Strength Training – How to get stronger

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Note: If you want a step-by-step proven workout plan for getting strong and packing on slabs of muscle, I highly recommend checking out Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets program.  It’s hands down the best system for getting ridiculously strong and putting on muscle. Check it out here…

What you’ll find on this page…

  • Part 1 : What will strength training do for you?
  • Part 2:  What is strength training?
  • Part 3 : Beginner strength training workouts

Part 1 – What will strength training do for you?

Strength training is one of the best ways to… build muscle, lose fat and build insane strength.  Strength training is the main form of weight training for athletes, especially those in sports like football, wrestling, track, gymnastics and power lifting (any physical sport really…).

Unlike most bodybuilding routines that you’ll find in fitness magazines, strength training is actually very useful for improving physical performance in sports.  Getting stronger is one of the best ways to improve your performance in nearly every sport.

If you’re a guy, strength training will help you…

  • get bigger, more defined muscles
  • see significant gains in strength (improves athletic performance)
  • boost your metabolism and help you burn fat
  • produce more testosterone in your body

If you’re a woman, strength training will help you…

  • get a tight, toned fitness look through your arms, thighs, butt and stomach
  • make you stronger, and give you more energy
  • stay lean ( You will NOT, I repeat NOT get big and bulky)

Part 2 – What is Strength Training?

Strength training is about working your body’s large muscle groups in natural movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press etc..) that result not only in an improved physique, but also a noticeable increase of strength and improved athletic ability.

Many weightlifting programs are designed specifically to make your body look better, while neglecting the function behind the form.  While this is better than sitting on the couch, you aren’t getting the full benefits of your workout.  The majority of these programs use exercises that are totally useless outside of the gym (wrist curls, calf raises etc…), and do not translate into athletics or real world activities.

Most guys who work out with traditional magazine workouts (high rep, lower weight) will see some results and start to feel good about themselves.   They look better in the mirror, and think damn!…this is finally working!  Then one day their neighbor’s car gets stuck in the snow and theny have to help her push it out… Or they need to hoist that overloaded box into the crawl space of their attic. This is when people finally realize their bloated three sets of ten reps muscles are utterly useless. They’re confused. They go to the gym six days per week. They follow everything they’ve read online and in the magazines, but despite their muscular appearance, they’re still weak.

Now what? Reality has kicked in… and the reality is they have form with no function.   They have big muscles with no purpose behind them…

If this sounds like you, no need to panic.  It’s actually good that you realize there’s a problem, and that you need to change your strength training workouts.  Here’s what we’re gonna do to fix your workouts…

  • Simplify
  • Increase the weight, decrease the reps
  • Rest
  • Test your progress

Simplify

  • To build strength we aren’t going to go through the entire encyclopedia of exercises. We’re going to stick with five basic movements: squats, deadlifts, pull ups, shoulder presses and bench presses. That’s it. And dare I say that if these five lifts were the only lifts that you ever did, you would be just fine. Probably better than fine. It’s almost always better to keep things simple. Just remember that simple does not necessarily mean easy.

Increase and Decrease

  • To build strength, do two things: increase the weight of your lifts and decrease the repetitions. Do not do any more than five reps per set. In most cases, three repetitions will be ideal ( 3 reps for 5 sets is a good starter). Heavy sets of one rep on occasion are a good thing as well. If you’re using a load that you can lift more than five times in one set, you are not using enough weight to build strength. Put some damned plates on the bar, grit your teeth, and lift! Again, simple does not mean easy.

Rest

  • You should wait at least two minutes between sets when strength training. Waiting as much as five minutes between sets when doing heavy singles is not a bad thing. I typically rest 2-4 minutes between sets when strength training.  Also, you may need to increase your rest periods as the workout progresses and fatigue creeps in. You may rest two minutes between your first and second set, and four minutes between your fifth and sixth set. Use a stop watch and log your rest periods as meticulously as you log your weights, sets, and reps.

Test

  • Find your one-rep max for each of the five listed exercises. And then test your max every four to 8 weeks thereafter (I find six week intervals to be ideal). You won’t know if you’re getting stronger unless you establish your max periodically. These “tests” let you know if your training is effective or if you need to make adjustments.

