Many gym goers are there solely for the aesthetic results training brings. To an extent, that’s okay, if that’s what keeps you motivated, then you are developing healthy lifestyle habits as a result. Problems can arise, however, when that desire for aesthetics outweighs healthy living choices. Going into the gym without warming up and throwing yourself into heavy weights because you are young and your body can ‘handle it’ could be doing you damage.
Taking a concoction of supplements rather than eating a diverse and healthy diet isn’t good for you, girls doing a heap of cardio to shed weight while not eating much and not training with weights is not a healthy option to gain that illusion of good health. Training, and eating habits should be about more than how you look – it should be about becoming the healthiest, strongest, fittest version of you that you can. Find your body’s potential.
Track Your Max
You have to know where you’re at before you can know where you’re going. Test your one rep maximum lifts for barbell squats, bench and deadlift to get an idea of what level you are at and also so that you can track your progress. Keeping a record of your starting point and progress will also help to keep you motivated as you look back and see just how far you have come.
Test your one rep max but building up to it over 4 working sets of the exercise. Be sure to make sure your muscles are warm, energised and ready for the challenge. It can also help to test your max over a few sessions as we all have fluctuating strength from workout to workout. Depending on what you’ve eaten, how much you’ve slept, how much water you’ve drunk and how focussed you are, your one rep max might go up or down around 5-10kgs, so give yourself a few sessions to test your max lifts.
Lower the Volume on the Right Exercises
To build your strength, stick to the strongman, Olympic weightlifting exercises. Focus your sessions around the key major lifts – barbell squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, flat and incline bench presses, overhead presses, dips and chin ups. Do 5 sets on these, or more depending on your training program, keeping the reps low with good form. To build strength you’re not going to failure with burn out reps, but you are still pushing to your max – find the space in between.
You might question how yoga fits into building strength, but if you are wondering that – try doing some of the more challenging yoga poses like the firefly, peacock or even crow pose. If you aren’t familiar with those – basically you need killer core strength and balance to achieve them, and good core strength is going to help you in your big lifts.
Doing regular yoga will also help keep your muscles stretched and supple, ready to take on the next big gym session. One of the best ways to get past agonising leg day DOMS is by going for a walk and doing some simple yoga. Doing yoga builds core strength as well as proprioceptive body awareness – both of which will help you become a better, stronger athlete with more longevity.
Your body will become stronger as your body recovers and rebuilds from high intensity training sessions where you push your current limits. As your body rebuilds, be sure to give it the nutrients, water and rest it needs and stretch daily to look after your muscles, joints and tendons. Find a program that suits your body type and level and go for it!