Training for strength is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding types of training. The reason lies in the simplicity of the work involved. There is no secret to getting stronger other than your time spent under the bar, kettle bell or whatever weight implement you choose to MASTER.
Genetically we may all be slightly different with some built stronger, faster or bigger than others but “strength is a skill”. A skill that can be learnt by getting good at the lifts & movements in your program. You learn to use your body in the most effective way to master the movement.
Strength and Conditioning is like a sport and it should be practiced that way. You don’t always have to go hard or try a new variation/progression to an exercise before you have mastered the basics, so practice the basics first and MASTER them before moving on to more complex moves and progressions. Below is a list of the first 5 things I would consider essential to improve your total body strength. Practice these patterns every day and load them a few times per week. Do this for years and progress the pattern variation and intensity accordingly.
2) Hip Hinge
This may seem too simple but remember simple things done extraordinarily well, often reap the biggest rewards. Consistent progress is the key here which is why I am a big fan of Dan John’s Mass Made Simple, Bill Starr’s 5×5, Jim Wendlers 5/3/1, which are all most ordinary people need to reach their strength training goals.
I’ve been using Bill Starr’s 5×5 for my main lifts for the last few years now and it has worked very well. This program is based on weekly linear progress. You take your current 5 rep maxes (5RM) and work up to them systematically by increasing weights in steady increments over 3-4 weeks. You then hit your current 5RM on lifts and continue these incremental increases week to week which pushes you further and further out making new personal records (PRs) every week until you stall on the majority of your lifts.
I understand that this is a basic template, it’s meant to get you stronger, and more importantly training properly. However, the best programs are always tailored to a given trainee so having a coach or finding a mentor that can fine tune and tailor the program to suit your needs is very important for many reasons. One of the biggest ones is the accountability factor that having a mentor provides.
They can also help you figure out what accessory work you need to add in to your program based on your current functional limitations and asymmetries. It is important to have exercise strategies to correct poor movement patterns due to a lack of mobility and or stability around a particular joint.
Make sure your nutrition is in line with your goals. If you want get bigger and stronger eat more quality food i.e. clean proteins, starchy carbs, a variety of fruits and vegetable and a post-workout shake every day.
A few thoughts:
Lifting is like cricket, you won’t score hundreds every time you bat, or take 5 wicket halls every time you get the ball in your hand. Some days will be better than others. Remember it’s all about consistent progress over time. Be patient and work hard. The best players are the ones that calmly get on with their job no matter the situation. They don’t go missing when the pressure is on in the big game. They don’t miss training either so make sure you don’t miss reps/workouts. Just get it done.