Strength can simply be defined as how much muscle force you can produce in a movement, and can be measured by how much resistance you can move from point A to point B. This resistance can come in a variety of forms such as a barbell, your body-weight, a shot-put, another person, grocery bags, etc. To get stronger you are going to eventually have to add resistance in your training. However there are important components of getting stronger, outside of simply adding weight/ resistance. When these are covered in your training it makes it possible to delay a strength plateau and also reduce injury risk. Technique Learning correct technique is the foundation for strength gains. Utilising correct technique for a movement allows the body to use its naturally strongest positions, allowing you to move more weight. Incorrect technique makes the load harder to move due to to joints and muscles being in disadvantaged positions– to your body, the same load is effectively heavier. When you’re starting out, it is paramount to learn proper technique as this is the time you are creating the foundation for your future strength gains. Whenever you learn a new skill your brain creates nerve pathways for that movement. Whether you learn the skill with good technique or bad, your brain and body don’t know the difference at the beginning – so the more you practice that skill, the more well established that nerve pathway becomes. If you’ve learnt a movement with poor technique, your brain and body get really good at performing that movement poorly, which makes it hard to correct that movement down the track. Take the time to learn proper technique when you’re starting out – whether that be on your own, or under the guidance of someone qualified to teach you. Improving Stability Stability is when muscles contract to reduce motion at a particular joint when motion is occurring somewhere else in the body – for example, the stabilising muscles of the right hip, knee ankle will be activated to create a stable base, while the left leg kicks a ball. Another way to think about it is to imagine trying to jump as high as you can off a mattress as opposed to solid ground. Needless to say you can jump a lot higher standing from solid ground. The extra movement (or “instability”) occurring in your body while jumping off a mattress causes energy to be lost – energy which could otherwise be used to propel you upwards even further. The same effect occurs in your body when you lack stability – your joints move excessively which causes energy to be lost, resulting in a reduction in your strength and power levels. Your spine, shoulders, hips and ankles are the most common joints where a lack of stability can cause reduction in strength and increase in injury risk. Adding appropriate stability training into your program can cause strength gains from having a better ability to transfer force to whatever you’re are trying to move. A proper assessment can reveal where your stability is lacking. Muscular Balance Agonist muscles are the main movers during a movement. For example during a bench press this would include the pec, tricep and deltoid muscles. Antagonist muscles are the muscles which oppose the agonist – for a bench press this would include the biceps and upper back muscles. Antagonist muscles turn on toward the end of a movement to act as “brakes” so that joints dont get jammed into their end range and get damaged. Research has that has shown that when antagonist muscles for a movement improve in strength they turn on later in a movement. This can improve strength by limiting their “braking effect”, and this means lifting more weight in the gym, higher and more powerful jumping and running. Think about trying to drive a car with both the accelerator and brakes down- it doesn’t work! You must ensure your training is well balanced, for musclar balance, and to maximise strength gains. Power Power is simply the ability to apply force quickly, and is vital for athletes. If you want to put on big hits, run fast and/ or throw far, you must have power. You cannot have power without strength – you cannot generate a large amount of force quickly if you cannot generate a large force in the first place. However working on power can also improve strength levels by teaching you to accelerate whatever implement you are using to the maximum of your ability. The faster you get an object moving, the easier it is the keep moving. Power is an advanced physical trait and can be trained with jumps, throws and other methods. To see how power training can be implemented into your training consult a professional. So here we have some methods to improve your strength without traditional strength means. Give them a try and let us know how you go.