How To Gain Strength
As humanity has developed, physical strength has become less and less critical for survival. Unfortunately, for this reason, being strong seems to have slipped further and further down our list of priorities. While physical strength may no longer determine the amount of food we eat or how warm and dry we stay, it is still fundamental to our health and well-being.
Thankfully, you've made the decision to find out how to gain strength - a decision you will not regret.
It's as easy as 1 2 3...
There are three things you need to do in order to get strong:
1. Lift HEAVY weights
2. Eat like a HORSE
It really is that simple; the hard part is applying these rules with discipline and consistency. Read on to learn about these principles in more detail...
It's no secret that lifting weights will make you stronger. Unfortunately, many people go to the gym and 'work out' for years, only to make very little progress.
It’s important to understand the difference between ‘working out’ and training. It’s easy to go to the gym and ‘work out’, with no real sense of purpose or quantifiable measure of progress, but this is not the way to get strong. If you really want to do this, you need to train. You are training because you have a vision and a purpose. You have a plan and you are going to follow it through. There is nothing more motivating than tracking your progress and regularly breaking your own personal records.
Find a good strength training program. Your program should consist of mainly 'compound exercises' using a barbell. Compound exercises are multi-joint lifts that require the use of several muscle groups to complete. Examples of these are;
- The Squat
- The Deadlift
- The Benchpress
- The Overhead Press
- The Barbell Row
These lifts are difficult to learn by yourself, and improper technique is the number one cause of injuries. Luckily, you don't need a personal trainer to teach you them. "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe has been called "the best and most useful of fitness books",and is an absolute must for anyone that lifts weights.
The core of any worthwhile strength training program, anyone can get strong using just these lifts alone.
This part is just as important as the training. If you don’t eat; you won’t grow. If you don’t grow; you won’t get stronger.
During your weight training you are breaking down your muscle fibers and in order to repair them, you need food. Lots and lots of food. If you eat enough of the right kind of food, your body will not only repair the torn muscle fibers it will overcompensate – and this is when growth will occur.
In order to gain weight at a steady rate, and to avoid getting fat, you should take in around 200-300 calories a day more than you burn.
Your total calorie intake should be split up into 6 smaller meals throughout the day.
It’s not just about calories; you need to be eating the right sort of foods if you want to gain muscle. You could reach your daily calorie target using Big Macs and ice cream, but it doesn't take a genius to realise that is going to earn you some unwanted fat.
Protein shakes are very useful
Your main focus should be getting lots (around 1-1.5g for every pound of body weight of high quality protein daily. Your protein should come from foods such as; steak; chicken; tuna; eggs and milk. Protein shakes are also very useful as meal replacements. It’s much easier to get your 6 meals in if 2 of them are protein shakes.
Carbs are not your enemy when you are trying to get strong. They are an essential part of any strength trainer’s diet, and should come from foods such as; rice, potatoes, whole wheat pasta and natural yogurt.
No need to add any extra fat to your diet, as you should be getting a sufficient amount from the steak, eggs and milk. Saturated fat will increase your testosterone levels, so it wouldn't be wise to cut it out of your diet all together.
OK, so the last part is the easy part.
You need to make sure you rest. Your muscles grow when you rest, not when you’re at the gym. What that means is that if you hit the gym hard today, then go back and do the same tomorrow, you’re not giving your body a chance to repair. If you lift weights before your body has had a chance to repair itself, all you’re doing is tearing your muscle fibres again (a great way to halt your progress all together).
Make sure you’re;
- Training no more than 4 times a week
- Getting at least 8 hours sleep per night
This is not opinion or conjecture; it is fact. It may feel counter-intuitive at first, and you may feel like training every day, but you will make much faster progress if you’re getting adequate rest.
And that's it!
Apply these three principles consistently and in a structured way, and you WILL gain strength.
Please leave any comments and questions you may have in the box below. I'd love the opportunity to speak to you personally about your strength training journey.