25 Ways to Get Stronger Now
Putting on muscle isn't just about piling on more and more weight. Use these tips to work out smarter—not harder—for big results you can really see.
16. Try a hook grip.
Grab the bar overhand as usual but wrap your thumbs around it first. Then wrap your fingers over your thumbs. Reinforcing the thumb with the strength of your other fingers gives you a much better grip. It's a great way to lift heavier without using straps, which don't let your grip muscles work hard.
17. Push your belly out during a squat or deadlift.
Take a deep breath from your diaphragm so that your stomach swells outward. (If your shoulders rise, you took the breath into your lungs.) If you're wearing a weight belt, push your gut into the belt so it feels very tight. Inflating your abdomen increases core stability. Do this on sets of five reps or fewer for an immediate strength increase of at least 10%.
18. Go heavy.
Before you curl, load the bar with 20% more weight than what you can lift for five reps. Cheat curl the bar to the top position and hold for two seconds, tensing every muscle. Take four seconds to lower the bar down. Rest one minute, then do your normal set of curls. The load you're about to lift will feel lighter.
19. When bench-pressing, drive your heels into the floor.
Actively trying to force your body backward on the bench helps turn the lift into a full-body exercise, and it'll feel easier.
20. If the bar isn't coming up evenly during a lift...
(as in the bench or shoulder press), or one side begins to sink, squeeze the bar on the lagging side as hard as you can. You'll send a message to the nervous system, and it will increase strength on that side.