“When your intentions are pure, so too will be your success.”
Intentionality in weight training is essential. The body becomes extremely functional at what it is trained to do but not much beyond that. The beginner and the experienced lifter will both benefit from spending the time to come up with a direction for the time they spend in the gym.
First, let me say that no one style of training is better than the other. Everyone has different goals and different training programs will one get there. Honestly, the most important thing is that a man is getting up and getting out to exercise on a regular basis. Not everyone that steps into the gym has dreams of being an intense bodybuilder. My training style has changed drastically over the years; but it’s interesting to look back at the changes that came with each style and the progression I have made. The biggest mistake almost everyone tries to make when they first start exercising is they go all or nothing, 0-100 and then get discouraged when they mess up or don’t see results right away. Realize that there needs to be commitment to the long haul. Self-improvement in all aspects of life should be a lifelong process for anyone looking to be the best man he can be.
A man looking to get into shape needs to decide what his goals are, what type of physique he is looking to build, and whether he is in it for strength, size, or endurance.
Strength training is typically lower reps with heavier weight to stimulate muscle recruitment. It is mostly neuromuscular; you train the brain and muscles to synchronize as many muscle fibers as possible to increase force load. A man training for strength will definitely will put on size and create a better physique but he will find the definition and separation seen on bodybuilders lacking.
Training for size is bodybuilding – training to actually cause micro-tears in the muscle and break down support proteins to cause structural change. Bodybuilding requires more concentration and importance on form to target specific muscles. A progression of weight and gradual overload is very important but the emphasis should be placed on strict movements, mind-muscle connection and time under tension.
Endurance training differs the most from the first two. Strength and size training mainly utilize the ATP-PCR and glycolytic energy systems while endurance training taps into the oxidative system mainly utilizing fat stores. It works like a cascade; the body starts with the ATP-PCR system for quick explosive energy. Once that is tapped out it moves to the glycolytic system, using glycogen stores to provide energy. The oxidative system uses high-energy fat stores to provide sustained energy for longer periods of time. (There are more factors to the energy systems, but that is the simple basis of it) Endurance training trains type-I, slow twitch muscle, which is not effective in explosive strength production.
Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Or even three? Yes and no. A man can try and diversify his training and incorporate different goals but he will hamper his progress trying to cover all three. Strength and size are most closely related and can be combined to develop a great overall physique. I personally train for size but include weeks of higher weight and lower reps to increase muscle recruitment. The desire to be exceptional at either one means at some point the focus will have to shift to one specific goal over the others.
Moral of the story? Get up, get active and find what works best for you. Know your goals and work accordingly. Have fun with working to be a better, more focused, more disciplined person each day and your physique and health will follow!