Heavy barbells are great.
Heavy bodies can become a liability.
So I want you all to be like a gymnast or like that old wiry guy in the gym who surprises you when he can lift way more weight than you ever would have expected.
In the past, we talked about how to get strong and if you remember there are basically two ways we can go about this.
#1 – Skill Mastery – Teaching your body to recruit the maximum amount of muscle fibers to move that barbell through the most efficient path possible. If you become more neurologically efficient, you will get stronger.
#2 – Add mass (Preferably muscle mass) – More mass = more strength. Pretty simple here.
So operating off the assumption that your goal should be to get as strong as possible WITHOUT packing on a ton of weight option #1 up there is something you should be heavily invested in (Especially if you consider that the better you are at something, the less likely you are to injure yourself).
A simple, but effective program that I’ve used to add 30# to my deadlift in under a month
Years ago I was stuck at a 355# deadlift.
It wasn’t really something I spent a lot of time working on and since I was like 160# at the time I was fairly happy with that but wanted to improve.
Problem was, I didn’t have a ton of extra time to focus on deadlifting (I wasn’t writing my own program at the time) and I needed to fit it in with other stuff I was doing.
So, whenever I need simple and effective the first place I look is to Pavel Tsatsouline.
I dusted off a book I bought a few years before called Power to the People, followed the basic prescription and in just over three weeks moved my deadlift 1RM from 355 to 385 without a change in my body weight.
Inside that book, you’ll find an incredibly simple, yet effective, program to build strength. Which is very similar to the program I’ll outline below for you to use:
Deadlift – Structured Wave Progression
Assuming a starting weight of 200#
Perform your first set of 5 at your starting weight (200# in this case), rest :60s – :90s, then perform a second set of 5 at 90% of the weight you just lifted (Feel free to round up to make it easier).
Be sure to lift and lower each rep while maintaining your tension (i.e. Don’t slam or bounce the weight off the ground and/or lose your proper position).
Add 10# each workout and BOOM, that’s it.
10 Reps each day, 5 days per week.
When you start out this program will seem fairly easy.
Which is good for our purposes as this is “supplemental” strength practice and we don’t want to overly fatigue you so you can continue your regular training without any problems.
However, as the weights get heavier it will get a bit spicy, especially since this is a 5 x Week program so make sure you are monitoring your recovery from day to day.
Keep in mind that results will vary based on a number of factors including how experienced you are with training and/or the deadlift.
If you’ve been through other deadlift strength programs or have been training for a long time then a 5-10# increase would be great.
However, if you’re new to heavy lifting, you should see some bigger numbers.
The ultimate purpose of this program is to PRACTICE your strength.
As Pavel has said, “you need to learn how to use the capacity you have BEFORE you worry about adding more “dumb” muscle”. This strength practice is much more important than adding a bunch of muscle mass, especially if your goal is to be as durable and useful as possible.
While the program above only mentions the deadlift I like to pair this practice with the shoulder press as well. So I’ll typically complete my two sets of deadlifts then move on to two sets of shoulder press in the same fashion.
It would also work well with any other major barbell lift.
A few combination to try:
- Deadlift / Press
- Back Squat / Weighted Pull Up
- Bench Press / Front Squat
So if “Get Stronger” is on your list of goals for 2017 I suggest you give this program a shot. Spend 4-weeks practicing your strength and let me know how it goes!