If you want to get strong, you have to do the time in the gym. A targeted training plan that progressively increases load over time will help you meet your goals. Good nutrition and proper rest between workouts are also key. While no single food can help you build strength on its own, including certain foods in your diet will help support your training.

Excellent Eggs

Eggs are a a high-quality source of protein, offering all the amino acids your body needs to build new muscle and repair damaged muscle. In fact, the protein in eggs has a higher biological value — a measure of how easily your body is able to use protein — than beef, chicken, fish or soy. Although the cholesterol in eggs has been demonized, researchers of a study published in “The Journals of Gerontology” in October 2007 found that it may be a key nutrient for building muscle and gaining strength. In the study, older adults participated in a high-intensity training regimen including post-exercise protein supplementation and kept food logs. Researchers observed that those who consumed more cholesterol during this period put on more lean muscle mass.

Super Spinach

The cartoon character Popeye famously ate spinach to get stronger, and for good reason. Spinach is abundant in antioxidants, which are plant compounds that help wipe out muscle-damaging free radicals and fight off disease. Spinach is also a rich source of L-glutamine, an amino acid your body needs in greater amounts after an intense workout. In a study published in the “Journal of Human Sport and Exercise” in 2012, supplementation with glutamine during eight weeks of resistance training increased muscle strength and power more than resistance training alone.

Strength-Boosting Salmon

Your body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re critical for your health. They regulate blood clotting and support brain function, and they help protect you from heart disease. They’re also beneficial in your quest to build strength, as they help reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout, reports a study published in the “Journal of Sports Science and Medicine” in September 2011. This means you can get back in the gym and keep training, without letting muscle soreness slow you down.

Bulking Brown Rice

Unlike white rice, brown rice is a whole grain, which means it hasn’t been stripped of its nutrients and fiber during processing. For the strength trainer, brown rice is an excellent source of energy in the form of carbohydrates and magnesium, low levels of which can zap your energy. Include it in your pre-workout meal, and you’ll have plenty of energy to power through your sets and reps. Sprouted brown rice is also a rich source of gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that boosts levels of growth hormone, which contributes to energy levels and muscle strength and size. Researchers of a study published in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” in January 2008 found that ingestion of GABA increased levels of resting and post-exercise growth hormone, which may enhance resistance training results.