Strength training is more mainstream than ever. It used to be practiced by a niche of bodybuilders and athletes but has now spread to the masses. And it’s no surprise, considering strength training’s many benefits, such as stronger bones, increased muscle mass, injury prevention, and everyone’s favorite–being able to eat more. Maybe you’ve even been working out with weights, putting in the time to learn the form and different exercises. You can see your body starting to change and want to know how to make the most of your training. Or maybe you’re experienced with lifting but have hit a sticking point you want to break through.
There are three pillars of strength that drive progress no matter where you are in your lifting journey. They apply whether you’re a weightlifter, powerlifter, or recreational lifter. When there’s a gap in one of these areas, your strength will most likely suffer. These pillars are your foundation; they support your training and growth.
Progressive overload is defined as “the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.” In this case, stress is a good thing. It’s what helps us grow and get stronger. Following the same routine and lifting the same weight for months or years does not provide enough stimulus to create body change or improve performance. For muscle growth or increased strength, we need to incrementally increase the weight we lift or add reps. It will be easy for a beginner to add weight, but more difficult the more advanced you get. That’s why smart programming is crucial. There are many different programs you can follow such as 5×5 or 5-3-1. At Soul, we offer our own programming to help you reach your strength goals.
Things To Consider:
- Have you been lifting the same weight for a while?
- Does your programming account for progressive overload?
- Do you have a method to test your progress?
- Make sure you have a solid program for your goals.
- Write down how much weight you lift for each workout.
- Implement a method to gauge progress, such as periodically testing your one-rep max.
As Mark Rippetoe said, “You don’t get strong by lifting weights. You get strong by recovering from lifting weights.” It can be tempting to push yourself to your limits. That’s what people do in the gym, right? Well, the uninformed ones do, while people in the know give their bodies time to recover. The downtime between lifting sessions is important for your muscle tissue to repair itself. If you have not given yourself ample recovery time, then you won’t be able to hit your lifts. You should give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover from a workout. Recovery also includes getting enough sleep and doing stretching/mobility work.
Things to Consider:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you frequently injured?
- Are you taking care of your tissue with mobility work/stretching/massage?
- Are you not hitting your lifts?
- Make sure you are stretching after each workout.
- Find a qualified sports therapist or masseuse to treat injuries or soft tissue issues.
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
- Give each muscle group at least 48 hours to recover before working again.
Nutrition is important for every aspect of living well, and it plays a huge role in your performance. What you put into your body is fuel for your workouts, so choose wisely. You want the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs to give you energy for your workouts without storing extra fat (unless your goal is to gain weight). That amount is going to be different for everyone, and we recommend getting a coach to help you figure it out. Carbs are particularly important for sustaining energy during a workout, while protein helps you build muscle, keeps you sated, and helps stabilize blood sugar. Healthy fats are important for nutrient absorption and optimum brain and heart function. When you consume the right amount of these three macronutrients, your energy level is high, your mood is stable, and workouts feel solid.
Thing To Consider:
- Do you feel lightheaded or drained during workouts?
- Are you missing lifts?
- Do you have undesired weight gain or weight loss?
- Do you feel heavy or bloated during workouts?
- Eat appropriate amount of carbs and protein pre- and post-workout.
- Time pre- and post-workout meals accordingly. You want enough time to digest but not so much time that you’re hungry again.
- Aim to get appropriate macros for your goal. There’s no need to be obsessive but you should at least be in range.
- Eat mostly nutrient dense food, such as vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Remember, it’s not just about showing up to the gym and throwing around some heavy weights. There’s a method to gaining strength and muscle, and building these pillars will ensure that you make steady progress. If you think you might need help in one of these areas, one of our coaches will be glad to assist you. If you’d like a consultation, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org