Strength Training Strategies that Actually Work by Australian strength coach Gary Matthews
Over the years there has been a surge of different strength training techniques that have come onto the market and just faded away. Here we discuss the training strategies to gain the maximum amount of muscle in the shortest time possible that have stood up to the test of time. Most of these strength-training strategies have been around for years but are not followed by many training systems these days. Lets look at a few below that actually work.
Training Frequency – The two main components of strength training are the intensity of the exercise and the recovery after the exercise. Infrequent, short, high intensity weight training sessions, followed by the required amount of time to recover and become stronger is what is needed to increase functional muscle size in the shortest period of time.
The latest research has repeatedly shown that muscles over-compensate (become stronger) up to a week after the previous workout, provided that the muscles are trained to failure. Remember it’s not the training volume but the intensity and recuperation that are important when it comes to gains in strength and muscle.
Exercises Per Session – Tests under strict gym conditions have revealed that you’ve only got a limited amount of (readily available) energy to use for a weight training session. Blood tests on individuals have also revealed that blood sugar levels (available energy) drop dramatically after 20 to 30 minutes of high intensity training.
As you only have a short period of time to train before our blood sugar level drops, “Exercise Selection” is crucial. You have to use Multi-Joint or Compound movements, as these offer the most training stimulus for the available amount of time. In other words, we can train many muscles simultaneously and thus use our energy more efficiently.
Performing three to four exercises with high intensity during a session are what most people are capable of. All the main structures of the body are worked hard during this time. Working on these big compound movements has a knock-on effect throughout the whole body; there is no need for specialization techniques or isolation movements.
The fact is, the whole body is worked hard, rest and recuperation is allowed to take place and at the next exercise session we push out a few more reps than before with the same weight, then we have gotten stronger i.e. more muscle.
Number of Sets per Exercise – After performing one complete set a compound exercise to total failure, it should be just about impossible to generate the same force and intensity for another complete set of the same exercise.
If you’re able to generate the same force and intensity for this second set then it’ll be pretty obvious that not enough effort has been put into the first set. Thus you’ll have to raise the intensity level you put out for the first set.
If you give the first set 100% effort and work the exercise hard to total failure (eg. you cannot move the bar after the last rep) then there will be not more requirement for further muscle stimulation on that specific exercise.
If you think that volume training (multiple sets) is more effective then you’re wrong! The latest research shows that single set training is as beneficial as multiple set training. Training one set will decrease the chances of over-training. It will also allow you to save more energy for other exercises required during the workout.
Number of Repetitions per Set – The development of muscle and strength is interrelated, it always has been. Strength training Sessions produce increases in strength that is equal to increases in functional muscle. (You’ll become stronger and grow muscle).
Cycling intensity through changes in repetitions and weight throughout a ten-week program is an effective way to maintain progression and avoid training plateaus (slumps in strength).
Repetitions can be cycled, the higher repetition range will stimulate the slow twitch muscle fibres and promote endurance. Moving further down the scale, the lower repetition range will activate the fast twitch muscle fibres and increase strength and muscle size.
Gary’s professional career began in the Royal Australian Air Force where he was employed as a Fitness Instructor. He has over 20 years of experience. His duties consisted of training recruits in various disciplines including strength training and conditioning techniques. He was soon posted to Penang, Malaysia where he was primarily responsible for creating and maintaining a commercial gymnasium used by service personal and civilians alike. During this time, Gary is also fluent in the Malaysian language, and was an essential player in re-leasing negotiations with the Malaysian and Australian governments. Gary continued to utilize these skills when he returned to Australia and began his tenure with the ANA and Sheraton hotel chains where he lead a cultural staff exchange between the ANA hotel Gold Coast and Manza Beach Resort in Okinawa, Japan. Gary used his expertise to develop their leisure and sports club and also gained fluency in the Japanese language.
Gary has continued to build upon his gym instruction and personal training experience throughout his entire career. By developing client routines and noting their frustrations with time intensive training regimes, it became apparent that the more people train, the slower their respond to the training. Gary steered away from volume training and developed a fitness technique that requires people to be in the gym for only 20 minutes a week. When Gary introduced this element into his clients’ fitness routines, they began to make rapid progress while increasing functional muscle and dramatically decreased body fat levels. When Gary further combined this technique with a more nutritional diet, total transformations were achieved in as few as ten weeks. Gary currently directs a very successful personal training business on the Gold Coast of Australia and promotes abbreviated training as the preferred fitness method. He also continues to run a fitness consultancy for off and on-line businesses.