So you want to get strong enough to wrestle a bear like a gladiator, but you haven’t had much success so far? Here’s a guide to starting strength training from square zero. Strength training is simple, and once you’re well-informed, you’ll make great gains every time you step in the gym.
The Science Behind Strength & Muscle Gain:
To build strength, you must challenge your muscles to the point where microtears are created in the muscle fibers. Microtears in your muscles fibers are caused by the strain of pushing your muscles to work harder than they are accustomed to. After your workout, your body begins the process of mending over these tears. Mending over the microtears is what causes your muscles to grow stronger & firmer.
Muscle soreness is caused by inflammation of the muscle due to microtears in the muscles fibers. As uncomfortable as muscle soreness is, it’s a good indicator of microtears, and thus, building strength.
Starting Strength Training:
Now is a good time to define strength training. Strength training is a method of weight lifting that focuses on building functional whole-body strength using compound exercises (so you can do things like wrestle bears and lift cars off of trapped kittens).
The Starting Strength Training Plan is a basic weightlifting plan for beginners, and our #1 recommendation. This plan has lasted throughout changing times & fitness fads, and continues to be a training staple for many young athletes.
The starting strength plan follows a simple format: Workout A, rest day, Workout B, rest day, repeat. Even better, there’s only 5 lifts involved: Back squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, and power clean. After each workout you add 5 pounds to each lift.
Weight, Reps, & Sets:
So maybe you want to create your own workout plan. That’s totally ok too! Here are some guidelines on how to make the most of each workout.
- Heavy weight, low reps. Pick a heavy weight that makes you really struggle on your last rep. If you’re not struggling on your last rep, your weight is too light. Everybody has a different opinion on how many reps per set is ideal, but the general consensus is to keep it under 10 reps per set.
- Form comes first. Before attempting any lift, make sure that your form is on point. While lifting, you need to stay in good form. It is much more important to lift a lighter weight with perfect form, than go directly to a heavier weight & have your form suffer.
- Rest days. You need rest days. Remember that muscle growth is caused by the mending of microtears after a workout. If you don’t give your muscles time to rest & mend, then they won’t grow. So take your rest days seriously.
- Nutrition. This is actually a monster of it’s own (so check out the link for a full article), but in a nutshell, eat a ton of protein, eat at a calorie excess & stay away from junk food.
Strength Training versus BodyBuilding:
Do you want to be strong, or do you want to look like Arnold? Strength training does not have an aesthetic focus, like bodybuilding does. Bodybuilding may give you gigantic biceps, but people who compete in bodybuilding competitions won’t have the tank-like strength of the people who compete in Strongman Competitions.
Here’s another illustration explaining the difference:
If you goal is to become a huge, cut bodybuilder, then you should follow a bodybuilding plan, not a strength training plan. If you goal is to become as strong as physically possible, regardless of how your body ends up looking, then strength training is for you.
We hope this article helps you on your strength journey!