If you’ve ever talked to anyone that’s been going to the gym for years, even decades, you’ll know that there are people that are strong for the weight room, but there are also people strong enough for anything.
A number of people have the “brute strength” necessary to lift big, heavy, clumsy loads without any assistance or leverage, and if you want to find out how strong you really are, try to do what they do – it’s a test of your endurance and strength like no other.
Robert Herbst, a coach, personal trainer and 18-time world’s best power lifter has often been quoted as saying that this brute strength is just untainted, animalistic strength that comes to you without thinking and is available to you at any moment.
When your wife calls you because she stuck something under the oven, you go over there and you lift it without a second thought – that kind of strength.
However, while some folks are blessed with it, that still doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t and can’t refine it or reach it. With the right training routine, you can do anything, including this.
Brute strength has to be there, but you can’t shut down after just a rep of something – you have to be able to do more.
When the mammoths lived alongside the humans, they’d be killed, then hacked to pieces and everyone would carry a piece back to the camp or cave. That’s how we got our brute strength, ancestrally speaking.
Today, you can train it, but you can’t just start with the maximum possible weight and then expect to become and stay strong. Like anything else, you have to start a bit lower, having low weight and high reps, meaning that you should do anywhere from six to twelve reps per exercise so you can get your form down.
When you train with maximum weight, your form will reduce in quality so you have to get your form right before you start the heavy workout.
After that, you have to start with around five reps at 65-75% of your maximum potential, and you should train for up to eight sets with a minute of recovery between them so that you can improve your strength endurance.
If you keep doing that for a total of six weeks, you will have a very solid base and your form will be good. After that, you are going to get very strong in a relatively short period of time, however to accomplish that you will need to use weights that are close to your maximum, with singles, doubles or even triples.
However, you will need to be able to complete all your sets so make sure to rest well for up to 10 minutes between sets and exercises, until you are at least at 90% of your total strength.
There are a few things that you can put into your strength training program if you want to put on some more brute strength and increase your capabilities.
Remember, this won’t be a walk in the park – it will actually be quire painful to make your body accommodate the new program that you put it in. If you want to be really strong, you have to stiffen that upper lip and clench your fists – it’s not going to be easy.
When you’re done training, you will have to take a while to recuperate – up to two weeks – to get your strength to come into effect. You will be much stronger when you start again. These are the 7 things you can integrate into your program to increase your brute strength.
When you’re doing conventional deadlifts, you’re pushing the limits of your real strength. This happens when you lift as much as possible off the floor.
When you lift, you should keep the bar as close to your legs as possible, just so that you don’t change the center of gravity or put extra force on your lower back, leading it to strain.
If you know people who have deadlifted for a long time, they’ve probably mentioned that when you’re doing a good deadlift, your shins should be bleeding from the bar dragging across them, this is why you put tape on your legs – so that you won’t bleed up the gym.
When you’re lifting, the instep of your feet should be located directly under the bar with slightly pointed out toes – this ensures correct form.
Other things that you need to be careful about are your knees and arms – your knees should be soft and your arms straight – straighten your arms, lean forwards into a half-squat so that you can reach the bar on the floor, while keeping your head up. Brace your abs, pull the slack out of the bar so it doesn’t touch the plates anymore and flex your lats as hard as you can.
To lift, press your feet hard into the floor as you lift the bar along your shins, and slowly pushing your hips forward when the bar is past your knees.
When the bar reaches its highest points, clench your glutes and you have yourself a deadlift. Lower it down slowly so it doesn’t bounce, put it down, take a breather and do it again when you feel ready.
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Deep barbell squat
True strongmen will laugh it off when they see someone putting a lot of weight on the bar and then doing a nosebleed squat.
It’s called a nosebleed squat because it has a very high altitude in comparison with real squats. Anyway, when you want to grow and improve the strength in your hamstrings and your glutes, you will do much better if you try to make use of the lower starting altitude that a deep barbell squat offers you with the extra space to go.
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This means that your hips will be on a lower point than your knees, so to initiate the squat you will need to start with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, with your toes slightly pointed outwards.
If you want to do a traditional low-bar powerlifting squat, put the bar on your shoulder blades but if you want to do a high-bar squat you want to put the bar a little higher, on the little shelf created by your trapezoid muscles.
Developing big traps requires a lot of work with deadlifts and farmer’s walks but in the end you’ll certainly be there. Lower your body as much as possible like when you’re sitting down, with your knees pointing straight out.
