Are you tired of not getting results? Then you're probably screwing up in one of these three fundamental principles!
Key #1 to Building Strength: Progressive Resistance
First off, progressive resistance is the most important key to building strength, even the most retarded gym rat should understand this fundamental principle. If you're not using more weight, doing more reps, using harder exercises, doing less rest between sets, doing more sets, etc. then you will not see any difference in your strength and how you look. Tattoo these words onto your forehead to remind you of this anytime you want to change something and you get weaker instead of getting stronger. You can do 2-3 exercises all your life and keep getting stronger in them and you will be a powerhouse in 5-10 years. Keep getting progressively stronger in your training and you're on the right track. Rethink your training today, make progressiveness your number one priority (not some stupidity, brand new gadget or fancy exercise) and you'll get results finally.
Secondly, through experience I came to the conclusion that resistance is resistance. It doesn't matter where it comes from; barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, bodyweight, sandbag - they're all the same. All have their own plusses and minuses. But do you really think that it matters to your body what you use in your training? The right answer is no, it doesn't matter. You think you can't gain mass with bodyweight training? Make it progressive and work up to the hardest exercises FOR REPS (of course, you need to get your diet and rest right which I will discuss later) and tell me how you look. You will look big, athletic, and awesome (with a bonus of being able to insanely control your body).
The same is true for kettlebell or sandbag mastery. Pick up the resistance you like, make it progressive, and you'll be amazed with the results. You know why barbells are considered the king in gaining strength and size? Because they are extremely easy to make their resistance progressive with all those plates in the widest weight range possible. If it becomes easy to press any given weight, just add a couple of kilograms (or just one, or a half even) and be happy. No need to think.
With bodyweight strength training, everything is WAY more complicated. Everytime you move to harder exercises, it could be a HUGE jump in resistance. For example, handstand push ups become easy and you decide to move to diamond handstand pushups. Well, to your surprise, you might not be able to do even a single one! Then you try 1/2 diamond handstand push-up (or even 1/4). The same with kettlebells. 16 kg then 24 kg. Wow, it's a fucking 8 kg jump! That's why so many people fail to get results with unconventional strength training tools.
The take-home point: pick resistance you like, make it progressive, and train to success.
Key #2 to Building Strength: Protein
Protein is crucial for building muscle (again, any average gym rat should know that). But I rarely find people who want to build muscle who consume adequate amounts of protein daily. 1 gram per pound of bodyweight? 2 gram per kilogram? Well, this will work for some people. I mean, genetic freaks and people who just started training. But for the majority, it's a really low number. If your training is ok (meaning that you're getting stronger on a regular basis), and you consume enough calories (meaning more than you burn throughout the day), but still your muscles don't grow, then you might not be getting enough protein.
What is enough? 1.5 grams per 1 pound of bodyweight (3.5 grams per 1 kilogram) is a good starting point. Some people will need more than that. For example, 2 grams per 1 pound of bodyweight (4.5 grams per 1 kilogram). Those are pretty big numbers, but that might be the most important diet change you need to make to start growing.
Some people can argue that you don't need so much protein, but it is highly likely that they have pretty good genetics or are fat bastards that think that they're muscular. These numbers are not pulled from thin air; these are real-world numbers that work for the majority of trainees. I learned them from Wesley Silveira aka Iron Addict and Charles Poliquin, as well as from some other authors who I trust. Then I checked them and was amazed with results. Don't be fooled, you need ultra-high protein doses to grow, period. And muscle growth is not the only positive effect of high-protein consumption. Improved fat loss is what I've noticed while experimenting. It's really insane. Up your protein intake and see for yourself.
I don't recommend high-protein diet if you have any kidney disease. Consult your doctor on this topic first.
NOTE: There are some cases when you can get away with less protein, like intermittent fasting and the Warrior Diet. But that's the theme for another post in the future. If you follow basic eat-whole-day approach then the numbers are accurate.
Key #3 to Building Strength: Patience
Patience always pays Off. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" Lao Tzu – founder of Taoism
Patience is the third crucial factor of training (as well as everything else) success. It's a pity that nowadays less and less people understand this important principle. To achieve something worthwile, you need time. I mean REAL TIME, and lots of it. No great strength and physique were built in 4 weeks. So why do you think that you can rebuild your's in that timeframe? There are tons of hype out there. You need to separate truth from myth. Yes, you can gain some decent amount of muscle in a short period of time. I've seen it, I've done it. But it is possible in only two situations:
- You just started training and you are eating right.
- You weren't training and eating properly for a while, and you quickly regain what you previously had due to muscle memory.
Don't search quick fixes. They won't last long. Make training, eating, and rest your habit and your new lifestyle. Only then will you be able to get the results you want. Give your goals time. A muscle gain of 10 pounds per year of consistent training is a good, solid result for the average natural trainee. Some will be able to gain more (especially in first year), some will gain less due to crappy genetics. But anyway, with such speed you'll end up 30 lbs (15 kg) bigger in 3 years. An 80 kg trainee will be 95 kg and will look TOTALLY different (he won't remind Dorian Yates but he'll definitely be a powerhouse).
Just think about it. You don't expect a planted seed to grow in 3 hours, right? So don't expect your strength and muscles to grow that fast. It's a daily routine. The only method to speed up your results is to find out what works for you and stick to it for as many days per year as possible.
Patience always pays off.
Closing Thoughts on Building Strength
Strength and physique building is not a rocket science. Yes, it involves thinking, but everything's plain and simple (although not easy). I hope this article taught you something new. Follow these principles and get the results you deserve. Thanks for reading. Spread the knowledge.
Alex Zinchenko is a personal strength trainer, strength athlete, fitness information provider, founder and owner of RoughStrength.com. The goal of Rough Strength is to provide fitness information and help other people in reaching their health and fitness goals rough. And by 'rough' I mean without any luxuries and conveniences. Pure raw strength is of course the number one priority. Find out more.
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