The surprising benefits of strength training

Everyone needs strength training in some way. Whatever your training goal is, getting stronger will help you get there. For example, if you are a keen runner, the likelihood is that specifically training for strength isn’t at the top of your list (and no I’m not talking about a few bicep curls whilst sat on a stability ball). However, if you improve the strength of, lets say, your back squat or deadlift, you will create more force every time your foot strikes the floor. This means you will cover the same distance but expend less energy.

How do I get stronger?

There are tonnes of different theories when it comes to getting stronger, but there is one basic principle that stays the same throughout. Your body constantly needs to be challenged by a stimulus that it is not used to, otherwise there will be no incentive for it to adapt and become stronger.

Where do I start?

As a novice lifter you can make strength gains by lifting weights at as little as 60%-70% of your 1 rep max. However when aimlessly adding weight to the bar isn’t getting you anywhere, and you have developed a relative amount of strength you will need to be at a higher % of 1 rep max (95%>). You will also need to manipulate some other training variables.  “Strongman training” (farmers walks, pushing prowlers/tanks) works as a very good tool when it comes to getting stronger. A few other simple ways of keeping the body guessing include:

  • Change grips/bar/stances;
  • Add bands or chains to the bar;
  • Use cluster sets;
  • Add dynamic days;
  • Train with Jonesy… he’s usually pretty unpredictable!

The possibilities are endless.

Hit the weakest link

Another important part of getting stronger is weak point training. Identify what part of the exercise you are weakest (and tend to “stick” at) and use assistance exercises to improve specifically that part of the lift. For example if you struggle with the top half of your bench press, then the likelihood is that your triceps are the limiting factor. Use exercises such as floor presses, close grip bench press and board presses (where you have a board on your chest to reduce the range of motion) to develop that part of the lift.