It doesn’t matter what circle you roll in whether it’s bodybuilding, powerlifting, Crossfit, or pretty much any sport with the exception of yoga (not really a sport), everyone seems to be on a quest for more strength. If you’re in the gym and you’re moving weight, you’re trying to get stronger in some way, shape, or form – or at least you should be.
The good news is when it comes to strength, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Getting stronger means you can build muscle faster, your muscles and joints are more resistant to injury, you can run faster, jump higher, and when you’re in the squat rack people know not to mess with you.
The bad news is, unless you’re a genetic freak on some fantastic drugs, FREAKISH strength isn’t built overnight. You’re gonna have to put in work but it’ll be worth it when everyone wants to know what your secret to success is.unless you're a genetic freak on serious drugs, strength isn't built overnight Click To Tweet
Building strength may not be instantaneous but it doesn’t need to be a complicated pursuit either. In fact, it’s actually not that difficult, it just requires a consistent and dedicated effort. Like most things, when it comes to training, there isn’t just one way to get the job done but there are some tried and true, proven methods that deliver great results.
If you’re tired of being a weakling and want to build some freakish strength that will leave people terrified to squat or deadlift in the same vicinity as you then check out some of these “can’t lose” training tips.
1. Be Consistent – Like I said, getting strong naturally is a process that takes time. One of the biggest differences between a guy that’s strong and jacked and a skinny bastard is the simple fact that the jacked guy just didn’t stop.
He stayed on the wagon and put in more time.
When everyone else decided to rest or stay at the bar ’til 4 in the morning and spend the rest of the day hungover, the jacked guy was busy adding 50lbs to his deadlift.
Whatever your training split looks like just stick to it. There is more value in sticking to a program and seeing it through to the end than constantly “switching it up.” Just because you didn’t see any gains in 2 weeks doesn’t mean your program didn’t work.
See Related Article: How to Become a Powerhouse in the Gym and Everyday Life!
2. Focus on the “Big 3” – Getting strong means moving weight, and lots of it, on a regular basis. There’s disputably no better way to do that than with the squat, bench press, and deadlift aka the Big 3. Do these movements or variations of them at least once a week to build a solid foundation of full body strength.
3. Focus on the overhead press – Overhead strength is not something you want to overlook. This will keep the shoulders strong and put the finishing touches on your upper body strength.
overhead strength = FREAK strength!
See Related Article: How to Build Strong Shoulders and Prevent Nagging Injuries
4. Use Deficit Reps – By simply increasing the range of motion on a given exercise (creating a deficit), you increase time under tension and can target weak points in the movement. Deficits work really well for exercises like pushups, handstand pushups, deadlifts and lunges.
deficit lunges hit all the weak points
5. Use Pause Reps – Similar to a deficit, pause reps can also help strengthen weak points. For example, you can use the pause technique with the back squat where you pause for 2-3 seconds at the bottom before coming back up. This will help to build strength at the weakest point in the movement. Just remember to use lighter loads with this technique since it is more demanding.
Check out Klokov’s pause squats to see what I’m talking about.
6. Use Tempo Reps – The speed at which you move through a given range of motion can also affect your strength gains. Using various tempos such as 3 second eccentric/1 second concentric are great ways to tax your muscles. Again, more time under tension will force you to work harder making you stronger in the process.
7. Use Single Arm/Leg Exercises – There’s no better way to address muscular imbalances than with unilateral training. Training one limb at a time will also help to improve joint stability which will directly transfer into more strength on bilateral lifts. Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlifts, and 1 arm rows are some of the best unilateral exercises in the book.
that’s how you row!
8. Build Grip Strength – Never let grip be the limiting factor in a lift. It has been said that there is a very high correlation between grip strength and overall strength.
This makes sense since so many movements like deadlifts, chinups, and olympic lifts all require fundamental grip strength to be proficient. Farmer’s carries, rope climbs, and even heavy dumbbell rows are surefire ways to develop raw grip strength.
9. Train to failure – This is a tried and true technique among bodybuilders and for good reason. By performing a set to failure, you are forcing your muscles to work their absolute hardest. This gives your muscles basically no choice but to get stronger in order to adapt.
