Training is training right? You get to the gym, hit 3 or 4 exercises for the particular body part and then go home. To me, this sounds like the type of athlete who has perhaps lost their direction and is simply going through the motions. If this sounds like you then you need to buck this habit and get back on to the growth fast track! Here are 5 performance enhancing tips which will be sure to take your training to the next level.
Press pen on paper!
If you are struggling to gain size it could well be due to the fact your strength levels are stuck in a rut! For the next 6 weeks make it your goal to lift heavier than week before on specific exercises without fail! You will need a training partner because to achieve this you will need spotting beyond failure. Write down what you can lift on a compound movement for each body part and make your mission to lift more next week and more reps! For example, if you bench press 100KG for 6 reps, next week bench press 105KG for 7 reps with a training a training partner. This will be extremely hard and it will require doing several forced reps but this will give your body NO CHOICE but to get bigger and stronger!
The chances are if you have been struggling to make gains you have started doing more sets and maybe extra workouts! DON’T! This will just exhaust your muscles and take you into a catabolic state opposed to an anabolic state. Instead, train four times a week and focus on smashing every workout as it comes as we said in point one! It is about making each workout count and making it a quality session each and every time!
Make it rain!
With H2O! Water is such an underestimated component among gym bunnies! Here is a little secret, I am going to tell you the name of the single most anabolic substance in the world! WATER! Think about it, you can have 400g of protein going down your throat a day along with the same amount of carbs and 200g of healthy fats. Let’s go even crazier and say this is all organic so it is of the highest quality and top it off you are using a huge range of the very best supplements and even ‘additional’ supplements. If your muscles are dehydrated all of this means JACK! Water enables all of these nutrients and ingredients to work, transporting them to the muscle cell as well as other relevant places. The fact you are failing to break through plateaus could simply be because you are constantly dehydrated. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are thirsty or suffering with headaches, but for anybody who trains 3 to 4 times a week you should be drinking a minimum of 4 litres of clear water a day! Tea and coffee do NOT count because they are in fact diuretics!
This comes as no surprise but it would be irresponsible of me to write about breaking through barriers without making you ask yourself, ‘is my diet really good?’ Way too often do I come across people who say their diet is ‘amazing’ to find it is quite the opposite. If you are content with your physique that’s cool, if you are not then you really need to get your game together and eat properly! If your diet isn’t bang on then this is great news because it is SO EASY to break through this barrier, just eat right! Make sure you are eating 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight from very lean quality sources. Things like ham and other deli meats, sausages and burgers don’t count! Shoot for the same level of carbohydrates from sources like sweet potato, brown rice, brown pasta and oats. With your fats go for around 0.75g of fats per pound of body weight and you will be on to a winner with sources such as flaxseed oil, egg yolk, red meat, nuts and Udos Choice!
With everything point which preceded this point covered, supplements are your answer! As a seasoned gym monkey you probably use a whey protein or even a whey isolate protein if you are more sophisticated. However there is so much more to supplementation than just protein! Sure, protein is essential but to break boundaries you need products which will stimulate a reaction which will take your strength and growth levels through the roof! For maximum muscular stimulation I RECOMMEND the following supplements.
With this said, there really is no reason as to why you cannot break through the barriers which have been holding you back! Take these 5 points on board and smash down that wall in front of you partner!
Why train your grip?
Some of what I’ve written elsewhere will influence what is written here so keep that in mind.
Every so often I am asked on a bodybuilding forum what advantage that section of the Iron Game community would gain from training grip. I answer it thus:
No more reliance on straps – it’s not to say NEVER use a wrist strap but not to have to wear them practically from the first working set. It’s not at all unusual to read of a newbie to the game finding that on some sets of pulling exercises (deadlifts, chins, rows, even curls etc) that their forearms pump up more than the muscle they were aiming to work.
This is because the support muscles are weak. They catch up real quick. But said newb nips out and before you know it he’s back with his wrist straps and is ‘good to go’. But as above if he’d have held of for a week or two the forearms would have become accommodated to the work load and the target muscles would, we hope, be feeling the full effect.
In the more experience athlete, especially the HVT (High Volume Trainers) type they can find not that the forearm pumps up just that their hands and grip tires out. So they too will go out and buy pro-level wrist straps just so that they can hang on to the handle or bar long enough to get the numbers they’ve set for themselves.
