18 Ways to Get Stronger in 2019

get stronger 2019

18 Ways to Get Stronger in 2019

It’s the start of a brand new year. That means you have another 12 months to make some serious changes in your life. And there’s a lot you can achieve in that time frame with consistent, concerted effort.

If you’re like most people, one of your goals this coming year (or at least it should be) is to improve your health. However, as I’m sure you know, most people make a big push in January, only to fall off the bandwagon come February.

Why does this happen? Mainly because their goals are not specific enough, and they’re aren’t emotionally invested in the outcome. As they say, emotion is really energy in motion.

And if you’re going to get specific on one aspect of your health and fitness, let it be this:

Get stronger.

You won’t believe how many things in your life will improve once you become stronger. To that end, I’ve come up with 18 ways you can stronger this year.

Now get to it!

#1 Focus on getting stronger in compound lifts

If you only focused on basic compound movements such as the deadlift, bench press and military press, you’d be very strong by the end of 2019.

You want big arms? Pick up a lot of weight off the floor.

Another benefit of compound lifts is that they train multiple muscle groups simultaneously. That means you get more done in less time. For example, the bench press not only trains your pectorals, but your triceps and anterior deltoids.
deadlift

#2 Train less

Most guys spend way too long in the gym. They 5-6 days a week, and train for up to 2 hours a time. This is both inefficient and counterproductive.

The reason they spend so long in the gym is because they believe more is better. However, more often than not, these guys could cut their training time in half.

In fact, you could get exceptional results by training 2-3 x 30 minutes a week.

That’s it.

Mike Mentzer, arguably one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, narrowly missed out on winning Mr.Olympia (losing to Arnold Schwarzenegger no less), by training a few hours a week.

If it works for a guy competing in the Olympia, rest assured it will work for you too.

#3 Stop obsessing over “bulking and cutting”

The bulking and cutting mindset is an outdated bro myth that needs to go already. What happens with this kind of approach is that you go from one extreme to the other.

When you bulk you may put on size, but because you bulked too hard you got fat. And when you cut, oftentimes you it’s at the expense of hard-won muscle mass.

Instead, focus on cleaning up your diet that allows you to gain muscle without gaining too much fat in the process.

For most guys, this means eating a few hundred calories over maintenance. It’s more of a slow-burn approach. You may not get the extreme muscle gain, but you don’t also get the body fat that comes with it.

#4 Overhaul your training

Most guys spend far too long doing the same training program. Then they wonder why their gains have stalled. Following the same routine for months on end is akin to banging your head against a brick wall.

As the saying goes, “The best program is the one you’re not doing.”

And while we’re on sayings, here’s another one from Albert Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Is your training the definition of insanity? The human body adapts quickly to new stimulus, and so must constantly be challenged to encourage new growth.

In the context of strength training – this means switching up your program every 6-8 weeks. On some occasions you can go longer. But in most cases you would do well to stick to this time frame.

#5 Don’t think in terms of isolation movements – think in terms of accessory lifts

When it comes to training, most people think of isolation movements, e.g. bicep curls for biceps or tricep pushdowns for triceps.

Of course, it would be silly to suggest these exercises don’t work these muscles – because they surely do.

However, I want you view these exercises from a different perspective:

Instead ‘isolation movements,’ view these exercises as accessory lifts. That is, how can this exercise support a compound exercise such as deadlifts or bench press?

Because more often than not, getting stronger in the main lifts will lead you to your goals anyway.

What secondary lifts will bring up your main lifts? E.g. pull-ups will assist your bench press AND deadlift. Push-ups will assist your military press.
bicep curls

#6 Do bodyweight exercises between sets

This is one of the easiest ways to keep your heart rate up, add more conditioning into your workouts and improve your strength endurance.

Although if you are going to do bodyweight exercises between lifting sets, aim to use a different muscle group. Otherwise, you’ll be too fatigued for your next set.

For example, you can do pull-ups between bench press and military press sets.

Similarly, you can do push-ups between squats or crunches between deadlifts. With so many bodyweight exercises out there, the only real limit is your imagination.

#7 Find a new gym to train at

Just like a change of scenery can be good for the mind – if your results have stalled, training at a different gym can help. This is especially true if you’re at one of those gyms where everyone goes through the motions.

They turn up to the gym because they know they’re “supposed to.” But the truth is, they hate going and it’s written all over their face.

Not the best type of atmosphere to train in. You can argue that should just focus on your own training instead. And I would agree with you. However, when you’re surrounded by people who are motivated to train, it makes a HUGE difference.

It energizes you in new ways:

It makes you do that extra rep or extra set – where before, you would have called it a day.

This is one of the reasons I recommend everyone train at least once in a hardcore bodybuilding gym. They usually don’t have best locker rooms or the nicest paintwork.

But what they lack in that department is more than made up for in the attitude of people who train there.  Contrary to popular belief, these trainees are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet.

#8 Squat more often

Whenever I plateau in the gym, something that’s always served me well is squatting more often. I don’t know what it is about squatting. It seems to bring up lagging body parts and lifts in ways that other exercises don’t.

Perhaps it’s the increased growth hormone release from squatting, or the recruitment of multiple muscle groups. Or perhaps it’s the sheer force of will and intensity required to complete a set.

Whatever it is, it works.

And as long as you do it safely (don’t squat like an idiot), you could do worse than squatting more often.
squats

#9 Ditch the “new year, new me” bullshit

Every time January comes around, hordes of people jump onto the fitness bandwagon. “This time will be different!”

