10 Proven Tips to Get Bigger and Stronger for High School and College Athletes

Getting bigger and stronger isn’t just about hitting the gym hard—it’s about hitting the gym smart. These tips will help you separate yourself from the average lifter and push you toward your full potential. Let’s dive into the key strategies that can make a huge difference in your training.

1. Include an Unloading Week

After 3-4 weeks of intense training, take a week to unload. This means reducing your training volume to allow your body to recover and grow. Unloading weeks prevent overtraining and help you bounce back stronger. Structure your training into blocks:

Accumulation Block: High volume, lower intensity. Focus on more exercises and higher reps with shorter rest periods. Intensification Block: Higher intensity, lower volume. Focus on heavy weights and lower reps with longer rest periods. Explosion Block: Emphasize explosive lifts and plyometrics with longer rest periods for optimal recovery.

2. Seek Constant Progress in Training Difficulty and Stress

Progressive overload is essential for growth. Here’s how to keep challenging your body:

Reps Progression: Gradually increase the number of reps with the same weight. Weight Progression: Increase the weight while maintaining the same number of reps. Sets Progression: Add more sets to your routine. Density Progression: Reduce rest intervals between sets to increase workout density. Eccentric Tempo: Slow down the lowering phase of your lifts to increase muscle tension. Concentric Tempo: Lift weights with more speed and acceleration. Movement Complexity: Transition to more complex, multi-joint exercises. Training Methods: Incorporate advanced techniques like drop sets, supersets, and cluster sets.

3. Measure Up!

Tracking your progress is crucial. Use these simple measurements:

Resting Heart Rate: Take your pulse first thing in the morning. An increase indicates possible overtraining. Grip Strength: Measure with a dynamometer in the morning. A decrease suggests CNS fatigue. Body Temperature: Lower temperatures can indicate a reduced metabolic rate, signaling a need for more calories.

4. Don’t Skip Post-Workout Recovery Drinks

After a workout, your body needs nutrients to recover and grow. Use a high-quality post-workout shake like Mag-10® to replenish glycogen stores and support muscle repair.

5. Include a Neural Recovery Drink for Strength Training

When training for strength, your nervous system needs recovery too. Use a neural recovery drink like Brain Candy® to enhance CNS recovery and maintain high performance.

6. Use Variety for Development, Similarity for Performance

For strength sports:

Developmental Training: Use a variety of exercises to build size and strength. Performance Training: Focus on perfecting the competition lifts with higher frequency and intensity.

7. Alternate Between Accumulation and Intensification Phases

Alternate between high volume (accumulation) and high intensity (intensification) phases to avoid stagnation and continuously challenge your body. This undulating periodization promotes strength and size gains effectively.

8. Utilize Benchmark Lifts

Use benchmark lifts like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, military presses, and barbell curls to track your progress. Test your 6RM (max weight for six reps) to get a complete picture of your strength.

9. Train for Strength in All Types of Contractions

Incorporate all three types of muscle contractions into your training:

Eccentric (Negative): Lowering the weight. Concentric (Positive): Lifting the weight. Isometric (Static): Holding the weight without movement.

10. Go Train!

Don’t get lost in the details. Train hard, stay consistent, and apply these principles. Knowledge is important, but effort is key. Now, hit the gym and start lifting!

By integrating these tips into your routine, you’ll be well on your way to building a bigger, stronger, and more athletic body. Remember, it’s the small, consistent changes that lead to significant results over time. Happy training!