In the early days of your workout program, your body will begin to bear the brunt of the exercises you are introducing to it. Everything is new to your body and so your body will respond with pain and turning sore along with some injuries as well.
Well, that’s part and parcel of your muscle-building program. As you keep on hitting the gym three to four times a week for the past few months, your body starts to adjust and get used to the weights you’ve been lifting and as well as your stamina when doing your cardio workouts.
Your body becomes stagnant and you will not see any kinds of improvements. If you are not getting tired and your old workout plans seem to be too easy for you, than its time you need to moderate it. You have to figure out a way to add more difficulty so as to give your body a new challenge. Now this would be a progress. If not it will become a progress plateau.
So how do you want to progress in your workout regimes? Where to now? It’s not as hard you may think it is. Just by doing some simple adjustments progressively will start yielding overwhelming results. There are a number of great ways to push the barriers that will test your limits and even breaking them as well.
In order to do that, having your mindset geared to forge onwards, here are what possibly could be the easiest and best ways.
Change Your Exercises
It’s better to change the rhythm of the exercises not too drastically as that would only lead to injuries. So it’s better to switch one workout to another which is almost similar in style or even the exact opposite.
For example, if you have been doing a front squat all this while then start doing a back squat. You can implement this change slowly by interchanging the workouts. This is not a drastic change as you are executing a move which is the exact opposite.
Another good example would be to alternate bench presses with a close grip bench press. If you have been doing normal lunges then start adding weights. If you have been doing close grip chin ups, then start doing wider grips. So you get the picture? It’s about improvising your workouts to the next level one step at a time.
Add New Exercises:
Adding new exercises to your workout regime will really challenge your muscles at a higher level. You can do this every alternate week while you maintain the exercises you have been doing all this while.
By doing that way, you are giving some time to your body to start getting accustomed to the new frontiers of the workouts. This will also prevent you from getting any injuries from a body shock. You need to know that our bodies will take time to adapt to new conditions. It’s never been an overnight affair. If your workout is being focusing on your upper body parts this week then focus on lower body parts in the following week.
Shorten Your Rest Periods
As you do your reps you take a break in between these sets. If you have been taking a minute or more for each rest periods, then shorten it to about 45 to 50 seconds.
The terminology here is that the shorter the breaks you take the harder you are pushing your body to work. This will definitely increase your stamina and strength as you move on. Don’t be too ambitious by reducing your rest periods massively as this will lead to injuries.
Do More Reps:
It’s just as simple as that. Just do more reps than what you will usually do. You will know when to do it. Just listen to your body.
You notice that when you do 10 reps of bicep curls and when the 10th curl gets really easy, then you should increase by another 2 more curls. That will give more work for each set you do. That would also mean more time for each set you do.
So if you would like to shorten the time you are taking for each sets as it is eating into your precious time then the next step will be the most appropriate one.
Add More Weight
This is one of the fastest ways for you to get stronger. So for instance, instead of doing more reps you can actually add more weight. So if you want to stick to 10 bicep curls and you wish to progress further, then add more weights to the dumbbell. Your body will start to adjust to the heavier challenge and will start to register it into your body.
This is probably more on an advanced stage for your muscle-building program. If you are confident, and have the stamina to do this then you can go ahead. As I said earlier in my above point when changing exercises to do the exact opposite. It’s best to go through that phase before doing a superset.
So what is a superset? It involves pairing two totally different kinds of exercises back to back that may target different parts of your body and with no rest in between. Doing this will boost your metabolism, strength and muscular endurance overall.
In fact there can be two types of supersets. One is you can choose to do an upper body workout like the chin ups and followed by lunges which concentrate on your lower body. Or you can choose to do two different workouts that focus more of the upper body and likewise choose to do the lower body.
This is called a multi-poundage system which was founded by Henry Atkins in 1974. This technique generally means that when you start with a general weight, and then drop the weight and continue with your reps till you fail.
This workout is a great way to increase muscle mass. As you move on with this workout, you pump more blood to your muscles and keep your heart pumping as there probably will not be any rest periods between each drop weight sets. The rule here is that your first set has to be the heaviest.
So this is how the process goes. You may start with a 10kg bicep curl and do 10 reps. Then you drop to 8kg and do 12-14 reps. Basically you do more reps as you go along dropping the weights until you actually struggle with the least weights. This is what you call train to you fail.
Add an Exercise Ball
What advantage do you get by using an exercise ball also otherwise known as the stability ball? It simply challenges your core muscles. You can integrate this ball into some of your common workouts like the shoulder press, bicep curls or lateral raise.
Let’s take a shoulder press move as an example here. There are probably three to four sizes of stability ball. You may choose whichever size you are comfortable with. When you sit on it, you have to make sure that you have your feet firmly placed on the ground as close to the ball.
Keep your back arched and tight while sitting on it. The challenging part is when you start doing the workout; you have to remain balanced throughout. You should not be rocking to and fro or side wards. At the end of the exercise your tummy would feel tight.
Switch Dumbbells to Barbells
You may use dumbbells to do bicep curls for both your arms at the same time. The only problem is that you may not be applying the same amount of force to either of your arms. Whereas the barbell ensures you apply the same amount of force for both arms at the same time.
Meaning, when you do a bicep curl using a barbell, you may know which your weaker arm is. So you will force it to catch up with your stronger arm when executing the move keeping the barbell stable as possible. That’s one big advantage of it. That doesn’t mean dumbbells are no good. In fact they all apply different amount of stress to your body. Dumbbells do offer more movement ability.
Barbells offer equal amount of weight across since it is one fixed bar. If you can lift a 300 pound barbell it may not necessarily mean that you can life a 150 pound dumbbell for each arm individually. You will most likely fail unless you are really that strong enough.
Barbell also offers more challenge to your core as you have to find for stability while lifting it as the weight is spread across. This section here may sound like barbells are better than dumbbells. That’s not what this is all about. It’s about switching to different kinds of weight resistance and making your body more versatile. You may also switch to using cables too. You have to follow the lines of resistance when using them.
So if you were to do a cable press, it offers plenty of challenge to your cores as the cables keep pulling you back and you have to challenge it to ensure stability.
Perform Exercises with Kettlebells
I believe this training equipment have been hugely overlooked for quite some time and today its gaining massive popularity due to a rising trend among fitness trainers especially for the weight loss industry.
This is such versatile equipment that you almost have no limitations about the way of using it. You can definitely use it to gain muscle mass quickly and easily. The most common moves using this are the one-arm squat press, one-handed and double-handed swing, one-arm row and front squats. You can also swing it between your legs while doing walking lunges.
When I first used the kettlebell, I tried to do the double-handed swing. You can swing it to 90 degrees or all the way up to 180 degrees. I tried to do the 180 deg swing and by the time I did the 10th rep, I was breathing real heavy. I would say this is really a very good and effective muscle-building workout.
You can also rotate it around your hips to increase stability to your core muscles. If you haven’t really used it before, it’s a good idea to start using one. Of course you have to start with a lighter weight to get used to the feel and movement of it. You can easily own one and even do your workouts from home.
To Sum It Up
I’ve given the ten best and effective sure-fire ways to advance your muscle-building program. You are to periodically integrate one or two of any of these methods into your workout routine.
You definitely should not start doing all of them at one go using different method every week as that would overload your system and too much for you to handle that could cause injuries. It’s best to start with any two of them for one whole month and then start adding a new method the following month.