Training to be Stronger
This month for “Tip Tuesdays” and since my sport is on strength and moving heavy stuff. I will focus on tips and tricks that I use to get stronger and be competition ready for those of you who are prepping for a powerlifting, strongman or any strength competition in the near future focusing on training to be stronger. This is the program that works for me. Feel free to try it out and let me know how it works for you.
But before we do that. I’m going to debunk a myth of strength training from my own experience, what I’ve learnt from my coaches and athletes who are bigger and stronger than me.
Myth: You need to lift heavy weights all the time to get stronger
Truth: Yes. But you do NOT need to lift heavy weights all the time.
So when people ask me “What muscle do you train when you do a deadlift?”. First reaction is to slap the person silly but not everyone is a gym rat or an athlete so I tend to keep it in and smile and respond to the best that I can.
So which brings to the real question…
Does lifting heavy make you stronger? Yes it definitely does because more weights you lift/move you will incorporate more than one muscle. And when you incorporate and activate more muscles from different parts of your body that would have an instantaneous by-product which is strength. But the real question would be are you performing and executing the lifts with good form and proper technique?
But lifting heavy to get stronger is not enough! Let’s just be upfront and honest, while in my younger lifting days 15 to 20 years ago. All I want to do is be the biggest and strongest guy in the gym and lift more weights than everyone else just because I could. This approach to training had both positive and negative outcomes getting stronger which is a huge positive but mainly this approach caused me more negative effects which were feeling burned out, tired of the gym and getting stuck in a plateau.
So let’s cover and break this article into a two parts
Lifting heavy and lifting in general
Plan a training cycle in 6 to 8 weeks period where you aim to achieve a certain weight you want to lift safely. And if you are planning to go heavy or “Beast Mode” all day and every day. Just stop and re-evaluate your training goals. Firstly because a “Beast Mode” program is not sustainable. You will be doing more harm to your body, you want to be lifting for a life time
So here is me sharing with you my very own lifting program that I use to prepare for my competitions.
My lifting program includes
Max Weight Day
An example of my Max day Lifting program would be as below
40% x 5 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
50% x 5 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
60% x 5 reps
70% x 4 reps
80% x 3 reps x 2 to 3 sets (Working Sets)
50% x 20 reps
On a Max Weight Lifting day it should not exceed more than 10 sets in total, if you are feeling strong enough for that day you can go up to 90% of your 1RM for 2-3 reps. I like to do a 20 reps finisher just to flood my muscles with blood. This at times can be a questionable life decision.
Maximum Repetitions Days
An example of my Max Repetition Lifting program would be as below
30% x 20 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
40% x 15 reps x 2 sets
50% x 12 reps x 3 sets
60% x 8 – 10 reps x 3 sets
65% x 6 – 8 reps x 2 – 3 sets
Repetitions days are never meant to exceed 65% of your 1RM and a maximum of 12-13 sets inclusive of warm ups. You might want to rest longer between sets because this could be mentally demanding.
Speed / Dynamic Days
50% x 2 reps x 10 to 12 sets (1 minute per set)
Many athletes and gym rats underestimate Dynamic lifts. “Oh it’s so easy! Just 2 reps!”. Trust me after the 7th set you will be asking doubting why did you start in the first place!
So here is me being awesome and sharing with you how my own 1 month program looks like
||Monday Presses and Overheads
||Friday Strongman Training Day
My rest day is fixed on Wednesday because I am unable to train 3 days in a row because of the physical and mental drain on my central nervous system (CNS) that my training programs puts me through. I’ve tried training 3 days is a row and it was just dangerous as I felt tired, lousy and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Be safe not sorry… these are the things that you tend to pick up from experience over the years.
Technique and Form
Lifting heavy in the gym is an awesome sight to behold where you can see guys in the gym squatting over 240kg with perfect form. You know when the guy is lifting because the whole gym goes quiet just to observe and see what’s going on. Lifting heavy with terrible form is dangerous and if you need someone to bail you out in the middle of a repetition, chances are you are NOT strong enough! Drop the weight and complete your set safely.
While ego lifting may attract attention it does NOT do anything for your safety (Trust me guys… You don’t attract the ladies with bellowing, shouting and groaning with every ego lifting repetition, all you attract are “gym-bros” who gives you high-fives and that’s about it).
Technique and form when performing the lifts are crucial it sets apart the difference between going home for dinner or being hospitalized and having dinner on the bed being served to you by a nurse! So how do you execute a lift with proper form and technique?
Learn from the best! There are many strength coaches in our sunny island. It seems nowadays there are also many “Online Coaches” too who will write your programs. Personally I have nothing against them but as much as there are quality and credible “online coaches”. There are just as many bogus ones. Make sure you do your own research BUT nothing beats a coach by your side with his watchful eyes watching over you like a hawk. I’ve been lifting and competing for many years and I still have a coach.
In my next article on training, I would be covering the importance of accessory work and managing your plateaus.
Being strong is NOT easy and you have to put in the hours, time, effort, dedication and love into being Strong. It’s a choice that you make giving up is not one of them!
And if you are looking to get stronger and need help for coaching. Click Here to find out more…
In the meantime enjoy lifting! Be strong, lift smart and stay injury free!
Team Optimum Nutrition Strongman Athlete