Manipulating Resistance Training Program Variables to Optimize Maximum Strength in Men: A Review

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Maximum strength is the capacity to generate force within an isometric contraction. It is a valuable attribute to most athletes because it acts as a general base that supports specific training in other spheres of conditioning. Resistance training program variables can be manipulated to specifically optimize maximum strength. After deciding on the exercises appropriate for the sport, the main variables to consider are training intensity (load) and volume. The other factors that are related to intensity are loading form, training to failure, speed of contraction, psychological factors, interset recovery, order of exercise, and number of sessions per day. Repetitions per set, sets per session, and training frequency together constitute training volume. In general, maximum strength is best developed with 1–6 repetition maximum loads, a combination of concentric and eccentric muscle actions, 3–6 maximal sets per session, training to failure for limited periods, long interset recovery time, 3–5 days of training per week, and dividing the day's training into 2 sessions. Variation of the volume and intensity in the course of a training cycle will further enhance strength gains. The increase in maximum strength is effected by neural, hormonal, and muscular adaptations. Concurrent strength and endurance training, as well as combination strength and power training, will also be discussed.

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