The keys to optimizing strength training for efficiency is to follow a couple important factors that are important to making the fastest progress in building muscle and strength. I've worked with almost countless different fitness programs in my life and I've found the most effective and efficient weight training program with Super Slow, a high intensity strength training program.
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The first key to optimizing strength training, and to getting the most out of your workouts, get your muscles to 100% full muscle fatigue. This really does make the workout a very intense experience (it isn't called “high intensity training” for nothing ;). When we bring the muscle groups to the place of full muscle fatigue we are doing a couple important things of notable value:
-firstly, we are priming our muscles to grow back the fastest that they possibly could, giving us the best results overall. More muscle growth = more progress and a higher metabolism overall!
-Second, in getting to full muscle fatigue, we are flooding our bodies with microscopic proteins called myokines, which are responsible for helping to increase the immune system response, reverse effects of cancer cells, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and increase bone density. The further we get into the state of muscle fatigue, the more myokines are produced naturally by our bodies.
“Persons should self-select a weight and perform repetitions to momentary muscular failure. Evidence suggests this is optimal for maximizing hypertrophy.” -James Steele, Associate Professor Sport and Exercise Science at Southhampton Solent University, et.al 2013
The second key for optimizing strength training is simply to get enough rest between sessions. This, in turn includes consuming enough protein and water in your diet to facilitate muscle regrowth. There is a short 30 minute window after a full muscle fatigue workout like Super Slow strength training where it's most productive to eat or drink protein, which will help get the MOST out of the days of rest between sessions.
I prefer to allow my muscles to rest at least two days between strength training sessions for a specific muscle group. A lot of individuals will just spend one day on the shoulders, one day on the arms, one day for the stomach and back, ect... In that case, it is absolutely ok to do strength training every day. In my case, I prefer to fatigue my whole body at the same time and then wait those two to three days of full rest.
“You can exercise a lot and you can exercise hard, but you cannot do both.” -Arthur Jones, Inventor of Nautilus exercise machines. This is an important thing to understand. Since the most beneficial point in exercise IS the moment of full muscle fatigue, we want to find the “sweet spot” - this is how we do it, in fact: all of the research points to the most beneficial and efficient time frame to hit fatigue is anywhere from one minute to just under two minutes.
Whether we spend an hour, 40 minutes, or even just 20 minutes, if we get to full fatigue we will have the same results as those spending even twice as long working out. With that kind of evidence, I'll be just spending 20 minutes, twice a week for all of my strength training workouts, just as I have at The Perfect Workout where I work as a trainer and work out for the past (almost) four years!