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Methods for Training Maximum Strength in Fitness

Methods for Training Maximum Strength in FitnessThere are several methods for developing maximum strength, including repetition training, intensity training, maximum intensity trai...

Methods for Training Maximum Strength in Fitness

There are several methods for developing maximum strength, including repetition training, intensity training, maximum intensity training, electrical stimulation, yielding exercise, and isometric exercise. These methods not only effectively increase muscle cross-sectional area and develop maximum voluntary contraction but also serve as primary approaches for developing absolute and relative strength. They also play a significant role in enhancing speed strength (including explosive strength) and strength endurance.

Repetition Training for Strength Qualities

Repetition training involves working at intensities ranging from 75% to 90%, performing 3 to 6 repetitions per set with 3-minute rest intervals. The load should gradually increase as muscle strength improves. Increasing the repetition count within a specified time frame indicates strength improvement, and the load should be adjusted accordingly.

Repetition training not only enhances metabolic processes in the body but also promotes muscle growth in the working muscle groups. It effectively increases muscle strength, develops an athlete's explosive power, improves coordination in force application, and enhances the function of supporting organs. Repetition training is typically used in the training of beginner to intermediate athletes. As strength development relies largely on increasing the weight lifted and the speed at which it's overcome, more advanced athletes need to incorporate training with maximal loads alongside repetition training.

Intensity Training

Intensity training involves working with large, submaximal, and maximal loads (approximately 85% to 100% intensity) until reaching the limit of exertion. Then, athletes continue working with loads that are still considered strong, moderate to moderately heavy in terms of exertion, until they exhibit suboptimal or near-suboptimal responses to the stimulus.

Intensity training concentrates neural-muscular effort and absolute muscle strength development, allowing athletes to significantly increase relative strength without a notable increase in muscle volume. Many researchers have confirmed that periodically lifting maximal and submaximal loads is effective in enhancing specialized work capacity for athletes involved in maximum strength-dependent activities.

Maximum Intensity Training

Maximum intensity training, devised by the renowned Bulgarian coach Abadjiev, is characterized by extremely high intensity. Athletes are required to approach or exceed their daily personal best almost every day, followed by two sets with reduced weight (subtracting 10 kilograms each time). Weight is progressively increased until the maximum for the day is reached and then decreased again. The goal is to perform as many sets as possible within the designated time frame, with rest intervals determined by the athlete's physical recovery. This training method remains relatively consistent throughout the year without major adjustments.

Although maximum intensity training is highly effective for developing maximum strength, it places significant demands on an athlete's central nervous system, nutritional supplementation, recovery measures, and medical supervision. Prolonged elevation of hormonal activity (beyond 7 to 8 weeks) can lead to exhaustion and potentially cause certain health issues. Therefore, maximum intensity training should not be used for extended periods and should be combined with other training methods, while also considering training cycles and rhythms.

Electrical Stimulation Training

Electrical stimulation is a technique that induces muscle contractions. It replaces central nervous impulses from the brain with electrical stimuli that force muscle contractions. In recent years, electrical stimulation training has gained attention for developing muscle strength.

The muscle contractions induced by electrical stimulation are essentially the same as those during conventional training. They consume energy and produce metabolic byproducts that create similar internal environmental changes, resulting in strength gains. Electrical stimulation training mainly includes two methods: direct stimulation, where two electrodes are fixed at the ends of muscles, and indirect stimulation, which uses electric pulse current devices to transmit impulses to muscles through skin electrodes placed near relevant motor nerves. The frequency of 2500 Hz is ideal for maximal contraction in direct stimulation, while 1000 Hz is most suitable for indirect stimulation to achieve optimal muscle contractions.

Yielding Exercise

Yielding exercise, also known as eccentric contraction, is the opposite of concentric contraction where muscles lengthen while contracting or after contraction under greater external force. Yielding exercise serves several purposes:

(1) Yielding exercises allow athletes to work against greater resistance than dynamic exercises, providing a powerful stimulus to the neuromuscular system and achieving strength improvements. For example, if an athlete's best squat is 200 kilograms and they cannot squat more weight, they can still perform barbell squats with 220 to 230 kilograms by starting from an upright position and lowering the weight (resisting the descent). Yielding exercises can produce muscle tension 20% to 60% greater than that of isometric and static exercises, leading to increased muscle tension.

(2) Yielding exercises are closely associated with dynamic exercises and often create favorable biomechanical conditions for concentric effort (concentric contraction). For example, movements like knee flexion before lifting and squatting before thrusting are typical examples of yielding exercises. Enhancing yielding strength greatly improves the effectiveness of dynamic effort.

Yielding exercise intensity should generally range from 120% to 190%. Additionally, jumping from heights of 0.4 meters to 1.1 meters (depth jumps) is an effective method for developing leg strength. However, yielding exercises are currently underutilized in training programs. Given their positive impact on strength development, they should be incorporated appropriately into strength training.

When planning yielding exercises, consider the following: (1) Combine yielding exercises with dynamic exercises and ensure they align with technical movements. (2) Start with maximum effort and alternate between brief periods of breath holding and short, forceful exhalations during exercise.

Isometric Exercise

Isometric strength exercises involve maintaining a constant muscle length during exertion. Isometric strength training significantly enhances maximal strength, static strength, and static endurance, particularly for supporting movements in weightlifting and recovery training stages.

Isometric strength training is effective because, during these exercises, muscle length remains constant, and the energy produced by muscle contractions primarily manifests as increased muscle tension. Achieving maximum tension during isometric exercises results in synchronized muscle unit work, creating a high level of tension. Since isometric exercises are typically conducted under anaerobic conditions, energy reserves deplete rapidly, leading to fatigue.

Isometric strength exercises are usually performed with heavy loads, gradually increasing the weight during training. Besides developing maximal muscle strength, isometric exercises are essential for strengthening specific muscle groups and for technical training. For instance, movements like pre-squatting in weightlifting, aiming in shooting, handstands, and cross supports in gymnastics are examples where isometric exercises are beneficial. Isometric exercises are particularly suitable for post-injury recovery training.

It's important to note that isometric exercise conditions differ significantly from dynamic exercise conditions, and the two types of training do not entirely develop the same type of strength. Since most sports require high-speed, explosive, agile, and coordinated movements, excessive reliance on isometric training can impede the development of speed and coordination. Isometric exercises should primarily address the deficiencies in specific muscle groups and accommodate the requirements of static force application movements.

Consider the following when implementing isometric strength training: (1) Combine isometric and dynamic exercises, ensuring they align with technical movements. (2) Initiate maximal effort and alternate between brief breath-holding and brief exhalation periods during exercise.

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