Struggling to build lean muscle mass, but no results? These 4 tips will help you overcome your training plateau and boost muscle growth!
Go to the mirror, take off all your clothes, and take a long critical look at yourself. Carefully analyze the entire body, from head to toe, and tell me if there have been improvements in muscle volume, shape, detail and/or density over the past, say, six months.
If you can honestly answer yes, then you are most likely on the right track, and you should keep doing what you were doing until it stops yielding results. You don’t have to fix what works, right?
However, if a detailed analysis of the physique suggests that there is little or no change for the better, then it’s time to shake up the workout routine!
When it comes to building the body, the definition of insanity should sound like this: “Long-term lack of progress while selflessly doing the same training program in the hope of getting a different result.”
Friends, don’t be one of these madmen!
If you just want to “keep yourself in shape,” then you can give up strength training and switch to basic exercises with body weight.
But if the only goal of your almost daily bench and deadlift workout is to create the strongest, tightest physique imaginable, then read on and explore new ways to improve your workout performance.
1. Exercise depletion
One of the main reasons for the lack of progress is the use of the same strength exercises for many months, and sometimes for many years. I call this “exercise depletion”.
Of course, I am aware that many gym goers choose a set of exercises that suit them and, perhaps, “work” at some stage, but what good are they if they no longer stimulate muscle growth?
You must understand that the human body is an amazing machine that learns to adapt to almost anything that acts repeatedly over a period of time. Consequently, if you do not change your workouts regularly (at least once every 3-4 weeks), your muscles and central nervous system become too effective in the exercises you use, and this leads to recruiting fewer muscle fibers and reducing anabolic stimuli.
2. Modification of movements
Okay, but what if you don’t want to give up your favorite exercises, or if you work out in a gym with a very limited selection of equipment, how to deal with this situation?
Without panic, my fellow Iron Worlds, you can still overcome stagnation with what has been called “movement modification.” By varying the grip, torso and / or plane of motion, you can completely change the motor unit recruitment pattern using the same basic exercises.
In a sense, your muscles and central nervous system will feel like they are doing a completely new exercise, so the stimuli they receive will also be unique (and more effective).
3. Speed and control
Most trainees are overly concerned with the number of plates on the bar. Yes, in the pursuit of volumes, it is important to become “stronger”, but not at the cost of high-quality muscle work.
Simply moving a barbell or dumbbell from point A to point B does not necessarily stimulate muscle growth. When you’re fixated on appearing to be the strongest guy in the gym, exercise technique is usually the first victim.
In most cases, the projectile is raised and lowered too quickly for momentum to be used to move it. However, it is your joints, not your muscles, that are under increased stress.
A much more effective way of doing the exercises is to move slowly with maximum control, especially during eccentric (negative) contractions. Try a 4/1/2 pace (4 seconds negative / 1 second stretch break / 2 seconds positive) for at least some of the exercises. I bet you will feel an insane burning sensation in the target muscles like you’ve never experienced before!
Yes, you will definitely have to reduce your working weight a little, but if you are ready to leave your ego at the doorstep of the gym, you will soon start carrying more pounds of muscle mass with you everywhere.
4. Repetitions: reboot
At the word “repetition”, the minds of most people draws a picture with a simple raising and lowering of the projectile, or with lowering and raising. But who said that this basic pattern defines how repetition should always be?
You need to push the boundaries and push the boundaries, because it not only stimulates thinking, but also rekindles muscle growth! Remember, I wrote about how efficient our body is in adapting to stress factors, if they act on it repeatedly?
Well, there is definitely nothing more repetitive than repetition (at least if your mind is constrained by a box). So I say it’s time to explore “reload reps” and get your muscles to collide with something they don’t expect! Perhaps this little push is enough to break out of the training plateau. Here are some examples:
One and a half repetitions
Pull or push the projectile in the first half of the range, then return to the starting position. After such a “half” repetition, do a full repetition. For example, if you are doing an overhead press while seated , you need to lower the barbell below the chin, raise it halfway, then lower it again just below the chin, and then squeeze to the top point. This is 1 repetition.
Alternatively, you can do a full rep, followed by a half repetition, as in the leg extension in the machine ( press to the top, lower it by half, press again to the top, lower it to the end). This technique provides a bursting pump and a hell of a burning sensation!
Here you actually stop the repetition in the middle, either in the negative or in the positive phase of the movement. Take Scott’s Bench Barbell Curl for example. Raise the bar to half the amplitude and pause here for 2-3 seconds. Then complete the movement in full amplitude and lower the bar to its original position.
In an eccentric pause, you first raise the projectile to the highest point, then lower the barbell by half and hold it at this point for 2-3 seconds, and then lower the projectile to its original position. If you love extreme training, try the eccentric and concentric pause sets in one rep!
Note. If after that the biceps tear the sleeves of the T-shirts, it’s not my fault!
5/5 / Maximum
You’ve probably heard of the 21 technique that many bodybuilders use for bicep curls, but I like the 5/5 / Max sequence better, and I’ve found it has really killer results on a lot of exercises, not just biceps curls. !
If you’re new to strength training and don’t understand what I’m talking about here, let me explain the 5/5 / Max technique using the hack squat machine as an example. First, you do 5 half squats from the bottom to the middle of the range. Then do five more half reps from mid to top. Finally, complete as many full-range squats to muscle failure and hit the quads! This is 1 set 5/5 / Max.
Try this technique in one exercise for each body part this week and test your tolerance for (muscle growth) pain!