Until recently, those seeking to get stronger and lift more could can most likely be found in the free weight area of your local gym, loading a barbell with every single plate in the establishment and lifting the equivalent of a small family hatchback. They would then let out a guttural roar, and scare everyone in the establishment witless as the plates crashed against the floor. They were doing deadlifts (opens in new tab), the king of all lifts, and now they're probably doing them at home too.
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Low and slow
“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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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If you want to understand your body's fitness needs better, it is also recommended to use a fitness smartwatch (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) or the Garmin Connect (opens in new tab), 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.