“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy ass weight”
To get stronger is something that is universally desired. Nobody wants to be weak, but not everyone knows the best way to become strong. I’ve compiled 10 top tips for increasing your strength here, and as long as you use these, you’ll be well on your way to being the strongest person in the room.
This is by far the most important aspect of anything. You’re not gonna get stronger overnight, hell, probably not in weeks, or months. It can take years to get to your peak, and the earlier you start, the better. There will be many times when you don’t want to get up and go to the gym, and many times when you’re too ill, or so many other things that will throw you off your course, but as long as you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and grind on, you will get stronger.
Proper nutrition is another key aspect. If you’re not fuelling your body properly, then you’re not allowing the muscles you tear down through exercise to recover properly, and you’ll be sabotaging your progress. Whether your goals are to lose weight, or gain muscle, keeping track of what you eat is paramount.As an easy number, consuming at least 1g protein per lb of lean body weight is optimum.
Including that, you should find out your TDEE, and consume a caloric surplus of 250-500, depending on how much fat you’re willing to gain. Get plenty of fruits and veggies, as the micronutrients within, all contribute to overall development, and a healthy body and mind. Remember, if you don’t put enough fuel in the tank, you’re not going to get to where you need to be.
This isn’t the be all and end all of weight training, as lighter or moderate weight definitely has its purpose, but in the end, if you want to get strong, you need to lift big. You’ll force your body to realize “Oh hell, this is damned difficult, I’m gonna need to get stronger, otherwise I won’t be able to handle this”, and you will get stronger over time.
Beyond that, making sure you are constantly increasing the weight over time will help, and once you get to a point that you cannot continue constantly adding weight, you will need to look into alternate methods of progression.
Warm up properly
This is something that is necessary if you don’t want to injure yourself either immediately, or over a period of time. Properly warming up allows the muscles to get ready for the heavier weights it’s about to handle, and it’ll put you at a much lower risk of injuries, and if you are focusing on proper form in the warm-ups, it will also help ensure your form at the heavier weight does not suffer as much. Warming up spans from dynamic stretching, light cardio, to simply doing the movement with lighter weights.
Say you were warming up for the Bench Press. Always start with the bar. If your working sets were 225×5, you’d warm up with just the 45lb bar for 10 reps, up to 90lbs for another 8 reps, 135lbs for 6 reps, 180lbs for 5 reps, then move onto your working sets. That is just an example, but you can adjust based on preference, and what sort of weight and rep range you’re working up to.
Have a healthy lifestyle
If you want to progress, you don’t need to only focus in the gym, but outside as well. Including the previous point of eating right, you also need to make sure you’re sleeping enough, getting plenty of sun, and overall, just making sure you’re not doing things that would detract from your hard work. That means quitting smoking, if you already do, try to minimize alcohol intake, if any, and with the sleep, making sure you’re sleeping at the same time ever night, and the quality of sleep, is almost as important as getting enough.
Free Weights and Compound movements
You see so many bodybuilders using machines, and isolation exercises. However, these become only necessary once you’re at such a level, that you need to fine tune. Before you’re at that point, training large compound movements with heavy weights will allow you to train efficiently and effectively. That isn’t to say that isolation exercises don’t have their place, just that it should be roughly an 80/20 split between compound/isolation. The squat for example, is renowned as the greatest ‘mass builder’ for overall leg development. However, there are variations to place emphasis on certain muscle groups as well.
Beyond recruiting more muscle mass to perform the movements, you also train your stabilizer muscles, which allow you to more easily stabilize the weights, naturally, and allow for more carry-over into other exercises.
Recover like you Train
Recovery is something that has been often neglected in so many peoples routines. In fact, rest is where you get stronger. You break your muscles down at the gym, and when you rest, they build, and you become stronger, and more muscular.
If you are not resting properly, you’re essentially halving the amount of progress you could be making. Beyond the obvious of rest times between sets, and time between training each muscle group, there are other aspects. One, as mentioned before, is sleep, and two, is diet. Both of these are the most vital parts of recovery. Beyond that, there are other techniques, such as daily stretching (after the workout, rather than before), ice baths, sports massage, and increasing your cardiovascular endurance.
If you treat recovery like you should treat training, you’re well on your way to get stronger, and the best you can be.
Everybody hates cardio. Well not everybody, but enough that it’s a problem. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “Cardio kills gains”, well it’s completely untrue. The only reason it would, is if you are not eating enough to make up for the added caloric expenditure. Doing a lot of cardio, be it HIIT, or LISS, will better your cardiovascular system. This will increase blood flow, make your heart beat more strongly, and as a result, oxygen will travel to your muscles more effectively and efficiently. You will recover faster even when doing low rep high weight workouts. Doing more work over time means you will get stronger faster. Besides, you don’t want to be seen out of breath running up a flight of stairs, do you?
Train your weak points
This is where assistance and isolation movements come into play. If a certain muscle group is holding you back, add extra focus onto that muscle group. Even a few sets at the end of each workout including that group should help a lot. For example, with the deadlift, if you are weak at locking out, it could be weak Glutes, Hamstrings, or Lats. If you have trouble getting it off the floor to your knees, it could be weak Quadriceps, or tight Psoas. Once you know what muscle group is holding you back, and you set about changing that, you will begin to progress again.
This is the last thing you should look at when it comes to progressing. Supplements are only for if you are following the previous 9 points, and still are not getting stronger fast enough. That’s because, by their nature, supplements are there to ‘supplement’ a healthy diet and lifestyle, not replace it. There are an incredible amount of different supplements, from fish oil, to creating, to protein powder, to pre-workout, and more. If you’re not getting enough vitamins/nutrients from your diet, consider taking a multivitamin. Beyond that, if you want more info on supplements, check out another article ‘Supplements: Best 8 For Staying Fit And Healthy’
So all in all, remember to train hard, sleep hard, eat hard, and recover hard, and never give up. The only time you fail, is the time you don’t get back up. No matter how slow you’re going, you are going, and you will get stronger, fitter, and better overall.