They convince themselves that this time they’ll get into shape. But as I mentioned at the beginning, most people don’t make it beyond January.

This is because they adopt a short-term mindset. They want to lose weight or get into shape as quick as possible.

As a result, they go on extreme, fad diets. Or they train in a way that’s totally unsustainable; 2 hour marathon workouts and training 5 days a week.

#10 The foundation of all gains in the gym is sleep

If you haven’t done so already, make sleep a priority. I talk about this subject at great length in my book, Optimized Under 35. Not getting enough sleep can interfere with your training in a number of ways.

Sleep deprivation is associated with insulin resistance and low testosterone levels to name a few. Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. And insulin resistance basically means you need a LOT of insulin for it to work.

Not only is this terrible for your health – eventually leading to type 2 diabetes and worse. It’s also not great for your fitness goals, because it wreaks havoc with blood sugar regulation. Poor blood sugar control means you’re not going to have the necessary energy levels to fuel your workouts.

Finally, when you train you break down your muscle fibers. As a result, in simple terms they grow back bigger and stronger. However, if you can’t facilitate this process if you don’t get enough sleep.

#11 Optimize your hormones

Your hormones have a dramatic effect on your lean body mass. If your hormones are out of whack and you have low testosterone, there’s a good chance your results in the gym have stalled.

If you didn’t know by now, testosterone is crucial to your results in the gym. Testosterone contributes to muscle protein synthesis (i.e. ensures your workouts are productive) and you maintain muscle mass.

So if you care about your health; it’s in your best interests to lead a testosterone-friendly lifestyle. That means, eating properly, lifting weights regularly and getting plenty of rest.

Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT for men, is becoming more widely accepted and used to treat men who have low testosterone.

Now let’s be clear – HRT or testosterone replacement therapy is only for those who truly need it. That means, you’ve taken the time to optimize your lifestyle and lose body fat. But despite this, you still have low T – as was the case with me.

In this instance, undergoing testosterone replacement therapy might be the right choice for you. To learn more about hormone replacement therapy and whether you need it – especially if you’re a young man – check out my book Optimized Under 35.

#12 Stop switching programs

Nowadays, because of the abundance of training programs on the internet, many guys suffer from “shiny object syndrome.” They go from one training program to the next. They convince themselves that a new training program is the KEY to their newfound gains.

However, these guys miss the point entirely. The reason why their gains have stalled is because they lack consistency in their training. Indeed, one of the main principles of strength and muscle is growth is progressive overload.

Progressive overload means the gradual increase of stress placed on the body. So if you change up your routine every week, you might have the stress but you don’t have the progression.

Progression can come in many forms. This can be less rest time between sets, more reps or more weight.

The bottom line: Find a routine and stick with it long enough to get some progression.

#13 Train with guys stronger than you

You’re probably familiar with the term, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And here’s why this is so powerful: You adopt the mindset and attitude of these people, simply by osmosis.

So you may as well use this to your advantage, especially when it comes to training. If you want to get bigger and stronger, then find people who are already where you want to be.

Some of my best gains; both in terms of strength and knowledge, came from training with guys far ahead of me. I’ve trained with world class athletes and champion bodybuilders. And each time I trained with them, I learned something new.

Whether it was a new exercise, technique or different attitude toward training. It leveled up my training in more ways than one.

#14 Up the ante in your workouts

You don’t have to train balls to the wall every time you workout. But at a minimum you must make yourself UNCOMFORTABLE.

In order to ensure some type of progression, your must make your training more difficult than the last time. Most wander aimlessly around the gym without any type of focus or intensity.

#15 Do more pulling than pushing movements

You don’t need to devote an entire day to chest and shoulders. Most guys overdo it when it comes to these exercises. As a result, they have imbalances that lead to poor posture and shoulder pain.

Instead, focus on doing more pulling than pushing movements. Pulling movements such as pull-ups or rows emphasize your back muscles. A strong back will improve your shoulder health, posture and increase your strength in other lifts.A good ratio 3 pull exercises for every push.

#16 Train your legs already

If you’ve been putting off training legs – now is the time to start.

I’ve seen plenty of guys with a HUGE upper body, and yet they have chicken legs. But rarely have I seen a guy with a big set of wheels and a small upper body. Let’s face it:

Most of us train simply because we want to look good. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Strong, powerful legs will upgrade your physique like nothing else. What’s more, stronger legs will actually transfer into better strength all round.

For example, when training the squat or leg press, you need to develop a strong core. And a strong midsection will absolutely improve your upper body lifts.

#17 Prioritize recovery

Recovery can include a number of things. From long walks in the country, to long sessions in the sauna and steam room, or even a light swim.

And of course, how can we forget sleep? Prioritizing recovery will do several things for you. Above all, it will improve your performance in the gym.

Because if you’re tired and banged up all the time, how are you ever going to perform at your best?

It will make a dramatic difference to your training and mental state.

#18 You don’t need to have a perfect workout every time

Guys think when they go to the gym that they need to hit PRs and kill it every time. Then when they don’t do this, they get annoyed.

The fact is, some days will be better than others. And you’ll have plenty of off days when you train. Days where a weight you can normally lift for fun feels heavy. Or you just feel tired and crappy.

That’s normal and part of life. But as long as you get plenty of rest, these days should be few and far between.