There’s more to strength and resistance training than just lifting heavy weights and building big muscles. Strength training also helps make every aspect of your life, easier. Whether it’s carrying groceries, tossing your kids around, or even reducing chronic aches and pains, building your strength can help your overall well-being. But, the important thing to remember is that getting stronger requires commitment, hard work, and consistency and it goes beyond just lifting heavy weights and drinking protein shakes. The most important part is that you have a plan, and we can help. Here are some of our best tips, so that you can get stronger faster.
Picking The Right Strength ProgramPicking the right strength program really depends on your goals. Are you getting stronger to live a healthier life? Do you want to get stronger so you can compete? Or are you building your strength, just to look better and feel fit? Finding your why is the start to building a great plan, and defining how you can be successful.
Once you define your, ‘why’ and no matter what strength program you end up choosing, you’re going to build the most strength, using compound movements. What are compound movements? Compound movements involve multiple joints and stimulating more than one muscle group at a time. Exercises and lifts such as (Deadlifts, Push Press, Bench Press, or Back Squat) provide for a better workout because they stimulate all your major muscle groups at once. This means that you’ll build the greatest amount of strength, in the shortest period of time. Even without heavyweight, compound movements at a high-volume will still help you get stronger, faster than simply using isolated movements such as bicep curls or exercise machines.
Get Back To Basics
Most of the Instagram models that make Kim Kardashian’s booty look like a tic-tac, didn’t get their goodies by leg lifts and glute bridges on the Bosu Ball. If you want to get stronger, get back to the basics, like squats and deadlifts. Basic compound movements will be your best to get stronger. Not the workouts that get you posted on Youtube.
Focus On Form
Without impeccable form, and taking the time to learn how to perform exercise movements the right way, you’ll never gain the strength, or develop your muscles into what they could be. Never sacrifice form, so you can hit a PR, or lift heavier. Check your ego at the door, and lift to get stronger, not to look cool. You’ll never be more embarrassed than the time you load up the bench press with too much weight, just so you can get stuck on the way back up. Trust me.
No matter what strength program you choose, whether it’s CrossFit, or powerlifting, pause reps are a tried and true method of building strength and should be included in any strength-training program.
When you pause at the bottom of a lift, there is no momentum or stored energy you can use to extend your movement. When you pause, the only thing you have is the strength in your muscles to perform your rep. So, how long should you pause for? You only need a small pause to take advantage of the strength that pausing provides. Just long enough, so that your momentum stops and starts again.
(If you're looking to get stronger and improve your performance, we recommend Chris Bridgeford's PRIMAL METHOD, from Half Wolf Training)
Creating A Meal Plan Customized For You
Nutrition is a critical component in building strength. Without the right nutrients to help your body adequately build, rebuild, and recover form your workouts, you’ll never gain the strength that you want.
Eat More Of The Right Things
You can’t just eat more and expect to get stronger. You have to eat the right things to get stronger. Nutrition is key, and it's important that you eat, and plan according to what your specific goals are. So what should you eat to get stronger?
Adding quality carbohydrates to your diet is extremely important to replenish glycogen levels and provide your body with the fuel you need to perform heavy lifts and build strength.
If you’re really trying to gain strength or be more competitive, then eating quality carbohydrates such as (Sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or Quinoa) will provide the energy you need to train harder, perform heavier lifts and recover faster.
Eat Quality Protein
High protein anything is currently all the rage. It’s always going to be the rage. It’s never, not going to be the rage. People add protein to their ice cream, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, and pancakes. Why though? Protein is lean and will help you build muscle mass, and get stronger. Without it, you won’t be able to meet your body goals. Protein stimulates the process of Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) which is the primary process to help and mechanism to build new muscle mass. So, eat your protein. But, it’s important to remember that not all sources of protein are created equal. Just because you ate a granola bar that said, ‘8 grams of protein’ on the wrapper, does not mean it was a quality source of protein. Eating wholesome, hormone free, organic, and grass fed sources of lean protein avoids inflammation and helps keep your body running at optimal levels, to help make you stronger. But which protein source is the best to gain strength?
Here’s a list of some of the best sources of protein
- Whey Protein Isolate
Now, just because you eat protein does not mean that you’re automatically going to get stronger. If that were the case, we’d all have superhuman strength and be slamming protein shakes for every meal of the day. So how much protein do you need to eat, so you can get stronger?
