Specific Strength Training Overview

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

1-5 reps: Strength training and Myofibrillar Hypertrophy.

Main Goal: Muscular Strength

Accompanying Goal: Muscular Size

(If you want more of a perfectly sculpted physique opt for Hypertrophy training in the 6-12 rep range. If you care more about what you can actually do with your muscles, as in how much you can actually lift than how you look opt for strength. Hypertrophy training is usually done by body builders or utilized by those looking to create a toned physique where as strength training is usually done by powerlifters or those looking to just get strong AF) I personally like to combine the 2 types of training with programs, depending on the main goal, if building muscle or creating a toned physique is the main goal, a predominant hypertrophy approach with some added elements of strength work well, enabling muscles to be sculpted and built but with the added benefit of increased Neuromuscular Connections, meaning that during key lifts you will be able to lift more in hypertrophy ranges adding to greater muscular development.

Requirements: Strength training requires you to perform 1-5 Reps at 85%+ of your 1 rep max, rest periods should be between 2-5 minutes to allow the predominant energy system to restore. You should perform 1-6 sets, if you are interested In getting a hypertrophic stimulus from your training, opt for the higher range of sets and reps, for instance the 5x5 training method works well, if you are purely interested in just strength then the lower rep range is highly effective due to being able to lift closer to your 1 Rep Max. For beginners with the goal of gaining strength, it is recommended to start a basic strength program before progressing onto a maximal strength program. Start with a load of 85% of your 1 rep max for 4-5 reps, with rest periods of 2-5 minutes and do this for 2-6 sets.

Exercise selection will greatly increase the results obtained by the program, majority of the exercises should be compound, multiple joint exercises that work more than one muscle at once. Exercises that stress the largest muscle groups have the greatest influence on strength and require the recruitment of a high number of fast twitch motor units when performed at high intensities. Each session should focus on 1-3 key lifts such as Squats, Deadlifts and Bench Press. Rows also provide a very effective stimulus for the upper back and are a very effective accompanying exercise to strength programs, isolation exercises should only be used as a supplement/assistance to the main exercise when strength is the main focus. It is recommended to maintain a frequency per muscle group of 2x per week, this can be achieved by doing 2+ whole body strength routines twice a week or by doing muscle group split routines in the upper body, lower body format multiple times throughout the week, this is beneficial because it allows you to put all your energy into 1 muscle group and you only have to perform 1-2 main exercises as opposed to 3-4 to hit whole body. That being said however neither method is better than the other and it is entirely up to you and personal preference, think about what you are more likely to stick to when choosing your program. Make sure you allow yourself a minimum of 24hrs rest before working the same muscle group again.

Progressing to Maximal Strength. ​​

Maximal strength training is beneficial for those involved in sporting activities where maximal loads are handled like weightlifting or sports where high degrees of strength are expressed like Rugby. I Would recommend firstly starting Basic Strength Training if your a beginner before advancing onto Maximal Strength Training ( This well enable you to master your form with safer loads - before dealing with greater intensities ). If you have chosen to progress onto Maximal strength training it is performed as follows:

93%+ load of your 1 rep max for 1-3 reps, with 2-5 minutes rest time for 2-6 sets. The exercise selection should be the similar to the selection of basic strength training. (Note: if you do come to a plateau , your body has likely become to accustomed to exercise stimulus, try switching up your reps, sets, exercise selection or tempo to alter the stimulus while still focusing on the same muscle groups, using compound lifts, if your body is feeling fatigued then you may be in need of a Deload, a Deload means reducing the volume and intensity of your program, for the purpose of recovery, improved performance and injury prevention, amongst individuals participating in strength training it is usually done for 1 week.

Progressing onto Power, the main difference between strength and power training is the speed of movement used to perform the exercise, power training predominantly uses Jerking movements to get the weight up and requires the person to lift the load as quickly as possible, focusing on strong and powerful Concentric s.

Muscle Adaptation following Strength Training:

Increased muscle size but to a lesser extent than hypertrophy (6-12 rep range). Greater strength, greater firing of Neuromuscular Connections, ability to recruit more motor units and muscle fibres, increased anaerobic energy stores through greater Creatine Phosphate and free Creatine stores and enzymes for the Phosphocreatine energy system. As Strength Training is a form of Myofibrillar Hypertrophy there is an increased number of Myofibrills, where the contractile proteins Myosin and Actin deep within a muscle fibre increase in number and add to muscular strength and size as well as muscle fullness/ hardness.

Important Factors

Progressive Overload:

Overload: in order to bring about adaptation the body must work slightly higher than it is accustomed to and therefore the exercise stimulus must increase.

Progression: this is the increase in demand over time to cause adaptation.

Progressive Overload can be achieved by increasing the demand over time through frequency, intensity (load), time under tension, and balancing rest and recovery time.

The stimulus provided must be enough to challenge and evoke muscle adaptation. Improvements in muscle strength will require the weight to progressively increase.


It is important to remember that if the exercise stimulus stops, i.e you stop training then the benefits gained will gradually decline over time.

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