Back in my military days I was always told that “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Every time I’m in a public gym there are guys walking around with no idea what they’re really doing and just making up exercises as they go along. They finish their bench variation, then look around pondering what to do next. Their plan might be to train chest that day, but just selecting a muscle group and making the rest up as you go along will only get you so far.
A program or plan gives you structure and allows you to be consistent with your training and make progress performing regular exercises. One of the major factors in getting stronger is your central nervous system (CNS). The more you perform a certain movement pattern (like a squat or bench press) the better you will get at that movement. Performing different exercises each week doesn’t allow your central nervous system to adapt and get better at that movement/lift.
On the other hand following the same program and performing the same exercises for too long can have negative repercussions. If you perform the same exercises for too long without making changes you will become fatigued and progress will soon come to a halt. A decent program should last anywhere from 4-8 weeks depending on the goal of the program and intensity level.
Performing the same thing week after week and then expecting different results is insane. You need to make some type of progress with your training. This can be from adding extra weight or adding extra reps. If your goal is fat loss, cutting rest periods would be a good idea. When designing your program ensure you have planned some sort of progression overload each week or training session. This will force your CNS to adapt and become stronger. This will also force your body to build muscle to cope with the extra demands being placed on it week after week.
One tip I would give you is to not be over ambitious. Add small amounts of weight or reps each week. Don’t make too big of a jump.
Exercise selection is very important when it comes to building strength. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against people performing kurlz and other isolation exercises. My personal training clients are always banging out kurlz at the end of their training sessions. Who doesn’t want to have a good set of arms? However compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin ups, and other types of rows and presses should always be the bulk of anyone’s program whether it’s for strength, muscle building or fat loss. I’m also a big fan of unilateral training, which is often neglected by personal trainers. Adding in some heavy walking lunges or Bulgarian split squats will make anyone stronger.
When planning your program and exercise selection add in at least 3-4 main lifts per session. After you’ve completed your main work you can add in some supplementary / isolation work.
The stronger you get the more important technique becomes. Raw strength and poor technique will only get you so far. Build a solid foundation with good technique from the start and in the long run it will pay off. Last year I decided I needed help with my squatting technique and decided to see a coach who is a well established powerlifter. After a few training sessions and some technique adjustments my numbers started going up. My technique initially wouldn’t have been the worst but even a few simple adjustments can make a world of difference.
You can do everything single thing right but if you’re not eating enough food your strength gains are going to be extremely slow or even worse, non-existent. Ensure you eat enough protein usually 2g of protein per KG of bodyweight is a decent place to start.
So that’s it – 5 things that WILL make you stronger. Everyone can get stronger regardless of gender or goal. Being strong puts down the foundation to success.
The stronger you are the less likely you are to get an injury! If you’re a clown, performing squats on unstable surfaces or lifting way above your capabilities, you will get injured.
If your goal is fat loss the stronger you are, the more bigger your work capacity will be. This means more calories will be used for the same amount of time spent in the gym!
If building muscle is your goal then the stronger you are, the more your muscle will grow. Growing muscle is a side effect of getting strong and vice versa.
Be AWESOME. Get Strong!
Jay Farrant Personal Trainer Dublin