Protocols for Enhancing Intensity in Strength Training

What Is A Training Protocol?

A training protocol is a set of instructions or guidelines that are followed during the execution of a specific exercise routine. These instructions may include exercises, sets, reps, rest periods between sets and/or exercises performed with different weights. They may also include other factors such as rest intervals between exercises, time under tension (TUT), rest periods between repetitions and so forth. There are many types of protocols used in strength training programs. Some are based on the type of muscle being trained, while others focus on how much weight is used per repetition.

The most common types of protocols include:

1) Maximal Effort Protocols – These protocols involve performing a maximum number of repetitions with the greatest amount of weight possible.

For example, if one were to perform 10 reps with 100 pounds, then they would use a maximal effort protocol.

2) Moderate Effort Protocols – These protocols involve performing a minimum number of repetitions with the greatest amount of weight possible.

For example, if one were to perform 8 reps with 50 pounds, then they would use a moderate effort protocol.

3) Rest Periods Between Sets – These protocols require resting at least a certain period between sets.

For example, if one were to rest 5 minutes between sets, then they would use a rest period protocol.

4) Time Under Tension (TUT) – These protocols involve a minimum and maximum amount of time that the muscles are under tension during their sets.

For example, if one were to only perform 5 seconds per repetition for all of their sets, then they would use a TUT protocol.

Why Use Training Protocols?

There can be many reasons why an individual might incorporate different types of training into their program. Some use them to increase the time under tension (TUT), while others use them to increase the number of repetitions performed without stopping (i.e. muscular endurance). Some might use them to increase strength, while others might use them to improve other factors such as speed or power development.

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How To Create A Training Protocol

There are many ways in which one can create their own training protocol. The most common are listed below:

1) Targeted Muscular Groups – One can choose to focus on a single or several muscle groups during a training session.

For example, an individual might decide to only train their quads, hamstrings, and glutes for a given training session. Or they may decide to train their chest, biceps and triceps.

2) Weight Used – One can choose to focus on a minimum or maximum amount of weight used during a training session.

For example, an individual might decide to only use 50 pounds or less per repetition, or they might decide to use more than 200 pounds or more per repetition.

3) Time Under Tension (TUT) – One can choose to focus on increasing the time that a muscle is under tension during a training session.

For example, an individual might decide to only perform 5 second repetitions, or they might decide to perform 50 second repetitions.

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4) Number Of Reps – One can choose to focus on a minimum or maximum number of repetitions during a training session.

For example, an individual might decide to only perform 1 repetition per set, or they might decide to perform 20 repetitions per set.

5) Rest Period Length – One can choose to focus on decreasing the rest periods during a training session.

For example, an individual might decide to only rest 1 minute or less between sets, or they might decide to rest more than 3 minutes between sets.

6) Unique – There are an endless number of ways in which one can create their own training protocol.

Some individuals prefer to create unique protocols that aren’t listed here.

Strength Training Program:

A strength training program is a type of training program that is designed to enhance the physical strength of a person. This is typically done by improving the function of muscular tissue in the body. There are many types of strength training programs.

The most common types are basic strength training, advanced strength training, and competitive strength training.

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Different Types Of Strength Training Programs

Basic Strength Training – This is a type of strength training program that is designed for beginners. It typically involves basic exercises that focus on the development of muscular size and strength.

Advanced Strength Training – This is a type of strength training program that is designed for those with some background in lifting weights. It typically involves more intense exercises than basic strength training and is focused on improving athletic performance and physical appearance.

Competitive Strength Training – This is a type of strength training program that is designed for those who participate in strength sports such as powerlifting and strongman. It typically involves various exercises that focus on the specific events and goal of the sport.

Common Myths About Strength Training

There are many myths about strength training that are constantly being promoted by websites, publications, and “life coaches” that have no background in the science or sport of strength training. Here are some of the most common myths with fact-based rationales as to why they are incorrect:

Myth #1 – You should stretch before you work out to prevent injury.

FACT: The truth is, there is very little evidence to support the idea that static stretching (the kind where you hold a stretch for 30 seconds or more) before exercise prevents injuries. In fact, there’s evidence that it can even CAUSE a decrease in strength. However, light static stretching (where you hold a stretch for less than 30 seconds) seems to enhance power output and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.

Myth #2 – The “warm-up sets” that you do before your working sets are actually working sets.

FACT: The first few sets that you do before your working sets are meant to prepare your nervous system and muscles for the heavy tension that they are about to experience. Although these sets may feel harder than what you’re used to, they are not actually as taxing or as important as the working sets.

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Myth #3 – You should breathe heavily during a set in order to get the most out of it.

FACT: Some people have the misconception that they should breath as heavily as possible during a set in order to get more oxygen to their muscles and to drive out more waste products, resulting in more growth. However, the reality is that this practice actually drives out more OXYGEN and may even cause you to pass out! Instead, breathe deeply but steadily and focus on your technique rather than how much you’re panting.

Myth #4 – Lifting weights is dangerous. If you lift too much, you’ll tear your muscles and they’ll be permanently damaged.

FACT: This is simply not true. In fact, this doesn’t even make physiological sense based on how muscles work. Your body has a built in protection mechanism called the neuromuscular system that prevents you from over-straining a muscle beyond a certain point so that you don’t tear it.

