The level of ultimate strength each person can achieve is limited by genetic makeup, but there are steps you can take to reach your own personal level of super strength. The American College of Sports Medicine harshly cautions against the use of steroids, which have been linked to problems with the reproductive and cardiovascular systems, liver function and even mental health. Fortunately, you can build super strength naturally by following a regimen that includes eating right, getting enough sleep and following a smart strength-training protocol.
Work Harder and Smarter
Lift heavy weights. In order to build significant strength rather than muscular endurance, Pete McCall, MS, of the American Council on Exercise recommends lifting a weight so heavy that you can only perform up to five repetitions with perfect form before reaching muscle fatigue. Perform between two and six sets, along with a lighter warm-up set, and rest for two to five minutes between sets that target the same muscle group.
Allow for adequate recovery between sessions. Whether you train your entire body in one session -- completing a total-body circuit -- or you follow a split routine that targets only a few muscle groups on different days of the week, be sure to take two full days off before targeting the same muscle groups again. The microscopic muscle tears that occur during a workout need to be fully repaired during recovery in order to build strength. Training the same muscle again too soon will only delay your progress.
Vary your routine to avoid plateaus. It's important to change up your routine to avoid plateaus and overuse injuries. The key to building super strength is regularly increasing the demands placed on your muscles by challenging them in new ways. You can do this by following a standard periodization protocol, changing up your routine entirely every six to eight weeks, or you can follow an undulating cycle, alternating the volume (number of reps and sets) and intensity (amount of weight lifted) every other time you work a particular muscle group. For example, on Monday lift a relatively lighter weight for four sets of 12 repetitions, then on Thursday lift a heavy weight for only two sets of four repetitions.
Make the Most of Your Time Outside the Gym
Eat a healthy diet high in protein. For serious strength building, Natalie Digate-Muth, senior nutritional consultant for the American Council on Exercise, recommends a diet consisting of 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. She states that this should still only account for around 15 to 20 percent of total calories from protein, however, with around 55 percent coming from carbohydrate and less than 30 percent from fat.
Get enough sleep. A 1994 study published in the journal "Ergonomics," and a 2007 study published in the journal "Physiology and Behavior" found a negative correlation between sleep deprivation and strength. Seven to nine hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults.
Don't skip flexibility training. In order to be safe and effective, strength-training exercises should be completed through a joint's full range of motion, so maintaining flexibility is important. What's more, according to David Geier, Director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, the more flexible a muscle is, the more potential those longer muscle fibers have for developing strength.
- University of New Mexico: Is it Genetic
- American Council on Exercise: IFT Model for Functional Movement and Resistance Training
- American Council on Exercise: Recovery, the Forgotten Training Variable
- American Council on Exercise: Periodization and Why it is Important
- American College of Sports Medicine: Overtraining with Resistance Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Undulating Periodization Model
- American Council on Exercise: Will Eating More Protein Help Me Get Stronger
- EliteFTS.com Sleep Strategies for Strength, Speed and Size
- CNN.com: Increase Your Flexibility and Improve Your Life
- American College of Sports Medicine: Position Stand on the Use of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids