There are three major kinds of muscle building exercise that you can address in workouts. You can make your muscles stronger, bigger, or have more endurance. We'll look at how to incorporate each kind of exercise into your program, and tips for how to get the most out of them.
Except for endurance training below, strength and hypertrophy training are best done with weights and sometimes body-weight exercises. Running, hiking, biking, and swimming are all endurance exercises as far as these categories are concerned.
Many people start exercising to get stronger. There's a real feeling of accomplishment when you're able to handle heavier objects than you could in the past.
When you first start out, doing virtually any exercise will make you stronger since you haven't done any strength training before. You're a blank slate, and anything makes you stronger than you were before.
However, the best way to build strength is to do low repetitions of a given exercise with heavy weight. When you're doing weight training or body-weight exercises that strain you to the limit, just 3-5 repetitions at the heaviest weight you can handle is what you should be doing. This way your body is forced to handle heavier and heavier loads.
2. Bigger (Hypertrophy)
Ah, bigger muscles. This is also called training for hypertrophy, a fancy word meaning simply the enlargement of an organ or tissue (muscle tissue, in this case). This is along the lines of what bodybuilders do.
To focus on making your muscles bigger, do lifting with 8-12 repetitions per set. In this range your muscles will put the most energy into getting bigger. This is great if you want to show off, gain weight for a sporting event, or just get bigger.
3. Tougher - More Endurance
The last kind of muscle building exercise is endurance exercise. Any workout with more than 15 repetitions per set works on endurance, rather than getting stronger or making your muscles bigger.
If you want to run a marathon you'll do lots of running. Each step is 1 repetition, so you'll be training for endurance and doing many, many repetitions in a row. If you wanted to get more endurance a different way, you could do leg exercises like squats for high reps.
Now, what're the best ways to go about doing these kinds of muscle building exercise?
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