Strength training is often disregarded as a useful means to stimulate hypertrophy. The theory goes that the repetition range required to stimulate strength increase is too low to force the muscle to grow very much. However, this isn’t necessarily true! In fact, the type of muscle growth associated with low repetition strength training is known as myofribillar hypertrophy. This gives you that nice thick grainy look, having said that this is not the point of this article! Instead, I want to point out exactly why I believe strength training has the potential to be hugely beneficial to bodybuilders and why I am going to be doing it for the next 4 weeks!
Picture this scenario – you are on the Smith machine doing incline bench press. Normally you can rep 100kg comfortably for about 8. Excellent! However, there comes a point where you want to be able to rep with more weight in order to force the muscle to grow. How are you going to achieve this? Yep, you guessed it! Strength training! The same can be said for any exercise because the same principles apply.
By increasing your strength it stands to reason that you will be able to rep with heavier weight. Sticking with the same example as above, if you started pressing 110kg and then 120kg and then 130kg for a repetition range of 3-5, in theory you should then be able to get 10-12 with 100kg, and probably 6-8 with 110kg. This increases the stress your chest has to deal with, forcing it to adapt by growing!
In a nutshell, this is why I believe you should certainly incorporate strength training into your gym plan! You do also get that nice hard dense look, which Dorian Yates was so well known for! Oh wait, how did he train? HIT style, which involved a lot of super heavy lifting, low repetitions and forced repetitions! Now it all makes sense.
So how does one go about increasing their strength? Personally, I like to follow a pattern of training as follows –
This is purely for compound lifts such as bench press, deadlift, leg press, squats, barbell curls, military press and triceps pushdowns. I still hit each body part once a week, using around 3 exercises per body part. You really need to make sure your form is 100% though otherwise you do really increase the chances of injury because you are using much more weight! Sloppy form is not going to make you stronger, it will only injure you! Warming up is absolutely essential to ensure the joints are ready for action as well, spend a solid 15 minutes getting the muscles and joints warmed up correctly!
Due to the intensity and stress this style of training places upon the body I don’t ever do more than 4 weeks worth of strength training in a row. Thereafter I may start my workouts with strength sets, but then I back into the more conventional repetition ranges.
Remember, to make these 4 weeks count you need bone shaking intensity with perfect form! Attack every set like a starved lion would attack its prey!