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4 Mechanical Tactics To Improve Your Strength Besides Lifting Heavy

4 Mechanical Tactics To Improve Your Strength Besides Lifting Heavy

  1. Are you struggling to lift heavy due to injuries and ailments? 
  2. Do you feel like your quality of movement is suffering when you try to lift heavy? 
  3. Have you seen a drop off in your strength because you’re not able to lift heavy as frequently?
  4. Are you wanting to build strength and muscle, but have experienced too much disruption in your normal heavy lifting routine? 

In order to maintain and improve your strength you have to visualize your body as the blade of a knife. If you put that knife away after use and never do anything to consistently sharpen that blade then it will dull and rust. Likewise if you don’t know how to handle the knife you can damage the blade. Your body responds the same way in regards to what you do to improve it’s function. You have to keep the blade sharp and learn how to do so by thinking outside of the realm of always trying to hit the heavy lift…especially at the expense of quality movement.

Mechanical Tactics To Improve Your Strength 

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1. Increased Time Under Tension (TUT): So what is Time Under Tension?

Well TUT is a way that you can calculate the total amount of work you place on a muscle during a given working set. In this scenario you can calculate the total amount of time a muscle resists weight during a working set.

For instance, if you’re performing a back squat repetition and it takes you three seconds to descend down into the base of the squat and then three more seconds to ascend back up out of the squat then that single repetition took six seconds to perform. Therefore, if you continued to bang out four more reps then the entire five rep set would take you 30 seconds to perform.

This would be the calculation of the muscles’ TUT for that set. TUT allows you to configure your working sets without necessarily worrying about trying to lift super heavy weight to get strong. In fact, if you can get to at least 20 seconds of work during a set for your TUT then you’re going to build strength.

2. Apply The Irradiation Principle:

The principle of irradiation states that the firing potential of a muscle that is performing a given task can be enhanced by the firing of the other muscles’ contractions that surround it.

There are also 3 main muscle groups that give you the most bang for your buck when implementing this strategy. These muscle groups include…




So going back to the example of the back squat you can lighten the load of the bar and focus on implementing this strategy which will make even your heavier sub-max loads seem much lighter.

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To apply the irradiation principle for your back squat get into the loading position. Stand free and clear of the rack and with the bar on your shoulders crush grip squeezing the bar, fire your upper traps to create more cushion for the bar, and act like your preparing to behind the neck military press the bar.

As you do this you’re immediately going to discover something that will surprise you. This initial production of tension will immediately make you stronger in the lift. You will notice that the weight will immediately feel lighter.

The thing is you want to do this as you prepare to descend into the squat, but you especially want to fire these muscles along with your glutes as you ascend up out of the squat. Your lift will be stronger for this and you don’t have to risk poor execution of the lift by simply attempting to move the big weight.

Obviously you can and should apply this strategy to heavy loads as well, but if you need back off the heavy lift you can still build strength smart at sub max effort weight ranges using this irradiation principle.

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3. Regularly Produce Tension With Isometrics: 

An isometric contraction is where you create tension on a muscle without moving that muscle or changing the joint angle. Isometrics are typically thought of as the go-to for when someone might be recovering from an injury. However just like the Swiss Army Knife isometrics can have many uses.

For the purpose of this article I’m telling you to utilize isometrics as a means for you to produce tension throughout your body and to do so frequently most days of the week.

You see the thing that makes isometrics so effective is that you can easily implement isometrics anywhere and at anytime! That’s right, you can’t come up with excuses as to why you can’t do them because you can literally do them as you’re reading this article.

Obviously the purpose here is to get you creating tension on your muscles with frequency as tension is the defining factor in building strength. The more frequently you do this the better you’re going to get at firing your muscles. This is especially good if you need to take some time away from lifting intense loads.

In addition to this you can train yourself to learn how to isolate and fire particular muscles on your body. This will teach you to become more in tune with your body and how to master control of yourself so that you’re more efficient in your bigger lifts.

4. Focus On Your Range Of Motion (ROM): 

When it comes to the big heavy lifts one thing that tends to suffer with many lifters is their ROM. It’s never a bad idea to back off the intensity and just simply focus on handling a sub-max load and moving it in a complete ROM.

If you’re ROM sucks because you’re either more worried about moving the heavy weight, or because you’re experiencing joint inhibition then you need to focus on improving those areas if you expect to make strength gains.

Working to enhance your ROM means you got to work on your quality of movement. When you’re in the process of doing this you can also take the time to make sure your ankles, knees, and hips are also mobile and primed for movement.

You may be strong, but if you have piss poor ROM I’d argue that you’re weaker than you should be because your inhibited. Optimize your ROM and you will optimize your strength while reducing the incidence of injury.

Improve Your Strength: The Takeaway

If you want to build strength for the long haul then you need to back off the super heavy weight. Take the time to put these tactics into action.

What are you currently doing to improve your strength? 

Which one of these areas do you need to improve? 

Post up in the comments section here below.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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