Ways To Get Stronger
If you want to get stronger, and you've been following the advice in these pages of MuscleBuild.com, you've already — NO DOUBT — gotten stronger. However, if you want to build super-human strength, you've got to change some tactics.
While bodybuilding exercise routines focus on building mass with moderate repetitions, many sets, and a variety of exercises and training techniques like super sets, forced reps, and negatives, strength training requires a different approach. Gaining strength is about practicing the core movements (squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, and shoulder press) with lower reps.
I am not an advocate of single-rep training. I think it can lead one to overtrain and injure oneself. But I do know that 3-5 rep sets work for getting stronger. This method, which I'll call “Triples,” can get you stronger faster than any system known to man. It involves practicing the core movements with 3 sets of 3 reps (can range up to 5 as you get stronger), along with strengthening the supporting muscles like the biceps and triceps, calves, hamstrings, and core (abs and lower back).
Here is a typical strength-training work-out:
- Squat. The king of all exercises, get strong in this exercise and you'll get strong in all the rest. You'll build core strength along with thigh and calf strength with this exercise. Do 3 sets of 3 reps after a good warmup.
- Hamstring curls, a supporting exercise. Do 3 sets of 6-10 reps. You want to build strength in these muscles because they support a super-strong squat.
- Calf press, a supporting exercise. Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps. The calves, because you use them more than any other muscle, are resistant to growth and require HEAVY weights AND HIGH reps.
- Bench press. The king of all upper body exercises, it uses many muscle groups simultaneously, and the heavier you lift, the more supporting muscles are worked, and the more supporting muscle strength will help! Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps (as you get stronger, do more reps. Once you can do 5, raise the weight and drop to 3 reps).
- Bent-over row. The best back exercise on the planet. It builds super-strength in the lats, shoulders, biceps, and forearms. Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps. Increase weight as you gain strength.
- Shoulder press. The front deltoids are stressed A LOT with heavy bench presses. Therefore, if you strengthen the front delts, you'll dramatically increase your benching capability. Do 3 sets of 6-10 reps, focusing on raising weight as much as possible.
- Dips. Dips are, in my opinion based on my experience, the single-best strength-building exercise for the entire upper body. I think maybe it's because when you sink really low in the dip, you're stretching the shoulder girdle to an extreme, and it's that extreme stretch, coupled with the necessity to use maximum force coming out of the lift, that your body is forced to get stronger. Do 2 sets of as many strict reps as possible. If you can do more than 20 good reps, add weight (belts are made for adding weight for this purpose).
- Barbell curls. The biceps provide a stabilizing force in the bench; therefore, you need to strengthen the biceps. You'll get enough tricep stimulation from the bench press, shoulder press, and dips that you don't need an isolation movement for them. However, do the barbell curls with a fair amount of weight for 3 sets of 6-10 reps. As you get stronger, increase the weight. Drop the reps.
- Deadlifts. This is the weight lifting demonstration of brute power. It requires great strength in the thighs and lower back, but it pulls in the core muscles (abs, hips, and glutes) and calves and hamstrings, not to mention the forearms and to a lesser extent the upper arms. It's a super all-around exercise you must perform to get stronger. Do 3 sets of 3 (work up to 5 reps, then add weight and drop the reps) after a good warm-up.
- Calf presses. Do 15-20 reps, 3 sets.
- Stiff-legged deadlifts. A variant of the deadlift, this one you bend at the lower back rather than at the knees. This can develop the lower back and hamstrings like no other. Watch the weight — this is an exercise that you must do very strictly. No bouncing, go slow, use light weight. 2 sets of 15-20 reps. Feel the stretch in the hamstrings.
- Hammer curls. This one is to develop the forearm strength you'll need to do heavy deadlifts. You'll notice that many times in powerlifting competitions, the deadlifter's grip fails before the thighs and lower back. You simply must have Herculean grip strength when deadlifting.
Repeat this training regimen for 3 weeks. By the end of the third week, you should see marked gains in strength. This increased strength will help your bodybuilding efforts considerably because you'll now be able to go heavier in your weight training exercises.