How To Get Stronger, The Ultimate Strength Building Guid
When a novice first begins lifting weights a few things will happen: they get stronger, build muscle size and improve their muscular endurance. However, most lifters do not realize that you can specifically train towards a certain goal, and this article will discuss how we train specifically for strength adn with best treadmill under 1000.
How Do We Get Stonger?
A muscle becomes stronger when it’s forced to lift beyond its current intensity level, known as progressive resistance. When a muscle adaptions to an intensity, that intensity must be increased for the muscle to continue adapting. There are several ways in which you can progressively overload your muscles:
- Increase the resistance (weight).
- Increase the number of repetitions.
- Increase the number of sets.
It’s important to note that you do not have to do all three at the same time get stronger. A novice who has just started lifting may be capable of doing all three for the first couple of months. However, an intermediate or advanced lifter may find it better to first increase the number of reps or add an additional set, before increasing the weight. This is because as you get closer to your genetic potential, it becomes increasingly harder to add resistance (weight), adding additional reps or sets will probably happen before the weight can be increased.
There are 3 types of muscle action, and true strength comes from improving all 3 types: concentric, eccentric and isometric.
- Concentric - The most common form of muscle action, this is when the muscle shortens (contracts). For example, when performing barbell curls, curling the weight from the bottom position up towards your chest, shortening the length of the biceps.
- Eccentric – This is the lengthening of a muscle and occurs when an external resistance exceeds muscle force, and the muscle lengthens as tension develops. Using the same example of barbell curls, when the weight is lowered from the chest back down to the start position. You are strongest during the eccentric action, which is why lifters sometimes perform negative sets after fatiguing from straight sets.
- Isometric -Isometric is when the muscle remains static. Using barbell curls as the example, when the biceps fatigue and the lifter attempts that seemingly last repetition, they attempt to lift (concentric), however their muscles have fatigued and they are stuck, possibly for a second or two, trying to lift the weight. This static hold is actually an isometric contraction, even though the lifter does not recognise it as such.
Strength Types & Rep Ranges
There are different strength types that can be accomplished by choosing certain rep ranges. If you are lifting weights to improve for a specific sport, then choosing the correct rep range is crucial. Strength training occurs when you start lifting between 60-100% your one rep max (1RM), I’ll expand on 1RM later. For now, let’s look at the most common strength types.
Training for maximum strength requires heavy lifting for a low number of repetitions. You should be lifting between 1-5 repetitions, using 80-100% of your 1RM. This type of lifting is useful for power lifting, Olympic lifts, strongman training and certain Olympic sports, such as shot putt.
Training for power and speed requires high repetitions, 8-12, using 70-80% of your 1RM. This type of lifting is useful for explosive sports, such as: sprinting, jumping, throwing etc. Essentially, the concept of power and speed training is to move an object as fast as possible, this should always be the focus when training for power.
Training for strength endurance requires a high number of repetitions, 12-20, using 50-60% of your 1RM. This type of lifting is useful for field sports, such as soccer or hockey and martial arts.
Size With Strength
Training for size and strength is probably the most common training method. To train for size and strength use medium range repetitions, 8-12, at 70-80% of your 1RM. I would suggest that a lot of recreation lifters train in this rep range, probably without realizing that they are increasing both size & strength. Strength gains at this rep range will of course happen, but not as effectively as training for maximum strength.
Before selecting a weight for a given exercise you should either predict your 1RM or actually test your 1RM. Your one rep max, is the maximum amount of weight that can be handled one time. It’s essential to understand your 1RM so you can select the correct weight for your training goals.
Testing for a 1RM is not always ideal and should be separate from your normal workouts. If you test a 1RM during your normal workout it will become less accurate, due to previous exercise fatigue. Secondly, to train for a 1RM effort can be dangerous, especially on lifts such as bench press.
The safest way to predict your 1RM is from your 3,5,8,10,12 RM’s etc. For example, let’s say you can lift a weight of 150lbs for 10 reps, based on the above table, your estimated 1RM would be 200lbs.
Of course this table is only an estimation, there will be individual factors to consider, but from personal experience I can tell you it’s accuracy lies within 5%.
Using your 1RM
Now you have your 1RM you can apply it to your strength training goals. For example, training for maximum strength, 1-5 repetitions at 80-100% of your 1RM. Assuming your 1RM for bench press is 200lbs we can calculate that you need between 160lbs – 200lbs to perform 1-5 repetitions.
If you are a recreation lifter who is training merely to become stronger, I suggest sticking to the core compound exercises: deadlift, squat, bench press, mid rows, pull ups, push presses etc. If, however you are training for a specific sport it is recommended to choose exercises that mimic your sport. For example, a shot putter would benefit from bench press and push presses.
It is always advisable to perform compound exercises, as these work the body as a complete unit. when designing a workout routine I strongly suggest (no pun intended) that the routine primarily consist of compound exercises.
The workout routine should be built around your strength training goals. If, for example you are training for maximum strength, I would suggest a routine comprising of the core movements, as mentioned above. If you are training for power you could add the power clean or power snatch into your routine, as this is by nature a power movement and can only be performed quickly.
Rest Between Workouts
The rest times between workouts will also depend on strength goals. For example, someone training for maximum strength: 1-5 reps @ 80-100%, will need more recovery between workouts, this is because the central nervous system will be taxed to a greater degree.
The same muscle should not be exercised again for at least 48 hours and the more advanced the trainer, the more they can tax the muscles, therefore the more rest between muscle groups is required.
Most people can get stronger by performing a full body workout 3 times a week, with 48 hours rest between workouts. Once strength progress halts, the program can be changed to an upper/lower split or a body part split, to facilitate more rest between muscle groups.
Rest Between Sets
The aim of rest times is to allow for full recovery of creatine phosphate (CP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the muscles. If your rest time is not long enough you risk fatiguing during the following set, this is due to a build up of lactic acid, not because of momentary muscular failure.
Rest times between sets will depend on the intensity of the lift, the muscles being targeted and the age, weight and fitness of the lifter. For maximum strength using 1-5 reps, the closer the lifter gets to their 1RM the more recovery time is needed. To give you a real life example, 3-5 minutes is usually adequate, however some situations may call for longer rest, which is perfectly fine.
Diet & Nutrition
To get stronger you need to fuel your body with the correct amount of carbohydrates, proteins & fats. You also need to consume a slightly higher number of calories than you burn, to ensure that strength is increased.
Carbohydrates provide energy, which is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. Lifting weights uses glycogen as the fuel, to continue gaining strength you must ensure you get an adequate supply of carbohydrates.
Proteins are required to repair and grow muscle tissue, without adequate amounts of protein you cannot expect the muscle to repair and grow bigger, thus making you stronger.
Essential fats play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature and promoting healthy cell function. Fats have been shown to improve muscular development and allow for more frequent training without over training symptoms.