You’ve heard the saying “train insane or remain the same,” and while it’s true to a certain extent, you don’t necessarily have to train “insane.” You do, however, need to shake things up once in a while, so here are 3 easy ways to make gains.
Many people who train with weights like to hit each body part or muscle group just once a week. While that’s great for recovery, what if instead of using around eight sets on each body part once a week, you only did two to four sets three times a week? That would mean less volume per body part per workout yet more cumulative workload within any given week to potentially help you make gains.
Yes, that does mean you’d have to work on more muscle groups per workout, but the overall impact from hitting more body parts during one exercise session means you can actually stimulate more testosterone and growth hormone production.
If you’re currently training each body part just once a week, try this training split for a few weeks and notice how quickly your body responds to the changes:
Monday: Legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, arms, abs
Friday: Legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders
At a quick glance, it may look like you’re training arms just once a week, but they’re getting plenty of work each day. On Wednesday, you use direct arm exercises, and on Monday and Friday your arms get indirect work because of the pushing and pulling involved with chest, back, and shoulder work.
Legs get trained three times a week, too, since you’re doing some sort of big pressing movement on Monday and Friday—squats or leg presses—and you do deadlifts on Wednesday. That combination of workload gives you a big metabolic boost and starting workouts with a big, prime-mover, lower-body exercise also stimulates hormone production. If you’re worried about overtraining with this sort of training split, don’t. Just remember that you don’t need a lot of sets per exercise this way. You’re still stimulating major potential muscle growth with the extensive muscle fiber hit to make gains, however.
A simple training change that many people overlook is rep cadence, or rep speed. Slowing down the negative, or eccentric, stroke on some or all of your reps can do good things for your muscle gains. Optimal rep cadence for muscle growth is considered to be about one second up and three seconds down.
There are a couple reasons this rep speed works so well: 1) The slower negative portion of the rep does more muscle damage (in a good way), and 2) the semi-explosive start to the one-second positive portion of the rep recruits more muscle fibers.
Keep in mind that the “semi-explosive” one-second positive portion of the rep does NOT mean bouncing the weight. It simply means a controlled explosion, using power to push (or pull) the weight quickly but under complete control.
Make Your Warmups Count
Too many people simply go through the motions during their warm-up sets and don’t use enough weight. While something is better than nothing, especially for injury prevention, you might as well make all of your effort counts…
Muscles that are saturated with blood from a proper warmup can generate more force. On big, compound exercises like squats and presses, it’s a good idea to do two warmup sets. Do at least 10 reps on the first warmup set with fairly slow, concentrated reps of about 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. Add weight on your second warmup set and do 8 reps at your normal rep cadence of one to two seconds up and about three seconds down. And be sure to maintain constant tension on the muscles, which means no locking out or pausing anywhere in the range of motion. That will help ensure full saturation of the target muscles.
Try these 3 easy ways to make gains and see how well they work for you. A little variation goes a long way for more muscle creation.
Note: For information purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.