Five times a week, two hours each visit.
You’ve been more faithful to your gym schedule than you’ve ever been to any girlfriend you’ve had. And for a while it paid off: those muscles started growing and the girls started paying attention.
But then, like a bad dream your body stopped responding. Your muscles suddenly weren’t growing like they used to. You’ve lost the excitement to train and spend your time watching the latest Mike Chang YouTube video in the hopes that you can pick up something new. Some tip that will help you start growing again. You start training longer and harder but instead of getting stronger, you’re getting weaker.
Time to up the dosage.
The Gym Plateau. It hits all of us at one time or another. A lot of fitness and bodybuilding beginners don’t even know that they’ve been hit by it. They wrongly assume that they’ve reached their genetic potential when in fact, adding some intermediate to advanced “shock” techniques may be all that’s needed. Below are some tips and a demonstration video of one of the bodybuilding tips by Lee Priest’s former training partner, Ed Brown, Jr.
If you take a few days off from the gym, plan a new strategy for the next 4-6 weeks and implement one or two of the tips belwo, I guarantee you that your body will start responding to your training again.
- Bodybuilding Tip #1 – Take A Break
This tip sounds easy on the surface but can be difficult to follow if you’re trying to peak for Summer or some important event in your life. Do it anyway. Do not step into the gym or do any workout for at least a week. Let your body and mind recover. Some will need longer, others less. You’ll know you’re ready when you start picking up and carrying your gym bag around the house for no reason.
- Bodybuilding Tip #2 – Training Too Often
Are you training too often? If you’re using enough intensity then you only need to train each muscle group once a week. Every time you train, you damage your muscles. Muscles need time to repair and if you’re training too often, you’ll never give your body a chance to repair itself. This means that if you lift weights every day and are using enough intensity, there isn’t sufficient time for the body to recover. Try to have one day rest between each 2-3 days of weight lifting. Reduce your gym time to 90 minutes or less. Cortisol levels elevate once you’ve sufficiently trained your body. It’s time to get out of the gym, eat, rest and get yourself back into a positive nitrogen balance.
Muscles do not grow in the gym; they grow when you sleep. When you sleep, you are secreting growth hormone for many bodily functions and one of those functions is to repair damaged muscle fibers. That’s why they call it beauty sleep – even for beasts!
- Bodybuilding Tip #3 – Correct Technique
Are you using good form? Lee Priest is known for using amazing form in the gym and it’s one of the reasons that he’s had such a long career. No torn muscles, no major injuries.
If your form is incorrect, not only is your training suffering, you are also inviting injury. I remember going into the gym when I first started and completely skipping the warmups – going directly to 315lb squats and 275lb bench presses. Thankfully, I met some great workout partners who helped me change my destructive ways. When you exercise you must focus, paying attention to how you perform each exercise and each rep. Lift, pause and squeeze the muscles you are working. Mind and muscle must connect! Never never use momentum or swing the weight (unless you’re intentionally using the cheating priniciple for a set or two at the end of the workout). Fight gravity as it pulls the weight down during the eccentric portion of the lift. Try lifting slowly over a three count and lowering slowly feeling the tension in your muscles and resisting the weight at all times.
In order for muscles to grow, you have to stress them to the maximum and then further. Do enough repetitions until you feel you cannot go any further using good form. You must then either increase the weight or the number of repetitions at the next session. This is called progressive overload, and progressive overload is what forces your muscles to grow. As a general guide, if you can lift more than 12 reps the weight is probably too light and it is too heavy if you’re getting less than 5 reps.
- Bodybuilding Tip #4 – Are you using free weights?
Most machines do not involve as much of the synergistic muscles (supporting muscles) as free weights do. And, therefore, do not build as much muscle mass. Synergistic muscles are the smaller muscles that aid the main muscles in balance and strength in each lift. Machines have their advantages but for smashing plateaus, use free weights.
- Bodybuilding Tip #5 -Try strip sets
In another article we talked about Compound Sets in this article, the focus is Strip Sets. You’ve probably heard of these and have stripped the weight down on common exercises such as bench presses, leg presses, dumbbell exercises and others but how about doing strip sets for Stiff Legged Deadlifts? In the video below, we have Ed Brown, Jr and his workout partner Ivan Meraz demonstrating strip sets. This is an intense technique and one in which you will probably want a training partner or 2 to help you with – unless you’re using a dumbbell exercise. There is massive utilization of your muscles with strip sets and they tax your nervous system unlike anything. Use them sparingly and at the end of your workout. This brutal technique will make you pant, huff and sweat more. This means your routine also has a cardio effect and you will burn calories even after you’ve staggered out of the gym .
A hamstring routine may go like this;
Lying Leg Curls x 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff Legged Deadlifts x 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff Legged Deadlifts x 1-2 Strip Sets. Do 10 reps ,strip the weight, do 8 reps, strip the weight, do 8 reps strip the weight, do 30 reps. Done.
30 reps?! Watch the video below.
The human body is fantastic at adaptation. So whatever routine you are on, your body will get used to it. Change your routine every 6-8 weeks. For example, instead of working your chest at the start of your workout, work your back instead. You can reverse your whole routine or change the variations of your exercises or add new ones and take away some old ones. By changing your routine and following some of the tips above, you not only shock your muscles to new growth, you will stay motivated to kick ass every time that you walk into the gym.