There are usually two type of people working out in the gym, those are strong and those who wish to be strong. It doesn’t really matter on the sport – Olympic lifting, crossfit, strongman or power lifting, the stronger you are the more successful you will be.
Bodybuilders know that a strong muscle will be a big one, weight lifting isn’t just something you go into the gym and do, it requires a pre-planned, progressive approach.
For the fastest strength gains with minimal plateau times, try these ten training tips on for size that will give you the most strength gains ever.
1) Walk In And Warm-Up
Going to the gym with the mindset of lifting heavy weights is serious business so you are likely to be eager to get under the bar but you should always start any workout routine with a good warm-up first, this is easy to miss out but forms an essential part of your ability to exert maximum force.
A proper warm-up prior to working out is well documented but it has been shown to also give you increased mental readiness and more efficient movement patterns. Muscles and joints also become primed, every successful lifter goes through this step.
Warming up isn’t just about static stretches and pre-workout drinks, to get as strong as possible you need to include warm-up sets with submaximal weights for the lift your doing as an example, if you are going to be squatting then do some squatting same with any type of lift, warming up will get you ready physically and mentally.
Additional volume is another added benefit of warming up. Volume = weight x sets x reps, so squatting progressively heavier weights for 4 sets of 5 reps with none to failure gives you a lot of extra training volume without much added time to your workout.
2) Prioritize What Comes First
Strength is a skill. you are much stronger when you are fresh, so do the heaviest, most demanding exercise at the start of your workout. These movements are always multi-jointed in nature, like rows, presses, squats and pulls. These movements build the most strength, require the heaviest loads lifted and demand the highest levels of coordination. You will get the greatest benefit and yield the most performance by adding these most important core movements right at the start of your workout.
3) Train Like An Egyptian
A great way to train is to follow the ‘reverse-pyramid’ training method, doing the heaviest work at the beginning of the workout after warming up so your energy levels are at their highest and make each successive set a little bit lighter.
A great benefit to going really heavy and then gradually backing off the weight a little bit is ‘post-activation potentiation’ (PAP), which refers to the enhancement of muscle function following a high force activity or heavy-set. As an example when you perform a 3-5 rep max, followed by a light explosive set, it is like lifting a can of water that is half full and thinking it is full, the weight feels lighter and you can move it faster.
4) More Sets Of Fewer Reps
You wouldnt train for a 40m dash by doing countless miles daily on an oval track and the same applies to strength.
Limit strength is measured by your ‘1-rep max’ (1RM). In training this means more first reps, so instead of 3 sets of 10 reps, think instead of 10 sets of 3 reps. This means the same amount of volume but you get over three times as many first repetitions.
More sets equals more first reps as well as more practice to build and display your strength. Laboratory tests have confirmed that this type of training allows for greater force and power production when compared with traditional sets.
5) Grease The Groove
To get to Carnegie Hall requires practice and more practice and strength training is no different.
Coach Pavel Tsatsouline describes in his book ‘power to the people’ how a neurological groove has to fire in a certain sequence and intensity. This means you have to practice the same move over and over again with good technique to build strength and then do it some more.
Many people believe it takes 10,000 reps performed correctly to master a movement. Every rep performed in training, from first warm-up to the heaviest set provides you with opportunity to perform a rep correctly, so take advantage of this opportunity to perform every rep right.
6) Get Explosive In Training
The more explosive your lift, the stronger it will be. Your muscles and central nervous system don’t know what weight is on the bar but do know muscle tension and force.
The basics of physics can be applied to strength training. Force equals mass times acceleration. Doing lighter sets with maximum acceleration through the full range of motion is called CAT or compensatory acceleration training.
Greater force exerted onto the bar will create more muscle tension which helps to build strength. It can also help with muscle hypertrophy as you are recruiting a higher number of fast-twitch muscle fibers, ones with the most potential for growth.
You cannot accelerate the bar forever, as you near the end of the motion you slow down just before lockout. This is known as the negative acceleration phase and it become automatic when practiced over time.
When training core multi-joint movements after warm-up, think about moving the bar as fast as possible. This produces higher amounts of force, the weight will feel lighter and the ‘intent’ will produce limit and explosive strength adaptations.
7) Training Movements From A Dead Stop
Why is it that the first exercise rep on some exercises like dumbbell bench presses sometimes the hardest when starting out at the bottom?
Because starting from the bottom does not start with the elastic energy that builds during the eccentric (negative phase). This energy actually helps power you through the initial phase of the lift. Typically, lowering a weight under control and smoothly reverse the direction into the positive rep you reap the benefits of elastic energy, making the lift easier.
Sometimes though you do want the movement to be harder, so you can focus on building strength out of the hole by eliminating the elastic energy. You can do this by stopping the lift at the bottom for 1-2 seconds, sitting tight and then exploding up. At a dead stop, your muscles do all the work with no benefit of built up energy.
Don’t do this instead of your regular core movements but as well as them.
8) Avoid Performance Lowering Substances
To maximise your performance in the gym, you shouldn’t sabotage your efforts outside of the gym with a detrimental lifestyle. Studies have shown that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on performance, so to get really strong, go for weights and plates instead of booze and beer.
This doesn’t mean becoming teetotal but even just a few beers has been shown to acutely lower testosterone levels, drinking heavily on a regular basis will lower performance and you won’t be lifting at your best.
9) Don’t Be The Jack Of All Trades At The Gym
Training for multiple objectives at the same time is one of the most common causes of failure at the gym where people hope to get as strong, lean and muscular as possible all at once, this never works, it is far better to manage training objectives.
Periodization is a protocol top-level athletes follow which basically means purpose-driven training. You won’t get to a magic 500-pound bench press and run a five-minute mile concurrently. Prioritize goals and hit them with everything you’ve got.
Commit to becoming strong by making strength a no.1 objective, it can help to have a personal trainer if going competitive, overall training structure should be kept simple. Think heavy weights and low reps and do minimal cardio.
10) Visualizing A Successful Lift Before Doing It
Brain activity comes before movement which doesn’t sound anything amazing but consider that among the strongest men in the world, correct movement patterns are visualized before even being performed. Eastern-bloc scientists put this into practice more than 75 years ago which made then Soviet athletes unstoppable.
Try taking 10-15 mins every day to visualize yourself lifting with optimal form. Try to find quiet spot, shut off the lights, lay down and relax. Visualize yourself as much as possible, integrating sight, sound and feeling. See yourself performing strength movements with optimal technique in a dominating style.
At the University of Chicago, Dr. Judd Biasiotto conducted an experiment which split participants into three groups, testing their free-throw percentages. Biasiotto established a baseline and had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour, the second group visualizing themselves making the free-throw with no practice and the third group doing nothing.
After a month, the three groups were retested. The first group gained a 24% improvement but more amazingly was the third group, which increased by a staggering 23%! with no free throws and the third group remained the same as expected, basically if you see yourself doing right, then you do right.
I believe that these really are some of the best strength training tips you will find and , this is 10 of the most common similarities between some of the world’s top athletes, there is never a better time than right now.