Training Speed: Six-Second Repetitions
Unfortunately, there is little consensus on the best training speed for strength development. However, research indicates that slow movement speeds may be preferred over fast movement speeds, because they produce less momentum and more muscle tension. At 6 seconds each, 8 to 12 repetitions requires about 50-70 seconds of continuous muscle effort, which provides an excellent anaerobic stimulus for muscle building. We have obtained consistently good results training with 6-second repetitions, taking 2 seconds for the harder lifting movement and 4 seconds for the easier lowering movement (Westcott 1995b).
Training Range: Full Movement Range
Research (Jones 1988) indicates that full range muscle strength is best developed through full range exercise movements. In other words, the training effect is greatest within the exercised portion of the joint movement range. Full range strength reduces injury risk and increases performance potential. Try to perform each repetition through a full range of movement, but never to a position of discomfort.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a well-designed strength training program is to address all of the major muscle groups. A comprehensive training approach produces overall strength development and reduces the risk of muscle imbalance injuries. The recommended exercises and target muscle groups are:
It is advisable to perform one exercise for each major muscle group in order from larger to smaller muscles.
|Leg Extension Machine
|Leg Curl Machine
|Leg Press Machine
||Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals
|Double Chest Machine
|Super Pullover Machine
|Lateral Raise Machine
|Biceps Curl Machine
|Triceps Extension Machine
|Low Back Machine
|Four-Way Neck Machine
||Neck Flexors and Extensors
Basic and Brief Strength Exercise
During the past five years we have made careful pre and post training assessments on 1,132 participants in our basic exercise program. These classes meet two or three days a week, one hour per session, with 25 minutes of strength exercise (11 Nautilus machines) and 25 minutes of aerobic activity (treadmill walking or stationary cycling).
The basic exercise program is two months in length, which seems to be an ideal introductory period for previously-sedentary adults. Over 90 percent of the participants rate their exercise class as highly satisfying, and about 80 percent join the YMCA after completing the program. In other words, the eight-week training period is sufficient to turn many inactive men and women into regular exercisers.
One reason for the positive lifestyle change is the excellent results attained by the program participants. As shown in Table 1, the 383 men lost 6.4 pounds of fat weight and gained 3.7 pounds of lean (muscle) weight for a 10-pound improvement in body composition, and the 749 women lost 3.4 pounds of fat weight and gained 1.7 pounds of lean (muscle) weight for a 5-pound improvement in body composition. At the same time, the men reduced their average resting blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg, and the women decreased their average resting blood pressure by 3.1 mm Hg.