The secret of getting stronger

If you want to protect yourself from sustaining an injury, look and feel healthier, and live independently as you age, make your muscles stronger. Body strength is a modern fitness aspiration. A decade or two ago, bodybuilding was the mainstream fitness goal. Some gym-goers were going extreme with dietary supplements to achieve the desired big muscles appearance. We are now aware of the adverse effects of some nutraceuticals and anabolic steroids. We aspire to grow our muscles naturally through resistance training. We want to make our muscles stronger, and not necessarily larger looking. The secret of building body strength has four essential components.


Your workout program should be individualised to your fitness level. If you follow a program found on the internet or borrowed from a friend, you will not achieve the advertised results. Why? Your fitness level could be lower or higher than required by the program. Or your experience level and previously sustained injury could affect your exercise performance technique. Or one of your joints has an undiagnosed functional movement dysfunction and cannot perform a full range of movement. Without the joint's full range of movement, you inadvertently will underload the muscles and not provide them with enough stimulus to grow. Do yourself a favour and find a fitness professional who can improve your muscles performance using an approach tailored to yourself.

Progressive overload

Regardless of the brilliance of the original workout program, over time, your muscles will adapt to the exercises and their intensity and stop growing. The introduction of a new stimulus will force muscles to grow again. Progressive overload is a technique to promote such continuous growth. To ensure that all muscles continuously receive a new challenge, a good personal trainer will vary the number of sets, repetitions, weights, volume and type of exercises.


So, you have been doing great with your individualised workout program, which contained progressive overload elements. You managed to increase the weights you lift, and you now feel stronger than you were initially. Then a performance plateau hits. Unfortunately, your muscles cannot follow an indefinite growing curve because they naturally fatigue. When we train to increase body strength and get stronger, we need recovery periods with low-volume and low-intensity workouts. Periodisation is a long-term training planing to create smaller training phases with their own goals and recovery times.


Finally, you would not go far without continuous adherence to the newly acquired fitness routine. If you stop exercising for longer than two weeks, you will commence going backwards. Making muscles stronger is a lifetime commitment!

Julia performs a pull up exercise at home in the local park.
Reverse pull-up

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