Strength Training in Kalamazoo with GN Strength & Conditioning

Why get strong?

Strength is the foundation for all physical attributes.  Speed, coordination, agility, power and yes, even endurance are enhanced with an increase in strength.  Aerobic capacity has also shown to improve in the initial stages of a novice strength program.  Improved balance and increased bone density in the aging population  is making strength training ever more popular with that group, and anecdotal evidence from people of all ages show a reduction in nagging back pain (a strong back is a healthy back).

 

 

Why is a barbell training program the best way to get strong?

The human body functions as a complete system, and your training should reflect that.  Barbell exercises mimic real-life movement patterns that forces the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves to coordinate in a unified manner, and that when the goal is strength improvement, commercial gym machines and gimmicky exercise fads that isolate only certain muscles or odd movement patterns, cannot provide.  Strength gains from barbell training are immediately transferrable to any other physical endeavor you will experience.

Practical and Effective:

Barbell training focuses on 4 or 5 primary exercises that utilize the most muscle mass in the least amount of time.  3 times per week, for 90 minutes a session, is all that is needed increase strength.

Objective Results:

Barbells are incrementally loaded, which means each exercise is loaded with a little more weight than the last session. Results are tracked and can be graphed to show that strength gains occurred at the second session, and progresses as long as the trainee continues to train.  A young male trainee for example, should expect to see his squat improve 60 lbs. per month for some time.

Our article on why hiring a strength coach is important

What to Expect As You Begin Your Personal Strength Coaching Program

Intro Session

The goal of the first introductory session, is to learn proper technique on each of the main barbell lifts; squat, overhead press, deadlift, and bench press. These will be the foundation exercises during the strength training program because they work the most muscle mass in the shortest amount of time. Your coach will also determine the appropriate starting weight for you on each lift. Your first session will run about 90 minutes.

The Strength Training Program

The Strength Training Program is a Linear Progression (LP) program that is designed to be done three days per week. However, exceptions can be made for populations that cannot meet these guidelines. The elderly, an in-season athlete, or professions with unpredictable schedules may benefit from two days per week instead, as strength can still be developed in this case, although at a slower rate. LP is a program where the exercises stay constant, and more weight is added to the bar each session with your strength progressing in a constant, linear fashion. Your coach’s role is to continue monitoring your technique and providing the necessary corrections each session, as well as determining appropriate weight increases. Surprising to some, most coaches have coaches to train them. Technique can easily break down – and can always be improved – even for a seasoned lifter.

After a few weeks on LP, your strength coach will introduce minor changes to your program on a client-to-client basis. Generally, chin-ups and other assistance exercises are added, and deadlifts are reduced to once per week. Your initial sessions will alternate between the A and B workouts listed below, with modifications after about week three.

A:

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps

OH Press 3 sets of 5 reps

Deadlift 1 set of 5 reps

B:

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps

Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps

Deadlift 1 set of 5 reps

Recovery During the Strength Training Program

As with any physical pursuit, recovery is a crucial component in strength training. Physical improvement always follows the equation: stress + recovery = adaptation. Stress refers to the demands you place on your body during your workout while adaptation is your body becoming stronger in order for you to lift more weight at your next session. Without proper recovery – this cycle is broken – and improvements can slow or stop altogether.

The following are the main factors affecting your strength gains:

  • Time between sets: Strength training is not meant to be cardio. You should be fully rested before you attempt your next set. A typical beginner will need 2 to 5 minutes, but it is acceptable to take up to 10 minutes if needed. For in-person sessions, your coach is there to help manage your pace.
  • Rest: Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Generally, 7 to 8 hours a night is an accepted starting point. Many people take advantage of short catnaps (10-15 mins) throughout the day if needed.
  • Nutrition: The vast majority of people who start a strength program don’t eat enough. This is counter intuitive these days, but a demanding training regimen requires fuel to build, grow, and improve. Exceptions to this are overweight or obese trainees, and the coach can help you with those diet modifications. Most people, men and women alike, are pleasantly surprised that their physique improves even with increased calories. At least one gram of protein per body weight is the starting point (150 lb person = 150 grams protein). If you have trouble meeting this amount, whole milk – and perhaps a quality whey protein drink – are two easy ways to sneak in protein. The rest of your diet should consist of moderate carbs and vegetables. Fad “diets” for the purpose of losing weight are not advised for the general trainee, and usually hinder weight room performance.

Additional Suggested Investments for Strength Training

  • Clothing: Cotton t-shirts seem to work best for strength training, mainly due to squatting, which requires the bar to be placed on the shoulders. Cotton “grabs” the knurling on the bar and helps keep it in place. Neoprene, and other performance wear, has a slick sheen and is not ideal. The shoulders should also be covered when squatting, as the knurling can make your session more uncomfortable than need be. Shorts/pants are a matter of comfort and preference, provided they allow you a full range of motion. If shorts are worn, it is recommended to wear long socks that cover the calf. This is for deadlifts, where the bar is moved up the shin.
  • Weightlifting shoes: If you plan on sticking with a strength training program for more than a couple sessions, weightlifting shoes are a necessary investment. They have hard soles and provide extra stability. Normal “sneakers” have a spongy sole, no arch support, and are not designed for strength training. To better understand the point, picture yourself standing on a mattress, and lifting a heavy object over your head. Adidas Powerlift and Do-Win are two good, entry-level brands that can be purchased online for $80-$90.

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