Hey Angels and Alphas,
While strength is always one of the main goals for an athlete in the gym, the idea of lifting hundreds of pounds over your head should be left only to hardcore strength lifters. In all the rush to keep increasing the weight you put on the bar, you might be forgetting that strength gains are not all about the number on the plate, or the number of your plates.
Today, we’re here to talk about three very important concepts that you need to be aware of in order to maximize the benefit you’re getting from your workouts. These will help you bust through plateaus and experience new improvements and adaptations in a short amount of time… all without having to add any weight to the bar!
Let’s get started.
In isometric exercises, you’re essentially holding your body in a specific position. This can be simple – just as adding a 2-second pause to your bench press and squat in key moments just before the concentric part of the exercise.
Doing isometric exercises will help you strengthen key areas of your body that you might be otherwise lacking – ones that could hold you back from breaking through a plateau, for example.
If you want to maximize growth potential, implementing these isometric holds in your exercises is crucial! Not only does it help you develop a stronger mind-muscle connection, but it allows for a more optimal contraction of the vital working parts of the muscle. This will allow for more adaptations to happen over the long run.
#2 TIME UNDER TENSION
The longer a muscle is working to support an exercise, the more opportunity it has to grow. (And by growing, we’re talking about breaking down and recovering back stronger). One way to do this is during the eccentric phase of the rep, which is often overlooked, especially by beginner lifters.
If you’re benching and you’re letting the weight drop down on your chest before you push it up, you’re missing out! In fact, you’re missing out on the part of the lift that actually helps you build strength. You’ll find that, if you start focusing on the eccentric portion of your lifts, you’ll see a jump in strength unlike that of any beginner.
For example, if you’re only doing the “pushing” part of the bench press and you’re effortlessly allowing the bar to then fall your chest before the next push, you’re not utilizing all the muscles you could.
Therefore, you’re acquiring less adaptations and slowing down your progress. Instead, if you allow the bar to slowly lower down while you control it with your chest, shoulders, and triceps, you’ll be able to engage more parts of the muscle. And by maximizing time under tension (for example, by holding the bar before the final eccentric phase of the rep) you’ll be using that muscle capacity to its very maximum.
#3 PLAY AROUND WITH YOUR REP RANGES
For those of you who love consistency and routine, this might sound like a nightmare. And I get it, we all assume lower reps call for more sets, and more weight calls for more muscle fiber response. Higher reps mean less weight, but a longer time under tension. Both of these work toward muscle growth, so mixing up your rep ranges keeps giving the body something to adapt to.
Don’t be afraid to play around and even try out powerlifting rep ranges (1 to 6) for a week to see what new adaptations you can create by adjusting your workout this way. Never allow your routine to stagnate you and stop you from creating the new experiences your body needs to go through in order to grow.