How To Measurably Increase Your Strength In 30 Minutes Per Week
Written by Ryan Luedecke on Nov 15 2018
The author sits in an outdoor ice bath
My clients often want to get stronger, but don't have a specific and measurable plan to get there.

They know that getting stronger means they'll need to workout, but they don't know what workouts to do, how often to do them, and how much weight to lift.

Luckily the path to lasting functional strength is simple.

You must lift relatively heavy weights, twice a week, and increase the weight every week. Strength is built by increasing the weight you lift NOT by increasing the amount of time you can hold the weight under tension (that develops muscular size and muscular endurance). 

To do this I recommend one full body lift -- the deadlift -- and one plyometric exercise -- the vertical jump.

Here is the full strength training regimen I recommend: 

Purpose: Build your functional total body strength (grip strength, core strength, leg strength, arm strength, and posterior chain strength) while minimizing stress, fatigue, and bulking. This can be done by working out 2-3 times per week and less than 15 minutes per workout.

Equipment: You can workout at a local gym or purchase your own equipment. I do a little of both. Most often, I don’t have a lot of time to commute back & forth from the gym, so I just workout in my garage with my own equipment. 

Recommended Weight Set:

- One 45 pound Olympic weightlifting bar and start with these weights or similar:
- 2 x 1.25 pound weights (ideally rubber bumper plates for less clanging noise)
- 2 x 2.5 pound weights 
- 2 x 5 pound weights 
- 2 x 10 pound weights 
- 2 x 15 pound weights 
- 2 x 25 pound weights

You may need to get more weights, depending on your 1 rep max. If so, I’d recommend getting 2 x 45 pound weights and keep purchasing in sets of 2 x 45 pound weights as your max goes up.

Of note, these are my recommendations. In all likelihood, if you have a bar and enough weight plates, you can make it work in the early going.

You can buy a barbell and rubber bumper plates on Amazon or at local sporting goods stores. I bought my barbell and most of my weights at “Play It Again Sports” which is a used sporting goods store here locally in Austin. You can also buy them used on Craigslist (meet in public place and bring another person w/ you for safety).

First floor room or garage with concrete surface & padded floor. 

I workout in my garage and use these 4’ x 6’ rubber horse stall mats for padding and noise dampening. You can get the thick rubber mats from a brick & mortar tractor supply company or a farm supply store or order them online on Google or Amazon. Home Depot & Lowe’s might carry something similar as well. Thicker the better. I have the ½ inch thick mats in my garage but wish I had the ¾ inch mats. You’ll need at least two 4’ x 6’ mats. I have four in my garage that create a nice 8’ x 12’ workout area. 
 
At lighter weights you may not feel the need for gloves. But if you do need gloves, I recommend ultra-thin rubber garden gloves for increased grip strength and to protect your hands from tearing, callusing, and blistering. Rubber garden gloves are thin enough to not impede your ability to wrap the bar with your hands, but they are strong enough to increase your grip strength and protect your hands. I have tested several different high end workout gloves and these garden gloves work better than them all. They don’t look awesome, but they work well.

Tennis shoes, cross trainers, or flat soled soccer shoes. This is the style of flat-soled indoor soccer shoe I wear when I workout. Not necessary to purchase if you already have a pair of tennis shoes.

First Find Your 1-Rep Max In The Deadlift

Step 1: Load the bar with a light weight that you know you can lift. See picture at top of post.

Step 2: Perform 1 repetition of the deadlift with good form. Rest 3 minutes. You can search Youtube for "deadlift form" examples or ask a trainer in your gym. 

Deadlift form described: 
- Stand with your mid-foot under the barbell
- Bend over and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar
- Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back
- Take a big breath, hold it, and stand up with the weight
- Hold the weight for a second at the top, with locked hips and knees. Then return the weight to the - floor by moving your hips back while bending your legs. 
- Let the weight rest a second on the ground before doing next rep. You can even take your hands off the bar and stand up for a quick breather. I do this sometimes. 

If the weight feels heavy in your hands, use a mixed grip with one hand under the bar and one hand over.:
 
Step 3: Increment the weight 10 pounds and repeat. Rest 3 minutes. Keep repeating step 3 until you can no longer lift the weight or your form deteriorates. Your max lift is the last weight you lifted successfully with good form. Note your max lift and report it back to me via text message. 
After achieving your max lift. Rest 2 days and then start the Strength Regimen below

Then Start Increasing Your Strength In Subsequent Workouts

Take at least one full day of rest between each workout. So if you worked out Monday, you would not workout again until Wednesday. I workout twice a week, but you may work out up to 3 times a week if you have time.

Strength Increasing Workouts:

Set 1: Deadlift - Load the bar with 95% of your max lift. Do a set of 2 deadlifts, pausing for a second at the bottom to let the weight rest on the ground between each lift.

Plyo Jumps: Immediately after finishing your 2 reps, do 3 vertical jumps as high as you can. Land softly in a controlled manner on both feet.

Rest 5 minutes.

Set 2: Deadlift - Load the bar with 85% of your max lift. Do a set of 5 deadlifts, pausing for a second to the weight rest on the ground between each lift.

Plyo Jumps: Immediately after finishing your 2 reps, do 3 vertical jumps as high as you can. Land softly in a controlled manner on both feet.

Log your results.

If you maintained good form on the Deadlift Set 1 and completed both reps successfully, you’ll increase the weight by 2.5 pounds on Deadlift Set 1 during your next workout. Same goes for Deadlift Set 2. If you don’t have have 1.25 pound weights, you can increase the weight by 5 pounds on your next workout. 

If you couldn’t lift the weight on both reps or your form deteriorated in either rep, you’ll repeat the same weight in the next workout session until you can successfully lift the weight with good form. 

If you can’t load the bar with exactly 95% or 85% of your max, get as close as you can with the weights you have. 

Plan to retest your max every 8-12 weeks to confirm your gains. 

Summary

That's all it takes. I've personally used this simple workout strategy to increase my total body strength from a deadlift of about 250 pounds up to now around 440 pounds. And I have clients who have doubled their strength in a month. It happens fast!

This is the way to specific and measurable strength gains that give you increased total body functional strength.

Enjoy it!

-Ryan





Ryan Luedecke


Ryan Luedecke helps people start and stick to lifestyle changes that increase their health, happiness and energy levels. He is an expert at helping people refine their eating strategies and daily routines while making things super simple to understand. If you're interested in making your own lifestyle changes to improve your health and happiness then definitely reach out and request a strategy session today.
Ryan Luedecke
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