The Strength Continuum

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At ACTV Strength Co. we use a variety of training methods designed specifically to provide the best group training product possible. Variety in training is essential to ensure progress continues, avoiding plateau.

One method we use is variation of rep ranges. Lifting weights or performing movements for a designated number of repetitions will drive different adaptations of the body. This is because strength exists on a continuum from strength to muscular endurance.

Lifting heavy weights for low reps primarily trains strength (power has a speed component). Lifting moderate to heavy weights for moderate reps primarily trains hypertrophy (muscle cell growth) and lifting light weights for high repetitions primarily trains muscular endurance.

It can also be observed that there is some degree of adaptation for all three elements regardless of repetitions, they just contribute to varying degrees. It is also logical that relatively light loads lifted for low repetitions will have little to no training effect and heavy weights cannot physically be lifted for high reps.

Now that we have established the strength training continuum what does it mean for training at ACTV?

Well if developing strength is your primary goal then you need to lift heavy weights for low reps however, there is a caveat to this… you need to be physically prepared and strong enough to lift heavy weights. If you are relatively new to lifting weights consistently (< 1 year) or returning after a break, your body needs time to develop strength and resiliency to handle heavier loads. In these circumstances lifting moderate loads 3 – 4 reps from failure is the way forward.

If changing your body composition is the goal, lifting moderate loads to near failure (8 - 12 reps) is the best option. Body composition refers to the body’s Lean Muscle Mass (LMM) and Body Fat Mass (BFM) both represented as a percentage of total body weight. Hypertrophy refers to the increase in muscle volume, so training in the hypertrophy rep ranges will lead to the greatest increase in LMM. By increasing your %LMM your %BFM will decrease.

Muscular endurance is catered for in our fitness components where relatively light loads are lifted for a high number of repetitions.

Will lifting weights make me look bulking? No… although lifting weights will result in an increase in muscle mass but in no way will this be bulky. Increasing LMM results in proportionally less body fat which is a healthier, more capable you.

Now while on the topic of body composition, to reduce total body fat, a calorie deficit is needed, meaning you must expend more calories than you consume. A balanced healthy diet is the major contributor to this but exercise will also play a big role. The combination of strength and fitness training at ACTV is designed in part to increase daily energy expenditure and drive compositional change.

Matt Pow