When we think about hitting the weights in the gym a lot of us – especially women – are put off because they associate weights with muscle. And many of us don't want to look bulky or, as women say, “manly.” So is there a way you can make your body strong with weight lifting and NOT feel like a football player? According to steadystrength.com, there is. It's all in the way you train. If you want to get stronger but keep your figure the way it is, simply follow these seven steps to a stronger, healthier you!
1. Lift Heavy
This is the best way to ensure you gain strength. But you have to find out the right weight for you. To gain the maximal strength you should use weight that's pretty close to your 1 rep max, or the amount of times you can lift a specific weight until you reach muscular failure. Around 80 percent or 90 percent will be ideal.
2. Be Explosive
Doing exercises such as the power clean will force you to get a lot of power. It will promote the ultimate amount of strength because you're giving it your all in the shortest period of time.
3. Decrease Your Volume
Heavy weights will force you to work at a lower volume. If you don't want to gain a lot of size, you should spend even less time under the bar. Do two to four reps on each set with maximum effort and it will promote a lot of strength and power but no mass because your muscles aren't being stressed as long.
This doesn't refer to sleeping in, but to rest in between your sets, which will allow you to handle the intense weight on each set. When you're at home, make sure you get enough sleep and take days off from the gym. When you want strength instead of mass you will not want to be under the weights as much. And when you are, you want it to be heavy.
The goal of plyometrics is to be as explosive as possible, or exerting as much force as you can in the shortest possible time for each rep. Studies show that when an exercise is done with maximal effort, followed by an explosive exercise that involves the same muscle group, it promotes a lot of strength gains. Heavy squats, followed by box jumps, are a great example.
6. Sprints and Cone Drills
These exercises are short and to the point and will promote strength since you're going full speed on both. The rest time on these should depend on your goals. If you care about speed, then you should get plenty of rest in between each one and your focus will be on running technique. If you're focusing on weight loss, you will want to keep your pace fast but your rest time shorter.
You should always focus on working on your weaknesses. So focus on doing exercises that you're not good at to ensure you get to be as strong as you can. A good way to work on your weaknesses is to pay attention to the smaller muscles that function behind the scenes, such as the rhomboids in the back, rotator cuffs that stabilize your shoulders and your groin muscles or calves. They may not be the muscles that you think about but they are the support team and are the ones that will likely end up getting hurt if you don't pay attention to them. If you have a stable rotator cuff, your bench press will be stronger. If your calves and groin are strong, your squats will go up. If you want to be strong it's essential you pay attention to these weaker spots.