James King reveals which types of training will allow you to reach your goals fastest.
What is it?
Mode refers to the type of exercise used during a session. For example, resistance training can be performed with various modalities, such as free weights, cables, kettlebells, medicine balls, and bodyweight. Cardiovascular conditioning, too, can be performed with many modes: incline walking, running, cycling, and swimming, to name just a few.
Why is it important?
Each mode of exercise stresses your body in different ways. If you fail to match the correct stress with the result you desire you’ll significantly reduce the efficiency of your workout.
Which training modes should I use?
Large loading is crucial for increasing muscle mass. Barbells are best suited to this purpose – assuming correct adjustment in other training factors (sets, reps, tempo, and recovery). In addition, dumb-bells are a great way of isolating individual muscle groups such as the biceps (seated curls, hammer curls); while cables are ideal for overloading isolated muscle groups when they are fatigued during the last few sets, as they require less coordination and neural effort – which fatigues fast and can limit the amount of weight lifted – to stabilise the weight.
Best for… maximisng strength and power
Power lifts and Olympic lifts
It’s only possible to maximise strength and power by overloading multiple muscle groups. Due to the strength of the anatomical positions engaged during strength and power lifts, large weights are required. Barbells are optimal for this. Exercises such as the deadlift, bench press, squat, clean and jerk and the snatch are perfect for encouraging maximal strength and power gains. Advanced bodyweight exercises such as gymnastic ring work is also a suitable mode but requires considerable skill and practice before any training effect can be elicited.
Best for… muscular endurance Mix up your modes
So long as other training factors (sets, reps, tempo, progression, recovery, rest) are correct a whole range of exercise modes can be used. Circuit training (no rest betweeen sets) using a variety of modes is an ideal way to increase muscular endurance. If you are in the early stages of training, stick with simple compound lifts (like deadlifts), isolation exercises using cables (like chest flys), basic dumb-bell moves (like dumb-bell presses) and simple bodyweight exercises (like air squats). The more advanced should throw in Olympic lifts and advanced bodyweight exercises (press-ups, kipping pull-ups), plus some kettlebell work.
Best for… reducing body fat
Barbells, circuits and bodyweight exercises
The power lifts (deadlift, squat, bench press) demand the most mechanical energy and stimulate the biggest releases in the fat-busting hormones: human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone. They also use multiple muscle groups, allowing you to increase your total body strength – so, to paraphrase a proverb, you kill more birds and drop more stones. Olympic lifts, however, require a lot of time-consuming practice before it’s safe to go heavy, and this time would be better spent doing high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Isolation dumb-bell exercises, cables and bodyweight moves are great to use in a circuit training session (no rest between exercises) as they allow for localised recovery between back-to-back exercises while keeping your heart rate high. Due to their high energy demands using multiple-joints, bodyweight movements signal to the body to cut weight that is not contributing to the movement – and fat, of course, falls into this category.