A comprehensive volume of nine books on High Intensity(HIT) Training!

A lot of very beneficial information.....Different HIT exercises I haven't heard of before” -W. Pruitt

Techniques in these books are Fantastic….would recommend to any and all HIT trainers” -A. Gutierrez

" Five star all the way. Every HIT training method is covered in these books. Love them” -J. Berndt

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pack on New Muscle With These Plateau Busting Techniques!

When you first begin training, gains come easily. It seems like everything you do leads to increased muscle strength and size. After you have been training for awhile your workouts tend to become stale as you continue to do the same exercises,sets and reps week in and week out. The problem is you have become too predictable in your workouts leading to stalled muscle gains.

Your body is very efficient at maintaining the status quo-it will try anything it can to keep the amount of muscle on your body the same. This is because of the high energy cost to increase muscle mass and sustain it. This makes it necessary to change things up from time to time to reignite muscle gains.

Maybe you have searched through the various muscle magazines in search of the perfect training routines to begin experiencing new muscle gains. The question is what is the best way to freshen up your workouts, breathe new life into them and start growing new muscle again?

Changing The Time Under Tension

Try changing the rep count or time under tension to see what effect that has. If you have been consistently doing 6-8 reps per set, try some sets with 8-10 reps or even 12-15. Keep in mind the ideal time under tension depends on the muscle fiber type of the muscle. If the muscle is predominately fast twitch, tut should be in the 40-60 second range; if it is mostly slow twitch, keep your tut at 60-90 seconds. Altering the tut will spark new growth because the body becomes used to the current training being done and works hard at keeping everything the same unless you force it out of homeostasis by giving it new stimulus.

New Exercises

Delete exercises you have been using for awhile and replace them with ones you haven't done recently. Learn new exercises from trainers, fellow trainees or bodybuilding books or magazines.

Combo Rows-This exercise is a combination of the bent over lateral raise and upright row exercises. Stand and lean slightly forward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in front of each thigh. Row the weights up while keeping your forearms aimed vertically. Stop at chest level;your elbows should be angled toward the ceiling. Pause for a second then return to the beginning position.

As with any new exercise, begin with a lighter weight and avoid training hard until you have mastered the form of the exercise. A good way to integrate this exercise into your shoulder routine is to combine it with a pressing movement like dumbbell presses as a pre-exhaust superset. To do this, begin with a set to failure of combo rows followed by a set of shoulder presses to failure. Do this superset with no rest between exercises. If you rest as little as five seconds between sets, your muscles' regain 50% of their strength, which defeats the purpose of the pre-exhaust variable.

Bicep Blaster Curls-Made popular in the movie Pumping Iron, these use a specially-designed metal brace which is placed in front of the body to immobilize the upper arm to force perfect form in the bicep curl. I have found these to be helpful when training beginning bodybuilders but they are useful to even the most experienced athlete. After placing the strap around your neck and the brace against your abdomen, grab a weight and curl it while keeping your upper arm against the brace. You will feel how this tool changes the curl after doing an intense set of these.

Cable Cross Triceps Press-downs-Stand in front of a cable crossover machine. Attach single rope handles to each side. Cross the cables in an 'x' and press them down and out at an angle until fully extended. Pause for one second while flexing your triceps hard before returning to the start position. Repeat.

This exercise is a great modification of the standard triceps press-down exercise and hits the muscle from a different angle, which gives a great muscle growth stimulus.

Reverse Leg Lunges-Hold a dumbbell in your left hand while standing shoulder-width apart. Take a deep step back with your left leg while squatting down. Step back to the beginning position and change the weight to your right hand. Do the same deep step back with your right leg and squat down. Continue until you have completed the desired reps.

This exercise is a nice variation of the standard leg lunge and works the legs from a different direction.

In addition to adding or replacing exercises in your training routine, there are many other ways to change your program and initiate new growth in your muscles.

Using Different Hand Placements

By changing the positioning of your hands on the bar, handle or attachment, you hit a muscle from different angles while performing an exercise. This activates fibers not used during previous applications of the exercise. For example, if you use a narrow grip during lat pull-downs, you stimulate your lat muscles one way; another way if you use a mid-grip and yet another way if a wide grip is used.

The same goes for barbell curls-while the curl works the entire bicep muscle- using different grip placement changes the way the weight affects the muscle. This adds variety to your training and literally forces the muscle to grow because of the new demands placed on it.

Try curling with a four inch hand spacing. Place your hands two inches from center and do a set of curls. Now move your hands two more inches apart and complete another set of curls. Do a set of curls using a standard grip spacing. Lastly, place your hands wide on the bar and complete a set of curls. Feels a lot different doesn't it?

Apply the same strategy to machine or barbell rows for the back and bench presses for the chest. The opportunities to change your exercises are nearly endless.

Training Legs Before Smaller Muscle Groups

Scientific research has shown that muscle growth response to exercise increases when the leg muscles are trained prior to other muscles. This is because a much greater release of testosterone and human growth hormone occur when leg training is done as opposed to training smaller muscle groups such as arms and abs. Since legs constitute a much larger muscle mass, they stimulate a larger amount of test and hgh.

To put this into practice, do a set of leg extensions followed by a set of leg presses and a set of hack squats-all sets to failure. Now do your typical arm routine, training all sets to failure.

Be sure to track your progress as you strive to constantly increase the weight you're able to use. Aim to add 1-5 pounds to the bar or machine every workout. That way you avoid adding too much weight at one time, which could lead to failure to complete an exercise.

Try micro-loading by adding special, 1-1.5 pound plates to the bar or machine. This is effective because it makes the bar feel as if no new weight has been added. Over a year you will be able to add substantial weight.

I used arms in this example but any other muscle group can be trained after legs with the same results.

Pre-exhaust HIT Training

Supersets are a great way to up intensity by increasing the amount of work that is completed in a given amount of time. One of the most effective types is the pre-exhaust superset. Instead of doing two random exercises for the same muscle, do an isolation movement to exhaustion then immediately do a compound movement to failure.

What makes this is so effective? The isolation exercise exhausts the muscle while the compound one takes the muscle past the point of normal failure by using fresh, assistance muscles. This leads to a more complete in-roading of the muscle and more extensive micro-damage of the fibers.

It is extremely important to move from the first exercise to the second with no rest. If there is a delay of even three seconds, the muscle recovers 50% of its strength and much of the benefits of this technique is lost.

Here are some examples of pre-exhaust routines:


leg extensions-1x15
leg press-1x12
hack squats-1x12

This superset can also be altered to become a double pre-exhaust routine:

leg extensions-1x15
forward leg lunges-1x15
barbell squats-1x15

The standard pre-exhaust does a great job of breaking the muscle down during the set of leg extensions before exhausting the legs with the compound exercise, leg presses. The second routine makes use of two different isolation exercises to focus efforts on completely exhausting the leg muscles before driving them past exhaustion with barbell squats. All sets should be taken to muscular failure with as heavy a weight as can be lifted safely.

I used examples of leg training but this HIT variable can be effectively used with any muscle group.

Other Techniques to End Muscle Growth Stagnation

Other techniques that may be used to stimulate new gains are rest-pause, negative-only reps, partial reps and static holds. Those are to be the subject of future articles-so stay tuned!

The suggestions presented in this article to energize your training have been used by countless bodybuilders with great results. Give them a try!

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