If you work within that threshold, you’ll avoid negative consequences and actually get stronger!

Myth #5 – You should never work the same muscle two days in a row because you need to let it recover.

FACT: The fact is that you can actually gain more strength working a muscle group more than once every 48 hours. The trick is that you need to focus on different areas of that muscle in the second workout. For example, if you work out your chest muscles on Monday, you can work them again on Wednesday by doing a different exercise or variation so that you’re not just recovering from the previous session but also continuing to challenge your body.

Myth #6 – You should pump out as many reps as possible in order to grow muscle.

FACT: There is a common belief that if you perform an exercise until you absolutely can’t do any more reps, then that will cause your muscles to grow. Although this concept might work in theory, it doesn’t necessarily translate into muscle growth in real life. The reality is, most people aren’t going to be able to perform many reps past the point where they feel their hardest due to factors such as fatigue or lack of technique.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Performing a set to failure isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not the best way to go about training. If you’re new to training, then going to failure might be something you should do periodically in order to assess your weaknesses and identify what you need to work on.

Getting stronger is a long-term process that requires focus and a consistent effort over time. You don’t just wake up one day and find that you can perform amazing physical feats that you couldn’t do the day before. It happens gradually through a series of challenging workouts that cause your body to adapt and get stronger.

If you use proper lifting technique, you’ll actually be able to perform more reps than if you were to just go all out and try to lift as heavy as possible. Heavy weights actually tire out your muscles so that they don’t contract with full force. When you perform lighter weight with proper form, you can focus on making each rep perfect so that your muscles contract to their fullest potential.

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Also, there’s no advantage to lifting really heavy weights unless you’re actually competing in powerlifting competitions, and even then it’s only for a short period of time. Your goal should be to make your muscles work as hard as possible and getting stronger over time in order to see results.

So, does that mean you should focus on lifting light weights with lots of reps?

Not exactly. While you should perform each rep in a controlled manner, you also need to put enough effort into each rep that your muscles are actually being challenged and forced to work hard in order to achieve that perfect contraction.

If you’ve been doing a lot of heavy weightlifting in the past and looking to change things up, then you might try working in some lighter weight and higher rep ranges. However, if you’re more of an endurance athlete or accustomed to doing typical “pump” style workouts, then I’d recommend sticking with a weight range that’s more suitable for your goals.

It’s all about working hard and progressively over time, so it doesn’t matter what rep range you end up using as long as you apply the progressive overload.

Common Question: If lighter weights are better for muscle growth, then why do bodybuilders use heavy weights and low reps?

People seem to think that bodybuilders got big from lifting heavy weights and low reps because they see them bench pressing or squatting really heavy. The reality is, most of them got that way from years of proper exercise programming and nutrition. They can lift heavy now because their bodies are accustomed to it.

Most of them didn’t start out lifting that way when they first started training. They started with a lot of lighter weight and higher rep ranges when they were first starting out. The reason why they’re able to lift heavy now is because their bodies have gotten stronger through proper exercise programming and nutrition.

So even though you may not be able to lift as heavy as them now, your body will also improve over time as long as you stick with it.

Also, heavy weights and low reps places more stress and strain on your joints and muscles. This is great for competitive athletes who want to get stronger for their sport or hobby, but if your goal is to have muscles that are leaner, more defined and healthier, then the last thing you want to be doing is stressing them too much.

Lighter weights with higher reps is a better choice for your goals because it stresses your muscles without over-stressing your joints. It’s also great for people who aren’t quite as young and/or aren’t used to exercise because it helps them build up their muscles without tearing them down first.

Does this mean you shouldn’t lift heavy?

No, it just means that heavy weights and low reps have nothing to do with building your muscles up in the way you want them to look. It’s all about progressive overload regardless of the weight and rep range.

What about cardiovascular training?

When it comes to building muscle, a lot of people like to focus on one particular type of exercise and try to get really good at it. Usually, this means they try to lift very heavy weights with low reps or do more endurance training by performing a lot of cardio.

For your purposes, however, I’m going to recommend a different approach: mix up your routines.

Don’t just do heavy weight training or just do endurance training. Try doing both.

Many people actually make the mistake of doing too much cardio and not enough weight training. Their bodies get used to a certain type of workload and when they stop doing it, they lose their fitness level. When they try to get back into it, it takes them much longer because their bodies have atrophied to a certain degree.

This is called “overtraining” and it can be just as bad as not training at all.

By mixing up your routines, you’ll give your body a lot more variety and you won’t overtax any particular system in your body. This will keep you from overtraining and ultimately reaching your goals a lot sooner.

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By the way, proper nutrition is just as important as exercise for building muscle. I’m not going to go into that here, though.

Sources & references used in this article:

A comparison of periodised and fixed repetition training protocol on strength in older adults by M DeBeliso, C Harris, T Spitzer-Gibson… – Journal of Science and …, 2005 – Elsevier

Is there an optimal training intensity for enhancing the maximal oxygen uptake of distance runners? by AW Midgley, LR McNaughton, M Wilkinson – Sports Medicine, 2006 – Springer

A proposed model for examining the interference phenomenon between concurrent aerobic and strength training by D Docherty, B Sporer – Sports medicine, 2000 – Springer