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Strength is essential for everyday athleticism, but it’s important to recognize that strength doesn’t necessarily depend on muscle size or capacity. Something to also note, by becoming stronger you can improve the likelihood that you’ll lose weight, run faster, and get closer to achieving your fitness goals. This will make you more powerful, both mentally and physically. We want to share with you our 10 easy strength-training tips that will make your strength training workouts just a bit easier.
The deadlift, squat, bench press, and shoulder press are some of the most effective strength-training exercises. Although the row and chin ups are also great ones, they shouldn’t be the main focus of your workout. They can also be used as assistance lifts to supplement the bench and shoulder presses, helping you keep your pulling muscles in balance with your pressing ones.
All the latest fad equipment is obsolete. The barbell is the king, dumbbell the queen, and all other equipment is a court jester. They may have their place but are not essential to your strength training regiment. Barbell exercises such as the “big 4” are a great way to start your workouts (squat, bench press, deadlift, and shoulder press). You can load lots of heavy weights with barbells, and by lifting heavy you’ll get stronger, faster. After your most difficult strength training exercises have been completed, you can move onto dumbbell or bodyweight training.
Some trainers want their clients to lift at a specific rep speed. For example, three seconds up and one second down. This is great for experienced lifters but it’s not necessarily suitable for strength training beginners. Focus on increasing and decreasing your weights in controlled ways, stopping for a count at the end of each lift. An arbitrary pace can reduce tension in your muscles and force you to lift different levels of weights, which can slow down your progress. If your loads increase consistently, you can be certain that you are getting stronger.
Jot down the exercises you perform, sets you complete, reps achieved and the outcome of each workout. Keep track of the best lifts and how many reps you have done with a particular weight for an exercise. Continually strive to improve these numbers and continue growing.
Limit your workout to just three to four lifts. You can take advantage of hormone surges by keeping your workouts short. If you do too many exercises at once, most of the work won’t be effective. You only need one major lift (one of the four), two or three assistance lifts (for maintaining balance and strengthening the muscles that perform the main lift), then you can do core or specialty work at the end. Any more will reduce your chances of getting the results you want.
Rotating through different rep levels is a good idea. However, four sets seem to be the most effective for increasing muscle size and strength. You’ll notice that you often have problems with your form if you do not perform the four major moves in strength training.
The reason people plateau or stop gaining strength and muscle is because they lift too much weight for too long. Don’t be a slave to your ego. Lift 10% less weight than you can for each rep. Each session, increase the weight by not more than 10 pounds and keep the same lifts. You’ll seldom plateau during your strength training again.
Cardio is essential if you want to be lean and healthy. However, long-distance running and cycling increase hormone levels that cause muscle tissue to be destroyed. You can get stronger and leaner by doing cardio in short, intense bursts. Sprint up a moderately steep hill, then return to your starting point. Once you feel ready, sprint again. Do half the number of sprints you can in your first workout. Do two more sprints in your next workout than you did the previous time. Until you aren’t improving, keep adding two more sprints to your workouts. Next, do sets of sprints.
Whatever you workout on one side of your body, should be worked equally on the other! This rule will help you avoid injury and muscular imbalances. Romanian deadlifts are a great option for squats, which is primarily a quad exercise. They also hit your hamstrings very hard. Balance your chest exercises with back-training lifts. Balance work doesn’t have to be done at the same time, but it should all be done within the same week. You should aim for a two-to-one ratio between your pulling and pushing movements. If you bench press on Monday (which most people do), then you can do chin ups Tuesday and bent-over, lateral raises Thursday. This formula should be followed for any other pressing exercises during your strength training.
Although you may believe you are proficient in the four major functions, you can probably do more with them. These are some tips for each.
Squats Start the squat by pushing back your hips as far as possible. Your lower back should be arched. You will feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Begin to bend your knees and squat low when your hips are bent. To squat maximum weight, you will need to do this.
Deadlift You should use the same position as you would for a jump. Your legs should be in a narrow place. To grab the bar, bend down with your hips straightening. Your shoulders should be directly above your knees.
Bench Press Start by laying down on your back with your head slightly raised from the bench. Keep your feet planted on the ground and grab the bar to elevate your body off the bench. Your lower back will be arched when your butt touches the bench. Press your shoulders together during each rep keeping your core tight throughout. For stronger pressing, your range of motion should be much shorter.
Shoulder press Show off your shoulders when the bar is at shoulder height. This will enable you to lose more weight.
We hope these strength training tips help you get closer to achieving your fitness goals, but as always we are here to help! We’d love to schedule some training sessions with you, or feel free to stop in for a session in our community open gym. If you’ve got any questions feel free to contact us today!