Tag Archives: strength

Difference between the High Bar Back Squat and the Low Bar Back Squat

The barbell backHigh Barbell Back Squat squat is a very popular and effective exercise to increase the strength and size of leg muscles. However there are two different variants of the barbell back squat. The high bar back squat and the low bar back squat. Weightlifters and strength and power athletes mostly use the high bar back squat or “Olympic Style” squat. Which is characterized by a narrower stance and upright torso. The barbell is placed on top of the trapezius muscle around the 7th cervical vertebrae. Powerlifters mostly use the low barb back squat because they believe that it allows higher weights. Stance width is more variable but the trunk is more inclined than during a high bar back squat. Bar placement varies from on top of the posterior deltoids, below the scapular spine, on the scapular spine or two inches below the shoulders. To determine the differences between the effects of the high bar and low bar back squat, researchers performed the following study.

Effects of Strongman Training on Testosterone Levels

(03-22-2013) Training to increase muscle Strongman trainingmass is usually done in the gym performing well known exercises such as the bench press or squat or equivalent machines. Athletes interested in increasing strength and power such as football, wrestling, rugby and basketball players are said to greatly benefit from Strongman training. Strongman training incorporates compound movements such as pulling and pressing oddly shaped objects such as stones, sleds, keg barrels, tractor tires and trucks. An important factor in training for muscle mass is an increased testosterone production following a training session. To determine if Strongman training is an effective way to increase muscle mass, researchers from New York conducted the following study investigating the effect of Strongman training on testosterone levels.

Rest between sets for strength and power

(11-7-2013) The effects of strength or Bench press for strength and powerresistance training depend on different factors such as training intensity, training volume, exercise type and the amount of rest between series. Although most strength training research focuses on training intensity and volume, less research has been performed on different rest protocols. Scientists from Texas bundled their forces with researchers working for the US Military and the Marine Corps to study the effects of a classic muscle hypertrophy resting protocol and an intraset resting protocol to find out the effect of rest between sets.

Effect of training volume on strength and muscle size

(03-06-2013) Increasing muscle mass is a commonDumbbell curl goal for many men training in gyms. There are many variables to consider when designing a training program aimed at increasing muscle mass. One of these variables is the amount of sets or series per exercise. Most research on the matter recommends performing three sets per exercise over one, except for those just starting with strength training. The difference in recommendation between beginners and more advanced athletes is difficult to explain, and researchers from Japan claim it is due to differences in study design and subjects characteristics. To find out the effect of training volume on strength and muscle size the Japanese scientists performed a very innovative study.

Rest between sets for stronger muscles

(11-07-2013) The effects of strength or resistance trainingResting between sets depend on different factors such as training intensity, training volume, exercise type and the amount of rest between sets. Although most strength training research focusses on training intensity and volume, less research has been performed on different rest protocols. Scientists from Texas bundled their forces with researchers working for the US Military and the Marine Corps to study the effects the amount of rest between sets. Two protocols were studied: a classic muscle hypertrophy resting protocol and an intraset resting protocol.  

Benefits of strength training

Strength training or resistance exercise,  is a very well Man dumbbellknown form of fitness training. Strength training is characterized by performing exercises for short amounts of time at moderate to high external resistances resulting in localized fatigue and possibly muscle failure. Strength training is mostly done by lifting free weights, performing exercises on special machines or by bodyweight exercises such as pushups.


Resistance training has always been associated with fitness training and is essential for bodybuilding. It has many benefits for those that are willing to put in the effort, so here are the advantages of strength training.

  1. It increases maximal strength:

One of the most obvious effects of strength training is that increases muscle strength. Aside from professional strength athletes such as weightlifters, this is a very important effect for elderly as well. A certain amount of strength is necessary to perform everyday tasks. When people are hindered during activities such as walking, cycling or walking a flight of stairs, they tend to avoid these activities. If this pattern is not broken, muscle strength decreases even further, hampering these activities even more. Proper strength training prevents or slows the decrease of muscle strength effectively.

  1. It increases muscle size:

One of the most important reasons many men go the gym is to increase the size of their muscles and look more athletic. One of the adaptations that are necessary to increase strength is to increase the size of the muscle. This effect is very pronounced in men, but far more subtle in women.

  1. It helps weight loss and prevents weight regain:

Weight loss is achieved by burning more calories than are taken in. Muscle mass is active tissue and requires a constant supply of energy even in rest. When muscle mass increases, energy expenditure in rest increases along with it, making it easier to burn fat and improve body composition. And when active, larger amounts of energy can be used than with less muscle mass. Adaptation and recovery following a strength training session increase resting metabolism, helping in weight loss. Lastly, strength training prevents the loss of muscle mass during weight loss, which often happens while dieting. It therefore also prevents the well known yo-yo effect.

