The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Monday Workout ~ Strength Training is For Everyone

Monday Workout ~ Strength Training is For Everyone

In my last Monday Workout post, I talked about The 4 Cycles of Training.  In this post, I will discuss what I think is the most important of the 4 phases.

With any phase of training, the most important aspect is Strength.  If you take two people, both at the same bodyweight and body fat, and give them two workouts, the stronger person will almost always be able to outperform the other person.  This is true if it’s in sports (tennis, boxing, football, MMA, basketball, sprinting) and training in general.  Obviously there can be differences beyond the strength component, such as skill level of the two people and muscle fiber composition of the two individuals, but at the end of the day, the person who is stronger will be able to outperform the other person.

But what about body composition, aka, “how will I look by being stronger?”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed two interesting trends:
1 – Men, more and more often, say they don’t want to get “too big.”
2 – Women are still deathly afraid of looking like “The Hulk” by lifting heavy weights.

Let me address both of those issues right now.

1 – If you’re a guy that doesn’t want to get “too big.”
All I have to say is unless you’re a genetic anomaly, there is almost no way that you will get “too big” without eating a very large excess of calories and busting your ass to put on size.  Now, there might be some naturally endomorphic body types (those that gain weight quickly) with men, but if that’s the case, then don’t eat a lot of carbs and you won’t get “too big.”

2 – Women being deathly afraid of looking like “The Hulk” by lifting heavy weights.
I find this myth the hardest to break.  There are three main reasons (I think this should be its own separate post), why women won’t put on “size” and will actually get thinner from working out.

A – As long as you’re in a caloric deficit, you won’t put on size, no matter who you are.
B – Hormonally women lack the testosterone levels to adequately grow the muscle that will get them looking “bigger”
C – Muscle fiber composition.  Most women lack a large percentage of Type IIB muscle fibers.  They instead have a large number of Type IIA fibers.  These fibers are not prone to getting very muscular.

With all of that said, women can look more muscular, if they do the wrong exercises.  If they do too many back exercises, such as pull ups or high rep pulldowns, they can get larger looking backs (but usually it’s with higher rep stuff that will grow the back).  This is why both gymnasts and swimmers will look wide at the top – from the high reps and constant repetitive motion of the pull ups with gymnasts and swimming.

Why You Should Strength Train
With all of that out of the way, let me tell you what training for Strength will do for one’s body composition:

1 – It will lead to better performance

2 – It will make your body more insulin sensitive, so if you ever do “cheat” on a diet, you’ll be less effected than if you didn’t have that strength training component.

3 – You will look leaner if you’re a woman and stronger if you’re a guy.

With all of that said, let’s look at what an “Intensification” (Strength) Phase would look like for both men and women.

Different body parts are made up of different types of muscle fibers.  For an intensification phase, you would want to base your rep ranges for the different muscle groups based on what those are traditionally made up of.

For example, hamstrings are made up of a higher number of Type II muscle fibers.  This means the rep ranges should be low.  Back is made up of a higher number of Type I muscle fibers so the rep ranges can be a bit higher.

If you workout with weights 2-4 days per week, then your first exercise is your priority movement.  After that first movement, you can play around with the other exercises.  This is similar to Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 Big but Boring component.

In other words, you would do a cycle (about 4 weeks) where your first movement is for increasing your strength.  If you workout only two times per week, you can do a circuit.

Here’s a breakdown of a two-day a week strength cycle:

Week 1
Day 1

Deadlifts (Work up to 5 rep max)

Incline Chest Press (Work up to a 5 rep max)

Other assistant exercises.  These can range from (with a higher rep bracket):
KB Swings
Face Pulls
Leg Curls
Single-Arm DB Rows
Flat Chest Press

Day 2
Squats (Work up to a 5 rep max)

Shoulder Press (Work up to a 5 rep max)

Other assistant exercises.  These can range from:
Front Squats
Step Ups
Lateral Raises
Push Press
Reverse Flyes

Each week through this Strength Phase, you will work closer to your 1 Rep Max, going for your best on the lifts by Week 4.

Next week, I will talk about the Accumulation Phase or Training with more Volume.

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