Getting Strong As F: Do’s and Don’ts
- DAN NORTH
Getting stronger takes time and commitment, among other things. Building and maintaining a base level of strength is needed if you are looking to put up some good numbers in the Olympic lifts. How you implement your strength training into your regime has to be thought through carefully. You can’t expect to get stronger if your training sessions aren’t planned out in advance. This will help you avoid burning out, over training, and prevent injury.
Strength development has a few protocols. These include:
Compound exercises. Big multi-joint movements are going to build your base and max effort strength. In weightlifting, these include (and are not limited to):
- Back squat
- Front squat
- Clean pull
- Snatch pull
- Strict press
- Behind the neck strict press
- Clean deadlift
- Snatch deadlift
Max effort lifts. Think about it this way…In order to increase your maximal effort strength levels, your body has to ‘step outside of its comfort zone’ and lift bigger than it has before. By doing this, an increased amount of muscle fibre stimulation occurs. In other words, you are turning on more muscles to lift the bigger weight.
Adequate recovery. This includes rest periods between sets and your recovery outside of the gym, which we go into full detail in the following pages. Max effort lifts are going to put a toll on your body and CNS, so make sure you are taking enough rest in between sets to make the lift!
Exercise variety. Your body gets bored quick. If you’re always maxing out your bench, or sticking to the same rep range week after week, plateaus are going to happen. We get stronger by making our bodies work in new and challenging ways.
In addition to what is recommended to get stronger, there are some things you should consider avoiding. These include:
Back to back max effort days. You have to be fresh coming into your strength training sessions. Your mind and body cant handle going balls to the wall day after day. This will ultimately result in your CNS being fried and your body being over trained.
Warming up too much. A lot of times, weightlifters will take longer warming up than actually lifting. By the time they’ve put on their lifting shoes and step on the platform, they’ve basically done a full hour of ‘warm up’. If you’re trying to get stronger, your energy reserves should be used efficiently for your lifts.
Not warming up efficiently. There’s also the people who stroll into the gym and load up the barbell. This is going to fuck you up. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, this type of training is going to put a toll on your performance. You have to find that ‘sweet spot’ and warm up enough so you are ready to tackle the training session.
Not getting enough sleep. Dmitry Klokov, world champion and Olympic silver medalist, once said in an interview that sleep is the most essential form of recovery. Have you ever tried training on a few hours sleep? I’m willing to bet you felt like absolute crap the whole time. 7-9 hours per night is usually recommended. If you can make the time, squeeze in a few naps here and there.
Not fueling your body. Carbs, fats, protein…Get it in. We discuss pre, intra, and post workout nutrition later.
Training until failure. If your body can’t handle the load your putting it through at the moment, it’s not going to learn how to get stronger. Push yourself, of course, but work within what you can handle to acquire a higher amount of volume. Having your training partner assist you through the last few reps of a bench press while you can barely move your arms isn’t going to help your numbers.
Training while sick or ill. Leave your ego at the door when it comes to this. This is probably your body telling you to back off and take it easy. Sometimes, rest is better than ‘pushing through the pain’.