I have dabbled in strength training for the last ten years. For the last three I have been involved in serious weight training, with pure strength being the goal. I want to lift as much weight as possible in as many different lifts as possible. I am particularly interested in the deadlift and pressing weight overhead. I am currently chasing a 600 lb deadlift and a bodyweight barbell press.
For much of my training life I have been an impressionable novice, just like most people. I believed what I read in the magazines. I believed what I saw on TV. I followed programs to the letter. Sometimes I made progress. Sometimes I broke myself and suffered from huge layoffs due to injuries I could have prevented.
If you are new to the iron game and are looking for some strength training tips, I would like to give you what I feel are the guidelines I have benefited most from.
1. Not all lifts are good at all times
When you follow a program to the letter, you know that Monday is (insert exercise here) day, Tuesday is (insert another lift) day, and so on. Percentages of weights are calculated for you by someone who claims to know your body better than you do. I now believe that any movement can be tested, and any person can know whether they should be doing a lift or not.
This approach is called Gym Movement. If you’re interested, check out my review of Adam Glass’s Grip and Rip 2.1 DVD, which shows you how to apply biofeedback testing to your weight training.
2. You’re not eating as much as you think
Very few men who are interested in building strength and muscle are honest about their calorie intake. If you are lifting a lot and are not gaining strength and muscle, please check your nutrition first. Add 500 calories and see if your muscle and strength gains pick up. If you can do so without gaining fat, add another 500 and reevaluate until you’re eating enough to grow on, both in lean muscle and power.
3. Focus on overall volume of the workout
If you think that putting more weight on the bar is the only progress worth celebrating, you are going to hit far more plateaus than you need to. It is one measure of strength, but only one. I personally am focusing more on the total poundage I am able to lift during an entire workout. I track my sets and reps so that I can add up the totals. If today I do 50 minutes of bench press, squats, and curls, I want to know how many total pounds I lifted. That way, the next time bench, squats, and bicep curls test well, I will know what number I have to beat. It can be as simple as adding a rep. If you lifted more weight in the same amount of time, you are now stronger. There’s no way around it.
I’ll have more to come in the strength training tips series. What has worked for you?