the joy of strength training


February 10th, 2008 at 1:40 am

Types of weight training

This is the second article in the series Getting into weight training: a female-friendly guide.

1. Why lift weights? 4. Exercise technique
2. Types of weight training 5. Training programmes
3. Starting out
6. Create your own programme

Most commercial gyms have a combination of free weights and resistance machines. This guide deals with free weights, which include dumbbells, barbells and weight plates, medicine balls, kettlebells – basically anything heavy that isn’t stabilised by some kind of contraption when you lift it.

Types of weight training

There are various types of weight lifting and there’s no reason why you couldn’t try all of them. They are all great for getting leaner, fitter and stronger.

Powerlifting is a sport involving three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. These are performed with a barbell and weight plates. All three lifts require effort from the whole body, particularly the biggest muscle groups, the legs and back, so these lifts are very effective for developing overall strength and muscle. Powerlifters will utilise other exercises such as pull-ups or dips to aid them in training, but these exercises are not used in competition.

Olympic weightlifting
olympic weightlifting Olympic weightlifting (sometimes just called ‘weightlifting’) is a sport involving two lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk. These are also performed with a barbell and weight plates. However, these lifts are different from power lifts as they involve lifting a bar from the floor to overhead, whereas the power lifts move the bar a much shorter distance. Olympic lifts are technically more demanding than the power lifts and are very effective for developing athletic power and strength. Like powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters use other exercises to help with training, such as overhead squats and core work, but only use two lifts in competition.

Bodyweight exercises, or callisthenics, are strength exercises that use the weight of the body as the resistance. Popular bodyweight exercises include push-ups, pull-ups and dips, but actually there are as many exercises as you can invent. Bodyweight exercises are excellent training for sports/arts such as parkour, breakdancing and acrobatics as well as developing all-round fitness.

Strongman involves a range of events using awkwardly-shaped or –weighted objects and tests various types of strength: grip strength, explosive strength, brute force, endurance. Popular events include the atlas stones, keg tossing and tyre flipping. If lifting a barbell up and down in a gym doesn’t appeal, get outside and start throwing barrels around!

Kettlebells, clubbells, sandbags
kettlebell Many objects have been developed to aid strength training. Kettlebells are perhaps the most popular at the moment. These are smallish round weights with a handle and can be used in a similar way to dumbbells. It is possible to do powerlifting or Olympic lifting style exercises using kettlebells, sandbags or other objects. Exercises tend to be done with higher repetitions using these objects, so there is a much greater emphasis on strength endurance than there would be in a powerlifting competition. These objects also introduce greater instability into the lift in order to make the core work harder.

Next article: Starting out

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