“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to
persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
– Christopher Reeve
Everyone knows the early 1980’s “No Pain, No Gain” slogan. But did you know you have Jane Fonda to thank for that one? Yes, seriously. Well, you can forget all that now. There’s a new slogan in town: “Beyond The Pain” In other words, the secret to successful strength training is going that extra mile, doing that extra set, constantly increasing the workload, and keeping at it, mind-over-muscle style – beyond the pain. “Muscle fever” is going to love you like a new puppy.
This article will provide you with the structure to do so, to achieve that level of strength that is your motivation and driving force. Below, you’re going to find 5 essential tips to improve your strength training; each of them is diligently explained and will let you know the exact benefits of each to your current workout schedule.
So, let’s get moving:
- “The Big Four”
Greater strength allows you to achieve a higher level of performance athletically. You can throw that bowling ball down the lane faster, hit that golf ball further, and punch that obnoxious guy, who’s ruining your night out with your girl, much, much harder, to name but a few.
To reach those levels, you need to make friends with “the big four” – the bench press, the shoulder press, the squat, and the deadlift. These are, by far, the best 4 exercises when it comes to successful strength training. You can still throw in the row and chin-up if you want; they are the complement to the “pressing muscle” exercises, by “pulling” on those groups.
- First Things First: Barbells
Forget power towers for the moment. Barbells are going to be your best friend (best man at your wedding, if you want) in your strength training regime. Every good training schedule starts with exercising with these fellas and especially good for the big four mentioned above.
They’re great because you can load them up and keep loading; lifting heavy is essential to your ultimate aim. Remember, beyond the pain.
With those heavier exercises completed, you can shift your focus to your bodyweight and dumbbell schedule.
3. Get Outta the Gym
The problem with cardio exercise is that it will increase your hormone levels if done for a sustained period of time, for example, cycling or distance running. Those hormones are going to start acting on your muscles and reducing them, as it will make them more effective for that type of training. Therefore, the strength trainer’s cardio needs to be done in very intensive, shorter bursts. You’ll still get lean.
Find yourself a reasonably steep place, take a deep breath, and run like you’ve got Usain Bolt beside you, straight to the top of the hill. It’s ok, you get to walk back down. When you’ve recovered, sprint back up. Do as many as you can. Keep adding an extra 2 sprints every time you do this. Before you know it, you’ll be sprinting in sets.
- Watch Your Form
Back to the big four again. You need to get these 100% interiorized. In other words, your form needs to be perfect to achieve maximum results. Take a look below:
- Bench Press: Follow these tips:
- Ensure your lower back is arched.
- Push your shoulder blades together.
- Minimize your range of motion.
- Shoulder press: To be able to work with heavier weights, flare your lats at bar level.
- Squat: Follow these tips:
- Arch your lower back until you feel it in your hamstrings.
- Squat as low as you can.
- Remember to keep your back straight
- Don’t let your knees surpass the tip of your toes when squatting.
- Deadlift: Follow these tips:
- Pretend you’re going to jump, so your legs are narrow.
- Keep your back straight.
- Your shoulders should be in line with your knees.
- Add These to Your Workout
Below is the icing on the cake – a list of essential stuff that you need to add into your strength training if you haven’t already done so:
- Simplicity: When it comes to weights, focus on picking them up, putting them down (both as controlled as possible), and counting your reps. Nothing more. Next time, increase the load in a consistent way.
- Keep a Record: You need to keep track of what you’re doing, like weights, exercises, reps, and sets. And keep increasing. Writing down what you have been doing and what you want to achieve could be a good starting point.
- 5 is Your Lucky Number: Varying your exercises maintains balance and sets of 5 balances improvements in strength with muscle size.
- “Slowly, Slowly, Catchy Monkey”: It is vitally important to your success that you don’t lift the heavier weights for too long. Drop 10% and then build back up to avoid hitting a plateau.
- Balance: Always remember that your training has to be for all of your body – don’t concentrate on your naturally stronger side. Result? Muscle imbalances and possible injuries.
So there you have them – your 5 essential tips for improving your strength training: the “Big Four,” barbells, short cardio, form and those extras. Go beyond the pain and follow these tips to ensure success.
Are there any that you would like to add in? Any that have obviously been missed? Please, do let us know by posting a comment below.