Do you want to know how to get stronger? Some people go to the gym to lose weight fast. Others go to improve cardio performance. Some spend an hour taking selfies to post on social media. But there is also another breed of gym-dweller that is purely focussed on getting stronger muscles.
They can most likely be found in the free weight area, loading a barbell with every single plate in the establishment and lifting the equivalent of a small family hatchback, before letting out some kind of guttural roar and scaring everyone in the establishment witless when the plates crash against the floor. But don't worry, they are only doing deadlifts, the king of all lifts.
The local gym beast might not be the leanest looking person, but she/he is strong, boasting that exquisite mix of explosive power that allows for gargantuan weight to be shifted around. If obtaining superhero strength is your main fitness goal, you’ll probably want to read on.
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Low and slow
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“If building strength is your primary focus, I would suggest sticking to the lower rep ranges on your compound lifts, ideally no more than five reps with three to five minute rest in between sets,” explains Kay, a PureGym Insider, trainer and fitness fanatic.
"This will allow you to lift more weight, and in turn, increase strength faster than if you were to perform a higher rep range, such as the classic 8-12 reps, where your focus would be on increasing the muscle size, otherwise known as training for hypertrophy," she adds.
If you want to understand your body's fitness needs better, it is also recommended to use a fitness smartwatch for your training sessions. These wearables not only track heart rate and various other body metrics, they're also accompanied with smartphone apps like the Polar Flow or the Garmin Connect, where you can analyse your performance in more detail and more importantly, check your progress as you go along.
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But this comes with a word of warning, because if you’re not performing the exercise properly, you might not see the results you seek and this could potentially lead to injury.
It's no good simply going for the heaviest weight you can find and attempting to lift it. Make sure technique is on point and you build up the kilos gradually, making an effort to note down the heaviest weight from the previous session, so you can gradually increase.
"Bear in mind that how fast you gain strength is dependent on several factors, such as previous training history, genetics, nutrition and training execution, so different people will see progress at different rates. Focus on quality, stay consistent and most of all enjoy the process!" says Kay.