If there’s anything the human race has ever marveled about, it’s strength and power
Take a look at elephants, hippos, gorilla, rhinos, and hippos. The strongest animals on the planet.
And guess what?
They’re all on plant based diets!
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to be weak. That notion was debunked years ago.
In fact, a vegan diet has been linked to increased health and less disease. And plant based protein is not only healthier than animal based protein, but it has shown to build muscle just as well.
Here are 10 strength based tips to have you bigger in stronger in no time!
If it wasn’t obvious enough, getting stronger means hitting the gym.
Lifting weights will put stress on your body which will create small tears in your muscles. These small tears will begin to repair themselves with proper nutrition and rest, making your muscles bigger and stronger.
When lifting weights, it’s important you focus on the right exercises and lifts.
Forget machines, most of them are a waste of time and won’t give you a solid workout.
If there’s only one thing I want you to focus on, its compound lifts.
Compound lifts are exercises that incorporates full body movements and requires multiple body parts in order to complete the lift.
Compound lifts allow you to lift more weight than if you were to just do isolation exercises like bicep curls, leg extensions, and much more.
It’s without a doubt the best way to gain strength and muscle.
If you’re not already incorporating compound movements into your workout plan, I highly recommend you do so.
Always be sure to use good form. Use a weight where you can do 3-5 reps. That’s where you’ll make the most strength gains.
Here’s a list of the top compound lifts you need to be doing!
Nothing screams strength more than lifting a heavy set on the deadlift. Your body uses almost every single muscle in the body in order to pull the weight. From your legs to your abs and traps, everything is activated on the deadlift!
Your quads are the strongest muscles on your body, don’t neglect them. Squatting 2-3 times a week will increase the strength in your legs, glutes, posterior chain, and back. Squatting requires so much effort that your body releases growth hormones in order to compensate for the duress.
If you can’t do pull ups with just your bodyweight no worries. Use an assisted pull up machine. Pull ups really target your back, specifically your lats, but they also help build bigger and stronger biceps as well!
Build a chest, screw the rest as they always say. Bench press is a full body movement that requires you to even use your legs as stabilizers when pushing the weight off your chest. Keep an arched back and pin your shoulders back to avoid injury. Then watch your chest and triceps make some crazy gains.
Ever wonder why Olympic rowers have such big, strong, and wide backs? They are constantly performing row-movements. If you want a stronger back you’re going to need to bend over with a flat back, pick up a barbell and row the weight towards your chest.
One of my favorites. Nothing feels better than lifting a barbell with heavy weight above your head. The military press works your shoulder and your triceps for maximum strength gains.
Get Adequate Protein
We all know protein is essential to build muscle.
But how much?
It’s the most debated and controversial topic in the fitness industry.
But if you’re looking to reap the best strength gains, you need to consume between .6-.75 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
This comes to around 1.3-1.75 kg of protein per pound of bodyweight for you metric system users.
For someone who weighs 150 pounds, this means consuming between 90-112 grams of protein a day!
That’s a lot of protein! But if you really want to gain some solid strength, it must be done, there’s no other way.
Extra tip: It’s also extremely important that you drink a lot of water when training for strength. Water is not just essential for daily survival but also for the digestion of protein.
Out of the three macronutrients, protein is the one that requires the most water in order to be absorbed. That’s why you often see on survival shows the members will be less will to eat a high protein meal if they’re already dehydrated.
So drink your water! Shoot for a ¾ gallon of water a day.
That being said, there are a ton of delicious high protein foods for vegans and plant-based enthusiasts to consume on the daily.
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
I often eat a wide variety of all protein sources in order to get a balanced amino acid profile and the beneficial nutrients from a lot of different sources.
When you only stick to one protein source, not only is it less tasty, but you’re missing out on all the micronutrients, carbs, and vitamins from other foods.
Mix up your protein not only will you gain strength but you’ll look and feel better.
Consume Enough Calories
Protein is nothing without a solid amount of calories. Calories are what keeps your body going.
Calories = Energy
In order to gain muscle and strength, you need to be eating enough calories so that your body can complete a killer workout and aid in recovery.
This means that it’s best to eat in a caloric surplus.
What’s a caloric surplus?
A caloric surplus is eating more calories than you burn. The added calories from the day will be sent to your fatigued and damaged muscles and allow them to get bigger and stronger!
But how many more calories do you really need?
I recommend using this calculator from bodybuilding.com to find how many calories you need a day.
Generally, it’s best to find your caloric maintenance, which is how many calories your body burns in a day, and add 300 – 500 calories to get your ‘caloric surplus’
Everyone’s caloric needs will be different. It will depend on your weight, height, sex, and activity level.
Don’t view calories as a bad thing and don’t view them as a way to eat whatever you want.
It’s extremely important to get calories from quality sources like whole based organic foods.
Eating Oreos, chips, and drinking alcohol is an easy way to get calories but they will in no way help you gain muscle or strength.
Get your calories from complex carbs, veggies, and high protein plant based foods.
Get 8 Hours of Sleep
If you’re watching TV or on your computer all the way until 2am you can kiss your strength gains goodbye.
