Getting strong is simple, but not easy.
Here’s a simple guide to help you program your strength training.
If you are reading this, you are here because you are interested in strength training. You want to learn how to become stronger more effectively. When it comes to strength training there are a few principles that we must prioritise to get the best results possible. The aim of this post is to give you a better understanding of what the best exercises are to build strength, how often you should be training, and the actual meaning of intensity in strength training.
Let’s begin with the best bang for your buck exercises. These are the exercises/movement patterns that will guarantee the best results for general health, sports performance, longevity, and all-in-all making you a stronger human being. These exercises are basic but very demanding. They offer a great opportunity for you to increase your muscle mass, lose body fat and of course get very strong.
The movement patterns that are going to help you build the most strength are squats, deadlifts, pulling and pushing exercises.
Here are some examples:
- Squat (Back squat, front squat, goblet squat, overhead squat, etc)
- Deadlift/Hinge (conventional deadlift, Romanian deadlift, Sumo deadlift, rack pulls, etc)
- Push (Push ups, dips, overhead pressing, bench pressing, etc)
- Pull (Chin ups, pull ups, rows, pull downs, pull overs)
- Core (ab rollouts, heavy carries, Hanging leg raises, Pallof press, planks, etc)
Now, that we’ve established the best exercises needed, let’s talk about the variables that come in to play when participating in strength training.
- Volume – The amount of work you do (I.e. sets and reps)
- Frequency – How often you train a movement, or body part, usually over the course of a week or month
- Intensity – How heavy you are lifting in a given session. How close you are to your one rep max effort
- Tempo – The speed in which you perform a repetition or set
- Rest period – How much rest between sets
Below are some key principles that you can apply that will give you great results:
- Strength train 3-5 days per week
- Pick 3-5 exercises per training session
- Do 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps of your main compound exercises followed by 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps for accessory movements if needed
- Control the movement
- Rest anywhere from 2-5 minutes in between sets
We must ensure that we have a progressive and systematic program in place. Progressive overload is pivotal when training for strength. In fact, Progressive overload is an essential necessity in any sort of training program. It is the process in which we increase weight, the amount of work we do, or how often we train, gradually overtime. For this reason, it’s imperative to understand volume, intensity and frequency fluently to get the best out of your training program.
Here are some final key points that will also help you with your training:
- Focus on progressive overload
- Basic compound lifts work the best
- Eat enough high quality protein
- Make sure you are eating enough calories
- Sleep 7-8 hours every night
- Full range of motion on every exercise
- A very controlled tempo will help build strength faster
- Mobilise and warm up before every training session
- Be consistent
Below is an example of a lower and upper body strength session:
LOWER BODY STRENGTH DAY:
A1) Barbell Back Squat – 5×5 @ 80% 1RM (2-3 minutes rest)
B1) Nordic Curl – 3×5 (2 minutes rest)
C1) Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 3×6 @ RPE 8
C2) Dumbbell Bulgarian Split squat – 3×6 on each leg (1-2 minutes rest)
D1) Prone Hamstring curl 2×8
D2) Single leg standing calf raise 2×15 each leg
UPPER BODY STRENGTH DAY:
A1) Barbell Overhead Press – 5×5 @ 80% 1RM (2-3 minutes rest)
B1) Barbell Bent Over Row – 5×5 @ RPE 8 (2 minutes rest)
C1) Weighted Dips – 4×6-8
C2) Neutral Grip Chin Up – 4×6-8 (90 seconds – 2 minutes rest)
D1) Dumbbell Skull Crushers 2×8
D2) Banded Face Pull 2×15 (60 seconds rest)