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Where to start with building strength in the gym

Blog | Justin Shaw, Sports Development Coordinator

So you want to build strength in the gym, but you’re not sure where to start. We have all been there! We’ve all seen the Rocky IV training montage in the snow before the fight against Ivan Drago and thought “I could probably do that”.. right?…?… We ALL thought that didn’t we?…guys?..

Ok so maybe not BUT gaining strength isn’t all montages and 80’s music! It takes knowledge, commitment, and unsurprisingly, strength. I know what you are thinking “It takes strength to get strong?”…  what I mean is mental strength. It is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge when we are in the gym.

The biggest factor in my ACL recovery has been building back strength. So take it from me, if you want to build strength, it’s going to be challenging sometimes. But we have to embrace the challenge! Here is some great advice I was given to help me in building my strength.

Consistency is Key

By far the biggest indicator of success or failure with any fitness endeavour is consistency. Some days we aren’t going to feel like training. Those are the most important days to knuckle down and get the session done. Setting yourself in a pattern of “I don’t want to, so I won’t” will kill any chance you have of making progress. Stay consistent. Keep pushing.


As Michael Scott says to Dwight Schrute in the Office – Keep It Simple Stupid. You want to stick to the basics and build a strong foundation when you are starting out in strength. Stick to mastering the Big 4 lifts in the gym. That is squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press. I usually split these up into seperate gym sessions, such a push, pull, and legs. Push = bench press + overhead, legs = squat + deadlift. Add a couple of basic compound lifts and you have a session!


Diet does not mean eat less. Diet means eat better. When you are training for strength gain, you need to eat big. This means getting plenty of protein for recovery and muscle repair, carbs for sustained intensity and delayed fatigue, fats for energy, and vegetables for their nutritional goodness. You can google your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to get a rough idea how many calories you need to function each day. When building strength, we want to eat slightly above this amount. The normal surplus for strength gain is BMR + 250cal. This means you have enough to maintain, plus a little more to help grow.

Have a plan

As my Dad used to tell me “Pre Planning Prevents Poor Performance”. The 5 P’s are as true in strength gain as they are in life. If you roll up to the gym full of energy with no plan, you will go into creative mode. We don’t want that. We want a structured and measured approach that we can follow on the days when walking through the gym doors is like descending the 7 circles. Get a paper and pencil, write down what exercises you want to focus on, and give it a go.

Rest and Recover

The most important part of strength training is recovery. Give yourself enough time to repair after your workout. It generally takes the muscles around 48-72 hours to fully repair the damage we do in a gym session. There is good pain, and there is bad pain. Make sure you stay in the good pain area! The easiest way to fall off the strength wagon is to get injured. Look after yourself!

So there you have it. Some easy first steps to getting strong! Feel free to have a chat to any of our lovely staff about your goals and any exercises you need help with! And make sure you check in with yourself from time to time. It’s gotta work for you, or it’s working against you! Have fun!

Make one of our group fitness classes part of your workout routine!

See the timetable by visiting our website or speaking to one of our friendly staff members on (02) 6773 3856