Strength training is more mainstream than ever. It used to be practiced by a niche of bodybuilders and athletes but has now spread to the masses. And it’s no surprise, considering strength training’s many benefits, such as stronger bones, increased muscle mass, injury prevention, and everyone’s favorite–being able to eat more. Maybe you’ve even been working out with weights, putting in the time to learn the form and different exercises. You can see your body starting to change and want to know how to make the most of your training. Or maybe you’re experienced with lifting but have hit a sticking point you want to break through.
There are three pillars of strength that drive progress no matter where you are in your lifting journey. They apply whether you’re a weightlifter, powerlifter, or recreational lifter. When there’s a gap in one of these areas, your strength will most likely suffer. These pillars are your foundation; they support your training and growth.
Progressive overload is defined as “the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.” In this case, stress is a good thing. It’s what helps us grow and get stronger. Following the same routine and lifting the same weight for months or years does not provide enough stimulus to create body change or improve performance. For muscle growth or increased strength, we need to incrementally increase the weight we lift or add reps. It will be easy for a beginner to add weight, but more difficult the more advanced you get. That’s why smart programming is crucial. There are many different programs you can follow such as 5×5 or 5-3-1. At Soul, we offer our own programming to help you reach your strength goals.
Things To Consider:
- Have you been lifting the same weight for a while?
- Does your programming account for progressive overload?
- Do you have a method to test your progress?
- Make sure you have a solid program for your goals.
- Write down how much weight you lift for each workout.
- Implement a method to gauge progress, such as periodically testing your one-rep max.
As Mark Rippetoe said, “You don’t get strong by lifting weights. You get strong by recovering from lifting weights.” It can be tempting to push yourself to your limits. That’s what people do in the gym, right? Well, the uninformed ones do, while people in the know give their bodies time to recover. The downtime between lifting sessions is important for your muscle tissue to repair itself. If you have not given yourself ample recovery time, then you won’t be able to hit your lifts. You should give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover from a workout. Recovery also includes getting enough sleep and doing stretching/mobility work.
Things to Consider:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you frequently injured?
- Are you taking care of your tissue with mobility work/stretching/massage?
- Are you not hitting your lifts?
- Make sure you are stretching after each workout.
- Find a qualified sports therapist or masseuse to treat injuries or soft tissue issues.
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
- Give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover before working again.
Nutrition is important for every aspect of living well, and it plays a huge role in your performance. What you put into your body is fuel for your workouts, so choose wisely. You want the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs to give you energy for your workouts without storing extra fat (unless your goal is to gain weight). That amount is going to be different for everyone, and we recommend getting a coach to help you figure it out. Carbs are particularly important for sustaining energy during a workout, while protein helps you build muscle, keeps you sated, and helps stabilize blood sugar. Healthy fats are important for nutrient absorption and optimum brain and heart function. When you consume the right amount of these three macronutrients, your energy level is high, your mood is stable, and workouts feel solid.
Thing To Consider:
- Do you feel lightheaded or drained during workouts?
- Are you missing lifts?
- Do you have undesired weight gain or weight loss?
- Do you feel heavy or bloated during workouts?
- Eat appropriate amount of carbs and protein pre- and post-workout.
- Time pre- and post-workout meals accordingly. You want enough time to digest but not so much time that you’re hungry again.
- Aim to get appropriate macros for your goal. There’s no need to be obsessive but you should at least be in range.
- Eat mostly nutrient dense food, such as vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Remember, it’s not just about showing up to the gym and throwing around some heavy weights. There’s a method to gaining strength and muscle, and building these pillars will ensure that you make steady progress. If you think you might need help in one of these areas, one of our coaches will be glad to assist you. If you’d like a consultation, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes joining a gym, there’s no shortage of objections. Not enough time or money. Lack of motivation. Straight up distaste. We could go on. But if there’s one thing that shouldn’t prevent you from working out, it’s the intimidation of being a confused newbie. Soul caters to a variety of clients, from high-level athletes to the average Joe who just wants a good workout. There’s something for everyone, but we get that you might not know where to get started. So we’re here to point you in the right direction.
Taking on a new fitness routine or joining a new gym can be a daunting task, especially if you have limited experience working out. Maybe you’ve been to a big chain gym and decided that it’s not for you. If you’re looking for something with more of an emphasis on community, where there are group workouts and coaches giving focused attention to clients, then Soul might have the personal touch you need.
Now we know to a beginner that Soul may not seem that accessible. While big chain gyms rake in the masses with bright, shiny equipment and slick-talking sales associates, CrossFit boxes can seem like an underground society for elite athletes. It’s easy for the layman to see them as chalk-powdered warehouses where sweaty, muscular types speak their own language and chase the next adrenaline-pumping workout.
