So, you've been training for a while and just don't seem to be making much progress anymore. Don't despair, that just means it's time to shift into high gear! Take a week off to give your body a break and try some of these high intensity techniques: Strip sets, Supersets and Compound sets, Partial reps, Forced reps, Negatives, Focus.
See "Getting Past A Sticking Point" below if you've stopped getting results. Get your mind into it too, don't just go through the motions, think about your workout, plan it, look forward to it, then go and attack the weights!
Some people train steadily with minimal results and others make great progress. After a few months of training your body gets used to it, especially if you continue to use the same weight and the same routine. When you see your gains start to slow down, that's the time to look for new ways to increase intensity. There are several ways to do this, most of which are listed below. Which ever you choose, use it 1 to 2 times a week for a few weeks, then try another one.
Decrease the time between sets: Cut your time between sets in half and try to do the same workout as normal, this will increase your endurance and shock those muscles into new growth! This will also help you to lean out (lose fat) quite effectively.
Increase the amount of weight used: Try increasing your weights every week or two by 5 to 10 pounds. As you lift heavier and heavier weights, your muscles will follow! You can still do lighter weights for higher reps, but make at least one set a heavier one. If you get more than 12 reps, definitely increase the weight. Try the 12/10/8 system for continuous gains!
Employ these high intensity techniques:
Pick one or two of these techniques and apply them about every third workout, or anytime you feel like doing a bit extra. If you are training more than one body part, just use these on one, and train the other the conventional way. Take extra rest between sets, and you may need an extra day (than normal) before you train that body part again. All of these techniques hit the muscle extra hard and more recovery time is required. Every few weeks, use a different technique to prevent your body from adapting to any one of them. Time to PUMP IT UP!
Supersets and Compound sets
Super intensity secrets (not recommended for beginners)
These are some of the best methods for supercharging your workout. Don't do them every workout, once a week (per body part) should be sufficient as you will need more recovery time. Train a minimum of 4 days per week, train hard and keep each workout under an hour (not including warm-up) for maximum results.
Sometimes after training for a while, all the gains seem to stop. This is because your body gets accustomed to the exercises you are doing and stops responding. The best way to get past a stale or sticking point is to make a radical change in your training. For example, if youve been doing high reps (12 or higher) with relatively light weights, try switching to lower reps with heavier weights, and vice versa. As soon as you notice a routines effects start to fade, change it. This usually occurs every 4 to 8 weeks.
Between 6 and 12 reps
The optimal rep range for building is between 6 and 12 reps although you should occasionally go higher or lower than this. Anything below six reps generally increases strength more than size and is good for strengthening tendons, ligaments, and even the bones. Above 12 reps will give you a good pump, and help you to lean out and better define a muscle, and it's great for a change once in a while.. Higher reps are better for defining the muscle,after you have all the size you want.
Make every set count!
Do each set like it's your last!! For all sets, you should use as much weight as possible that still allows you to get the desired number of reps. If you get the desired number fairly easily, do one or two more. I.E.: If you are trying for 10 reps, and you get that without much struggle, do one or two more and increase the weight on the next set. Four good intense sets are far better than twelve "going through the motions" type sets. Do each set like its your last and give it everything youve got--no "saving energy for the next set"! If the program calls for 8 to 10 reps, choose a weight that you can get 8 reps with and try to squeeze out 10.
If you are training for size, eat lots, and remember that fat is NOT an enemy. Eat lots of protein rich foods such as steak, chicken, turkey, fish etc. and complex carbohydrate foods like rice, pasta, vegetables, etc. Eat protein every meal, especially breakfast, supper, and before and after training. Try to keep the fat levels down but dont eliminate fat from your diet. It takes some fat in your diet to get your body to start burning it's stored fat.. It works as kind of a "kindling" to start the fat burning process. If you totally eliminate fat, your body will try to store every little bit it gets..
If you are trying to lose fat, use a high protein, moderate carbohydrate, and low fat diet. Cut out the sweet stuff too, as sugar easily converts to fat. Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day and never eat until you are stuffed. The meals can be in the form of three smaller main meals and 2 or 3 nutritious snacks between. If you keep the portions smaller, your stomach will shrink and you will get full with less food. You will have more energy too, as you won't overload your digestive system.
Sleep plays an important part in building muscle, thats when all the growth takes place. Try to get as much sleep as you need, for most adults this will be at least 7 hours a night and probably more.
One of the most important tools for an awesome workout is your mind. Get yourself into a positive frame of mind and decide which bodyparts you're going to train beforehand. Psyche up for the workout, imagine yourself lifting the weights, doing the exercises, lifting more than ever before! Listen to your favorite music on the way there, or just before you leave. When you get to the gym, you should be ready for WAR!. Think about your workout as you change into your gym gear, imagine you're putting on your armor, then go out and ATTACK!!! Go directly to your first exercise, say, bench press, do a couple of moderate weight warm-up sets, load on your working weight, clear your mind, think only about the set you are about to do. Move in, grip the bar, focus, lift the bar explosively, and fire off those reps! Stay intense, a good set releases adrenaline and endorphins, which make you even stronger, naturally! Stay focused, if people talk to you, just say hi and move on. If you look busy, no one will bother you, and if anyone still does, get them to spot you!
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