There is only one way to get freak strength – lifting heavy weights. There are no two ways about it. If you’re not lifting heavy weights, you’re not gaining strength as quickly as you should be, and you’re not getting your body used to handling big loads.


Squats and Deadlifts give you a full-body movement that activates a ton of muscle.

Squats and Deadlifts give you a full-body movement that activates a ton of muscle.


Too many people are afraid to lift heavy weights because they fear getting injured. That is a very valid concern, but injuries only happen when bad form is used with too much weight on the bar. Weak people get injured more than strong people. If you want to get strong, you need to get used to handling heavy weights so you know what the movement feels like under heavy weight. By refusing to train heavy for fear of injury, you’re setting yourself up to lift weights too low to increase strength significantly for a long time. You need to be adding weight regularly. If not, you need to be at least increasing reps regularly so that you can increase your working weight regularly.


Gaining strength is not a short-term engagement. It requires a long-term commitment. But if you can commit the time, you’ll be better off maximizing that time by utilizing the most effective strength training protocols for your needs.


If you need maximal strength, you can use lower rep ranges at a lower volume with heavier weights. This will train not just your muscles, but your central nervous system to activate the muscles you already have. If you are shooting for more strength pound-for-pound, you’re better off using this training approach. Some good set/rep schemes for this type of training are three sets of five repetitions (3×5) for beginners and two sets of five repetitions (2×5) for non-beginners. More advanced lifters can even go 3×3 to allow the use of even more weight. These lifts will usually be performed at 90% 1RM.


If you need strength-endurance, you can use even lower rep ranges (2-3 repetitions per set) done for more sets. Getting your body used to producing short, intense bursts of power repeatedly will get you into good condition for martial arts. You can use up to six sets per exercise, depending on your capacity.


Martial arts could also be a good workout for you. Here is an article on the benefits of martial arts.


Now that you have some potential programs to work with, let’s talk about the exercises you should be using. The big three power lifts should be an integral part of any strength training program – the bench press builds up your upper body like nothing else can; the squat builds up your lower extremeties extremely well; and the dead lift provides a total body movement that forces you to get stronger in all the other lifts.


Apart from these, you should be using exercises that allow you to use a lot of weight – so these should be compound exercises like the overhead press, pull-up, chin-up, barbell or dumbbell row, and lunge for thigh development.


Your diet is also very important. You should be eating a lot of beef (grass-fed if you can have it), free-range chicken, wild salmon, and other protein-rich food to give your body the nutrients it needs to make you freakishly strong.


Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici,