How can you specifically build and increase your strength through strength training? What needs to be taken into account? For many exercisers, progress stagnates after a while: they can no longer increase the weights or repetitions of the exercises and do not notice any physical development in terms of body fat reduction or muscle mass. However, there are numerous methods of structuring training plans so that muscle can be built using maximum strength in basic exercises. Especially those who have been training for a long time will have to use specific training methods at some point.

No muscle gain despite training?

The first time you do strength training is often associated with rapid strength gains and physical changes due to the new metabolic stimuli. Especially for those who are completely untrained, every training stimulus is a new input for the metabolism, which is why beginners will make progress even with less sensible training programs. However, muscle building often stagnates after this initial phase of success if there are no above-average genetic requirements or if the training programs are regularly structured and renewed individually. There are even cases in which, despite training, no muscle growth is visible right from the start or there is only very minimal, barely noticeable progress.

Building strength: Which basic exercises should I definitely do?

With Build and increase strength In this context, what is always meant here is that the basic exercises like Bench press, squats, deadlifts and Pull-ups be increased. These holistic exercises always have a very global training effect and always train several muscle groups at the same time. Some serve as the main muscles for movement execution, others as smaller stabilizers. For example, in the classic deadlift, primarily the lower back, the buttocks and the rear thigh work, but the upper back, the chest, the calves, a small part of the front thigh, the arms and the stomach and many other small muscles perform tasks that the large ones Support movement.

Why does it even make sense to be strong?

There are various reasons for this Building strength can be important. Only the most important ones are mentioned here:

  • Being able to perform the basic exercises in their full range of motion with certain weight ratios has health benefits: strong, balanced muscles protect against neck, back and knee pain, which a large part of the population struggles with.
  • If you want to build more visible muscles, train more efficiently with higher weights. Moving more weights in a clean exercise means that more mechanical tension is created. This in turn provides greater stimulus for the muscles to grow.
  • It is important for amateur and competitive athletes to train maximum strength in the basic exercises, because the stronger they are, the faster and more reactive they become in their sport. Strength training is also the best way to prevent injuries, as the chain usually breaks at the weakest link. This is often the case in the knee, for example, which is why it makes sense to do deep squats with a full range of motion, as these strengthen the muscles of the thigh, which stabilize the knee.

How can I build and increase my strength?

A training plan for constant strength building is not just a single plan, but a structured cycle of several programs. These must be individually tailored to the goals and circumstances of each person. For maximum success, you should get professional support from a coach. However, if you want to experiment a bit yourself, you can try out some methods that offer a high chance of building strength. Some of these options are described in the next section.

First, however, some basics should be discussed, which are not taken into account by many and are therefore often the limiting factor constant increase in strength are:

  • The training plan should be renewed every three to four weeks ; for beginners, five to six weeks is possible. The more advanced the trainee is, the faster the body adapts to the training method and, accordingly, the organism needs new stimuli more often.
  • The intensity of the basic exercises should vary from one training plan to the next. For the sake of simplicity, intensity here means how many repetitions of the basic exercises are done per set. If you train in the maximum strength range, i.e. complete between 1 and 4 repetitions per set, for example, you have a high intensity. The intensity from one training program to the next should not be too far apart and should always go up a little and down a little.
  • You should always think in advance about which basic exercises should be increased in the current training plan cycle. Is it barbell flat bench press or standing shoulder press? Is it Romanian deadlift or floor deadlift? Is it the close neutral grip pull-up or the wide pronated one with the palms facing forward? Accordingly, you can then smartly select the isolated additional exercises that strengthen the respective exercise variation.
  • The big basic exercises that are intended to get stronger should always be carried out at the beginning of the training. If you perform isolated exercises in advance, pre-fatigue will subsequently limit your strength.

Of course, there are occasional exceptions to these basics due to specific methods and individual requirements. However, as already mentioned above, you should look for an experienced trainer for such more detailed analyzes and training plans.

  • A training plan in which maximum strength is built up should - like any other - document every training session and contain parameters that ensure reliability. The rest times between sets, the number of sets and the pace at which the exercise is performed should always be specified.
  • In order to build strength in sport, the eccentric movement of the exercise should always be performed slower than the concentric one. The eccentric movement is the one in which the weight is lowered and you can control the exercise well. In the pull-up, this would be the part where you lower yourself back into the extension; in the squat, this would be the first movement in which you go down into a squat. The concentric movement should be performed explosively or within one second. This is the part of the exercise that involves pushing or pulling weights. Pulling up when doing a pull-up or pushing up when doing a bench press are examples of this. Lowering the weight in a controlled manner should happen in three to 6 seconds in order to achieve an automatic increase in strength in the concentric movement.

This is different for powerlifters or Olympic weightlifting, but explaining this in more detail would go beyond the scope of this article.

3 methods for your training plan to increase strength

Keep it Simple: Increase to a heavy set

Here you do 5 or more sets of the respective basic exercise for - depending on the desired intensity - 2-4, 3-5, 5-7 or 6-8 repetitions per set. There is a 90 to 150 second break between sets. The higher the intensity, the longer the breaks. You start the first set with a weight that challenges you but doesn't completely push you to the limit and increase the weights each set so that the last set is the heaviest. Since there is a margin of, for example, 5-7 repetitions, it makes sense to go so far in the last set that only 5 or 6 repetitions are possible with the respective weight.

Cluster – advanced method for trainees with good basic strength:

For example, with cluster training you choose a weight that you would normally be able to do 4 repetitions. You then only do 3 repetitions with this weight, put the weight down briefly for 10-15 seconds and breathe well, then do another repetition, pause again for 10-15 seconds, put the weight down again and repeat after 10-15 Seconds one last repetition. With this system you can do 6 reps with a weight that you would normally only be able to do 4. This method requires a lot of nervous system and should not be used for longer than three to four weeks, otherwise the immune system could be put under too much strain or the high stress could lead to overtraining and no longer regenerate properly.

1 ¼ repetitions – do specific partial movements of an exercise twice

This method is particularly useful if you know that you are relatively weaker in a partial movement of the respective basic exercise. However, it makes many exercisers stronger even without such a large deficit. Of course, you have to adjust the weights downwards accordingly for this method. So, for example, for 6-8 reps of 1 ¼ reps, you need to use between 15 and 20% less weight than you would normally be able to lift for that number of reps. An example of how to do this would be the pull-up with a shoulder-width neutral grip, which starts with your arms completely outstretched, you pull yourself up to the bar, lower yourself ¼ down in a controlled manner and pull yourself all the way up again and only then lower yourself back into extension.

There are of course numerous other methods to become stronger. However, the basics mentioned and the three example methods could help you design a training plan with which you can specifically build strength and increase it sustainably.

Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for the understanding of physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors like Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as the constant exchange within the team, she can provide her customers with optimal advice about training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with a variety of successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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