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20 Ways to Get Bigger & Stronger

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Muscle


farmers-walkUse these tips and you’ll get jacked. End of story…

1) Make farmers walks a regular part of your program.

They build your traps, core and grip while developing tremendous total body strength and stability.

2) If your knees bother you when squatting try doing 3-4 sets of glute ham raises or bodyweight leg curls first.

I got this from Louie Simmons years ago. I’ve seen it help out with clients who had knee issues but still wanted to squat.

If you’re too weak to do glute hams properly you can flex at the hip, thus shortening the lever arm which will make them easier. Or just do leg curls on a Jungle Gym XT, TRX or furniture sliders.

3) Forward and backward sled dragging before squats is another good idea for the beat up or older lifter. That warms up the knee and gets a little pump in the muscles.

4) Another good pre-squat ritual is doing terminal knee extensions with a band. Everyone could benefit from doing this before squat workouts, not just older or beat up lifters. Do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.

5) When doing any type of row or chin up variation think about driving back with the elbows instead of simply pulling with the biceps.

6) If you need to bring up your calves try doing single leg calf raises followed by single leg hopping in place.

Do 10-15 reps on the calf raise with a heavy weight and then immediately hop on that leg until you can’t get off the ground anymore. Rest and repeat for 3-5 sets.

7)  Beginners can train their core by simply squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing. That will be enough for them. Advanced guys who want to bring up their squats and deads need more ab work, though.

The worlds strongest lifters do quite a bit of loaded abdominal work.

Some of the best choices are Power Wheel rollouts, partial range Turkish get ups, Janda sit ups, decline sit ups, hanging knee/leg raises, suitcase deadlifts, 1 arm farmers walks, Pallof presses, anti rotation cable exercises and full contact twists.

8) When doing rotational core work be sure to rotate from the hips and not your lower back. Rotating from the lumbar spine can be dangerous and lead to injury.

Always brace and get the hips involved.

9) If you have shoulder issues do all of your rowing exercises with a weight that allows you to hold a peak contraction for a second or two.

That will ensure that the load isn’t so heavy that it could lead to more potential injuries.

10) If you’re doing unilateral (single limb) exercises in hopes that your strength levels will one day be equal in each limb you can stop now.

The two sides will never be 100% even. So don’t put that in your head.

If there is a huge disparity then you should do them and to try to close the gap. Just know that it will never completely even out.

11) When using jumps for the first time start with box jumps. The kind where you jump on the box and step off. Those are the easiest on the body and should always be your first progression.

12) Broad jumps are another great power exercise but be very, very careful when introducing them for the first time. Your knees, shins and core can take a pounding on those if you’re not ready.

On the first day I wouldn’t jump at more than 75-80% of your max. Ease into it over time and let your body adapt. Ideally you should do these into a sand pit.

13) On deadlifts remember to pull back, not just up.

14) There’s more to improvement and overload than just adding weight to the bar. You can’t do that every workout or you’d be squatting 2,000 pounds in a few years. Remember that you can also do your sets faster, with less rest, with better technique, etc.

15) For shoulder health do some type of pushup variation on a regular basis.

16) Try a thumbless grip on military presses. This seems to work wonders for getting the bar path right and making the exercise feel better on the elbows and shoulders.

Thanks to Smitty from the Diesel Crew for introducing me and several others to this idea a few years back.

17) Work on your ankle mobility.

Poor ankle mobility is one of the reasons some of you can’t squat to parallel while maintaining a neutral spine. It can also lead to injuries for athletes. Doing something as simple as standing on one foot and writing out the alphabet with your other foot a couple times each day can go a long way.

I’m doing it right now as I type this at my standing desk. Give it a shot.

18) Having said that, a pair of Olympic lifting/ squat shoes will improve almost everyone’s squat instantly.

It will also make the lift a lot safer because it will drastically reduce the likelihood of tucking at the bottom. You wear specific shoes for basketball, bowling, football and golf, why not get some that are specifically designed for squatting?

It’s an exercise you’ll probably be doing quite a bit and one that pays huge dividends. Click HERE for the squat shoes I use and recommend to all my clients.

You have shoes for every other sport, why not squatting?

19) If you’re going to squat or deadlift on Wednesday it would be a good idea to avoid lower back intensive exercises such as heavy bent over rows on Monday or Tuesday. Opt instead for a chest supported or inverted row variation.

20) When in doubt, do more low rep warm up sets. This will always lead to a better performance on your top end sets than fewer high rep warm up sets. If you jump straight into your heaviest set without properly warming up and exciting your CNS the weight will always feel heavier than it should.

Hopefully you picked up a tip or two there that will help you gain some new size and strength.

And if you liked this I’d appreciate you sharing it with someone who might benefit from some of these tips.