Strength Training

Having strength or being strong, is highly thought of by nearly everyone around the world. Being strong doesn’t always just mean being able to throw heavy weights around. It also means to be strong willed, to be mentally strong and so on.

However, when talking in the training sense, to be strong is something we all aim for when stepping into the gym. So many times though people are going to the gym, working hard, and seeing no improvement. Why? Well this article will cover exactly where you’re going wrong.

Rest Periods

One of the most common mistakes when training for strength is not giving yourself enough rest. People are so used to training in normal gym scenarios, where you give yourselves 40 seconds to 2 minutes worth of rest. If you want to take your strength training seriously, however, you need to be taking a lot more rest than this.

Ideally in strength training you want to be to be having rest periods of a minimum of 3 minutes in between sets. In all honestly the more rest the better. Rob Kearny, a strongman who has competed in the worlds strongest man, said on a Joe Rogan podcast that he gives himself 10 minutes of rest between sets.

For a more in-depth look on power vs strength check out this article >>

I mean he is a professional strongman, so he has a lot more time to complete workouts than the rest of us, but it gives you an idea of how important long rest is. If you’re going into the gym for 1.5 hours, then resting 5 minutes between sets will still give you enough time to hit 15 sets or so.

Always Aiming for Personal Records

I’m sure this sounds like a strange one. Why should you not always be aiming to beat your personal best? Well it’s not beneficial for you to be always trying to hit your pb/pr. If you see professional strongmen training, they will very rarely go to break their own records in training. If anything, they normally will build themselves up for a competition to hit their pb when it counts the most.

Why is it not beneficial though? Well you’re very rarely actually performing at your optimum best when you go into the gym. There are days when you haven’t slept well, haven’t eaten well, had a hard day at work ect. It’s not then beneficial to go into the gym and try beat a record that you hit when you felt amazing.

Not to mention the mental damage it could do. If you believe that you will constantly beat your records, then you’re in for a nasty shock. Breaking records takes time, effort and preparation.

Instead, you should be building up to big days/weeks where you are planning on hitting new records. Give yourself a de-load week, the week before you plan on hitting a new pb, so that you feel extra fresh. In normal training though, just go in and lift what you feel comfortable lifting, whilst keeping good form.


Repetitions or ‘reps for short’ play a massive part in what kind of improvements you will see from going to the gym. The basics what people normally go by in bodybuilder are; Low amount of reps to gain size, high amount of reps to get shredded.

Another simple way in which people determine reps; If you perform sets of less than 6 reps it builds strength. Sets of 6-15 reps are for hypertrophy, which means building muscle. Sets of 15+ is for muscle endurance or cardio training.

This is what you should generally follow. For strength training around 80-90% of your training should land in the sets with less than 6 reps. However, it’s still beneficial to throw in some larger sets every so often. Another example in strongmen sometimes they’ll do movements for max out repetitions, reaching up to 20+ reps.

We Are Not Bodybuilding

If you are serious about strength training, then you shouldn’t be worried about your appearance. Bodybuilding and strength training are 2 completely different concepts. Bodybuilding may build general strength but it shouldn’t build strength anyway near as quick as proper strength training.

If you want to get maximum strength, then you need to have as much weight as possible to help you push, pull, and lift more weight. Which is going to leave you looking bulky, not necessarily pleasing to the eye. On top of this, look at the reps and rest from earlier. A bodybuilder should be generally training in sets of 6-15 repetitions with roughly 1 minute’s rest. Someone strength training on the other hand, you want to be performing sets of less than 6 reps, whilst maximising your rest time.

For an look into some fantastic inner chest workouts check out this link >>

Keep your Technique

Just because you’re trying to lift as much weight as possible, doesn’t mean you can sacrifice having good technique. It’s understandable if going for a new pb, that your technique may suffer slightly. However, when strength training, 99% of the time you don’t want to sacrifice technique for weight.

Here’s a few reasons why you don’t want to sacrifice technique.
• You’ll have a higher chance of injury.
• With proper technique you’ll be able to perform lifts heavier.
• You’re less efficient when lifting with bad form.
• Muscle memory. Your body will naturally memorise movements when you repeat them over and over. If you are performing them poorly, then your body will automatically memorise the movement and you’ll always perform them with bad form.

Technique is essential for anybody in the gym. You should never in any circumstance sacrifice good form to lift more weight.


It can be extremely difficult to devise a strength training plan that will give you optimum results. When performing any session, it’s ideal to keep the reps low and maximise rest periods between sets. On top of this you shouldn’t be constantly aiming for pb’s, instead work your way up to a specific week you plan to go super heavy and break your records. When it comes to technique, you should always try and lift with good form. Losing your form will not only give you a higher chance of getting injured but will also restrict how you much weight you might be able to lift.

Thank you for reading.

Author's Bio: 

A masters degree in sports science, as well 10 years experience in personal training and sports coaching.