Getting stronger should be on everyone’s list. As we age, unless we are involved in a strength training program, we will get weaker. That is a fact. Muscle will only grow if we put a demand on it. A consistent demand that requires work. You see, as we age, we lose about 5% of our lean muscle tissue each decade after the age of 30. After the age of 50? Studies have shown up to a 10% decrease in muscle mass per decade. I don’t know about you, but I plan on being on this planet for a long time. I also plan on being strong enough to take care of myself. Strong enough to push, pull, bend, lift, twist and reach without causing an injury. The basic rules of getting stronger can be applied to your life now. As a matter of fact, they should be applied on a regular basis irregardless of what your level of fitness is currently. Even if you are involved in a cardiovascular plan as in running, walking, or cycling, you need strength training. So apply these rules in every workout and watch your body transform.
Basic Rules of Strength Training
1. Progressive Overload – To actually stimulate muscle fibers to grow, you must place a demand on them that they are not used to. By doing the same amount of reps with the same weight over and over, you will never get stronger. You must consistently raise the amount of weight. When a weight becomes easy after 3 sets of 6 or 8, go heavier. Shorten the reps, and add more weight. Make sure you start every workout with a warm up set that is light to prime the muscles that will be used. Take a longer break between sets to fully recover from the work load. By changing the load up every 2-3 weeks, you will get stronger. Be patient. By consistently working out in a way that challenges your muscles to lift heavier, you will grow bigger muscles and get stronger.
2. Nutrition – Eating enough carbs to get through a workout is essential. When you lift heavy weights, you place a demand on all systems of the body. You get your energy from carbohydrates when you have an intense lifting session.
In order to recover, rebuild and repair your muscles, you must consume adequate protein. You should get at least 1 gm. per lean pound of bodyweight to do this. When you lack protein, you will not get the hypertrophy that you are looking for. Hypertrophy is the term for muscles that are growing. If you eat too little protein, you will go into a catabolic phase. That is when the muscles start to “shrink” or deteriorate. Never cheat your body out of protein when working out hard in the gym. Err on the side of too much, versus too little.
3. Recovery – Rest is essential for muscular growth. You are actually breaking down your muscles when you are working out and creating injury to your body. The only time that you are growing and rebuilding is when the body is at rest. Be sure that you give your body enough time to recuperate. Even if your mind wants you to work out every day, you must understand that your next workout is only as good as the time you spend recovering. That means rest, hydration, and nutrition.
4. Muscles will not get bigger overnight. You must apply these principles on a regular basis. Work out 2-3 times weekly and make it count. The intensity and dedication will pay off. Add more weight and newer exercises. The last 2 reps of any set besides the warm up should be hard.
5. Add compound movements to your workout plan for maximum strength. Forget bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and leg extensions. Use movements that engage many muscles at once. Squats, Deadlifts, Chest Presses, and Bent over Rows will always be the top muscle builders. These exercises will produce maximum results if done with good form, and done on a regular basis with a heavy load.
Getting stronger is possible for anyone. Don’t waste time in the gym on mindless machines. Turn your body into a strong machine of its own by applying these basic rules to your plan in the gym. Patience, dedication, good nutrition and persistence will pay off.
In health and strength,