A common misconception is that the more protein you eat, the more muscle mass and strength you’ll ultimately gain. Wrong. The amount of protein you need is different for everyone and your body can only utilize so much. Also, we’re all different and have different goals and priorities.
Jorn Trommelen puts it perfectly, in his comparison of minimalists to optimalists.
“Minimalists want to do as little as possible, while still getting a decent chunk of the results. Minimalists want fitness to enrich their lives, not be a slave to it. My recommendation is a daily protein intake of at least 120g. That should give pretty good results, without worrying about small incremental gains by further increasing protein intake and worrying about quality or distribution.
Optimalists are willing to put in more effort if there is enough evidence that indicates their effort will produce reasonable additional results. My recommendation is four meals spaced throughout the day (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, and pre-sleep) that contain 40g of protein, with most protein coming from animal-based sources. Compared to the minimalists, this is a higher daily total protein intake and includes attention to protein quality and distribution.”
How Much Protein Do I Need?
It’s like this, for those of you doing high-intensity training and CrossFit, protein requirements are generally around 1.4-2.0 g/kg (or around 0.64-0.9 g/lb) of body mass, to build strength and muscle mass.
However, the basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 g per pound) of body mass in untrained, generally healthy adults. For instance, a 150 lb (68 kg) person would consume around 54 grams a day.
Supplementing Your Diet
No one’s diet is perfect. And it never will be. I’m not going to get on my soapbox and tell you that everyone needs supplements to help optimize their nutriment, but it’s true. We all have specific dietary needs, and each one of us has different and unique nutritional needs. Some people need more CoQ10 to keep a healthy heart. Others may have joint pain and need additional Omega-3s to reduce inflammation. Then you have people like me that need a healthy amount of probiotics to keep their digestion and immune system under control. Bottom line is, that we all need to bridge the gaps in some way, shape, or form.
If your immune system is compromised, then your body is susceptible to becoming ill. And guess when your body is most susceptible to becoming sick? When you’re working out. While you’re training, you put extremely physical stress on your immune system. Micronutrients maintain every biological system in your body from your brain, heart, muscles, joints, blood circulation, and your bones. Without the right micronutrients, you won’t get the results you want and building strength.
Supplements To Help Increase Strength
Revisiting the minimalists vs optimalists conversation, the minimalists, are those that drink protein after their workout (when they remember) and drink a standard pre-workout or creatine. Optimalists, who invest a bit more effort will want to optimize each aspect of their training, such as pre, intra, and post workout recovery. If you’re a minimalist then you’ll definitely gain more strength over time through consistency, supplementing with creatine and drinking your post workout shake. However, there is always a more optimized way to do things, so you can build your strength, faster.
Here are the supplements we recommend to gain more muscle and s build strength.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey Protein Isolate tops the list when it comes to the best supplements to gain muscle mass and strength. Whey protein isolate is a highly purified form of Whey Protein, which is rich in Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, which are essential to help build, rebuild, and repair muscle mass.
Supplementing with Whey Protein Isolate stimulates protein synthesis (muscle building) and minimizes proteolysis (muscle breakdown), which are the two biological processes that are essential to building muscle mass and strength. What makes whey protein isolate one of the best supplements for building muscle is the absorption rate. Whey protein isolate digests faster than other forms of protein, meaning that vital nutrients are delivered faster to your muscle tissues, stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
Kre-Alkalyn is a patented pH-corrected form of creatine. Kre-Alkalyn was created to address the negative side effects associated with Creatine Monohydrate, namely the toxic conversion to creatinine. This was accomplished through adding an alkaline powder such as (soda ash, magnesium glycerol phosphate, bicarbonate) to ordinary creatine (i.e. Creatine Monohydrate, creatine citrate, creatine pyruvate, creatine phosphate) in order to adjust the pH balance between 7-14. Kre-Alklayn, therefore, solves the problem with all existing creatine supplements; the inability to deliver concentrated amounts of creatine without toxic conversion to creatinine. Therefore as compared to creatine monohydrate;
Some of the benefits of Kre-Alkalyn vs Creatine Monohydrate are
- Kre-Alkalynis not degraded to creatinine which subsequently leads to greater bioavailability
- Kre-Alkalynsolves for side effects such as bloating and cramping.
