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Strength training – Mid phase, Strength

 14th March, 2012

Strength training after injury or surgery is essential. It will help you recover to a better level of activity, often with less pain and with a reduced risk of re-injury.

6-8 weeks after starting your strength work (see previous blog on early phase training), your muscles will start to change in size and fibre type depending on how you carry out your training. Endurance training was described in yesterdays Guildford blog. Read more today for greater knowledge on strength training and hypertrophy (muscle bulk) training.

Training programmes to gain greater strength and bulk in the muscle are classically known to involve moderate to high resistance. The amount of resistance should however differ for people depending on their previous experience in resistance training.  Research has found that for beginners, a lower resistance (45%+ of 1 repetition maximum) will lead to bulk and greater strength relatively quickly.  For those hardened resistance trainers however, far higher resistance is required (around 80% of 1 repetition maximum).

It is therefore advised that for strength training you should work at the following levels:

Untrained individuals (not resistance trained for a couple of years):

8-12 repetitions (you should not be able to do more than 12 at the weight chosen).

Trained individuals:

1-12 repetitions, aiming to reduce the volume of repetitions and increase the intensity of resistance with each set.

Rest for 3-5 minutes between sets.  3-4 sets to be carried out.

Long rests (of 3-5 minutes) between each exercise will improve your recovery (metabolic), and your body will recruit more strength fibres (known as Type II B fibres).

Hypertrophy training, involves training at a level that causes an increase in actin and myosin filaments and so greater bulk in the muscle.

To effectively train at this level:

1-12 repetitions but the emphasis should be on the 6-12 repetition range.

1-2 minute rest between sets. Multiple sets are recommended to maximise hypertrophy.


Training at this mid phase level may cause DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) for up to 48hours after exercise. This is a normal response, but you will need to recover from it before trying to train again.

As you progress with your resistance training your muscles are likely to become accustomed to the weight and task. If the exercise feels too easy and you become able to complete 1-2 repetitions extra in each set, increase your resistance by 2-10%. Start with the lower increase initially to check you are able to manage the extra weight.

Disclaimer: Do not exercise through pain, consult a Physiotherapist or medical professional if you are unsure about the advice given here.  It is advisable not to train at this level for more than 3 sessions a week unless you have been resistance training for a while or you are training under supervision.

If you would like to read more on this subject please refer to the American College of Sports Medicine 2009 information.

Jo Lamplough, Senior Physiotherapist, MSc, BSc (HONS), MACP, MSCP