Part 2 of the extensive write-up on various techniques to bust that frustrating plateau. At any point of your training, you will come across whether you like them or not. We went through five techniques and secrets to shatter them, here is another five to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
6. Out with old: Vary your exercises
One reason certain body parts lead behind others might be because you keep feeding them saying exercises we in and week out.
Your techniques for the intensity may be just fine, but your body has grown overly accustomed to the buffet moves you are serving.
One of the best ways to incorporate the priority principle is to exchange exercise equipment on the same moves you are ready love to do; dumbbells instead of barbells, or cables in lieu of machines.
The shock of going from a machine exercise to its free weight cousin requires a balance that will send your muscles soaring. Even merely changing angles on some of your favorite movies will implement the priority principle effectively.
Take the skull crusher for example. It is tough to find an exercise that can add as much size to your tri’s as the skull.
After all, it emphasizes the lateral, followed by the long and medial edge, respectively.
But you have been hitting the flat bench skull crusher since your first day in the gym.
Next time you try steps, and to the decline bench instead and grab dumbbells to boot.
The decline version it’s the long with greater accuracy is your arm position relative to your torso has changed, dumbbells are going to call more stabilizers.
Another way of throwing a priority branch into the system going from Dumbbell move to a cable one.
Let’s say your’re a fan of the dumbbell kickback, if you instead try the cable version, you’ll immediately notice the change even though the execution of both moves is identical. for one, the cable kickback gives you the benefit of constant tension throughout the move – there’s no resting spot at the bottom. It also tends to be easier on your shoulder because of the line of pull.
No matter what body part you choose to give priority in this way, your goal should be to swap as many of your traditional exercises with ones you’ve never tried or haven’t in a while.
Keep your eyes open to new ideas and by all means don’t be afraid to try something new.
7. Preced an Exercise By One for its Antagonist
What’s a fast way to get stronger on a given exercise in a matter of seconds?
By preceding the move with one for its antagonist muscle.
The antagonist in this case is the opposing muscle group.
When you train arms, for example, when the biceps are contracting, the triceps are being stretched, and the opposite holds true as well.
The two sets of muscle groups work in tandem to stabilize the joint.
Think of your body as sets of antagonistic muscle groups: back and chest, triceps and biceps, quads and hamstrings.
Research shows this pre-stretch (say, by doing a set of curls before triceps press-downs) enables the second muscle group to contract more strongly than it would;ve been able to do under normal circumstances.
Just remember; although the first exercise isn’t an exhaustive one, it’s enough to fully stretch the target muscle group.
You don’t want to take the first exercise (the one you’re using to pre-stretch the target) to failure.
That’ll actually lessen its effectiveness and won’t aid in strength or size gains of the target muscle. The key is stimulation, not annihilation. And from one week to the next, begin the agonist/antagonist workout with the opposite side to avoid muscular imbalance.
8. Back to back gets you jacked
Here’s an idea that amounts to bodybuilding heresy: train a given body part two days in a row.
We know that violates all the rules and principles of muscle growth, mainly that you hit a muscle heart and then give it plenty of time – and nutrients – to recover stronger than before, but hear us out.
All training the same body part two days in a row is certainly an unorthodox, it’s not wrong as long as it is done right.
See, based on the intensity and purpose of the two workouts, you can set any body part up for serious growth error and planned correctly.
One way to do it is to front load the body part, say the chest, with very high reps and low weight as well as low volume on the first day, then crush it on day two.
Of course if you destroyed your pecs on day one, then you’d obviously need to res it the next day.
But that’s not what we’re doing here.
Doing ultra-high reps with light weight on day one flushes and nurtures the muscle bellies, allowing water, blood and nutrients to saturate the muscle cells.
You’re not taking these high reps to failure nor are you using heavy weights, so there’s no damage or tears occurring that would require rest.
The next day, with the muscles having just been gorged with ingredients for growth, you destroy the fibers with heavy weights and full intensity.
Here’s how to do it. Say you’re doing chest: On day one, do one light set of 40 reps for each exercise you’ll do the next day.
Doing the same exercises is critical because that ensures the muscle fibers used are identical; the same ones that absorbed the nutrients on day one are the same ones being taken to failure the next day.
After your single set of high reps, move on to the next exercise.
It’ll go against all your natural instincts to do just one set, not to mention resisting taking the sets to failure or adding weight. But do your one set to get a pump and move on.
The next day you’re ready to attack the same body-part with the same exercises.
Here’s where you’ll hurl the kitchen sink upon the target: Because you prepped the body-part the day before and super-compensated its nutrient levels, you can train it like ganbusters for ultimate growth.
Only practice this principle on one body-part at a time.
You’ll have to alter your other body-parts and assemble them differently throughout and assemble them differently throughout the week, but that’s the kind of action that makes priority training so effective.
9. A Partial Plan To Load Up The Plates
Whether it’s a bench press that won’t budge or a squat you just can’t seem to surmount, how you attack them is crucial.
One very effective way is to simply abandon full range of motion training (and yes, we know that’s also tantamount to bodybuilding heresy).
But doing so effectively allows you to pile on more weight than what you’d normally be able to do (through full range of motion training), so if you’ve been following what we’ve said about overload, you know that something special is going on.
First, you have to head over to the power rack (alternatively you can use a smith machine that has safety bars).
Say you’re doing squats and your best weight to date is 275 pounds for 10 reps. instead of doing that weight for 10 full-range reps, you’re going to be doing just half reps (also called partials) over just the top of the range of motion.
Because the ‘sticking point” in squats is near the bottom of the ROM and you’re stronger over the top half, you’re actually going to be able to tackle a weight much heavier than if you did full-range reps.
Chances are you can probably do 315-350 pounds for 10 reps over the shortened ROM.
Ultimately your gains in strength are limited to the particular ROM that you train in so, over time, you’ll need to adjust the safety bars and work all various parts of the ROM.
Here’s how to make partials work for you.
If you’re squatting, set the safety bars near the top of the range of motion (the fully locked out position) – about 4-6 inches from the top.
Hence, you’ll be performing very shortened reps but with much heavier weights because you’re much stronger along this portion of the push.
Because you’re working in a strong portion of the ROM, you can load the bar with more weight than normal.
In fact, we suggest starting with ip to 30% more weight than you can typically lift for your 10-RM (or any number of reps you’re eager to tackle, just so long as you take them to failure).
Week to week, you’ll lower the safety bars to the next setting (usually a couple of inches) and expand the ROM.
Because partials are so intense, we suggest using them on only one body-part at at time during a training split.
Always precede a partials day with a full rest day so that the body-part is as fresh as possible. You can try partials on other bodyparts like shoulders, chest, or even biceps!
10. Be a Two-Timer For Added Intensity
While most splits are focused on training each body-part once over the course of the split, a number of pro bodybuilders have found that one very effective way of bringing up a lagging area is to hit it with two workouts instead.
The key here is that the workouts need to very different from each other and that there’s adequate time – and as always good nutritional support – to allow for growth.
You might consider breaking back into days for rows vs pull-downs, for example; for chest it could be inclines vs flat bench and decline presses, for legs, it could be hams vs quads/glutes.
You can even break it down further: Hams can be broken down into moves that extend the hips from the hip joint vs ones that extend at the knee (think romanian deadlifts vs leg curls).
Or it can be low-rep days vs high rep days.
The idea is simply to work different sets of muscle fibers in different fashions for better overall development.
By way of time, it’s important that the two workouts are separated by at least 48 hours – perhaps longer if there’s residual muscle soreness – to allow for growth.
That makes creating the split crucial.
Here’s a scenario you’d want to avoid if you were doing chest twice over the course of the split:
Monday: Upper Chest
Tuesday: Shoulders, back
Wednessday: Triceps, biceps
Thursday: Lower Chest
What that’s done is effectively created a situation in which you’ve trained your triceps, pecs and even your front delts to some degree four days in a row (Monday-Thursday).
With some manipulation, here’s a better order:
Monday: Upper Chest
Tuesday: Back, biceps
Wednesday: Shoulders, triceps
Friday: Lower chest
There are several other methods to prioritizing your training to target an area that you want to bring up, but these are your top 10.
Try one or a combination of them; give it a good 4-6 weeks and you’ll soon find those stubborn training plateaus have become a problem in the past.