Increasing your physical strength requires workouts that force your muscles to work against resistance. Weight training is the ideal form of exercise for building physical strength. You can optimize strength workouts by adopting training strategies that maximize strength gains. Particular kinds of weight-training exercises and exercise movements build more strength than others. The repetition range that you work out with also determines how much your physical strength increases with each weight-training workout.
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Complete free-weight workouts that target all of your muscles at least once per week. Free weights include barbells, dumbbells, cable pulleys and your bodyweight. Free weights are ideal for increasing your physical strength, because you must stabilize the exercise movements in three-dimensional space. Controlling free-weight movements activates additional muscles that assist and stabilize the primary muscles. Free-weight exercises also build functional physical strength, which is the kind of strength you need in real-life situations outside the gym.
Perform workouts that emphasize compound resistance exercises. Unlike isolation exercises, which only require a single joint articulation, compound exercises involve multiple joint movements. Compound resistance exercises are ideal for increasing physical strength, because they maximize the amount of affected muscle tissue. Pushing compound resistance exercises include the variations of the bench press and shoulder press. Pulling compound resistance exercises include rowing exercise movements, pullups and chinups. Lower-body compound exercises include variations of the squat and leg press.
Select heavy weight-training exercises that quickly exhaust your muscles. The National Federation of Personal Trainers recommends increasing strength with weights that exhaust your muscles within four to six repetitions. Heavy weight-training exercises target your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are primarily responsible for exerting contractile strength and provide the greatest potential for strength gains. Motor neurons in your central nervous system send impulses that trigger muscle contractions when you lift weights. Heavy weight-training exercises enhance neural communication, which also increases the strength of your muscle contractions.
Use strict form for every repetition, and increase the weight each time you work out. Your strength only increases within the range of movement that you train your muscles. Maximize your range of motion by performing weight-training exercises with strict form. Increase the amount of weight that you use for each training session. Use small, incremental increases in weight to maintain consistent progress. Increasing your physical strength requires overload training, which exposes your muscles to activity that involves new, greater intensity. Progressively overload your muscles by increasing the weight each time you work out. Your physical strength increases as your muscles adapt to greater loads.