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10 tips to get stronger





There are many people out there who do not wish to add any muscular size or bulk, but very few people out there will say no to greater muscular strength. Sure, modern times do not require one to have the type of strength that the primitive man required to survive, however all of us do love it when we easily lift or move something that others would consider “too heavy”! Every guy loves to be strong enough so that others do not pick on him for being weak. In short, physical strength is an important and impressive physical quality to possess.

One of the best places on earth to build strength is obviously the good old gym which is filled with heavy iron plates, bars, heavy bells, etc. It is the home of strength training! However, nowadays most people tend to go to gyms primarily for physical composition changes, like fat loss, muscle gain rather than strength gain. I personally do not think that there is anything wrong with that, however there also are many who go primarily for strength gains and end up doing workouts that are more suited for physical composition changes rather than strength gains. So to help you keep the goal, the goal, let me share some valuable tips to get stronger. If your primary goal is physical composition changes, you will still benefit from utilizing most of these tips in your training too.

1) Focus on compound movements- compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses, dips, cleans, snatches, rows, etc should form the majority of your workout. Spending too much time on calf raises, crunches, pressdowns is not going to build serious strength. Major compound exercises place a much greater demand on your body for every rep that you perform, and this in turn forces your body to produce greater strength to keep up with the greater physical demands.

 2) Avoid training to failure on main exercises- if you have ever worked out in the gym then you will know that when you begin you will be able to lift a lot more weight compared to an hour later. This is because as fatigue starts to creep in, your strength levels drop. So when getting stronger is the goal you need to avoid training to failure on your main sets and exercises, you can go to failure on some assistance exercises towards the end of your workout, but for most parts stick to 1-2 reps short of failure to be able to lift the heaviest weights possible while not getting fatigued.

3) Keep workouts to 60 minutes or less- as discussed in the previous point, training in a fatigued state is not ideal for strength gains, thus training for too long will just burn you out to let you go heavy. This is also the reason why professional lifters often train multiple times a day so that they do not train more than 30-45 minutes in each session.  Even if you cannot train multiple times a day, you should still keep the workouts brief for best results.

4) Keep the number of exercises to around 3-6 per session- continuing on the importance of training in a relatively fresh state vs fatigued state, it is essential to keep the number of exercises in a session to about 3-6. While beginners could do very well on a starting strength type of program which requires you to do only 3 exercises per workout, more advanced trainees could do a total of 6 exercises.

5) Train in the 3-6 reps range most of the time- for some people when you talk of strength training, they immediately think of training only with their 1 rep max weight. That is not the best way to get stronger. 1 rep maxes are a better way to test your strength once in a while, but not the best way to get stronger if you do them all the time. I have found in my experience that the 3-6 reps range works best to be able to keep on adding weight to the bar on a consistent basis

6) Try to move the weight with speed- when a professional powerlifter bench presses a huge weight, you may feel that he is trying to move the bar slowly, but in reality he is trying to push it up with speed. Its the heavy load that does not let the bar move at a greater speed, but not because the lifter is not trying. So when you train, try to move the bar as fast as you can while keeping control during the positive or concentric part of the lift. Think explosive reps rather than grinders for greatest strength gains.




7) Train each muscle group frequently- if you train your pressing muscles on Monday, then you want to hit them atleast once again before the next Monday. If you give a big gap between each time you hit a muscle group then your strength gains will be limited. On the other hand if a muscle group is trained more frequently then you will see greater strength gains since the muscles and the nervous system will be more efficient and better at generating greater strength. This is why full body workouts are often the best way to get stronger as you will be hitting each muscle group more frequently. Besides full body workouts you can also split your workouts as upper-lower or push-pull format.

8) Use deload workouts- when you begin training you can probably go for 6-18 months before you need to do delaod workouts. However as you get stronger and start moving heavier weights, you will find that training with the heaviest weights all the time is going to start burning you out soon. Thus regular deload workouts where you lift lighter weights will be very helpful. A good way to do this is to do a deload week once every 4-6 weeks. Incase you have any fear that a deload week will make you weaker, let me assure you that if you have been training hard for rest of the time, then after a deload week you will come back to the gym feeling refreshed and much stronger.

9) Build muscle- if you are skinny or even worse skinny-fat, then you need to build some muscle, period! A tiny muscular structure will never have maximal strength, so start building some muscle mass. For that you need to eat some additional calories, and do a few sets in the 6-10 reps range.

10) Do more reps before adding weight- this is one principle that has been very useful in my own training and that of my clients. Lets say that you can squat 100 pound for 4 reps, my suggestion would be to first be able to squat that 100 pound for 5 reps or more preferably 6 before you add more weight. This way you will feel much more confident when you attempt 105, and your muscles will be much more capable of handling the heavier load.


BONUS TIP

Take your warm up seriously- if you are 18, then you might be able to get away with improper warm up. Yep, when I was in my teens often my warm up was only doing 1-2 lighter sets of the first exercise of the day, and then I would straight away get into the heavy sets. However today in my late 20’s if I don’t do a joint mobility warm up often followed by a set or two of a bodyweight movement, I tend to feel the negative consequences in my joints the next day. So take your time to warm up before you hit the heavy weights to avoid injuries and keep making progress consistently. 


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