- 5 grams of Kre-Alkalynis equivalent to about 10–15 grams of ordinary Creatine Monohydrate
- Kre-Alkalyn does not require a loading phase or de-loading phase
If you’re thinking about supplementing with creatine to help build muscle mass, kre-aklayn will no doubt be the best option.
READ MORE about the differences between Kre-Alkalyn and Creatine Monohydrate
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
One of the best supplements to build strength are BCAAs. BCAA’s are the building blocks of protein. Unlike other essential amino acids, BCAAs have aliphatic side chains, with a branch or (a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms), distinguishing them molecularly and functionally. The use of BCAAs in sports performance is supported by a litany of clinical evidence and research that suggests BCAAs have positive effects on muscle protein synthesis, and preventing protein degradation, which provides benefits for increasing lean muscle mass, improving recovery, and increasing strength.
Therefore with the intake of Branched Chain Amino Acids during, or after exercise stimulates the rate of muscle protein synthesis and leads to positive protein balance, (i.e. the rate of protein synthesis is greater than the rate of protein breakdown). By adding BCAAs to your nutritional regimen, you’re creating a positive protein balance, or rate of protein synthesis, leading to increased lean muscle mass and strength.
We recommend BCAA 2:1:1 as it has added electrolytes for hydration and Glutamine for faster recovery
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid, which has proven to be one of the most effective supplements in building muscle mass, endurance, and strength. Unique in its anatomy, beta alanine is a component of the histidine dipeptides carnosine and anserine, as well as vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid.
When taken as a supplement, beta-alanine passes through the bloodstream into skeletal muscle, via a beta-alanine and taurine transporter. Once in the skeletal muscle, it binds with the essential amino acid L-histidine, to form dipeptide carnosine.10 So, how does this help you build more muscle mass? Beta-alanine raises blood carnosine levels. Carnosine is the bodies’ first line of defense against increased hydrogen ions, during high-intensity training. 9
The rise in hydrogen lowers muscle pH, which is correlated to increased muscle fatigue. Studies have shown, that supplementation with beta-alanine can increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in just four weeks, and 80 percent in 10 weeks. Higher concentrations of carnosine, via beta-alanine supplementation, means less muscle fatigue, hard workouts, and increased training volume. A higher training volume means greater gains in strength.
READ MORE about how Beta-Alanine can improve your training performance
Citrulline Malate has proven to have several significant benefits for increasing strength, recovery, and endurace through different mechanisms of action.
Citrulline Malate Enables Nitric Oxide Production
One of the biggest benefits of Citrulline Malate is its ability to influence Nitric Oxide (NO) production through a rise in plasma L-Arginine levels. Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator, therefore widening blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation without increasing blood pressure. That means better muscle repair, faster recovery, and increased strength.
Citrulline Malate Facilitates Protein Synthesis
With higher levels of L-Arginine, Citrulline Malate also facilitates the biological process of protein synthesis, where cells generate new proteins. During this process, amino acids are absorbed into muscle cells, leading to an increase in blood insulin levels to maintain and increase muscle mass and strength. High-intensity training causes muscle anabolism and catabolism, (buildup and breakdown) of muscle tissue. Therefore, facilitating the process of protein synthesis will help produce and maintain muscle mass and strength.
Citrulline Malate Influences Amino-Acid Utilization
Yet another amazing benefit of Citrulline Malate, is its ability to enhance the body’s use of amino acids during your training.
In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, 17 pre-professional male cyclists were administered 6g of Citrulline Malate two hours prior to exercise and participated in a 137-km cycling stage. Results from blood tests indicated that most essential amino acids significantly decreased their plasma concentration as a result of exercise; however, most non-essential amino acids tended to significantly increase their concentration. CM also significantly increased the plasma concentration of citrulline, arginine, ornithine, urea, creatinine, and nitrite, with a significant increase in growth hormone. This study proves that Citrulline Malate actually enhances the body’s use of amino acids, especially branched-chain amino acids during high-intensity training. (3)
READ MORE about the amazing benefits of Citrulline Malate and how it can help you reach your fitness goals.