Everybody wants to look good, but the real benefit of strength training is… well… getting stronger. Increasing your physical strength will serve you much better in the long term, whether you’re an athlete or not.
And, while the aesthetic result of working out is great, research shows that stronger people generally live longer (so there’s that). Strength and functional fitness is the way to go.
Move better, function better, perform better.
Here are a few basic tips for improving your strength (with some information borrowed from our friends at ASD Performance):
Lifting heavy (90% 1RM) will improve strength by recruiting high-threshold motor units. The muscle fibers associated with these motor units have the most potential for increasing strength. However, they fatigue quickly.
Exercise Selection Matters
Maximal lifting is best applied to multi-joint exercises (e.g., squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls). Even though the weight is heavy, your intent should be to move the weight as fast as possible. This will ensure you’re recruiting as many fast-twitch muscle fibers as possible.
Otherwise known as jump training, plyometric training involves hop- and jump-type exercises that train and develop what’s called the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). The stretch-shortening cycle teaches the body to better utilize stored elastic energy to produce stronger and more forceful contractions. This improvement in reactive ability can also be explained by improvements in muscle-tendon stiffness. Body-weight or weighted plyometric can be utilized such as consecutive body-weight jumps over hurdles or continuous dumbbell jump squats.
When bodybuilding or training for muscle growth, short rest periods are recommended between sets, such as 30-60 seconds. When training for strength, increase your rest to 2-5 minutes depending on the exercise. The loads lifted will require longer rest periods to ensure you complete the same number of reps in the subsequent sets. Your mental strength and ability to focus on the heavy set will also appreciate the longer break.
Get Your Protein
Most experts agree that active men and women should ingest 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of their target body weight, daily. Athletes and more experienced weightlifters may require more protein, as much as a gram (or more) per pound of their target body weight, daily. Lifting heavy weight creates a lot of muscle demand. Feed your muscles often, with lean protein from whole foods and a quality whey protein supplement.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!