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  • Lauren Kremer, PT, DPT

Strength Training Principles


Strength training is a large part of the rehabilitation process in physical therapy. These training principles are used when prescribing exercise to influence muscle growth.


1. Exercise selection. This first one may seem obvious, but selecting exercises for the muscle groups you are trying to strengthen is the most important principle. Research done with EMG (electromyography) shows the exercises that best target particular muscle groups. Choose 3-4 exercises per muscle group in order to work the muscle fibers in varying positions.


2. Progressive overload. In order to increase strength, you have to consistently challenge your muscle. This means performing with enough intensity/repetitions to create fatigue, or failure. For strength training, it is recommended to choose a resistance that you can perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with fatigue at the end of each set.


3. Training volume. For each muscle group you are trying to strengthen, you should perform exercises 3-4 times a week with a day of recovery in between. Muscle soreness is normal following an increase in activity, but it shouldn't last more than 1-2 days. Make sure you are giving your body enough time to recover before hitting the gym again!


When in doubt, ask a professional. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists or Physical Therapists are qualified and ready to assist with your strength training goals!

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