Sleep is where your mind and body from a days of work. Don’t neglect it.
Sleep isn’t just important for everyday life but for increasing strength as well.
Most people and professionals will say you need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
But if you’re goal is to get stronger you’re going to need a minimum of 8 hours, and no more than 9.
Why so much sleep?
With all that physical activity in the gym, your body is going to need all it can get for proper recovery. A solid amount of sleep is absolutely necessary.
But you need more than just 8-9 hours of sleep… you need 8-9 hours of deep sleep!
The quality of the sleep is important, and many people have bad habits that prevent them from getting the quality sleep they and their body deserves!
Here’s a list of things that may be ruining your ability for the best quality sleep:
- Blue light before bed
- Eating right before bed
- Caffeine after 4pm
- Taking long naps
- Being active before bed
Most of these habits have very simple solutions! You just have to implement them.
For example, fixing the blue light before bed problem. Stay off your computer, TV, or phone 2-3 hours before bed. If you really need to use these devices before bed, consider investing into blue light blocking glasses.
To prevent yourself from eating right before bed, eat a large meal at dinner and drink lots of water. Make sure your dinner is roughly 4 hours before it’s time to hit the pillow.
Caffeine is also a killer. Just don’t drink coffee after 4pm. Hide your coffee in cabinet and drink some tea instead if you want a caffeine replacement
Stress can be difficult because so many different things around your life can be causing stress. My best advice to you is to live with gratitude and just be amazing and love everything around you. It will help lower your stress levels when annoying things pop up. I also highly recommend you meditate. Take 10 minutes a day to find a quiet place and use an app like Headspace to just find time for yourself in your own mind.
Taking long naps is also a killer. The best time to nap during the day is between 1-3pm. Anything later will kill your sleep. It’s also important to limit your naps 30-45 minutes. Anything more and you’ll find yourself in bed awake at night.
And finally, lower your activity levels before bed. Don’t exercise strenuously, don’t hop on the computer and do difficult homework. Take time to relax and wind down. Turn off the majority of your lights so your mind and body know it’s bedtime. Maybe perform some yoga, meditation, and read a book. It’ll make you happier too.
Why eat superfoods?
If you want to recover better and faster make sure you’re consuming plant based superfoods.
Superfoods are known to be extremely nutrient rich and have a lot of health benefits.
Some of the best superfoods you can eat are:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Goji Berries
- Maca Root
If you want the full list of vegan superfoods you can check out my article here!
The great thing about plants and superfoods is that they have natural healing abilities to help you progress better in recovery and fight disease.
Who doesn’t want that?
Cut Down On Long Distance Cardio (Do HIIT Instead)
You might think cardio is important for your workout routine. And while your cardiovascular system benefits from long distance cardio, your muscles don’t.
Cardio, specifically long distance cardio like running or biking for hours puts you in a catabolic state, which burns muscle tissue.
If your goal is to gain strength this is the last thing you want!
Now if you hate cardio and love lifting, you’re probably jumping with joy from the news.
But no so fast, there is one form of cardio that is great for your heart and can help improve your gains.
It’s called HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.
I’ve talked a lot about HIIT in some of my other articles.
It involves high intensity cardio for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes and you have yourself a killer workout!
The best part about HIIT is it can help increase your strength performance, plus it’s not boring.
Great HIIT exercises include:
- Battle Ropes
- Jump Rope
- Mountain Climbers
Incorporate Some Yoga
What’s another great way to heal up the body?
Take a yoga class!
Lifting and our daily life activities take a toll on our bodies. It’s important to de-stress and release all the tension from our body.
Yoga incorporates breathing, meditation, stretching, and exercise to help heal your body and get you going for the next day/workout.
Yoga is also known as it’s own form of training and can help strengthen your muscles up as well!
Just try holding yoga poses like the Downward Dog and Warrior 3 for a minute! They’ll have your muscles on fire!
Try and practice yoga in person rather than online in front of a computer. Having someone actually show you the ropes helps you do it correctly and it motivates you.
I recommend practicing yoga 2-3 times a week, mainly on your rest days.
Doing yoga right before your workout is probably not a good idea since your muscles will already be relaxed and weakened from class.
Not only will it help with strength gains but it’ll also make you happier! Give it a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Push Yourself (Progressive Overload)
If there’s any lasting tip I wish for you to take away from this article, it’s this one.
The idea is very simple. Every workout you increase the amount of sets, reps, or weights that you’re doing.
So if you benched 225 for 4 reps last week, this week you need to bench 225 for 5 reps, or increase the weight to 235 reps.
Why do this?
If you keep increasing the weight or volume of your workouts, it’s impossible for you not to become stronger!
Before you know it, the weight you did months ago will feel lightweight!
But in order to achieve and correctly perform progressive overload, you need to constantly keep track of your progress.
In a notebook or on your phone, keep an updated list of your lifts with how much weight and the number of reps you’re completing each workout.
Once you increase the weight or add more reps add it to your notes!
Keep this up and watch the gains increase as you’ve never seen before.