It seems that getting stronger is on almost everyone's New Year's resolution list this year. But just wanting it won't make it happen. Just going to the gym and lifting weights without a plan won't necessarily make you stronger either. There are many nuances you'll need to consider before even getting to the gym. Here are some tried-and-true methods to get you stronger much faster than you ever thought possible!
According to Micah LaCerte, CPT and owner of Hitch Fit, "The only way to get stronger is continuing to add weight to the movements you are doing in the gym."
But if lifting heavy things alone were the solution, nobody would ever have the dreaded muffin top or arm jiggle. The secret is in how you approach your weight-training efforts. According to trainer Brian Pankau, CPT, you should focus on basic moves and approaches. That means doing simple moves like squats, lunges, chest presses, arm curls, rows, and the like while remembering to "add more weight when the final set for a specific exercise is completed too easily." The focus should be on hitting every major muscle group in your body with this progressive approach.
Related: Are You Using the Right Size Dumbbells?
Now that you know what moves to do and how to increase weight, you need to know about reps and sets. Sure, you could just lift and lift until you've exhausted your body, but weightlifting has a simpler and more scientific approach. Your best bet is to focus on doing a few sets of each exercise for about 10 to 12 repetitions, or reps, each. That means you would do each exercise about 30 to 36 times each, but with a 30-to-60-second pause between every set of 10 to 12 reps. This allows your muscles to rest in between sets, so you can get the most out of them every time you lift.
How do you start? Glad you asked! According to Pankau: "Beginners should always stick to lighter loads while working on proper form and technique for exercises. This develops better training habits in the earlier stages and also increases joint range of motion properly to prevent injuries."
But that isn't everything. In fact, LaCerte told us that getting stronger really comes down to two essential factors: proper nutrition in conjunction with planned, progressive weightlifting.
The nutrition part may sound simple, but LaCerte believes that "you need to have a lot of focus on it to stay on track — when you're building strength and muscle, you need more calories than when you're trying to cut weight." While you may think that the weightlifting aspect is the more complex part of the equation, the truth is that it really comes down to the basic principle of "lifting heavier to get strong, which builds muscle," according to LaCerte.
Related: Should You Run Before You Lift?