If you have been bodybuilding for awhile then you have probably come to the realization that there is a strong correlation between getting stronger and getting bigger. Just take a glance at weightlifters, powerlifters, and strongmen to see some impressive examples of this phenomenon.
This leads us to the obvious conclusion that even if our only goal is to look bigger we need to get stronger to do that. So if you have been following a traditional bodybuilding program for awhile it may be time to switch to a more strength-oriented training plan.
The basic guidelines of designing a program to get stronger are as follows:
Lower reps allow for heavy loads, and heavy loads are what builds strength fast. You want to stay below 6 reps here. 1-3 reps is the pure strength zone, while 4-6 reps will allow you to gain some mass with your strength.
To compensate for the comparatively lower volume of your low rep sets, it is necessary to increase the number of sets you do. There is no magic number. Anywhere from 5-12 sets of an exercise is the norm. The exact number will depend on the number of reps you're doing, your goals, and your current work capacity.
Long rest periods
In contrast to bodybuilding, we want to avoid being tired as much as possible when training for pure strength. This means we want close to absolute recovery between sets. The exact amount of time will depend on the exercise, but anywhere from 3-6 minutes is typical. Some powerlifters are known to take up to 15 minutes between heavy squats or deadlifts!
The more often you do something the better you get at it. For pro strength athletes it is common to train 6 days per week, 2 or 3 times per day! While this isn't practical for most of us, it gives us a hint as to how to increase strength fast. The more often you can train (without overtraining) the better.
These are just a few guidelines to help you to get stronger. The key to rapid strength and muscle gains is hard work combined with well designed training programs and sound nutritional and supplementation advice.
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