Monday, June 5, 2017

A Guide to the Process of Getting Strong

This is the quality of training that I have the most experience with. I've been strength training for eight years, spending most of that time spinning my wheels as most people tend to, but I'm still much much stronger than when I started. There's plenty of ways to go about it, but first you need to figure out the goal and the reason because strength training to strength train while being a great recreational activity is usually not the cause or reason.

If you're strength training for sports for example you'd need to look into the demands of the sport so that you can find out what you should be aiming for:

In a high-school football locker room, you may have a few 300 lbs. benchers, but you're likely to find more than a few 4-500 lbs. squatters, likely from the bigger guys. You're going to want to be strong at Olympic lifts most likely. These numbers grow moving from here to a college locker room and then to an NFL locker room, but not as much as you'd likely expect because at some point getting stronger no longer affects your ability to get better as a player.

Once you figure out what it is you're shooting for you can then find a program to bring you to the level you need/want to be at. There's plenty of programs, but I'll show a few and outline their applications so that you can use what fits your needs/goals.

First, we'll start out with beginner programs:

First there's my beginner's program The Big Lifts LP. It's a simple program for beginners that's based on a 5x3 system built on Squatting and Deadlifting with Benching and Overhead Pressing as your upperbody movements. It's meant to progress you quickly and far while allowing you the versatility to add in cardio if you choose. If the Big Lifts LP is What You're Looking For

There's stronglifts 5x5, by Mehdi it's your basic beginner program that focuses on the four major lifts: The Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press, and Deadlift. It's a linear progression meaning that with every successful time you add weight on the next session. If Stronglifts 5x5 is what you're looking for

Then there is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, which is a 3x5 approach Focusing on those same exercises, but also including Power Cleans, it's much more in depth than Stronglifts, and can be ridden out for much longer. If Starting Strength is What You're Looking For

Thirdly there is The Average F'n Program by Adam Wathan and Kenn, which like Starting Strength is a 3x5 approach focusing on the big lifts. This program is different from the other two programs in that it is less squat intensive, and has a bit more variety. It can be ridden out much further than stronglifts, and around as long as Starting Strength. I'm partial to this program personally because it worked out better for me with my athletic background than the other two programs do. If that program sounds like it would be a good starting point you can find it at: If The Average F'n Program is What You're Looking For

I'd love to say that I have my own very special beginner program that will take you to your dreams, but there's no need to re-invent the wheel here. I've personally tried all of those programs either on myself or with clients and they have all worked to extreme success. If you look into these programs however and you find that you need something more tailored to your needs you can most certainly ask and I will do my best to help you come up with something personalized to your needs. 

Typically you'll run a beginner program for 4-6 months and you'll end up reaching a point where the strength gains stall or slow to a crawl. Typically at this point you'll have reached certain strength goals: 1.5xbw squat, 1xbw bench, 2xbw Deadlift, which will serve as your base while you branch out into whatever goals you need to reach. At this point if strength is still the goal you'd need to move on to an intermediate training program and I'll try to give some outline on some of the intermediate programs I have knowledge on:

First there is a program that has been termed Madcow 5x5 by Bill Starr. This is built on the same principles as the beginners programs, but the weights and reps are waved through twelve weeks. This program has been used for years to help people gain weight and strength in between football seasons, but has also been used by regular joe trying to gain strength folks for years as well. It's very effective, but also very intense. If that sounds like the program for you it can be found at: If Madcow 5x5 is what you're looking for

Second, There's 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler, this approach is more advanced than intermediate, but it's worth mentioning as an intermediate program because of its versatility. This program is different than all of the other programs mentioned so far because instead of working on multiple main lifts per workout you have one main exercise per workout, and from there you have the versatility to do whatever you feel will fit into your goals afterwards. You have the latitude for hypertrophy (muscle gain) work, for athletic work, for mobility work, or for cardiovascular work. The main work can be completed in 10-15 minutes, so if you're strapped for time you also have the ability to get through the main work and be done, safe in the knowledge that you still did the work you need to, to get stronger. If this program sounds like it may be a good fit for you then you can find it at many booksellers, or online on many websites, but here in the book you can learn the meat and bones of the program, which I found to be much more helpful than just simply the template: 5/3/1 Books

Then there's the Texas Method, also from Mark Rippetoe which works off of a Heavy, light, medium approach. It looks a lot like the beginner programs do, but instead of using the same weight or more in each session, you add weight weekly while doing one session medium the next one light and then heavy, setting a new strength record to go off of. This is widely regarded as the best intermediate program by heavy iron enthusiasts. If You're Looking For The Texas Method

This should be enough programming to hopefully get you through the first year to year and a half of strength training (if using 5/3/1, you could simply keep going forever). At that point the real fun begins. You start needing a month or two to see any real strength increases, at this point muscle gain becomes of major importance to strength gain. You'll start having to learn where you're lacking and where you're strong and at this point you'll have to be honest and start working on the muscle groups that are lacking that you most likely prefer not to work, but at this point that's where your new strength gains will likely come.

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