Lift a weight that requires all of your focus and determination at that moment. Keep your technique clean, be safe, lift with a spotter and also lift as heavy as possible within these parameters. Keep it simple. And when strength training, simple should not mean easy.

Part 3 – Strength Training Workouts

Just because this is a novice workout, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  If you’ve never seen results, or you’ve never done real strength training before, this is a perfect place to start.  If you hate working out, this is a great place to start too because once you start to see real results, you’ll be hooked!

If you don’t care about getting stronger and only want to lose fat as fast as possible, you should check out our piece on how to lose fat.

Ok for the novice workout, we are going to focus on the 5 main exercises.

These exercises will help you build the most amount of strength in the shortest time possible, because all of these movements are compound exercises which target the largest muscle groups.

Novice strength training workout

3 day workout (M-W-F) or (T-Th-Sa)

If you have never performed Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Presses, Pull ups or the Bench Press, I recommend you start with the beginner workout program to learn the proper form (proper form is crucial).  Working with just the barbell before you add weight is the best way to learn the proper technique.

———————————————————————–

Week 1 workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks,  using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Shoulder Press -  2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chinups.  If you can do more than 5 chinups, add weight to your chinups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Bench Press – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

That’s your workout for the first week.  For week 2, we’re going to be doing the same exercises, except we’ll be performing the Day 2 workout twice, and the Day 1 workout once.

—————————————————————————

Week 2 workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Shoulder Press -  2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chinups.  If you can do more than 5 chinups, add weight to your chinups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks,  using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)
  • Bench Press – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Repeat the week 1 and week 2 workouts for at least 12 weeks.

One last note….

If you want a step-by-step proven workout plan for packing on slabs of muscle, I highly recommend checking out Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets program.

It’s hands down the best system for skinny guys (and gals) to put on muscle. Check it out here

-Terry Asher

Gym Junkies

I’m Terry I’m here to help you achieve the body you want. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want, with the proper guidance. Through my eBook I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My goals are to continue to help people all around the world and change people’s life for the better.

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85 Comments

  • avatar

    This workout is great! So simple but so effective! I cant believe how quick I got results..Now I have to go buy larger shirts!

  • avatar

    Hi Vic. Should I adjust the weight in between sets so that that last rep is really tough? or am I to use the same weight for all five sets?

  • avatar

    Hi Vic I started this program 6 weeks ago, my body is starting to look defined and I have put on 3 kilos. I can’t thank you enough!

  • avatar

    i am a 15 year old male with a height of 5’4. i weigh 126 pounds and im currently 7 pounds above my desired weight. i have a big belly and a pretty bad metabolsm.i started to jog for an hour daily in order to get a better body shape but my stomach keeps getting bigger. i play basketball for the schools team and am wondering if this will help my belly fat turn to abs, and increase my speed. thanks.

  • avatar

    Hi Vic,
    Just about to start the program but I’m overweight. Will this help me to turn fat to muscle? Also I have an old lower back injury and am slightly worried it may flare up again when I start. Any advice?
    Cheers,
    Shane

  • avatar

    Hi Vic. I’ve recently started gyming, I’m 23, I’m about 6ft 1in, I weigh about 90kgs but I look fairly slim, in other words, I’m heavier than my appearance, I was very active while still at school, playing a lot of contact sports as well as cricket and athletics. I got very out of shape since and now I’ve decided to get buff. I’ve been going well for about 2months now and I have seen a few small changes. What worries me is that I’ve gotten a lot weaker than I expected in my upper body so I’ve been pushing pretty hard at the gym. That means I’m trying to go AT LEAST 4 times a week. I do do a little power training in between normal sets and reps, my endurance seems quite good, I mean, I can go at it pretty damn hard and when I leave the gym I always feel like I should have stayed a little longer. I’m worried that if I try your method, I’ll feel like that everyday… The workouts just seem to be over too quickly… Any advice? And is it a problem if I do strength training more than 3 times a week?

    Thanks!

    Michael (South Africa)

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