Exercise Strength & Muscle – How to approach it?

Strength Muscle

Strength & Muscle: Brady, the author, lifting 475lbs for the first time

Strength & Muscle

Many people walk into a gym attempting to develop strength and build muscle. Many people do it wrong. They take each workout to their max, give it their max effort, make themselves as sore as possible so they can barely walk the next day. That is the wrong way to approach strength and muscle building.

A Beginner’s Routine

Strength and muscle development is about methodically taxing your muscles. You want to lift good volume following correct set/rep schemes, but you also need to allow time for recovery. Most beginners will hop onto the Instagrammer’s latest  6-day PPL split, and find they make no progress. Most likely, a PPL is too much to recover from this early in your career.

Adaptation to exercise must occur before your body super compensates (builds strength and muscle). Select a program that allows time to recover quickly, and builds basics before moving into something more complicated. This would look like a moderate-intensity full-body program done 2x a week, or an upper Lower split done 4x a week, with one intense workout for both upper and lower body and a flushing (much less intense) workout for both as well.

Space out your Big Lifts

On top of recovery, we often talk about progressive overload (continually making progress by adding resistance to a specific exercise). This method is good but should allow for a week or more between the same exercise and method used. I know many people who will do a bench press three times a week and continually try to increase the weight they lift each time.

These people have made little to no gains in strength or muscle and have remained the same for months. Rather, take the approach of progressing from week to week during a set program. Taking the above example of a full-body routine. On Monday your big lifts would be a Squat and a Bench Press. You would not do them again until the following Monday when you would try to increase the weight being used by a small margin (even 2.5lbs is progress).

Strength Curve

Let’s talk about the strength curve. Early in my lifting career, I decided I loved powerlifting and decided to try and increase my Limit Strength (my 1RM). Every week I attempted a new 1RM and did a couple of heavy sets after. While I made progress early on, I didn’t train all aspects of strength and quickly plateaued. I couldn’t get over 400lbs on my deadlift.

I started training for acceleration up through the bottom, I began using Bands to help my lockout, and other methods to modify aspects of the deadlift. After I thought about it, I made another 100lbs progress ending up at 500lbs in my deadlift at 180lbs bodyweight. Not the absolute best, but still not bad. Training all aspects of strength in a periodized program helped me through my sticking points. Contact me about coaching opportunities and I’ll hook you up with a fully periodized program to maximize your strength and muscle gains.

Let’s wrap it up

Train smarter so you can train harder. Nuff said.

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