When it comes to improving your strength most articles will talk about the most basic stuff
Each article will go on to try and convince you why you should try this new thing. It will be backed by the latest science research (peer reviewed if you are lucky) or at least by some bro science anecdotes. Am I wrong?
Now that you know the format you never need to read another article on improving your strength again (I'm kidding, of course you do - take this one for instance). But this article is not like those other articles, I'm not going to talk about reps, sets, training methods or anything like that.
Strange right? But what I will do is give you an alternative 3 simple ways to improve your strength that you can use right now.
1) Stick with it
Now this may seem so obvious that I am a little embarrassed to have to say it. Yet it appears that when it comes to strength training one of the common things I will hear is, "I'm trying this new program, but it doesn't seem to be working." Then when I ask them how long have they been doing it, I'll hear something like, "Oh, six weeks now." To which I responds "How long is the program?" They reply, "It's 12 weeks but......"
Can you see the problem here? Give the program a chance to work. Its a different story if its some cookie cutter template you got off the internet and you find that you are injuring yourself. But all means, throw the towel in.
But if you have a program designed specifically for you by a Coach, then just be patient, and stick to the program. There is no escaping it. not only is it a skill, but strength takes time.
One of the biggest inhibitors to your progress is jumping from program to program. You may get results, but I bet they are pretty mediocre compared to what you could achieve if you followed through.
If you are someone who struggles with this, get you a gym buddy to keep you accountable, or let your Coach know so they can keep on top of the situation, but ultimately its your body, your responsibility.
2) Know your trends
People often ask me, "How many times a week do you train?" to which I respond, "It depends". You can't imagine how many people I have pissed off with that answer. It's like folks ask you a question but don't really want to hear the answer if it doesn't fit the map they already have in their mind.
Don't get me wrong, I am physically active every day of the week. Walks, mobility, dynamic stretching, Qi-gong. But in terms of "fitness / strength training" I take a different approach. Here's why.
Your training doesn't happen in a vacuum. Have you ever had one of those sessions where a weight you would normally chuck about like a feather feels disgustingly heavy? Or you miss a personal best that you would expect to nail effortlessly? Have your times taken a sudden dip for no apparent reason? Well, perhaps this could have been avoided if you tracked your HRV (heart rate variability).
I track my HRV to highlight trends, whether Iam swinging to the sympathetic or parasympathetic side of my autonomous nervous system. It is a great non-invasive biofeedback tool. So I no longer guess my readiness for performance or blindly follow a training program just because it says so. I can avoid crashes, and erratic performance, and actually enhance the potential for peak performance through this simple tool. So I don't train "per week" I train depending on what my HRV says and my desired outcome. Tracking your HRV and the trends Is a bit more complicated than train or not training. There is an art to it, but you get the idea.
3) Get Connected: Mind & body
Failing to utilise your mind & body connection is a pretty simple way to kill your gains. Why is that?
Motor Imagery (MI) is the mental rehearsal of movement and has been shown to be an effective means for acquiring a skill, even in the absence of direct practice. The mechanisms are yet to be fully understood.
A study by Ingram, TG et al explored whether the potency of MI in improving skill acquisition was due to perceptual learning or motor learning. They found that when it came to improving skill acquisition via motor imagery both perceptual learning and motor learning were essential. So what does this mean for you?
Taking some time before your lift or your workout to mentally rehearse, can make all the difference in the world in terms of performance.
Plus if you get connected to what your body is doing, when it is doing it, rather then mindlessly going through the motions. It can give you that slight edge. Why not try it?
If you want to get stronger, sometimes looking beyond programming, supplements and the latest method is a smart choice. Do what's right for you.