Boost your strength instantly
Try these 4 instant-impact tips from New Body Plan editor Joe Warner to boost your strength to lift heavier the next time you train!
I’m not going to beat around the bush: if you follow my four super-quick tips the next time you lift weights you notice a significant increase in your strength levels.
Simply doing just one will have a big impact on your ability to move heavier weights more easily. But put into practice all four and don’t be surprised if weights you previously struggled with now feel like a warm-up set!
And the best bit is all four tips require no extra effort to have a major positive impact on your ability to generate explosive power!
Squeeze the bar to boost your strength
What? Just before you begin every single set of your workout I want you to squeeze the barbell or dumbbell or cable handle – or whatever bit of kit you’re using – as hard as you can for a count of two seconds. And grip it hard enough that your knuckles turn white!
Why? Squeezing the bar or handles hard before starting your set gives your central nervous system (CNS) the quick “heads up” it needs to work at its maximum capacity. This advanced notice ensures that your CNS is firing on all cylinders by the time you do that crucial tone-setting first rep (if you start a set strong I guarantee you’ll perform more, better-quality reps), rather than only really getting into gear when you’re two or three poor reps in. Getting a grip may sound too simple to be effective, but give it a go and you’ll soon know what I mean!
Ground your feet to lift heavier
What? Once you’ve gripped the bar hard, “stamp” your feet hard into the ground. Then drive your heels down, imagining you’re trying to “screw” them into the floor. Doing so will both mentally and physically reinforce the connection between your feet and the floor to create the strongest-possible base.
Why? I don’t care which exercise you’re about to perform – having a strong and stable base is instrumental in your ability to lift heavier weights safely. Yes, this is obvious for squats, deadlifts or shoulder presses. But I want you to do this for all exercises, including bench presses or even dumbbell biceps curls!
Planting your feet into the ground solidly means your entire body is supported by a strong base. And when you have that total-body stability you’re instantly able to generate more force and are therefore significantly stronger. It’s a no-brainer tip if you want to get stronger in seconds!
Perfect your posture to boost your strength
What? Now you’ve planted your feet, take a moment to address your posture so that your chest is upright and your abs are fully engaged. Do this by “sucking” in your belly button – like you would if you were about to take a punch to the stomach.
Why? Keeping your chest up for the duration of set – again, for every single lift you do – will ensure your posture is pretty much perfect and so reduce your risk of injury. And having your core braced ahead of every set will protect your lower back and build upon the good work done by your stance to extend that strong base up through your torso for total-body stability. What’s more, having a tight core improves the efficiency of power transfer between your legs and upper body, instantly making you stronger when doing all the major compound lifts.
Use focused breathing to lift heavier
What? You’re now ready for that first rep, so take a big breath in as you do the first half of the rep movement, then breathe out forcefully through pursed lips – with enough force so it’s loud enough for you to hear – as you complete the second half of the rep.
Why? It can be tempting to hold your breath during a heavy set, and this can happen without you realising as you give your all for those final all-out-effort reps at the end of the last set. But this can send your heart rate and blood pressure soaring, and it’s far better to consciously match your breathing to each rep.
Let’s take the bench press as an example. Take a big inhalation as you lower the bar down to your chest, then exhale strongly through your lips as you press it back up to the start. Again, it’s an instant and effortless way to make those tough reps a little easier, and will allow you to start adding more weight to the bar to burn fat and build muscle faster!
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