Work hard, and you’ll get what you’re after.
Or at least that’s what you’re led to believe.
You sweat, breathe, and maybe even scream a little to get a little bit more from your strength.
There’s no doubt that you need to push yourself beyond your own limits.
But what if you were missing an important ingredient and tweak your workout a little bit to get that extra edge?
I won’t make any promises, but you should see anywhere from 5% to 25% increase in strength depending on your previous performances.
Let’s not waste anymore time and get this show started…
1. Rehearse The Workout In Your Mind
Play every single part of your workout mentally.
Right from before you enter the gym, to when you hit your post workout meal.
Think of everything, every set and every rep.
Imagine your mood and the feelings that are brought onto you.
If you do this right, you should feel a slight increase in your heart rate.
The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
2. See It So You Can Achieve It
Ask yourself what you want to achieve and see yourself achieving it.
How do you feel, what would you tell yourself?
What exercises do you want to improve on?
See yourself improving on them.
If you want to bench press 300 pounds, then see yourself building up to that level and play it from beginning to end through your mind.
3. Watch Your Heroes Ritual Before They Perform Lift
This is one of my secret weapons.
Champions ALWAYS have a ritual that they perform before they attempt to hit their working set.
Some go insane, some stay silent and build up the moment.
Copy your favorite hero and you’ll soon find yourself developing your own ritual.
Just please don’t go “Ain’t nothing but a peanut!” like Ronnie Coleman.
4. Stay Hydrated Throughout The Day And During Your Workout
This is a no brainer. Your body is at least 70% water.
Without it, you’ll suffer mentally and physically.
Stay hydrated throughout the day and especially before/during/after your workout.
5. Hold The Bar (Or Dumbell) For a Extra Few Seconds
I love doing this with deadlifts. I’ll pick up my heavy set, and I’ll hold the top position for an extra few seconds.
I’ll even look at myself in the mirror and smile like it was nothing.
It builds strength like no tomorrow. Squeeze that bar!
I’ll even look at myself in the mirror and smile like it was nothing.
It builds strength like no tomorrow. Squeeze that bar!
6. Challenge Yourself To Beat Previous Records
While it may be easy to sit back and relax with the strength level you’ve got, it’s harder to stay ahead of yourself and improve every single workout.
Aim to beat your one of your records at least once a week (or bi-weekly).
7. Warm Up With Minimal Reps
It may seem cool to grind out 2048 reps with a weight that newbies can only press once or twice, but you will have less strength and energy to lift your heavy sets.
Warm up starting with 6 to 8 reps, and lower the reps each time.
So first 8 reps, then 6, then 4, then 3.
So if your working set is 225 pounds: 85 x 8 reps, 135x 6 reps, 185 x 4 reps, 200 x 3 then your working set: 225 x 3-8.
8. Go As Barefoot As Possible
Shoes with a lot of material can be unnatural for your feet and posture.
You want to touch the ground with force when you’re performing your lifts.
Here is a guide for weight lifting shoes.
9. Perform Hamstring Curls Before Squats
I love doing this. I read this tip from T-Nation.
It was recommended that just before the working sets of squats, one should perform hamstring curls as it helps with the bottom position.
It makes it much easier to get out of the “hole” in a squat.
10. Use Fat Gripz On Eevery Lift
Get ready to suffer some more if you’re using gloves or something to assist with grips.
Fat Gripz is an accessory that can make any regular bar into a thick one.
This helps tremendously with grip strength.
It makes it much easier to grip a normal sized bar.
This is a secret of the beasts of the past.
Thick bars can be expensive so Fat Gripz is one of the accessories that is incredibly popular and very sturdy.
You can grab a pair from here for 40 bucks.
I swear on Fat Gripz… Never without them!
11. Alternate Between Dumbbells And Barbells
Is your right arm overpowering your left arm? If it is, dumbbells can fix that.
Imagine trying to lift with all out effort with one arm.
It would reduce the risk of muscle imbalances.
Try switching to dumbbells every week or so.
12. Find Your Stress And Use It
You’re bound to be bottling up emotions in you.
You’ve got bills to pay, an annoying boss, and a friend who isn’t really a friend.
Remember why you’re stressed, and bring it out just when you need it the most.
You’ll forget why you were ever stressed after your workout.
13. Breathe Deeply While Resting, And During Lifts
You need oxygen, and you need it even more during demanding exercise.
Breathe in as deeply as possible while lifting.
Breathe in while you lower the weight, and breathe out as you bring the weight close to you.
