10 Great Ways to Get Bigger & Stronger

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Training

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

1) Make Farmers Walks a Staple

They build your traps, core and grip while developing tremendous total body strength and stability. And nothing is more functional than picking up something heavy and walking with it. Do them once a week for 3-4 sets of 30-60 seconds each.

2) Start Wearing Knee Sleeves Before You Need Them

By the time you realize that you should probably start wearing knee sleeves it may be too late. The damage may already be done. There is no one who couldn’t benefit from wearing knee sleeves when squatting. I highly recommend it.

3) Don’t go Ultra Heavy on Single Leg Squatting Exercises

Many times you see guys on YouTube loading up insane amounts of weight on a bar and doing lunges or split squats with it. This is not wise. This is not safe. This is not something you’ll be happy you did 20 years from now. The knees do not tolerate this kind of stress well.

Ideally, single leg squatting exercises should be done third on your leg day; after glute ham raises and a compound bi-lateral (2 leg) squatting movement. By that time they won’t require a ton of weight to get a training effect. Simply do a few sets of 15-20 reps with a slow tempo and get a full range of motion.

This will help you get a pump, build some muscle and improve your mobility without wrecking your knees.

Note: If you’re doing single leg squatting 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 whatever neural problem you are dealing with.

4) Do More Pulling Than Pushing

A 1:1 ratio of upper body pushing to pulling won’t cut it. To keep your shoulders healthy you should do twice as many reps of pulling exercises as pushing. And the emphasis should be on rows more than chin ups and pulldowns when you’re concerned with shoulder health.

Do all of your rowing exercises with a weight that allows you to hold a peak contraction for two seconds.

That will ensure that the load isn’t too heavy to do the set properly.

5) Crawl and Roll

Your pre workout warm up or daily movement practice should include some type of crawling and rolling. These are fundamental movement patters. Doing them regularly keeps you healthy and mobile.

6) Hop for Calf Development

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

Do 15-20 reps on the calf raise and then immediately hop on that leg until you can’t get off the ground anymore. Rest and repeat for 3-5 sets.

7) Do Some Direct Ab Work

Beginners can train their midsection (not core; I hate that word) 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, reverse crunches, straight leg sit ups, hanging knee/leg raises, pulldown abs, dragon flags, suitcase deadlifts, 1 arm farmers walks, Pallof presses, anti rotation cable exercises and full contact twists.

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.

8) Do More Work for the Rear Delts

The front delts get all the work they need from horizontal pressing. If you add in some overhead work they’re beyond covered. The medial delts will get some stimulation from all the pressing and pulling you do. But the rear delts are almost always weak and underdeveloped. They need more work, and they should be prioritized.

So do at least as much work for them as you do for your front delts, if not more. And keep the reps high.

9) Lower the Box

Almost every set of box jumps you see done on YouTube or Instagram is done with a box that is way too high. The ideal box height is one that you can land on in a position no deeper than 180 degrees of knee flexion. If you have to land in a deeper squat position than that you are putting undue stress on your knees and spine.

10) 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. You can also do full ankle circles while maintaining foot contact with the ground throughout the set. Another good one is the wall ankle mobility drill. Just get your ankles moving in a variety of directions as often as you can throughout the day. It will go a long way to making you feel a lot better both in the weight room and out of it.

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