7 Things You Can Do To Get Stronger Right Now
I’ve been known to say this quite often. So often that I’m sure some people are getting sick of hearing (or reading) it. The reason I repeat it so much, though, is that it’s just that important. People are always looking for the new, exciting exercise that is going to launch your gains to the next level. I must have missed something here. Did squats stop working? The reason you want to focus on the big lifts (squats, deadlifts, presses, pullups, rows, etc.) is that they give you the most bang for your buck. Why should I take the time and energy doing leg presses, leg extensions and leg curls when I can just squat? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some variety. Variety is a good thing. But variety just for the sake of variety is wasting your time. Keep your goal in mind when planning your movements.
Show me someone doing 3 sets of 10 and only 3 sets of 10 and I’ll show you someone who probably hasn’t made much progress in a while. Exposing your body to new stimuli is the heart of strength training and adaptation. There are so many different methods of periodization and programming out there for a reason. They teach different ways to drive adaptation by using different variables. Probably the simplest variable for someone to change in his or her own programming is rep range. This is a function of both volume and intensity so remember if you are doing less reps, you’re going to be handling heavier weight and vice versa. You can do this any number of ways: different rep ranges on different days, linear progression throughout the month and so on. If you’re unsure, speak to a trainer and get yourself on a good program.
Here it is, one of the most common reasons for why guys fail to build muscle or get stronger. Everyone always thinks they are eating enough. The fact of the matter, though, is this: if you’re trying to gain muscle and you’re not, you probably aren’t eating enough. The same goes for getting stronger. I know in my training that I feel a significant correlation between how much I eat and how strong I feel. If I haven’t been eating enough for a few days I can basically predict that I’m going to be weaker when I go for that heavy day. If you aren’t keeping a food journal already, you should start now.
Ever see someone doing squats or bench presses in the gym? Chances are they don’t go anywhere near parallel or touching their chest. Now I’m not going to turn into the form police here. Some people have reasons to do less than a full range of motion, and if you’re one of them go right ahead. But if you’re going to go telling me you squat 405 and act like you’re big and strong, you damn sure better be dropping all the way down. Here’s the thing: most people don’t use a full ROM because it’s just plain harder. People don’t want the hard stuff. They want to be able to say they easily squat 405 or bench 315. But if you want to get stronger, start using the full ROM (if you can) and then watch how strong you get when you adapt to that.
Train to failure and you’re training to fail. It’s as simple as that. If you are constantly missing reps in your training you are doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Going to failure and beyond strains everything: your muscles, your joints and your nervous system.
You would be amazed that the difference having a strong grip can make with your training. First of all, having a strong grip just plain makes you feel stronger. It’s also a lot of fun. But having a strong grip does something else: it adds to the radiant tension you build when lifting. Plenty of strength coaches have suggested squeezing the bar as hard as you can when benching, and there is a reason for that. The extra tension you build by doing this radiates throughout your body and can actually make your lift stronger. There are lots of resources out there on building grip strength, one of the best being Jedd Johnson’s The Grip Authority. If you’re unsure on how to get started with grip training, this is an invaluable resource.
This should probably be #1 on this list. I know too many guys who want to be in the gym 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. What most people fail to remember is that the time you spend in the gym is breaking down muscle, not building it up. If you want to get bigger and stronger you need to be recovering from the time in the gym. Make sure you are getting good amounts of sleep, adequate nutrition and plenty of rest and you’ll see a big difference in your results.