Stength Training


Understand the fundamentals of Strength and Conditioning and maximize your outcome

What is Muscle StrenPicture6gth?

The ability of muscle/muscle group to safely develop maximal contractile force against a resistance in a single contraction = 1RM.

What is Muscle Endurance?

The ability to perform a specific muscular action for a prolonged period of time, repeatedly and submaximal.

What is Muscle Power?

Muscular power is the highest power output attainable during a particular movement. Power is strength training with the intension to lift explosively.

What are the performance characteristics of contractile tissue??

● Strength

● Rate force development (RFD)

● Electromechanical delay (EMD)/ rapid muscle response

● Control =Proprioception / sensory-motor performance

● Adaptability to conditioning, deconditioning & exercise

When we maximally contract muscles there is a normal delay (EMD) of 30 msec to get the muscle to start firing. In older, fatigued, and injured people this delay can increase 5-10-fold, as well as the peak of the force generated occurs later (slower build-up of force)

It is now clear that Muscular strength is the foundation upon which several other abilities are built and enhanced, such as Power, Control and Endurance. Think of a car with a full tank! (Don’t think of current petrol prizes )







Changes in:

  • muscle fibre composition and volume.
  • central drive (neural).
  • rate of force development (RFD).
  • delay in firing (EMD).
  • connective tissue characteristics (resilience to stretch may lower the ability to initiate/generate sufficient force).

Fragility fractures can lead to a downward spiral with further deconditioning and further fractures, joint replacements,   of Quality of Life and Function,   of Medical Costs.


Some classic immobilisation studies:

  • 5 days in leg cast= 9% reduction in quadriceps strength (healthy males)

Wall et al (2014). Acta Physiol. 210: 600–611

  • 9-12weeks of hind limb immobilisation = 70% of failure strength in ligament (rabbit)

Woo et al. (1982). Biorhellogy. 19: 397-408

  • 3 weeks of bedrest (disc protrusion) = 0.9% loss of bone mineral content per week

Krolner et al (1983). Clin Sci. 64: 537-540



Interestingly in a study from Kubo et al. (2010) (.J Strength Cond Res.24(2):322-31 ) after 3 months of strength training the adaptation in tendon and muscle morphology (tone and size) developed much slower over this time (only 5% ) but also reduced back to baseline quicker when exercises were discontinued. However, strength and neuromuscular parameters increased 40% and maintained their values even when training was stopped for 3 months!!








Each strength trainings regime will likely change muscle characteristics and in this order:

  • Neuromuscular Inhibition      = NEURO
  • Motor Unit recruitment           = NEURO
  • Firing Frequency                       = NEURO
  • Musculotendinous stiffness    = STRUCTURE
  • Muscle Hypertrophy                = STRUCTURE

So, Hypertrophy (a larger muscle mass) is NOT necessarily Strength and Strength is not necessarily Hypertrophy, but if we are stronger, we are also able to safely develop maximal contractile force against a resistance in a single contraction (= 1RM) and it we simultaneously improve other parameters such as Power and Control!!

Initial strength, former training status and genetics will influence where the strength training intensity and volume should be starting. Begin with strength training early in the rehab and incorporate neuromuscular components as well as we change all these parameters faster than with strength-endurance or control exercises alone


The development of resistance training programs should follow a predetermined structure to elicit the desired response, incorporating 3 common principles 




SPECIFICITY= to reach specific outcomes

OVERLOAD = greater intensity then the individual is accustomed to

PROGRESSION = as individual adapts the intensity must change

The proper use of these principles ensures that the loads assigned are sufficient to challenge the involved muscles to become stronger, faster, or more resistant to fatigue.



Picture12Question: what determines exercise cessation?

Is it Boredom or” doing what we have been told”? Habit?

Always 3 sets of 10 reps?

If the answer is Yes, we most likely stopped before we reached the limit = repetition maximum (RM – defines the maximum number of repetitions that can be successfully performed – to failure – safely and with correct technique.)

We must determine this Repetition Maximum first or we will work submaximal (on strength endurance or cardio?) and are not specific enough about our goal of building strength.


Strength                                         Endurance                                         Power

 Picture13 Picture14 Picture15






The number of repetitions allowed by the resistance (RM) will result in very specific training adaptations as this strength/endurance continuum shows:








Strength and Power: <6 RM

Hypertrophy: 6-12RM

Endurance: >12RM


How much is the “best dose” to improve muscle strength

MetaPicture17-analysis research says that intensity must be over 80% of one RM (better 90%) for optimal and specific strength gains but also depends on:

  • Programme characteristics (sets, exercises,

times per week)

  • Patient characteristics (baseline conditioning,


  • Resources (time, personal equipment)


Significant strength gains achievable in 18 weeks or less.!

Summary of HOW but assess limitations first to be safe:

  • Strength training of multiple muscle groups:
  • < 6RM, 4 seconds per move
  • 2-3 sets per exercise
  • 1-2 minutes rest between exercise sets (or move through to next exercise targeting different muscle group and perform a “circuit”)
  • 2-4x a week (progressive)









Also review: Suchomel et al (2018). The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Med. 48 (4) 765–785.


Picture19Comparison of Dose (Stimulus)-Response:


Campus et al 3-5RM (higher intensities) Evangelista et al 8-12RM




They had approximately the same sessions per week and the same sets per session.

Gain in 8 weeks: 61% Campus & vs 23% Evangelista-



(Most studies are using young untrained males).

There are not many good studies out there for specific strength training (>90% 1RM) or training of elite, but this is the best study for older participants: DeBeliso et al. (2005) JSMS 8(2): 190-199 :


Good review for our older- stay young- population:  DeBeliso et al. (2005) JSMS 8(2): 190-199

If training an older population which is unaccustomed to strength training, it is recommended to start with 70%- 80% of 1RM for 8-12 repetitions but progress to 90-95% of 1RM and 6 repetitions quickly if possible.

Promising strength gains in 18 weeks or less. Warm up and cool down recommended. How quick the program is progressed depends on prior trainings experience, current fitness levels and injuries.

Keep in mind:

First 6 weeks of training will show an increase of strength mostly due to neurological reasons, which means improvements to the sensory-motor performance. We know “how to” and automatically use/control our active structures to their optimal performance.


If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask!



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