Getting stronger doesn't happen overnight, although that would save us a lot of time and soreness. If your goal is to improve your overall strength, you're going to need to make sure the way you're training is helping you get there. Instead of having you do a billion Google searches, we spoke with personal trainer and WNBA strength-and-conditioning coach Sarah Walls to learn what we need to be doing in the gym to get stronger.
1. Choose the Right Weight
When it comes to selecting weights, it can be tempting to choose the same weight over and over because you know you can lift it without a doubt. If you're looking to get stronger, Sarah says the structure of your training program should be designed for strength building. This involves "a specifically planned mix of load, volume, and intensity to optimally move the trainee forward," Sarah said. She recommends using a weight that will challenge you during a particular repetition load. For example, if you're doing a set of 15 reps, Sarah says to use "light" weights that will still challenge you by the last few repetitions. It may take some time to find the perfect weight for you, but it's worth it in the long run. Bonus tip: be sure to log the weights you use for various exercises. This is a great way to quickly reference the weight you should be lifting and you'll be able to see your progress over time.
2. Be Consistent
Like the famous saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither is strength. Sarah told POPSUGAR that in order to increase your overall strength, you should be doing regular strength-training sessions anywhere from three to five days a week.
3. Your Reps and Rest Are Important
For building strength, Sarah says you should do five to eight repetitions per set as heavy as you can go without jeopardizing your form. Sarah says to take 90 seconds to two minutes of rest in between each set.
4. The Bigger the Movement, the Better
It wouldn't be right if we gave you all this information without any way to implement what you've just learned. Sarah said that "big, total-body movements like squats, deadlifts, and push-ups" are great exercises that will help you become stronger. She also said that using free weights will allow you to "gain a more purposeful strength that will translate to improve in your day-to-day life."
So there you have it. Think bigger movements, use weights that will challenge you, and don't be afraid of the free weights!