You can breathe in several times when needed during a set, there’s no rule.
14. Take a Longest Rest
You can’t really expect to get stronger if you’re taking 30 second breaks.
Those are some intense workouts if you are! Try extending your breaks anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
You’ll notice your strength shoot way up!
15. One Million Bucks
If someone offered you a million bucks to be stronger now than ever, would you? For the sake of money, let’s say you would.
Well you wouldn’t be holding back anything, so use this scenario in your mind when you need it the most!
16. Find Your Weaknesses
If your grip is weak but you use straps to fix that, you should try working out without straps and build your grip strength.
Try thickening your bar for the first few sets, than lift without the thickness.
You’ll find it much easier to grip than ever.
Another favorite of mine.
After your warm up sets, pick a weight that you can only perform for 2 to 5 reps.
So if you usually lift 225 for 8 reps, try 240 or so.
Grind out 2 to 3 reps, then rest for 10 to 30 seconds.
Perform another 2 to 3 reps. Rest again for 10 to 30 seconds.
And again until you reach your target rep range.
You’ll find your self getting bigger and stronger than ever!
Counting my 10 second break for rest pause…
18. When You Rest, Visualize The Next Set
I find myself repeating like a broken record when I tell people this one.
In between sets, you shouldn’t be doing anything BUT thinking about your next set.
You should be prepared to pick up your weight, and perform the set.
You shouldn’t be on your phone or chitty-chatting about the weather because it’ll take twice the time to get back into the rhythm and flow of your workout.
19. Practice The Exercise
Make it second hand nature to understand and memorize the technique of the exercise.
Even if you think you do already, before your working set, practice the form without holding any weight at all.
20. Remember "Why"
Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we started this whole weight training thing.
We forget our purpose.
It’s normal, because you simply need to remember why and enforce it in your mind.
21. Cheat Your Set
Grab a weight that is a little over 20 percent heavier than your working set.
Cheat a little bit to get the weight up (like bicep curls or shoulder press) and get one or two reps in.
Immediately drop down to your working weight and you’ll find it a little lighter than usual.
Try taking a short break if needed.
22. Improve On One Thing
Deadlifts, squats, bench press, you gotta have it all! I know the feeling, but you can only do so many things in one workout.
Focus on one thing you would like to improve on.
It all adds up in the end.
23. Push Yourself Away From The Bar
When you are bench pressing, imagine pushing yourself away from the bar.
Drive your heels into the ground and drive it up.
24. Control The Weight
Don’t let the weight control you.
Anyone can cheat their way by using momentum.
But we want to improve strength here.
25. Squeeze The Bar
Grab a hold and tense it up! Squeeze that steel bar until you can’t squeeze no more…
26. Focus On Technique
Technique is ultra important.
If you don’t have technique, then you don’t have control over the weight.
27. Partial It Out
If you have a weak part of any movement, like the bottom part of the bench press, then work on it.
Take a weight that is challenging enough for you to grind out the bottom part of the bench press for about 6 to 8 times.
You can also take a weight that is at least 20% heavier to work the top part of any exercise (squats, bench press, shoulder press etc).
28. Static Hold For 10 To 30 Seconds
I find this to be super amazing for strength gains.
You’ll find yourself with more energy with static holds than any other part of a movement.
Try contracting your muscles at the top of any exercise for as long as you can, then lower it to feel the stretch. (Don’t forget to stretch!)
29. Train With Stronger People
Challenge is everything.
You’ll feel more inclined to work harder when you are training with people that are on a higher level than you are.
30. Take a Break
You can train forever, but without a break, you won’t go anywhere.
Take a few days off, even a week if needed.
You’ll come back stronger than ever.
31. Prepare Your Central Nervous System And Body
Cardio isn’t the best warm up for hardcore workouts but it is a warm up nonetheless.
Warm up your central nervous system with explosive exercises that engage your entire body.
32. Rush To The Next Set
There is NOTHING like rushing to the next exercise (Rather than walking slowly like a penguin).
I sometimes would perform deadlifts and would sprint to the pull up bar.
The adrenaline rush is incredible and you’ll find yourself a little stronger from it.
33. Record Yourself
This is a great option if you want to check your form where a mirror can not.
I did not know I had a “butt-wink” with my squats until I recorded myself.
Everyone has a video recorder on their phones these days, no excuses!
Oh look! Good thing I recorded myself...my form was terrible.
34. Face The Mirror
Ain’t nothing like looking yourself in the mirror and seeing the beast evovle in you.
