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Compound Lower-Body Exercises Build More Strength

Add more squats and lunges for maximal strength gains.

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Lower body exercises for muscle strength

What training strategies are you using with clients who want to build maximal strength?

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, in England, reviewed 22 studies that focused on improving maximal strength over a period of at least 4 weeks. The studies observed a total of 761 participants, the majority of whom were untrained or detrained. Analysis revealed many differences among training approaches and theories regarding the physiological mechanisms related to maximal strength gains.

Findings indicated that lower-body and multijoint exercises appear to be more appropriate for developing maximal strength than single-joint, isolated, upper-body exercises. Programming training loads based on percentages of a one-repetition maximum seems to be a better way to improve maximal strength than setting repetition maximum targets.

Read the full study in Sports Medicine (2019; 50 [5], 919–30).


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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