I’ve been a reader of your site for a while and love the logical and common sense answers you give!
Unlike most women, I’m not scared of heavy weights and love lifting! My only problem is that after some health problems, I’m working my way back and find that I can’t lift as heavy as I used to without injuring myself (knees, back, etc.)
I seem to plateau at a certain weight and can’t lift anymore without injury to my joints and tendons. Since I love doing HIIT, running, Spinning, boxing, etc, I know I need to stay strong to work out without injury. Do you know how I can increase my strength when I can’t increase weight? I’ve done different reps, speeds, etc. and am seeking something more!
Thanks so much!
Hey Miranda, how are you?
A woman not scared of weights huh? I LOVE IT! As I’m sure you know many ladies are afraid that lifting weights will make them big and bulky. So I’m thrilled to hear that you know better and understand the importance of strength training.
And when it comes to working around injuries, well now, you’re also in the right place! But first I need to talk about ‘strength’, and what it actually means. In most peoples mind, strength is a measurement of how much weight can be lifted. And while that’s good, I think we need to go a bit further. Fifteen years ago I was stronger on every lift I did, my bench and squat were better, I curled and dipped more weight, but now I’m stronger. Confused? I view strength as how complete my body is and how capable I am in performing different tasks. It’s not simply about pushing more weight, that’s not the only indicator of strength to me. I like to factor in endurance, conditioning, level of difficulty and mental thresh holds when gauging if I’m ‘strong’ or not. Do you see my point?
With that said I understand the need to want to feel stronger or get another 5 pounds on a lift. When you’re a fitness enthusiast and like to lift, adding weight is he ultimate reward for your hard work. And since you’ve tried most of the other methods I’m going to share a way you probably haven’t thought of and one that targets command central – your brain. Most people fail to realize that you can only be as strong as the signal your central nervous sends. And there are ways to train what’s called your ‘neural efficiency’, meaning your brain’s ability to recruit and use your body’s muscle. There are two great ways to train this system and get stronger without lifting more weight.
First up you could go with unilateral training, meaning one arm, leg or side at a time. So try your dumbbell presses, arms curls, lunges, squats only on one side. What this allows for is greater concentration because now instead of focusing your energy on two limbs, your brain can harness its power and drive to just one side. This provides for developing better pathways and often times increases in strength.
The second way, which I’m a HUGE fan of, is balance and stability training. I regularly perform exercises on unstable surfaces like a Bosu, a Swiss Ball, a balance mat, or even standing on one leg while performing traditional exercises. And you can combine both of these methods for a one-two punch! What’s so great about balance training? It forces your body to become more efficient at controlling itself – it demands that you learn to have better coordination, better neural efficiency you see? So if you become quite capable when exercising with balance movements, your drive and strength will be even stronger once you return to standard, non-balance type movements. It’s like challenging your body to accomplish a really hard task so that when you return to the exercises that are literally less demanding, it’s easier. Get it?
I know if you try these two types of exercise for a few weeks you’ll feel stronger and more coordinated. I’ve used these styles of training for years and absolute love them. Especially after having surgery, they provided me with a great challenge and a sense of accomplishment within my workouts and above all, the risk for injury is low. I highly suggest you try them. Let me know how it goes.
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
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