Do you like easy, actionable things that help you get better? I do. Here are some that will help you get stronger:
1. Don't Workout In Running Shoes
Running Shoes are designed for running. They're little air mattresses strapped to your feet that cushion the repetitive impact of running long distances on hard surfaces. These shoes also have exaggerated internal structures meant to compensate for your feet/arch/bend/width characteristics. For R-U-N-N-I-N-G.
Never perform compound strength movements in them. Balance, compensation and developing the ability to splay our feet and drive from or adhere the floor is a key aspect of strength, explosiveness and power generation. This is why you don't spar or hit the heavy bag in running shoes. Mike Tyson's power began in his feet. Uninterrupted contact to the planet allows power generation. You are Antaeus.
Would you squat on top of a mattress? Deadlift on a pillow? Powerclean on a thick bearskin rug? Only to send the picture to Putin. Aside from screwing up your body's natural lifting platform and disallowing strength development, it increases your likelihood of injury. Some people workout in bare feet, but rubber soled shoes grip better, don't sweat and dropping a weight on your bare foot may not feel fantastic.
Wear flat shoes or specific weight room shoes. I wear a $40 pair of Chucky Taylors. Many powerlifting records have been set in them. Not mine. The brand.
2. Greasing The Groove
1980s Soviet sports science proved what farmer's chores, gymnastics, wrestling and military calisthenics have shown for a long time - relative strength can be massively increased with repeated, well-rested submaximal efforts throughout the day. This magic works only on certain movements. Mainly body weight varieties, but some Strongman type stuff and some Olympic lifts.
If I hadn't done it myself, I wouldn't believe it works.
Here's how Greasing The Groove works. Say you want to get better at chin ups. You can perform a 8 rep maximum (please no kipping bullshit). Every day, do 4-5 chins multiple times per day. Do not do 5, wait 30 seconds and do 5 more in an attempt to feel the burn. Just do 5. Then walk away. Do this all of the time. Note the effort level that doing 5 takes. If you can do one more two weeks later at the SAME relative level of effort, then add a rep. Only one. Progress accordingly.
Do not max. Do not push yourself. Just be patient.
Two years ago, I did this between sets of other exercises at the gym. I did it when I walked in. When I left. When I was bored. I would do it anytime I passed a chin up bar walking my dog. And on the way back. I never got sore and it didn't interfere with my other lifts.
My original max was 8 chins up. I never got higher than 7 reps in my progression from my original 4-5. Six weeks later, I maxed and did 16. I thought I'd be able to do 10. They just kept happening. This capacity dissipates fairly quickly if you mothball it, which is common for most body weight stuff, so just do some maintenance. I didn't and now I'm back down to 10 or so. So I just started again.
What physiological mechanisms allow this? I've read many explanations, but I really don't know. Why doesn't it work on bench press? I can speculate but I really don't know. Why does it work on most kettlebell movements? I don't know.
Do you believe that this works? Probably not. I didn't either. I did it to test Pavel Tsatsouline's theories. Now when Pavel says or writes other crazy shit, I listen.
3. Harnessing The Principles of Radiation
Our body is not a series of isolated tubes connected to your "core", which is it's own big tube that you should work with specific "core only" training. We are not easily compartmentalized. Despite what the "divide your body up into back/bis, chest/tris, legs, abs, isolate and exhaust specific areas" paradigm would have us believe. We're more like one big interconnected thing stuffed into a sheath.
Radiation proves this.
Make a solid fist. You may need to squeeze an object to get the full effect. You feel some tension in your forearm, right? Now squeeze harder. Your forearm, bicep and, perhaps surprisingly, your tricep tense up. White knuckle squeeze as hard as you can. Hard. Keep it up. Forearm, bicep, tricep, shoulder, traps and upper back suddenly kick in. Touch them with your free hand if you can't sense it. The harder you exert in this seemingly small movement, the more your whole body engages to create a strength output.
If a little movement can trigger that, what happens in terms of total body stimulus and benefit when you do a big compound movement?
The macro hack is to do heavy compound movements. That's the big squeeze for your entire body.
The micro hack? When you do any barbell exercise and want to bang out a key rep, white knuckle the bar and create tension in your gut and ass. You'll be markedly stronger. You're teaching your whole body to work in concert and creating muscular coordination. Fantastic athletes do this naturally. Most of us have to consciously work on it.
Those are mine. What are yours?