How to become strong
How to become strong

May 12, 2013
 by Gabe Mirkin, MD

 Would you like to become stronger? Pick six to
ten weight-machine exercises and do them in three
sessions a week. In each exercise, try to lift
the heaviest weight that you can lift comfortably
ten times in a row without hurting yourself. When
an exercise becomes easy, increase the weight. In
five months, you should be able to increase your
strength significantly and be proud of your
larger muscles.
You now decide that you want to become even
stronger. Would you increase your strength more
by increasing the number of repetitions or by
increasing the weight that you lift? For example,
should you try to do three sets of ten for each
exercise or stay at one set of ten, just try to
lift a heavier weight once a week? Dr. Michael
Pollock of the University of Florida in
Gainesville divided recreational weight lifters
into two groups. In one group, they tried to do
three sets of 10 three times a week. In the other
group, they did just one set of 10 three times a
week, but tried to lift progressively heavier
weights. Those who did one set of ten with
heavier weights three times week were stronger
than those who did three sets of ten without
increasing the weight.
Exercise does not make you stronger. If it did,
marathon runners would have the largest muscles
of all athletes. The single stimulus to make
muscles larger and stronger is to stretch them
while they contract. When you try to lift a heavy
weight, your muscles stretch before the weight
starts to move. The greater the stretch, the
greater the damage to the muscle fibers and when
they heal after a few days, the greater the gain
in strength. The results for this study give a
clear message. You become stronger by lifting
heavier weights, not by exercising more. If you
do too much work, you cant lift very heavy
weights and you do not become stronger. When it
comes to becoming very strong, less may be more.

Note: If you are middle-age or older, or out-of-
shape, read this before you start a weight
lifting program:
Hass CJ et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000(Jan);
Checked 12/29/14

(see also:
 How to recover from muscle soreness caused by
intense exercise,
Prerace or pregame meal)