How to Increase Your STRENGTH
Do you know how to get stronger? Do you know how to quickly increase your strength?
Do you know how to continue building strength over time?
“Getting stronger is simple, it just takes a lot of hard work.”
Getting stronger is simple, it just takes a lot of hard work. Building strength is very basic and, over time, can be boring. Most people are looking for a new innovative way of how to train, because it is more exciting than the simple formula that has been around for decades. The thing is, the ways to build strength have been the same since the start of time. Now, before we continue, what we mean when talking about building strength is your body’s ability to do more work (training volume), or lift more weight (training intensity), than before. By increasing your work capacity, or the amount of total work you can withstand, you are stronger than before, the same as the ability to lift a heavier weight. Now there are three simple ways to get physically stronger:
- Improve Technique
- Increase Size
- Do More than Before
First, by improving your technique you will train your body to move more efficiently. As a result, you are bettering your leverages and will ultimately increase your strength potential, or the ability for your body to get stronger. Improving your technique includes improving your positioning throughout the lift, so that your body moves through the strongest positions. A simple way to picture this is by imagining lifting a weight off the ground, such as during a deadlift. If you have bad or inefficient technique where you stand back away from the weight a foot or so, you will be out of position during the lift. By having to reach out to the load and lifting away from your center of balance (your feet) you will not be able to lift as much weight, because your body will not be in the strongest position with the greatest amount of leverage, also increasing your risk of injury. In a deadlift this improper positioning is often seen through back rounding and shoulder shrugging. By improving your technique through lifting the load closer to your center of balance you will improve your efficiency and be able to lift more weight. This will also decrease the range of motion to complete the lift. The technique for every lift is specific to every individual, due to different body types, but there are proper and improper movement patterns for every body movement. If you learn the few basic movement patterns for the human body then you can apply them to every other movement and exercise you do. Use mathiasmethod.com to learn more about basic movement patterns with the Daily 30 or the specific technique for different on MathiasMethod.com.
“It is believed that it takes 300-500 repetitions to learn a new movement pattern and 3,000-5,000 repetitions to correct an improper movement pattern.”
What many people fail to realize during any exercise is that how you set up for the lift is equally as important as actually performing the lift. This is due to the fact that if you set up improperly, the lift has no chance at being technically efficient as you are already out of position. By simply setting up properly your body has a better chance of using the proper movement pattern throughout the entire exercise. Along with improving your set up you can further better your technique by improving your movement or motor pattern. By repetitively utilizing a proper movement pattern you will increase your body’s neurological signal to each muscle being used and further your movement efficiency. It has been found that it takes 300-500 repetitions to learn a new movement pattern and 3,000-5,000 repetitions to correct an improper movement pattern. That may sound intimidating but if you break it down it is not as difficult as it seems. To improve a movement, such as a squat, you can do as few as 10 repetitions each day for only 30 days to start seeing a change. With that in mind, it is best to learn how to move properly from the start of training by getting assistance from a trained professional or by training yourself with the right knowledge, given on the Mathias Method Website (mathiasmethod.com). Start by trying the 30 day Daily 30 Challenge! Just remember, technique improvement is a never ending task that will always be changing as your body grows over time. As your positioning, neurological efficiency and overall technique improve your strength will increase dramatically. By simply improving your technique you will get stronger.
Another way to increase your strength is by simply gaining size. By increasing your body mass you will be able to withstand heavier loads as they are lighter relative to your body weight. Increasing size, including both building more muscle or increasing body fat, will improve your mechanical leverages and allow for greater support. It is well known that increasing your muscle size and density will allow for stronger contractions, but it will also improve the angle of pull. As your muscle grows it slightly changes the angle the muscle fibers lay in and pull from which allows for more efficient contractions. Now, as your muscles grow they will increase the number of myofibrils (“pulling chains”) within each muscle fiber, so there are more connections to pull with. You are born with a certain number of muscle fibers within each cell, which cannot change, so the only way to grow muscle is through increased density or size. Both forms of growth increase the number of actin-myosin connections (the cells that go through the action of contracting each fiber) within each myofibril and therefore the ability to create tension within a muscle. The definition of muscular strength is the ability to create tension within a muscle. Any stress placed upon a muscle to which it initiates growth will increase the muscle’s ability to create tension through the addition of more myofibrils or actin-myosin connections. Body fat can also allow for greater strength gains. Though the addition of body fat does not directly improve the contractibility of a muscle it does aid in improving the angle of pull, adding mass and increases the energy storage within each muscle. So if you do nothing else towards building strength, increasing size alone will make you stronger.
Do More than Before
Third, the most common way to increase strength is by consistently doing more work than before. This can be an increase in the total training volume or an increase in training intensity.
For example, if one week you do a certain number of repetitions with a particular weight and the next week you do more repetitions you are building strength. Similarly, if one week you use a certain weight and then the next week you do the same exercise with a heavier weight you are, again, increasing your strength. Both of these techniques, known as progressive overloading, are useful in building strength and are normally used together in a training program. For both progressive overload techniques, they must be done consistently over time to truly increase strength. They are the simplest formulas used by strength athletes to build strength.
When building strength, your body will adapt to the stresses you place upon it. By continually increasing the stress placed upon your body, it will adapt by becoming stronger. However, if you place too much stress upon your body without proper recovery your body will not be able to adapt fast enough and you will see breakdown in the form of injury or weaknesses of some kind. So to continue a safe strength progression, do not forget to allow proper time for recovery, through proper rest, nutrition and other recovery methods. By utilizing the progressive overload techniques in which you continuously do more than before, and allowing time for proper recovery, you will become stronger.
Again, building strength is simple, but takes a lot of hard work over a long period of time. You must stay consistent and always progress forward by doing more than yesterday. You can quickly increase your strength by improving your technique or by gaining more size but eventually it all comes down to how much work you are willing to put in. Strength training is something where what you put in is what you get out. If you only put in a minimal amount of work you will get a minimal amount of results. If you train hard, stay consistent and always push for progress then you will continue to get stronger.
Keep getting stronger my friends.
Strength to you,
Your STRENGTH JOURNEY Leader- Ryan Mathias, CPT
Owner and Creator
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