Fitness

Strength Training | Tips For Getting Stronger


Note: If you want a step-by-step proven workout plan for getting stronger and packing on slabs of muscle, I highly recommend checking out this article today.

What you’ll find on this page…

  • Part 1: What will strength training do for you?
  • Part 2: What is strength training?
  • Part 3: Beginner strength training workouts

Part 1 – What Will Strength Training Do For You?

Strength training is one of the best ways to build muscle, lose fat and get stronger.  Strength training is the best form of weight training for athletes, especially those in sports like football, wrestling, track, gymnastics and power lifting (any sport really…).

Unlike most bodybuilding workouts that you’ll find in fitness magazines, strength training is actually very useful for helping physical performance in sports.  Getting stronger is one of the best ways to help your performance in nearly every sport.

If you’re a guy, strength training will help you…

  • Get bigger, more defined muscles
  • See significant gains in strength (improves athletic performance)
  • Boost your metabolism and help you burn fat
  • Produce more testosterone in your body

If you’re a woman, strength training will help you…

  • Get a tight, toned fitness look through your arms, thighs, butt and stomach
  • Make you stronger and give you more energy
  • Stay lean ( You will NOT, I repeat NOT get big and bulky)

Part 2 – What Is Strength Training?

Strength training is about working your body’s large muscle groups in natural movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press etc..) that result not only in an improved physique, but also a noticeable increase of strength and improved athletic ability.

Many weightlifting programs are designed specifically to make your body look better while neglecting the function behind the form.  While it is better than sitting on the couch, you aren’t getting the full benefits of your workout.  The majority of these programs use exercises that are utterly useless outside of the gym (wrist curls, calf raises etc.) and do not translate into athletics or real world activities.

Most guys who workout with traditional magazine workouts (high rep, lower weight) will see some results and start to feel good about themselves.  They look better in the mirror and think damn! This is finally working!  Then one day their neighbor’s car gets stuck in the snow, and they have to help her push it out… Or they need to carry a heavy box out of a care. When people finally realize their bloated three sets of ten reps muscles are utterly useless. They’re confused. They go to the gym six days a week. They follow everything they’ve read online and in the magazines but despite their muscular look, they’re still really weak.

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Now what? Reality has kicked in… and the reality is they have a little form with no function. They have big muscles with no purpose behind them…

If this sounds like you, no need to panic.  It’s good that you realize there’s a problem and that you need to change your strength training workouts.  Here’s what we’re going to do to fix your workouts…

  • Simplify
  • Increase the weight, decrease the reps
  • Rest
  • Test your progress

Simplify

  • To build muscle and strength we aren’t going to go through the entire encyclopedia of exercises. We’re going to stick with five basic workouts: squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, shoulder presses and bench presses. That’s it, and dare I say that if these five lifts were the only lifts that you ever did, you would be just fine. Probably better than fine. It’s almost always better to keep things simple. Just remember that simple does not always mean easy.

Increase and Decrease

  • To build strength, do two things: increase the weight of your lifts and decrease the repetitions. Do not do any more than five reps per set. In most cases, three repetitions would be good ( 3 reps for 5 sets is a good starter). Heavy sets of one rep on occasion are a good thing as well. If you’re using a load that you can lift more than five times in one set, you are not using enough weight to build strength. Put some more plates on the bar, grit your teeth, and lift! Again, simple does not mean easy.

Rest

  • You should wait at least two minutes between sets when strength training. Waiting as much as five minutes between sets when doing heavy singles is not a bad thing. I like to rest 2-4 minutes between sets when strength training.  Also, you may need to increase your rest periods the more you workout and the more tired you get.  You can rest two minutes between your first and second set and four minutes between your fifth and sixth set. Use a stop watch and log your rest periods just like you log your weights, sets and reps.

Test

  • Find your one-rep max for each of the five listed exercises. Then test your max every four to 8 weeks thereafter (I find six-week intervals to be fine). You won’t know if you’re getting stronger unless you establish your max periodically. These “tests” let you know if your training is working or if you need to change it up.

Lift a weight that requires all of your focus and determination at that moment. Keep your form clean, be safe, lift with a spotter and also lift as heavy as possible within these parameters. Keep it simple. And  remember with strength training, simple should not mean easy.

Part 3 – Strength Training Workouts

Just because this is a beginner workout, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  If you’ve never seen results, or you’ve never done real strength training before, this is the perfect place to start.  If you hate working out, this is a great place to start too because once you start to see real results, you’ll be hooked!
If you don’t care about getting stronger and only want to lose fat as fast as possible, you should check out our piece on how to lose fat.

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Ok for the novice workout, we are going to focus on the 5 main exercises.

These exercises will help you build the most amount of strength in the shortest time possible because all of these movements are compound exercises that target the largest muscle groups.

Beginner Strength Training Workout

3-day workout (M-W-F) or (T-Th-Sa)

If you have never performed Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Presses, Pull-ups or the Bench Press, I recommend you start this beginner workout program to learn the proper form (good form is crucial).  Working with just the barbell before you add weight is the best way to learn the proper technique.

———————————————————————–

Week 1 Workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks,  using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Shoulder Press –  2 warm-up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin-up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chin ups.  If you can do more than 5 chin ups, add weight to your chin ups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Bench Press – 2 warm-up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
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Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

That’s your workout for the first week.  For week 2, we’re going to be doing the same exercises, except we’ll be performing the Day 2 workout twice, and the Day 1 workout once.

—————————————————————————

Week 2 Workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Shoulder Press –  2 warm-up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin-up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chin ups.  If you can do more than 5 chin ups, add weight to your chin ups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Deadlift – 2 warm up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)
  • Bench Press – 2 warm-up sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Repeat the week 1 and week 2 workouts for at least 12 weeks.

Get stronger

Conclusion

It’s cool being buff don’t get me wrong, but what good are you if you can’t function? Well, with the above exercises and movements you will be on your way to getting buffer, stronger and more powerful than ever before.

-Terry Asher



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