When it comes to building muscle it can be all too tempting to stroll into the gym, with your workout from last week fresh in your mind – and hammer through the same moves again, then leave.
Although this is acceptable every now and again if you hit it harder than the week before, doing the same exercises/sets/weights regularly will lead you to quickly stop seeing gains – as discussed by Max.
Many people do this, and many people complain that they’ve hit a wall in terms of progression , going to the gym is ‘boring’ and they’ve lost motivation. Detailed below is a few things that I have read up on and personally do regularly, to keep my muscles on their toes and also my mind.
The 5 top most common ways I mix up my routine, and leave me aching for days are;
This is the process of combining one exercise, straight into another. For example standard dumbbell curls, straight into hammer curls. You may need to drop the weight, as long as you’re doing the same amount of reps for each move. 8- 10 is what I usually go for.
Much like supersetting above, but instead merely performing your desired amount of reps, dropping the weight 25% (approx) and continuing with more – until failure. 8 reps with the first weight, then usually about 12 reps with the second is what I go for.
A development of the above, but this time performing essentially 3-5 supersets one after the other. And you may rest briefly between moves, unlike supersets.
There is a lot of variation you can throw in with Giant Sets.
You may choose to rest 15-30 seconds between exercises, or you may choose to plough through one after the other – this is tough!
You may do betweem 3 & 5 different moves, depending on what muscle group and how much space/equipment you have at your disposal.
You can vary the reps per move too, to suit your aim – high reps will be very much more cardiovascular (10-12), and heavy low reps (6-8) will suit someone looking for power, size and endurance .
Be wary of these though, make sure your form is spot on throughout – as the tendency to let your form slip by the end of your set is high. Also, these can take up a large chunk of the gym, make sure you have enough space move between stations – and equipment to do it – without making several very large other gym users angry.
Do those exercises you hate
We all have exercises we favour, due to being particularly good/strong on them, or just personal preference. Deliberately pick something every workout that you’re not 100% familiar with. If they exacerbate an inury – obviously stop. This is a good way of hitting any small muscle groups that you’d miss sticking to the same moves each session.
Slow reps/Partial Reps/Holds
Slowing your reps can massively increase the efficiency of your set, especially if try to keep your return rep slower than your contracting rep. 1 second contraction, to 2 second return rep is a good benchmark to start on.
Partial reps, especially with biceps, can be thrown in either as a superset or an exercise in their own right. This will help develop a ‘peak’ and will engage different muscles used to stop the rep halfway through. You can go heavier with partial reps too.
Holds – for example on lat pull down – try to hold the weight at the maximum contraction at the bottom of each rep for a couple of seconds before returning. Throw this in to a standard set of lat pulldown and you will definitely feel the difference!
These 3 are good in the respect that you can concentrate on your form, and really make the most out of each rep.
In addition to keeping your muscles guessing, and your mind interested, the top 3 work very well for me as they provide a good rise in heart rate and a cardiovascular aspect that I lack in other areas of my life. In addition, being quite short on time I appreciate these ways of working out as you can smash a workout in 30-45 minutes very easily.
All of the above can be discussed in far more depth, and will be in the near future – with pictorials and workouts to see for yourself how they’re actioned by me and the others.
So why not give it a go, next time you’re in the gym and feeling a bit bored of your ‘usual’ antics – think to the above and do something you wouldn’t usually. You’ll certainly feel it the next day!
As always, let us know how you get on – what you liked and what you didn’t, and any tips along the way by hash tagging #LDNMuscle or tweeting at us @LDN_Muscle.