I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that there is a blindingly obvious difference between the body of a heavyweight powerlifter, strongman and that of a bodybuilder?
A typical drug free bodybuilder at competition will have 6% or less bodyfat and will be ripped to shreds. But what you may not also know is that come competition day that same physical adonis will be about as strong as a cup of watered down cheap coffee.
Now a heavyweight powerlifter on the other hand (and there are some exceptions to this rule) will be around 18% plus bodyfat but strong enough to deadlift small countries, squat colonies, and bench press small islands.
But why is that?
Well, with the drug free body builder who focuses on mass during the off season, around 12 weeks before the competition, they undergo strict manipulation of their diet with everything from calorie restriction, to carbohydrate cycling and dehydrating themselves (while at the same time increasing their cardio training, and volume in weight training).
Now I admit that this is a very simplistic overview. But the aim is to reduce bodyfat percentage and the amount of water retention through the body. Thus giving the ripped look.
This comes as a cost. With energy depleted and hormones (chemical messengers that regulate your body’s functions) now operating erratically, the net result is weakness in strength, lack of sexual prowess and mood swings, plus other undesirable effects on the body.
This is not sustainable long term and would have disastrous effects on your health. Which is why they often do not look like that all year round, without taking some form of advanced Performance Enhancing Substances (PES).
Why am I telling you all of this?
Simple really. Know your outcome.
Men, what are you weight training for? Is it to pack on muscle and looked ripped? Or is your focus more on strength development, you want to be able to deadlift small countries and bench press former colonies. Maybe it's to compliment your sport? Or you want to feel better within yourself physically and mentally?
These are all fine and valid goals. The thing is though, that you need to know what your outcome is, what you really want, and what it will do for you.
Put simply, the outcome you want, will in part determine what training method you will use. No point in using a strength training protocol that will not get you ripped like you want, and vice versa. Here's what you need to know.
Weight Training Methods
Below is a chart to help you understand why we use the repetition ranges that we do.
Different stressors to the muscles and tissues of the body result in different adaptations to how the muscle performs and what it looks like.
Other sources have covered it pretty well on how muscles function and how they work. That is outside the scope of this article. I’m just going to show you how to train and why.
In brief a particular rep range will increase strength drastically, while the impact on muscle size will not be as great.
At the other end of the spectrum we will be using, muscle growth will be more pronounced, and our strength gains will be modest in comparison. This commonly known as hypertrophy.
Make sense? (I’m just going to assume you said yes!)
Weight Training Principles
So now that we’ve got that covered, you’re probably wondering which exercises should you be doing.
That’s a good question.
With all the possible movement that the human body is capable of, which weight training exercises will yield the best results?
After all, judging by all the articles churned out every month by fitness magazines, and the amount of training books available, there are literally hundreds of different exercises you can do. Hell, Arnold Schwarzenegger even wrote an encyclopedia about it!
But we won’t need that many. Our training programs will consist of far fewer exercises.
Let me remind you of how to approach this. Our first port of call is to return to principles.
Here are some basic principles that I found have served me well over the years, and here’s a clue, it’s all about movement.
Make Movement Quality Your Priority
The main movement patterns that you want to consider are
If your training program consists of all these movements then you are pretty much set. You are creating a solid strength base, and setting yourself up to be one bad mofo.
Sure you can chuck in other exercises that cover different movement patterns,if they are adding to your strength and wellbeing, but these are just the trimmings, not the main course. Remember to ask yourself:
1) Are they necessary?
2) If I removed them from my training sessions would I still make gains?
Then you will have your answer to see if the exercise is valid or not.
Still reading? Great. In part 2 of Weight Training For Men: What You Need To Know I'll be focusing specifically on the different training protocols that you should be using to get brick house strong, ripped or better at your sport. It will cover how to structure your weight training program, what exercises to do to get real world results, without destroying your body.
In the mean time if you have any questions you get get in touch with me on my facebook page.
Yours in strength and health