Building the foundations of strength

When it comes to strength training one of the most common mistakes people make is they skip the basics. They are all too keen to rush in to the more advanced exercises or advanced programs, without first taking the time to lay solid strength foundations.

When we look to build strength its important to understand that we are essentially strengthening movements, movement being the key word here. Before we can develop strength we must develop movement and training around movement/mobility restrictions will only result in progress stalling or, worse still, injury.

Here are my top 5 tips to ensure you don’t fall into this trap and keep yourself strong and healthy enough to reach your goals.

1. Mobility

Mobility should be a staple in everyones program. Continually working to improve/maintain mobility will keep muscles and joints healthy and keep you training pain free.

2. Develop Structural Balance

One of the most common reasons for injury and pain is structural imbalance. Differences in tissue length or strength between opposing sides of your body can lead to complications as we start using bilateral movements. It’s important that in the early stages of your training you set about correcting these imbalances by employing exercises such as split squats, for example, to help provider balance in both mobility and strength to the lower body.

3. Develop Stability

Now when I talk about stability I am taking about creating a solid position. Whether you are squatting, deadlifting or benching you are trying to create as much tension throughout your body so that you can hold a solid position under the load of the lift. This will involve the muscles of the core and upper back in the squat/ deadlift and the upper back/core in the bench press.

A wise man once told me “you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe”. Create stability and strength will follow.

4. Learn The Technique

When it comes to learning a new movement I’m of the opinion that the greater the understanding of the movement the quicker it is to learn. I mean, if you can get your head around exactly what you are trying to do throughout the lift then the easier it is to progress. Too many people are too quick to add load without fully getting to grips with the technique and trust me when I say you don’t want to try and strengthen poor technique, it will come back to bite you in the backside later down the line.

5. Add Weight Slowly

I get it, I’ve been there myself, we all want to lift heavy weights but adding weight too quickly is extremely short sighted. True, long lasting strength isn’t built in a day, week or month for that matter, you need to take a more of a long-term view. By taking your time over adding weight to the bar you allow your body to adapt and gradually get stronger, this is the secret to avoiding a training plateau for as long as possible and keeping your training goals within reach.

These 5 tips might sound simple but they are often over looked by people looking to improve strength. Laying solid foundations early on will make your strength journey a lot smoother. Take it from someone who has made a multitude of mistakes in his quest for strength.

Get strong, stay strong.