Strength training offers strong benefits that make it a key addition to any fitness program. These benefits include increased muscular strength, improved cardiovascular health, and better flexibility. Strength training can also boost bone strength, reduce the chance of injuries, and positively impact mental health.
Getting all the benefits of strength training starts with identifying the right strength training routine for you. There are four strength training types, and their impact can be measured through HRV and WHOOP. Here’s how you can use these tools to increase the effectiveness of your strength training exercises.
Strength training, at its most basic, is a form of exercise. In essence, the term refers to any fitness activity that involves the contractions of muscles against a force of resistance. Common sources of this resistance include free weights, resistance bands, and your own bodyweight. There are a few different strength training types, and countless variations of strength training exercises to choose from within these.
Muscular hypertrophy is a type of strength training that promotes muscle growth and boosts muscle mass, and typically involves using heavier weights, with a higher number of repetitions (reps). With muscular hypertrophy, weight is applied to the fibers in your muscles, causing them to respond with force that counteracts the resistance being put against them.
This process causes mechanical damage to the muscle fibers, which signals the body to start the repair process. As the muscles are damaged and repaired over and over again through repeated strength training exercises, they get larger and stronger. This is what’s responsible for the gains in muscle mass and strength that are characteristic of strength training.
Instead of building muscle mass, muscular endurance, another type of strength training, increases the length of time your muscles can sustain muscular contractions. Muscular endurance is usually performed with lighter weights or your body weight with higher repetitions. One popular example of this is holding your body in plank position, muscles fully engaged, for one or two or more full minutes.
Heavier weights build muscle strength, while lighter weights used in repetition promote muscular endurance. Muscular endurance training is frequently used by endurance athletes who need to ensure their muscles can sustain long periods of activity.
Muscular isolation is yet another type of strength training targeting only one specific body area at a time during a workout. This type of strength training allows athletes to zero in on specific muscle groups and ensure that particular muscles aren’t neglected or undertrained. For example, bicep curls are a muscular isolation exercise solely involving the bicep muscles.
Push-pull workouts involve grouping the muscles in the body by the way they move — either by pushing or pulling and then working out all pushing muscles together and all pulling muscles together. Each type of muscle is usually exercised on separate days.
For example, the first day might exercise pushing muscles like the shoulders, triceps and chest. Pulling muscles, including the forearms, biceps and back, would be targeted the next day. Alternatively, the pushing and pulling days might include a rest day in between.
After these muscle groups are exercised, a day is usually dedicated to the leg muscles. Push-pull workouts aim to prevent muscle imbalances, ensure all muscle groups are targeted, and allow maximal recovery time to promote muscle strength and growth increases.
Strength training often places intense demands on the body to increase muscle mass, strength, or endurance. When training intensely, dips in heart rate variability, or HRV, can be expected, given low HRV is common with difficult workouts. HRV is a measure of the variation in between each heartbeat. High HRV indicates that the body is ready to perform optimally and respond to environmental changes. A lower HRV is considered normal if it occurs in the short term in response to a physical challenge such as a workout. However, when HRV is low over a longer period, it could indicate something else is at play, such as dehydration, fatigue, or illness.
The new Strength Trainer feature provides WHOOP members with even more in-depth insight into the impact of strength training exercises on your body. This feature offers a comprehensive look at the strain that strength training puts on your body, and can provide insight how different training philosophies, from muscular endurance to hypertrophy, challenge your body.