Build strength, and avoid plateaus by understanding the principles of strength training.
Principles of Strength Training
Overload: To build muscle, you need to use more resistance than your muscles are used to. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty but also with good form.
Progression: To avoid plateaus (or adaptation), you need to increase your intensity regularly. You can do this by increasing the amount of weight lifted, changing your sets/reps, changing the exercises and changing the type of resistance. You can make these changes on a weekly or monthly basis.
Specificity: This principle means you should train for your goal. That means, if you want to increase your strength, your program should be designed around that goal. To lose weight, choose a variety of rep ranges to target different muscle fibers.
Rest and Recovery: Rest days are just as important as workout days. It is during these rest periods that your muscles grow and change, so make sure you're not working on the same muscle groups two days in a row. It is also important not to over-train muscles. You will know if you have not recovered within 24-48 hours. Do not take the old saying, "no pain, no gain" too seriously, or you could injure yourself.
Methods of Strength Training
Isometric Training: Muscles are contracting, but there is no joint movement.
Isotonic Training: Contractions where tension is equal throughout the range of motion. Isotonic exercise strengthens the muscles in the entire range of motion, while improving joint mobility
Isokinetic Training: The speed of movement is fixed and resistance varies with the force exerted. In other words, the harder an individual pushes or pulls, the more resistance is felt. It involves muscle contractions that shorten the muscle at a constant speed. This method is mostly used for sports training or rehabilitation
Eccentric Training: Recruits many more muscle fibers than a concentric contraction, eccentric training is extremely effective for strength improvements. Unfortunately eccentric contractions also generate the most damage and soreness in muscles, so you should use them in moderation and only if you have a weight-training background.
Plyometric Training: Any exercise that allows the muscle to quickly pre stretch before performing the actual movement is plyometric. These exercises can speed up reaction time, improve force production, and increase velocity. Plyometric exercises involve Type II muscle fibers, just as strength training does. You may find, after adding some of these exercises into your routine, that you can improve your power and lift your weights faster-- which may even lead to more calorie burning.
Variable-Resistance Training: (VRT) The resistance you feel changes as you perform your exercise through its full range. Resistance increases as you reach the end of the movement and decreases as you return back to the starting point. The resistance band is a good example. Resistance bands naturally utilize this technique because of their elastic tension. The force you are exercising against changes throughout the movement of the exercise.
Muscle Basics and Nutrition: One of the body’s natural cycles involves occasionally breaking muscle proteins down to be used for energy, a process called “protein turnover. The body is in a continuous cycle of anabolic (muscle building) and catabolic (breaking muscle down). The body seeks a natural balance between these two alternating processes—with a preference towards anabolic. We literally feed and encourage either of these states mostly through the dietary choices we make. Your body needs food energy when you exercise or it will actually burn muscle as you work out, which seems to defeat the purpose. Be sure your body has plenty of high-quality carbohydrate fuel (for energy) and protein fuel to support your workouts. Fuel your body with nourishing food.
The General Guideline for Grams of protein is .5-1 gram of protein per lb. of LEAN muscle. Keep in mind the amount you need depends on many factors, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals, and overall health.