Getting strong and building muscle are often two goals that people start their fitness journey with the hope of achieving. Luckily these two things go together hand in hand. Yes, you can get stronger without adding muscle, and yes, you can add more muscle without necessarily getting stronger. More muscle does mean more potential for strength though.
Now that that is cleared up.
- How do we do it?
- Are there any secrets to it?
- How do we focus on one more than another?
- Can it be done?
In answer to these questions –
- We’ll have a look here.
- Not really, but always worth a refresher.
- I’ll show you here.
I’m sure you’ll already know that to get stronger you’ll need to overhaul your diet and training. While that sounds good it doesn’t give you any specifics. Eric Helms wrote two brilliant ebooks on training and nutrition, called the Muscle and Strength Pyramids. You can find them here.
In terms of training he lists –
- Exercise Selection.
- Rest Periods.
A lot of people will tell you that volume is the most important factor when it comes to increasing strength or muscle. This is true on a physiological level but you can see that Eric Helms puts Adherence first. This is because it does not matter how good your training plan is, how good your equipment is, how good your diet is, if your adherence is low. If you cannot commit to a plan, or only do it half assed, you won’t be improving optimallly.
Well, they’re kind of secrets. You can see from the above points from the pyramid what factors you need to include in your training.
Firstly, find something you love doing. Bodybuilding? Great, stick to it. Powerlifting? Great again. Olympic Lifting? Good! Crossfit? Well, okay.
All of these will help you gain muscle and strength on a physiological level so find one you like.
The next thing is to make sure your training plan is solid and that it incorporates the other factors. The progression of volume and intensity via progression, exercise selection, rest and tempo is crucial.
A really easy description of volume is that it equals reps x weight x sets. So you can see that in order to progress volume you increase one of these factors. For intensity it would be a focus on increasing the volume in relation to how hard it is for you.
4 sets of 8 with 80% will be more intense than 4 sets of 8 with 70%.
Decreasing your rest period, or manipulating the tempo of your lifts will also result in a change of intensity.
500 words isn’t a lot of space to fully go over the factors mentioned here. I’d highly recommend having a look at the link for Eric Helms’ work above. Another link for you to look at, which includes a sample routine is this one.
Go find something you like doing. Progress it and monitor it as you go. You’ll be bigger and/or stronger in no time.