Getting stronger – not just lifting more weight

Getting stronger – not just lifting more weight

by Ashley Tan 06 Feb 2018

For those who live and breathe “strength”, the journey is never a linear one. Aside from making sure that your body gets plenty of fuel, the only other option to get stronger is to typically pile on more weights. However, simply adding more weight to the bar may not be the most fruitful solution. In fact, unless you are planning to enter a powerlifting or weightlifting competition, you shouldn’t be overly concerned with gaining absolute strength. Instead, it would be wiser to utilise smart training strategies that can concurrently help preclude any potential pitfalls or injuries. After all, a stronger body is more than just about lifting the most weight.


Improve relative strength by reducing body fat


In order to enhance your overall strength in the long-term, improving strength that is relative to your bodyweight is arguably more important that building absolute strength. This means that shedding the extra body fat is essential, not just because doing so will reduce your chances of contracting ailments including heart disease and diabetes, but also because fat consists of adipose tissue, which plays no virtually role in developing strength potential.


Thus, reducing body fat whilst maintaining your absolute strength will enable your relative strength to increase. Achieving this requires a combination of both sound nutrition and metabolically challenging training. A leaner body is one that has less “dead weight”, which will allow it to move better.


Escalating density training


Popularised by strength coach Charles Staley, the “escalating density training” method is an effective way to build injury-free strength. So, rather than adding more pounds to the bar, it may be more useful to increase your training density for greater overall strength and work capacity.


Density refers to the amount of work you are able to complete in a specific period of time, so density training is meant to improve the amount of work you are able to complete within a given time frame. To boost resilience and improve the overall effectiveness of the workout, you could also consider decreasing the amount of rest time between each set. This will result in cumulative training fatigue and the systemic metabolic stress effect, which ultimately amplifies the reality training intensity of every set.


Expressing strength through new skills


According to Andyn Kadir, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of Strength Avenue, strength gained under the barbell can also be expressed via other exercises. “Movements like the ring/bar muscle up, handstand, pistol squat, and the like have great carryover in terms of creating mindfulness and control. One of the bigger benefits is that these exercises can help strengthen you in the end ranges of specific movements, hence bullet-proofing your body from niggling injuries and pains,” he says.


When it comes to getting strong, challenging conventional practices and methods like lifting more weight may not be something that we actively consider. However, with more efficient and effective methods available, it never hurts to try something new. After all, gaining physical strength involves building mental resilience and flexibility too.