This blog brings you four of our best strength training workouts. As well as supporting you build whole-body strength, the workouts can deliver a host of other benefits.
To appeal to a wider audience, the method and exercise equipment differ from plan to plan.
For example, Workout #1: Barbell Only Complex is a straight-laced strength session organised around the familiar sets-reps-rest formula. Our third workout, by contrast, features a line-up of functional whole-body building kettlebell exercises.
In addition, each workout is accompanied by an explanation of the training process, a session plan, and a link to the original article.
Essential reading: The Strength & Conditioning Bible
Strength training workouts #1: Barbell-Only Big Lifts
This workout has been stripped down to the strength essentials. No fluff, finery, or fancy stuff. It’s comprised of just five compound exercises that, when pieced together, form the powerlifting movement clean and jerk.
There are loads of training methods that you could apply to these exercises – EMOM, AMRAP, 5x5, circuit (even HIIT if you dropped the weight a bit). However, I’m going to outline two.
Related: Best rated Olympic Barbell
The first involves the standard strength formula: on each exercise, you will perform between 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps. To best promote strength development, you should select a weight that is 60% to 85% of your one-repetition max. Of course, the heavier the weight, the lower the sets and reps and the longer the rest.
The second method involves bundling the exercises together into a complex. Completing 2 to 5 reps on each exercise, one progression through the complex constitutes a single set. This method is far more efficient than the first. However, because it is typically performed with a single bar, the weight of which remains unchanged, it can limit strength gains for certain muscle groups.
Strength workout key points
Select the option that aligns with your fitness goals.
Complete this all-purpose warm-up before picking up that barbell.
Using the session plan provided, progress through the exercises ensuring to focus on the quality of your form. Remember, quality over quantity.
Apply the strength training formula: low sets and reps and long rests.
Increase the loads after each set.
Strength training workouts #2: Stronglifts 5x5
Some blogs back we produced a comprehensive guide covering Stronglifts 5x5 Training. The guide outlines everything from how to structure a 5x5 workout to the various ways you can incorporate it into your exercise routine.
If you’re unfamiliar with Stronglifts 5x5, it’s a training method specifically designed to build strength. At its essence, the 5 sets of 5 reps (5x5) formula is applied to every exercise in your workout plan.
Related: Extreme Bumper Plates for serious trainers
To maximise strength gains, the loads must remain high (hence the low reps) and the rest periods between sets long (2 to 5 minutes). Typically, exercises selected for a 5x5 workout would be big compound movements – squats, deadlifts, bench presses and the like.
However, there’s no law (that I’m aware of) prohibiting the application of the formula to any exercise. As you’ll see in the plan below, we’ve applied the 5x5 to four different training approaches.
Select the approach most suited to your fitness goals. Before undertaking the workout ensure to warm-up well. Begin the first set at around 50% of one-rep max. Then, with each successive set, increase by 10%.
5x5 workout key points
Select the workout that will best support you to achieve your training goals.
Warm up well before starting the workout.
The objective is to complete 5 sets of 5 reps on each of the four exercises.
Because you will be lifting close to your maximal ability, ensure to take 3 to 5 minutes after each set.
For best results, integrate the workout into your weekly routine and try to complete it two to three times.
Strength training workouts #3: Kettlebell Complex
Kettlebells offer a novel training method for improving strength. Yet even though they are brilliant strength builders, few trainers use them for that purpose. Usually, kettlebells are incorporated into circuits or picked up when they’re in the way of the barbell plates.
Anyway, this workout provides you with the opportunity to break from the banality of conventional resistance equipment. The session plan below is comprised of five kettlebell exercises. Each one can build strength, muscular endurance, and a whole host of highly desirable fitness benefits.
Related: Best Competition Kettlebells for the home gym
The workout is structured around the standard strength training protocol: 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 10 reps. Ensure to take a long rest concluding each set. To maximise strength gains, you should use two kettlebells. However, because handling twin bells requires considerably more skill than when using one, beginners are advised to use two bells for the first three exercises.
Kettlebell workout key points
The session plan features five kettlebell exercises – all big compound movements.
You have the option of using one or two bells for all five exercises. Typically, the long cycle is performed with two. However, it can be converted to a single-arm clean and jerk which requires only one kettlebell.
Due to the limitation of the weight of kettlebells (they rarely exceed 32kg – or two poods), the set and rep range exceeds the standard strength training protocol.
After each lift, take an extensive break before commencing the next set.
Strength training workouts #4: Full-body dumbbell routine
Our final strength training workout consists of a full-body dumbbell routine. As well as being a generally great piece of strength-building kit, dumbbells are more versatile than barbells and machines.
In addition, because more control is required to steer dumbbells through the range of movement, a broader range of muscle groups are engaged during the exercise. Furthermore, dumbbells are precision training tools that enable you to target a specific muscle.
Related: Best Adjustable Dumbbells
The workout plan below features nine dumbbell exercises. Following the strength training formula, progress through the sets and reps of your choosing. Here, as above, there is the option to train muscle endurance instead of strength. The formula selected should dictate the loads and length of rest periods.
Dumbbell routine key points
Identify the training approach that reflects your fitness goals – strength or muscle endurance.
Once warmed up, progress through the sets and reps.
Because the plan is particularly long (compared to Workout #1), you may find it helpful to check off each exercise once it’s completed.
Focus on the form of your execution and prioritise safe lifting over heavy lifting.
Related: Discover the Benefits of Strength Training
Enjoyed these workouts?
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