In the first two articles of this series we talked about the rules for successful fat loss and muscle-building programs. In today’s article we’re going to breakdown the rules for successful strength training programs.
Now, “strength training” can be used to describe a number of different programs, so when I say “strength training” I mean any program where the sole purpose is to increase strength on a particular exercise, or overall.
Before we get to the rules, a brief note on nutrition…
While proper nutrition is very important for strength training, I’m not going to include it as one of the rules. Like we talked about in Part One and Part Two, you can build strength whether you’re trying to lose fat (deficit) or build muscle (surplus). And while a surplus is preferred for a pure strength training program, proper manipulation of volume and exercise selection is going to have a big effect too.
Plus I think we’ve hammered home the importance of nutrition enough in this series.
Now, onto the rules of strength training…
Rule #1: Don’t Try To Do Too Much
Strength training is very taxing on the body and the central nervous system. That’s why if strength is your goal, 100% of your effort needs to be focused on getting stronger, and increasing your weight on the key movements (squat, hip hinge, horizontal/vertical pressing, and rows).
Curls and tricep extensions are great if you’re trying to build muscle. But if you want to get stronger, they’re a waste of your time and energy.
Rule #2: Train One Big Lift Per Session
We just talked about the central nervous system and how taxing heavy lifting is to it. So in order to produce maximal effort on your key lifts, you should only train one movement per session.
I’d love to squat, deadlift, and bench heavy every day if I could, but that’s not how the body works. Producing near maximum effort on one lift is going to take away from the rest. Have a designated day for each of your primary movements you want to get stronger in, and fill in the rest of each session with a few accessory exercises.
Rule #3: Ass & Back…
…Well, glutes and lats more specifically.
If you want to build a bigger squat, bench, deadlift…anything really, you need strong glutes and lats. These are the largest muscles on the upper and lower body, and work to stabilize both areas respectively. Weakness of these muscles leads weakness in your lifts.
Work on learning how to “feel” these muscles by incorporating these exercises into your warm-up.
Rule #4: Consistency
If you want to get stronger, you need to train consistently; not whenever you feel like it. You also need to consistently train with intensity. This means that every time you step into the gym, you’re giving the max effort you can that day. That doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a great workout, but consistent effort produces consistent results.
Consistency also has to do with what you’re doing outside of the gym as well. This means consistently eating high quality food, getting enough rest, and performing the necessary mobility and joint work to make sure your body stays healthy.
Rule #5: Find What Works For You
Not every exercise is going to be right for every person. We all have different anatomy, joint and bone structure, mobility, etc. Some of that stuff can be changed, but some of it can’t. You need to find the exercise that fits you best. Yes everyone should be squatting, deadlifting, and pressing; but there are tons of variations to those movements.
If you don’t have the mobility to get into a proper deadlift starting position, you can do rack pulls or trap bar deadlifts.
Some people are narrow-stance squatters while others are prefer wide-stance. Some have trouble getting enough depth so box squats are a better option.
Flat barbell benching bothers some people’s shoulders, so they’re better off using dumbbells or doing incline pressing.
You can build strength on a number of different exercises. No use injuring yourself on any one variation because it’s “the best”.
Like fat loss or muscle-building, strength training requires a thought-out plan. Follow these rules and you’ll be well on your way to making all the gainz.
What to know more about strength training programs? Send me your questions.