  1. It rejuvenates the body:

Resistance exercise stimulates the production of several hormones that help maintain and repair the body’s cells. There is even some research indicating that it helps protect our DNA as we age, effectively delaying the physical aging process.

  1. It decreases risk on metabolic disorders and diseases:

Because resistance exercise increases the amount of active tissue, metabolism is increased and improved. The body needs to optimize carbohydrate metabolism to adapt to the training. This helps in preventing metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes mellitus type 2 or can help decrease or reverse their symptoms.

  1. It decreases osteoporosis:

Bone tissue, like muscle tissue, is constantly remodeled. As we age, quality and density of our bones often decreases as a result of increasing inactivity. Resistance exercise stresses the bones, and will slow down or even reverse the development of osteoporosis. Because of the higher training intensity and greater loads placed on the bones it can be even more effective than aerobic exercise in this respect.

See also:

-Advantages of cardio training



Muscles are responsible for making movements through muscle contractions. Muscles consist of many different fibers, which consist of myofibrills. Myofibrills in turn consist of many sarcomeres in series. A sarcomere is the smallest functional unit in a muscle and is the structure that makes the muscle contraction possible.

A sarcomere consists of thin actin filaments and thick myosine filaments, which can slide past each other when the sarcomere contracts. The actin filaments are connected to the z-lines which form the connections between the sarcomeres in series. The myosin filaments are in the middle of the sarcomere in the center of several actin filaments. Each myosin filament has myosinheads portruding from the filament, which can bind to special binding places on the actin filaments. Through this interaction between actin and myosin filaments, sarcomeres are able to exert force.

When a contraction is started, the myosin heads are activated and form so called cross-bridges by binding at the binding places at the actin filaments. After forming the cross-bridge, the myosinhead pulls at the actin filament, and the filaments slide past each other, shortening the sarcomere. After this, the myosinhead unbinds and returns to its original position, ready to form another crossbridge with the next binding place.Muscle structure


-Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., Kenney, W.L. (2008). Structure and function of exercising muscle. Physiology of Sport and Exercise Fourth Edition. USA Human Kinetics.



myostatin deficient dog

Wendy the myostatin deficient dog

is a cytokine which functions as an antagonist for Insulin-like Growth Factor-1. It is therefore a negative regulator of muscle growth. In other words, it causes the breakdown of muscle tissue. It is an essential substance in maintaining balance in protein synthesis and protein breakdown. This is most obvious in animals that have mutations in their DNA, rendering the myostatin gene less active or even completely shutting it down. These animals have an highly increased muscle mass and look like bodybuilders among their species. This reduces muscle function as well, since myostatin also serves to improve muscle quality. However it also plays a major role in diseases such as muscle dystrophy, where myostatin activity is increased and muscle mass decreases progressively.


Hypertrophy Hypertrophyis the process of growing tissues. In exercise physiology it normally refers to muscle hypertrophy or the increase of muscle mass. Muscle hypertrophy as a result of training is caused by an increase of cross section of themuscle fibers which form the muscle. This increase is caused by an increase in net protein production.

Force Length Relationship

The amount of force that a sarcomere and consequently a muscle can deliver is strongly dependant on the length of the sarcomere at which it is delivering force. This is caused by the amount of overlap between the myosine and actin filaments at a given length. The greater the number of myosin head that can bind to the actin filaments, the higher the force that can be produced. However, when the sarcomere is maximally shortened, it can occur that the oposite actin filaments colide with one another and slide past each other. This results in less cross bridges being formed between actin and myosin filaments and extra resistance during contraction and therefore a reduction in produced force. In the figure below can be seen that a sarcomere builds up strength during shortening until it peaks and decreases due to a decrease in crossbridge forming surface on the filaments. Force Length relationship

-Gordon, A.M., Huxley, A.F., and Julian, F.J. (1966). The variation in isometric tension with sarcomere length in vertebrate muscle fibers. J. Physiol., 184, 170-192.

-Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., Kenney, W.L. (2008). Structure and function of exercising muscle. Physiology of Sport and Exercise Fourth Edition. USA Human Kinetics

1 Repetition Maximum

Often training intensity guidelines for strength training are expressed in percentage of the 1 Repetition Maximum or 1RM. The 1 repetition maximum is the highest amount of weight or resistance with which someone can make one repetition with proper form in a particular exercise. When the 1RM is known for a certain exercise, it is possible to estimate the resistance or weight necessary for the prescribed number of repetitions.