Muscular Endurance and Strength - Workout Techniques

Workouts for improving muscular endurance or strength must follow the principles just described. There are also other factors to consider, namely, safety, exercise selection, and phases of conditioning.


Major causes of injury when strength training are improper lifting techniques combined with lifting weights that are too heavy. Each soldier must understand how to do each lift correctly before he starts his strength training program.
The soldier should always do weight training with a partner, or spotter, who can observe his performance as he exercises. To ensure safety and the best results, both should know how to use the equipment and the proper spotting technique for each exercise.
A natural tendency in strength training is to see how much weight one can lift. Lifting too much weight forces a compromise in form and may lead to injury. All weights should be selected so that proper form can be maintained for the appropriate number of repetitions.
Correct breathing is another safety factor in strength training. Breathing should be constant during exercise. The soldier should never hold his breath, as this can cause dizziness and even loss of consciousness. As a general rule, one should exhale during the positive (concentric) phase of contraction as the weight or weight stack moves away from the floor, and inhale during the negative (eccentric) phase as the weight returns toward the floor.


When beginning a resistance-training program, the soldier should choose about 8 to 16 exercises that work all of the body’s major muscle groups. Usually eight well-chosen exercises will serve as a good starting point. They should include those for the muscles of the leg, low back, shoulders, and so forth. The soldier should choose exercises that work several muscle groups and try to avoid those that isolate single muscle groups. This will help him train a greater number of muscles in a given time. For example, doing lat pulldowns on the “lat machine” works the latissimus dorsi of the back and the biceps muscles of the upper arm. On the other hand, an exercise like concentration curls for the biceps muscles of the upper arm, although an effective exercise, only works the arm flexor muscles. Also, the concentration curl requires twice as much time as lat pulldowns because only one arm is worked at a time.
Perhaps a simpler way to select an exercise is to determine the number of joints in the body where movement occurs during a repetition. For most people, especially beginners, most of the exercises in the program should be “multi-joint” exercises. The exercise should provide movement at more than one joint. For example, the pull-down exercise produces motion at both the shoulder and elbow joints. The concentration curl, however, only involves the elbow joint.