When you’re at the bottom, stretch your leg muscles and try to rise up – you will need to drive your hips forward and consistently keep your head up the entire time.
Barbell bench press
The barbell bench press is a great exercise when you want to develop extra chest muscles and also more brute strength. You will need to be able to get drive from your legs, so practice this by putting your feet soundly on the floor when you lift.
Also, you will need to take a grip wider than your shoulder width and you will need to squeeze your shoulder blades as close as possible, as if you were that one thing stopping the bar from falling down so it bends on both sides.
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Also, keep you back arched so that your behind is touching the bench surface at all times. To initiate the lift, squeeze the bar and tuck your elbows down when you’re lowering the barbell.
Bring it at the level of your solar plexus and then blast it back up and a little towards your head so that it comes somewhere around your chin in level.
When you lift, for maximum effect, try to spread your hands as much as possible as if you were tearing the barbell in two pieces.
Barbell shoulder press
This one has a distinct name – the military press. I’ve seen a lot of people doing this while seated because they think they will be able to lift more from a seating position – this is wrong.
This exercise has to be done while standing upright, like they stand at attention in the military. When you do this exercise while seated, you put a lot of pressure on your spinal discs, meaning you might hurt yourself much more easily.
You should be standing with your feet apart at shoulder width, or they should be staggered with one in front of the other so that your lower back won’t arch when you don’t want it to.
If you do this, make sure to make changes in your stances with every set – you should switch your legs for maximum effect. Bring your barbell down to your collarbone for a best lift, your chin for a medium level of difficulty and the middle of your face for the easiest one.
When you bring the bar only to the middle of your face, your shoulders won’t be as stressed and you will be able to do more.
Bent over barbell row
Bent over rows are an awesome exercise for getting all kinds of strength because this is both a core and a back exercise. Having perfect form in this exercise means that you will have to change your body position with regard to the weight you’re lifting.
This means that you will have your body bent over at a 90 degree angle when you’re doing reps with just a little amount of weight, but you should bend your body only to a maximum of 45 degrees when you’re lifting heavy weight.
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Also, you can change the width of your grip at your discretion so that your lats are all equally affected, everywhere. Your movement pattern should be a bit longer to discuss though, as even though your form should be as strict as possible, you can’t just pop the weight up.
You can only do this with really heavy weights that are close to your maximum – jerk them up to give them momentum and then continue with your lift.
This one is called “farmer’s carry” because of, well, how farmers carry things. When you want to put your core strength and also your force distribution ability to the test and also check out your brute strength, you do a farmer’s walk.
Start doing these by getting as much weight that you can carry for a distance of 50 feet, then put more weight every subsequent time.
Also, you can take a big starting weight, around 200 pounds and just start walking as far as you can. The next time, walk some more and if you can do this outdoors you can even up the difficulty level by climbing hills.
Generally, you want your first weight to be somewhere around half of your maximum deadlift. If you can deadlift 300 pounds, you will need 150 pounds of weight for a farmer’s walk, which means 75 per hand, which means 37.5 on each side of a barbell.
When you pick them up and start walking you will start building crazy strength, but you will need to work the first weight up to your body weight in each hand.
You will also need to clench your abs tightly, as if someone is about to punch them, and then also keep your upper back in check – you don’t want it to go round because your spine will be very stressed out.
Chopping wood/Hitting with a sledgehammer
Apart from wrestling bears in the mountain, there are only a small number of activities that you can perform when you want to build awesome brute strength. Among these things are the regular household activities of chopping wood or hitting stuff with a sledgehammer.
However, this is one activity that should have you watching your form until you perfect it. This means that when you swing the axe or sledgehammer over your head, you can’t keep your hands stiff – move the hand that’s closer to the axe head, away from it and towards your other hand.
This movement happens when your axe is at the peak of its swinging motion and in the end your hands will both be on the handle and touching together. Bring the axe down – if you haven’t chopped wood like this before, you will be amazed at how easily it will split.
When you start to swing again, you will need to put your top hand in the same position again, near the axe head. Repeat until you have enough wood to last the entire cold season, and then chop even more wood and give it to your family and close ones.
Also, haul that wood to the shed and stack it – when you’ve pushed a wheelbarrow full of wood for hours, your strength will improve on all levels.
If you live in a city or in some place without need for chopped wood, buy a huge tractor tire and hit it as hard as you can with an eight-pound sledgehammer until your neighbors show up at your door to see what’s causing all the noise. All in all, just hit stuff with an axe or hammer until you get so strong that you won’t need them to get the job done.