The Weight Training Spectrum
Over the period of my career and participation within sports, I have often heard many coaches tell their athletes that weights are not good for their sport. This is very particular to boxing and hits home as it took me a long time to understand what was truly being said when a coach said, "Stay away from weights."
Being inherently curious as to the "why's" of virtually everything, I started to research, study, and apply what I learned outside of the sports I did. Flash forward 9 years with a buttload of experience and education, I hope to address the issue and explain how important it is to understand the classic modalities of weight training, how they should be applied and what you can expect from training in each of them for a consistent, extended period of time (being a weekend warrior isn't going to do you much).
The 4 classic modalities of weight training are Power, Strength, Hypertrophy and Muscular Endurance.
As shown above, these are the parameters that are universally accepted as the variables that make up the 4 modalities of resistance training. A few things that I wish to highlight are the adaptations that will occur by following the above guidelines for the musculoskeletal system.
The main purpose of this is to increase the rate of force production. In other words, if you are training power, then you should be looking to increase your ability to create force which is equal to mass x acceleration. If you look at the tempo for force, the concentric number is "x" because of the need for high acceleration.
One of the best examples of power oriented exercises are the Olympic lifts, namely the clean & jerk and snatch as demonstrated by my boy Lu Xiaojun. I just love how he celebrates his completed lift.
One thing to note in this particular lift, along with any programmed lift for power gains is the importance of the acceleration. If he were to try and lift that weight up for a count of 2 seconds, I guarantee that that weight never would have been lifted. His ability to accelerate the mass was essential to the completion of the exercise.
Last thing I would like to point out that applies to both power and strength oriented exercises, is that there is a massive return on neural gains. This means that your neuromuscular system or the connection between your nervous system and your muscles increase. This is important because the more nerves or motor units that you can have firing muscles, the more muscle recruitment you can get, or the more control you will have.
The purpose of this is to increase maximal strength. As shown in the chart, the tempo for strength is of moderate speed. As with power based lifts, lifts for strength require your nervous system to be very well integrated and have sufficient energy to output as strong of a signal as it can send out to as many muscle fibres as possible. This requires a lot of training as fast twitch muscle fibres have a much higher threshold for engagement than slow twitch muscle fibres. Strength really requires the exerciser to have mental resilience and self-efficacy. The reason for this is because of the level of difficulty and taxation it has on the body AND mind. Many clients I have worked with on strength training regimes have let their limiting beliefs dictate how much they can lift. When I tell said client that I know for a fact that they can lift the weight, and they allow a little faith into their minds, they cast away the fear that lingers and GET THAT LIFT! You need to be mentally tough. Below is a video compilation of one of the top dogs in powerlifting, although the lifts are strength based. In my opinion, olympic lifts should be called the power lifts since they actually require power...
The goal of this training modality is to increase in muscle mass. As shown in the chart, the rep range and load are respectively higher and lower than in the first 2 modalities spoken of. The word hypertrophy can be broken down to mean "the increase of size or development of muscle cells." Another important thing to note concerning hypertrophic training is the energy system in which it is trained in. There are 3 types of energy systems, namely: ATP-CP, Glycolitic / Lactic / Anaerobic, and Oxidative / Aerobic. Training in hypertrophy is working in the glycolitic energy system which has a byproduct of lactic acid. An accumulation of this byproduct in the muscle is what the layman understands as the "pump" as the muscle fills with lactic acid to the point of failure of muscular contraction and feels...well, pumped up! Hypertrophic training, ultimately, means breaking down the muscle in order for the appropriate signals, hormones and agents to return to the muscle in order to repair and increase the size of the muscle fibres. Bodybuilders such as Lazar, spend hours upon hours at the gym everyday trying to create symmetry in their muscles for the stage. They typically live in the hypertrophic training world to maximize symmetry in their bodies. Naturally, genetics playa huge role in the symmetry of the body, but hard work can subside some of the gap between asymmetrical sides.
Training in this modality is for the purpose of increasing fatigue resistance. There are a number of sports that really require you to be able to push through discomfort or even pain for an extended period of time. Having the ability to overcome the thresholds of discomfort in sport are incredibly important in sports such as long distance running, rock climbing, biking, swimming and of course, the king of kings.....boxing. Being able to perform for a lengthy duration of time is imperative to soooo many sports that muscular endurance is not something to be overlooked simply because the load of the exercises is much smaller than in the other 3 counterparts. I recall first learning to rock climb, I figured, I punch things all day, my arms are strong. Little did I realize, that although my fist is strong, it was hard for my fingers to hold onto the small grips on the routes I was taking, and they fatigued rather easily. Ultimately, it didn't matter if I had a strength grip of 100 kgs or not, if I couldn't carry my body weight across the wall, then, that feat for 1 rep was really quite worthless. Although there may be some lactic acid build up in the muscles which are being worked, you want to try to work through a decrease in energy. Anthony Joshua is one boxer I enjoy watching for his understanding of the importance of having a strength coach and cross training as demonstrated in the video below.
I will point one thing out concerning all of the videos I used for this blog. In each of them, the athlete being recorded has an excellent looking body, with very low body fat percentages. This may seem confusing since I said hypertrophy is the muscle building modality, so why are all these guys ripped with low body fat percentages. You will note that, after all is said and done, one thing to understand is that this spectrum is interrelated and no one can ever expect to have exclusive gains in one modality of the spectrum as they all overlap with 1-3 different modalities. Also, each of these athletes are high performance athletes and are very careful with what they eat. We are what we eat, and as they eat what is required for their bodies in moderation and balance, their bodies find no need in storing anything as fat. Fat, especially for athletes who compete in sports divided by weight classes, offers no advantage, and for that reason, I show elite athletes in this blog that have that understanding. Can you imagine the difference in participating in a powerlifting competition in the 105 kg weight class with 45 kg's of fat, 40 kg's of muscle and the remaining 35 kg's in everything else when your competition is coming in at 10 kgs of fat and 75 kg's of muscle and the remaining 35 kg's are found in bone, organs and everything else? Who do you think has the potential of lifting more?
Hope you enjoyed the read!
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