To be able to improve any physical quality, from endurance to speed, power to muscle size, you need a strong foundation, literally.
Physical strength is the foundation you build all other qualities on. Want to be a faster runner, you need strong legs and hips, as well as a strong midsection to transmit forces and put more force into the ground on each stride.
Power can be defined as the capacity to do work. More strength = more ability to do work. You can do more work shifting 100kgs for 10 reps, than if you can only use 50kg for the same rep total.
Likewise, if you can press bodyweight for sets of 10, you’ll likely have more muscle size than someone who can only handle half bodyweight for the same reps.
The bigger your strength base, the higher your upside becomes. And this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pack on loads of muscle to do so. Strength is typically built using lower total reps, usually, I program about 10 total reps for strength. This may be 2×5, 3×3, 4×2, or similar, so the volume isn’t there to build loads of size. In fact, some of the strongest clients I’ve ever trained have been the smallest.
Here are 5 tips to help you get stronger (so you can do more stuff better)!
1.Don’t go to technical failure every training session.
In fact, don’t go to failure, full stop. Training should make you better, you should leave the gym feeling good, energised and, ideally, injury free. Going to failure all the time just beats you up, makes recovery difficult and increases your risk of injury.
Instead, give yourself a buffer of sorts in your big lifts. For example, let’s say you’re deadlifting and your 1RM is around 200kg/ 440lbs. If you can do 5 reps at 180kg (90% of your 1RM), you could maybe get 1 good set out, rest 3-4 minutes, creak out another decent set, then subsequent sets would deteriorate in volume and technical mastery. Instead, do a set of 3, leaving 2 in the tank. Rest a couple of minutes, and repeat for your total rep target that day. You never go near failure but you get a load of great quality volume at 90% of your max.
2. Give yourself enough time to recover.
There’s a guy at my gym that trains 7 days a week. That’s all the days. No rest day, no recovery time. He’s in for at least an hour and a half every day, you have to admire his dedication. But not his strength levels or muscle mass. He complains regularly to anyone who’ll listen that he isn’t getting any stronger or bigger, without recognising the folly of his overindulgent ways.
Your body gets a dose of stress in the gym, it then needs time to adapt up to better handle this stress in the future. To do so takes time. If you training volume is low enough, you can train more regularly as it takes less recovery time to prepare for the next session, but more than likely, you’ll have to take longer to recover because you are going to need a little more volume, and you also have the day to day stresses you need to deal with. Your body doesn’t much care what the source of stress is, it deals with it the same regardless.
I’d recommend either a rolling 2 days on, 2 days off approach, or 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off weekly cycle of training.
3. Follow a plan.
All too often, folks head into the gym with no more thought about what they’re about to do than lift some stuff and stick to what they are already good (average?) at. Having a coherent plan that takes you from point A to point C, via point B can be a game changer. Knowing you have a plan when you step into the gym gives you more confidence and purpose in your training. It’ll also help you fix your weak links and provide the right amount of training stress to get you the results you put in, assuming of course that you put in the required effort and actually follow the program to completion.
Now, I might be biased, but if you’re looking for a great training plan, one battle tested by a great group of people, The Strong Project is launching later this month! If you are interested in finding out more about the program and more importatnly how you can get your copy with a nice discount, you can do so here!