If you’re spending time at the gym, you probably have two goals in mind: 1) lose weight, and 2) get stronger. The way you train can have noticeable effects on both. Below, we’ve come up with a few tricks that will help you see faster strength gains. All it will take is a few changes to the way you’ve been training!
Low to High
The “weight pyramid”—working from low weight to high weight back to low—is a good way to add more volume and weight to your training program. However, instead of doing a pyramid, try ending on the high weight. You’ll reach muscle fatigue more efficiently, engage the muscle fibers more, and see better strength gains over the long term.
If you’re training for strength, you’re probably lifting a lot of weight for very few reps. Strength and power training can take its toll on your muscles, so you need to give your body time to recover between sets. Multiple studies have shown that resting for 3-5 minutes between very heavy sets will be the key to better recovery, meaning better performance of each set.
Never be the strongest person in the room! Always work with someone who pushes you hard, and who you are working up to. Try to work with that hugely muscled man or woman who intimidates you—in the end, it will push you to work harder, leading to better results.
Target Your Weak Spots
If you have weak spots in your form—a sticking point in your bench press or the bottom of your squat—pay extra attention to those areas. Perform a few weeks of focused training to hit all of your weak spots. The more you strengthen your muscles in those specific areas, the better-rounded your strength and endurance will be.
Warm Up With Explosions
Explosive exercises make for an amazing warm-up. On leg day, throw in a few Squat Jumps or Box Jumps as your warm-up. The explosive exercises will activate your central nervous system, leading to better muscle recruitment when you hit the training.
Give Your Rotator Cuff Love
There are a lot of exercises that can strain your rotator cuff (the muscles connecting your shoulder blade to upper arm), and it’s one of the first parts of your upper body to show signs of wear and tear. Make sure to pay extra attention to your rotator cuff when warming up for any pressing exercise. It will not only reduce the risk of injuries, but it will increase shoulder stability.
Preactivate the Glutes
When getting ready for deadlifts, spend a few minutes activating your gluteal muscles. Lie on the floor and get some Glute Bridges in. The glutes are the prime movers in the deadlift, so pre-activating them with Glute Bridges will keep them firing at 100% when doing deadlifts.
Warm Up Heavy
Your warm-up should usually consist of dynamic stretches and a few light exercises to activate your muscles. However, before you change from light weight to regular weight, set the bar to a very heavy weight and perform a set of 4 to 6 reps. This will get the muscles ready for hard work and recruit extra muscle mass. The changes when you start lifting will be noticeable.
Push Your Gut Out
Pushing your stomach out by tightening your diaphragm muscles will help to increase core stability when you do deadlifts or squats. It takes a bit of practice to get accustomed to it, but you’ll find that it will reduce your risk of lower back injuries AND can help you to lift heavier.