Getting Stronger Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
So often I see people wanting to get stronger but not knowing how to go about it. Either from the wonderful internet, or friends, or some other dicey source they start chasing some new method, idea, or gimmick. What they don’t use is a program. A simple time proven method for getting stronger.
Lets set the context for this conversation. This is aimed at new strength athletes, or endurance athletes needing to increase strength for their sport, or even CrossFit athletes who have never really put time into a comprehensive strength program. This conversation is not aimed at athletes who have spent quality months and years in their strength work. Shit that works for a veteran strength athlete is not appropriate for others. And by the way, if you are a man and you can’t squat 500lbs then it is pretty likely that you could use some time going back to simple.
Back to the intent of this conversation. For some reason, you have decided that getting stronger is important. How strong you want to be is another conversation but generally you will know when you get there dependent on your sport or goal. Now you take to the interwebs. Hopefully it becomes obvious that a barbell and core movements like the squat, deadlift, press and pull-up should make up the bulk of your new strength work. The problem is that you will probably run into 20 rep squat programs, or undulating wave programs built off of percentages that you don’t have, or programs with high enough volume to make the most hardened powerlifter cry. None of that is what you need. What you need is simple: linear progression. Linear progression is simply a means of getting stronger by adding weight to the barbell each week. There are different forms of linear progression and most will work if you do them as intended. I will share my personal favorite flavor of linear progression. Before I do, let me note that none of this is new and that the various linear progression models were written by people far smarter than me.
So lets get strong(er). Lets start with the simplest part. Each week you will squat, deadlift, press (or bench press) and pull-up. And each week you will add weight to the bar. If its a lower body lift you will add 5 lbs. If its an upper body lift then you will add 2.5 lbs. The reps will stay the same. I prefer 5 reps for each set. For example on Monday you might squat 5-5-5 and bench press 5-5-5. Wednesday Deadlift 5-5-5 and pull-up(for pull-ups until you get sufficiently strong to add weight, I suggest you do a pull-up ladder of 3-5 sets of 1-2-3-4-5 reps). Friday its back to squat 5-5-5 and bench press 5-5-5. The next week you do the same exact thing, but this time add the 5lbs to the lower body lifts and 2.5 lbs to the upper body. Continue on this road until you can’t hit the require 5 reps. At that point, drop down to 85% of the weight that caused you miss and start the process over. For almost everyone you will continue on this for months and even a year until you truly hit a plateau. There are obviously many variations to this formula but this is the most basic and holds the most benefit for a great many people.
Where is the rest of the workout you say? This is just a simple strength program. It can have accessory work, endurance/conditioning work and power development layered in as desired just be cautious not to short circuit the intent of getting stronger.
If you have never really put time into a structured strength program, I challenge you to put some time into linear progression. The rewards will be well worth it.