So you want to start exercising and taking care of your body. You’re ready to hit the gym and see what it does to how you look, how you feel and how you perform day to day. Maybe you’re looking to gain confidence in general, or maybe there’s a big event or holiday coming up you want to feel great for, some opportunity approaching where you’re hoping to showcase a body you’re proud of.
If any of this is sounding true for you then you’ll need a gym programme which means these targets are going to get hit. The first thing to do is to write down your specific goals. Know exactly why it is that you have begun training. From there you’ll be able to decipher which style of programme is going to be best suited to you.
There are a few categories you could fall into which would lead you down different paths, but today I’m going to be focusing on the specific difference between goals of strength and aesthetics. Neither one is better than the other, there will always be huge health benefits from both, but knowing which goal is going to bring you most joy is key!
Let’s begin with strength. If this is your category then your main goal is to simply get strong. To be as powerful as you can be. To lift like “The Hulk” and eat like him too. This goal is different to someone who is looking to get leaner, this person will eat a lot of food and not care so much about body fat. This programme will contain mostly big heavy compound movements of incredibly high intensity and lower reps. Training with high intensities and high volume means that your body simply won’t be able to recover so this type of training means working at your absolute maximum for lower volumes. It will require longer rest periods between working sets, possibly even between 3-5mins, making sure you are 100% to tackle the next set. This training means you give it your all, you only have one shot. It requires a lot of mental strength as well as physical.
A programme built with strength goals isn’t going to have you working on your biceps and then your triceps, unless this is being used a tool to develop weak areas in order to improve your overall big lifts. That type of work is more common for someone training for aesthetics.
Training for aesthetics means you are focusing on a looks-based goal. These are the people building towards a rippling six pack, a sweet quad sweep, bulging biceps, capped shoulders and a nice “V” taper. Not forgetting, of course, some big juicy calves. This type of programme will look entirely different to someone training for strength. They will still tackle those big compound lifts but there will be a much bigger selection of exercises. You will need a larger variety in your movements to hit your muscles from all angles and different positions for maximum stimulation. For example, your training programme might have 4/5 different chest training exercises to stimulate growth with all different types of resistance, be it machines, cables or body-weight based, to sculpt the muscle, attack from all over and ultimately to make it grow.
Another key difference is that the rep count will be higher, we’re talking 8’s, 10’s,15’s and even 20’s to attack both the fast and slow twitch muscle fibres. You’ll be performing workouts that are more blood flow inducing, getting those muscles pumped with blood and nutrients which is what creates that feeling of your muscles swelling- a gym goers natural high. You’ll probably see some cardio in this type of programme too, to be leaner and lower body fat levels.
These training programmes have obvious differences but they are still in the same universe; essentially one builds strength and the other builds muscle. They both still need dedication, passion and with all types of training they require progression. In order to continue seeing results you have to constantly stress the body with more stimulus than it is used to, to induce that positive adaptive response. Your workout plan from your first few weeks of training should look very different to what you are achieving 6 months down the line. Always be moving forward.
I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing how to train for your goal. Turning up at the gym and lifting really heavy won’t necessarily give you the results you strive for, just as if you are hoping to be the strongest man alive you aren’t going to start your session with loads of unnecessary cardio.
So which is your goal? You can obviously have elements of both, but which is it that’s going to light the fire inside you? Has anything in this article got you excited to train?”
If you haven’t identified your goal and need a helping hand to start, or are stuck at a stalemate, unsure how to move forward, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do together!