Workout Tips

4 Ways to Build World Class Strength

How you train away from the gym can be just as important as how much weight you’re putting on the bar.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES

Some things are just amazing to behold. Ever seen a guy bench 675 pounds? Ever seen a guy do it without a bench press suit? Ever seen a guy bench 675 without a bench press suit at a bodyweight of 265 pounds? Recently, my client, Jeremy Hoornstra bench pressed more than any human being ever in competition raw (675) weighing less than 300 pounds. He did this weighing 265 pounds and I had a front-row seat.

Obviously, Jeremy is taking care of business in training, as most Muscle & Fitness readers do. But it’s what he does when he’s not under the bar that may separate him from the rest of his competition. Here are his four best non-gym tips for generating jaw-dropping PRs on a weekly basis.

No. 1: Visualize

Visualize daily using mental imagery training for 15-20 minutes. Relax and envision yourself succeeding – on each rep, each set or on each attempt at your next meet. Don’t just “see” it. Make the visualizations vivid – senses involved like smell, sound. The more vivid, the more real it will become. Your perception is reality.

No. 2: Set Goals

Set clear, definitive goals. Simply getting stronger is not a specific enough of a goal to strive for. Deadlifting 500 pounds for the first time, on the other hand, is a very measurable goal. Make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

No. 3: Rock Out

Put on the right music! You probably aren’t hitting PR deadlifts listening to Elton John anyways, but a 1996 study showed grip strength increased when listening to stimulating music. Find the music that gets you the most jacked up and crank it before your big lifts.

No. 4: Caffeinate

Take caffeine prior to training. An overwhelming amount of research shows that caffeine can help lifters enhance limit strength, increase pain tolerance during intense exercise, and improve muscle endurance. One study showed that lifters were able to bench press five pounds more on their max bench when taking a pre-workout dose of caffeine. Use caffeine 30-60 minutes prior to training. I would recommend starting with 1 mg per pound of bodyweight and potentially as high as 3 mg per pound of bodyweight. A more general prescription is 200-400 mg 30-60 minutes pre-workout, depending on tolerance.