fat burning and health benefits. If you would like to get toned you would benefit from a high intensity resistance workout designed for your whole body.
With weight training you can also change the shape of your body. If you are unhappy with a particular area of your body you can train specific body parts to change that area. With larger firmer glutes/buttocks it will give the appearance of wider hips and a slimmer waist.
Training for strength and muscle mass differences?
Training for muscle size or strength, they are both connected however there are differences in how you train depending on what you aim to achieve.
When we build muscle, we should also become stronger and when we become stronger there will be an increase in muscle mass. The two are very much connected as one would expect. Everything sounds simple enough, however there is more to it than that.
Strength training normally involves compound exercises only, exercises such as deadlifts, squats, pressing and lat rows. These exercises are the best for increasing overall body strength including core strength. Having a strong core should be a priority for everyone, especially for those who are focused on strength training and lifting heavy weights.
Strength training also normally involves low reps, for example 1 to 6 reps and a maximum amount of weight to condition the body to lifting those very heavy loads. This type of training will definitely build muscle mass, however it’s not the best or optimal way of training to develop muscle mass and to gain a well balanced muscular body.
If your main goal is to develop a well muscled physique you should be training more like a bodybuilder rather than a power lifter.
Now there are a few myths when it comes to focusing on training for muscle mass, or training like a bodybuilder.
Focusing on isolation exercises only
Using high reps only
Lifting light weights
Short rest times
These misconceptions are just exaggerations of the truth. Yes ideally you should be using isolation exercises, however compound exercises should still be your main focus because these are the real mass and strength building exercises. You need to build strength to get bigger, the two goals go hand in hand.
There is an advantage to including isolation exercises into your workouts. They allow you to target certain muscles in specific ways, in ways that cannot be achieved by performing compound exercises alone, this is essential if you want that balanced muscular look.
Using slightly higher reps 6 to 12 for example and using a full range of motion during the exercises really helps to target and trigger muscle growth. Using more motion and complete movement during the exercise also allows for a complete and a more well rounded development of the muscle.
Another thing bodybuilders do is use different variations of certain exercises, for example, incline and decline bench press, this is to target different areas of the chest. Again this is aimed at complete and balanced development of the muscle group, which will look both bigger and better which is the goal of a bodybuilder.