How Is Strength Training Used For Bodybuilding

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A typical bodybuilding plan comprises of strength training, cardio exercises and rest along with a proper nutrition plan.  Strength training helps in building muscle and cardio exercises help in losing excess body fat.  Strength training session can have weight training, isometric exercise, etc whereas examples of cardio exercises are walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.

What is strength training?

Strength training (as mentioned in my Adonis Golden Ratio review) also called resistance training is an exercise where one uses different forms of resistance to exercise and build muscles.

Strength training helps to increase muscle size and is used by bodybuilders, sportsmen to make their muscles powerful.

Strength training is a form of anaerobic exercise which means it is of high intensity and of lesser duration than the cardio exercises.

Along with muscle building, strength training helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, makes bones stronger, reduces cholesterol and the list is endless.

Types of strength training

Weight lifting

Barbell and dumbbell are the best examples of weight lifting.  As the name suggests you exercise your body lifting weights.  You start with lower weights and then increase it gradually to build more and more resistance.

Dumbbells can be lifted with one or both the hands.  Barbell lifting needs both the hands.  Dumbbells come in various sizes and barbell weights can be increased or decreased by adding or removing the bars.

Barbell can be used as an equipment to do rollouts, squats and press.

Body weight

This includes using our own body weight as resistance.  It can be done with or without any equipment.  Pull ups, chin-ups, push up and plank are some examples of body weight trainings.

Equipment based

Weight machines like stack machines, plate-loaded machines are used for exercising the muscles in this type of strength training.  Flexibility to customise is lesser in case of weight machines.

Other exercise machines include treadmill, elliptical trainer and stationary bicycle.   Swiss balls, resistance bands are some other commonly used equipment during strength training.

Strength training exercises

Bodybuilders target various muscle groups via strength training exercises.  Some of the popular exercises are as below


This targets the front thigh muscles.  Though is done primarily for leg muscles, it helps the entire body.   Squat involves the following steps

  • Stand straight with your legs spread apart up to shoulder width
  • Bend your knees as if you are about to sit on a chair, without bending your back
  • Get up again
  • Repeat this for 15-20 times , take rest for some time and do one more set
  • Take deep breaths each time and keep the ab muscles straight


This targets the back thigh muscles and lower back.  Like squat, it too is a whole body exercise as it helps many of our muscles.  In deadlifts, you lift any form of stationary weights like dumbbells, barbell which are kept on the ground, hold it for some time and then bend back to keep it down.

Calf raise

This is for calf muscles which is the area between your heel and lower foot.  To perform this exercise, stand on a raised surface like a step.  Do not keep your foot on the step.  Leave half of the feet in air balancing the first half on the step.  Lift your feet on your toes slowly and trying to balance it on the toe fingers and raise as high as you can.  After one second, slowly raise the foot back down.  Repeat as per your set.

Pull up

This is for chest muscles.  .  As the name suggests, in this method you are pulling up your body against a solid bar which is anchored tightly and is slightly above your height.  Hold on to the bar tightly and pull up till the bar is at your chest level.  Repeat this 10 to 15 times.  Pull-ups are usually done by holding the bar such that your palms face away from you.

Chin up

This is for chest muscles.  Chin-ups is same as Pull-ups here you need to hold the bar with your palms facing you instead of away.  This puts more pressure on the biceps, as the elbows pull straight down rather than sideways as in pull-ups.

Shoulder press

This is for shoulder muscles.  In this barbells or dumbbells are lifted above the head till the hands are straight and then lowered back again.

Dumbbell curls

This is for biceps.  Hold a Dumbbell in each hand.  Then lift one hand till forearm is vertical and touches your chest.  Then lower this hand to its original position and repeat the same routine with your other hand.  Continue to alternate between each hand and repeat the routine 10-15times and 2 to 3 times a day.


This is for triceps.  It is done using dip bar.  You hang from dip bar with hands straight.  Then lower your body such that arms and elbows form a 90 degree.  Then slowly lift yourself again to come back to original position.

Wrist curl

This is for forearms muscles.  In this, in seated position spread out your forearms on your thigh or on a supporting object.  Hold a dumbbell with the wrist bent back and then raise the dumbbell using the forearms muscles as much as possible without moving the forearms.  Then lower back the dumbbells.


This is for abdominal muscles.  To do this,

  • Lie on the floor on your back with knees bent.
  • Hold your hands to your chest or keep them back against your head.
  • Without using your hand, bend your shoulders towards your bent knees.
  • Do not move your lower back and use only the abdominal muscles for support.
  • Hold your position for some time and then slowly lie down again.

There are many other variants like reverse crunch, twisting crunch, decline reverse crunch, bicycle crunch etc.

Sit up

This is for abdominal muscles.  Sit ups are very similar to crunch but the difference here is that in sit ups you need to lift your back and come to a sitting position while trying to reach your bent knees.

To summarise, strength training is as important as cardio exercises.  It need not be done with the intention of bodybuilding alone but also by all health conscious people.

When done regularly, not only do it helps to build muscles, but also prevent obesity which is major factor for diabetes, heart attacks, etc.  To achieve desired goals choose the correct number of repetition in your sets.

Do not overdo yourself.  Maintaining correct posture and form is very important in strength training as while performing high intensity workouts chances of damaging your tendons by muscle pull is common.

Category: Bodybuilding

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