Whether you’ve been training religiously and your strength has suddenly stalled, or you have just started with the goal to get stronger – Luke and Tom Stoltman, a.k.a the Stoltman Brothers, are the guys who can help. The two brothers from Scotland have won numerous Strongman titles – 29-year-old Tom taking home the title ‘World’s Strongest Man twice, while 39-year-old Luke has won the title ‘Scotland’s Strongest Man’ five times in a row.
“We always tell people the best strength exercises are the compound lifts,” they tell T3. “The squat, bench press and deadlift cover so many muscle groups. If you only ever did three exercises in the gym, these would be the ones to do.” That being said if you have been doing these compound exercises, but your strength gains are still little to none, listen up, as Tom and Luke have shared their advice on the mistakes you may be making with your training.
1. You're not following a programme
Arguably one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting their fitness journey. A plan is key for any fitness-related goal, but even more so when looking to build your strength.
“A lot of people think it's easy just to go in and lift, which is a great start, but to see real progression, it's key to follow an evidence-based program,” the Stoltman Brothers tell T3. They continue: “It also gives you that accountability and something to track your progress against.” After all, how will you know you’re getting stronger each week if you, firstly, aren’t being consistent in what you’re doing and, secondly, aren’t taking note of what weight you’re moving?
2. Your sleep and diet sucks
“The importance of diet and sleep and recovery are only recently becoming more widely acknowledged, but they’re essential to what we do,” says the Stoltman Brothers. “If we aren’t fully rested, recovered and fuelled, we won't be able to train at our optimum. Sleep is a massive part of this and easily neglected by people with busy lifestyles.”
Ensuring you’re eating enough calories and getting the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats is key for fuelling your muscles and helping them grow and repair. A study carried out by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that inadequate sleep damages maximal muscle strength in compound exercises.
3. Stop ego lifting
Yep, we all know that one person who lifts more than they should be, and if you’ve been doing this, it’s time to stop. “Drop the weight and get the form right!” says the Stoltman Brothers, “it prevents injury too.”
Of course, when looking to build up our strength progressive overload is key, so you do need to challenge your muscles. But, equally, there’s no point trying to push or pull a weight that’s far too heavy with horrific form. At some point, your body won’t be able to keep up, and it will crash, resulting in injury. So, do what the Stoltmans say – drop the weight slightly so that you’re still challenging yourself, but nailing that form at the same time, then build on this.
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