Making changes in body composition is a goal for many people, yet when it comes to doing that you need to increase your base levels of strength.
Being stronger allows you to accumulate more total volume, which means more potential for muscle growth.
If you have hit a plateau, here are three easy to apply methods to help you boost strength.
1 – Dead Starts
Stating a press or a squat from the bottom position (a power rack or suit stand pins will be needed) eliminates the eccentric loading/stretch reflex meaning it’s pure neural output and force production, this is a great way to help strength.
Pick one movement and focus on this for 2-3 weeks, then change to another movement or a different variation of the lift, this can be quiet draining on the nervous system.
Perform said lift 3x per week start off with 8×2 and add a rep until you hit 8×3, use 80%+ of 1RM, rest as much as you need but as little as possible.
2 – Pause Reps
An old classic but one that is super effective.
If you’re pressing or squatting, simply get to the lowers point in the lift and pause there for a minimum of 2-3 seconds (4 is the point where most people lose all potential energy stored by the eccentric portion of the lift), build up to longer pauses over time.
So say week 1: 3 seconds, week 2: 4 seconds, week 3: 5 seconds etc.
You can also pause pulling movements, the main difference being you pause at the top of the lift (contraction peak), I believe it was Phil Learney who said if you can’t hold at the top for 3 seconds then the weight is too heavy and your back is too weak – other top coaches have said similar and I have to agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Leave your ego & your momentum at the door in pulling movements.
If you choose to pause deadlifts stop in either the concentric or eccentric, both are very effective at building strength – aim to pause at your common ‘sticking point’ as that’s where you’re power output is at it’s weakest.
2-3 week blocks advised, one lift focus per block.
3 – Partial Reps
Yep, partial reps are a great tool for increasing strength, provided you have the equipment necessary to perform them with good form.
Say you have a sticking point, you’d simply set up the bar at the post just before it and just after it and press or squat through that small ROM to build your strength/force output in that area.
This could also be done in stages across the entire full ROM of a lift, might look like this:
A1 – Press lock out 3×3-5
B1 – 1/2 rep to 3/4 rep and hold (pressing in to the pins on each last rep as hard as possible 3×3-5
C1 – 1/4 rep to 1/2 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
D1 – Bottom of rep to 1/4 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
E1 – Full rep 3×3-5
Easy on paper, brutal in practice, but 100% effective in getting stronger.
2-4 week block advised, one lift focus per block.
Bonus – Cheat Rep & Eccentric Overload
A classic cheat rep such as a push press, or cheat curl for example. This allows you to get the lift up to the end ROM and then slowly lower the weight using eccentric training.
There you have it, some simple methods you can add to your training to increase your strength today.