Build strength to boost fat loss, improve performance and increase longevity.
I’m a strong believer that strength is the foundation of all other aspects of training. Agility, speed, power and endurance will all be effected directly or indirectly on qualities of muscular strength. Becoming stronger will put you in a better position to burn body fat and can even increase longevity.
You might be thinking how being stronger help me burn body fat? Having more strength will enable you to better handle weights. You’ll be in full control of each exercise, you’ll be able to fully contract the muscles you’re using and lift a lot heavier which will increase your work capacity. Creating muscular tension, time under tension and lifting sub maximal weights have been show to increase muscle mass which will help burn body fat.
How can being stronger improve my lifespan?
Sitting down, standing up, carrying a backpack, picking something up from the ground, putting something over head, holding your kids or carrying a heavy object are all forms of strength training and you’ll be better able to carry out these movements into the latest years of life if you build some strength. Functional strength can be refereed to the movements carried out in the weight room that directly carryover into everyday life. A squat, deadlift, loaded carry pulling and pressing movements all help build a strong fully functioning body.
Regular strength training builds tendon and ligament strength, as well as increase bone density. This will benefit us when we age our these will become stronger and more durable. Speed and agility will also be important when we age, as foot speed and balance will determine if you’re able to catch your fall or not. One in three adults aged 50 and over die within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. That’s pretty scary and seems a good enough reason to improve your strength.
How to I improve my strength?
You might not be feeling very strong right now? Lifting heavy objects can be a struggle and you find it hard to keep up in class? You see other people crushing exercises in class and you want to keep up. You really want to build a base of strength but are not sure what to do and how to do it? Or you might be someone who goes to the gym but has hit a plateau? You’re stuck at the same weights on your bench and squat and just want to lift heavier. Your friends and other guys in the gym are lifting so much more and you want to as well. You might be one of these people? Or you might just be interested on increasing your strength to help improve performance in your chosen sport or hobby. You feel that if you got stronger, then you’ll have that little bit extra of an adge.
What ever it is. I got you! This blog will explain some simple and effective ways to improve your strength.
Lift heavy enough
I don’t want to single anyone out but I’m kind of talking to the females here. To increase strength you have to lift heavy enough to create a stimulus for muscles to grow and become stronger. Most women don’t lift heavy as they're afraid to get bulky and usually end of sticking with lifting lighter weights for high repetitions. Once technique is on point then I encourage everyone to lift heavy, generally sticking in the 6-10 rep range or 3-5 if you are more experienced.
Leaning proper lifting technique is crucial for building strength. Stabilisation of joints, proper bracing and refining movement patterns will help you lift heavier while avoiding injury. Hire a coach that can help you, train with a friend who is more experienced than you, or search for good strength coaches on the internet showing you how to perform a lift correctly. Here’s one for the deadlift.
Have a structure
Doing random exercises in some random order will not get you strong. Instead have a programme you can follow that progressively gets harder over time. This will give you focus and numbers to track so you can actually see if you’re improving or getting stronger over time. Structure your sessions with the goal of getting you stronger. Read my blog on how to structure a training session so you can maximise your performance in the gym.
Don’t programme hop
You might have done this? You follow a programme in mens health magazine one week, then you find another programme on the internet and do that for a week, then your friend has a workout you want to try. Hopping from programme to programme does nothing for your strength gains, and you end up doing a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing. Building strength takes time, choose a programme that you enjoy and can adhere to. Follow a programme for at least 10-12 weeks. What ever your goal is, be prepared to stay consistent and be in it for the log haul.
Don’t constantly test your strength
The mistake most people (guys) make is testing their strength every time they go to the gym. They might do a minimal warm up, throw their maximum on the bar and try to lift it heavy. Hitting this wall every time you go to the gym teaches you how to fail and you’ll never improve your strength. Back off for a few weeks, work within 75-80% of your maximum, dial in your technique and build your strength overtime.
Focus on progressive overload
Rather than trying to hit a PR every session, decrease the weight and focus on progressive overload. Progressive overload refers to slowly increasing the weight or sets and reps over time. This could each week or at a time you feel your strength has increased enough to properly handle the weight. Taking the time to slowly increase your capacity over time will cement long lasting strength.
Focus on the big 3
The squat, deadlift and bench are referred to as the big 3. These are multi joint compound lifts that recruit maximal muscle fibres, multiple muscle groups and require a lot of energy/strength to perform them. These exercises are also the most butchered and can increase chances of injury if not performed correctly. Instead think squat, hip hinge and press. Choose an exercise that fits into these categories that you can perform safely while improving on technique as you increase the weight, sets or reps each week.
Eat to perform
The food you put into your body will determine your performance in the gym. Eat the majority of your nutrition from real food and stay hydrated. Carbs fuel performance and you can place the majority of your daily intake around training. Once nutrition is consistent and on point then supplements can help boost that 1-2% in gains. Creatine has been shown to increase strength. Creatine gets a bad wrap and it’s no wonder when the majority of the products on the market are full of artificial chemicals and crap. Pure 100% Creatine Monohydrate has some great benefits. It helps support muscle growth, increases work capacity and can even improve brain function.
If you’re looking to increase your strength and want a structured training and nutrition to help you reach your goals then get in touch for a strategy call. Otherwise use the tips in this blog, stay consistent, and you might be surprised how much your strength increases.