While your experience will vary from facility to facility, the truth is that a reputable box isn’t the Fight Club (the book/movie, not the chain gym) some make CrossFit out to be. A good box balances intensity with safety and accommodates both the novice and the experienced lifter. Soul places a very high emphasis on teaching proper technique and prides itself on being a welcoming environment to clients of all fitness levels.
Another common misconception about CrossFit boxes is that they only do CrossFit. However, Soul and many other boxes offer a variety of programs. But how do you pick the right one for you?
Education is a great way to alleviate fear. The more we can demystify CrossFit and other weightlifting sports, the more accessible they become. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about fitness and strength programs so you can make an informed decision based on your preferences and goals.
What to expect: Workouts combining cardio and strength with kettlebells, dumbbells, and bodyweight and endurance exercises. Think squats, push-ups, kettlebell swings, and a variety of other movements done at a fast pace.
Who’s it good for: People of all fitness level who want to get in better shape and feel healthier. Good starting place for beginners.
Bootcamp provides a way for the average person to burn fat, gain muscle, and increase cardiovascular performance. Weights are typically lighter compared to other programs, although individuals can go heavier if desired. If you’re new to working out, it’s a good way to get your feet wet. The amount of equipment used will depend on the individual bootcamp, but at Soul we incorporate kettlebells and dumbbells along with body weight movements. Bootcamp will allow you to build a solid foundation of functional strength, which is the strength that helps us move well and get through everyday life.
What to expect: Fast-paced, high intensity WODs (Workout of the Day) that incorporate olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, strength, and metabolic conditioning.
Who’s it good for: Someone who wants to be well-rounded with strength and cardio, improve athletic performance, and enjoys a challenging workout. All fitness levels, although there is a learning curve.
There’s a little bit of everything in CrossFit, which is what makes it effective in improving athleticism, burning fat, and building strength and muscle. What sets CrossFit apart from other programs is its use of olympic lifts (snatches, clean and jerk, etc.) combined with gymnastics, strength, bodyweight movements, and metabolic conditioning. On any given day you can be practicing snatches or handstand push-ups, doing double-unders or burpees, or finding a three-rap max for squats. If you have no idea what any of that means, don’t worry. Coaches will teach you everything you need to know, from the lingo to form and technique. There is a certain level of skill required to properly execute the movements, but they can always be scaled to the client’s ability. And each class is always led by a Soul coach to ensure safety and correct form. In short, if you like variety, intensity, and want to take your fitness to the next level, CrossFit can help you get there.
What to expect: Olympic weightlifting movements (snatch, clean and jerk, and variations thereof) with additional accessory exercises to enhance weightlifting.
Who’s it good for: Anyone who wants to become proficient at weightlifting and build speed, strength, and power.
So here’s where it gets tricky. Crossfit uses weightlifting in its workouts, but weightlifting is not CrossFit. In a weightlifting program you are only practicing olympic lifts and usually at a lower rep range than you would in crossfit. Weightlifting is not a metabolic or cardio type of workout. The overall pace is slower to allow for recovery between sets. If you are new to weightlifting, expect to spend an extensive amount of time working on technique, which is absolutely critical to this sport. Of all the programs offered at Soul, this is the one that requires the highest level of athleticism as it combines elements of strength, speed, explosiveness, flexibility, and coordination. As in CrossFit, there is a learning curve, but keep in mind that is true for any sport. Novice lifters are welcome and will receive thorough coaching.
What to expect: Training the squat, bench, and deadlift to develop maximal strength, along with accessory exercises.
Who’s it good for: Anyone who wants to get stronger.
Powerlifting focuses on building maximal strength and power in the big three: bench, squat, and deadlift. This is also slower-paced program, as you will need to recover between sets so you can give each lift your all. Strength is determined by periodically testing your one-rep max, which is the most amount of weight you can lift for one rep. The technique for powerlifting is nuanced in its own right, but the nature of the exercises makes them slower movements than the ones you would perform in weightlifting.
When deciding which program would be best for you, think about what your goal is. Do you want something fast-paced that will burn fat and give you a good sweat? Then bootcamp or CrossFit might be a good fit. Want to get strong and jacked? Try powerlifting. Tempted to throw up heavy weights? Go for weightlifting. There’s no right or wrong choice, only what you want. And if you’re new to lifting, remember that everyone starts at the beginning; for some that beginning just comes a little later than others.
CONGRATULATIONS JAVI PAGLIERY, YOU ARE OUR ATHLETE OF THE MONTH!
Javi has been training very consistently and puts in 8-10 sessions a week at Soul. He works extremely hard and is one of the most dedicated athletes we have at our gym. This year he won his second straight University National Championship and a won a silver medal at Senior Nationals. He was also selected to represent the US on an international team at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei, China. We are extremely proud of Javi and wish him the best of luck!