The Different Training Methodologies Before we get into the different training methods, let us offer a foreword of sorts. When speaking of training methods, you could easily say exercises plans, training styles, athletics training methods, and use other vernacular common to the health and fitness/athletics world. The use of words are not always synonymous, but there are many instances where they are, and overlap often occurs even when a synonymous nature is not present.
There are many different training or exercise methodologies that coaches, personal trainers, and other athletic, health, and fitness professionals put to use. The point of this newsletter is not to go over every possible style available, but instead to cover some of the top options that apply to you, to someone you know, or that you may hear about during your fitness journey.
With that in mind, we are going to focus on bodybuilding, calisthenics, martial arts, strength and conditioning, plyometrics, powerlifting, powerbuilding, CrossFit, circuit training, Olympic lifting, and cardiovascular training.
So let's get into it, shall we?
Bodybuilding To some, this style of training and exercise may seem self-explanatory—men and women engaging in bodybuilding want to improve the way their body looks. However, this is not exactly the truth. Bodybuilding training and exercise focuses on building muscle, a process known as hypertrophy.
This training methodology requires individuals to focus on higher volume workouts, possibly 15-30 sets per session, with repetitions in the 7-14 range. Compound movements and isolation exercises should be used, and workouts are separated based on body parts. For example, Monday might be chest, Tuesday might be legs, Wednesday might be back, and so on. A good bodybuilding split will likely have a person workout five days per week.
Calisthenics A calisthenics workout generally focuses on functional fitness and, traditionally, uses little to no equipment. The body is the only form of resistance used, and exercise volume (sets, reps, etc) can vary widely. When a person is weaker on movements—for example, he or she can only perform a handful of pull-ups or dips—calisthenics can build strength. Once a person can perform repetitions beyond the strength range, these body weight movements focus more on hypertrophy. Once a person can perform movements beyond the bodybuilding ranges, calisthenics focuses on muscular endurance, muscular endurance under load, and cardiovascular endurance.
Martial Arts Practicing martial arts is a unique style of exercise. With roots in self-defense, martial arts practice has gone mainstream in the fitness world, as seen in "cardio kickboxing" classes. We do not want to focus on this, and instead want to focus on martial arts practice for self-defense or combat.
With so many martial arts available, it is impossible for us to nail down the specific benefits of each in a paragraph or two. Instead, we will offer a summary review. When engaging in martial arts training or exercise, a person will often perform movements in "rounds" as opposed to sets—rounds lasting 3-5 minutes each are common.
Early on a person will practice technique via shadow boxing and other low-impact methods. Over time, a person will graduate to heavy bag work, focus mitt work, and similar training methods, which also increase the intensity of the workout. At the peak, a person will engage in sparring, and a good sparring session is the most intense form of martial arts training.
Martial arts training can improve cardio, enhance power, improve strength, and offers a host of other benefits, such as increased mobility.
Strength and Conditioning Strength and conditioning does not have a singular definition and style. A strength and conditioning program centers around the purpose of said program. For example, the strength and conditioning program for a fighter is different from that of a football player. While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well.
The commonalities that will appear in any strength and conditioning program include a focus on strength, power, endurance, mobility, and cardio—though what degree of focus occurs in each area will depend on the persons end goal. Plyometrics Plyometrics is a fun and engaging style of training and exercise for many people. It focuses on "explosive" movements such as jumping. Clapping pull-ups, clapping push-ups, ball throws, and even bar throws (in a Smith Machine) all fit into a plyometrics workout. Essentially, if any movement can safely be turned into an explosive variation, it may have room in a plyometrics workout (if you want further clarification about this, let us know).
Plyometric movements require maximal force to overcome resistance in a short time (power). Due to this, the volume in a workout is typically low. A person may perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps or similar set and rep schemes (similar to powerlifting) for each included exercise. Rest periods are long, relatively speaking, to allow full recovery between sets so that maximum power can be regained (or as close to it as possible).
On a side note, plyometric exercises commonly appear in strength and conditioning workouts. They may also appear in powerlifting, Olympic lifting, circuit training, non-traditional cardio training, and martial arts training.
Powerlifting Powerlifting focuses on the big three: the barbell bench press, barbell back squat, and barbell deadlift. Many different powerlifting programs exist and take varying approaches to sets, reps, percentages, rest, and other aspects, such as overall training volume (though overall volume as well as reps is normally low). To touch on all the approaches in powerlifting is something that cannot be done in a few paragraphs.
Do understand one thing—powerlifting is not just guys lifting as much weight as possible—successful powerlifters take a calculated approach to building strength. At the same time, powerlifting is not solely comprised of "strong fat guys." We know of a 150 powerlifter who squats over 500 pounds—he's a strong, lighter-weight guy.
Powerbuilding Powerbuilding is a term that gained traction in recent years. This style of training and exercise combines aspects of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Though purists of each style of training may frown on the inclusion of the other, today's powerlifters and bodybuilders understand that including both power based training and hypertrophy training can lead to a stronger, more muscular body and equal better performance in both realms of competition. For the average person who is not a competitor, powerbuilding can provide him or her the strength, power, and aesthetics that he or she is looking for.
CrossFit You likely heard of CrossFit; if not, you are the rarity. As the fastest growing fitness lifestyle in America, and possibly the world, the CrossFit style of training can be found in and out of CrossFit gyms. CrossFit seeks to take the best of all training programs, for example, cardio, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and circuit training (among others), and combine the training and exercise styles into one cohesive method.
Many people find this method of exercise enjoyable because the exercises, sets, reps, and other aspects of the training are constantly changing. CrossFit is one of the best training and exercise methodologies around. However, it is not for everyone, as it requires people to learn a diverse number of movements and can be physically and mentally demanding, more than some other training methods.
Circuit Training Circuit training is simply a chaining together of movements. It is not so much a style of training and exercise as a way to modify other methods. For example, a person can take bodybuilding movements such as the overhead press, lateral raise, and front raise and circuit them together.
By that logic, a person can take movements from any style of training, or multiple styles of training, and circuit them together. Sets, reps, weights, and overall volume vary and are often dictated not by circuit training itself, but instead by the primary training methodology used.
Olympic Lifting Olympic lifting is not for the part-time exerciser. The clean and jerk (or clean and press) and snatch, the two primary movements involved in Olympic lifting, are highly complex lifts that take time to master. Due to the explosive nature of the exercises, and the fact that a person moves weight from ground to overhead, the Olympic movements are also some of the most dangerous lifts a person can complete.
The layout of an Olympic program, from technique to overall training volume to rest, varies from coach to coach, trainer to trainer. For example, some coaches want a person to keep the bar in contact with the body when pulling the weight from the ground, while other coaches want the bar close but not contacting the body.
Cardiovascular Training When many people think of cardio, they think of running. You do not need to run to complete cardio. You can perform circuit training, use an elliptical, bike, swim, and complete a number of movements, including running, to engage in a quality cardio session.
The point of cardio is not to complete specific exercises, but instead to accelerate the heart rate and breathing in order to elicit a significant change in the cardiovascular system, thereby improving function. Many activities and styles of training can be used to achieve this end.
Running is the easiest form of cardio for many people because it is something everyone can do without a need for training or equipment. That said, not everyone runs well without training.
The intensity, duration, and other aspects of cardio exercise and training varies based on numerous factors, such as ability, goal, and cardio method.
Summary We hope this has been informative for you. Understand that if you want to lose weight, build strength, improve health, or achieve virtually any other health and fitness related goal, many of these styles of exercise and training can help you. You just have to choose one and stick with it, plus be mindful of nutrition, of course. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.