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Strength Zone Training | T nation



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Much information about strength training comes from powerlifting and Olympic lifting. It’s more geared towards competitive lifters. The problem is, not everyone who goes to the gym is there to become a competitive athlete.

What about the rest of us who are there for athletic performance, muscle growth, and general fitness? Here is the answer.

It’s about becoming a stronger athlete

Many people, including coaches, often confuse the basics of weightlifting with the basics of strength training.

The basics of weightlifting lie in concentrating on moving loads ̵

1; based on the guidelines of weightlifting – in order to master certain lifts. While the basics of strength training is to focus on stress movements based on anatomy and biomechanics to help you master your body.

The difference between weightlifting and strength training is illustrated in this diagram, adapted from Everett Aaberg’s 1996 book Biomechanically Correct.

diagram

For most lifters, the goal is to build a healthier, stronger body that is more athletic and more injury-resistant. To achieve this goal, it only makes sense to build strength over the entire active range of motion. This way, you are stronger and more injury-resistant in all positions.

Real full strength of movement

The first thing we are told about proper strength training is to maintain a good exercise form and use the full range of motion. The problem for many? They don’t understand what true full strength of movement is and how to successfully build it up.

Building strength at each joint throughout its active range of motion is about focusing on what exercises do and don’t do to the body, and NOT what the body is doing with the weights.

With this in mind, it makes sense to classify exercises according to which aspect of the active range of motion of the joints is emphasized. How? By using the two strength zones as the basis for choosing exercises to develop more comprehensive strength training programs.

The two strength zones

There are two general categories (or zones) of strength exercise based on what range of motion they are targeting in a particular joint movement. Here you are:

  • Exercises that emphasize the target muscles in the extended to medium range.
  • Exercises that emphasize the target muscles in the medium to shortened range.

To get strong, use at least one exercise from each strength zone for each muscle group.

This strengthens different parts of the range of motion in any major joint movement. If you choose to exercise, this approach guarantees that you are building true full-range strength.

Pull up

Three advantages of strength zone training

Here are the benefits you can expect from using both strength zones:

1 – Reduced risk of injury

Power gaps in your range of motion are liability for injuries. They make you more prone to injuries in the areas of motion in which you have not exercised. So by training in both strength zones, you can build a more resilient, adaptable body that will prepare it for whatever life and exercise throw at it.

It is no wonder that when your tissues and joints are asked to use force in positions for which they are not prepared, you are more prone to injury. Therefore, you are physically better prepared for strength zone training, as it allows you to achieve the full range of mobility.

Strength zone training is not just about building muscle, it’s also about building muscle with a purpose!

2 – Improved physique

There’s a reason seasoned bodybuilders try to hit “every nook and cranny” of a muscle. This will show weak areas and give them a 3D appearance.

To maximize the aesthetics of a muscle group, you don’t want to just train them with exercises that only emphasize a range of motion, do you? That’s not the best way to get a complete picture.

As you fill in those strength gaps, you’ll get stronger overall, and it’s just easier to make strong muscles big.

3 – functional performance

Strength zone training is also about having a body that can get things done. We now know that some lifts only train the medium to short range of motion, while others mainly train the medium to longer range of motion.

Strength zone training ensures that you develop strength in a variety of movement patterns, directions, and body positions so that you are stronger in more ways and therefore can work at a higher level in any setting – not just the gym.

Your checklist

You may lack full range if you don’t hit both zones. Use this list to add what is missing. It also helps you avoid redundant exercises so that you don’t constantly hit one zone at the expense of the other.

While it is certainly not exhaustive, these are some of the best exercises in any strength zone for any major muscle group.

Dumbbells

Pecs

Extended to middle class:

  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Dumbbell Pec Flye
  • Push up
  • Machine chest press
  • Machine Incline Chest Press

Medium to shortened range:

Lats

Extended to middle class:

  • Pull-up
  • Pull up
  • Lat pulldown

Medium to shortened range:

Front delts

Extended to middle class:

  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Lift the cable forward

Medium to shortened range:

  • Barbell shoulder press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Lift the dumbbell at the front

Medial delts

Extended to middle class:

Medium to shortened range:

  • Barbell shoulder press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Lift the dumbbell sideways

Rear delts

Extended to middle class:

  • Flye dumbbell lying on the side with a back delta
  • Cable Cross-Body Rear-Delt Flye

Medium to shortened range:

  • Rear dumbbell Delt Flye
  • Rear-Delt Flye machine

biceps

Extended to middle class:

Medium to shortened range:

  • Dumbbell / EZ-Bar / Barbell Curl
  • Cable curl
  • Machine curl

Triceps

Extended to middle class:

  • Dumbbell overhead extension
  • Overhead rope extension
  • Band overhead extension

Medium to shortened range:

  • Skull breaker
  • Cable push down
  • Cable or dumbbell kickback

Quads (slightly different)

Squat strength zone:

Knee extension zone:

  • Leg extension machine
  • Reverse leg extension
  • Push the slide
  • Reverse sled pull

Squats and lunges are like horizontal chest presses in that they are most difficult at the lower end of the range of motion, where the lever arm is longest and your knees are bent because your thigh is at or near the floor.

As you get closer to the top and straighten your knees, the lever arm shortens and you get a mechanical weight benefit as your thigh becomes vertical.

Although the load you were using was fine for the lower portion of the movement when your knees are bent, it is too light to create adequate muscle overload in the less difficult upper movement areas when your knees are longer.

Therefore, full range quad strength is developed by using knee extensions to strengthen the quads in areas that are overlooked in compound squats like squats and lunges.

Hamstrings

Extended to middle class:

Medium to shortened range:

Glutes

Extended to medium strength zone:

  • Romanian deadlift
  • Deep squat
  • Lunge

Medium to shortened range:

  • Hip thrust
  • Hyper reverse
  • NT Loop Linear Monster Walk

Calves

Straight knee:

Bent knee:

  • Half-kneeling dumbbell calf raises
  • Seated calf elevator machine

Their calves are made up of the gastrocnemius complex and the soleus. Raising the calves with a straight knee results in superior gastrocnemius muscle activity. Performing these elevations with a flexed knee will result in superior soleus muscle activity.

Therefore, it makes sense to do at least one calf exercise in each knee position to maximize your exercise time and efficiency. There are four good ones that you have probably never tried before.

Section

Extended to middle class:

Medium to shortened range:

  • Stability Ball Plate Crunch
  • Reverse crunch

Note: The stability ball crunch gives you a large stretch at the bottom as well as a large concentric foreshortening at the top of each rep. That is why it is in both categories.

Related: One exercise is not enough for hamstrings

Related: To create large delts, train multiple angles


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