Often when people imagine weightlifters, they envision a big, bulky Schwarzenegger type, grunting with each rep performed. While it’s certainly a must for those that strive to gain some size, using weightlifting for strength and conditioning will achieve those goals as well as increasing size, shape and function of the muscles, all while burning fat.
Weightlifting for strength and conditioning programs will have some similar aspects but they are somewhat different goals. Many of the same exercises can be used for both, but they will require a different format including rep ranges, rest times and load.
Strength training requires the use of very heavy loads, coupled with long rest times in order to fully recover. Typically, a strength training program will recommend full body exercises like the squat, rows, deadlifts and bench press. These are known as the big exercises and will elicit the greatest use and recruitment of muscle fibres.
The more muscle fibres you can recruit, the more weight you can handle. This will lead to the breakdown and subsequent repair of muscle tissue along with improving the development of the neuromuscular system, which is responsible for increasing power and force generation.
Athletes as well as the average fitness enthusiast can use strength training programs. Those that compete in sports like powerlifting will need to make strength training the meat of their program, meaning they will be spending hours lifting very heavy loads on a regular basis.
For the average individual, that hopes to gain overall strength, weightlifting for strength and conditioning can be combined to improve their general fitness level while simultaneously sculpting muscle and increasing the load of their one rep max.
The main differences between weightlifting for strength and conditioning purposes are the rep ranges and rest times prescribed. Strength training programs usually consist of performing a small number of chosen exercises with a large volume of sets. The reps are kept somewhere between one to five per set and rest times are usually a minimum of two minutes to allow for full recovery.
Conditioning programs are performed with the intention of increasing a person’s general fitness level while sculpting and toning muscle and burning fat. Although a conditioning workout is very versatile and can be set up in a number of ways, most often the workouts involve a large number of exercises, high reps and very little rest. The purpose is to use intensity and create a cardiovascular demand that will stimulate muscular activity while burning fat.
Combining the Two
While athletes that are interested in competing or participating in certain sports may have to decide between a strength specific or conditioning specific program in order to excel at their chosen event, the general public will certainly benefit immensely from doing both.
Weightlifting for strength and conditioning will balance out a fitness program perfectly, allowing for gains in muscle strength, capacity, recruitment and size while also improving cardiovascular fitness and melting fat.
Not only will you see and feel profound physical benefits, you’ll experience a mental bonus as well. Using both techniques will allow for a lot of variety in your fitness program and this will keep things fun, while maintaining motivation.
Take a break from the treadmill and try weightlifting for strength and conditioning. See how fast you can transform your physique into the body of your dreams.