HOW DO I GET STRONGER???
This is a tricky subject. On one end, you’ve got people who swear by body weight exercises. On the other end, there are those who preach heavy barbell training to build strength.
But, as with most other things, this topic isn’t black or white, good or bad, effective or ineffective. Instead, there is a combination of things that you must do regularly to steadily (and surely) build strength over time.
Here they are:
Practice heavy compound barbell training
Getting strong is a skill, and like any other, you need to practice it to get better. If you want to swim faster and longer, swim more. If you want to run faster, do more intervals or sprints. If you want to get strong, lift heavy things a few times per week.
But, “heavy things” is a bit vague. For some, heavy might be 135 pounds on the bar. For others, 315 is a warm-up.
Seeing as “heavy” is a relative term, my recommendation is to lift within 70 to 85% of your 1RM on core lifts such as the overhead press, deadlift, squat and bench press.
Weights in this repetition range would allow you to do 4-12 repetitions, depending on the exact percentage.
For example, if your best squat is 225 pounds, with 70% (or 155 pounds), you’d be able to do at least 10 repetitions. On the other hand, with 85% (or 190 pounds), you won’t be able to get more than 4-5 repetitions.
Varying your reps inside the week or from week to week allows you to get better at the movement and build strength over time.
Also, perform the core lifts more often within each week would allow for faster adaptations and better progress. If you were to bench press just once per week, you wouldn’t build as much strength compared to if you were to bench twice or three times per week.
Aside from that, adding variations to the main lifts such as by doing front squats on Monday with less weight, for example, and doing your main variation, the back squat, on Thursday with more weight is a good way to keep things interesting, force strength adaptations and help you build muscle mass in the process.
Do accessory work to build muscle mass
A bigger muscle generally has more potential for strength and because of that, you shouldn’t discount hypertrophy work because it doesn’t directly improve your strength.
For example, if you do 3 or 4 accessory exercises for your legs (leg extensions, leg curls, leg press, etc.) each week in addition to the squat, your legs would grow much quicker and your potential to get even stronger on the squat would be greater.
In terms of total sets, the general consensus is that 10+ sets per week (for a given muscle group) is needed to optimize muscle growth.
It shouldn’t be either muscle growth or strength gain that you focus on. Instead, you should blend them together into your training to reap the full benefits and progress much quicker.