Note to all beginners, there is a very big difference between training each muscle group to gain SIZE and training the body for STRENGTH. Example – if you are bench pressing for strength then you do not mind if your triceps and shoulders are driving more than your pecs, as long as the weight goes from A to B, right? However, if you size is your goal then making sure your pecs are contracting during each repetition is key to growth! Can you see the difference? Here are 3 top tips to ensure you are isolating the target muscle group in every workout you do!
Today you are training back, so make sure you train back. Doesn’t that sound a bit obvious, perhaps a little stupid? Maybe, but when you consider that so many people do not focus on hitting the target muscle group it is certainly a worthy point! Every time you do a certain exercise, focus and after each set ask yourself if your target muscle feels pumped and stimulated. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why! Sticking with training back as an example, if you’re doing reverse grip pull downs and your lifting too heavy, you are probably swinging your whole body to move the weight. As a result, your back muscles are not contracting like they should which leaves you’re back feeling with a lack of stimulation! Yes you moved that mountain of weight, but in doing so you failed to force the specific muscle fibres you’re trying to hit to work! Not good bodybuilding! Remember, you must focus with every rep of every set.
Drop the weight and ego at the same time!
So you have focused and realised that your target muscle doesn’t really feel worked, what are you going to do? You need to drop the weight and start making that muscle work. If you don’t think it will work, try this little test. Right now, do a triceps extension with no weight and flex the triceps for 10 seconds. Does it hurt? Right ok and that is with no weight. Using proper form, concentrating very hard on the muscle group in question you can achieve great muscle stimulation without excessive weight. Staying with triceps extensions as the example, a lot of people will push through their back and shoulders as the weight gets too heavy. By going that little bit lighter you are able to really focus on the tension on your triceps and take out the other muscle groups, leading to a much more productive triceps workout.
In my opinion, delayed onset muscle soreness is your feedback. If your muscles you battered 2 days ago are not sore, or even slightly stiff then this tells me your workouts are not working! Think about it, to force a specific muscle group to grow you must make it work. As it works and reaches failure towards the end of a workout, the muscle fibres have been broken down. That should ache, and it should cause you a degree of discomfort for a few days. If you have no feeling days after the workout, you need to make a change. Going back to the point above, drop the weight and squeeze for about 2 seconds with every repetition and compare the level of DOMS you experience. I bet my last protein shake it is significantly more painful days later! This is great, because you now know your workouts are working!
There are 3 ways to make your workouts functional and help you achieve your ultimate goal, building muscle. These points also allow you to check and review just how effective your current training is!