by Frank Klesitz, ACE- Certified Personal Trainer
Aggressive strength training for several weeks takes a toll on your neuromuscular structure. To allow time to heal and time to GROW, it is best to reduce your training frequency. For example, if you were to train the chest three days per week, reduce the frequency to twice a week. This will allow for ample time for your muscles to fully repair. With a fully functional neuromuscular structure, you can engage a greater intensity during your workouts.
Your body will adapt to the same training stimulus over time, so you must change the training stimulus itself. Take the barbell squat for example. Barbell squats work almost every muscle in the body, but only from one direction. A key to constant growth is working the muscle from EVERY direction. For example, instead of a barbell squat, do a front barbell squat or an overhead barbell squat. You will use less weight, but new motor units will be stimulated allowing different muscle fibers to grow. Now you can recruit additional muscle fibers for the original barbell squat. Squat strength will increase, leading to further hypertrophy gains.
If you have been training at three sets, up the weight and perform one intense set. On the other hand, if you have been training with single sets, decrease the weight and increase the sets to three or four. You can alternate exercises with multiple set workouts, such as a set of triceps extensions followed directly with a set of military (shoulder) presses. This is ideal for further enhancing the training stimulus to the triceps. Furthermore, change the order of your exercises. For example, if you begin every workout with a chest exercise, start your next workout with a back exercise followed with the chest exercise.
Breakdown training is my personal favorite for stimulating muscles to GROW. By recruiting additional muscle fibers deep within the muscle itself, breakdown training enormously intensifies the training stimulus. For example, say you were to bench one set of 185lbs until failure. Immediately after the final rep, decrease the weight to 145 and crank out as many reps possible, fatiguing your muscles to the point of no return.
Your training partner (or a partner from near-by) can coach you through an additional 1-2 reps following momentary muscle failure. A partner can lighten resistance during the concentric phase, and even add resistance during the eccentric phase. Along with audible encouragement, assisted training is a great cross between breakdown training with negative training, which we will discuss next.
Negative training emphasizes the eccentric contraction of an exercise. Your muscles can control a greater weight during the eccentric phase, allowing your muscles to work at an even greater intensity. Select a weight that you can only control during the eccentric phase and have your spotter assist during the concentric phase. Your muscles will essentially be working in reverse, stimulating your muscles in a completely new way, resulting in increased muscular GROWTH.
A popular technique for those who lack the time for a traditional strength routine, slow training eliminates virtually all momentum, allowing for superior muscular tension. Start with a cadence of 10-12 seconds concentrically and 4-6 seconds eccentrically. Donít plan on completing more than five or six repetitions. At five reps, your muscles will be under continuous strain for at least 70 seconds! Words of caution however; do not use this method for every workout. Such a practice will lead to undue muscular chaos, requiring prolonged recovery time.
With the above methods for preventing a strength plateau, there is no excuse for failure to grow. Select a method above and apply it for all exercises during your workout. Alternatively, use a different method for each individual exercise within the workout itself. This dynamic training routine engages your muscles from every possible direction, leading to a level of growth previously thought unimaginable.
Owner of The Final Rep Fitness Systems, Frank leads the way in providing affordable personal fitness training in the Omaha, NE area. For further questions or comments regarding this article, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.thefinalrep.com