To promote muscle hypertrophy it is simply a case of challenging the muscles, shocking them and forcing adaptation. Of course, the kind of adaptation you want is growth! When you have followed certain training split or sequence of exercises and they have worked for you, it is sometimes hard to try something new. Whilst you should stick to things that work for you, there will be times when you hit a plateau! When this time arises, there is only one thing to do. Use a different angle of attack!
Angles can make a huge difference when you are exercising a muscle, and the power of using new angles should never be underestimated! It boils down to biomechanics and finding a new angle to stimulate your muscle, placing maximum tension on the muscle whilst placing minimal stress on the joint and connective tissues. Here are 3 top tips to finding these new angles!
Take 5 athletes of similar strength, size and experience and get them all to do flat bench press with 100kg. Some of them will experience a great connection within the pecs; some will just feel a lot of the weight transfer in their delts, whilst the other may find his triceps are doing all the work. So, for the first couple of guys who felt the connection, GREAT! For the others though, it is time to find a new angle on the bench press which connects with your chest. This exercise is just an example and feeling the target muscle working is relevant to EVERY exercise. No matter what someone advises you, if you do not feel any connection that muscle with a particular exercise, then try a new angle. It may be by bringing your hands closer to together on triceps pushdowns, or using an incline bench on pressing movements or a combination of both works best for you.
Look in the mirror
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which are my best body parts of them all? This is exactly what you need to learn and focus on. Are your inner thighs strong whilst your outer sweep is non existent? As well as genetics, this is telling you the current angles you are using are hitting the inner part of your thighs more effectively. So, as a reaction you need to take action and use a new angle to hit the outer parts of your thighs. Again, this exercise is just an example and is relevant to ALL exercises you do. Where there is a weakness in a muscle group, there is a usually a reason in your training. Muscle groups such as your back and legs are huge. There are an awful lot of muscle fibres running in different directions, it is up to you to utilise new angles to hit them all up!
12 week challenge
So you have decided to switch from flat bench to decline bench because after playing about with angles you feel it hits your pecs more effectively. Now you need to monitor your progress and be CERTAIN you are right. In 12 weeks if the new angle is working for you, you SHOULD notice an improvement in your chest. This should be the case with any other muscle group and the new angle you have began to use.
There you have 3 very simple yet effective ways to find and measure the benefits of a new angle. It is all about learning your own biomechanics, what works best for you and what angles hit your target muscles in the most efficient possible way!