How do you get strong?
You do what strong people do.
Think about it for a second. You never see a scrawny guy bench pressing twice his bodyweight. And you sure as shit never see a pencil neck squatting 300+ pounds for reps.
What you constantly see in gyms around the world are underdeveloped lifters doing lightweight pump work, supersets, drop sets and other baloney that keeps them stuck at square one.
If you want to build a better body you must prioritize strength development.
Strength gain is the no. 1 indicator of muscular development.
Your training must be designed to make you stronger, first and foremost. Lightweight “muscle-confusion” workouts won’t cut it. Get stronger and your development will follow. This is the secret to drug-free physique enhancement.
Now, I’m not implying you should become a powerlifter or focus exclusively on heavy lifting.
There’s a time and place for rep-heavy volume (i.e. bodybuilding) training, but that can never be at the core of your routine. Focus on compound, multi-joint movements (i.e. the “mean5”) in the moderate rep ranges (5-12).
Your prime objective is to get your numbers up, not to chase the ultimate gym mirror pump. Lift progressively heavier weights and/or perform more reps on a week to week basis.
Want to Get Stronger? Set Specific Strength Targets
“The first rule of achieving your goal. – Know what you want.” – Bruce Lee
How many handstand push-ups can you do right now? How many reps were you able to do last month? What is your target for the next 6 weeks? What about the next 6 months?
Look at your current status and determine your short and long-term strength training goals. Be realistic, but set big goals for yourself. Write those numbers down and monitor your weekly progress.
Don’t just train “hard”, train with clear goals in mind.
Whether you’re working with weights or your own bodyweight, hitting specific strength targets will keep you progressing irrespective of training methodologies. No more guesswork. You know what to do and how to do it.
If you’re merely going through the motions, you’re wasting time. Listen to me: You’re wasting time.
Why you must set specific strength targets:
- Progress: Strength gain is the no. 1 indicator of muscle development
- Orientation: You know what you have to do and how to do it
- Motivation: It’s you VS you every time you step into the gym
In addition to targetting a specific weight, you should aim for a specific number of reps, especially if you focus on bodyweight training.
Below are some strength standards you should aim for. By the time you have reached or surpassed those numbers, you’ll have attained a level of muscularity and strength that very few ever will.
- Barbell Bench Press: Your bodyweight x 1.5 for 5 reps (i.e. 1 set with 1.5x your BW for 5 reps)
- Barbell Overhead Press: BW for 5 reps
- Barbell Squats: BW x 2 for 5 reps
- Pull-Ups: 1 set of 25 reps
- One arm Push-Up: 1 set of 12 reps
- Pistol Squat: 1 set of 12 reps
My Current Strength Goals
– Muscle-ups: 1 set of 15 reps
– Pull-ups: 1 set of 35 reps
– One-arm push-ups: 1 set of 15 reps
– Handstand push-ups: 1 set of 10 reps (narrow hand position)
These are my goals for the next 3 months.
Personally, I train without weights for the majority of my workouts. That doesn’t mean I don’t track my workouts or don’t follow specific performance goals. Not at all.
Every time I lose sight of my strength targets and thus strength progress, my results in the gym come to a screeching halt. At this point in my athletic career, I can’t get away with half-assed workouts. Scratch that. At NO POINT can anyone get away with half-assed workouts (unless you’re juiced to the gills).
You have to make each and every workout count. Being “motivated” or high off pre-workout drinks is not how you’ll get there. Hunting down strength targets is the name of the game.
Define your goals, write them down, and go after them with ill intent.
Thank you for reading