When it comes to maximising results nothing is more important than being in the prescribed zone for the prescribed amount of time. Zone training is a thing we use indirectly at Body Planners. By indirectly I mean, us as the trainer know what zone we want our clients to be in, most of the time unbeknown to the individual, but as time goes on our clients develop an understanding into why we do what we do.
Training Zones are more associated with cardiovascular exercise but these are hugely transferable to resistance training, though not relatable. In Heart Rate (HR) training zones are typically split into 5 or 7 depending on who’s methodology you follow. When it comes to resistance I recommend having 3 zones; strength, endurance and power.
To effectively work, strength, endurance and power each have their own set of parameters so that they can remain their own entity. This is typically dictated by load, reps and sets. Strength and Power are both high load systems which require high or long rest periods, endurance is low load low rest. It is however, possible for progress to migrate and be divided by two elements but that doesn’t mean to say it’s a good thing. For example if you lift ‘heavy’ with short recovery, you will develop strength endurance, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking to do but you won’t maximise your strength, or your endurance lifting this way. This is because the weight is too light to develop outright strength, and the recovery is too long to develop outright endurance. We know this because the chemicals required to generate enough force to lift heavy weight in sets of 3 to 6 reps takes 3 to 5 minutes to restore. So if you didn’t need 3 to 5 minutes rest you’re not in the right zone for developing strength. However, if you lift a lighter weight in sets of 12 and take too long a rest, you’re developing neither strength or endurance, because the weight is too light to stress your muscles enough to develop strength, and the recovery time is too long to develop endurance.
When it comes to power, it’s common for people to get this wrong. This is because people typically pick big exercises, little weights and little rest, which is great for endurance but to best develop power, heavy weight, fast movements and long rests are required. Due to the nature of power exercises such as cleans or snatches, the body uses muscles in groups rather than in isolation. This requires more energy and oxygen and therefore more rest. Again, if you lift too light and rest too little you’ll develop power endurance, but not maximise either one. When it comes to training for hypertrophy or developing muscle size, training in all 3 zones will yield that result, but remember you can only maximise the results of one zone at a time.
So next time you’re smashing your workout, just think, am I in the right zone?
Chances are, probably not because we see people getting it wrong on a regular basis.