To get the most out your workouts, use these top strength training tips. These workout recommendations will allow you to get the most out of your physical efforts, whether you're training for aesthetics, endurance, or power.
The Value of Strength
One of the most common things missing from most fitness programs is a focus on getting strong. This is a problem: A high level of maximal strength is the most influential quality in performance. Not only that, being strong is protective: It strengthens connective tissue and bone, improves the brain—muscle connection, and increases how quickly you can improve your physique, either by losing fat or gaining muscle.
Most people think that all they need to do to get strong is go to the gym. In reality, to get strong, you need to challenge your body with heavy weights.
When you overload your muscles with weights you’re unaccustomed to, your body will recruit more muscle fibers to perform the activity. On the other hand, if you are just lifting light weights that your body is used to, you’ll never reach your physical potential. Lifting light weights means you leave a large part of your beautiful muscle dormant and untrained.
Hopefully, you’re on board with the idea that getting strong is a primary goal. To help you do that, here is a list of the best strength training tips you need to adopt today:
#1: Plan Your Workouts
Design workouts in 3 to 4-week phases, alternating between strength and volume-focused training. For the first phase, lift moderately heavy weights in the 8- to 15-rep range. During this phase the focus is on increasing lean tissue. Next, go for intensification, in which your weights go up and your rep range goes down (2 to 8 reps). This phase allows you to stimulate new lean muscle tissue for strength.
#2: Favor Barbell Training Over Machines
A machine here or there may provide benefits, but barbell compound lifts are a staple. Free weights recruit more muscle and allow you to lift heavier loads.
#3: Do Eccentric Training
Emphasizing the eccentric phase of a lift is a strength training tip that can benefit everyone. You are stronger eccentrically when the muscle is lengthening than you are concentrically, when the muscle is shortening. If you’re a novice, do eccentric-enhanced training by lengthening the time you spend on the down motion—try a 4-second lowering tempo. Advanced trainees can trigger rapid strength (and muscle) adaptations by using heavy eccentric loads to recruit muscle fibers not overloaded any other way.
#4: Ensure Structural Balance
In everyday life, we all have awkward movement patterns that lead to muscle imbalances and tight tissues. If these remain uncorrected, they will cause pain and dysfunction. Use unilateral training to balance the right and left sides of the body.
#5: Separate Strength & Cardio Workouts
Steady-state cardio impairs strength adaptations. Therefore, it’s recommended that you always separate your strength and conditioning workouts, doing them on different days. Additionally, interval training doesn’t have as much of a negative effect on strength as steady-state cardio, making it your go-to form of conditioning.
#6: Use Recovery Nutrition
Certain nutrients will enhance the clearance of stress hormones such as cortisol while promoting tissue repair. This can build strength of connective tissues and tendons, allowing you to handle greater loads down the road. Opt for a high-protein intake, and supplement with whey protein, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C in the post-workout period.
#7: Use Drop Sets
Include drop sets to produce a large quantity of motor unit fatigue. A style of drop sets that is especially effective is a high-intensity set followed immediately by the same exercise at a low-intensity with 50 percent of the 1RM. Such a protocol yields a larger increase in muscle cross-sectional area than a strength protocol alone.
#8: Try Advanced Training Methods: The 1-6 Method
If you reach a plateau in strength, try the 1-6 Method: Perform 1 rep at your 1RM, rest, and then perform 6 reps using as much weight as you can (6RM). Use a full recovery period lasting 3 to 5 minutes.
#9: Try Forced Reps
Forced or assisted reps enhance muscle mass by recruiting more motor units. Perform forced reps with a load that is heavier than normal for the given number of repetitions rather than doing extra reps: For example, for a program that includes 3 sets of 12 squats, identify the maximal load you can perform for 12 reps. Then increase that load and perform 12 reps, getting assistance when necessary. This maximizes hormone release and motor unit adaptation.
#10: Adopt A Mindset of Continuous Improvement
Being strong is about continuing to make things harder, not easier, when training.