This technique should be used sparingly and not on every set since it can be very taxing, especially in higher rep ranges. Unless you have a really good dental plan, having a spotter would also be a good idea.
10. Train Explosively – Moving light to moderate weight explosively can sometimes be more brutal than moving heavy weight slowly. This type of training helps to develop power or speed-strength. The boys at the powerlifting mecca, Westside Barbell, refer to this as dynamic effort. This provides huge benefits while putting less stress on the joints that heavier loads tend to do. Plyometrics are also a great method for developing explosiveness.
with speed comes strength
See Related Article: How to Build Muscle and Get Extremely Chiseled: 4 Unconventional Methods
11. Don’t underestimate rest days – Strength is primarily a product of fine tuned nervous system. The nervous system can take up to 3 times as long as your muscles to fully recover.
If you are too sore or fatigued, your output will be significantly compromised. If you’re starting to feel sluggish or a little beat up, that’s a tell tale sign you need to recoup. Getting strong is more about quality not quantity. I’d recommend not training more than 3 days in a row if building strength is your primary focus.
when the tank is empty, you gotta pull over to refuel
12. Don’t underestimate prehab work – There’s nothing worse than an injury to stop your training dead in its tracks. A wise man once said “prevention is better than cure” (I think that was my father actually). Mobility and activation exercises may not necessarily build superhuman strength but they will keep you off the sidelines.
Strong and healthy shoulders are a must if you want to press big weight, hip and ankle mobility need to be in check if you want to squat deep and heavy. Taking 5-10mins before every workout for mobility/activation will save you months, maybe even years of rehabilitation.
prehab or rehab, the choice is yours…
13. Increase your rest periods between sets – When it comes to building strength, you’re generally going to be lifting heavier weights which means you’re going to need a little more time to recover between sets.
You may not feel taxed metabolically but your nervous system needs a little more time to recharge. Depending on the volume of your workout, you should be taking anywhere from 3-5 mins rest between sets to ensure full recovery.
14. Keep it simple – I know I’ve mentioned a few different ways to modify your reps earlier but I don’t want you to overthink every set and rep of your workout either – just lift. As long as you’re doing at least one main lift every workout, a little accessory work and getting adequate recovery between workouts, you should see strength gains. The less complicated you make it, the more enjoyable your training will be.one main lift, some accessory work, a good night's sleep and the rest is gravy Click To Tweet
15. Use variations of lifts – A simple way to avoid plateaus and overtraining is to use variations of the main lifts. For example, instead of your standard bench press, you can switch to a dumbbell press or close grip bench press every couple of weeks. This varies the stress put on the muscles and joints and allows you to stay fresh. The more you can keep the body guessing, the more you force it to adapt.
16. Use high rep bodyweight training – After a good session of barbell work, it’s great to finish your workouts with high rep body weight exercises. For example, after a deadlift workout, you could do 50 pushups and 30 chinups to put the icing on the cake. For you big guys, you might find this tough but there is a lot of value in being able to move your body weight.
See Related Article: 17 Bodyweight Exercises for Optimum Strength and Conditioning
17. Think outside the box – There’s lots of effective ways to get strong without barbells or dumbbells. Strongman training, as the name implies, is a great place to start. Strongman training is where you use odd objects likes stones and sandbags instead of traditional weights for resistance. Sled and car pushes are also great variations. The key is to move heavy loads long distances.
they’re not just for driving
18. Mix up your rep schemes – It doesn’t have to be heavy singles and triples all the time. Slightly higher rep ranges can put a different stimulus on the body and reduce the stress of heavier loads.
1 set of 20 with the heaviest weight you can handle is a great way to mix things up. Even a hypertrophy phase (8-12 reps) for a couple of weeks every so often might just be enough to get you to the next level.
Simple enough? Now all you have to do is rack up a good decade of training experience and you’ll be strong as an ox!
It might not take that long but you definitely need to put in time if you want to take your strength to the next level. Just take it one workout at a time and become a master of the basics.
Also remember, don’t try to do everything all at once, just apply a couple of principles and make steady progress before you add something else to the mix.
That’s enough reading, now GO LIFT!
P.S. Don’t forget to share this article with anyone you know that wants to build muscle and strength.