Learn How to Build Strength The Right Way

When it comes to building strength, many coaches and lifters forget that strength is a skill. If you want to get stronger and start bench pressing, squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing more weight then you need to practice these lifts often. If you ever played a skill sport like baseball, or any sport for that matter, you understand that in order to get better at a specific skill, like hitting a baseball or improving your crossover,  you need to practice and fine tune your mechanics.

The same holds true for getting stronger. Raw strength will only carry you so far. If you don’t learn proper technique on the big lifts, you will eventually stop getting stronger and eventually you will get injured. It’s like the athlete that was awesome when he was younger because he relied on natural ability but once everybody around him got more athletic and honed in on their skill work, he fell off big time.

If you look at the way Olympic Lifters and gymnasts train, they treat strength as a skill. They practice their craft everyday and are constantly working on the improving their form. When I was back in college, I thought it was crazy that the Olympic Lifters that trained at the school gym were squatting, cleaning and snatching 3-4 days a week but little did I know that was the key to their success and the reason why they were so dam strong. The same can be said for gymnasts, who spend hours a day practicing their skill.

Here is a video of Russia’s Male Gymnastic team training for the Olympics

So what does this mean for you?

If you are a beginner or intermediate lifter or if you coach beginner or intermediate athletes/ adults,  get really good at the basics before you introduce more complex lifts into the equation. My buddy, Dan Huff said “you have to earn your right to do a harder exercise” and I couldn’t agree with this more.

In the programs I write for new athletes/ adults, we will do the same 1 workout for 2-4 weeks before I add anything new in to it. The goal here is to build work capacity and get them really good at the basics. So let’s say the workout is:

1) Goblet Squats

2A) Push-ups

2B) Inverted Rows

3A) Band Good Mornings

We will do this workout anyway from 2-3 X a week (depending on how often I see them) and each workout we will progress by gradually increasing volume OR load. Some athletes/ adults adapt faster then others but the goal is to squeeze as much out of each workout as possible. Why program 2-3 different workouts, when 1 workout is getting you stronger and bigger? After this initial phase and adaptation we will move onto the next phase with harder progressions and add in a second workout because you have earned your right to do so.

I don’t believe in the hype or B.S behind muscle confusion. Simply put, as Dan John says “if you want to get good at something, do it often”. Unless you have an extreme case of training ADD, you are best served getting ready good at the basics and treating each lift as a skill.

Do you agree or disagree? 

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