The fire in the eyes, the tensing hands, the pumping viens, it’s fantastic! Face yourself and build up your momentum and belief.
35. Use a Journal
Memory can only go so far.
Plus, don’t you want to know how much you’ve improved over the years? Use a journal to record your workouts, or at least the highlights.
A journal can do wonders for injury prevention as well!
36. Play Your Favorite Song
Tupac, Biggie, DMX, yep those are my favorite artists for the gym.
I will not go to the gym without checking if I have my headphones and playlist.
This also cuts out the distractions in the gym.
37. Work On Your Mobility
The most limiting factor in any exercise is the mobility of a person.
I always thought I never needed to pay attention to it, but I noticed it helps tremendously with squats and deadlifts.
Mobility is a must!
38. Get a Little Negative
You could doubt yourself and do nothing.
But what I meant with negatives is that you grab a weight that is heavier than your working set, and only focus on the negative contract.
So if your working set is 225 for bench press, your negatives would be around 240.
Make sure you have a spotter if you’re doing this with bench press!
39. Perform One Armed Exercises
Try focusing on one armed exercises to balance out strength throughout your body.
It’s a great way to get stronger.
40. Use Caffeine As a Secret Weapon
Caffeine isn’t just a pick-me-upper, it’s a great tool for mind and body stimulation.
If it’s used everyday, the effects won’t be as strong.
But use it when needed (only on workout days) and you’ll find it kicking you harder than ever.
Of course there are those with forever high-tolerance to stimulants.
Still, caffeine decreases in efficiency as it is used without breaks.
41. Eat a Date Or Two
This isn’t your average Friday night “dating” tips.
This is a powerful fruit.
Dates are full of potassium, nutrients and fast acting yummy stuff that will give you the ultimate edge in pre-workout nutrition.
42. Prime Yourself Up With Proper Nutrition
Getting stronger without eating properly is like driving a car without fuel, you’ll only damage your car.
Eat when you’re hungry.
And aim for foods that are whole and produced from our planet, not from factories.
43. Face Your Fears
Got a fear getting under 4920lb barbell for squats? You’re not the only one.
It’s common and average, but what’s not average is how you deal with that fear.
Face your fears and conquer what you never thought was possible.
44. Tighten Up Your Entire Body
One loose end is a big mistake that anyone could make.
Focus on forcing your entire body to tighten up before even lifting a single pound.
45. Activate Your Glutes
The glutes are a huge powerful muscle that contribute a lot towards strength in most lifts.
Use it to your advantage.
Activate it when you are performing lifts.
46. Trick Your Mind And Use Smaller Plates
The mind registers big plates as heavy, and little plates as light.
So use small plates, if your gym allows it!
47. Go Insane
It’s okay to go a little crazy sometimes.
You might look uneducated and sloppy but it releases some of our bottled emotions on our lifts.
So go ahead, go crazy!
48. Get Noise Reducing Headphones
I love these. The noise cancelling ones are too expensive for gym use, so I purchase 30$ headphones that reduce noise by a ton.
If I take them off during a workout, I’ll hear noises I’ve never really heard before! They are great for removing distractions.
Get these bluetooth headphones if you’ve got a tight budget
49. Consume a Pre Workout
Pre workout supplements contain some great ingredients for strength and muscle building.
Use a pre workout when you need it the most, but -look for ingredients like Beta Alanine (2-4g) and L-Citrulline (3-8g).
Avoid the mini pre-workouts that offer minuscule amounts of ingredients.
Try “High volume” by PEScience.
I’ve never tried it myself, but it is on my wishlist as it has a fantastic strength-enhancing/pump profile.
(Another affiliate link. The price is still the same. Alternatively I think you can get it on bodybuilding.com)
50. Supplement With Creatine
Some pre workouts already have creatine.
Creatine can be found in meat and it is one of the most researched ingredients in the supplement industry.
It’s proven to work and it’ll benefit you if you don’t already take it.
51. Don't Forget About a Good Night's Rest!
You don’t only get stronger in the gym. In fact, 50% of your growing is from your lifestyle.
If you’re not getting quality sleep and food, you can expect slowdowns in strength gains.
Did I miss anything?
If you can think of anything else that can help boost strength, please let me know in the comments below or through my email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you found this post useful, please share it among your friends and lifters.
My question is…are you using any of these tips and if you’re not, which one are you going to start with?
In case you missed my last post, check it out here:
10 easy ways to start building bigger biceps