Building greater functional strength by lifting more in the gym requires developing more muscle. Fitness experts recommend continually trying to lift as much weight as possible by using a maximal effort method, but there are those who get stuck in a plateau and don’t see the results they want even when they’re following a suggested training routine.
What fitness experts would say is that physical training is a journey undertaken by different people, and that people differ in terms of physiology, metabolism, muscle strength, endurance and even mental preparedness. This means that there isn’t any single weight training routine that will work for everyone, and that not everyone will see results right away.
With that said, there are some tips that do work in a general sense. Follow these five methods to lift more in the gym and simply adjust the reps according to your fitness goal and prowess.
Shake up your training routine
If you’ve hit a plateau, you can benefit from a routine change-up to help you gain strength. Having a training routine is good, but it can also be negative in a sense that muscle memory can set in pretty quickly and as a result, your body gets to take things easy and you won’t see progress. Add some variety to your routine every now and then by swapping reps and sets. Instead of four sets of curls with 10 reps each, do 10 sets of four reps.
Focus on one arm
For maximum gains, trainers recommend using one arm at a time when doing weights. By focusing on one arm instead of two, you’ll be able to increase the level of difficulty on certain exercises, such as rows, the overhead press and the deadlift. Note that this doesn’t apply to bench pressing or squatting–use both arms for those lifts!
Build strength with drop sets
Drop sets involve reducing the number of repetitions while increasing the weight. When you want to lift more in the gym, performing drop sets will help you do just that. Starting with 10 reps of a move, add 5-10 percent more weight. For the next set, do 8 reps, add weight. For the last set, do 6 reps then drop the weight you’ve added. After this, do 10 reps at the initial weight. The logic behind drop sets is that you’re overloading a muscle that’s in the process of building up, which helps you gain more strength to lift more.
Pre-exhaust your muscles
Another way to lift more in the gym sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but it’s worth a try. Called muscle pre-exhaustion, it involves well, completely exhausting your muscles before really getting into the workout. During the “real” workout, your muscles–already fatigued–will need to work harder in order to complete certain lifts, and this difficulty enables it to become stronger, thus helping you lift more weight as you progress in your training.
Focus on the task at hand
If you think weight training is a purely physical activity, think again. Lifting requires mental focus: focusing on what you’re currently doing instead of thinking about other matters, such as what you’ll be doing over the weekend, the stuff you need from the grocery store, when to have your car engine checked and so on. When you focus on the task at hand, you’ll be able to do more and also reduce the risk of injury.