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How to Build Practical Strength
When the Brazilians took over the world of mixed martial arts a few years ago, the myth arose that size the strength do not matter in a fight or in real life. However, this idea has pretty much been dispelled by experience on the wrestling mat, in the ring, and in day to day living.
What has been discovered is that there is a difference between just having big arms and having 'practical strength'. Fortunately, a simple workout has evolved from people with limited time to devote to the gym but who still needed a real way to get stronger fast.
In order to develop overall strength only a few exercises that focus intensely on major muscle groups need to be done. But, in order for you to get their full benefit, they must be done a certain way.
This routine is for the serious weight trainer, however it would be easy to adapt these principles to anyone's workout. First, the idea is to focus on hammering one muscle set per day in the most efficient way possible. Also, the order in which the muscle groups are attacked and the ample recovery time allowed by the routine is very important.
Training for strength development is usually done with heavy weights and a low number of repetitions. For this routine, the pyramid concept works very well. A pyramid is the idea that your first sets should start out with light weights and high reps to warm up the muscles. Weight is added with each set until the final two or three sets allow you to only do three to five full repetitions.
The routine is an easy one to read, but a hard one to follow. Each day, for five days a week, six sets of one exercise are all that is done. That's it, six sets after a thorough warm up plus a good, therapeutic cool down. The sets are usually done in a pyramid. Sound simple? Read on!
Day1 (usually Monday) – Dead-lifts; if you had to boil down practical strength to one exercise, this would be it. Get a good lifting belt, warm up your entire body stretching thoroughly, and lift that bar. Six sets are done, then you cool down and go home. If you are doing all six sets to exhausting, you will want to go home and rest when you are finished with them.
Day 2 - Bench Press; everyone's favorite upper body exercise. When done with a spotter and heavy weights, it builds mass and strength very quickly.
Day 3 - Squats; No ones’ favorite exercise but almost as good as the dead-lift for building real, usable strength. Pace yourself on this exercise and follow strict form for every rep. Many people are not going to want to do six full sets of squats but the benefits they will give you are worth it.
Day 4- Military press; this exercise works your entire shoulder girdle, the upper chest, and back. You will need a spotter for this exercise if you are using free weights but many weight machines do an adequate job of hammering these muscles as well.
Day 5 - Bent rowing for the back. This exercise compliments the bench press well and works the biceps and forearms completely. Remember to squeeze your back as you lift the weights.
Rest for 2 days and repeat.
Can spending a scant twenty or thirty minutes a day really build your strength? Try it and find out. If you ever get the chance to hit the mat and wrestle someone who has been on this routine for a while, all of your doubts will be dispelled. People who stick to this routine often seem ‘freaky’ strong. Focusing on one muscle group per day allows you good mental focus as well as physical focus on those muscles. This allows you to fully visualize your motion and the success of each rep. This is important. If you make every rep as important as the last one or two, you will find your results increasing in a surprising way.
During your warm-up for the day, I suggest also visualizing and 'feeling' your muscle group to be hammered on that day. One of the main advantages to this style of training is the focus and attention that you can devote to a relatively small set of muscles. Also, the fairly long recovery time between workouts of that muscle group allows for it to be fully rested and decreases the chances of injury.
About the Author: Thomas is an ex-martial arts instructor now a Dallasite professional trying to help others reach their full potential.