But it’s a mistake. I’ve argued this with competitive bodybuilders. Here’s why: if you squeeze harder when training you send a stronger nervous impulse back to the brain. This sends a signal to the targeted muscle and ask for a greater activation of muscle fibres. That means more of the muscle works to help you make a rep. From a pure strength perspective that can mean a 5–percent increase in the load. From a bodybuilding aspect it means greater muscle overload using less reps and sets. IF you are capable of pushing yourself to the same sets and reps that you set as a target for yourself (let’s say 4 x 8-12 reps) then by the end the muscle will, all other aspects being equal, have trained harder and so be more fatigued.
Thus, no matter if it’s a strength gain or muscle burned and pumped, you’d have done more to make that happen in the same time frame, with the same sets and reps.
Just by squeezing the grip harder.
For me back training is probably my favourite workout of the week possibly because it is my best body part. This is why I am going to really enjoy writing the ‘ABC guide to a big back’ today for all of you guys! Back is one of the hardest muscle groups to train because it requires a lot of technique and understanding as where some muscle groups are more self explanatory. So many people tend to focus on big chest and big arms, yet it is a big back which really sets the men apart from the boys up top! Don’t get me wrong, you need total balance throughout but a good strong back looks epic and really adds to a physique.
The back muscle group is massive, you have a variety of muscle fibres running in several different directions therefore you have to know how to attack each area! The key muscles in your back are the trapezius, lattisimus dorsi, rhomboids and your spinal erectors. In order to build a thick knotty back you need to hit each of these areas in several different ways!
As you always get with our ‘ABC guide to big . . . .’ here are some fundamental do’s and don’ts!
. Use pull-ups as part of your back workout, WHY?
Pull-ups are often overlooked by a lot of people in the gym and it isn’t because they don’t work! It is because they are hard to do and one of the most taxing exercises on your back! Doing pull-ups will certainly stretch out the muscles in the back and help you achieve a very strong muscular contraction right through the different muscle groups! This exercise is an awesome way to warm up as well! An absolute MUST!
. Deadlift, WHY?
Deadlifts are you ‘bread and butter’ mass builder for back, simple! However, to keep the focus on the back muscles only lower the bar just below your knees and go back up, going to the floor just brings your legs into play!
. CONTRACT, WHY?
Most people fail to get anywhere with their back workouts because of this one fundamental error! They do not arch their back! All the way through your back exercises you need to keep your back locked out with your shoulders back otherwise it is near impossible to get a full muscle contraction in your back. If you can’t achieve this how the hell are your muscles going to develop? They won’t!
. Swing like a chimp, WHY?
Often on the latt pull-down machines you will see guys stacking it yet they are pulling half of the weight with their body mass, not their back muscles! Moving a weight from A to B isn’t hard, making a specific muscle group move it in a controlled manner is, and to develop a great back you must do this!
. Do the same workout, WHY?
For some reason, back training seems to be a challenge for the creative part of the mind. Pull-downs are normally the staple of the workout which is fine, but there are so many variations you can do and so many exercises for back you can do! Make sure you switch it up, there are a tonne of muscle fibres to hit in your back!
. Round your back, WHY?
When I watch people in my gym on the rowing machines, and I mean rowing machines, it goes through me looking at their posture! They have a huge hunch in their back, yet when you lift weight with this posture it is ten times worse!!! ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your back locked out for your own safety, if you are hunching your back the weight is probably too heavy. Training like this won’t do anything but put you on the NHS waiting list for back surgery!
Hopefully those points have given you a basic insight into the importance of correct back training. To put these words into practice below is a 3 week training cycle for you to follow!
Workout 1 –
3 X wide chin-ups 8+ repetitions
3 X deadlift 6-10 repetitions
3 X close grip pull-downs 8-12 repetitions
3 X single arm dumbbell rows 8-12 repetitions
3 X seated cable rows 8-12 repetitions
Workout 2 –
4 X wide grip pull-downs 12-16 repetitions
4 X high cable pulley rows 12-16 repetitions
3 X straight arm pull-downs 15-20 repetitions
3 X bent over barbell rows 10-15 repetitions
Workout 3 –
Each giant set X 3
Giant set 1 –
Close grip pull-downs 20 repetitions
Bent over barbell rows 10-15 repetitions
Straight arm pull-downs 20 repetitions
Giant set 2 –
Seated cable rows 15 repetitions
Reverse grip barbell rows 10-15 repetitions
Behind the head pull-downs 10-15 repetitions
There is a very easy to follow 3 week training plan for your back! Of course you can chop and change the exercises however following these kinds of workouts combined with the tips we listed above you are sure you make some great gains in your back muscles! Enjoy!