From Mens Fitness Editors
For all of our fans who shoot us questions on the Men’s Fitness Facebook and Twitter Pages, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Matt Tuthill C.S.C.S., Sr. Editor of Muscle and Fitness Magazine and contributing writer for Men’s Fitness Magazine answers questions about getting stronger and increasing your lifts. You can also catch Tuthill on Twitter @MCTuthill
1) Routine Structures – asked by Tom Riley
What’s the best routine structure for strength? Split routines or full body workout?
“If maximal strength is your goal, a full-body workout can fit the bill, but the sessions are long, require a big recovery window, and don’t allow you to train as frequently as split sessions. Dividing your training into upper- and lower-body days is the simplest way to approach it. For example, you can train legs on Monday, then hit chest, back and arms on Tuesday, take Wednesday for recovery and cardio, then reset the same split for Thursday through Saturday, with Sunday being an off day. ”
2) Rep Schemes – asked by Frank Faccone
What rep range should I be shooting for? Do I lift to failure?
“Failure, like body-part training, is mainly a bodybuilding tool, and should not happen frequently in strength training. Your rep ranges should allow you to lift as heavy as possible without hitting failure on every set. Avoid sets of 10 or more reps on your main lifts (like the squat, bench, and deadlift) and stick with heavy sets of 3 to 8. Hitting failure now and then on accessory exercises—like rope pressdowns on bench day—is fine, but you won’t recover properly if you frequently hit failure on your main lift. ”
3) Biggest Mistakes – asked by Steve Calder
What are the biggest mistakes people make with their workouts when trying to add strength?
” Too many guys try to add weight every session, and can’t check their egos at the door. You need to get on a program and plan every session. There are a lot of effective systems for adding strength, like the conjugate method, 5/3/1, and 5×5 to name just a few. Get a system that’s been proven to work and follow it to a T. You’re not going to get stronger by chance or by pushing a little harder here and there. You need to plan it all out—heavy lifting and recovery.”
4) Grip Strength – asked by Robbie Hoalcraft
What’s a quick way to increase my grip strength?
“Plate pinching is the simplest way to increase grip strength without buying any additional equipment. Start with a pair of 10s and hold them together with one hand with the smooth sides of the plates facing out. When that’s not much of a challenge anymore, try 25s and move up from there. If you don’t mind dropping a few bucks, Grip4orce grips and Tyler grips can be wrapped around any barbell or dumbbell to add a grip strength component to any exercise you can imagine. ”
5) Most Effective Core Exercise – asked by Thomas Chapman
What’s the most effective core strengthening exercise?
“I don’t believe there’s any such thing as one magic abs exercise, and in my own personal experience, the muscles of the core respond best to variety. To rephrase the question, I’d say if there’s one abs exercise I couldn’t live without, it would be the plank. You can do it anywhere with no equipment, or add weight with a partner putting a plate on your back. Side planks are essential, too. I’d include some version of a plank in every abs circuit you do. ”