15 Strength Training Strategies
April 15th 2018
Strength is the cornerstone of all sports and everyday life. People of all walks of life have accomplished so much physically that records are constantly being broken. Newer strength athletes are challenging the status quo of what it means to be strong.
And strength is not just limited to bodybuilding, powerlifting or strongman. Being strong means that you can tackle life and make things much much easier. Being strong means that life will throw you curveballs but you are able to adapt and surpass those conditions.
Interested in becoming stronger? Feel that it is your mission in life to be the strongest you can be? Ever wondered some tips and ideas of how to build strength successfully? 15. We have 15 tactics of how to develop strength the right way and to build your life, one muscle fiber at a time.
1) Emphasis on the Big Four
What are the Big Four exercises of strength? The squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press are the four essential exercises of any strength program. When it comes to maximal strength gain, no other program of four exercises can come close to building strength using these four exercises. In here, I have outlined twelve exercises every beginner should do, which definitely includes the big four. Therefore, every strength athlete should strongly consider adding at least the Big Four into their training program.
2) Long Term Focus
It is important to have a clearly defined goal for strength training. All the greats did not achieve their results just by getting lucky. They envisioned a plan long term and worked diligently to achieve those goals. Through days, months, years, and decades of efforts, they persisted and excelled.
There will be setbacks. There will be confusion. There will be times where you might even feel like giving up. Thus, it is important to keep your long term vision and dream alive. Stay focused and disciplined over a long period of time and your results will speak volumes.
3) Barbell Exercises
When building strength, nothing comes close to using barbell exercises. If you have not read the 12 exercises I recommended beginners should include in their strength programs, they are almost exclusively barbell exercises.
Wondered why? They are easier to increment in weight, so progress can be maintained. They are compound exercises, which train multiple muscle groups at a time. They are also the biggest bang for your buck in terms of time. What more can you ask for?
4) Get high quality sleep
Getting a good, if not great, workout in is important. What may be even more significant is getting enough rest to recover from your sessions so that you can train hard again on the next training day.
And it starts by getting high quality sleep. Aim to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night as a minimum. Your body can only alleviate so much stress per each hour of sleep, so if you can, sleep as much as you can for maximum progress.
Your body will thank you. You mind will thank you. And you will feel rejuvenated prior to every workout.
5) Simplicity is king
Ever see those personal trainers that train clients in your commercial gym?
"3 2 1. Good set"
"10 more reps. You got this"
"Hold it for two seconds. Good"
Personal training may be great for some people; some elite lifters may use these tempos to help their training. But for the most part, complexity in a strength program is a huge red flag.
What is the goal of a strength program?
To get stronger.
And how do you get stronger?
By inducing a greater the stimulus, either by increasing the amount of sets, increasing the amount of weight or by decreasing the amount of rest time
That is it. Strength training is not rocket science. Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
6) Do not undervalue nutrition
Getting high quality sleep and food may be the most underrated 1-2 punch for strength gains. Eating enough nutritional food will 100% get you closer to your strength goals.
Why is it that sport athletes, professional athletes in the NBA, NFL and Olympics eat as much wholesome, organic foods?
Food quality is very significant for sports performance since these nutrients help our body make the necessary repairs it needs. After all, it is food that provides the fundamental building blocks, amino acids, carbohydrates, and fatty acid, for our body to build strength and establish a health structure to support muscle gain.
7) Record your progress in a journal
It is awesome to write down what you did for your workout that day. That way, you can track your monthly and even yearly progress from being consistent and striving towards your strength goals
Remember that the number you wrote down does not define your progress. It is the overall trend and yearly progress that will truly show how successful you were in strength training.
8) Do not overtrain
In strength training, we often feel that the more we do, the more results we will achieve. However, it is the opposite. We really only need enough stimulus to tell our body to get stronger; anything more and we run the risk of doing more harm than good.
With that said, it is best to follow a program that will allow you to stay on track. Doing more than five compound exercises per workout may be sustainable for a few weeks. But can you continue that for years and years? Probably not. You will either lose focus or get injured.
So, have a program ready and just stick with the basics. Let the program do the thinking for you and you will put your efforts in towards execution, not obliteration of your body.
9) 5 Reps per set
For strength training, you will train a lot of exercises in sets of 5 repetitions. 5 reps is the perfect balance between intensity and volume. If you do 1 rep, you will be burnt out to do anything else. If you do 10-12 reps, you will feel a pump but not train your strength.
This does not mean that you can never train in other rep ranges. Yes, you need to train your one rep max to hit personal records (PRs). You need to train in higher rep ranges, 10 - 12 reps, for hypertrophy, which is for muscle growth.
However, training at 5 reps will provide a solid base for any future training. Also it will provide the most direct transfer to strength gains.
10)Take a deload or two
When strength training, sometimes your body will need more time to recover from a hard workout. Sometimes, you will not be ready for the next hard session.
The solution? Take a deload and have it planned into your workout regime. Your workout does not need to nearly kill you every session. You workout should be challenging enough to provide stimulus so that your body repairs itself. Stimulate, do not annihilate.
Eventually, you body will not be able to alleviate the stress. So, do not be afraid to take a few deloads when you are in the middle of your program. You grow outside of the gym, not while you are in the gym.
11) Progress slowly
One of the reasons why many new strength athletes lose motivation to continue is because they stall quickly. However, this is because they added weight too quickly and their body cannot recover from the stress.
To alleviate this, strength athletes need to keep their egos in check and add weight slowly. For each successful workout, add only 5 lbs to the next session. This way, progress can be sustained for much longer and plateauing will not be an issue for a long time.
12) Frequent walks and jogs (or even sprints)
While we strive to be strong, having a functional body is key in order to contain our pursuit for strength. Thus, implementing some sort of cardio is within our program will allow our bodies to regulate the amount of muscle created.
Do you want to be very strong but lose your breath when walking up one flight of stairs? That would be embarrassing.
Cardio is important for a healthy life and should be done for sustainable progress. At the same time, too much cardio can interrupt hormone levels and muscle building as our body adapt to new stresses to try to survive.
Overall, life is what you make of it. Do any form of cardio that you enjoy and let that be your mechanism increasing your aerobic endurance
13) Supplemental Exercises and accessories
Every thought about benching five times a week?
What about only doing pull ups everyday?
While these may seem like good, fun ideas, implementing them does not show any attempt to achieve muscular balance. Our body needs to have muscular balance in order to function properly. Otherwise, injury rates increase exponentially.
Focus on finding exercises to complement your training. Figure out what works for you and what areas you need to improve upon the most. Then, work towards correcting those weaknesses.
14) Good Form
An exercise performed incorrectly could foreshadow dangerous outcomes in the future. Especially for big compound exercises that train multiple muscle groups.
It is vital to practice good form to have a solid foundation to build upon. Otherwise, your body is an accident waiting to happen.
I have outlined how to perform the 12 best exercises for beginner strength athletes. Also all exercises should be performed without pain. These movements are natural and our bodies are made to move and adapt to stimulus.
15) Try something new
Sometimes, you need to try different variations and exercises to see what you respond to best. Everybody is different, so you need to figure out what works for you and what does not.
This is why the same program will yield different results for the two people. For example, if your program has squats and two people try the program with the same exact reps, weight, and rest periods, they will achieve completely different results. One may have gained more quads mass and the other may have gained more glutes mass.
Programs exist to help guide lifters from their own emotions. However, it is up to the lifter's intellect to determine what exercises they respond to best and what does not work well.