Building Strength: The Step by Step Breakdown on How to Get Stronger
So, you want to be strong?
Gaining physical strength and becoming strong is an endeavor that is both grueling and in many ways noble in purpose, to improve and challenge yourself to become the best version of yourself possible. However, the journey to becoming strong can be complex and offers many challenges.
There are many ways to become stronger and improve physical strength and just as many ways to do it incorrectly and cause an injury or poor results.
In this article, we’ll be defining strength training and how to do it correctly, common misconceptions, the basic background knowledge to get started and some examples of diets and training plans to help you become strong!
An overview of strength training
Strength training is an art and skill almost as old as humanity itself, and for centuries we have had a basic or fundamental understanding of how the process takes place.
This might be evidenced by the tale of Milo of Croton, who according to legend as a child carried a new-born calf up a mountain each day to get water. This became tradition and as the calf grew, so did Milo’s strength as he progressively carried a slightly larger object, culminating in his ability to carry a full-grown bull that was once the new-born calf.
That story is an ancient yet poignant example of the three primary principles of strength training: The stimulus to adaptation model, progressive overload, and specificity of the task.
1) Understanding Stimulus, Response, and Adaptation: Recovery is Crucial
First and foremost, anyone interested in becoming strong must understand the stimulus-adaptation model.
Any workout or training we do from pushups to bench press is delivering a stimulus to the body and muscles. Our bodies will fight to compensate for the fatigue or stress induced by this new stimulus, causing us to fatigue.
The magic happens afterwards; our bodies naturally rebel against new stresses and create responses to combat them, this leads to super-compensation.
In other words...
Because the stimulus created fatigue, processes in our body help to strengthen the muscles and prepare for that same stimulus to come as we recover.
If we do the exact same workout once we have recovered sufficiently, it will be easier than the first time we did it because our body knew what to prepare for. Thus, each subsequent workout has to deliver a slightly different stimulus to consistently push the body to adapt, or become stronger.
2) Progressive Overload: Strength is Created by Physical Stress
The second key principle of understanding strength training is to constantly stress or overload our muscles with slightly more than they currently handle each workout, which will over time create strong muscles that have adapted to the progressive stress.
Muscles must be stressed and forced to work against resistance in order to grow.
As you become more advanced in your training, you may want to use different forms of periodization to work in rest periods or de-load weeks to give your body additional time to recover and then train hard again.
3) Specificity: Know Your Goal and Train Accordingly
Finally, our bodies are smart enough to figure out what we’re trying to accomplish and will adapt accordingly.
Thus, the third primary principle of strength training is specificity, or our workouts and training should be specific to our goal. If you’re goal is to put on size then you should be a following a bulk or mass –style workout as compared to a strength oriented workout, or a conditioning or fat-loss workout.
This also includes training with the correct form and technique, and the reps, sets, tempo and other factors that can determine the purpose or training effect of a program. Knowing and understanding your primary goal and training accordingly is crucial to seeing the strength gains needed.
Five common misconceptions about building strength1) Strength training and weight training are the same thing.
The Basics of Getting Stronger Properly1) The Primary Movement Patterns and a Balanced Program.
Biomechanics: Good Form and Technique are Critical
How to Warm Up Properly and Avoid InjuriesA proper warm up is a crucial component in reducing the chances of injury while lifting and getting the best results from your training sessions. A good warm up accomplishes several key tenets:
- Increases the body’s core temperature.
- Increases blood flow to the muscles.
- Prepares the body for the muscles and movements that will be used.
- Prepares the body and central nervous system for how much weight will be used in the workout.
The Best Foods for Building Strength — Sample Diet and Meal Plan
Building strength requires the right diet. This is not to be confused with a mass gaining diet or a weight loss diet necessarily, strength requires plenty of fuel to burn and the right kind of fuel. As a general rule, the diet should consist of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lots of water. This may be supplemented by protein, creatine, and BCAA supplements. While everyone’s diet is particular to their tastes, a sample diet plan would follow a similar outline to below, assuming you work out in the afternoon. If you work out in the morning then you would have to make some adjustments but the overall outline would remain the same.
Breakfast: Lean Protein, vegetables, complex carbs, healthy fats, water
Omelet with 4-6 eggs, avocado, and various vegetables
Oatmeal with berries, flax seed, and cinnamon
Lunch: Lean Protein, vegetables, complex carbs, water
1 or 2 Grilled Chicken Breasts
Brown Rice or a Sweet Potato
Salad with various vegetables and a light oil or vinaigrette topping
Pre-Workout: 30-45 minutes prior to training session, consume a pre-workout preparatory drink
During the Workout: Consume a BCAA (branched chain amino acids) with water
Post-Workout: Within 30 minutes of completing a workout, consume at least 30g of protein plus creatine to maximize strength gains
Dinner: 2-3 Hours after workout or sooner if possible. Lean Protein, Complex Carbs, Healthy Fats, Water
Snack Before Bed: Protein and healthy fats, small snack so as not to bloat overnight
Whole wheat toast with almond butter and a protein shake mixed with flax oil.
How to Get More Strength & Power — A Sample Workout Plan with the Best Exercises to Build Strength
Here's a free downloadable chart that you can print out and track your results every month. Click to download it.
Common Questions About the Best Ways to Build Freakish Strength
Q: Why Do I Need to Build Strength?
A: Strength is a key component of our bodies health and a functional quality we all need to succeed in daily life. While you may not have interest in becoming a competitive weight lifter or physique competitor, you still need strength to accomplish basic activities through the day such as carrying groceries, picking up your kids, moving heavy items in your house, and the list goes on.
Q: Do I need to belong to a gym?
A: No, while a gym may certainly be helpful, you can also get plenty strong using strictly your own bodyweight or other non-traditional implements as well as long as you are sticking to the fundamentals of proper form, diet and supplementation.
Q: Do I need a trainer or coach?
A: While we certainly recommend it, if you stick with the basics outlined in this article you can build a solid base level of strength through the basic movements and a good diet. To get to the next level or move on to more advanced training concepts, we certainly recommend getting with a coach and upgrading your supplement game as well.
Q: Does the old saying “no pain, no gain” apply?
Not particularly, while stress and muscle fatigue are part of the building process, pain is never something that should accompany a lift. You may experience delayed onset muscle soreness or other symptoms that are uncomfortable, however in those cases remember that the workout is the stimulus and the growth happens in those times of soreness, and a great diet, supplement and recovery plan is crucial to seeing improvements.
Q: How Often Should I Train?
A: There are a number of different training schemes possible, the one included with this article is for three days a week, with a day of rest between each training session. However, depending on your own personal schedule you may need to do two, three or four days a week. The most important component is establishing a schedule and sticking to it.
Q: What are the best kinds of supplements to take to build strength?
A: We have supplements for all kinds of goals, however for building strength we generally want to look for a protein supplement, creatine, a pre-workout prep drink, and a BCAA. You can also buy dianabol to expedite your results.
Q: What are your best supplements for getting stronger?
A: While all of our strength supplements are selectively chosen for bulking up, our top recommendations are:
From our selection of bodybuilding stacks, our top recommendations would be:
Or you can browse by what your fitness goals are: