This is a guest post by Luke Douglas who is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me, and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows all the trends in fitness, gym and living a healthy life, and loves to share his knowledge in this field through useful and informative articles. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. In this article Luke talks about 7 strategies to use to help build up your strength, enjoy.
No one should be nervous about not building enough muscle fast. There are all sorts of limitations when it comes to getting big and strong, but often it happens because people don’t train right or alternate their fitness routines. It’s difficult to break through your training plateau, but there are certain techniques that will help you overcome it and keep climbing for more strength and muscle gains. After all, strength is the foundation for the activities we perform on a daily basis. Once you become stronger, you can run faster, hit harder, and lose weight more effective.
1. Simplicity Is King
Instead of trying to lift at a certain speed (3 seconds up, 1 second down), just focus on lowering and raising weights in a controlled manner, with a one-second pause at the top of the lift. Complex routines are great for advanced and experienced lifters, but if you don’t plan to be a professional bodybuilder or crossfitter, the only thing you should count during a set are your reps. Your progress can be slowed down if you use an arbitrary tempo because it can force you to use varying amounts of weight or lessen tension on your muscles. You need to increase the weight you lift consistently if you want to get stronger.
2. Master The Basic Strength Building Exercises
The bench press, shoulder press, deadlift and squat are the best exercises for building strength. The row and chinup can complement them great and serve as assistance lifts, but the basic four exercises should be the focus of your workout, keeping your pressing muscles in balance with the pulling ones.
3. Alternate Muscle Groups
When exercising, you create micro-tears in your muscles (which are the cause of the 3-day soreness you experience after a strenuous workout). The body’s natural response to this kind of damage is to get tougher in the very places that are being damaged. In case you don’t allow your sore body parts some adequate time to repair, serious injuries may occur, so a three-day plan is recommended as follows:
Day 1: Shoulders, triceps, and chest;
Day 2: Lower body (calves, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip adductors and abductors);
Day 3: Abs, biceps, and back.
If you feel sore, do a new muscle group or take a day to rest.
4. Add Weights Slowly
The main reason why people stop gaining strength and reach their plateaus is because they go too heavy. Instead of lifting the maximum weight you can for a certain rep range, do your lifts using 10 percent lighter weights. If you stick with the same lifts and increase the weight each session (by 10 pounds at most), you will rarely reach your plateau.
5. Don’t Overtrain
If you thought that you’re going to get bigger and stronger by camping in your local gym, you couldn’t be more wrong. Overtraining leads to exhaustion and an increased risk of injuring yourself seriously. Stick to 3-4 lifts per each workout because it will help you to take advantage of your hormonal surges. Do one main lift (of the basic four) per workout, 1-2 assistance exercises (to further strengthen the muscles used for performing the main lift, and to keep the body in balance). At the end, do specialty or core exercises. If you overtrain and do more, it can lessen your fitness results.
6. Do Back Up Sets
The back-off set is a higher-repetition set with lighter weights performed after doing 2-4 sets with a six-rep max. Just drop the weight by 40% and perform as many reps as you can, as quickly as possible. Why does this work? Your muscle-stimulating nerves are prepared for more work than usual after you perform those heavy sets. Your muscles are forced to work harder than normal during back-off sets, which sparks muscle growth. For example, if your first 2 sets were 6 reps with 100 pounds, do your third set with 60 pounds (you’ll manage to complete more repetitions than you’d usually get with that same weight).
7. Remember The Importance Of Your Diet
How are you going to build more muscle and strength if your body is at a caloric deficit? Your diet needs to include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats as well as plenty of minerals and vitamins. Foods that are heavy with carbs should be avoided because insulin levels can spike and inhibit your growth hormones that cause muscle growth. Get 5-6 small, but balanced meals every day. You can also use a quality pre workout supplement for heavy lifting workouts in order to increase your endurance and strength during those sessions.
Performing heavy lifts or doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is perfect for building strength and muscle. However, one should know that duration and intensity are inversely proportional when performing these exercises. The greater the intensity – the less time you have to spend in the gym. Use these tips wisely and implement them into your training routine, and you won’t have problems with your plateau anymore.
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