Just take 5 minutes to look around the gym next time your there and you will notice that is probably has a lot of similar equipment to every other gym. Sure, some have more than others and some have a better range of machines but as a rule there always tends to be the same kind of set up. From the point of view of stimulating muscle development, I do feel that unless you apply a degree of imagination this could potentially limit your results. Today I want to talk to you about being creative with the equipment you have, and the many benefits this can potentially have!
By using the same kind of machines, the same kind of benches and the same kind of cable machines you are probably going to be using the same kind of angles week in week out! One of my top training principles is to alter the angle you attack certain muscle groups. Back training is a great example, because when you look at the back there are so many muscles working together, meaning that there are loads of muscle fibres running in different directions. In this instance, it is imperative that you alter the angle of attack to ensure you are stimulating key areas of your back. Last night I was training back and straight after wide grip pulldowns and would stand up and repeat the same exercise but this time the angle was very different. Using only 20kg on the pulldown machine I hit 50 repetitions with very controlled form, and I have never in my life experienced that kind of muscular pain throughout my back. By making such a simple change to the angle I was using, it felt as though I had discovered places in my back I never knew existed via cramp!!
Range of motion
Whilst using a full range of motion is often preached, going against the grain can have its benefits. Using half or even quarter repetitions at the right time can take the muscles beyond failure, force the body to recruit new muscle fibres and as a result really helps improve overall muscle condition and separation. Sticking with the same example as above, when you’re doing wide grip pulldowns, only allow the bar to move 5 inches away from your chest before you contract you perform a concentric contraction again. This really maximises the level of tension the muscle is under which has endless benefits as mentioned above, and it also stimulates huge calorie expenditure!
As long as you are moving weight, does it really matter how fast you perform a repetition? Of course it does, changing the speed of a repetition can have a massive impact on muscle development, your strength and muscle fibre recruitment! Most of you will probably use quite a fast repetition speed on the concentric portion, whilst a slower pace on the eccentric portion. This is great, but sometimes it can also pay to drop the weight (and ego) and slow the pace right down all the way through the movement. This really helps engage the target muscles and forces them to recruit more and more muscle fibres!
Applying these 3 simple principles to your training could potentially catapult your training to the next level! Remember, think outside of the box!