How to Increase Overall Strength | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Increase Overall Strength

October 28, 2010

Must See Strength Training Videos

The key to gaining strength is performing exercises with resistance. These can be bodyweight exercises—such as Push-Ups or Pull-Ups—or exercises performed with weights—such as Bicep Curls, Med Ball Tosses or the Bench Press. This type of training challenges your muscles, causing the fibers to produce more powerful contractions.

For an athlete, improving strength with resistance training takes tremendous effort in the weight room. But such effort can produce even greater results with proper weight training techniques and methods. Follow these three guidelines to take your strength training to the next level.

Follow a Plan

To be successful, follow a training plan and adhere diligently to its prescribed sets, reps and rest. For building strength, experts recommend this model:

  • Load: 80 - 90 percent of one rep max
  • Sets: 3 - 5
  • Reps: 4 - 8
  • Rest: 2 – 3 minutes

A common misconception is that spending more time in the weight room speeds progress. Excessively long workouts can actually impede progress, due to the release of cortisol, a hormone that inhibits muscle growth. Research suggests that as you reach your training threshold, cortisol increases and testosterone (the key hormone for muscle development) decreases. Your body is protecting its stored energy from overuse, and your training efforts are subverted by accelerating muscle breakdown. By strictly following a plan, and resisting the temptation to add exercises on a whim, you reduce the chance that your body will sabotage desired muscle development.

Frequency and Consistency

Without consistent use, a muscle gradually loses its size, power and ability to fire. In fact, muscles begin to lose these crucial attributes within 48 to 72 hours, depending on the level of inactivity. Thus, to make strength gains, you need to exercise on a regular basis. However, working the same muscles day after day reduces their ability to rebuild and recover. The optimal amount of exercise and rest, according to leading experts, is training three to four times per week, with 36 to 48 hours of rest before reworking a muscle group.

Training at the same time and day of the week helps ensure dependable performance from your body during training sessions, which is essential for progress. Create—and follow—a schedule. Stick to your program and don’t miss a workout.

Variety

Performing the same exercises week after week fails to continually challenge your body. Your muscles and nervous system gradually get used to the movements and workload, which limits both strength development and the brain’s ability to fully activate each muscle.

To avoid these pitfalls, athletes should vary their routines by performing alternate exercises that target the same muscle groups from different positions, with different loads and through different movements patterns. Placing muscles at various angles and activating them from different joints strengthens fibers that may have been idle during other exercises. Also, a major component of your strength—your brain-to-muscle connection—is enhanced, because your nervous system adapts to the different power requirements of the alternate exercises.

To start boosting your strength, check out these STACK-exclusive exercises and training programs:

Five Strength Training Exercises
Dwight Freeney's NFL Off-Season Power and Strength Workout
Building Strength and Mass With LSU
In-Season Strength Training With Ohio State Football
Strength Training With Michigan State Basketball
Strength Training With Dwight Howard
Justin Verlander's Lower Body Strength and Agility Training Plan

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Must See
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 3,066,897
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 2,106,933
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,276,651

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Perfect Your Squat Technique With the Unloaded Squat

Having trouble teaching a new athlete to squat? Try an Unloaded Squat Sometimes even an athlete's own body weight is too much for them to squat,...

Improve Soccer Agility with Lateral Strength Exercises

4 Simple Golf Core Exercises to Increase Your Driving Distance

7 Strategies for Faster Workout Recovery

3 Tricks for a Stronger Front Squat

Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Build Max Power With These Pulling Exercises

Posterior Chain Fixes to Improve Your Game

7 Farmer's Walk Variations for Improved Core Strength

12 Strength Moves from NFL WR Harry Douglas's Full-Body Workout

The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy

4 Deadlift Variations to Increase Your Pull

Improve Your Squat Depth With 5 Easy Warm-Up Exercises

A Better Way to Train Your Core

4 Weaknesses That Can Ruin Your Exercise Technique (With Fixes)

How NOT to Perform a Pull-Up (With Fixes)

5 Exercises to Develop Soccer Power

How to Design a Greco-Roman Wrestling Training Program

These 3 Single-Leg Movements Will Improve Your Squat Technique

Dominate Your Bench Test With This Strategy

12-Week Resistance Band and Chain Workout

5 Ways to Get a Higher Vertical Jump

Mike Boyle's 5 Tips for More Effective Workouts

The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

Reach New Training Heights With Resistance Band Exercises

Use Eccentric Lifts to Increase Size and Strength

6 Gym Machines That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Kyle Lowry's 12-Week All-Star Training Program

Develop Core Strength for Throwing

3 Post-Activation Potentiation Combos for Explosive Strength

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Exercise

7 Best Lower-Body Strengthening Exercises

10 Ways to Get Stronger With a Sandbag

Mike Boyle: 4 Small Muscles That Can Lead to Big Gains

How Strength Training Changed Rory McIlroy's Game

7-Exercise Core-Blasting Workout

Master the Lateral Lunge to Improve Your Hockey Stride

Increase Your Explosiveness with the Power Curl

How Often Should You Vary Your Exercise?

Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position

Make Lifts More Challenging With Resistance Bands

How Functional Training Has Overly Complicated Strength Training

3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

7 Ways to Work Out Competitively Without CrossFit

Putting Together an Off-Season Workout for Point Guards