In Layman's Terms
In Layman's Terms
Gym and fitness culture boomed in the past few years, with more and more people becoming passioned about getting fit and improve their performance with the aim to achieve ultimate health. But just like everything else that gained mass media attention, the fitness industry is characterized by plenty of confusion and myths that could destabilize or give wrong information to those who want to make sure they are subjecting their bodies to correct and healthy practices to achieve their goals. In this article we will explain the difference between strength and endurance weight training, two resistance training styles that cover different aspect of health, and how to make your workout more focused on one or the other approach depending on your desired outcome.
Strength training is an umbrella term for a variety of resistance training exercises performed using free weights, machines, resistance bands and body weight. As a general rule, strength training is characterized by low repetitions performed using challenging weights following a tempo of 3:1:1, with the eccentric phase lasting longer (3 seconds) than the concentric and isometric phase (1 second). This means that we are going to be able to lift fast and heavier while maintaining a correct posture, thanks to the lower number of repetitions to perform. Similarly, Maximum Strength/Power training is characterized by low repetitions (1 to 5) performed at, or above, 85% of our capacity. The ideal tempo for this style of training should be fairly fast for both the eccentric and concentric phase, as the lifter is required to push as hard as possible to generate a momentum and recruit all the motor units required to perform the exercise holding a correct form. This type of training mostly uses creatine phosphate as main energy source, a fast energy-producing compound stored in our muscles. Strength training ensures you are building muscle, a highly metabolic tissue that helps our metabolism work more efficiently.
Training for endurance with weights should be done by lifting a light to moderate intensity load for a high number of repetitions. Essentially, you should be lifting a load that weighs less than half of the maximum weight you are able to lift anywhere between 10 to 15 times per set. A good way to achieve greater endurance while also building muscle tissue is to lift slowly, thus by increasing time under tension for each repetition with a tempo of 4:1:4. Therefore, the movement should be performed in a slow and controlled manner, taking 4 seconds during the eccentric phase, 1 second during the isometric hold, and another 4 seconds during the concentric phase. This type of training mainly uses glycogen (a long chain carbohydrate stored in our muscles and liver) to generate energy to perform the movements. Muscular endurance is great to sustain cardiovascular health and ensure our cells get more efficient at utilizing carbohydrates and fats for energy production.
These are the main differences between strength and endurance weight training. Ideally, a well planned resistance plan should include both techniques as they focus on different aspects of health and are complementary to each other.
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