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Five Tips for Strength Training

Posted Jul 23 2010 5:59am

One of my favorite cross-training activities is strength training. Whether it is through weight lifting or body weight exercises, strength training is essential for a strong, fit, healthy body.

Ladies – muscles are hot.
Not only on the dudes, but on you too.

Dudes – balance, balance, balance.
Having arms bigger than the size of my head but legs smaller than my wrist is not attractive.

Five Tips for Strength Training

1. GET OVER YOUR FEARS.

Many people don’t strength train because they’re afraid of being judged by those super fit guys pounding out 5 million pull-ups and 10 billion push-ups.

In reality, those guys don’t care.

They’re too busy focusing on their own routine to pay attention to you. Unless you’re grunting like a dying gazelle , nobody will even notice how many pounds, reps, or sets you can do.

Stop worrying about them, and focus on you. Do this for yourself. Get over your insecurities, and start strengthening your mind and body. Empower yourself through weight lifting and strength training.

 

2. ENGAGE YOUR CORE.

Although six-packs are super hot, your abs are not there to look attractive. They actually serve a very vital function: to keep your spinal cord in place so that you can maintain an upright position (also known as posture). Your abs and lower back make up your core.

Your primary source of power comes from your core.

Use it. You punch harder when the motion comes through your center and not just from the arm. You kick higher when the power originates from your core and not just from the leg.

Imagine that all of your power is stored as a great ball of fire in your core. In order to access this power and release this ball of fire, you have to hold your abs in and engage your core.

When I strength train and weight lift, I always hold my core in tight. My abs are flexed when I bench press, squat, lunge, and even when I do an assisted pull-up. You have more power that way.

I very rarely have ab-specific training days, and I never do sit-ups. Engaging your core during every activity is a workout in and of itself.

 

3. DEADLIFT.

My favorite exercise. Ever. It’s an intense and amazing workout for your quadriceps, hamstring, glutes, abs and lower back. I always end up in a pool of sweat after deadlifting. Sexy, right?

Body Recomposition has a wonderful how-to guide, including photos, for a clean style deadlift.

I am also a huge fan of the Romanian deadlift. Here is an awesome video tutorial showing the proper form for doing a Romanian deadlift.

 

4. DITCH THE MACHINES.

You do not need machines to become stronger. In fact, everything you can do with and on a machine, you can actually replicate with free weights and your body weight.

Machines prevent the body from using its natural stabilizing muscles. They force your range of motion, instead of allowing you to establish your natural range. You do not engage your core as effectively or efficiently when you use a machine because the machine is balancing and supporting for you.

In short, machines suck. Morpheus and Neo would agree.

Use your body weight, dumbbells and barbells. Squatting 200 times in a row with just your body weight is pretty tough. Doing a wall chair for 5 minutes is bloody hard. Even completing one full-form push-up is an amazing feat.

So stop using the machines.

Instead, embrace your innate abilities and let your body do what it was designed to do.

 

5. LIFT HEAVY.

None of this high rep, low weight garbage. That’s just a waste of time.

Ladies, if you’re afraid of looking like Hulk Hogan, realize that it’s just not naturally possible. Unless you’re doping up and shooting some serious testosterone, women are just not genetically designed to be as muscular as men are. You’d have to purposefully try to look like a guy in order to look like a guy.

So bump up your weights.

You can do better than 5 pounds. I usually aim for 3 to 4 sets of 6-10 reps. The last rep is always extremely difficult or not possible. I lift until failure (my muscles cannot complete an additional rep) while still maintaining good form.

To give you an idea of what I lift…

My max bench press (one repetition) is 90 pounds. I deadlift 3 sets of 5 reps at 150 pounds. I bicep curl 15-20 pound dumbbells per arm, depending on if I’m super or triple setting. I’m up to 9 full-form push-ups in a row, and I’m trying damn hard to do that pull-up.

Push yourself to the limit. Your muscles will only strengthen if they are forced to.

 

Strength training is essential. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Weight lifting also helps you feel and see physical progress without using a scale.

Runners, swimmers and cyclists all need strong muscles as do yoga masters, kickboxers, and dancers. Most importantly, humans need strong muscles in order to survive.

So lift and strength train. Become strong, not for me or anyone else, but for yourself.

 

Need a basic strength training workout? Steve from Nerd Fitness just posted a free one.

What is your favorite strength training exercise?

What strength training goals do you have?

How can I help?

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