Which Type of Strength Training is Best For You?

Get the most out of your weight training routine by choosing the right workout method for you.

When you walk into the gym for the first time, the vast amount of equipment, weights and machines can sometimes feel overwhelming. On social media, it seems like there’s an endless amount of programs to follow or latest fitness trends to incorporate to achieve your goals. If what you want is to increase your strength, there are a number of different training methods out there, each with their own pros and cons. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to strength training. Are you looking to maximize your absolute strength? Or are you looking to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass? Perhaps you’re an athlete looking to increase your performance and explosiveness. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of some of the most popular methods of strength training, so you can make an informed decision based on your fitness goals.

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Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders train in a specific manner in order to achieve one simple goal–to make their muscles bigger. The most popular approach is to limit your training to one muscle group for every gym session. For example, chest exercises would fill your routine one day, followed by one day dedicated to arms, one for back and one for core. Every week you repeat. These isolation exercises are normally done at a high volume of sets, reps and weight. For starters, trying lifting in the eight to twelve range for reps and gradually increase the weight.

This is an easy and straightforward method for those who want bigger or more toned muscles. Appearance is the main goal of this strength training method and bodybuilding offers the flexibility to mould your routine based on the specific physique you want. Of course, it’s also a great way to seriously improve your health and boost your self-confidence.

Powerlifting

Powerlifting is lifting extremely heavy amounts of weight for only a few repetitions in an effort to max out your strength. It’s risen to one of the most popular strength training methods in recent years, to the point where power racks are now a staple at most gyms. Powerlifters opt for large, methodical movements to move as much weight as possible, such as the bench press, the squat and the deadlift. These exercises incorporate tons of muscle for a complete full-body workout.

The very heavy loads and low reps of powerlifting make it the most effective type of weight training when it comes to maximal strength. The powerlifter’s goal isn’t necessarily appearance, but rather brute strength. This is an advanced technique due to its intense nature, so there are a few safety precautions that should come into play when you carry such large amounts of weight. Powerlifting will give you the best hormonal results, allowing you to build more muscle and cut more fat than other strength training methods. Above all, you’ll gain incredible strength, but not necessarily as much muscle size as other methods.

High-Intensity Interval Training

HIIT is a buzzy new phenomenon that consists of short, but intense bursts of physical activity paired with quick rest intervals. Instead of working out for hours within your physical comfort zone, these unsustainable bursts of all-out effort get your heart rate pumping close to its maximum, incorporating weights, body weight and endurance.

Many people are drawn to HIIT workouts because the intensity and seamless strength-cardio blend makes you feel like an athlete. These programs enable the body to shed excess fat in an amazingly short period of time, while still providing real gains in strength, making this a great starting point for beginners and for those who want to achieve the lean muscle mass to replicate that of an athlete’s. The intense nature also causes a metabolic surge that results in your body burning calories at a higher rate for up to 48 hours following the class.

Circuit Training

Circuit training refers to incorporating rounds of exercises in quick succession with little or no rest in between. An example of a circuit could be 20 bench presses, 20 squats, followed by 20 crunches. These usually consist of lighter amounts of weights with high numbers of reps in a variety of motions to work out your entire body. Circuit training routines are similar to the traditional boot camp-style programs, such as P90X or Insanity.

This approach to weight training is ideal for building muscle endurance and burning fat while still making tangible strength gains. This is a popular method among athletes and fighters because it stimulates what your body goes through as it goes through the rigours of an athletic competition, or professional match. This is a great option for those who are new to working out as well, as you won’t be too sore in any one muscle group and you’ll make gains across the board. It’s also one of the best ways to achieve moderate weight loss with significant muscle gain over an extended period of time.