Strength, Conditioning, & Nutrition Q & A.

Find out how to get stronger, faster and bigger for your sport in this new column ...

Q. I am a 2-sport athlete at school and have been feeling frustrated lately. I'm fairly strong and love hitting the weights but I am having trouble getting bigger. I lift 5 days a week for at least an hour each time. What could I be doing wrong?

    Chris, I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for getting better. I was once in your position myself when I was younger. My first piece of advice is for you to be patient. You will not grow to look like Ray Lewis in a day, a week or maybe even years. I realize how hard that is to hear, but patience is a virtue. Your hard work will pay off only if it is intelligent, hard work. You need a smart plan of attack and you must stick to it.

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    This is a subject I could write a book about. Instead I will hit home on a couple crucial points that will allow you to succeed and reach your goals of becoming bigger, faster, stronger.

    Your focus throughout the week needs to be focused on getting better at everything you do. I know that sounds ridiculous. Of course you want to get better. Well I want you to specifically know how much you are getting better by becoming accountable and recording your workouts. Even a one rep gain in the bench press is just one step closer to you maximizing your potential.

    In order for you to maximize your size you will need to work hard on double-jointed movements. When I say double-jointed movements, I mean exercises that require two joints to be working at the same time. An example would be a leg press (hip and knee joints working) or an overhead shoulder press (shoulder and elbow joints working).

Click To Enlarge.
Barbell Military Press (shoulder press).

    A couple other important points are time and intensity. There is an inverse relationship between time and intensity. The higher the intensity of effort, the less time one is able to spend at that level.

    On the other side of the token, a lower level of intensity or effort, the longer you may be able sustain that same level. A good example to help you clearly picture this example is attempting to run a mile at a full out maximal sprint.

    Unless you're superman, which I am guessing you are not, then you won't last very long at that maximal intensity. In fact you should probably fade out around the 330-yard mark of the run.

    In relating this to weight training, the higher the intensity the less time you need to spend working out. Your success will be highly dependent on your intensity in the weight room. Finding the proper level of intensity is a simple process. Just train each and every particular set until you cannot physically perform a repetition in good form. That is called reaching momentary muscular failure.

    I would recommend that you stick to big movements such as dips, pull-ups, bench presses, overhead shoulder presses, shrugs, squats, leg presses, and deadlifts.

    Tax these movements 2-3 times per week. Make yourself accountable by recording each of these movements when you exercise. The sure fire way to getting bigger and better is by moving more iron and/or more reps. I always tell my athletes that if they are pushing 200 lbs on the bench press for 8 reps on day 1, then they better be pushing more weight and reps if they expect to be bigger and stronger.

    Nutrition is another important component in successfully changing body composition. Never forget what type of weight you want to gain.

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    Gaining lean muscle mass requires time and patience. You have to earn it. You earn it through hard, productive weight training and utilizing sound nutritional principles.

    An easy formula to remember is that you need an extra 3,500 calories per week to gain 1 lb. of muscle. That is equal to an extra 500 calories per day.

    You can achieve that through a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread and a large glass of skim milk. That requires two seconds of your day and will only allow you to make the gains you desire.

    To go over the major points again, don't spend so much time in the weight room. Have a get in and get out mentality. Your No. 1 focus needs to be on doing better than the previous workout. Make your progressions. Have a high level of intensity on each and every exercise.

    Make yourself accountable by recording your workouts. Know what you did on the bench press 4 weeks ago or even 4 months ago. You must get better!

    Lastly, make it your goal to eat an extra 500 good quality calories each day since you need more quality fuel to allow you body to grow. Feel free to visit my website for more information on hard, productive strength training and sound nutritional principles.

    Good luck and keep me updated.

What Are Your Goals?
>Lose Fat
>Build Muscle
>Improve Energy