When it comes to getting stronger, it’s really not that complicated. And contrary to what you may think, it’s not just about adding weight to the bar each week.
Here are some of the simple strategies I’ve put to work for myself over the years that can keep the strength gains coming for years to come.
1. Feed the Beast
Mass moves mass. If you want to get stronger, you’ll want to get bigger—and that happens at the dinner table. Eat big to lift big and make recovery a big focus in your training program.
2. Conserve Your Energy
Don’t max out every week. You need to stimulate muscle growth with some hypertrophy training, which I do with sets of five and I only start hitting heavy doubles as I’m peaking for a meet. Save the maxes for the competition platform!
3. Don’t Chase The Pump
Pumps are for bodybuilders. If you’re just trying to get big and lean, then you should train with shorter rest periods to keep blood in those muscles. Powerlifters, however, need longer rests between sets to allow the blood and waste products to dissipate. Between sets of 800-plus pound squats or deadlifts, for example, I’ll take up to 10 minutes of rest.
4. Big Lifts Are Central
I can build an entire workout around one or two really heavy sets. Everything else is just a warm up. Repetitions just lead to repetitive strain and tendonitis, so I keep my volume to a minimum and I don’t do a bunch of ancillary work after major multi-joint movements designed to build mass or strength. It doesn’t make much sense to do cable crossovers or pressdowns after benching 500 pounds for reps.
5. Recovery Rules
The most important—and most often overlooked—thing to remember is that you don’t grow in the gym, you just break down muscle tissue. Lifting is just the stimulus. All the results come from the recovery phase—eating and sleeping. I focus 90% of my discipline towards maximizing recovery. That may include deep tissue therapy, brief sessions on the recumbent bike to flush lactic acid and to stimulate blood flow. I eat lots of good quality food all day, every day, and get plenty of rest.
6. Focus on Food
I’m not a big supplement pusher for powerlifting or training for pure strength, because I take in so much food that I don’t have any deficiencies I need manage with a supplement. I’m more apt to supplement while dieting for a bodybuilding show.
BY STAN EFFERDING